November 22, 2012
Say hello to one of my favorite French dishes.
I know it’s Thanksgiving and another piece of poultry is the last thing you want to think about, but this is special. This beautiful rosy piece of poultry is magret de canard, or duck breast. Traditionally, magret de canard is the breast from a duck raised for its liver, or foie gras, and it’s usually cooked like a steak — seared, finished with a few minutes in the oven, and served medium-rare. Making this recipe also leaves you with several big spoonfuls of sublime, thyme-and-orange scented duck fat to do with what you like.
It’s an impressive date-night dish, something that so terribly French but so very easy. I serve it with roasted veggies and sometimes mashed potatoes, but the bistro down the street serves theirs with fried plantains and a lightly dressed salad, and that is also heavenly.
November 13, 2012
This is one of the appetizers (besides the copious charcuterie and cheese) that I served at our last little get-together.
It’s simple, seasonal, and extremely flavorful — the sweet butternuts squash is accentuated by the chile-infused honey and the crispiness of the puff pastry is mirrored by that of the sage. When I made it, I used an entire bird’s-eye chile and found it a bit too spicy — I’ve scaled that down to 1/2 a chile here to rein it in a bit.
October 16, 2012
Chestnuts are making their way back to the street vendors. Sometimes, stepping out of a metro stop, I smell the familiar smoky charcoal smell of the roasters and almost stop to buy a handful.
But invariably, whenever I do buy some, they’re nearly impossible to peel. That’s why I’ve taken to roasting them at home — I can cut huge slits in the peels before roasting them, and they nearly fall off after being roasted.
I’ve also found what seems to be the perfect dipping sauce for chestnuts: chestnut honey, or miel de châtaignier, mixed with a good amount of coarse-ground pepper. The tongue-coating quality of the honey helps to mitigate the tendency of fresh-roasted chestnuts of being a little dry, and the pepper cuts through their creaminess with some spice. And I must admit, pairing honey made from chestnut flowers with the nuts that those trees eventually produced is pleasingly recursive.
July 25, 2012
Friends: if you are on le régime, I warn you to stop reading this right now. Because this? This is what nearly destroyed my fledgling considerations of going on a — oh, you know, lifestyle change.
Justification: popcorn is a whole grain. Rebuttal: oh who are you kidding, that’s a half cup of Nutella in there.
I think it’s okay, though. I’ve been eating just tiny bowls of it, like this. Moderation, right? I know if I put the whole huge bowl near me, it’s game over. And it’s so sweet and rich, just a few bites will do you. Not that anyone’s judging if you end up eating the whole bowl. We’ve all been there.