I know what I want for Christmas.
No, that doesn’t mean that I think Christmas is all about presents. It just means I KNOW it’s a tiny, little bit about that. I so enjoy buying a present for someone that totally and completely excites them. And who am I to stand there, arms crossed, looking all grinch-y and say that getting a present for myself is silly? This is Australia’s silly season after all.
Now that I’ve completely justified it to myself – I’d like to ask for another cooking class at The Social Kitchen, please. And thank you.
This past Saturday was my first.
Parking at Queen Victoria Market is easy at 9:30am and finding your way to the all-black, pop up cooking school is even easier – head towards the corner of Peel and Victoria Street and you’ll spot it. Make your way through the sliding glass doors and you’ll be greeted with a smile, a name tag and a request for a coffee order.
The first thing you’ll notice is that the room is beautiful. Straight out of the set of a cooking show, except better because there are no cameras, lights, or audiences crowding the room. It’s just you, your new friends (“I swear I’m not looking at you boobs, I’m just trying to read your name tag”), the fresh food from Queen Victoria Market, the kick-ass Fisher and Paykel appliances and your chef.
Half the fun of the class is the chef. The Social Kitchen offers a full range of classes and a full range of chefs to choose from. We’re not talking any old chefs, we’re talking the heads of the most delicious restaurants in Melbourne. Our chef was Keith Jackson. He is a hands on, do it to taste, do-what-you-want-as-long-as-it-tastes-good type of chef and I absolutely loved it. Keith danced from cooking station to cooking station making sure we were heading in the right direction with our recipes. He didn’t even get angry when I burnt the meringues courtesy of the white wine I couldn’t stop consuming. It was about 10:30am.
What I loved most is that we didn’t just have fun trying to follow recipes, we learned valuable things. For example:
- The correct way to chop onions (I went home and tried it that very night and did not cry one tear. Jack was very impressed.)
- Simply chopping a garlic will not do a thing, you must smash it to pieces and then do what you will with it.
- MSG is not all bad, it’s the fake MSG that gets you because, okay, there is MSG is parmesan cheese, and tomato sauce, and anchovies.
- We cannot taste salt past a certain level in the air.
- Scones are actually the perfect meal.
- I desperately need a new kitchen with all Fisher and Paykel appliances.
I’m sorry I’m bombarding you with information, but I just had SO MUCH FUN that I needed to share. In the end we made strawberry bruschettas, pan seared Duck in shiraz with garlic spinach and raspberries, and a deconstructed smashed pavlova. YUM!
I wish there was some sort of monthly membership to The Social Kitchen. It would be such a better gift to give myself than only one class. Oh well, I just really hope I like it.
Pan seared Duck, Shiraz and Raspberries recipe after the jump!
Pan Seared Duck, Shiraz and Raspberries
Courtesy of The Social Kitchen
(translated into “Cooking for Dummies” style)(Because I need that)
Prep time: 10 minutes
cook time: 25 minutes
1 1/2 cups raspberries
1 large shallot, finely diced
1/2 cup shiraz
2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil
4 duck breasts, skin scored in a crosshatch pattern
salt and pepper
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons of honey
3 tablespoons of cold unsalted butter
1 teaspoon of chopped thyme
1 – In a baking dish or bowl, smash 1/2 cup of the raspberries. Stir in minced shallot, 1/4 cups of red wine and the olive oil.
2 – Add in the duck breasts and turn to coat. Turn the breasts skin side up inside the bowl, cover with glad wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3 – Get hot fry pan ready.
4 – Take out breasts and crape the marinade from the duck breasts back into the bowl and keep it on the side (it will be used for sauce). Pat the duck breasts dry with paper towels, season them with salt and pepper and set them in a large hot frypan, skin side down. Cook over moderately high heat for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the skin is well browned and crisp, about 6 minutes. Turn the duck breasts and cook until medium rare, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer to a carving board and let rest for 5 minutes.
5 – Get rid of the fat from the skillet. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of red wine and boil until reduced (goes down) by half.
6 – Add the reserved marinade and the water and simmer over moderate heat until the sauce is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.
7 – Strain the sauce into a small saucepan and whisk in the honey. Take off the heat and add butter. Stir through carefully, allowing the butter to gradually melt.
8 – Add the thyme and season with salt and pepper.
9 – Thickly slice the duck breasts cross wire on the diagonal and transfer to plates. Spoon the red wine sauce around the duck, scatter the remaining 1 cup of raspberries on top and serve.