Monday, February 13, 2012

Vegetable couscous

Something filling but meatless. The flavors worked out well together.

16 oz mushrooms
2 cup couscous
2 tbsp olive oil
1 jalapeno
0.5 cup green onions
0.5 tsp cumin
0.25 tsp cayenne
2 cups chicken stock
1 bunch asparagus
10 oz green peas
black pepper

Chop the asparagus.

Chop the jalapeno and green onions.

Mix the spices, jalapeno and onions with the couscous in a large bowl.

Sautee the mushrooms until lightly browned.

Bring the stock to a boil. Add the asparagus and the peas. Bring back to a rolling boil.

Pour the hot liquid over the couscous and seal tightly. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. Fluff up and eat.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Homefries with duck fat

I posted about getting a frozen duck and using every piece of it without waste (I did throw away the liver, as it's said to be bitter). Well, this is what happened to the extra skin and all the delicious fat under the skin.

1 cup duck skin
4 large Russet potatoes
1 tsp olive oil
half a yellow onion
black pepper

Cut the duck skin into 1-inch squares. Add the olive oil to a large frying pan, then add the duck skin. Over medium heat render all the fat from the skin.

Collect the cracklings and remove most of the fat, leaving only about 2 tbsp behind.

Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and chop into 0.5-inch cubes. Wash and drain. Heat the duck fat on medium-high and add the drained potatoes and salt. Cover with a lid and allow to sizzle away for three minutes. Stir and cover again. Repeat this until potatoes are done.

Add in the sliced onion and cook for another 5 minutes. Add back the cracklings and serve. Soo delicious!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Nutmeg panna cotta

I was inspired by a recipe over on Alexandra's kitchen. I've never tried panna cotta before, and I was looking for a recipe to use some leftover heavy cream and buttermilk in.
This was a delightful surprise. It tasted exactly like one of my favorite childhood treats: vanilla cream farmers' cheese. We call it kremturo.

1.5 tsp gelatin
1.25 cup heavy cream
6 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp vanilla sugar
1.75 cup buttermilk
0.25 tsp nutmeg

Bloom the gelatin in 1 tbsp cold water. Heat the heavy cream with the sugars and the nutmeg to a simmer. Microwave the softened gelatin, just until liquid. Pour into the simmering sweet cream.

Pour in the buttermilk and distribute into six 8-oz ramekins. Refrigerate overnight covered with foil.

Broccoli and cheese soup II

Another experiment using real cheese. The Velveeta version was good, but I was curious how using real cheddar would affect the outcome. It was very tasty, and even better after a day or two.

4.5 tbsp butter
1 yellow onion
0.75 tsp salt
0.25 tsp black pepper
0.25 tsp nutmeg
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp thyme leaves
4.5 tbsp flour
4.5 cup chicken stock
20 oz broccoli
0.75 cup heavy cream
8 oz cheddar

Mince the onion and garlic. Shred the cheddar.

In a large pot melt the butter and cook the onions until translucent. Add the garlic and spices, cook for 30 seconds. Add the flour and cook until golden.

Remove from the heat and add the cold chicken stock, stirring constantly. Bring back to a boil and add the broccoli. Cook for 10 minutes. Allow to cool and puree in a food processor.

Bring back to a boil and add the cream. Bring to a simmer and stir in the cheese until melted. Do not heat strongly at this point. Serve with a piece of crusty bread.

Ham and eggs breakfast sandwich

Popular US ham is weird. Nothing like real, homemade, smoked ham. If you look closely at the packaging, the explanation is right there: "ham and water product". It doesn't taste like meat, the consistency is barely recognizeable...and if you freeze it, most of the mass flows out as water.
Nevertheless, in this breakfast sandwich the ham is quite edible.

4 oz ham
1 English muffin
1 egg
2 oz cheese

Brown the ham in a hot skillet. Toast the English muffin halves and immediately place the sliced cheese between the hot muffin pieces.

Fry the egg. Separate the muffin halves and place the egg on top of one side. Puncture the yolk and allow it to soak into the muffin. Add the ham piece and serve with cucumbers and tomatoes. Could make a perfect lunch.

Duck breast in a skillet

A quick and easy duck breast preparation that allows the retention of the natural flavors and juices of the meat.

2 duck breasts
black pepper

Heat a skillet to medium high with a tbsp of olive oil. Season the breasts with salt and black pepper.

Place the breasts in the skillet and cook on each side for 7 minutes, until the outside is nicely browned, and the inside reaches ~170F.

Allow to rest for 10 minutes under aluminum foil, slice across the grain and serve.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Roasted duck legs

What to do with the legs of a duck to get the best outcome. Roast on low heat for a long period of time, then crisp the skin and serve. Save any juice that leaked out and refrigerate in a mold to serve as aspic.

2 duck legs
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 325F. Sprinkle the legs with salt and pepper, brush with thyme and add the garlic cloves crushed or cut in half.

Sprinkle with oil and seal in aluminum foil. Bake for 90 minutes.

Remove from oven and increase the oven temperature to 450F. Place the duck legs onto a new piece of foil and do not seal. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, until the skin reaches the desired golden color.

Serve with your choice of sides.

Duck aspic

A while ago we got a frozen duck. A whole duck that I did not intend to roast whole, as that results in dried out breast meat or undercooked leg meat. There is not much meat on a duck otherwise, so destroying half of it was not an ideal option. Luckily, I have a lot of experience in boning/carving/dissecting birds from my childhood, when my family kep about 300 chickens, which we processed ourselves for the buyers. Yes, I handled super-sharp boning knives at the age of 10. It was really no problem.
To avoid wasting the rest of the carcass, I made a duck aspic from the giblets and the carved bones. It turned out rather nice!

1 duck
1 onion
1 tsp salt
3 garlic cloves
0.25 tsp black pepper
1 bay leaf

Lay the duck on its back and find the breast bone. Cut down along it, all the way to the ribcage, where the bone angles away from the center.

Find the outline of the thighs and cut around them. Twist them to dislocate the bones from the socket. Gently separate the legs from the body. Set aside.

Finish carving off the breast by following the ribcage with your knife until the meat separates. Set the breasts aside.

Chop up the rest of the bones+wings. Add to a pot along with the heart, gizzard and neck. Remove most of the skin and fat.

Add 4 cups of water, a quartered onion, the garlic, salt, black pepper and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, skim off the foam and simmer for 2 hours. Strain the liquid into another pot. Bring to a boil and reduce to about 1.5-2 cups.

Meanwhile, remove any remaining soft meat from the carcass and add to a glass dish. When the liquid reduced, pour onto the meat and refrigerate overnight, taking care not to move it around until it's set.

Serve with toast, spicy sauce, purple onions and lemon wedges. Yumm!