I came across Jennifer Chiaverini's books by pure chance, browsing the Returned Fiction shelves in the local library. Having read one, I got hooked and started looking for the other books in the series (I believe there are 14 in total). I haven't read them all, but the escapism of the series has a strong appeal.
"The Quilter's Kitchen" met some serious criticism among the fans of the series who complained that the plot was thin and the characters were flat. I think they missed the point that the plot is just the thread that holds all the recipes together, as first of all, it is a cook book, and should be appreciated as such. I read the recipes with great interest, as they are holding the key to the past and I felt immersed in a different world and reality.
I don't mind the American measurements or cooking ingredients. But as these recipes mostly cater for a crowd or at least a big family, it won't be as easy for me to recreate some of them, as simply halving the amount doesn't work, you still need to know the ratio etc.
I planned to cook a duck for our Christmas, and Chiaverini's recipe for the roast duck with the raspberry coulis was very inspiring.
Roast Duck with Raspberry Coulis
1 whole duck (about 7 pounds), excess fat and skin removed from neck and cavity
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/4 cup molasses
Juice and rind from 2 oranges
3 garlic cloves, minced
For the raspberry coulis:
12 ounces fresh or frozen raspberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp molasses
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
Using a sharp knife, carefully score the breast of the duck, about four times on each side, cutting through the skin to allow fat to render. Season generously with salt and pepper.
Place the molasses, orange juice and garlic in a small bowl and stir to combine. Place the orange rinds inside the cavity of the duck. Place the duck in a small roasting pan or large oven-proof skillet and brush with about one-quarter of the molasses mixture.
Transfer the duck to the oven and roast, basting every hour with the molasses mixture, until very tender and the legs move easily in their joints, about 4 to 5 hours.
Prepare the coulis: While the duck is cooking, place the raspberries, sugar, molasses and brandy in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Press the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer. Refrigerate until ready to use.
As often, I used the recipe as an inspiration and changed a few bits. I didn't have molasses, but have read that the treacle is the closest in flavour and texture, so I used the treacle instead. Less garlic too.
Plus I added stuffing inside the cavity. The stuffing was Heston Blumenthal's duck and pork stuffing with red cherries (again my curiosity defeated me, as the stuffing was just OK, nothing to write home about, won't be buying it again).
And I cooked it for about 3 hours, not more.
I served the duck with the coulis and also the cranberry & orange relish.
The recipe works well, and my thanks go to Jennifer Chiaverini for an inspirational cook book!