Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Minestrone Soup

We found this recipe in an old classic Italian cookbook stashed in the kitchen of our new apartment. (This is an old post... just getting it up now... sorry.)

While the soup bubbled away, we snacked on rillettes d'oie with mustard and caperberries.

We ate the soup with grilled steaks (flatiron, blade, or paleron steaks) on the side.

Mushroom Duck Noodles

We used the leftover duck confit and rendered duck fat for this very easy, tasty one-pot meal. The veggie is frisee, but you can use any hearty green-- this frisee was a bit too hearty for salads, but cooking it down made it tender and delicious. The cilantro and mint brighten the rich duck flavor.

You'll need:
leftover duck meat from 2 legs, or confit some (see link above)
2T duck fat
1 large onion, sliced
6 cloves garlic, sliced
1 bunch frisee
1c oyster mushrooms
2T dark soy sauce
fresh egg noodles

Heat duck fat until melted. Add onion and sautee until caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and mushrooms and saute until mushrooms brown, about 5 minutes. Add duck and saute until crispy. Add frisee; cook until wilted. Add noodles and dark soy sauce; stir to coat. Serve, topped with chopped cilantro & mint.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Duck Confit

I've always wanted to do my own confit, but had never really gotten around to it 'til now. Hank Shaw's post on Simply Recipes convinced me to finally do it: perfect confit in only two hours! How could I pass that up? And the best part is, this really was the best duck confit I've ever had. Tender meat, super crispy skin, plenty of fat leftover for future cooking.

You'll need:
duck legs (1-2 per person)
a pin or small sharp knife

Prick the skin on the duck legs all over with a pin or pointy knife. Don't go all the way to the meat-- you just want to make little holes for the fat to escape through the skin. Sprinkle pricked legs with lots of salt and let sit 20-60 minutes.

Place duck skin side up in baking dish that's just large enough. Put in oven at 300 degrees (don't preheat) and let cook slowly for about 90 minutes.

When the skin starts to look crispy, crank up the oven to 375 until it's really crispy-- about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool 15 minutes before eating.

If there are leftovers, eat the skin off of them *now* because it'll never be as good again.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Winter Cabbage Soup

This soup tastes nothing like its name sounds. I had a lot of cabbage in the fridge from making minestrone recently, but I didn't want a cabbage diet kind of soup, nor a brothy mush of stringy cabbage. My solution was pureeing the soup using this weird blender/food processor-like object found in the cupboards here; it's incredibly useful, a small bowl with a blade and a top with a small motor. The results were a creamy, hearty cabbage soup, sweet from tomatoes and spicy from a little red chili added at the end, perfect for a winter appetizer or light lunch.

You'll need:
3 small onions, sliced
2 shallots, sliced
8 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 head cabbage, thinly sliced
1c white wine
1/2 can whole tomatoes in juice
4c chicken or veggie stock
a pinch of sugar
a pinch of nutmeg
a teaspoon of hot chili powder
chopped parsley for garnish

Saute onions and shallots in olive oil; when golden brown (about 10 minutes), add garlic, sugar, nutmeg, and cabbage; saute until cabbage wilts, stirring frequently so garlic doesn't burn, about 10 minutes more.

Add white wine and boil down until reduced by more than half (you shouldn't be able to smell the alcohol anymore).

Add tomatoes and their juice and chicken or veggie stock. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer 1 hour.

Puree in batches. Add chili powder, salt and pepper to taste. Serve sprinkled with chopped parsley.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Seared Lamb Chops, Root Veggie Puree, and Endive Salad

This is a quick and delicious dinner that can be done from start to finish in about 45 minutes. I bought lamb from the halal butcher up the street, and veggies from a nearby farmers market. The seared liver on the salad came from the rabbit made the day before.

You'll need:
lamb chops


asian pear
duck liver

Peel carrots, turnips, and parsnips and cut into roughly equal pieces. If the parsnips are large, remove the woody core. Place into a medium saucepan. Add peeled garlic cloves (as many as you like) and water (the water should come about halfway up the vegetables. Cover and cook until just tender. Drain. Mash. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

While the veggies are cooking, take apart the endive and place in a bowl. Add thinly sliced asian pear. Toss with dressing-- I used tarragon vinegar, lemon juice, and olive oil.

Wash, dry, and trim lamb chops. Salt and pepper generously. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. When hot, place lamb chops (do it in batches if necessary-- do not crowd the pan). Sear on each side about 2 minutes, depending on thickness, to medium rare. Set aside in warm oven. 

Salt and pepper liver. In the same pan as the lamb, sear liver briefly until just brown. Serve on top of endive-pear salad.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Braised Rabbit with Leeks and Fennel

We're in Paris! 

I was really looking forward to things like rabbit being commonplace and not too expensive, but tonight's dish was probably the same as it would have cost back in California, and my fellow shoppers looked on with undisguised horror as my butcher hacked the rabbit into pieces. I'll have to do some rabbit shopping around. The past few days we've done a lot of cooking in our new kitchen-- dorade with a wine pan sauce, steaks, minestrone soup (which you'll probably see posted soon). It's small but very well equipped. The only real drawback is the electric stove, which will take some getting used to. In this recipe, I really missed my gas stove when trying to gently render the fat on the bacon, then sear the rabbit on high heat but without burning. It worked-- I just have to get the hang of it. We've also had plenty of non-cooked meals, involving copious amounts of cheese, pates, stuffed petits pains, and, our first night, rotisserie chicken. Expect some tasty things in the future, probably involving lamb.

You'll need (serves 4):

1 rabbit, cut into 6 pieces (mine weighed about 4lbs, or almost 2kg)
1 thick slice of bacon, cut into lardons
2c chicken stock
2 onions, sliced
2 heads of fennel, cored & cut into eighths
3 leeks, sliced
Half a head of garlic, crushed
1t fennel seeds
1/2t dried thyme
1 bay leaf
½ bottle of white wine
A shot of Ricard

Preheat oven to 325F (160C).

Bring the chicken stock to the boil with any trimmings from the rabbit (head, ribs, kidneys, etc).

In an oven-proof saucepan, brown the lardons and set aside; in the bacon fat brown the rabbit and set aside.

Saute onion and leeks in the same saucepan. Add garlic and fennel seeds and stir until fragrant. Add the white wine and reduce by half.

Return rabbit and bacon to pan. Add thyme, bay leaf and fennel. Add pastis and bring to a simmer. Add strained stock to cover rabbit. Cover pot and cook in preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until tender.

We served this with mushroom wheat pilaf and caramelized endives; for those of you who can get endives cheaply, they're absolutely delicious seared and then braised with a bit of water. And they count as a vegetable! Yay.

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