Megan and I recently decided to revive some sort of supper club again. In part, to make up for the fact that we haven’t travelled or dined anywhere exciting for quite a long time. But mostly because we’re missing the fact that we used to take turns doing supper club as a family: one a month, someone would take charge of making an elaborate (or more elaborate than usual) dinner for everyone else – typically something we’d never made before. We never really got mom and dad to step outside their comfort zone, but dinner was always interesting.
I also remember doing black box dinners a few times with family, too. That was a little exciting and frustrating at the same time (pain/ frustration = growth right? lol). But lately, I’ve been so occupied dealing with the day-to-day, I feel like I’ve lost touch with my cooking/creativity a little bit. By re-starting some form of these suppler clubs again, I hope to do more, get more practice, and get back into creating. This past Sunday was my first supper club dinner in a long, long time.
So, why am I writing about this? My hope is that by blogging about this, I’ll be encouraged to do more and more of these supper clubs on a regular basis. Eventually, I’ll get to look back on these posts and reflect on my progress. The idea is to start cataloguing my own creations and experiments more consistently, and perhaps also share some lessons learned/mistakes with you along the way. Fun Fact: El Bulli catalogued every dish that was ever created. I’m no Ferran or Albert, but I thought it would be neat to do a little record-keeping of my own. Let’s Begin!
Appetizer: Picked when the green giant tomatoes were ripe, I sliced them thinly and placed them on the plate. Using some of the scraps and not so nice pieces of tomato, I salted them and used the tomato water to make a vinaigrette. I also added some pickled red onions and ground cherries and unripe ground cherries. Originally, I was going to use a mozzarella, but ended up shaving some lardo (Megan and I had previously cured for fun, taken from an exceptionally fatty piece of pork belly) instead. Overall, this dish was ok…It was tasty, but missing a kind of “wow” factor.
Main: duck 3 ways. In our random encounters with food, Megan and I stumbled onto some wild ducks that have been recently shot. To respect the whole bird, Megan and I attempted some of butchery after watching a few videos on YouTube. We ended up dry-curing breast and confit-ing the legs. For duck #1 in this dish, I used the confit duck legs with simply cooked white beans underneath. For duck #2, we had foie gras. For this I just did a quick pan sear and laid it over a blood orange gastrique. I should have let it rest on a piece of paper towel much longer before transferring it onto a plate. Side note: I saved the excess fat to make some delicious dog treats, somewhere in the distant future. For the last component, I just pan-seared the duck breast and plated it with a pumpkin puree and a natural jus. I didn’t like the plating of the puree – lesson learned.
For the jus, I butchered and roasted an entire duck (leftover from a school-related project) in a 400°F oven until it was s nice and brown. Once it reached the right colour, I quickly cut off the meat and tore it into smaller pieces, then returned it to the oven at a lower heat until it was crispy. Believe it or not, all of the meat reduced down to a single ramekin that would become dog treats for the next few days – we love our girls! I added the bones (and some meat still attached) to a pot with water, onion, carrots, and some aromatics and brought it to a boil, then lowered it to a simmer. After a few hours, I took everything out and strained it into another pot and begin to reduce the stock even more. Once it reached the right flavour/concentration, I added roughly 0.03-0.05% xanthan gum to achieve the right consistency and mixed it with an immersion blender.
Dessert: floating islands. For the floating island, I tried cooking the meringue in the microwave instead of poaching it. Using the microwave method was definitely much easier and less time consuming than the oven, however I found that the egg whites shrunk a lot and the texture was not as soft as it would normally be. It’s not a hard no for the microwave method, but I’ll definitely need to do additional testing to get the right power and cook time in the future. The other components were pretty straightforward, so I won’t bore you with the details.