Happy

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Time to start moving some of this duck onward.  Remember the time I served my husband skinless chicken breasts 3 days running before he noticed?  Well, I’ve got more than 3 days worth of duck legs and breasts, let’s see what I come up with.  To begin, my original idea was to make magret de canard aux cerises.  I found some ENORMOUS cherries in the Waiblingen market with that idea in mind but I ate them all and they were good :)

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That left the green seedless grapes.  I did eat a lot of those also but there was enough left to make a compote.  My favorite fruits have always been small, round and firm or maybe just small and firm because I like strawberries a lot too.

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My plan is to walk the dog and cook from the freezer in the mornings, then sort through our things for pack out in the afternoons.  The afternoons will be drudgery and I don’t know why we felt that we needed all this stuff!  Still, nothing last forever and it will be done and over eventually.  I miss going to coffee :(

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I’ve not been myself.  My husband needed a replacement part and, as he himself is irreplaceable, I’ve been quite frightened.  Because the Germans are considered some of the best mechanics for this procedure, we decided that he would go to the “garage” here and get everything over with before he retired.  Yesterday they opened up his hood, successfully replaced a valve and now he’s good to go! Aren’t the Germans clever people?! I love them so much!  It’s okay to put rice in your burritos now :D

 

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Duck Breasts with Herbs and Green Grape Compote

2 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp butter

1 cinnamon stick

6 tbsp water

4 cups seedless green grapes

2 duck breasts, fat scored

Salt and pepper

Assorted herbs (thyme, sage, rosemary), chopped

4 small courgettes, chaos cut, steamed and buttered

Bring the sugar, butter, cinnamon stick and water to a boil in a sauce pan.  Add the grapes, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Set aside and keep warm.

Season the duck breasts with salt and pepper, then rub in the herbs.  In a preheated skillet, sear the breasts, fat side down, for about 6 minutes.  Remove the accumulated fat, turn the duck breasts and cook for about another 6 minutes or until done to taste.

Let the breasts rest for about 10 minutes, slice and serve with the grapes and courgettes.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Cooking, Food and Wine, French, Fruit, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

The Way My Mother Did It

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I have an emotionally challenging week coming up and with all the stress of the big things, I seem to need to pile on petty, little, peevish, inconsequential irritants.  Like rice in burritos. I think by focusing on the “rice factor” I am, in truth, avoiding the fear of Monday morning and thereby relieving, for a time, my overwhelming stress.  So that’s why :)

Tangential Jessie picture.

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When I was a child, we had Mexican food at least once a week and sometimes twice or thrice. My Mom charred fresh green chillies, scraped off the skin, stuffed them with raw onions and cheese and fried them; chillie rellenos old school.  She made chili (no beans), chili beans(no meat), menudo, enchiladas, burritos, tacos, tamales, refried beans and guacamole.  I was her “coupe oignons” and helped with stuffing, rolling, etc.

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This was during the time when using good quality canned foods, instead of fresh, was fairly new, time saving, modern and almost exotic.  This was before canned foods went the way of Wolf Brand Chili.  I believe my Mom liked Rosarita canned products for her Mexican dishes.  I see Rosarita brand is now owned by ConAgra Foods, also owner of Orville Reddenbacher, Chef Boyardee, Pam and, wait for it, Healthy Choice.  Today I used Rosarita brand refried beans, Ro-tel diced tomatoes with green chillies, La Preferida (what?) green chillies and Pace Hot Picante Sauce because that’s what was in the commissary.  I think you can do a lot better by either making everything from scratch or searching out better canned Mexican products.  Anyway.

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Deep, deep, deep in the freezer I found a package of ground veal that I browned with a few spices and herbs, added a can of diced tomatoes with green chillies, a can of refried beans and simmered until thickened.  The look was there.  Of course you can use just plain ground beef. I’m just emptying the freezer.

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My Mom was heavily into raw onions in her Mexican roll ups.  We kids liked them or maybe we just ate them because the alternative was starvation.  Schooled in the certainty of being parentally back-handed from the table, we never, ever considered picking them out.  This was before Ritalin and my Mom had to raise her children the natural way, without chemical aids.  She didn’t believe in allergies, delicate stomachs or children’s food preferences.  I’m glad she was a good cook.  That made things happier and easier for us :D

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My Mom always bought a chunk of sharp cheddar to grate for most of her Mexican dishes.  Did you know that Kraft’s Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese has absolutely no carbs in it?  Don’t you think that’s odd?  I do.  Odd and scary.

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After rolling up the burritos, my mother always baked them for 15-20 minutes to crisp the ends of the tortillas and heat the fillings.  No choice.  No microwave.  You could probably microwave these but the tortilla ends wouldn’t be crisp.

Real Mexican Burritos

1 lb ground beef

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp cumin seed

1-2 tbsp chili powder

1 can diced tomatoes with green chillies

1 can refried beans

8 flour tortillas

1 can whole green chillies, sliced into strips

1 small onion, chopped

Cheddar cheese, grated

Lettuce, shredded

Tomatoes, diced

Picante sauce or salsa

Start the meat frying with the oil in a skillet.  Add the salt, pepper, oregano, cumin and chili powder, then cook for about 3 minutes.  Add the diced tomatoes with green chillies and simmer for about 15 minutes.  Add the beans and simmer, stirring until thickened.

For each burrito, spread on some of the beef and bean mixture, top with strips of green chilli, onion and cheese.  Roll up and place in a lightly greased baking pan.  Bake in a 350 F oven for 15-20 minutes

Scatter some lettuce and tomatoes on each plate, place the burrito on top and pass the sauce or salsa.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Mexican, Recipes, Sandwich | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

Hearts and Minds

 

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What was I thinking!?  Of course I took advantage of the superior and varied food selection in France, bringing shopping bags and packed coolers with me when I came to the house in Germany.  But why was I so convinced that duck was so necessary that both of the fridge freezers are packed to the gills with almost nothing else?!  It took a major excavation, almost archaeological, to find something else to cook besides duck legs or breasts!  Even then, the hearts were from the ducks on Jean Louis’ farm!  “Sometimes I’m unreasonable”, said Rosemary Mullally never :)

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Anyway, I had bought baby bok choy, red bell pepper and scallions yesterday that suggested a stir fry, but I also wanted to Southern fry the hearts and livers.  Then I thought of sweet and sour and things got fiddly.  I made a sauce, boiled the hearts, soaked the livers and boiled hearts in milk and egg, deep fried them, stir fried the vegetables and poured the sauce over all.  Nice.

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I like light sweet and sour sauces, not heavy or overly sweet.  I was really satisfied with this one.

Sweet and Sour Sauce

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp ketchup

2 tbsp Tamari soy sauce

6 tbsp rice vinegar

1 cup water

1 tsp cornstarch, dissolved in 4 tbsp water

Bring the sugar, salt, ketchup, soy sauce, vinegar and water to a boil.  Add the cornstarch mixture, then cook and stir until the sauce thickens.

Southern Fried Duck Hearts and Livers

1 lb duck hearts, halved and boiled with a bay leaf, a large slice of onion and 2 cups of chicken broth for 30 minutes and cooled

1 lb chicken livers, halved

1/2 cup milk

1 egg

1 cup flour

1/2 cup dry bread crumbs

1 tbsp garlic powder

1 tsp piment d’espelette

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

Peanut oil for deep frying

Beat the milk with the egg, then stir in the cooked hearts and raw livers and let sit for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Mix the flour, bread crumbs, garlic powder, piment, salt and pepper together.  Dip the livers and hearts in the flour, then deep fry until brown and crunchy.  Drain on paper towels.

Sweet and Sour Duck Heart and Chicken Liver Stir Fry

4 scallions, sliced diagonally

1 red bell pepper, chaotically sliced into 1-2 inch pieces

5-6 baby bok choy, bottom sliced off, branches separated and torn into 2 inch pieces

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp vegetable oil

Southern fried duck hearts and chicken livers (see above)

Sweet and sour sauce (see above)

Heat the oils in a wok and stir fry the scallions and pepper until crisp tender.  Add the bok choy and continue to stir fry for about 2 minutes.  Stir in the hearts, livers and sauce, then stir just to throughly heat.

Serve with rice or noodles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in American, Asian, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Duck Burrito

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No rice

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Just sayin.

Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Mexican, Sandwich | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Casse-Croûte

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I had forgotten about this meal and the pictures I took.  My husband came up to Sens last Friday to load my affairs and animals into the car and drag me back to Stuttgart.  Of course everyone wanted to say hello to him and good-bye to us both, so I suggested a 6:00 p.m. casse-croute or snack at our house.  This gave me the opportunity to empty out as much as I could of the refrigerators.  We just loaded the table with wine, food and eating paraphernalia and went from there.  Top photo, shrimp deviled eggs.

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Charcuterie

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Duck rillettes

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Babou’s baba ganoush

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Olive salad

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Cherry tomatoes and mixed salad greens.

A first, M. Parret said he didn’t want any cheese!  At first I thought he was extremely ill and that maybe this was the “big one”! Then I remembered all that bread and butter he ate with everything, contrary to the doctor’s orders and poured him a little red to settle his stomach :)

 

Posted in Appetizer, Cooking, Food and Wine, French, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , | 17 Comments

Apocalypse Now

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Stuttgart… s**t, I’m still only in Stuttgart…  Everytime I think I’m going to wake up in Sens.

I knew pack out was coming and that I would have to come back to Germany rather sooner than later.  Talking about denial!  You’ve never seen so much procrastination, foot dragging and whining!  I’m almost, but not quite, ashamed :D

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Of course when I got here, the refrigerators, not the freezers (they were still stocked from my last visit from France), were bare.  The only veg in the house was a box of frozen green beans from the commissary.  And the way my husband “rolls” when I’m not at home is colorful, to say the least.

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From the profusion of packaged noodles in the pantry, I determined that my darling must have been craving Asian cuisine.  Problem was, I’m out of Asian noodles and don’t want to buy anything like that with pack out looming.  In addition, I didn’t have carrots, or bell peppers or scallions that I usually use when making noodles.  Long story short, I boiled some spaghetti and added Oriental flavorings.  This was better than it sounds and I made a lot so that he can have some in his bento box this week.

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I have an obscene amount of duck in the freezers and I decided to start working through some of that first.  I seasoned four large duck legs with salt, pepper and 5 spice powder and let them sit around for about an hour.

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Before taking these to the grill, I steamed them for 30 minutes in a dumpling steamer.  I have twice cooked duck legs before and like the results.

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The oven is clean and will remain so until we move from here.  It’s grill time baby :D

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I thinned some of my favorite jarred char sui sauce with water to make a light glaze.

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Satisfied!  Although I will be vegetable shopping tomorrow.  Woman can not live by packaged noodles and frozen vegetables alone.

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Asian Fried Spaghetti

2 tbsp vegetable oil

2 shallots, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 tbsp fish sauce

1 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp sake

4 -6 tbsp sweet chilli sauce

1 pkg of dried spaghetti, cooked with 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid reserved

In a wok, soften the shallots and garlic in the vegetable oil.  Add the fish sauce, soy sauce, sake and chilli sauce, then boil for 2 minutes.

Add the cooked spaghetti and fry, adding the water a little at a time.

 

Char Sui Glazed Duck Legs

4 duck legs

Salt and pepper

Chinese 5 spice powder

1/4 cup char sui sauce, thinned with a little water

Season the duck legs with salt, pepper and the  5 spice powder and set aside for at least an hour.  Steam the duck legs for 30 minutes.

Preheat the grill to 450 F, turn off one side of the grill and put the legs on the cold side, skin side down for 20 minutes, turn and cook for another 20 minutes, top down.

Brush the legs with the sauce, then cook for an additional 20 minutes, brushing with the sauce and turning every 5 minutes.

 

Posted in Asian, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Star of the County Down

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This is Jessie, my 2 1/2 month old Irish Terrier.  Why is her name Jessie?  Ask the French. Their naming system for pedigree dogs dictates the first letter of the name of the dog depending on the year.  2014 was “J” and I couldn’t think of an Irish name that I admired that started with J.  I should have asked Conor.  Too late.  Anyway, the name suits her; as in Jessie James : – O  In this picture she has just finished uprooting a container of flowers and chasing the cat.  “Why must I be like that?  Why must I chase the cat?  Nothing but the dog in me.”

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Seems like I made a good choice with this breed.  Jessie is pretty, intelligent and affectionate.  Too bad the cats don’t think so :D

Anyway, we’re on our way back to Germany at the end of the week.  Of course the refrigerators and their freezers are bulging.  I’ll just empty everything out into a cooler and cook constantly as we pack out.

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I’m having a hard time concentrating on cooking with so many things going on.  Our Jade got her report card and her lowest grade was a B.  That’s a really good thing!  The school in Massachusetts seems to have worked a miracle!  Really, we poured over the card to make sure there was no mistake and that her name was on it.  I hope they’re not beating her :D

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My goal today was to cook with as little effort as possible.  Accomplished!  I only used one pan for the courgettes and the pork steaks with mustard gravy.   Mwuahahahaha!!

Pork Steak with Mustard Gravy

2 pork steaks

Salt and pepper

3 tbsp butter

1 1/2 courgettes, chaotically cut into cubes

3 shallots, thinly sliced

1 tbsp flour

1 cup water or chicken broth

1 heaping tsp Dijon mustard

1 sprig fresh thyme

Season the pork with salt and pepper, then set aside.

Melt 1 tbsp of the butter into a skillet, add the courgettes and quickly brown.  Remove the courgettes from the skillet and set aside keeping warm.

Add another tbsp of butter to the skillet and cook the pork steaks until just done.  Remove and set aside.

Add the remaining tbsp of butter and cook the shallots until limp, then add the tbsp of flour and continue to cook until the flour and shallots are a golden brown.  Slowly stir in the water or broth until smooth, then add the mustard, thyme sprig and pork steaks.  Cover and simmer for 5-8 minutes.  Serve with the courgettes.

Wine suggestion:  Petit Chablis

 

Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments