Roquette Pesto Fettuccine with Normal Duck Breast


So, so glad to have found the Hudson Valley duck farm!  Cooking with familiar, quality products makes for an enthusiastic, creative and happy time in the kitchen :)


What I really wanted for this pasta dish was fresh pappardelle, but the Wegman’s in Scranton only had fresh fettuccine and linguine.  Heck, I’ve got a Kitchenaid and just might have to use it to make fresh pappardelle but that seems a bit extreme :D


I’ve made roquette (arugula) pesto many times but it seems I always forget how good it is. The roquette I find here in Pennsylvania seems to be a “drier” less tender variety but it works just fine.  In fact, I liked this batch better than the last one.  I spread some on bread to test and my husband, always willing to assist and always it seems in the kitchen, helped with that.


The duck breasts were meaty with a fine layer of fat that cooked up perfectly.  Duck sandwiches tomorrow, on Italian bread with garlic mayonnaise.


Roquette and Walnut Pesto Fettuccine

2 cups roquette

1/3 cup walnuts

1/4 cup basil

2 tbsp pine nuts

2 tsp parmesan, grated

2 large garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper

1lb fresh fettuccine, cooked according to package (about 3 minutes)

Chop the roquette, walnuts, basil, pine nuts, parmesan and garlic in a food processor.  With the motor running, pour in the oil in a thin stream until the mixture is smooth and incorporated.  Season with salt and pepper, then toss with the hot pasta.






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

Smoked Pork Neck Bone and Barley Soup


We’ve already had our first snow and Thanksgiving is still almost 2 weeks away!  It’s cold. It’s so cold that dog walking is only fun for the dog who is an Irish Terrier and therefore innately insane.  We were so cold a couple of days ago that we bought some self-serve homemade  potato soup at a vegetable stand near Waymart, P.A.  What there was of it (all the other cold people had been there ahead of us and ate all the chicken noodle soup and most of the potato soup) was good with discernible pieces of potato.


It’s 11:30 a.m. , 32 F (0 C)and is threatening to drop to 22 F (-5 C), probably when we’re walking the dog ⛄.  Earlier, inspired by some internet barley soup maker (I’ve forgotten who), I pulled together some ingredients for a large pot of hearty soup to be eaten before AND after walking the dog ;)


I saw some smoked neck bones at the Super Duper a couple of weeks ago and brought them home as freezer fodder.  I like the way they cooked up.  You could probably make a sandwich with this.  My husband wanted to do just that.  Over-ruled.

Smoked Neck Bone and Barley Soup

2 tbsp olive oil

2 small onions, coarsely chopped

3 celery branches, halved vertically, then sliced

3 carrots, halved vertically, then sliced

1 1/2 lbs smoked neck bones

3 large branches parsley

2 bay leaves

1 1/2  tsp dried oregano

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

2 cans chicken broth

7-8 cups water

2 cans diced tomatoes

6-8 small red potatoes, skin on, cut into chunks

1 cup barley

Saute the onions, celery and carrots with the olive oil in a large pot until the celery and onion are just soft. Add the neck bones, parsley, bay leaves, oregano, salt, pepper, chicken broth, water and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 15 minutes.  Add the potatoes and barley, bring back to a boil, then simmer for 1 hour.  Remove the parsley branches and neck bones.  Discard the parsley.  Remove the meat from the neck bones, coarsely chop and return to the pot.


Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes, Soup | Tagged , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Butter Baked Chicken Thighs with Sauteed Red Cabbage


I always make butter baked chicken thighs because they are good and everyone is always pleased:  Salt, pepper, dust with flour, 1 tbsp butter melted in a roasting pan, bake skin side down for 25 minutes in a 425 F oven, turn, bake for 20 more minutes more.  Eat immediately.  You can eat it leaning over the pan without bothering to get a plate.  My husband does.  He’s retired :)


One of my new favorites is sauteed red/purple cabbage, lightly sweet and sour.  A pretty vegetable :)


I think this is a German recipe.  I know I did make it in Germany.




Sauteed Red Cabbage

1/2 cup diced bacon

1 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, halved and sliced

1 small head purple cabbage, shredded

3-4 sprigs thyme

1/3 cup white wine vinegar

1/4 -1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp dry mustard

Salt and pepper

Brown the bacon in a wok. Add the olive oil and the onion, then cook until the onion is soft. Add the cabbage and thyme, then stir fry for 3-4 minutes.

Mix the vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper together, stir into the cabbage, then cover and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour.



Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Fried Green Tomatoes and Country Style Ribs


After over 3 months of searching, my husband finally found the legs to my work desk in the linen closet carton.  We had both given them up as lost/left behind.  Now I’m hoping to organize my office with a photography table so that I can get away from the stainless steel glare of the enormous refrigerator in the kitchen and am hoping that Santa brings me an enormous white refrigerator for Christmas :)


I bought some lovely green tomatoes from the Scranton farmers’ market that reminded me of the fried green tomatoes with ripe tomato salsa I made in Sens, using green tomatoes from M. Parret’s garden.


I had some cherry tomatoes that I thought I would use for the salsa but they were a bit too squishy and more suitable for soup or stew.


After a quick run to the Super Duper market, I poured a glass of Champagne to celebrate finding these perfectly ripe and firm vine tomatoes.


The government liquor store does stock Veuve Clicquot and for that I thank them.  I do like Honesdale and the State of Pennsylvania, however all alcohol is sold and under the control of the state government, which means that a state civil servant is choosing the French, Italian and Spanish wines that are imported and sold in these stores. Apparently, 1) this man/woman is going to get an award for saving the government money on imported wines, 2) he/she doesn’t drink French wine probably because of a bad experience with the tractor of fine wines, Cote du Rhone, that is on the shelves, but has heard of Veuve Cliquot but won’t ever taste it because of the aforesaid experience and the $50 price tag.


Oh yeah.  The outside of the house is slooowly being repaired and painted.  The problem with that is that at 35 F and below, the paint will not dry.  We’ve already dipped below that several times and had teasing slow flurries.  The painters don’t seem to be worried 😞


Anyway, in addition to the tomatoes, I slow roasted some country style ribs.  This is not a cut of pork ribs I use often because they look as if they should be braised instead of grilled/roasted and are more solid meat than rib.  They are good, but I do not adore them :)


For dessert, Jade made a peach melba with sponge cake, butter pecan ice cream and strawberries.


Slow Roasted Country Style Pork Ribs

1 tbsp salt

1 tbsp dill seeds, crushed

1 tbsp sage leaves

1 tbsp fennel seeds, crushed

1 tbsp coriander powder

1 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, chopped

1 tbsp Spanish paprika

1 tbsp garlic powder

1 tbsp dried shallots

5-6 country style pork ribs

Mix all the herbs and spices together, then rub onto the ribs.  Refrigerate overnight, then roast in a 300-325 F oven for 2 hours.

Fresh Ripe Tomato Salsa

3 ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped

2 spring onion bulbs, finely chopped

1 large garlic clove, finely chopped

1 long, fresh, green chilli for babies (mild), seeded and chopped

1 handful cilantro leaves, chopped

1 tsp sugar

Juice from one lime

Salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to use.

Fried Green Tomatoes

4-5 green tomatoes, thickly sliced

Salt and pepper


2 eggs, beaten

Bread crumbs

Peanut oil for deep frying

Season both sides of the tomato slices with salt and pepper, then dust with flour, dip in beaten egg and coat with bread crumbs.  Fry on both sides until golden.



Posted in Cooking | 29 Comments

Foie Gras, Magret and Duck Legs Sorted


My husband and I were discussing the ban on foie gras in California and wondered if it was banned in other States.  What California actually banned was the gavage or force feeding of birds.  I don’t believe that you can have “real”, quality foie gras without force feeding but I do understand the why of California, the State I grew up in;  California is filled to the brim with bleeding heart, tree hugging, liberal, vegetarians!  I, of course, escaped this subversive influence because my mother was from Texas 😉


Happily for us, according to the internet, foie gras is not banned in the other States.  In fact, right across the Delaware river in Ferndale, New York, not far from where my husband grew up, is the Hudson Valley Foie Gras and Duck Company, the proud producer of duck products from Mulard ducks, including foie gras, duck legs and duck breasts.


Despite a particularly virulent news article by Huffington Post, Hudson Valley Foie Gras unflinchingly practices gavage in order to to offer the American public French quality magret(duck breast) and foie gras.  Having nothing to hide, the company has an open door policy and will show a visitor anything they are interested in seeing, including gavage.


Since I have already seen gavage, and cage free ducks standing around in a large, clean shelter are pretty boring, I quickly moved on to the purpose of the visit; food buying.


Hudson Valley’s duck farm is not really a tourist destination.  It’s just a large compound with offices ( 3 of them for USDA personnel), a processing plant and duck sheds.  They raise the ducks, process them, package them, store them in refrigerators/freezers, then ship the finished product to restaurants, retail businesses and individuals.  I was a little disappointed that they did not have a cute, onsite store with t-shirts, coffee mugs, stuffed duck toys, porcelain figurines, etc, however they are more than happy to sell to walk in customers.  Still, a t-shirt would have been good, but I understand you can buy one at their online store.  😊


Frankly, after spending so much time eating duck in France, I didn’t know what to expect from an American duck farm.  M. Parret would have been pleased!  Everything looked “correct.”  I bought 16 portions of frozen foie gras scallops, 2 packages of magret and a hefty package of 6 duck legs in case of surprise visitors or a blizzard.


It was difficult to choose what to cook first but because I had some fresh borlotti beans in the freezer, I thought what the heck, might as well do a cassoulet.


This was a good choice because between trimming and browning the legs, I had quite a bit of rendered duck fat that I was able to pour in a jar and store in the refrigerator for future gastronomic events.


The duck was very, very good!  This was my first time eating a Mulard duck and while the flavor is discernibly different from the French Muscovy/Barbery duck, I am grateful to find such comparable quality on this side of the Atlantic.  Thank you M. Yanay and everyone at Hudson Valley Foie Gras!  Saved!


Now I need to find a reliable rabbit source!  My husband is threatening to load up his gun, but that’s okay because we live in Pennsylvania and it’s his constitutional right :)

Duck Cassoulet

3 large duck legs

Salt and pepper

1 1/2 cup smoked pork butt, diced

1 large onion, chopped

2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1 bunch parsley, leaves chopped

1 bay leaf

1 tsp dried oregano

3 cups shelled fresh borlotti beans

2 cups chicken broth

Trim some of the excess fat from the duck legs and render the fat in a slow skillet, discard/give to the dog the browned pieces and pour the rendered fat into a jar.  Season the duck with salt and pepper, then brown in the same skillet, again pouring the fat rendered into the jar and setting the browned legs to the side.

Reintroduce 2 tbsp of rendered fat to the skillet, then lightly brown the diced pork.  Add the onion and continue to saute until the onion is soft.  Add the tomatoes, parsley, bay leaf, oregano, beans and chicken broth, bring to a boil, then pour all into the bottom of a tajine, top with the duck legs, cover and roast in a 400 F oven for 30 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350F and continue to roast for 1 hour.  Remove the cover and roast for a final 30 minutes.



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Rolled Rack of Lamb Roast


Thinking to give American lamb another try because I like lamb and American lamb is all that’s available, I went to the German butcher and purchased a pretty little rolled, boneless rack roast.


I gave it the usual olive oil, herbs and garlic treatment, using an enormous clove of the seemingly popular elephant garlic.  I’m not quite satisfied with the available garlic; it’s either small, dry, hard cloves or alien, enormous but juicy elephant garlic.  Sigh.


But the roast looked good and my hopes were high.  I brought out my green tajine and loaded it with baby potatoes, “baby-like” carrots, parsley and onions(I have lots of parsley).  I would have liked to add some whole shallots but they’re quite expensive and ugly.


If it wasn’t for the wind chill factor, this would remind me of spring.


Pretty tajine lamb roast, but yes, as tasteless as I remember.  I think I’m going into a decline :D


Rolled Rack of Lamb Roast

2lb rolled rack of lamb roast

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped

1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

1 lb potato fingerlings

1/2 lb “baby-like” carrots

2 small onions, quartered

1 handful parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper

1 tbsp olive oil

Mix the teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, thyme, rosemary and olive oil together, stab the roast all over with a knife, then rub in the herb mixture.  Refrigerate overnight.

Mix the potatoes, carrots, onions, parsley, salt, pepper and olive oil together, then place on the bottom of a tajine or baking pan.

Place the marinated roast on top of the vegetables, then place in a 425 F oven for 30 minutes.  Reduce the temperature to 350 F, stir the vegetables, then return to the oven for 30-45 minutes.



Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Successful Careless Cooking


Some days I just don’t feel like cooking.  Can’t be bothered.  Could care less.  Today was one of those days.  It’s raining, there are still unopened boxes in the garage and everywhere, there is nothing truly exciting in my freezer and refrigerator.  Still, the spouse and child must be fed.  Time for careless cooking.  Careless cooking is only successful when you have the right audience, include certain essential ingredients and make the correct quantity judgement.

Baby boomers are the best targets for careless cooking (Boomers from the “deep country” are perfect).  Born between 1946 and 1964, these are the original one-dish casserole kids. Moms were mostly stay at home but housewife-ing with multiple children was and is an unpaid full time job that naturally runs into overtime; housecleaning, laundry, driving the kids to events, budgeting, cooking, etc. Food companies often advertised their products as time saving and economical which appealed to the housewife trying to find a little personal space for lunch, bridge, the hair salon or whatever.  Cans were good things and in the beginning the contents were not so bad. Casseroles were good things because you could dump a bunch of cans in one pot, sprinkle with cheese, add a little parsley, innovative presentation and you had a family meal.  Note: It is more than possible to successfully careless cook for the generations after the boomers; just add about 2 tablespoons of sugar and maybe some ketchup to whatever casserole you make.  Avoid vegetables that can not be pureed into the sauce.


As to ingredients, careless cooking is centered around a well stocked pantry of canned goods; vegetables, tomatoes, beans, sauces and broths.  Use your imagination and do have on hand a ridiculous amount of dried herbs and spices.  It is essential that no matter what you are making, be sure to saute some onions, garlic and bell pepper to include in your one-dish triumph.  Above all, careless cooking must taste good and these vegetables and aromatic pretty much guarantee that.


If you are cooking for carnivores, be sure to add a decent quantity of meat. Meat casseroles with fillers(rice, pasta, potatoes) that overwhelm to the extent that the carnivore has to search for the meat are not successful, just frustrating.  For vegetarians, just make sure that there’s plenty of sauce and serve everything with thick slices of bread and maybe butter if they’re doing butter.

Chili Mac

1 1/2 lb ground veal

1 lb ground pork

2 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 large red bell pepper, diced

2 cans diced tomatoes

1 small can tomato paste

1 1/2 tbsp Mexican chili powder

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp piment d’espelette

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 can pinto beans, drained

1/2 bean can of water

3 cups cooked elbow macaroni

1 mounded cup grated cheese

Brown the ground meats in a dry skillet, then remove and set aside.  Pour out the accumulated fat, wipe the skillet with a paper towel, then add the olive oil, onion, garlic and bell pepper, sauteing until the onion is soft.

Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, piment, salt, pepper, beans, water and reserved meat to the skillet, stir well, bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes.  Stir in the macaroni and cheese, then allow to simmer, stirring for about 3-5 minutes.



Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments