Sage leaves fried in duck fat, and a citrus salad with asparagus, a visual and culinary feast. Good Hope Pinot and Mailly Extra Brut champagne superb.
Blues Festival. A tad noisy for my taste. However, Ann Jangle was a revelation. Fabulous company made up for the lousy wine on a stunning summer afternoon.
Took my bothersome Achilles out for a slow jog as the sun was getting up. The pathways and roads already busy with runners, walkers, cyclists and jet-lagged holiday makers. The cappuccino at the end most welcome.
Sculpting with paint. Minimal, bold strokes. ‘Homeless’, my portrait of a man at Wit-lokkasie. The angular contours of the face reminiscence of a sculpture. His dark skin, and the composition in profile, strengthening the angles. Staring at the world through vacant eyes, he is absorbed in the unfolding tragedy of the forest fires that swept through the houses of Wit-lokkasie.
I wasn’t happy with the tones of the face, which was dominated by a pink hue. The magic paintbox providing a rescue with the Monaco Madder toning down the pink. The high translucency of the paint adding richness to the portrait.
The sun trying hard to end its long day, bringing out a bank of clouds to help end its 16 hours of holiday sunshine. Even the owls are hooting impatiently!
As we head towards Christmas, the studio is busy with people passing through. Artists intrigued at my style. Holiday makers browsing. Shoppers searching for presents, or to fill a spot on a wall? Impatient partners wanting a moment of quiet to catch-up with their emails, while the bunch of kids are distracted.
Merry Christmas to all
Magrets de Canard with Cassis & Pears – Marlene van der Westhuizen
From her book “Secrets of a French Cooking Class”, recently launched, Marlene offers these breasts from the ducks that are used for foie gras or confit are called magrets. The ducks have been carefully fattened and are fabulously tasty. If the duck breasts are quite large, you could easily halve the portion per person.
6 duck breasts
salt and white pepper
1 T freshly chopped sage
300 ml Pinot noir
1 T honey
1 star anise
2 bay leaves
6 pears, peeled, cored and sliced in quarters
75 ml crème de cassis
250 g blueberries
50 g butter
a handful of sage
Mix the salt, pepper and chopped sage together. Score the duck breasts’ skin well and rub the salt mixture into the incisions.
Place the breasts skin side down in a large pan and cook over a very, very low heat for about 30 minutes. The duck fat will slowly be released from the breasts and the meat will confit very gently in its own fat.
Turn the breasts only once just before serving. This will ensure that the breasts are really tender and still pink on the inside.
In the meantime bring the wine and honey to the boil in a small cooking pot. Add the cloves, star anise and bay leaves.
Add the pear quarters and boil them in the wine mixture until they are slightly cooked but still firm. Use a slotted spoon to remove the pears from the syrup.
Add the cassis to the wine syrup and bring to a fast boil, reducing the syrup by about half.
Slice the duck breasts into thin strips and arrange them on a warm serving platter. Toss the pears and blueberries gently together in the syrup and spoon the fruit and berry mixture onto the platter with the duck breasts.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan and flash-fry the sage leaves. Remove the leaves from the butter with a fork and drain them on a sheet of kitchen paper.
Use the leaves as a garnish and serve immediately.
Marlene van der Westhuizen
Marlene van der Westhuizen, is a well-known chef and author of a number of very successful cookbooks – Abundance, Delectable and Sumptuous are the best-known. She divides her time between Greenpoint in Cape Town and Charroux in France where she runs very popular cooking courses (with a waiting list of several years!).