Wish Upon A Dish

August 28, 2014

Seared Duck Breasts in Blueberry-Cognac Sauce

Why is it that even after 30+ years of marriage, I am the last to know that The Nudge has a thing for duck?
On our last two cruises, he ooh'd and ahh'd over the menu selection of Duck a L' Orange and the roasted duck with au jus. He never asks for duck when home and I would gladly prepare it for him.

I decided, since he had this obsession with duck lately, it was time to teach him to grill his own. You need to know something about The Nudge and how he approaches grilling. With a no sense of urgency bone in his body, he takes the approach that if I tell him four minutes per side that means he can close the lid, walk away and drink his wine. Maybe with a steak but he found out fast enough that duck breasts, fatty duck breasts to be exact, can not be left unattended for any amount of time when cooking directly over the pile of coals.

For a man who likes his food hot, he just doesn't understand that in order to make that happen requires timing and sometimes doing three things at once. Needless to say, I don't think he will be anxious to grill another batch of duck breasts soon.

I have been emptying the freezer this last few weeks, getting ready to take advantage of the sales of braising and stewing meats to come. Last night we had a Moroccan Lasagna and tonight, roasted duck breasts in a blueberry-cognac sauce.

I couldn't pin-point an exact recipe for a blueberry-cognac sauce (I found blackberries, stone fruits and citrus) so I created my own. Why blueberries? I had 3 quart bags frozen. You could certainly use cherries.
If you don't have cognac you could buy an airline bottle of VSOP or you could use straight up brandy and if you did not have brandy, make something else.

I knew my breasts were large specimens so I planned on a duck & goat cheese salad for next week. Almost as good as a steak salad but you can put fruit in a duck salad and I have my eye on some mandarin oranges, yum.

I made a batch of mashed cauliflower (another he's be requesting lately, go figure). 

PS: Save the rendered fat to roast a batch of fingerling potatoes. OMG, the best, ev-ah!

Score the skins of the duck so it cooks evenly. I pour off the fat about 2-3 times. You want a light coating of fat to roast the breasts in the oven. Place the breasts skin side up, brush the breasts with a good amount of blueberry-cognac sauce and roast them in the oven until the temperature registers 150°. Carry-over heat will still keep it pink inside but not rare. A final brushing of sauce right before you take them out of the oven and remove while you set the table.

Slice the duck on a diagonal and place a portion (ours was four slices) over a schmeer of mashed cauliflower. Oh, and don't forget to brush some more of that blueberry-cognac sauce over the meat.

Yummy but not too sweet, and not one fireman showed up for dinner.

Have a wonderful holiday weekend!!

Duck with Blueberry-Cognac Sauce
makes enough sauce for 4 breasts

* 1 cup blueberries
* 1/4 cup water
* 1 teaspoon honey
* 1 small shallot, minced

* Salt & pepper
* 1/4 cup cognac
* 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

1. Place the blueberries, water, shallots and honey in a saucepan. Cover and simmer for 6 minutes. Remove a spoonful of whole berries and puree the rest of the mixture.
2. Add the cognac and simmer until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Taste for salt & pepper.
3. Right before serving, add the cold butter and swirl to combine.

August 25, 2014

Flounder Florentine

Those days that I shop and complete my list are long gone.

Sad thing is, I was looking for a splurge I allow myself in the frozen foods aisle, Stouffer's Spinach Souffle. It's a sad day when the discontinued item on my list is something I pride myself in NOT allowing to take up space in my pantry, even if it is a vegetable.
But really? Who doesn't love a vegetable souffle and the free time letting someone else whip egg whites?
I suppose I could blame it on the food gods. Never heard of them? It would be the equivalent to an evil kitchen witch. I am being tortured for my indulgence.

In times of abundant wealth (at least a minimum 3 packages of Stouffer's in the freezer) I would pop open a box, nuke the interior for 10 minutes and wrap a flounder fillet around it. Make a sauce of white wine, butter, garlic and lemon to bake them in and a great, easy and pretty healthy dinner is ready. All in under 30 minutes.


When I saw flounder on sale it never dawned on me that a walk down aisle 10 would make me regret my impulse buy. I mean, we've done the Piccata, the browned butter, the wrapped in prosciutto and potato, the baked in milk, baked with crab cake stuffing, baked with any kind of stuffing and it was time for a Florentine, or so I thought.

I hate it when a plan goes south. Since The Nudge was looking forward to a spinach stuffing I made a batch of Bulgar pilaf and will use that as the grain to a package of baby spinach. It would have to do. No, it had to do, I forgot to buy eggs.

Flounder Florentine
makes 4 roll-ups

* 4 flounder fillet, wild caught & local please
* 1 cup cooked Bulgar or rice pilaf (I had Near East)
* 1 small bag baby spinach, cooked, squeezed dry and chopped
* 1 shallot, minced
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* 2 tablespoons mascarpone
* 1 tablespoon grated Romano cheese
* 1 tablespoon sun-dried tomato tapanade
* 1 tablespoon butter sub (I like ICBINB)
* Adobo
* smoked paprika
* salt & pepper
* Juice of one lemon
* Hollandaise Sauce

1. Saute Shallot and garlic in olive oil.
2. Add spinach and cover. Cook until spinach just wilts and remove cover to evaporate liquid.
3. Remove to a board and chop.
4. Add to a bowl with the pilaf, mascarpone, Romano cheese and tapanade.
5. Place flounder with skin side up and evenly spread all the stuffing amongst each fillet.
6. Roll up starting with the smallest end; Place seam side down in a baking pan. Repeat.
Dot the tops with butter sub, adobo and paprika. Pour a 1/4 cup white wine or water in the bottom and place in the over, uncovered.
7. Roast for 30 minutes in a 400° oven, or until the flounder just starts to crack on the top.

Place one fillet on each plate and spoon the sauce on top.

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August 18, 2014

Oat Bread

I am typing this post on my new laptop. Finally going totally wireless. Still working out the setup and downloading all my toys but so far I can't wait to clear my desk.

I can not say I will miss any of the old hardware, but for almost 8 years, it did me well.
Soon I will be upstairs printing downstairs.

With all the extra space this set-up will create may actually be enough room for all my cookbooks, which at the present moment are all on the couch due to homework on my last recipe contest.

While I enjoy getting experience creating, testing and reworking recipes for these contests, it is always welcome when I post my last entry. While I can sometimes post up to four recipes, I often make 6-7 test runs. Sometimes I hit the mark immediately and other times, I find that it could take up to 4-5 tries before I am happy with the result.

The ones that are left on the cutting room floor often eventually find themselves posted here. Such was the case with this bread.

In this house, the loaves were deemed (in this order),
Great crust
Best French Toast ever
Rose like a balloon and in record time
Easy to make
Freezes like a dream
The healthiest bread that anyone could eat that was tender but firm and moist with tons of flavor.

The secret ingredient? whole grain oats. Yup. You could use Old Fashioned, Quick Cooking or Instant oats, as long as they are whole grain. For the first batch I used Old Fashioned and the second was Quick Cooking. I could tell no difference, so whatever you usually have in the house is fine.

One other thing I noticed. Now, it's the middle of the summer and we all know anything bread left out tends to mold faster than those that are placed in the fridge. I left the first one out all week and it never molded or dried out. Only wrapped in plastic with no towel at the bottom, I have to say the bread for the French Toast was moist instead of dry (like you would like for French Toast) but it soaked up the egg custard and the inside was souffle-like and the outside developed a great crust.

If you get the chance to make this bread, let me know what you think. The fact that it's loaded with fiber is a great way to start your day and the oats are oober healthy and a great grain for diabetics.
We all know that oats are great for lowering cholesterol and preventing heart disease. What's not to love?

During the week I spread peanut butter on a slice with  dollop of  'no sugar added' jam. I find that I am not so hungry when lunchtime rolls around.

I made this in my Kitchen Aide using the dough hook, but a bread machine would also work. If you are lucky enough to own a large food processor, that would also work.
Recipe can be successfully halved to make one loaf, in which case a 5-6 cup processor would be fine.

Oat Bread
makes 2 full sized loaves

* 2 cups boiling water
* 2/3 cup instant non fat milk
* 1 tablespoon shortening
* 1 tablespoon butter
* 1 tablespoon salt
* 2 tablespoons sugar
* 2 envelopes yeast
* 1/2 cup tepid water
* 1 cup whole grain rolled oats
* 4 tablespoons molasses
* 4 tablespoons honey
* Flour (about 6 cups)

Preheat oven to 375°
1. Mix 2 cups boiled water, instant milk, shortening, butter, salt, sugar, molasses and honey in a bowl.
Let cool down. Dissolve yeast in tepid water - then add to warm water mixture. Add oats.
2. Start with about 1 cup moist mixture and add 1 cup flour. Repeat until all the mixture is tacky to the touch but pulls off cleanly.
3. Knead on medium speed for 10 minutes in a stand mixer and 3 minutes in a food processor. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to double (abut 2 hours). Punch the dough down but don't knead.
4. Cut dough in half and add one to each pan. Allow to rise.
5. Bake at 375° till golden brown (about 40 minutes).

Remove and cool. Can be wrapped and frozen for up to one month.

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