At my table with the Culys

Leanne and Billie Culy set the scene for a relaxed meal after a day’s work in the studio.

Leanne & Billie Culy
Homebase Collections artists and designers

LEANNE: Here we have one of my favourite dinner party menus – Pink Beetroot Risotto with Honey and Orange Glazed Duck. This is followed with our take on an Eton Mess; a lemon honey cake with ricotta and mascarpone, topped with honeycomb and lemon honey syrup.

The inspiration for the setting came from my painting studio and honey bees. After a day of painting and mixing colours you are often left with a beautiful palette of lines, colours and shapes, so Billie and I re-created that, as a backdrop for the food – and also to sit alongside our beautiful beeswax bowls.

Food is always an event for our family – almost a ritual, rather than a chore. We all have our speciality dishes. Billie is a dressing queen and her partner Matt is incredible with fish. My husband Brian butts out most of the time, but is always there to photograph and document our dishes – as he did here. I enjoy plating and very rarely just throw something on a plate and eat it. It’s an artform for us and we enjoy the whole process from laying the table to arranging the flowers. Flowers are usually Billie’s thing, but there are no rules really, we all cross over into each other’s domains.

Shared meals usually involve making something fuss-free that allows us to relax and enjoy friends and family – something generous and with the best ingredients from around the Hawke’s Bay. Cooked simply works best.

GET THE LOOK: 100% beeswax bowls, $20 each; handmade ceramic plates, $29 each; Kim Morgan serving bowl, $49, Recycled craft roll (375mmX15m), $8.99, Trestle table, chairs and cutlery, Leanne and Billie’s own.

Pink Beetroot Risotto with honey and orange glazed Duck
Serves 6

2 cups risotto rice
Olive oil
2 large onions
4 cloves of garlic
1 stalk celery, finely sliced
4-5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Beetroot, cooked and cubed into irregular pieces
Salt and pepper
Splash of white wine (optional)
Dob of butter
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese

In a shallow risotto pan fry off the onions, garlic and celery in olive oil until just golden. Season, then add the risotto rice and fry for a few minutes.

Add a splash of wine and continue stirring until evaporated. Add the hot stock slowly cup by cup, stirring well. (You could also add all the stock at once and cook until the rice is al dente, but I prefer to add slowly and stir to get the consistency I want. I like my risotto quite soupy and wet.)

Just before the risotto is cooked add the beetroot chunks, a large dob of butter, parmesan cheese and a little more stock, depending on the consistency you like.

Serve in bowls and top with the Duck, (recipe below).  Pour over any juice left in the pan and garnish with a quartered roasted beetroot and fresh thyme.

Honey & orange glazed Duck

2 duck breasts
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp of honey
2 oranges, 1 sliced and 1 juiced
Fresh thyme

Season the duck breasts with salt and pepper, then pan fry over a medium heat for 3 minutes on each side, or until golden. Place in an oven proof dish and top with a drizzle of honey, thyme, orange slices and juice. Bake in the oven at 180 degrees for 20 minutes.
Set aside to rest and cut into thick slices, ready to be placed on the pink risotto.


Lemon & Honey Eton Mess

Serves 6

175g butter
175g sugar (can be substituted with honey or coconut sugar)
1 tsp baking powder
200g almond flour
3 lemons, zested and freshly squeezed
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
½ cup of honey
Honey comb if available
Dehydrated strawberry powder
Edible flowers

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Cream together the butter and sugar, then add the eggs and vanilla extract, then beat until fully blended, but do not over beat. Add the baking powder and ground almonds. Then the juice and zest of one lemon, and mix together until smooth. Spoon the mixture into a lined cake tin and bake for 25-30 mins.

To make the syrup

Put the honey, along with the juice and zest of the two remaining lemons into a saucepan over a high heat, bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes then lower to a simmer for 3 minutes, and reduce to a syrup consistency. If desired, add more honey to taste.

When the cake is cooked, pierce all over with a skewer and pour most of the syrup over the cake, leaving a little syrup for dressing the dessert at the end.

Once it has soaked in, gently pull the cake apart, into pieces a little bigger than bite size. Put a couple in each small bowl or glass, dollop a few spoons of mascarpone in between the pieces. Top with honeycomb and drizzle the remainder of the syrup over the top. To make it extra pretty, we used dehydrated strawberry powder sprinkled on top, and few little edible flowers.

Photography Brian Culy

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