Thursday, August 24, 2006

Canard roti au miel

Friday nights mean cooking. And not just any cooking; something fancy, filling and fun. Often, for me at least, this means a roast--something you put into the oven and don't remove until it's become something completely different. Kind of like magic, no?

Why do Friday nights require this magic, you might ask? Two reasons. First--the Boy has started his second year of law school, so he has classes during the week and Friday nights he has no homework but, instead, can lounge around lazily and then (hopefully!) help me with the dishes. Second--Friday night is when Shabbos begins and, even though I usually have to work on Saturdays, I like to at least rest Friday nights and celebrate the weekly holiday with some kind of special meal. Traditionally Shabbos dinner means meat but, just as often, we serve fish. As far as I'm concerned, as long as it feels special, and there's a good bottle of wine, you're set.

Last Friday, I was off from work and decided to roast a whole duck which, I knew, takes a long time. In France, I fell in love with Magret de canard au miel, duck breast with honey, and have not yet been able to re-create that. So, instead, I basted my roasting whole duck with a honey sauce and it came out deliciously. I used a rather strong honey to stand up to the rich, dark duck meat. Next time, I would use even more sauce.

Canard roti au miel

Leaves of 2 stalks Basil, roughly torn
1 teaspoon Ginger Root, roughly chopped
2 pinches Kosher Salt, or to taste
1/4 cup strong, dark Honey (I used a Miel des Garrigues, from France)
1/4 stick Unsalted Butter, room temperature
1/8 cup Orange Juice
Juice from 1/2 Lemon
1 pinch dry Mustard
1 whole Duck, giblets removed

Pre-heat oven to 400 F. In mortar and pestle, pound together Basil, Ginger and Salt until pasty. In a saucepan over medium-low heat, stir together Honey, Butter, Orange Juice, Lemon Juice and Mustard until Butter is melted and ingredients well-combined. Boil for about 3 minutes. Clean out cavity of Duck and pat dry with paper towels. If desired, cut/tear off any excess fat from carcass, even pulling out some of the fat under the skin with your fingers. Prick outside of Duck all over with a sharp knife. This will help drain the fat as the Duck cooks. Rub Basil mixture evenly into cavity.

Place Duck in roasting pan, breast-side up, preferably with a rack so the juices and fat can drip down as the Duck cooks. Pour half of Honey mixture over Duck, reserving the rest. Cover with tinfoil and roast for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 F, turn Duck breast-side down, spoon on more Honey, re-cover and roast, basting every half-hour with the honey, for 2 hours. Uncover, turn Duck breast-side up, pour on remaining Honey and roast for 30 minutes. This allows the skin to brown and become crisp.

Allow to rest before carving.

and and and and

Friday, August 18, 2006

Berry Pudding Cake

During the summer, our Greenmarket gets what I can only describe as a "berry explosion." And, while I'm normally happy just to gobble them up right out of hand, sometimes I want something a little more planned, a little more exciting. And what more exciting than baking? When I made this, just before I put it into the oven, it was sticky and worrisome; I was convinced we'd just have ice cream for dessert, not that there's anything wrong with Ice Cream, but, well . . . it's not Cake. Luckily, my worries were in vain. The cake came out beautiful, with the inside still retaining the texture and creaminess of pudding, but the outside pleasantly crusty. I got the recipe from the Greenmarket; they always have a display of recipes using the season's produce. This particular recipe was from Gourmet Magazine's July, 2005 issue. Once I got home, of course, I tweaked the recipe; it called for Blueberries and I had purchased some Black Raspberries and Strawberries. If you're not familiar with Black Raspberries, please make a point to go out and try some. They're a little tarter and smaller than raspberries and absolutely divine. They may well be my favorite berry!

Berry Pudding Cake

1/3 + 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Water
Juice from 1/2 Lemon
1 teaspoon Potato Starch
1 1/2 cup Black Raspberries
1/2 cup Strawberries
1 cup All-Purpose Flour
1 3/4 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon Allspice
1 large Egg
1/2 cup Whole Milk
1 stick Unsalted Butter, melted
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter a square baking pan (I think mine is around 8-inches).

In a small saucepan, combine 1/3 cup Brown Sugar, Water, Lemon Juice and Potato Starch. When mixed well, stir in Berries. Simmer, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients--remaining sugar, Flour, Baking Powder, Salt and Allspice. In a large bowl, whisk together the wet: Egg, Milk, Butter and Vanilla Extract. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, whisking as you add, until just combined.

Scoop batter into baking pan, spreading evenly. Don't worry if batter is sticky; just spread it out as best you can. Pour berry mixture on top, again, distributin them as evenly as possible. ake for 25 minutes. Cool slightly before eating or eat cold.

and and and and and