Crispy 3 Day Duck

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If roasting a whole duck sounds intimidating, do not fear.  This is one of the easiest recipes I’ve made in a long time.  There are only 7 ingredients, and you can even omit the apple, and basting liquid, which would leave you with 3 ingredients if you don’t count salt.

Backstory:  A few weeks ago we went to Warzawa restaurant here in Santa Monica with three friends of ours, two of whom are a married couple of eastern european origin — he is Polish; she has Romanian and Serbian roots. Everybody except me ordered the half roasted duck, which was reputed to be the star of the menu.  The only duck I have ever eaten is the little Peking duck dim sum sandwiches at Yank Sing in San Francisco, a fairly safe way to get your duck . . . that is, a tiny piece of duck in a tasty little package.  But as my dining companions were digging into their duck so adamantly that the dinner conversation completely halted, I decided I had to try the real thing, and boy was it delicious.  I was a little intrigued as to how the chef achieved such a crispy exterior to the duck, as it tasted to me like it may have been lightly floured and deep fried after being roasted!  Anyhow, after the dinner, my husband lamented that he got a very small half duck in comparison to the other diners, with very little meat.  So I vowed to make a whole duck for him so he could have ample meat.

Warzawa's Roasted Duck

Warzawa’s Roasted Duck

As I was researching roast duck on the internet and in my cookbooks, I found that in order to achieve a crisp skin, duck is often dried in the refrigerator uncovered, or hanging upside down in a “cool drafty place,” or with a hair dryer.  I opted for the refrigerator method.  The cooking technique involves roasting the duck first at 450 degrees, then pricking the skin, then finishing for an hour at 350 degrees.

I must say that the duck turned out to be very delicious, even if not as shatteringly crisp as at the restaurant.  The skin was crispy and the meat was uber-moist and flavorful.  I will need to beg the chef for his secret tips but in the meantime, this recipe is a winner . . . and as a bonus you get a boatload of beautiful duck fat which is God’s gift to potatoes.  Trust me on this one!

For this recipe I purchased a disposable “foil” roasting pan so that I didn’t have to mess with cleaning a roasting pan full of duck drippings.  If your budget permits, this is a good move.  Roasting the duck will produce a lot of smoke in the initial 30 minutes of high heat cooking, and plenty of splattering, but on the upside your kitchen will smell divine.

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Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 (4 – 6 lb) Long Island Duck. (This is the most common type of duck sold in the US.  This recipe will not work with other kinds of duck.)
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon each onion and garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 apple, peeled and coarsely chopped into small pieces
  • 1 Tbps soy sauce or coconut aminos
  • 1 Tbps red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar

Preparation:

  1. 3 days before you plan to cook the duck, prepare it for drying. Remove everything that is inside the cavity of the duck, including any large pieces of fat. Rinse the duck inside and out with filtered water, and dry thoroughly. Place the duck on a rack in a cookie sheet or shallow roasting pan. Place the uncovered duck on a refrigerator shelf and let dry for 3 days.
  2. Put one rack in your oven in the second lowest position. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the duck on a rack in a roasting pan that is at least 2 inches deep. The duck will release a lot of fat, so it is important that the roasting pan is deep enough to avoid any spillage.
  3. Mix the salt, garlic and onion powder, and thyme together, and rub this mixture all over the duck inside and out. Stuff the duck with the apple pieces. Cook for 30 minutes. You will want to turn the fan on.
  4. Remove the roasting pan from the oven, pour the duck fat into a large heatproof bowl, return the rack to the pan and place the duck on the rack. Pierce the skin of the duck all over with a large fork.
  5. Return the duck to the oven, and turn the heat down to 325 degrees. Cook for 1 hour. After 15 minutes baste the duck with a pastry brush, with the mixture of soy sauce and vinegar.  Continue to cook for 45 more minutes.  Remove the duck from the oven and serve.

Swiss Grief & Rösti Recipe

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I am still grieving Roger Federer’s loss to Novak Djokovic in the men’s Wimbledon final yesterday.  And sore over the fact that my local newspaper NEVER sees fit to put the Wimbledon winners as the lead story on the front page of the Sports section, every year, even in non-World Cup years.  The story is always on the side margin; this year it’s at the very bottom, below a giant shot of the Los Angeles Cuban misfit Dodger Yasiel Puig (apologies, he’s a good player, but it’s true) and a story about the All-Star Game.  If you watched the 5 set match, wherein 2 of the 5 sets were forced to tiebreaker, and the overwhelming percentage of games was won on service (that is, the serving player always won their service game so that the match was even EXCEPT when Roger came back from a 2-5 deficit in the 4th set and broke service 3 times to win that set . . . which is outrageously amazing), you would agree that it was a historic display of elite athletic talent.  What’s more, both players are consummate sportsmen, gracious whether winning or losing.  Why tennis doesn’t get the media love it deserves is beyond me.  Then there’s Roger, who’s classy, stylish, handsome and in my opinion the greatest men’s tennis player of all time.  Not fair not fair!!!

I may be partial due to the fact that I dedicated about half of my waking hours to playing competitive tennis from age 8 through college, but I’ve only been a rabid fan once before this, for Steffi Graf, who, similar to Roger in his dominating years, decimated her opponents with the most athletic and beastly forehand ever.  She was a great, great champion.  It used to be a very solemn time in our household when she was playing in a major final or semifinal . . . I was not keen to talking, listening, or doing anything but rooting for Steffi. And man did I get nervous, just like yesterday.  For a while I noticed that when I stood up and talked really loudly at the TV, Roger won more points, and it alleviated my nerves.  But as you may know, in the end Novak pulled his second Wimbledon title off and Roger went home denied of what would have been a historic 8th Wimbledon title (only Pete Sampras has as many Wimbledon trophies — 7).

The trophy presentation was so moving, with Novak first acknowledging Roger, then dedicating his trophy to his fiancé and their soon to be born baby; his team; his family; and, his recently deceased first coach.  No dry eyes at Centre Court or in our TV room.

I have lots of good memories of tennis, but boy do I not miss the competing, the nerves, the grueling practices and training, the travel (actually, my Mom is the one who ought to be saying this, as she is the one who drove me all over California for tournaments every weekend), and the scarce social life until about age 17.  My mom introduced me to tennis at age 8 and it was a perfect vehicle for a budding OCD perfectionist and bullheaded competitor with a bit of athletic capability.   Maybe more on that, later.

So I dedicate this dish to Roger Federer.  I made a potato Rösti that I served with braised kale, a sausage patty, and a duck egg.  I’m including the recipe for just the Rösti, which you can also make with sweet potatoes if you don’t eat potato.  I hope to see him in the finals at the US Open later this summer, and back at Wimbledon next year.  Go Roger!

Braised Greens, Rosti, Sausage, Duck Egg

Braised Greens, Rosti, Sausage, Duck Egg

Rösti

Serves 4 as a side dish, 2 as a main course

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium-sized waxy potatoes
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp goose or duck fat

Preparation:

1. Parboil the potatoes in salted water until just tender, but not soft. Allow to cool, and chill for at least a couple of hours.

2. Coarsely grate the potatoes and season. Heat half the fat in a small, heavy-based frying pan until sizzling, and then add the grated potato, allow to cook for a couple of minutes and then shape it into a flat cake, pressing down as lightly as possible. Allow to cook for a couple of minutes, then gently shake the pan to loosen the potato.

3. Continue to cook for about 10 minutes until golden and crisp, then place a plate on top of the pan and invert it so the cake sits, cooked-side up, on the plate.

4. Add the rest of the butter and goose fat to the pan and, when hot, slide the potato cake back into the pan the other way up. Cook for another 10 minutes, then serve.

 

Pie Lesson: Strawberry Lattice Top Pie

My wonderful friend Amy over at huckleberryandco, who is a baker, gluten-free cookbook author, elite level clarinet player, chair caner and all-around creative genius, recently gave me a pie lesson.  We had so much fun visiting between the various stages of the recipe, talking about Tennessee (where she’s from), motorcycles (her beau has 5 vintage bikes); making tinctures and salves (she’s also a medicine woman!); and of course taking a lunch break for punk tacos at Tacos Puntas Cabras.

She taught me how to gently roast berries to get them to release their juices; to save the syrup for sodas or other creative concoctions; how to properly roll my crust; how to dock the bottom crust; how to “spank” herbs to release their flavor; and, how to weave a top crust.

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Here’s the Recipe:

INGREDIENTS:

Crust:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 12 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
  • 1½ tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar

Filling:

  • 3 lb. strawberries, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbps lemon basil
  • 2 tbsp. heavy cream

Preparation:
1. Pulse flour, butter, and 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. sugarin a food processor until pea-size pieces form. Add ½ cup ice-cold water; pulse until dough forms. Form into a ball; halve and form into two disks. Wrap; chill for 1 hour.

2. Heat oven to 425°. Take herbs and slap each leaf between palms of hands, then thinly slice.  In a bowl, toss together remaining salt, berries, sugar, herbs, and set filling aside. Roast strawberries in foil on a cookie sheet for about 10 minutes.  Let cool.  Unwrap dough; roll both into 11″ wide and 1/8″ thick circles. Transfer one circle to a 9″ deep-dish pie pan; dock crust by pricking with a fork 3 or 4 times; mound filling inside. Cut ¾”-wide strips of dough from remaining circle; transfer to top of pie, creating a lattice pattern. Trim and crimp edges. Brush dough with cream and sprinkle with remaining sugar. Bake until golden and bubbling, about 1 hour. (If crust begins to brown before pie is finished baking, cover with foil until pie is done). Let cool.

Strawberry Jam & Dark Chocolate Tartlettes with Walnut Crust

Here is a really easy and impressive little dessert with a jammy filling and a shatteringly crisp cover of dark chocolate that I contributed to the folks over at Foodlander. The covering isn’t actually crisp the entire way through, just the thinnest & topmost membrane . . . the rest of the topping has an almost ganache-like consistency.

Please don’t judge, but tomorrow I’m going to acknowledge my dependence on the British by eating fish & chips at the local British Pub, Ye Olde King’s Head, a short walk from our house. I’ve had a hankering for real fish & chips recently but after making 2 batches of donuts in the last month, I’m kinda deep fried out.  Although I may change my mind if the fish & chips aren’t as wildly awesome as I’m imagining them to be!  They’ll have Wimbledon and The World Cup playing, plus I’m thinking there won’t be a big crowd on the 4th of July . . . ?

Find the recipe at Foodlander, here.

Also check out my red, white and blue potato salad with celery, red onion & creme fraiche dressing; superfood slaw with raw beet, sprouts and walnuts; and a few other 4th of July recipes here.

Next up?  Avocado Cacao Ice Cream!

 

Summer Sarnie with Meatloaf

As you know by now, I love wordplay, alliteration, and cheekiness in all forms . . . that’s why I like the word “Sarnie,” which I first heard in a Jamie Oliver cookbook in his description of his favorite breakfast sandwich (a bacon sandwich).

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Doesn’t this sandwich look like something you want to eat pretty soon?  I’ve created a meatloaf recipe for my friends over at Foodlander and it is based on my mother’s AMAZING meatloaf.  A couple of key tips:  mix with a light touch, wrap in bacon, and cook free form in a cast iron skillet in the oven (rather than a loaf pan so as to assure proper crust formation!).

Meatloaf is a comfort food, and if you have food restrictions, you may substitute coconut or almond milk for the regular milk, flax seed blended with a touch of water for eggs, tempeh or turkey bacon for the bacon, agave for the brown sugar, etc.  It won’t taste like my mom’s meatloaf, but it will still be very very good.  Meatloaf almost always is!!!

As you know, it’s high season for cooking and entertaining because of the upcoming Independence Holiday and of course because it’s summer.  In that spirit, I’ll be posting very soon loads of more delicious recipes including strawberry pie (See my latest Instagram pics where I got an invaluable pie baking lesson from baker Amy Finn), potato salad made with whole pee wee potatoes, creme fraiche, and shaved celery and red onion; superfood slaw with raw beet, sprouts and walnuts; and a killer strawberry jam dark chocolate tartlet.  Stay tuned!!!

Epic Birgerbird Burger!

Hi guys, I’ve been working on the perfect burger for weeks and I think I came up with it.  It’s very messy to eat and you won’t be hungry for days, but give it a try!  Also, you can vote for my burger on Food52, which is a fantastic foodie website for home cooks and aspiring food stylists and gourmets!  The voting doesn’t actually start until next week, but if you view and comment on the recipe, your visit generates activity which may be used to determine which recipes make the cut to be voted on!

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Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground dry aged, grass fed beef
  • 1 teaspoon black truffle salt
  • 4 slices bacon from pastured pork
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 2 duck eggs
  • 1 heirloom tomato, sliced
  • handful dill pickle slices
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 brioche hamburger buns, buttered (1 Tbps butter) and toasted
  • 2 tablespoons bacon drippings

Preparation:

  1. Form 2 1/2 inch thick patties with beef, using a light touch. Make a small dimple in the center of the patties. Sprinkle with truffle salt on both sides.
  2. Cook bacon in cast iron skillet until medium crisp. Remove bacon and reserve 2 Tbsp. bacon drippings. Heat bacon drippings over high heat.
  3. Cook patties over high heat, not moving, for 2 minutes. Flip and cook over medium heat 3-4 minutes, without moving or smashing down with a spatula. Leave in pan, off heat, covered, while you fry duck eggs.
  4. Over high heat, fry duck eggs in 2 Tbps butter.
  5. Assemble burgers: On bottom of bun place a handful of pickles. Place patty on top of pickles, followed by bacon, avocado, fried egg and tomato. Place top bun on top and dig in!