Friday, March 9, 2012

Duck wraps and Gingerbread

I have started a regular weekly column with Fairfax on their great new site Daily Life. The column goes up every Wednesday - here are the posts from this week. Have a great weekend xoxo

Caramelised duck wraps with grapefruit and Asian herbs

Quick, fresh and tasty as hell. These fresh duck wraps are easily the best culinary kick off to a celebration. And they are a canapĂ© in the proper sense, offering that easy hand to mouth movement of food without having to put down your drink; not one of those mindless contraptions to be eaten from cones, cups or other such things that are mindless victories of aesthetics over sense. They are straightforward to make, so I’m not going to offer any tips here other than to suggest you hover dangerously close to the plate as these never seem to last long.

4 duck breasts, skin on
3 tablespoons palm sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
24 betel leaves
2 ruby red grapefruit, peeled and segmented
1 large red chilli, seeded and very finely chopped
½ cup mint leaves
½ cup coriander leaves
¼ cup fried shallots
Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the duck, skin side down and cook for 10 minutes or until the fat has rendered and the skin is crisp. Turn over and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes or until just cooked through. Remove from heat, allow to rest then thinly slice on the diagonal.
Combine the chilli, herbs, and fried onion in a bowl and toss to combine.
Add the palm sugar and fish sauce to a saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook until the palm sugar has melted and the mixture is starting to caramelize and thicken. Remove from heat and toss through the duck slices.
Lay out the betel leaves. Place a segment of grapefruit on each leaf, top with a slice of duck and a little of the salad mix. Top with extra fried shallots if using. Repeat with remaining betel leaves and duck mix. Serve warm with extra sweet soy sauce to dip into.
Gingerbread with violet cream
I like a dense cake. Light and airy is fine for those of genoise sponge sort of sentiments but I want a bit of weight in my cake. Something a bit dense and spicy seems more meaningful somehow, and comforting.  Like I have been lovingly bathed in butter and that I have been fed well, and often. This gingerbread is all of those sentiments and the violet cream finish, well that’s the gently belly rub and cup of tea.

125 g (4 1/2 oz) butter
115 g (4 oz/1/2 cup) sugar
90 g (3 1/4 oz/1/4 cup) molasses
1 egg
175 g (6 oz/1 1/4 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Violet cream
100 ml (3 1/2 fl oz) cream
20 g (3/4 oz) icing (confectioners’) sugar, sifted
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
2 tsp violet liqueur or ½ tsp violet oil
50 g (1 3/4 oz)crystallised violets
Preheat the oven to 170°C. Line a 13 x 23 cm (5 x 9 inch) loaf (bar) tin with baking paper. Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until pale and fluffy. Beat in the molasses and the egg.
In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Sift the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture and pour into the prepared tin. Bake for 90 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the gingerbread comes out clean. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool and slice thickly.
Add the cream to a bowl and whisk to soft peak. Gently fold through the sugar, vanilla seeds and violet liqueur.
Serve gingerbread with dollops of violet cream and top with crystallised violets.

If you missed the chocolate and cookie dough brownies from last week check them out here


  1. Hi Katrina,
    In regards to the Betel Leaves, do you need to blanch them before serving or can they be eaten raw?
    Thanks heaps :)

  2. Hi,

    No need to blanch them - you eat them fresh. Most Asian grocers have them. Hope you enjoy the wraps.

    1. Thanks Katrina! Am loving your bllog and recipes. oxox

  3. Hi There, I have just come across this and am keen to give it a try. I went to my local supermarket and couldn't find molasses (I live in Sydney). Any idea where to go? I read somewhere to maybe try health food stores. Also apparently there are different types - blackstrap being one of them, apparently this is bitter though. Would golden syrup be an ok alternative? Sorry for all the questions! Would love to know what you recommend.

  4. Hi Carly,
    Sorry for the delay in replying. Most supermarkets do have molasses - that is unlucky. Yes you can also try health food stores or maybe a Harris Farmers market style place will also be a safer bet.

    I haven't used golden syrup but you could always give it a shot and let us know how it turns out. If you do, I would only use half or 3/4 of the amount as golden syrup is a lot sweeter than molasses - from memory its about 65-75% sucrose so this may affect the outcome of your cake.

    Yes there are different types of molasses but usually a recipe will specify if it requires blackstrap or others depending on the level of sweetness required.

    Hope this helps - happy baking