Roast duck is a delicious alternative to the Christmas turkey. Roast duck is perfect for the small Christmas dinner party. Serve it with this sophisticated orange sauce that will have you swooning with delight. The bonus is the lovely duck fat you use for basting the bird, and for cooking after the feast is over. To serve more than six people simply roast two ducks.
The trick to perfect roast duck is roasting it at two different temperature. You’ll get crisp skin and meat that’s not greasy by roasting first at a lower heat then increasing the temperature.
2 tbs. kosher salt mixed with a few grinds of black pepper
1 cup water
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tbs red wine vinegar
2 tsp orange liqueur (optional)
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp sugar
⅔ cup chicken stock
⅓ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
grated rind of an orange
2 tsp cornstarch
Heat oven 375F.
Make the glaze by mixing the orange juice, red wine vinegar and sugar in a small bowl and set aside.
Make the sauce by melting sugar over medium heat swirling pan but not stirring until light amber in colour.
Remove immediately from heat as the sauce will continue to brown.
Add the chicken stock, orange rind and orange juice and return to medium heat and reduce to 1 cup.
Dissolve cornstarch in 2 tsp water, stir into pan and simmer about 30 seconds until slightly thickened, and set aside.
Trim any excess fat, rinse the bird inside and out, and pat dry.
Slip your fingers or a rubber spatula between the fat and the meat to separate them.
Prick the skin all over with a sharp-tined fork taking care not to prick the meat..
Rub the outside with the olive oil and then massage the bird thoroughly with the salt and pepper mixture.
Tie the legs loosely together.
Refrigerate uncovered for at least two hours or longer.
If possible turn on a fan to let the bird air-dry while it comes to room temperature.
Put the bird in a roasting pan (preferably fitted with a rack).
Pour the water into the pan.
Position the pan so that the bird’s legs point toward the back of the oven.
Roast for 45 min.
Remove the pan from the oven and pour off the far and water.
Separate the fat to use for basting.
Return the bird to the oven with the legs facing the front of the oven. and increase the temperature to 400F.
Continue to cook for another l hour and 15 minutes. During this time, pour
grease off once or twice more.
Refrain from basting for the last half hour of cooking time.
Glaze the duck the last 15 minutes of cooking.
The bird is done when the juices run clear from a thigh pricked all the way down to the joint and when a meat thermometer inserted in the inner thigh below the let joint reads 175F to 180F.
Transfer the bird to a platter and tent loosely with tinfoil before carving.
Serve with the orange sauce.
When handling poultry products eliminate any chance of cross-food contamination by washing your hands thoroughly after touching the bird. Keep a sink filled with hot soapy water with a small amount of oxygen bleach while you are preparing the duck. The bleach will remain active for twenty minutes.
Salting the skin of the duck several hours before roasting helps crisp the skin and keeps the duck moist. You should also do this to turkey, duck and chicken.
Changing the position of the duck maintains even roasting. The back of the oven (and generally the left hand corner) is the hottest part of the oven.
We’ve been so busy baking or buying artisan breads, healthy breads, 48 grain breads and so on, we have forgotten wonderful white bread. Not the pallid, gummy tasteless white bread sold in plastic bags. But white bread, as it … Continue reading →
This is a brilliant take on an old fashioned favorite – peanut brittle. When I was small my Dad would make peanut brittle as a winter treat. Because of the intense heat the wood stove had to generate to get the syrup up to the right temperature this was a cold weather treat. He would test the syrup by dropping spoonfuls on to a plate of snow to ascertain if it was at the soft or hard ball state. This ritual, this chopping of kindling, mixing the sugar, chopping the nuts was as much about entertainment as having a sweet treat.
Replacing the nuts in brittle with popcorn removes a lot of calories. It also results in a wonderful hybrid – part caramel corn, part brittle. The brittle is crunchy and sweet, with just a hint of saltiness. Packed in decorative containers this popcorn brittle makes a great party gift. Store brittle in an airtight container at room temperature for up to four days.
Years ago I found the perfect muffin recipe printed in our local newspaper. Several moves and the recipe disappeared. I tried other recipes but it wasn’t the perfect muffin recipe I knew and loved. Then I discovered my favorite cookbook writer, Ina Gartner’s muffin recipe; deeply flavoured, gorgeously moist and chock full of good things like chunky bananas, raisins and walnuts. I’ve adapted her recipe, and you can vary this recipe by substituting well drained and diced pineapple chunks and other dried fruits.
Deeply flavoured and filled with chunky bananas, raisins and walnuts. The perfect muffin recipe.
2 cups unprocessed wheat bran
2 cups buttermilk shaken
½ cup (4 oz) unsalted butter (or a quality margarine) at room temperature
½ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
4 large eggs at room temperature
½ cup cooking molasses
2 tsp grated orange zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
1½ tsp baking powder
1½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp fine sea salt
1 cups raisins
1 cup dried cranberries
2 cups large diced bananas (2 bananas cut into ¼ inch slices then cut in half)
1 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Line muffin tins with paper liners.
Combine the bran and buttermilk and set aside.
In a large bowl add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and whisk to combine and set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy.
With the mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time.
Scrape the bowl and then add the molasses, orange zest, and vanilla. (The mixture will look curdled.)
Add the bran-butter milk mixture and combine.
With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the batter and mix just until combined. DON’T OVER-MIX IT!
Gently fold in the raisins, bananas and walnuts with a rubber spatula.
With a large spoon fill the muffin cups right to the top.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.
Cool in pans.
Silicone muffin pans versus regular muffin tins.
There is a love/hate relationship with Silicone muffin pans. The silicone pans turn out fragile cupcakes and muffins beautifully without sticking or crumbling. However you need to know how to use them. If you are buying a silicone muffin pan or any silicone product, buy the absolutely best you can find. Cheap versions sometimes have an unpleasant smell and don’t perform properly. The silicone muffin pans are wobbly when filled. Put them on a cooling rack before filling. Then carefully slide the cooking rack and filled silicone muffin pan into the oven. Do not put them on a cookie sheet. The bottom of the muffins will sometimes burn. The cooking time for silicone muffin pans is a little less than the regular pan.
I cooked one half of the muffins in a regular muffin pan with paper liners, and other in the silicone. The silicone pan came out the winner.
This is another one of those wonderful cakes that require nothing but two bowls and a whisk, plus your ingredients. The lemon loaf is double glazed, first with lemon syrup and then with lemon icing. It has a very fine crumb and is incredible moist. It is a recipe to tuck into your apron pocket. It’s perfect to whip up as a quick dessert. It’s easy to make so it is a great recipe for the cottage, and a rather elegant creation for all its simplicity. For extra jazz add some fresh fruits like blueberries or strawberries.
1 cup confectioners’ sugar (sifted if the sugar is lumpy)
2 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Grease an 8½ x 4¼ x 2½ inch loaf pan.
Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Leave a generous amount of paper at each end to assist you if lifting the cake out of the pan.
Grease and flour the pan.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt into one bowl.
In another large bowl, whisk the eggs, then add the yogurt, l cup sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla.
Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.(always mixing in one direction)
With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it’s all incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes until a cake tester placed in the centre of the loaf comes out clean. If the tester is sticky return the cake for another 5 minutes and test again.
Meanwhile, cook the ⅓ cup lemon juice and the remaining ⅓ cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.
When the cake is done allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
Carefully remove the cake (using the parchment paper overhangs to help) and place on a baking rack over a sheet pan.
While the cake is still warm using a fine skewer(bamboo works perfectly) poke holes all over the top of the cake.
Pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool
For the glaze, combine the l cup of confectioner’s sugar and the 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and pour over the cake.
Here is the apple pie of your dreams. Tender flaky pastry, a filling of various types of apples liberally flavoured with cinnamon and nutmeg. Serve it warm from the oven with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream. It’s an old fashioned dessert that never goes out of style.
A classic apple pie filled with assorted apples produces the best flavour. It’s best eaten the day it is baked, but it can be kept at room temperature, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for up to two days.
Pastry for a deep, 2-crust 9-inch pie(23cm)
8 cups (2 L) peeled and cored apple slices – For apples that hold their shape choose a variety such as Northern Spy, Crispin, or Idared. McIntosh apples turn into sauce when baked. Use a combination of apples to get an interesting flavour and texture.
2 tbsp (30 mL) fresh lemon juice
¾ cup (175 mL) granulated sugar plus extra for sprinkling
2 tbsp (30 mL) cornstarch,
1 generous tsp (5 mL) cinnamon
A generous pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
A pinch of salt
2 tbsp (30 mL) soft butter cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
1 tbsp (15 mL) heavy cream
Roll out your pastry on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper. Roll one disk of dough to a 12 inch round.
Line a 9-inch (23 cm) Pyrex (glass) pie plate with pastry; trim the overhang to about ½ inch.
Roll out the remaining disk of dough in the same manner; transfer dough (on parchment) to a baking sheet.
Chill pie shell and dough until firm. About 30 minutes.
In a large bowl combine the apples, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and stir in the lemon juice.
Whisk the egg yolk and heavy cream together and set aside.
Add the apple mixture to the chilled pie shell.
Dot with butter.
Brush the rim of the pie shell with egg wash.
Place the second piece of dough on top, and gently press over the apples.
Gently press the top and bottom pieces of dough together to seal.
Using kitchen scissors, trim the top piece of dough to a 1 inch overhang all around.
Tuck dough under, and crimp edge as desired.
Brush the entire surface of the pie with egg wash.
Sprinkle generously with sugar.
Cut three vents in the top to allow steam to escape.
Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile preheat oven to 400F, with the rack in the lower third of the oven.
Place pie on a parchment lined baking sheet.]
Bake until the crust begins to turn golden, about 20 minutes.]
Reduce oven temperature to 350F.
Continue baking, rotating sheet halfway through, until crust is a deep golden brown and the juices are bubbling and have thickened, about 40 to 50 minutes more.
Transfer pie to a wire rack to cool completely.
If you haven’t a favorite pastry recipe use my pastry recipe for BLUE RIBBON BUTTER TARTS
This is such an easy chocolate cake to make it will become your stand-by cake. It is extremely moist and has a rich texture. You require nothing but a balloon whisk, two good sized mixing bowls and either two 9 inch cake pans or a 9 by 13 inch pan. You can serve it without frosting. Just add a big scoop of ice cream.
The frosting for this cake is the ultimate chocolate cake frosting – ganache. It contains no icing sugar – simply chocolate and whipping cream, with a little butter and a touch of corn syrup. Ganache is the sublime concoction that is used to make chocolate truffles. Whipped into gentle peaks it almost doubles in volume. Or you can just pour it over your cakes. Use any type of chocolate for ganache – except chocolate chips.
If you are a neophyte at baking remember baking is science. In this recipe the combination of baking soda and baking powder is required as a leavening because the cocoa is an alkaline mixture. Baking soda is required when there is a high alkaline presence. Amounts must be precise – too much baking soda or baking powder and your cake will fall.
A simple to make chocolate cake. It is rich, moist and keeps well. The chocolate ganache icing is sublime.
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
¾ cup cocoa powder
1½ tsp baking soda
1½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp fine sea salt
2 large eggs at room temperature
½ cup canola oil
1 cup whole milk at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup very hot strong coffee
¾ cup heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp light corn syrup
2 tbsp butter (unsalted preferred)
10 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into ¼ inch piece
For the cake:
Set your oven temperature at 350F.
Grease, dust with cocoa and line with parchment paper two 9 inch layer cake pans, or one 9 by 13 inch pan.
In a large bowl add the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
Sift the cocoa into this mixture to eliminate any lumps.
Mix the flour and cocoa mixture well with a whisk.
In a second large bowl whisk the eggs until light and frothy.
Add the canola oil, the milk and the vanilla and whisk to combine.
Add the very hot coffee in a slow steady stream whisking it in to avoid cooking the eggs.
Make a well in the centre of your flour mixture and pour in the liquid mixture.
Using the whisk mix well to combine – always whisking in the same direction.
Immediately pour into your cake pans.
Bake in the centre of the oven a 350F oven for thirty to 35 minutes.
To test whether you cakes are done use a slender bamboo skewer and insert into the centre of the cake. If the skewer comes out clean and free of crumbs your cake is done. If not set your timer for 5 minutes then try again. Still not done? Set timer for another 5 minutes. That should do it.
Baking times are approximate because some ovens may not be calibrated exactly to the right temperature.
Cool your cakes on a wire rack.
When cool remove from the cake pans and peel off the parchment paper.
Let the cakes rest on the wire rack until you are ready to frost them.
For the Ganache:
While the cake is baking, prepare the ganache. Bring the cream, corn syrup, and butter to a boil in a medium saucepan.
Off the heat add the chocolate and mix the chocolate with a wooden spoon to make sure all the chocolate is submerged. It is extremely important that at no time water comes in contact with the chocolate. The chocolate will seize and become coarse and granular.
Allow to stand for a few minutes then continue to whisk until smooth. Pour into a bowl and set aside to cool.
When the chocolate is completely cool scrap it into the bowl of your standing mixer.
Using the balloon whisk, whip on the medium speed JUST until the mixture holds a soft peak. DO NOT OVER BEAT.
Immediently spread the ganache as filling between the two layers cakes and the tops. You can leave the sides without the frosting in the English manner, or ice the sides.
Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve.
For a quick and easy dessert (using the 9 by 13 inch pan) serve the cake with a dusting of icing sugar and a big scoop of ice cream or whipped cream.
Lemons glorious lemons. Grate the rind, squeeze the juice, whip together sugar and eggs and you create pure alchemy. This golden dessert is a creation that is heavenly beyond words. It has the most decadent puckery lemon flavour. The … Continue reading →
This is a deliciously tangy and colourful relish. It is the go-to condiment for hot dogs, burgers and any cold or cured meat that could do with a little relish. It is simple to make. You simply chop your vegetables and add them to the vinegar spice mixture. This is a brilliant way to use those larger zucchinis you discover hiding under their giant leaves.
My beautiful vegetable garden rewards me everyday with gorgeous fresh vegetables. This morning the vibrant rows of beets beckoned me. I searched among the rows for the beets that were growing a little too big for their own … Continue reading →