gordon ramsay duck breast

This is possibly the best tasting dish I’ve created to date! I found a recipe for Gordon Ramsay’s duck breast and tried to replicate the main components down to the dot (including the parsnip puree) while modifying some aspects (used tomatillo to add some balance to the sweet chutney).

duck breasts spiced

The duck breast is a beautiful piece of meat. I really like cooking with it, and I think this is the best way to savor the cut. I’m not a huge fan of traditional Chinese BBQ duck and never knew duck breast could taste this awesome until I did this. I was so engrossed in cooking that I didn’t notice I got rendered duck fat (yum!) on the camera lens so some of the later photos are a bit smudgy. The recipe is modified from Red Online.

gordon ramsay duck ingredients

You will need:

  • 2 duck breasts
  • Fresh tomatillos
  • Cranberry chutney
  • Parsnips
  • Heavy cream
  • Fresh milk
  • Goat cheese
  • Rosemary
  • Madeira wine

scoring duck breasts

The duck breast needs to be scored for better cooking and I did three (3) quick and light incisions into the skin – barely hitting the meat below.

I did not use *any* butter or olive oil. I just slapped the duck breast skin side down on the pan and kept the heat consistent. You’ll be amazed by how much oil the skin produces!

rendering duck fat

The tasty skin from the duck breast renders into delicious duck fat. You can get an insane amount of the stuff – probably 6-7 tablespoons of duck fat from 2 medium breasts alone! There’s nothing quite like duck fat rendering – it smells positively mouth-watering.

tomatillos

I actually bought the tomatillos to make salsa verde but I thought it’ll be perfect to put an acidic twist, which was supposed to be from the zest and juice of an orange. The original recipe by Gordon Ramsay also calls for port and cranberry jelly which I substituted with Madeira wine and Cranberry Apple Chutney.

BTW, if you think that the tomatillos looks a lot like cape gooseberry (sold as physalis here) that’s coz they come from the same family!

ramsay duck recipe

The duck breasts are really easy to cook – after about 10 minutes on low heat with the skin side down, the fat has mostly rendered – flip them over and lightly brown the other side for a couple of minutes and leave it to rest.

madeira wine deglaze

The Madeira wine is used to deglaze the pan. It’s a cooking term that means “scrape the crap from your pan with a liquid while keeping the heat on and keep the liquid + crap”. smirk

parsnip puree

Meanwhile, I had cut my parsnips into small chunks, steamed them and peeled it to be ready for the food processor – in reverse order. Add some heavy cream and put it on high for a couple of seconds. I also added some fresh milk and then puréed the parsnips some more. You can make the parsnip puree creamier by sieving it though some fine mesh before serving.

apple cranberry chutney

Back to the sauce, I added chopped tomatillos, cranberry and apple chutney and Madeira wine to deglaze the pan. I let this bubble for about 10 minutes to extract the flavor from the tomatillos, tasted it and pronounced it good!

butter chutney

However, I thought it would be *better* with some butter so I put in a generous slice of butter and the Madeira jus was ready to be poured on top of the rested duck!

gordon ramsay duck

I sliced one duck breast for my dear and kept mine whole. I wanted my duck breast to be served on top of the Madeira jus with cranberry apple chutney and tomatillos so I plated my dish with the duck sitting on top of the sauce.

pan fried duck

My dear wanted hers sliced so that’s what I did and spooned the sauce over the duck. I also added some salad and edible flowers in addition to the parsnip purée on the side. I’m told that this is my best dish to date and I quite like it as well!

duck breast sliced

The duck breast tastes deliciously rich and the sweet-acidic Madeira jus complements it perfectly. The parsnip purée is ingenious too since the dish would be way to heavy with potatoes. I’m really keen to cook this again, it’s surprisingly easy and the rendered duck fat can be kept and used for other things (they actually sell duck fat in some gourmet groceries).

stuffed artichoke

Stuffed artichokes are actually quite easy to do once you’ve prepared the artichoke. The cutting of thorns and getting the choke out of the artichoke is the difficult part. Now you just have to stuff and cook it!

Artichokes can be eaten just steamed/boiled with butter and that is a fine way to eat it.

stuffing artichoke

However, I decided to stuff my artichoke for a better dish to present to my dear and this is the stuffing I used:

  • Breadcrumbs (stale from artisan bread – refrigerated)
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Lemon zest
  • Olive oil
  • Pepper
  • Salt
  • Lemon juice

stuffing for artichokes

You want the consistency of the stuffing to be slightly moist, so what I did was to pour the breadcrumbs into a bowl and then mix in the rest of the ingredients, slowly adding olive oil until it’s slightly moist.

breadcrumbs artichoke

If you’re wondering what lemon zest is, it’s the peel of the lemon that’s been grated. I know, I just found out too. smirk

boiling artichokes

Stuff the inside of the artichoke with this prepared stuffing and also get the stuffing into the petals at the side so it’s even.

cooking stuffed artichokes

I also added some whole garlic into the petals coz I heard it undergoes a transformation that makes it delicious (it doesn’t).

basil leaves stock

Next, I prepared water that goes about 1/4 up the height of the artichoke and saturated it with basil leaves from our own herb garden.

cooking stuffed artichoke

I put the stuffed artichoke in the basil filled liquid (make sure it’s *standing up*) and squeezed one (1) whole lemon all around it before throwing in the lemons.

stuffed artichokes

The pot is put on a slow boil with the lid on for about an hour. Mine was a fairly huge artichoke so it took me about 1 hour 15 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when the petals are tender.

eating artichoke petals

The eating of an artichoke is quite interesting and fun! I had this with my better half and we took turns peeling off the artichoke petals…

gripping artichoke petals

…and dabbing it in butter before squeezing the good stuff out with your teeth.

artichoke petals

This is actually quite a fun way to eat! You have to grip the artichoke petal between your teeth with the fleshy end down (the part you peel from the artichoke) and pull it through your teeth!

eating artichoke

I can see why they put artichokes in the aphrodisiac category! ;)

preparing artichoke

I had a lot of fun doing this step-by-step guide to cooking and eating an artichoke. It’s an unusual vegetable which a lot of people avoid due to the difficulty in preparing it. It’s actually not that hard, you just need a sharp pair of kitchen scissors and *a lot of lemons*!

removing artichoke spines

The first one is to snip off the spines of the globe artichoke and the latter is to prevent the rapid oxidization (artichokes almost turn immediately brown when you cut into it).

You will need:

  • 2-3 lemons
  • Sharp kitchen scissors
  • Slicing knife
  • A sturdy metal spoon

eating artichokes

The artichoke we got cost RM 24.69. It’s RM 45.90 per kg and I calculate that each petal costs over RM 1! That’s coz the grocery sells the artichoke with a huge stem (which you can’t really eat).

cutting artichoke thorns

The first thing you do is to snip off the sharp spines in the individual petals on the artichoke. Just use your kitchen scissors to cut it off so a flat edge is formed.

artichoke lemons

You will need to squeeze lemon juice (or rather dip the lemon half into the cut petal) as soon as you snip the thorns off. This is to prevent it from turning brown. Get those lemons ready!!! smirk

artichoke stem

Once you have worked over the entire green artichoke and removed all the thorns, it’s time to cut off the stem. You need to get the stem level to the artichoke or about 1 inch from the end, depending on the recipe.

cutting artichoke

I think the stalk on my artichoke was a good 3-4 inches. It makes it look pretty, like a flower, but most people don’t eat the stem.

opening artichoke

Now that everything is done, you need to remove the choke in the artichoke – use a sharp knife to slice 3/4 of an inch off the top of the artichoke. Remember to squeeze lemon juice all over the artichoke when you do this to prevent oxidization.

removing artichoke

The next part is where your study metal spoon comes in…you need to use it to dig into the artichoke so you remove the choke. Think of it as using the spoon to eat a particularly hard frozen iced confectionery. That’s the same motion you should be using. Dig down and remove!

removing choke

Some people can remove it with one dig but I never could. That’s not important, the important thing is to get the entire choke out since that’s totally inedible. It’s the pink/purple interior of the artichoke that comes with fibres that looks like asbestos.

artichoke choke fibers

I’m kidding, I don’t know what asbestos fibers look like but I imagine it’s similar to these! It’s almost feather like to the touch and you have to remove every single bit of the choke.

cleaning artichoke

Make sure your artichoke is clean and free of the choke by a simple visual inspection (you can leave the heart in – that’s edible) and it’s ready to cook! You now have a clean artichoke!

dressed artichoke

I did a stuffed artichoke from this with breadcrumbs and garlic – I’ll put that up soon! :)

jerusalem artichokes

Jerusalem artichokes is a bit of a misnomer. They’re neither artichokes nor do they hail from Israel. I heard the name “Jerusalem” comes from the Italian word for sunflower – girasole. This vegetable belongs to the sunflower family and it’s a small, lumpy, brown-skinned tuber instead of the beautiful green of the true globe artichoke.

Here’s a photo of an artichoke with Jerusalem artichokes side by side. They look very different coz they *are* completely different things. I got both of them while grocery shopping yesterday.

jerusalem artichokes vs artichokes

I found a recipe by Jamie Oliver for Sautéed Jerusalem Artichokes and modified it a bit. I cooked this last night for dinner while my better half came out with the protein dish. You will need:

preparing jerusalem artichokes

  • 200 grams Jerusalem artichokes
  • 100 grams Portobello mushrooms
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 100 ml dry white cooking wine
  • Salt and pepper to taste

peeling jerusalem artichokes

The hardest part about cooking Jerusalem artichokes is the peeling bit. The tubers are tiny and knobbly and it’s really hard to get a grip on the little things to peel away the skin. After that labor intensive process is done (enlisted the help of my dear – she volunteered after listening to the choice French phrases I directed at the tubers smirk) you just need to slice them into chunks.

I sautéed the the Jerusalem artichokes in a pressure frying pan with olive oil and some thinly sliced garlic until golden brown before adding in 50 ml of dry white wine (eye-balled it) and putting the lid back on.

cooking jerusalem artichokes

I waited for 15 minutes and then put the sliced Portobello mushrooms in and adding the remaining 50 ml of white wine. I let it reduce (only takes a while coz the mushrooms absorb the wine) and served it up with some basil from our own herb garden.

We were both pleasantly surprised by the taste – the Jerusalem artichokes are crunchy and sweet! I thought it was just a bit of sales talk (grocery place-card says the tubers can be sweet) but it really is deliciously crisp and sweet! It’s a delicious dish, but Jerusalem artichokes sells for RM 39.90 per kg over here so it’s more expensive than local offerings.

sauteed jerusalem artichokes

I’ll love to eat it again though. I can see a lot of possibilities e.g. puréed, deep fried etc. I’m going to do a stuffed globe artichoke tonight so it’s back-to-back artichokes (except the Jerusalem artichoke is actually a tuber). :D

poached chicken nectarine puree

This is the best dish I’ve cooked to date! The chicken breast is really *poached* i.e. it’s cooked in ambient hot water with no direct heat for 20 minutes. I learned this technique in a MasterClass and it’s an exact replication of that dish.

poach chicken

The protein in this dish comes from the crown of chicken breast without the wishbone, which I cut from a whole chicken.

beetroot food processor

You will need:

  • Two chicken breasts
  • 1 large beetroot
  • 1 nectarine
  • Raw goat milk
  • Nuts
  • Rosemary
  • Garlic scapes

poaching chicken

It’s quite a simple dish but the trick to cooking it is the perfect poaching of the chicken. The way to do it is to season a pot of water with garlic scapes, rosemary and salt and let it boil.

garlic scapes

I used garlic scapes (also known as garlic flower) to flavor the broth coz it tastes milder than garlic. It costs a lot more though at RM 19.90 / kg.

indirect heat cooking

When the water has started boiling, take the pot off the flame/electric hob/heating element and slide in the crown of chicken breast. Set a timer for 20 minutes and put the lid back on. You do not need direct heat to cook this – just the residual heat from the boiled stock.

goat milk puree

Meanwhile, I exchanged the vegetable puree that was in the original dish with a beetroot and nectarine puree. I also used raw goat milk while processing the puree. I felt that the colors look nice, and more importantly, it tasted awesome!

beetroot nectarine puree

The sweetness of the nectarine balances out the beetroot and you get a nice red puree for plating.

poached chicken

The crown of chicken breast should be taken out right at the 20 minute point, skin removed, and sliced into the two breast meat that it contains. I further made three cuts to each chicken breast be faithful to the dish replication.

chicken breast crown

The last step is to grind up some nuts or cereal and scatter it on the top of the plated chicken. It looks beautiful (if I can say so myself) and best of all, it tastes great!

grinder nuts

I’ve never tried indirect heat cooking and got it right at the first try. The beetroot and nectarine puree is smothered over the plate before the chicken breast is plated for the dish to pop (yes, you can roll your eyes right about now smirk) but the sweet puree was so good we ate it in other dishes too, like the king grouper in fish pastry shells.

poached chicken beetroot puree

My dear better half finished her dish and it was good to be able to do a restaurant quality dish from just watching a show. Haha! I’m putting this into Best of sixthseal.com – a category which I put very few of my posts into. :D

coke chicken

I remember Coke Chicken from the early 90′s when my sister watched her TVB drama series. The characters would go to a tai pai tong (an informal hawker stall, totally different from a cha chang teng) and ask for it. It was the first time I’ve heard of chicken being cooked with Coca-Cola and wondered if it actually *tastes like Coke*.

I have not been to Hong Kong at that point so I was intrigued by the sudden explosion in the popularity of Coke Chicken since then. It’s not so popular now (can’t find it in HK) but it’s a very fast and delicious way to make chicken.

ho lok kai

This is my better half’s recipe, it’s what we cooked for dinner last night:

  • 1 can Coca-Cola
  • 2 tablespoons cooking caramel (dark soy sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 300 grams chicken wings and drumsticks

coke chicken recipe

I wanted the drumsticks but Coke Chicken usually refers to wings, or so the TVB series would lead me to believe.

cooking with coke

There have been claims that this does not work with Diet Coke due to the (loads) of sugar required to *caramelize* the chicken. I’ve also heard that the addition of Coca-Cola is for the bicarbonate of soda, which is an *alkaline solution* that can actually change the fibers in chicken meat. The other camp says that Coke is acidic so it’s ideal as a *marinating agent* to tenderize protein.

coke chicken reduction

I don’t know which of the above it true, or none at all. I have found no research to quantify it, just the same words passed on without references. However, this dish is a quick and delicious meal. You just heat up the Coke while the marinated chicken is fried till golden brown. The chicken is then put into the Coca-Cola until it reduces to a thick sauce.

coca cola chicken

I like the idea of it though and I’ll try it with other beverages (Bundaberg Ginger Beer, Fanta Grape, different lagers and ales etc) and see how it goes! :)

fish inside fish

This is a dish that I made for my better half during our anniversary. It’s basically fish inside a fish pastry case! :) Bouchee is a small flaky pastry shell and the word poissons means “fish” in French. There’s apparently only one manufacturer who makes bouchees poissons from a Google Image search.

This is my interpretation of Bouchee a la Reine – a French pastry dish but without the bechamel.

bouchees poissons

I bought a 250 gram piece of King Grouper at RM 80 / kg. It cost me slightly over RM 20 and I like this fish due to the relative lack of bones. You will need:

  • Fillet of grouper
  • Dry white wine
  • Fish pastry shells
  • Lemons
  • Arugula
  • Applemint
  • Butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

king grouper

I pan fried the King Grouper with lots of butter to produce a nice sear before removing it from the pan.

dry white wine

The next thing I did was to break down the fillet of King Grouper into smaller pieces so it’ll fit into the fish pastry shells.

arugula puree

I decided to play with my food processor and make an arugula and applemint puree. I had read up on it and blanched the arugula in hot water quickly before removing it and adding lemon juice so it retains that *bright green* color.

blancing arugula

However, the arugula and applemint puree turned out to be a bit of a disaster. There was just too little of the wild rocket leaves. 80 grams got processed into barely two tablespoons of watery “puree”. It did taste good though – the acidity from the lemons and the addition of applemint really makes it pop.

Sorry if that oft-repeated pretentious term made you cringe. It made me laugh while typing it too. smirk

arugula applemint puree

I had the impromptu idea of removing the insides of the bouchees poissons to the white wine reduction sauce and small pieces of King Grouper so there’s pieces of flaky pastry to soak up the liquid.

white wine reduction

This has the added benefit of heating up the fish before serving.

bouchee a la reine

I also plucked a bit of basil from our herb garden and added it to the fish pastry shells stuffed with buttered King Grouper. It was so good we finished all four (4) of the bouchees poissons – which has a net weight of 120 grams in addition to the fish! :)

ramen burger

This is a homemade ramen burger that my better half made for me during our anniversary. It’s not burger in ramen but the other way round – the bun in the burger is substituted with ramen noodles! Thus, the patty is encased in ramen noodles instead of a regular burger bun.

ramen

I hear it’s all the rage and she managed to do it on her first attempt. You need to cook the ramen noodles, add a bit of the seasoning, and mix an egg inside (once the noodles have cooled) before sealing it in Glad wrap in the fridge overnight for it to set.

ramen burger bun

The ramen burger is delicious! You have to fry the ramen burger after it’s formed and set before using it as a bun replacement. It stayed intact throughout the eating process so I’m very impressed – the “ramen bun” didn’t fall apart. I’ll love to pick her brains and do this again myself during the weekend!

Just writing about it got me hankering for burgers!

Short mention:

It’s difficult to explain. Words just doesn’t do it justice. You’ll be better off watching the video above of two grown men talking in a totally heterosexual manner (one on the porcelain throne, the other submerged in the tub) in an attempt to describe the awesomeness that is the KFC Crazy Crunch. It features Reuben Kang so expect his classic humor to shine through!

There’s a parody out on Facebook by Shaheizy Sam (not sure who this dude is) and I personally don’t think it’s funny but it has gotten a quite a few Likes so maybe different people have a different sense of humor. I apologize in advance for wasting 16 seconds of your time that you’re not going to ever get back (watch the first Germani Network video instead) but it just goes to show – is the KFC Crazy Crunch really that hard to describe?

Hmm…

japan square persimmons

Look at this! It’s square persimmons from Japan! I’ve seen square Japanese watermelons before (apparently, they’re easier to pack) and with their penchant of all things square, the humble persimmon has not been spared this treatment.

square persimmons

I bought two of this last night. It’s RM 25 for two – each square persimmon costs RM 12.50! I got it on promo though so it was 50% off. It felt just the right amount of squishy so I thought it’ll be alright. It’s not cheap though – one bite will cost you RM 6.

japanese persimmons

We had it for breakfast this morning after chilling it in the fridge – the square persimmons are really sweet and juicy! We both loved it! The skin is very thin and not tough at all so you can eat it if you want but the epitome of decadence is to just eat the flesh inside. A delicious start to the day!

virginia ham gouda cheese

I also made us sandwiches for breakfast. You will need:

  • Smoked Virginia ham
  • Crab pate
  • Arugula (rocket leaves)
  • Gouda cheese slices
  • Thick sliced bread
  • Eggs

scrambled egg

I made a sunny side up egg for myself and a “scrambled egg” over easy with milk, pepper and salt for my dear. She also wanted a open face sandwich while I opted for tradition as we had a really thick sliced milk loaf. I also omitted the crab pate and Gouda for hers but it’s essentially the same sandwich…just more work for me since we like our eggs different.

Kidding, dear! smirk

kewpie sandwich sauce

I fried the thick milk bread with butter for the additional crisp. Her version is a single slice with the over easy scrambled egg, one slice of smoked Virginia ham and rocket leaves, served up as is. She added some of that dreadful Kewpie sandwich sauce she likes on top.

I don’t use salt, pepper or any other condiments for mine coz I reckon the ham, crab pate and Gouda cheese has more than enough flavor! (and the fragrant butter to fry the bread too)

gouda cheese

I spread a bit of crab pate on one slice of the bread and added two (2) slices of Hormel smoked Virginia ham. It was on special – I asked for 150 grams and got 148 grams (6 thin slices) for RM 10.35. It’s less than RM 2 per slice! I fried the other side with butter and put the Gouda cheese on top so it’ll melt and slid my sunny side up egg and some arugula in.

I love sunny side up eggs coz the yolk just oozes out when you slice the sandwich!

virginia ham sandwich

Sunday breakfasts is something we both look forward to – we get groceries before and see if there’s anything new. The square Japanese persimmons gets two huge thumbs up from us! I’ll wake up early and make a sandwich (or sometimes it’ll be her who cooks). I have amassed quite a lot of sandwich recipes!

open face sandwich

It’s not crappy store-bought commercial bread with unusual ingredients for experimentation and a laugh either. I think my cooking has improved a lot and my sandwiches now are more, dare I say it, artisanal (even sounds anally-retentive from the last two syllables ;)). I should put up a Top 10 lists of the best sandwiches I’ve made, a new list with artisan bread and ingredients like prosciutto. smirk

cocoa oreo milkshake

This is an *adults-only milkshake* that I just made as a trial tomorrow and it’s perfect for a Friday night – excessive amounts of cocoa powder and single malt Scotch whisky are two of the main ingredients. I used Hershey’s Natural Unsweetened Cocoa which is a 100% cocoa powder.

oreos

The choice of Scotch is up to which area (Highlands, Islay, etc) you’re partial to but I used a Speyside 12 year old single malt Scotch whisky for mine since I like the taste of Cardhu (and it comes in a decanter like bottle with a huge stopper).

You will need:

  • 1 glass cold milk
  • 4 heaped tablespoons of Hershey’s Natural Unsweetened Cocoa
  • 3 scoops of vanilla ice cream
  • 4 Oreo cookies
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of cream
  • Single malt Scotch whisky to taste

cold milk

There is no reason to weigh the cold milk – my better half just brought over a scale and I wanted to try it out. Haha!

hersheys cocoa

I added 4 heaped tablespoons of Hershey’s Natural Unsweetened Cocoa into the blender – this is a very heavy and strong tasting cocoa powder (100% cocoa) so you don’t need to put in a lot unlike chocolate/malt drinks like Milo and Ovaltine and the pricing reflects that.

add oreos

I put in 3 Oreo cookies (plain) into the mix and discovered it wasn’t enough so added another via the drop-in hatch on top

cream milkshake

Next, put in the heavy cream

scotch milkshake

…and add the single malt Scotch whisky to taste. I poured in quite a lot of Cardhu 12 year old Scotch. I think I put nearly 3-4 shots inside. I still maintain it was a slip of the hand. smirk

You just need to blend this all up and pour to serve! It’ll fit into a single glass with a little to spare.

cocoa scotch milkshake

The cocoa and Oreo milkshake tastes good! The cocoa was a bit too intense so I’ll cut it down tomorrow. There’s also too much Scotch, my dear took a sip and nearly threw up, but it tastes alright to me. However, we noticed that it wasn’t as cold as we imagined and that’s coz…

We forgot the ice cream! -_-

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