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Animal Quackers {CtBF}

Duck fat:  The liquid gold byproduct of Howard’s duck confit.  Decadent vehicle for frying potatoes.

Here’s a new one to add.  Fat to use for cookies.  What?  Cookies, you say?

The recipe on deck this week for Cook the Book Fridays is Duck Fat Cookies or sablés à graisse de canard, if you want to sound more elegant. In reading the notes accompanying this recipe in David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen, It wasn’t clear to me whether these cookies are actually made in southwest France where residents eat lots of duck fat or if these were just inspired by those customs.

Most of the ingredient list reminded me of the Victorian currant cookies that I sometimes make at holiday time.  Currants are steeped in brandy to plump them up before mixing them into a shortbread-like cookie dough.  However Victorian currant cookies don’t include any duck fat.  In Duck Fat Cookies, more than half of the fat is duck fat.  Interesting….

The dough came together easily in the stand mixer.  The texture of the dough was very tender.  The dough was divided and shaped into logs and chilled.  Refrigerator cookies, one of my favorite inventions!  I baked one log, freezing the other for another time.  My cookies never really browned, even lightly, though I baked them extra time.  I should have used a slightly higher oven temperature.

The cookies were wonderfully sandy, earning their name of sables.  However, the taste was rather odd.  I used duck fat leftover from Howard’s homemade duck confit, and I could taste the residual spices used to flavor the duck.  In contrast with the sweet dough and the dried fruit, the savory spices were jarring.  The first thing that came to my mind was the memory of a similar contrast in Salted Olive Crisps, where olives dotted a sweetish dough.  I’m thinking savory additions, such as olives and nuts, would make a better combination with the duck fat dough.

To see how the others from Cook the Book Fridays made out, check out their links here.  To try them yourself, you can find the recipe on page 297 in David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen.

The highlight of my week, and maybe the whole summer, was a daytrip we took to Duxbury, Massachusetts for a tour of Island Creek Oyster Farm.  We booked the tour back in April when there was no way we’d know the weather would be picture perfect.  We enjoyed a two-hour tour that included a visit to the hatchery where over 20 million oysters were seeded this season and a boat ride in Duxbury Bay to see where the oysters are farmed.  The culmination of the afternoon was enjoying unlimited oysters at the new raw bar after our tour.  Howard and I ate 4 dozen each.  It was a fabulous day!

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croquants {ffwd}

croquants

Don’t you love a snow day? Even though you could choose on any day to be lazy and just stay at home and putter, a snow day gives you permission, absolving you of the guilty feeling a self-imposed lazy day might bring on. I also love the relative quiet that a travel ban brings on. The sound of our and our neighbors’ snow blowers might pepper the air, but no one is out driving around except the snow plows.

The Day After

I have a dog who loves (insists on) walks, so even the winter storm (blizzard?) called Juno didn’t keep us home. With no traffic, we can safely walk down our normally very busy street (it’s actually a state highway) to get to quiet side streets. I find it peaceful to walk in the solitude of a neighborhood where most people are sheltering indoors. My very furry dog Bella is in her element, except for her frustration when mountains of snow prevent us from walking on the unpaved parts of our usual routes.

This week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie offered the perfect activity for when I was back inside the warm house. I baked a batch of croquants, a meringue-y nut-filled cookie.

Calling for just four ingredients, these cookies couldn’t be easier. The nuts are barely chopped. The egg whites don’t even need to be whipped. The nuts are tossed with sugar before stirring in the egg whites and then the flour. I used my smallest cookie scoop to form small mounds on parchment-lined baking sheets.

nuts and sugar

The croquants puff up and transform into light and slightly chewy delights. I loved the big pieces of nuts glued together with the meringue-like dough. I used a half hazelnuts (cut in half) and almonds (cut in halves or thirds crosswise). I’m intrigued to try the cashews Dorie mentioned as well as pecans and maybe macadamia nuts. So many possibilities!

Dough

I’d never heard of croquants before. They were new to me, and yet familiar. Croquants remind me of several different confections I enjoy. The texture reminds me of the almond macaroons I get at the Italian bakery. I was also reminded of the divinity candy I was obsessed with making when I was in high school. Most of all, they remind me of the Forgotten Kisses my mother used to make with chocolate chips. Now that I think of it, I wonder how croquants would be with chocolate chips instead of the nuts or with a mix of half and half…

The review from the resident chocoholic was this: “They’re not my top choice (no chocolate), but they are really good cookies”. A backhanded compliment, but praise nonetheless, so I definitely plan on making croquants again!

Check out my French Fridays friends’ links at French Fridays with Dorie. We don’t post the recipes, but you can find it in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table.

And for anyone who missed it on Facebook, here’s a photo from our breakfast at Area Four with Tricia and Mr. Tricia when they were in town two weekends ago.

Tricia3