Friday, 22 June 2012

A Drop o' the Hard Stuff

I do like a drink.

 Not just any drink though.

I only really like a nice cold glass of  white wine- preferably French and preferably Sauvignon Blanc. I will occasionally sip a Prosecco or champagne- but that's as far as it goes. 
I might look longingly at an Italian red when in a pizzeria, or a chilled rose de provence on a summer's evening- but I know it won't agree with me so I steer clear.

I do however have a well stocked drinks cabinet - full of  nearly empty liqueurs and spirits, bought for Christmases and dinner parties and only gradually used up over the years. (I have a half bottle of Calvados left over from my honeymoon 30 years ago!)
So, my challenge this week was to think of different ways of using up some of the alcoholic bits and bobs in my cupboard.

I started with the vermouth and made Slow Cooked Duck Legs with Vermouth:

Slow cooking the duck in a slow cooker or low oven ensures tender meat and a rich sauce. Using the vermouth gives a lovely herby, sweet taste to the sauce.
1 duck leg per person
1 cup red vermouth
1 cup chicken stock
1 onion finely chopped
1 tsp five spice powder
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
1. First brown the duck legs skin side down in a dry frying pan until they are golden and the fat runs out freely
2, Place them in the slow cooker or casserole dish skin side up and rub the skin with a little salt and the five spice powder
3 Soften the onion in the duck fat and add to the dish
4. Pour the vermouth and stock around the legs and add the bay leaf
5. Cook in the slow cooker for 6 hours or in the oven for 2 hours
6. Serve with a vegetable of your choice

Next it was the sherry- with a classic sherry trifle: sponge or leftover cake, soaked in sherry, with fruit, jelly if you like it and custard- with cream.
The creme de cassis was next on the hit list: first drizzled over some fresh nectarines and strawberries:

And then used to make little sweet toasts: butter thin slices of brioche or canape toasts ( I used fig bread), spread with honey and slices of fresh fruit, and a squeeze of lemon juice.Drizzle over a little liqueur of your choice and bake in the oven (180 degrees for 30 mins or until the toasts are crisp and the fruit is soft.) Sprinkle with icing sugar or chopped nuts and serve with ice cream.
The peppermint liqueur went with some finely chopped kiwi and honeydew melon in a shot glass as part of an assiette gourmande ( a plate of tiny little puddings - like a dessert menu in 3D!):

Have I finished? Not quite. I made Pimms jellies for dinner tonight: jelly (orange or lemon) dissolved with some fresh fruit and Pimms and served with mint and lemon. (You can use gelatine leaves - 4 leaves to 500  ml- and fresh fruit juice if you prefer.)

I have plans for the coconut punch, rum and possibly even the Calvados- but for that I need the contents of my Mystery Parcel which just arrived.

 Can you guess what it is yet?


  1. Hi Leftover Liz! Those fruit toasts look amazing,and so simple. I'm definitely going to give them a try this week. Did you use nectarines? Any other fruit to recommend? Might work well as part of an assiette gourmande!

    1. I can't take too much credit for these- they came from a recipe book given me recently :) 'Food from Plenty' by Diana Henry. I used nectarines but she used cherries though - with kirsch.

    2. Oh, excellent! Cookery books are such great presents, they are full of ideas that you can share and share. I'm going to try the toasts this weekend with some leftover peaches and red fruit from the garden :) Thanks for the tip!

  2. Hi Leftover Liz =) As a busy single gal, I find your suggestions for using leftovers incredibly helpful and inspiring (although I have to confess alcohol is one thing I tend not to have leftovers of in my house...)

    This week I made rice paper parcels with leftover beef and vegetable stew when I got bored of eating it on its own - my housemate thought I was mad, but I really enjoyed my Irish-Vietnamese fusion cooking!

    Love to you and yours - and don't stop blogging!
    <3 your #1 Australian fan.

    PS - very curious about the Mystery Parcel...

  3. Hi Jane

    What a coincidence! I found myself in an Asian supermarket at the weekend and bought some spring roll wrappers to try out various leftover fillings. Your Irish stew idea has inspired me. Brilliant!