Maple and Soy Roasted Duck

Maple and Soy Roasted DuckSo out of the three entrees served at Queen Victoria’s May 15, 1879, one of them was for Filet de Canetons aux Petits Pois or for those non-Frenchies, Fillets of Roasted Ducklings with Small Peas. Of course, I was able to find a Victorian Era recipe for the dish, but the recipe doesn’t fit with today’s tastes, it’s actually strangely both simple and rich at the same time. To fit with more modern tastes, today’s recipe is for a Maple and Soy Roasted Duck with a wine, thyme and grape sauce. Delicious! This dish will serve 6-8 people or can be halved easily for 4 people.

Filets de Canetons aux petits poisIngredients:

2 whole ducks (2 ½ kg each)
Fine sea salt to taste
4 sprigs of fresh thyme*
8 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 clementine or mandarin oranges, rinsed and quartered
3 teaspoons good quality soy sauce
2 tablespoons maple syrup

Sauce:
2 ½ cups cabernet sauvignon red wine
2 sprigs of fresh thyme*
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 cups seedless red grapes, rinsed and halved
2 tablespoons jelly of choice (I recommend cherry, currant or raspberry)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

* Click here to learn how to clean thyme properly.

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Remove the ducks from their packaging, empty the cavities and rinse under cold water. Make sure to pat dry the ducks inside and out. Cut off excess fat from the ends. Using a fork, prick the skin of the duck on top and underneath (on the fatty parts), without piercing the meat.

Season the duck with salt on the outside and inside the cavity. Stuff the each duck with 2 sprigs of fresh thyme, the 4 cloves of garlic and 1 clementine or mandarin orange worth of quarters, and then truss.

Place the duck, breast side down, on a grill in an approximately 13 x 9 in broiling pan. If you don’t have a grill for your roasting pan, you can place a wire cooling rack used for baking in a deep casserole dish instead. Just make sure to indicate that the cooling rack is now considered a meat utensil. Place in the oven and roast for 30 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees, turn the ducks over to breast side up, and roast for another 30 minutes.

In the meantime, put the wine, grapes, 2 sprigs of thyme and jelly in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce to half over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. Add 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, or more to taste. Mix. Set aside. Take the ducks out of the oven, and baste with the fat and cooking juices. Put the ducks back in the oven and continue cooking until the skin turns golden brown, approximately 60 minutes.

Take the ducks out of the broiling pan. Mix the soy sauce and remaining maple syrup together and then brush the mixture over the ducks. Return to the oven and cook for another 10 minutes. Empty the accumulated fat. Tilt the ducks to empty the cooking juices that have accumulated in the cavity. Skim off the juice and add to the sauce. Transfer the ducks to a serving plate. Remove string and leave to rest for 15 minutes. Slice and serve with the sauce on the side.

Easy Marinades

Marinades 101These marinades use ingredients that you likely have on hand. Remember that they typical ratio for marinades is one part oil to three or four parts acid, with extra ingredients added to taste. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk, then transfer the marinade to a large freezer bag and add your favourite protein. Seal the bag, turning it so the protein is exposed to the marinade, and refrigerate for 3 hours to overnight, for meats or tofu, or about 1 hour to 4 hours for fish.

Honey Barbecue Marinade
Olive oil + Dry Red Wine + Honey + Crushed Garlic + Pepper

Fresh Mediterranean Herb Marinade
Olive Oil + Balsamic Vinegar + Finely Chopped Rosemary* and Basil* + Salt + Pepper

Asian Fusion Buttermilk Marinade
Sesame Oil + Buttermilk** + Ground Ginger + Cilantro* + Soy Sauce + Pepper

* Click here to learn how to clean these herbs.
** Click here on tips for making non-dairy buttermilk.

Beef Stroganoff with Egg Noodles – Бефстроганов с яичной лапшой

Beef StroganoffIngredients:

1 cup red or white wine
2 pounds beef chuck roast
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ cup margarine (or 1 stick)
1 medium cooking onion, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup all-purpose flour or cornstarch
2 ⅔ cups beef broth
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1 cup sliced mushrooms, canned or fresh
⅓ cup non-dairy sour cream
⅓ non-dairy cream cheese
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
1 package egg noodles (to serve)

Directions:

Remove any fat and gristle from the roast and cut into strips ½ inch thick by 2 inches long. Put the meat in a large bowl or container and season with ½ teaspoon of both salt and pepper, tossing to coat. Add about 1 cup of wine and let sit in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours to marinate.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and brown the beef strips quickly, then remove them strips to a plate. Add the onions to the pan and cook slowly for 3 to 5 minutes, then remove from the pan and add them to the plate with the beef strips.

In a small bowl mix together the flour/starch with a little bit of broth to help it dissolve. Add the mixture to pan which now only contains the juices of the meat and onions, and mix around to bring up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Pour in beef broth and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Lower the heat and stir in mustard. Return the beef and onions to the pan, along with mushrooms, then cover and simmer for 1 hour or until the meat is tender.

Boil noodles according to the package directions. Drain once cooked, and set aside until beef is ready.
In a small bowl, mix together the cream cheese and the sour cream. Five minutes before serving, mix in the cheese mixture. Heat briefly then salt and pepper to taste. Serve over a bed of wide egg noodles.

Pere al Vino Rosso (Pears Poached in Red Wine)

Pears poached in wineIngredients:

8 pears, peeled
1 bottle of red wine, or enough to cover the pears
1 cup sugar
2 sticks of cinnamon
3-4 whole cloves
Zest of half a lemon or orange*

Directions:

Peel your pears—one per serving—leaving on the stem if the pear has one. Then place them snugly in a saucepan with just enough room to hold the pears in a single layer.

Pour over the wine over the pears, so that they are at least ¾ of the way covered. Then add sugar, cinnamon, cloves and if you like, some lemon or orange zest.

Allow the pears to simmer for about 20 minutes, turning them if need be so that they cook and colour evenly, until they are quite tender but not falling apart.

Remove the pears onto a shallow serving bowl or plate, and continue to simmer the wine until has reduced into a syrupy consistency, then strain and pour over the pears. Allow the pears and their sauce to cool before serving.

* Click here for my tips on zesting citrus.

The Italian Diet

Italian Food FlagSo it seems like the Italians seem to know what they’re doing when it comes to eating healthy! Many of the standard ingredients that are a MUST for Italian cooking are up there are the heart-healthy eating guides. Here are just some of them:

Olive Oil
Make olive oil, which is high in monounsaturated fat, your go-to cooking oil. By replacing butter with olive oil—the most commonly used oil in the Mediterranean—you’ll cut back on saturated fat, help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol and boost levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. In addition, extra-virgin olive oil is high in antioxidants called polyphenols that have been linked to heart health.

Tomatoes
There’s nothing quite like a ripe tomato, whether served on a bed of fresh greens or made into an Italian red sauce to dress a bowl of hearty pasta. Tomatoes are packed with vitamin C and lycopene, a heart-protective antioxidant that may also help prevent some cancers (particularly prostate). Vitamin A, potassium and folate are also among the tomato’s nutritional benefits. Although cooked tomatoes have less vitamin C, their lycopene is more available and antioxidant activity is undiminished.

Garlic
Garlic is magical; at least that’s what the ancients Romans thought. We now know that garlic has both antibiotic and anti-fungal properties. In an era before antibiotics, garlic may have kept the Greeks and Romans free of infection. Garlic boasts anticancer characteristics—studies show it may lower breast, colon, stomach, throat and skin cancer risks. It’s heart-healthy, too, as it’s been shown to prevent clotting. The secret to all these health benefits? Sulfides. Those beneficial sulfides aren’t released, however, unless the garlic is crushed or chopped and left to sit for at least 10 to 15 minutes before eating or cooking. Garlic purchased already chopped offers the same benefits.

Red Wine
What Italian dinner is complete without a glass of wine? And preferably, for health, make it red wine. Enjoying wine in moderation during meals, not drinking alone outside of the meal and never in excess, can increase “good” HDL cholesterol, may help regulate blood sugar and can even help you digest your food and absorb its nutrients. Pour yourself a 5-ounce serving of your favorite Chianti, Montepulciano or other Italian red to pair with the earthy flavors of Italian cooking.

So if you were looking for an excuse to get cooking, just say your doctor told you it was for your health! Per la vostra salute!

Mushroom Stuffed Beef Rouladen

Rouladen

For this recipe, I suggest using shoulder steak. Have your butcher tenderize it for you, or if you don’t have that option, you can go at it with a meat mallet. I hear it’s a great stress reliever!

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, diced
1 pound assorted mushrooms (brown, Portobello, button, etc.), thinly sliced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1 egg, beaten
¼ cup bread crumbs
8 (3 ounce) pieces shoulder steak, pounded thin
¼ cup dry red wine
2 ½ cups beef stock
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Directions:

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Stir in garlic, onion and mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms and onion have softened, then stir in dried thyme, remove from heat, and allow to cool to room temperature. Once cool, season to taste with salt and pepper, then mix in the beaten egg and breadcrumbs. Evenly divide the mushroom mixture among the top round slices. Roll each Rouladen around the filling into a tight cylinder and secure with a toothpick. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the Rouladen, then transfer to an 8×8 inch baking dish. Pour wine into the hot skillet and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, stir the beef stock into the flour, and mix until smooth. Pour the beef stock into the skillet and return to a simmer. Cook until thickened, then stir in the Dijon mustard. Pour this sauce over the Rouladen. Cover, and bake 60 to 75 minutes in the preheated oven, until the meat is tender. This recipe makes 8 Rouladen. Serve with creamy mashed potatoes or wide egg noodles.

Dates – תמרים

Date in Hebrew is תמרים related to the word תם—to end, and so on that note we make the following request when eating this symbolic date:

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה’ אֱלֹהינוּ וֵאלֵֹהי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, שֶׁיִּתַּמּוּ אוֹיְבֵינוּ וְשׂוֹנְאֵינוּ וְכָל מְבַקְשֵׁי רָעָתֵנוּ

May it be Your will, Lord our G-d and the G-d of our fathers, that there come an end to our enemies, haters and those who wish evil upon us.

So having this in mind, here are two recipes for how to serve up your war-ending dates this year!

Dolci Datteri

Dolci Datteri – Sweet Stuffed Dates

Makes 24 dates

Ingredients:

24 pitted dates
½ cup chopped, toasted pine nuts (or nut of your choice)
6 tablespoons red wine
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper (optional)
½ cup honey

Directions:

Stuff dates with chopped nuts in the empty cavity left by removing the pit. Place the dates in a medium sized sauté pan. Sprinkle with pepper if desired. Add wine, and then drizzle honey over the dates. Cook over a medium heat until the skins begin to peel off the fruit. Transfer the dates to a serving dish, and allow to cool slightly before serving.

Angels on Camels

Devils on Horseback – Angels on Camels?

This recipe originally called for the use of bacon, but I’ve switched it up with the use of deli meat instead, and re-named them Angels on Camels rather than Devils!

Makes 20 dates

Ingredients:

20 wooden toothpicks
¼ cup reduced-sodium or regular soy sauce
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¾ cup brown sugar
20 dates, pitted
20 whole smoked or roasted almonds
10 thin slices of turkey or beef pastrami, cut in half to make strips

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Soak the toothpicks in a bowl of water (so they don’t burn in the oven). Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish. In a bowl, mix together the soy sauce and ginger. In a separate shallow bowl place the brown sugar. Spread open the pitted date, and stuff each one with an almond. Wrap a strip of the pastrami around the date and then secure in place with a toothpick. Dip the bundle in the soy mixture and then into the brown sugar, and then place on the prepared baking dish. Repeat this process with each of the dates. If desired, sprinkle a little more brown sugar over all of the bundles. Bake in the preheated oven until the pastrami is brown and crisp, about 15 to 20 minutes. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before serving; serve warm or at room temperature.

Slow Cooked Pot Roast

Pot Roast

This recipe will serve 8 to 10 people, depending on how much your guests like their meat! The recipe calls for fresh thyme and parsley. I’ve noted the equivalent in the ingredient list for dried thyme, but for the parsley, it is slightly different. Because you are using half the parsley on the vegetables and half in the gravy, you would need the equivalent of 2 tablespoons dried on the vegetables and 2 tablespoons dried in the gravy. If you wish to use fresh herbs, please refer to the vegetable checking page to learn how to properly clean them.

Ingredients:

One 4-pound beef chuck roast
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
⅓ cup all-purpose flour, plus more for coating
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 medium carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 stalks celery, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 medium onion, cut into ½ inch wedges
3 cloves garlic, mashed
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup red wine
3 cups low-sodium beef/chicken/vegetable broth
3 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ cup loosely packed parsley leaves, chopped

Directions:

Sprinkle the roast all over with 2 ½ teaspoons salt and 1 ½ teaspoons pepper. Coat in flour and shake off any excess. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the roast to the skillet and cook until golden brown on all sides, about 8 minutes, turning as needed. Transfer the roast to the insert of a 6-quart slow cooker, along with the carrots, celery, onions and garlic. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet over medium heat. Add the tomato paste and stir until the oil begins to turn brick-red, about 1 minute. Add the flour and wine and whisk until thick (it’s OK if there are some lumps). Add the beef broth, bay leaves, thyme, allspice, ½ teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper and bring to a simmer, whisking, until the gravy is smooth and thickens slightly, about 4 minutes. Pour the gravy into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. The roast and vegetables should be tender. Remove the roast and let rest for a few minutes. Discard the thyme stems and strain the vegetables, reserving the gravy. Toss the vegetables with half the parsley and season with salt and pepper. Stir the remaining parsley into the gravy and season with salt and pepper. Slice the roast against the grain. Serve the meat and vegetables on a platter, moistening them with some of the gravy; serve the remaining gravy on the side.

If you want to make this ahead of time, follow all the same steps, browning the meat and creating the gravy, but allow them to cool. Slice up your vegetables, and add everything (minus the parsley) to a large gallon sized freezer bag. When you wish to actually cook your roast, let it defrost in your fridge first, then add it the crock pot and follow the remainder of the above instructions. It may take a while for the roast to defrost, even overnight. I suggest having a drip pan underneath it in the fridge so that you don’t have to worry about any errant juices.