Monthly Archives: August 2012
|August 30, 2012||Posted by Lauren Keating under Chicken and Poultry, Fall, French, One Pan, Salads|
Duck has a little bit of a bad reputation. People think it’s fatty, greasy, and finicky to cook. With a little know-how and understanding of the cooking process though, it’s a great protein choice with tons of flavor. And – according to the self nutrition database - it only has about 2 calories more per ounce than chicken!
This recipe is adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks, The French Market: More Recipes from My French Kitchen. I picked the book up randomly one summer in a local bookshop, and it quickly became one of my favorites. The recipes are filled with fresh ingredients inspired by the French countryside. These aren’t fussy classical French dishes that you’d find in a 5-Star restaurant – they’re simple to throw together and have a casual, family style to them. They’re also, for the most part, easy to adapt to fit into a healthy lifestyle.
In this recipe, duck legs and thighs are seasoned with orange zest and then cooked until the skin is perfectly crisp and the meat is juicy and succulent. The duck is served over a simple salad made from wilted carrot, fennel, celery, and red pepper. The dish is bright and citrusy, slightly spicy and smokey, and definitely a step up from chicken. I made rice for Shawn, but personally skipped it in favor of a second helping of the salad.
The trick to cooking duck without ending up with a greasy mess is to cut a deep crosshatch pattern into the skin – it will take a little effort, but try to get all the way down to the meat. Ducks carry a thick layer of fat under their skin to act as insulation against the cold water. If this fat isn’t properly cooked off, the duck can be fatty and greasy. Cutting into the skin allows the fat a way to escape. As the duck heats up, the fat will melt and seep through the cuts and into the pan. By the time the meat is coked through, there will be very little fat left on the duck itself. (As an added bonus, all of the rendered fat will have the effect of deep frying the duck, resulting in deliriously crispy skin!)
Crispy Duck with Orange-Fennel Slaw
Prep Time: 30 minutes; Total Time: 1 hour
- 2 Duck Quarters (Leg and Thigh), about 12 ounces total
- Zest and juice from 1 Orange
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 Fennel Bulb, cut into matchsticks
- 3 Carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
- 3 ribs Celery, cut into matchsticks
- 1 Red Bell Pepper, cut into matchsticks
- 1 bulb Garlic, minced
- 1 Serrano Chile, minced
- Salt and Pepper
- Use a sharp knife to score the skin of each duck leg/thigh in a crosshatch pattern. Season with salt, pepper and orange zest.
- Mix the orange juice and chiles in a small dish. Add the fennel, carrots, celery, bell pepper, and garlic. Cover and set aside.
- Over high heat, heat the olive oil in a pan that’s just large enough to fit the duck pieces. When the oil is hot, add the duck, skin-side down. Cook without moving for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 10 minutes, or until skin is golden brown and crispy and most of the fat has rendered. Turn so the skin-side is up and cook an additional 20 minutes. Drain the fat from the pan and remove the duck to a plate. Cover with foil and let rest 10 minutes.
- Add the vegetables, along with any liquid that has accumulated, to the hot pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until vegetables just begin to soften. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper. Cut the duck into four portions and serve over the slaw.
Approx. 442 calories, 29 grams fat, 17 grams carbohydrates, 5.5 grams fiber, 13.5 grams protein
Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you make a purchase through them, I will earn a very small commission.
|August 27, 2012||Posted by Lauren Keating under Beef, Lamb, and Pork, Greek/Mediterranean, Sandwiches, Shawn's Favorites|
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been trying to get the most that I can out of these last few weeks of summer. Between enjoying the sun, seeing one last drive-in movie, catching one last polo match (don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it – it’s way more exciting than the track!), and finishing the impossible task of cleaning/organizing my house from top to bottom (not sure why I started that one but I have to admit it looks a lot better) I haven’t been left with a ton of time or energy to cook.
That’s normally not a problem – I’ve been making tons of quick and easy recipes like the two-minute salmon teriyaki that I posted last week – but then I realized that it was time for Secret Recipe Club again. This month, I was paired with La Belle Aurore, a Canadian expat currently living in China. Her blog is full of beautiful travel photographs and amazing stories, but I was a little overwhelmed when it came to choosing a recipe to make. She has tons of delicious breads that I just wasn’t feeling up to making. She also has lots of recipes for homemade soaps, which are gorgeous and really fun – if only I had given myself more time to complete this month’s post I would have veered off my path and made one of those. Ultimately, I settled on her “gyro souvlaki kebabs.”
This recipe is similar to others that I’ve posted, but what attracted me to it was that each component was obviously prepared with a lot of thought and care. Rather than simply setting out a bunch of random toppings like I typically do, they were prepared almost like small salads: the onions, sliced as thinly as possible on a mandolin, are combined with parsley and lemon juice to help take away some of their bight; the tomatoes are marinated in olive oil and mint to highlight their bright flavor; the yogurt sauce is simple and not overcomplicated with things like garlic or dill. Each component only takes a minute or two to make. Combine them though, and they create a magical symphony of flavor.
I changed a few things in order to use what I had on hand and make the recipe a little healthier, but I think that I captured the spirit of the original. Combining the ground lamb with mined zucchini helps to bulk it up and make it more filling, but it also adds moisture and makes it difficult to get a nice, browned crust on your souvlaki. Broiling them for a few minutes at the end helps a little, but these definitely don’t have the crisp, charred crust that I would have liked. Regardless, they were delicious and once they were combined with everything else I didn’t even notice. I also served them in naan rather than pita, just because I happened to have some in my freezer. Supermarket pita tends to be very dry and, if you don’t have time to make your own, I find that naan makes a better sandwich anyway.
I should also note that the skewers pictured above are only for show. I was afraid that they would catch fire in the hot oven, and the lamb really doesn’t need them. Presentation-wise though, it looks much better “on a stick” so you may want to do like I did and skewer them before serving.
Don’t forget to check out everyone’s contribution to this month’s event after the jump!
Lamb Souvlaki Pitas
Prep Time: 30 minutes; Total Time: 30 minutes
For the Lamb Souvlaki:
- 1 small Zucchini
- 1 pound Ground Lamb
- 1 teaspoon Ras El Hanout, or seasoning of your choice
- 1/2 Lemon, juiced
For the Sandwiches:
- 1 container (6 ounces) 0% Plain Green Yogurt
- 1/2 Cucumber, shredded
- 1 small Red Onion, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup Fresh Parsley
- 1/2 Lemon, juiced
- 1 Tomato, chopped
- 1 teaspoon Olive Oil
- 1/8 teaspoon Dried Mint
- 4 pieces of Pita, Naan, or Other Flatbread
- To prepare the lamb souvlaki: Heat the oven to 500F. Peel the zucchini, then use a food processor or very sharp knife to mince it to roughly the same texture as the lamb. Combine the minced zucchini, lamb, seasoning, and lemon juice in a large mixing bowl. Use your hands or a wooden spoon to incorporate all ingredients. Shape the lamb mixture into four sausage shaped ropes, about 5-inches long, and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, or until cooked through. Broil for 3-4 minutes to encourage browning.
- To prepare the condiments: Combine the yogurt and cucumber in a small serving dish. Season with a little salt. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Combine onion, parsley, and lemon juice in a second serving bowl. Cover and let rest. (Drain immediately before serving.) In a third bowl, combine the tomatoes, olive oil, and mint.
- Serve lamb souvlaki in a piece of bread that has been warmed in the oven for 1 to 2 minutes. Top with yogurt, onions, and tomatoes as desired.
Approx. 342 calories, 10 grams fat, 22 grams carbohydrates, 1.5 grams fiber, 39 grams protein
|August 21, 2012||Posted by Lauren Keating under Fish and Seafood, Japanese, Lent, Light, Quick Weeknight Meals, Shawn's Favorites|
I saw this salmon teriyaki over on The Kitchn a few weeks ago and immediately ran to the store to get the ingredients to make it. I’m so glad that I did, because now not only do I have a new go-to weeknight recipe, I have a fail-proof new way to cook fish! I feel like this photo doesn’t do the recipe justice at all; the salmon is incredibly succulent and falls apart into big, tender flakes with a gentle tap with your fork. Served over rice it doesn’t look like much, but we’re still talking about it weeks later and I can’t wait to make it again.
Rather than cooking this salmon on the stovetop or roasting it, you cook it very quickly under the broiler – it literally only takes 2 minutes! The marinade is just as simple to whisk together – don’t bother with store-bought teriyaki sauce, which often contains corn syrup and can be cloyingly sweet. To prepare a complete meal, let the fish hang out in the marinade while you boil water for the rice. Then, while the rice rests, quickly blanche some green beans and sautee them with a teaspoon of sesame oil and, if you have them, some black and white sesame seeds. Throw the salmon under the broiler while you plate the rice and green beans and you’ll be good to go!
It couldn’t be easier. I’m excited to try preparing salmon this way with other seasonings. Next time, I think I’ll use a miso glaze like this one, but I’m also tempted to try a mustard based sauce.
Two-Minute Salmon Terryaki
Prep Time: 10 minutes; Total Time: 30 minutes
- 1/2 cup Low Sodium Soy Sauce
- 2 Tablespoons Mirin (sweet rice wine, sold near the soy sauce)
- 2 teaspoons Sugar
- 1 pound Salmon, cut into 4 portions
- 1 cup Jasmine Rice
- 8 cups Water
- 1 pound fresh Green Beans, trimmed
- 1 cup Water
- 1 teaspoon Sesame Oil
- Black and White Sesame Seeds, optional
- Heat broiler to high. In a medium baking dish or similar vessel, whisk together the soy sauce, mirin, and sugar. Add the salmon, flipping to coat well. Cover and set aside.
- Add 8 cups water and the rice to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; cover and cook 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
- While the rice rests, add 1 cup water to a large skillet. Set an empty cast-iron (or other broiler safe skillet) over high heat. Bring to a boil and add green beans. Cook 1-2 minutes, or until bright green and crisp-tender. Drain the water and drizzle with sesame oil and seeds.
- Add the salmon, skin side up, to the second heated skillet. Transfer to the broiler and cook for 2 minutes.
Originally posted at The Kitchn.
|August 13, 2012||Posted by Lauren Keating under Breakfast, Cake and Pastry, Desserts, Fruit, Summer|
Start by pitting some cherries. No need to be fancy here – I just used a sharp knife to cut along each side of the pit. This step goes much faster and makes much less of a mess than you’d expect!
Mini Cherry-Almond Turnovers
Yields 9 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes; Total Time: 30 minutes
- 3/4 pound Cherries, pitted
- 2 Tablespoons Sugar
- 1 ounce Pomegranate Juice
- 2 Tablespoons Arrowroot Powder or Cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon Almond Extract
- 1 sheet (about 8 ounces) Puff Pastry, thawed if frozen (or make your own!)
- 1 Egg Yolk
- 2 Tablespoons Water
- 1 Vanilla Bean
- Add the cherries and sugar to a small saucepan over medium-high heat. After a minutes or two, the cherries with release their juices. Bring to a boil and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up the fruit. Add the pomegranate juice and arrowroot to a small bowl or measuring cup. Stir to dissolve. Add to the cherries and boil 2 minutes, or until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and stir in almond extract. Let cool completely.
- Heat oven to 400F. Cut the puff pastry into 9 squares. Spoon 1 heaping teaspoon of preserves into the center of a pastry square. Fold into a triangle and crimp edges with a fork, or add another half teaspoon filling and bring the four corners of the pastry to meet in the middle (see photo above). Place on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining pastry and filling.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, water, and vanilla bean pulp. Brush over the tops of the pastry. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool before serving.
|August 9, 2012||Posted by Lauren Keating under Asian, Beef, Lamb, and Pork, Light, One Pan, Quick Weeknight Meals, Shawn's Favorites|
On Monday night, I got a text from Shawn: I’ll be home at 8 tomorrow. Want to do dinner?
I answered yes, figuring I would just eat a little later than I had originally planned. It’s always nice to eat together.
I wasn’t expecting his reply: Cool. Pick something up on your way home from work, Surprise me.
What the hell? I’m very indecisive when it comes to what to make for dinner as is, so I hate being solely responsible for making that decision. Plus we just rejoined Weight Watchers*, so I needed to come up with something extra good that wasn’t a lot of points. (I don’t get many, so I have to make them count!)
I ended up making a sweet and spicy stir fry loaded with a combination of everything that looked good in the store plus a few things that I had in the fridge. I was pretty hungry by the time it was ready so I wasn’t planning to take pictures, but before I had even finished serving myself Shawn was yelling to me from the other room about how “super good” it was. I’m glad that I took a few extra seconds to snap some, because he was right: the steak was super tender and perfectly seasoned with lots of bite from the ginger and garlic, the sauce was subtly sweet, but not heavy or sticky, and the vegetables added lots of fresh flavor and satisfying bulk without seeming overbearing.
Not bad at all for something I threw together without any planning!
Ginger Beef Stir Fry
Yields 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes; Total Time: 30 minutes
- 1 pound Flank Steak, trimmed
- 1 Onion, sliced
- 1 cup Water
- 1 Tablespoon Hoisin Sauce
- 1 Tablespoon Chili Paste
- 2 teaspoons low sodium Soy Sauce
- 2 cloves Garlic, minced
- 1 Tablespoon freshly grated Ginger
- 1 Red Bell Pepper, sliced
- 1 cup chopped Mushrooms
- 1 medium Eggplant, peeled and cut into a 1-inch dice
- 1 cup frozen Sugar Snap Peas
- 4 leaves Bok Choy, chopped
- 2 cups prepared Brown Rice, for serving
- Slice the steak into thin strips, cutting across the grain to ensure tender pieces. Place the skuced steak and onions in a glass baking dish or a large mixing bowl. In a second bowl, mix together the water, hoisin, chili paste, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger. Pour over the beef and onions. Cover and let marinate for 20 minutes.
- Set a large sautéed pan over high heat. Add the steak and onions and cook, stirring frequently, until just browned. Remove from the pan and place on a plate. Reduce heat to medium. Add the pepper, mushrooms, eggplant, and snap peas to the pan, along with any of the extra marinade. Cook, stirring frequently, until the marinade comes to a boil and the peas are defrosted. Add the steak and cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until cook through. Add the Bok Choy; cook 1 minutes or until wilted.
- Serve over brown rice.
*Its been a while since I’ve followed a “diet” but I’ve gained some weight. My clothes are too tight and I’m not happy about it. (I’ve been eating too many servings of pulled pork mac and cheese and not nearly enough vegetables.) I know I could lose the weight on my own, but I also know that Weight Watchers works for me and I’ll lose it faster if I follow the plan. Right now, I need the kick in the butt that it gives me. I’m two weeks in and already feeling much better.
|August 5, 2012||Posted by Lauren Keating under Cooking For One, Greek/Mediterranean, Light, One Pan, Quick Weeknight Meals, Salads, Sandwiches, Summer|
The thermostat says says its currently 86 degrees in our house. I swear that the kitchen is a good 10 degrees more than that. I attempted to make risotto and salmon tonight, but standing over the stove made me feel like my face was going to melt off. I gave up and had a grilled chicken wrap instead.
If you’re in the same boat, here are a few meals that I’ve enjoyed in the past few days that didn’t require much time or effort in the kitchen. (In short, meals that tasted awesome but didn’t make me want to die.)
Clockwise, from top left:
1) Baby romaine dressed with my favorite citrus vinaigrette – juice from half a grapefruit and half an orange, 2 tablespoons olive oil, a splash of white vinegar, and some cracked black pepper – and topped with store-bought rotisserie chicken, thinly sliced radishes, halved grapes, an apple cut into matchsticks, diced avocado, and blue cheese crumbles (I used my favorite, Kerrygold Cashel Blue)
2) Whole grain English muffins topped with fresh tomato and basil from the farmer’s market, mozzarella and aged cheddar, and crushed red pepper flakes. Baked for 8 minutes at 350 degrees – in the toaster oven to avoid heating the house any more than necessary. (I made Shawn’s with tomato sauce instead of fresh tomato and added turkey pepperoni)
3) Wild rice cooked in chicken broth with a pinch of saffron, chilled and tossed with grapes, feta, red onion, and red wine vinaigrette. (I wanted to make this with quinoa instead of rice, but I was all out.)