Monday, January 25, 2016

Roasted Duck (The "Emergency" Duck)

Some of you had quite a weekend!  Facebook and cell phone photos from family and friends showed an unbelievable snow situation in the eastern part of the country.  Folks strolling down the middle of Broadway in NYC.  One of you crawling out of a window to get to a place to shovel your way out of the front door.  Another showing snow two-thirds of the way up your bedroom window--the bedroom being on the second floor!!  I do hope all of you are safe today.

Here, where we have known major blizzards and record snowfalls, we had sunshine and warmer (high 20s) temperatures over the weekend.  I decided it was time to defrost the "emergency" duck in the freezer.  The one that had been tucked away since early November.  The recipe is quite simple and always delicious.  It served the two of us well (with a few bites for Oliver, of course) and enough left over for a warm duck salad later in the week.

Crisp Roasted Duck as inspired by Epicurious

1 (5-6 lb) duck
3 cups boiling water
1 Tbsp kosher salt
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1.  Position oven rack in the middle and preheat to 425 degrees
2.  Remove the giblets from the duck cavity.  Remove the excess fat from the cavity and around the neck.  Prick the skin all over with a fork.  Fold the neck skin under the body and place the duck, breast side up on the roasting rack in a deep roasting pan.  Slowly pour the boiling water over the duck.  Cool the duck (this takes only a few minutes).  Pour any water out of the cavity into the pan then dry the duck well, inside and out.  Rub inside and out with the salt and pepper.
3.  Roast duck, breast side up, 45 minutes.  Turn the duck over and roast 45 minutes more.  Turn duck again (breast side up), tilting the duck to drain any liquid from the cavity into the pan.  Continue to roast until the skin is brown and crisp, about another 45 minutes (total roasting time is about 2 to 2 1/4 hours).  Tilt duck to drain any more liquid from the cavity.  Transfer to a cutting board and let stand 10 to 15 minutes before carving.

Apricot Sauce

1 Tbsp butter
1 small shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup apricot jam
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 Tbsp brandy
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1.  In a saucepan, melt the butter and saute the shallot for one minute.  Add garlic and saute one minute more.
2.  Stir in the apricot jam and chicken stock.  Heat, stirring frequently, for about five minutes.  When smooth, stir in the brandy and balsamic vinegar
3.  Spoon over the duck and serve.


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Beef and Squash Chili

We are a third of the way through January and have had very little snow.  Until the last few weeks, the temperature has been pleasant most days.  While it made for easy holiday travel, it is time for some snow to fall and then slowly melt into the ground.  The weather has been extremely cold the past week.  The kind of cold that calls for stick-to-the-ribs meals.

I must admit that when The Baker asked if I'd like him to make a beef and squash chili, I had a moment of doubt.  The doubt was about the squash.  However, I was in a bit of a post-holiday frenzy of cleaning up and putting away so I said "lovely"!  And, it was.

The recipe is from Bon Appetit.  I only "rediscovered" the magazine a little over a year ago.  What a change!!  At least for me.  It is filled with some excellent recipes.  The styling and photographic work is some of the best in food magazines today.

When we sat down to this bowlful of deliciousness, I was ever so grateful to Bon Appetit and The Baker!  And, it was even better a few days later.

You can find the recipe here:

Beef and Squash Chili


Monday, January 11, 2016

Amazing Amaryllis

Bulbs brighten up our days after Christmas.
While I love the beauty of narcissus, 
I cannot tolerate the fragrance inside the house.
The same goes for the lovely hyacinth.

But the noble amaryllis is welcome!
In all my years of waiting for the blossom,
I've never been quite so rewarded.
The first blooms to pop open are off the bottom.
Next came on top.
And, there is another stem growing tall with promise!
Thank you Diana for such a lovely gift.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

What Goes Up Must Come Down--Undecorating

We had a blustery start to the week.  Snow and high winds threatened to keep me inside--sort of like the little bird hunkered down in the feeder.  The storm only lasted an hour or so.  Not much snow on the ground either.  In fact, we've had very little snow so far this winter.  While it made for good travel for our Christmas visitors, the fact is we need that snow.

It was a good morning to make a latte and put away the Christmas decorations.

A good time to reflect on the joys of the past month.
The Symphony
Dinner Parties
Open Houses
Awaiting the arrival of our children--alas, not all of them this year.

Many of the ornaments on the tree this year are more than thirty years old!

Back into the boxes until next year.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Soup Days -- Mushroom Soup

We basked in unseasonably warm temperatures leading up to Christmas.  There wasn't even enough snow to cover the ground.  Since our children were traveling to spend the holiday with us, we were just fine with having a non-white Christmas.  Now the days have turned cold and gray.  The wind howls down from the north.  Bundling up to go outside is in order.  In order for everyone but Oliver that is.  As much as he loves his walks, he hates his coat.  He prances around in anticipation while Andrew dons his coat, hat and gloves.  However, when Oliver's coat comes out of the closet, he runs off to other parts of the house--darts under tables and chairs--and has to be coaxed into the coat.  Once they are off, he's fine.

Soup is definitely on the menu these days.  It is such a comfort to have a pot bubbling away on the stove.  This is one of our favorite soups and I've shared it with you before.  It is perfect with a warm, crusty baguette and a glass of a vintage red wine.

Mushroom Soup

4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup wild rice
1 ounce dried mixed mushrooms
1 1/2 cups hot water
2 Tbsp butter
4 ounces fresh cremini or button mushrooms, quartered or thickly sliced
1 medium onion, quartered and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup half and half

1.  Combine chicken broth and rice in a pot large enough to hold all the ingredients.  Cover and simmer over medium low heat until rice is tender, about 40 minutes.
2.  In the meantime, soak the mushrooms in the hot water until softened, about 15 minutes.  Drain the mushrooms and reserve the liquid.
3.  Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Saute the fresh mushrooms until tender and golden brown.  Remove to a bowl.  In the same pan, melt the remaining Tbsp of butter and add the onion.  Saute until translucent, about 2 minutes.  Add the garlic and thyme and saute one minute longer.
4.  Add the soaked mushrooms, the reserved liquid, the sauteed mushrooms, onion and garlic to the wild rice and chicken broth along with the potato.  Cover and simmer until the potato is softened.
5.  Cool slightly and roughly puree about two cups of the mixture in a blender or food processor.  Return the puree to the pot and stir in the milk and half and half.  Bring to a slight simmer and serve.


Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year!

Wishing you all
a healthy and happy new year!
And, as always, a 
wish for peace in the world.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Post Christmas Photo Post for Adam

Adam, as requested, here are some Christmas decoration photos for you.  The "subjects" are pretty much the same as in past years.  The setting is new.  We missed you!

The bird laden feather tree in the foyer.

The same old santas keeping watch in the foyer.

An old favorite of mine.

Familiar ornaments.



I have a thing about Christmas trees being toted on car roofs...

...especially on the roof of "woody wagons".

The table centerpiece.

Hope you enjoy the photos!