SMOKED DUCK & AU­TUMN FRUIT SKEW­ERS

Food & Drink - - ENTERTAINING WITH KIDS - BY MONDA ROSEN­BERG

Warm har­vest fruit, ar­ranged beau­ti­fully on cock­tail skew­ers, is a wel­come start to any meal. Adding pieces of sump­tu­ous smoked duck lifts these nib­bles from hum­ble to haute, es­pe­cially with a dust­ing of fivespice sea­son­ing. When making your fruit choices, keep a mix of colours in mind. If you chose a ruby-skinned plum, con­sider a green-skinned ap­ple or pear. We’ve stuck to On­tario fruit, but cle­men­tine sec­tions, for ex­am­ple, as well as dark grapes also look good. The fi­nal touch is a spiced maple-bal­samic syrup to use as a dip or driz­zle over the ke­babs just be­fore serv­ing.

SPICED MAPLE–BAL­SAMIC SYRUP

½ cup (125 mL) maple syrup

2 tbsp (30 mL) bal­samic vine­gar ¼ tsp (1 mL) cin­na­mon

Gen­er­ous pinch of ground car­damom

SKEW­ERS

24 skew­ers, about 4 inches (10 cm) long 1 smoked duck breast, about 12 oz (340 g) Five-spice pow­der

Green seed­less grapes, about 6

2 plums, prefer­ably one golden and one red-skinned

1 small ap­ple

1 small pear or peach

½ cup (125 mL) melted but­ter

2 tbsp (30 mL) finely chopped fresh mar­jo­ram or lemon thyme

Fresh mar­jo­ram or lemon thyme leaves for gar­nish

1 In a small saucepan, stir maple syrup with bal­samic, cin­na­mon and car­damom. Place over medium heat. When it comes to a boil, re­duce heat so it boils gently. Con­tinue, stir­ring

oc­ca­sion­ally, un­til as thick as you like, about 10 min­utes to use as a dip or 15 min­utes to use as a driz­zle. (If making ahead, syrup will keep well for a day when stored in a sealed jar at room tem­per­a­ture.)

2 Pre­heat oven to 500°F (260°C).

3 If us­ing bam­boo skew­ers, soak them in wa­ter for half an hour. Slice duck across the breast, about ¾ inch (2 cm) thick. Cut slices into thirds. Lightly sprin­kle with five-spice pow­der and rub into the duck.

4 Re­move stems from grapes. Slice re­main­ing fruit into ½-inch (1-cm) wedges. Then cut into ap­pro­pri­ate sizes so at least 3 pieces can fit on each skewer. Stir but­ter with chopped fresh mar­jo­ram.

5 On each skewer, thread 1 piece of duck and 2 to 3 pieces of fruit, al­ter­nat­ing the or­der and trim­ming pieces as needed. Baste with herbed but­ter and place on a parch­ment-pa­per-lined bak­ing sheet. Roast in the oven un­til warm, 3 to 5 min­utes. Serve with syrup in a small dish for dip­ping, or place skew­ers on a serv­ing dish and driz­zle syrup over­top. Sprin­kle with fresh mar­jo­ram leaves, if de­sired.

Makes 24 skew­ers

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