Category Archives: Books
Duck confit is a favorite in our house. It’s usually Howard’s job to make it. Duck confit is one of the first of his sous-vide projects that he perfected. As ridiculous as it sounds, homemade duck confit, stashed in the freezer, is often “emergency food” (i.e. what’s for dinner when you don’t think there’s any food). Just thaw a pair of legs, whip up a pot of lentils plus a green vegetable or a salad, and a spectacular dinner is on the table in no time.
This recipe couldn’t have been simpler. First, you use a needle to prick through the fat of the duck legs. Then rub the duck legs with an aromatic mixture of gin, allspice, nutmeg, and salt and allowed to sit overnight on top of a couple of bay leaves and halved garlic cloves. The next day, wipe down the duck legs and then slow roast them in a low oven, no added fat. As the duck cooks, the fat starts to fill the baking dish, submerging the legs. Finally, the duck legs crisp up when the oven temperature is raised for the last bit of cooking.
I didn’t pick the right baking dish. David wants the legs to be snug. I had one pan where the legs fit snugly, but not really in one layer. In the next bigger pan, the legs had more room, not what I’d call snug. I opted for the smaller dish, but I think that was a mistake. The parts of the legs that were immersed in the fat melted off the bone. The other parts were tasty, but just not as tender. I think the trick is for all the legs to lie flat so they all can bathe in the duck fat, but with minimal extra room so that fat is as deep as possible.
The duck was also a little salty. I wiped the rub off before cooking. Howard thinks I should have rinse the legs as he does.
Despite being a little salty, the “fake” duck legs were delicious. In a throw down, I suspect Howard’s version would win. However, I like knowing I can make an excellent low-tech rendition on my own without investing in gobs of the requisite duck fat.
Speaking of duck fat, the rendered fat was the most beautiful golden color and perfectly clear. I’ve saved it for pan-frying or roasting potatoes.
Coincidentally, I went to a book signing for David Lebovitz’s new book L’Appart. It was held at a location of Flour, one of my favorite local bakeries for sweets. The line was long, but there were snacks – delicious Flour pastries. There was a crowd, so I only spent a minute or so with David. He signed his new book for me as well as my copy of My Paris Kitchen. He was very charming and down to earth. When I told him that I was cooking through My Paris Kitchen with a group of friends, he smiled and said, “I did that too”. Of course, I forgot to ask someone to take a picture…
I also met Joanne Chang, owner of Flour. Her newest cookbook is savory not sweet, recipes from Myers+Chang, the Boston restaurant she owns with her husband. Being more of a cook than a baker, I added this book to my collection and was able to have her sign my book. Again, no picture.
Wow! It’s December already? My mother always told us that the first words out of your mouth on the first of every month should be “Rabbit, rabbit” to bring you luck, so there it is.
This week’s choice for Cook the Book Fridays is Celeriac (aka Celery Root) again! I enjoyed the Celery Root Soup we made in November, and this celery root gratin did not disappoint. Fortunately, I still have a few bulbs left from last month’s supply, straight from the farm, so I was prepared for the task of making Celery Root Rémoulade.
The base is a tangy dressing made from mayonnaise, a combination of crème fraîche and sour cream, Dijon and whole-grain mustard and lemon juice. Ooh-la-la!
The most challenging part is to peel and julienne the celery root. Carefully peeling with a knife is not that hard. Unfortunately, my celery roots had some woody parts inside, so the next step of slicing into tiny sticks was a bit tedious because I had to take time to cut out those woody sections. I was in a bit of a hurry and just mixed all the celery root I’d cut into the full amount of dressing. I used less celery root than called for which resulted in an overly creamy salad. This could easily be remedied by adding more celery root or only mixing in the amount of dressing needed to coat. I also forgot to add the parsley which would add an extra freshness and some color.
Despite my shortcomings in following the directions, the celery root rémoulade is a delicious salad, one that I would enjoy again and again.
It was the perfect foil to a grilled Cheddar, caramelized onion, and kale sandwich! My new trick with grilled cheese is to lightly coat the OUTSIDE of the bread with mayonnaise instead of butter. It’s much easier to spread and browns up beautifully.
Why was I in a hurry? I was trying to mix up the salad before I headed out to meet Tricia (daughter of Chez Nana’s Ro) to attend a demo and tasting with David Tanis. The event was part of the book tour for his newest cookbook David Tanis Market Cooking: Recipes and Revelations, Ingredient by Ingredient which was released in October. The book is filled with straightforward recipes and ideas to prepare fresh seasonal produce from your local farmers’ market. Most (maybe all) of the recipes are accompanied by photographs, so it is a beautiful book in addition to being inspiring. For about two hours, he talked about cooking, his cooking life, as he demonstrated a selection of recipes from the book.
Students of Boston University’s culinary program had worked all day with Chef David to prepare the recipes, and as we watched and listened to the presentation, we were served tastings. The menu included Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta, Onion and Bacon Tart, Cumin Lamb Pitas, and a Rustic French Apple Tart. These recipes resonated with my own sensibilities about cooking, so I left inspired to try my hand at these and many other recipes in the book. Check out this new book which has its own variation on celery root rémoulade!