Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Pommes Frites au Canard

I know, I know, I could just say, "French fries in duck fat," but it sounds so much better in French!

First I cut 3.5 Russet potatoes into strips for french fries, about 1/3" to a side.  The other half a potato was sliced for potato chips, as the 9 year old doesn't eat french fries.  The potatoes were soaked in cold water with a little vinegar for a while and then dried.  I heated up 4 pints of duck fat to 325 degrees and fried the potato chips first, since they could be cold by dinnertime.  Some were crispy, some not.  I think I cut them too thickly with the mandolin.  I could use a thinner setting next time.

After that, I fried the french fries in batches, with the fat at 350 degrees.  I think my batches were too big, as the temperature dropped about 100 degrees and took a while to come back up closer to 350.  They took about 7 minutes or so to cook.  Once they were drained I salted them and kept them warm in the oven until dinner.  As with the chips, some were soggy.  Next time I will use smaller batches and cook them closer to dinnertime.  (They only had a few minutes to wait, but it seemed to be enough.)  They tasted awesome, however, so that part was totally worth it.

I was able to reclaim 3 pints of the duck fat which I can use again for frying.  Next time, I'll try chicken. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

An Experiment

We'd had some champagne a while back and didn't finish the bottle.  I have been thinking about making champagne vinegar with it, but never got around to it until now.  The question was, how do I do it?

After a little online research, I decided to combine a few techniques and see what happened.  I poured the champagne into a mason jar, and then emptied my bottle of white wine vinegar into another container temporarily.  Then I put a little water in the white wine vinegar bottle and picked up the sediment, hoping that the "vinegar mother" beasties are in that sediment.  This was added to the champagne, and that jar was topped with some butter muslin.  Then I put the white wine vinegar back into its bottle.

The jar of champagne is tucked over on the shelf where I tend to ferment things, and let's hope for the best.  Supposedly it takes at least a month.  I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Turducken, Revisited

It's becoming something of an annual tradition, even if I don't manage to make a batch of this soup at exactly the same time.  First, I need turkey stock, which I make after Thanksgiving.  Then I need some ducks, of which we've had a lot recently.  And some chicken stock and meat, which I tend to have year round.

Yesterday, after making a batch of yogurt, I started the process to make duck stock.  I roasted the bones from 3 ducks at 350 for a little over an hour, and then simmered them with 7-8 quarts of water (I lost count), some vegetable scraps, salt, pepper, and bay.  I set aside what I thought was 4 pints of stock for canning, but turned out to be 3, and then made soup with the rest:

3 quarts (roughly) duck stock
1 quart chicken stock
2 quarts turkey stock
diced chicken meat
diced duck meat (from 2 ducks)
2 cups chopped leeks
3 carrots, diced
5 ribs celery, diced
1 box (about 2/3 cup) wild rice
1/2 cup farro
24 ounces of gourmet mushrooms
salt to taste

As usual, the vegetables were sauteed prior to adding the stock and the meat.  The whole thing simmered for the better part of a day, although I turned it off for a few hours while I was out of the house.  We ate some for dinner last night and the rest was set aside to can today.  First I canned the 3 pints of stock, at 10 pounds of pressure for 20 minutes, and now I'm canning 6 quarts of soup, at 10 pounds of pressure for 90 minutes.  

Spring is finally here, with slightly warmer weather.  Most of the snow is gone, at least in the areas that get a lot of sun.  I'll be keeping an eye out for spring greens, as they should be showing up soon.  I can't wait!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Six is Too Many

Yesterday my family got together to celebrate our parents' 50th anniversary - hooray!  We decided to have a special dinner at their home, rather than go out.  There were 11 of us.  In the past, when we've roasted ducks, we've averaged 1 duck per 2 people.  I figured that was a reasonable estimate, so I bought 6 ducks.  Well, that was 3 ducks too many!

We also had tasty stuffed mushrooms which my sister-in-law brought, and rice, and asparagus with hollandaise sauce.  My husband spent the whole afternoon roasting 6 ducks in my mother's 3 ovens.  I rendered 9 pints of duck fat, which are now in the freezer.  (I'd thought ahead and brought a flat of pint jars with me.  The guy at the butcher shop suggested I make french fries with the duck fat.  I think that, or fried chicken, just might happen soon.)  Dinner went off without a hitch.

For dessert, we had an apple pie with ice cream.  When I made the pie on Friday, I hand placed each of the slices of apple.  It took a while, but it made the finished product more even and easier to work with.  And it was pretty.  See?

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad, with love from us all!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Pi Day of the Century!

As I mentioned yesterday, I was prepared for Pi day today.  In fact, I made what amounted to 3.14 pies:

The two smaller pies went to work, for my new colleagues.  The tarts (one cheese, one elderberry) were eaten last night.  The big pie was saved for us but, since I was at work at 9:26 am, we ate it at 9:26 pm. 
I even carved a Pi and "3.1415" in it!


Hope your Pi Day was tasty!

Friday, March 13, 2015

This Time, I'm Ready

After several Pi days snuck up on me over the years, I vowed last year that I wouldn't forget it again.  This year, I planned ahead.  I made 2 batches of pie crust last night and today, after work, I made 2 small apple pies with one batch and one regular sized pie with the other.  I have also made a cheese tart and an elderberry jam tart.  And I still had pie crust dough left over.  The 9 year old wanted to just eat it, which was OK, but I thought I could jazz it up a little.

I deep fried it.

It didn't take long at all, and it took even less time to eat!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Salmon Steaks

The salmon came to us by way of Lisa, who caught it in British Columbia last summer, and it's been hanging out in the freezer waiting for a day when it made sense to cook it.  See, since the 9 year old really, really dislikes fish, cooking an entire fish isn't really worth it, not to mention dealing with the drama that ensues trying to get said child to eat.  Our niece is visiting so it was the right time for that salmon to make it to the table.

Normally, we grill salmon.  Our grill has only just started emerging from under all the snow and it will be months, maybe, before we can actually get to it.  Keep in mind, it's a regular height gas grill.  Sometime after the second snowstorm up here, we gave up trying to dig it out.  This left me only the choices of baking or pan frying.  I decided to bake it.

First, I cut the salmon into steaks.  Lisa had brought us one entire fish, with fins and tail, but cleaned.  I had to use my Japanese knife as it was the only one I had that could get through the spine.  Once I had the steaks, I brushed them with a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, tarragon, salt and pepper and let them sit for a while.  Then they were baked for 20 minutes at 275-300 degrees (hard to tell with my oven) and rested while the biscuits baked.  Then they went back in the oven at 475 to warm up a little before dinnertime.

I think they came out perfectly.  If you ask the 9 year old, however, you are likely to get a different opinion.