Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Fa La La La La

La La La Laaaaaa! Happy holidays, everyone! We are so very, very full right now. This season we celebrated two Christmas meals with Chris's family and three with mine. Plus, we're hosting a little cocktail party (with snacks, of course) this weekend. And my gym is closed til January 2nd. Sheesh.

Well anyway, let's go ahead and have virtual seconds-- this was the Christmas night menu at our house:

-Salad (Romaine, Roquefort, pecans and fuji apples with balsamic vinaigrette)
-Duck breast with a port-cherry sauce (recipe below)
-Sweet potatoes roasted with sage
-Lemony haricot vert with shallots
-Rum cake
-Creme de menthe brownies

Duck Breast with Port-Cherry Sauce
Adapted from
Serves 4

  • 1 cup frozen dark sweet cherries, thawed, halved
  • 1 cup chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 cup beef stock or canned beef broth
  • 1/2 cup ruby Port
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig
  • 4 6-ounce duck breast halves
  • Combine first five ingredients in small sauce pan over medium high heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally until reduced and syrupy, about 20 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. High heavy oven-proof skillet over medium high heat. Score the skin of the duck breasts with a paring knife. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
  • Sear breasts skin side down for several minutes, until skin is brown and crisp. Flip breasts over and sear for a minute or two. Remove skillet from stove and place in preheated oven. Cook until medium rare, about 10 minutes.
  • Remove to cutting board and allow to rest. Taste cherry sauce and season with salt and pepper. Slice duck thinly on the diagonal and top with sauce.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Indecisive by nature, when I came to the realization that I had both goat cheese and pumpkin on hand to fill my ravioli, I had a rough time making a choice. Variety (and sage, in this case) being the spice of life, I went for the gusto and whipped up both. The sweet pumpkin was a great counter to the tangy goat cheese, although honestly I’d probably eat anything smothered in browned butter and accented with crispy fried sage.


Pumpkin Ravioli and Goat Cheese Ravioli with Brown Butter and Sage

Makes about 30 large ravioli


For pumpkin filling:

  • ¾ c. pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 tbs. bread crumbs
  • 1 tbs. grated parmesan
  • ½ tsp. fresh sage, chopped fine
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch of nutmeg

For the goat cheese filling:

  • 4-5 oz. soft goat cheese
  • 1 tbs. bread crumbs
  • ½ tsp. fresh sage, chopped fine
  • salt and pepper

  • 1 package spring roll wrappers
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 3 tbs. butter
  • 8 fresh sage leaves


  • Combine all pumpkin filling ingredients in a small bowl. Combine all goat cheese filling ingredients in a separate bowl.
  • To make the spring roll wrappers the perfect size for ravioli, take a stack and cut them in half down the center to create pieces that are about 2 inches by 4 inches.
  • Fill wrappers. Place about a tablespoon of either filling (avoid the impulse to overfill!) towards the bottom of the wrapper. Brush surrounding edges with egg wash. Fold top half over and crimp edges with a fork. As you finish the ravioli, set aside on a cookie sheet lined with parchment.
  • Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. When butter has melted and begins to turn golden add sage leaves and fry until they are crisp and butter is brown.
  • When water comes to boil, add ravioli and cook in batches for just a few minutes each. As they finish, scoop out of pot with strainer and add to skillet with butter. Toss to coat.

Friday, December 14, 2007

More Giftable Sugar

I like making candies and goodies and whatnot, but I have a fear of anything that involves a candy thermometer. That's too much pressure. It means that if I'm off by one of two degrees -- ka plow!! Hot melted sugar explodes all over my kitchen and it's the end of society as we know it. Okay, maybe not. But I'm still intimidated by recipes that call for constant temperature monitoring. Soooo, for the past couple of years I have totally cheated and used Rachael Ray's Five Minute Fudge Wreath recipe to make yummy chocolate treats (and yes, that photo is atrocious). I branched out a bit this year and took my fudge making to the next level. A recipe that called for actual boiling of butter and sugar. I'm getting there . . . I'm getting there.

Cherry Almond Fudge
Adapted from

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  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds,
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

  • Combine butter, evaporated milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a hard boil for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Remove from heat. Stir in the chocolate until melted and smooth. Fold in the almonds and cherries. Add vanilla.
  • Pour into an 8 by 8-inch square baking pan. Chill until firm, about 2 to 4 hours. Cut into 12 squares.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Sugar and Spice

For the holidays, these pecans are everything nice. They're a great snack and make easy edible gifts.

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Spiced Pecans
Adapted from The Washington Post, December 2002

  • 1/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 c. packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 pound (about 4 1/2 cups) pecan halves
  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray.
  • Combine sugars and spices in small bowl
  • In a large bowl, beat egg white and salt with a fork until frothy. Toss in pecans until evenly coated.
  • Add sugar mixture, toss pecans again until well coated.
  • Spread evenly on baking sheet. Bake in oven 30-40 minutes, until crisp and dry, stirring occasionally. Cool and store.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Roasted Beets with Goat Cheese

Such an oddly delightful combination! Beets and goat cheese atop fresh greens with a tangy dressing make for a great summer salad (Corduroy's version with carrots is particularly good), but I was looking for something a bit cozier this time of year. This isn't much of a recipe, I admit, but it's definitely something I'll be making for falls and winters to come.

Roasted Beets with Goat Cheese
Serves 4
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  • 3 medium sized beets (baseball to softball size)
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • crumbled goat cheese
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Scrub beets, wrap tightly in foil and place on baking sheet in hot oven. Bake for about an hour, until they can be pierced through with a fork.
  • Set aside to cool for a few minutes. As soon as your hands can stand it, peel and cut beets into chunks. Oh yeah, and also - your hands will get slightly stained. Just slightly. Not too bad. It's worth it.
  • Place beet chunks in bowl and sprinkle with oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Toss and top with goat cheese.

The weirdest in my refrigerator . . .

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Yum. My love for pickles does not discriminate among the vegetable varieties.

Does not compare to the weirdest thing in my mailbox:

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I am . . . amused? Concerned? Thanks, wacky former home owner! As if the tennis player wallpaper wasn't enough to make us worry about you!