• 23Nov

    I love Pot de Creme…a custard that is oh so creamy.
    And if you make them in 2 ounce or so ‘pots’ it is just the right amount to satisfy (most) sweet tooths after a big meal like Thanksgiving dinner.

    I’ve got a Lemon Verbena bush in the garden and have been plucking it’s leaves for a soothing cup of tea and a treat –  Lemon Verbena Pot de Creme

    Here is a recipe based on Alice Water’s recipe for Vanilla Bean Pot de Creme from Simple Food.

    Lemon Verbena Pot de Creme

    3/4 cup heavy cream
    3/4 cup half and half
    pinch of sea salt
    1/3 cup fresh lemon verbena leaves, loosely packed (sub: zest from 3/4 of a medium lemon if you do not have lemon verbena. Strips of lemon zest from 1/4 of a medium lemon, I like to use a vegetable peeler)
    4 egg yolks
    3 Tablespoons + 1 1/2 tsp granulated sugar

    Preheat oven to 350F. Boil about 2 quarts of water – set aside.

    Heat cream and half & half with the pinch of sea salt, lemon verbena and lemon zest over medium heat. Heat it just until before it boils.

    While the cream is heating, mix egg yolks with the sugar.

    When the cream mix is hot slowly whisk in a few tablespoons of this hot mixture into the yolk mixture at a time until all the cream is mixed into the yolks.

    Strain lemon in to the cream mixture and pour into 8 – 2 ounce ramekins. Put the ramekins into a pan and pour hot water into the pan until it reaches halfway up the outside of the ramekin. Seal with foil and bake in the 350F oven for 15-20 minutes.

    The custards are ready when the edges around the ramekin are ‘solid’ but the middle still has a little jiggle to them. Remove from pan and set on a rack to cool. Serve at room temperature or chilled.


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  • 20Nov

    Some folks don’t like turkey…so how about the traditional

    Chinese Style Roast Duck

    Duck Prep:
    The night before the hot bath, season the duck with salt and pepper inside and out. Refrigerate until ready to proceed with the next steps.

    Make Glaze:
    0.5 c cider vinegar
    3 c water
    0.5 tub maltose (rice malt syrup, found in Chinese grocers)
    zest from 1 orange (use vegetable peeler to get wide strips)
    2 – 3” cinnamon sticks
    3 star anise
    2 in” fresh ginger, slice into thin slices
    1 t whole cloves

    Simmer all together.
    Thicken with 1 T water chestnut flour/starch (found in Chinese grocers) dissolved in 2 T cold water. With the glaze simmering and while stirring the glaze, pour in the chestnut flour slurry.
    Bring back to a simmer, strain & cool
    This can be done many days ahead of time. You can use this glaze for many ducks.

    Hot Bath:
    2 gal water
    1T baking powder

    Bring water to boil and scald duck for 2-3 minutes. The fat skin should feel soften and loosened from the body. If the fat does not feel loose you can dunk for a few more minutes. You can use this bath for many ducks.

    Preparing & Drying Duck:

    Dip duck in glaze. Salt & pepper inside of duck. Hang in a cool dry place with a fan blowing for at least 6 hours*. Put a tray under to catch any drippings. Roast in a preheated 350 oven on a rack for 1 hour. Turn over once to brown evenly.

    Hanging – I used a wire coat hanger, hanging the duck under it’s wings. You can use some butcher’s twine to secure it if needed.

    *Note and disclaimer: this method of hanging a scalded raw duck at room temperature goes against all food safety rules

    The temperature danger zone is the temperature at which bacteria multiply rapidly. The temperature is from 40 degree Fahrenheit to 140 degree Fahrenheit. Foods should not be allowed to stay in this temperature zone for more than 2 hours (1 hour on a very hot day).

    In other words, hanging the duck at room temperature for 6 hours can cause food poisoning so prepare using this recipe at your discretion!

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  • 20Nov

    It’s the week before T-day – what? you haven’t pre-ordered your turkey!
    Confused about what kind?
    Heritage, Free-Range, Organic, Kosher, those band of wild turkeys roaming the hood, any ol’ cheap big bird at the super?

    In all my turkey eating days, I have tried cheapo supermarket branded birds, Butterball and Foster Farms…
    Then I became a food snob and tried Willie Bird, Diestel, Trader Joe’s Kosher, Trader Joe’s natural and a Heritage.

    Hands down, I love my free range Diestel. Moist and full of good rich turkey flavor.

    Willie Birds come in a very close 2nd.
    Heritage – not as meaty, meat is dark and while tasty – quite pricey (boy did I hear it from Mom last year…and still).
    TJ’s turkey’s are a great buy but it wasn’t as moist as the Diestel and flavor wise – I’d call it turkey lite.

    Since I have to make about a gallon of gravy this year I bought a whole TJ turkey, boned out the breast and saved the thighs. The remaining carcass went into the oven until golden brown and made into a rich brown turkey stock.

    On my list to try is Mary’s Free Range(they sure raise some tasty chickens) – maybe after T-day or next year.
    As for the merry band of turkey’s roaming the hood…no worries guys – you’re safe from me!

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