Sisters Maria and Eva Konecsny, founders of the beloved Gewürzhaus spice stores, were born in a little village in southern Germany, where they have fond memories of celebrating Christmas with extended family, learning to bake and cook the food of their heritage.
Even though their father’s work took them to several continents before they eventually settled in Melbourne, going back to Germany every year for three months around Christmas time was intrinsic to them feeling connected to their heritage.
Since opening their first Gewürzhaus store in Melbourne in 2010, their business has expanded to stores around Australia, selling more than 350 single-origin spices and over 100 exclusive small-batch blends.
For Maria and Eva, cooking from the heart has always been an integral part of connecting four generations of women in their family, right back to their great-grandmothers, Oma Rosa and Oma Liesel, who nurtured them in the kitchen.
It’s fitting then that this beautiful cookbook should be titled Kindred (published by Plum, RRP $49.99). In sharing their family rituals and delicious recipes from their German heritage – almost always enhanced with spices, of course – they demonstrate how cooking to feed our kin can be a deeply nourishing and connective force in our lives.
The book takes us into their homes to share the spices, seasonal rituals, traditions and recipes that bring their families around the table. Accompanied by gorgeous, evocative photography, there are enticing recipes for dishes such as salted orange marmalade, lavender-crumbed chicken schnitzel and spiked brown cherry cake.
Treasured rituals include egg dyeing at Easter, Mothers’ Day mushroom foraging and the Bunter Teller, a plate of colourful cookies to share at Christmas. The Roast Duck recipe here abounds in Christmas spices, and the Cherry & Thyme Liqueur is festive as well as being medicinal.
Buy your copy of Kindred from Australian-owned Booktopia.
Christmas-Spiced Roast Duck
Serves 4 to 6
1 × 2 kg duck, neck and tail removed
1 lemon, quartered
5 garlic cloves, skin on and smashed
extra-virgin olive oil, to coat
Roast duck spice:
¾ tsp ground yellow mustard seeds
½ tsp ground cassia
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground allspice
1⁄8 tsp ground cloves
1⁄8 tsp ground cardamom
3 tsp sea salt flakes
Sweet & sour marinade:
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Preheat the oven to 180°C fan-forced.
Wash and pat the duck dry both on the inside and out. Score a diamond pattern into the duck breast, being careful to only score the fat and not the flesh. Prick the skin with a skewer or knife tip in all other areas except the legs. Place the lemon and garlic into the cavity, then fold the fatty bits on either side of the cavity over one another to close it. Take the legs and tie them together on the breast-side up, with kitchen string or foil.
To make the roast duck spice, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Generously coat the duck with oil, then rub the spice mixture over the whole duck evenly.
Place the duck, breast-side up, on a rack in a large roasting tin so the fat can drip off. Cook for 45 minutes, then turn the duck breast-side down. Cook for a further 30 minutes. During this time prepare the marinade by mixing all the ingredients together in a bowl.
When the 30 minutes are up, baste the duck with the marinade, then turn it back around with the breast facing up and baste this side too. Cook for another 40 minutes, basting once more with the remainder of the marinade halfway through the cooking time.
Rest the duck for 10 minutes before carving. Discard the lemon and garlic in the cavity before serving.
COOK’S NOTES: The cooking time here is for a 2 kg duck and will need to be adjusted depending on the duck size. Allow 1 hour per 1 kg of duck and scale the cooking time accordingly. It’s also a good idea to strain the duck fat during the cooking process if you want to keep it for future use or to add to your gravy. To make this recipe gluten free, use gluten-free soy sauce.
Cherry & Thyme Liqueur
Makes about 450 ml at 20% alcohol
75 g (1/3 cup) raw sugar
200 ml pure sweet black cherry juice
1 tonka bean
2 short thyme sprigs
250 ml (1 cup) high-quality 40% spirit, such as Korn or gin
Dissolve the sugar in the juice, with the tonka bean and pepperberries, in a saucepan over low heat. Cool completely.
Place the thyme in a 750 ml glass bottle. Add the spirit. When the sugar syrup is cool, add it to the bottle and swill to mix. Make sure the thyme is submerged. Steep for 2 days or until the liqueur is infused to your liking.
Strain the liquid into a decorative bottle and place the whole ingredients in the compost. You can also remove ingredients when they have infused enough – leave the pepperberries and tonka bean for longer than the thyme, if you like.
Store indefinitely in your drinks cabinet.
COOK’S NOTES: Look in health-food stores for the pure cherry juice. It needs to be preservative and sugar free, as well as heat-treated. Alternatively, you can juice your own cherries if you have a tree.
Recipes and images from Kindred, by Maria and Eva Konecsny, published by Plum, RRP $49.99, photography by Armelle Habib & Amy Whitfield.