Friday, July 30, 2021

DUCK LIVER PATE!

I don't usually do back to back blogging, but I made this Duck Liver Pate for  my birthday, which was Wednesday and my present to myself is to talk about it! I like to create some new food item for my birthday and this year it was the pate. I special ordered the duck livers from my local butcher, Mr. Feeney. The order came as 2 kgs. (a little more than 4 lbs.!), but it is frozen so we don't need to eat all 4 lbs. of pate in one sitting. Mr. Feeney cut the frozen livers into quarters for me.

I have made chicken liver pate many times, but never the duck. I have to say this one came out pretty good. 

Mr. Feeney is an excellent butcher and also makes his own sausages and other delights. He will special order anything that he does not offer in his shop and is always ready to please. I have been shopping with him as long as I've been coming to Ireland, which this year is my 29th year. I think the shop has been in his family for more than 50 years. There is something very pleasing to me about the look of a neat and clean meat counter, and his always is.

On to the recipe...

Liver pate generally has a splash of cognac, bourbon, wine or some other spirit. In honor of Ireland I decided to use Powers Irish whiskey as my splash. It has a rich, sweet flavor and you completely cook off the alcohol so if you are serving to those who do not imbibe; no problem! From the duck I roasted for the 4th of July I had about 2 cups of beautiful duck fat so decided to incorporate some of that, as well. The more I make liver pate, the more I realize that you can be very flexible with ingredients and quantities. 

Ingredients:
1 lb. duck liver (I used 19 oz. to be exact)
Kosher salt and black pepper-about 1 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
4 Tbsp. Duck fat  (or goose fat, or chicken fat, or butter)
1 shallot (about 1/3 cup) minced
1 small carrot; about 1/4 cup chopped
1 small celery stick; about 1/4 cup chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 stick of butter
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley
1 Tbsp. fresh marjoram
Juice of 1/2 lemon; about 3 Tbsp.
1/4 cup whiskey
3 Tbsp. duck stock (chicken stock is fine, too, but I happened to have the duck stock from the 4th of July duck)
3 Tbsp. apple juice


Preparation:
Pat the livers dry with paper towels and liberally salt and pepper both sides. Heat 1 Tbsp. duck fat (or whatever fat you are using) in a heavy skillet. Add shallots, carrot, celery and garlic and gently saute for 5 - 8 minutes until veg are tender, but not browned. Add the herbs, lemon juice and cook for another couple of minutes. Remove from the pan and place the veg in a large bowl. 
I love having an herb garden right outside my kitchen. This year I have rosemary, oregano, parsley, sage, thyme, tarragon, basil and marjoram.

Add 2 Tbsp. duck fat and heat the pan until it is nearly smoking. Duck or goose fat is ideal as it has a high smoke point; not the highest at 375 degrees, but certainly hot enough and the flavor of duck or goose fat is fabulous. Saute livers quickly for about 3 minutes per side. Do not crowd the pan. It will take at least 2 rounds of cooking depending on how large your pan is. You want the livers to be cooked, but still pink in the middle. If you overcook, the liver pate will be dry, and even after you remove from the pan, the livers do keep cooking. Add more fat each time you cook another batch of livers. Remove the livers and place together with the veg. 

Add the whiskey to the pan and tilt the pan to flame it or just scrape all the brown bits up from the pan and then add to the veg and livers. Add the apple juice and duck stock. Put everything in a food processor or heavy duty blender. Add the stick of butter and blend until all ingredients are very smooth. My blender is not that large, but is powerful, so I had to blend in batches. 

This next step is tedious, but very important. Press the blended pate through a fine mesh sieve using the back of a spoon to push the pate through. You will think this is never going to go through, but it eventually does. This is what makes the pate perfectly smooth and removes any bits of herb, veg, black pepper that did not get thoroughly blended. If you are making a country-style chunky pate, of course, this step is not necessary.
These are all the bits that the sieve catches. The pate should be smooth, and slightly pourable as it will firm up. Taste for seasoning (especially salt) and texture. If it is too thick, slowly add a bit of either apple juice or stock, one tablespoon at a time. All of my pate molds are back in America so I used little terrines to hold the pate. 
I also tried to top with an apple gelee (apple juice and plain unflavored gelatin), but that didn't set up too well so instead I made an apple chutney to serve with the duck liver pate. 

5 ingredients: Apples (I used Pink Ladies), 1 clove garlic, 1 small shallot, a splash of apple juice and a knob of butter. Salt and pepper. Cook it all down until you have the desired consistency.
Here's my husband, Jerry, digging in!
And the good news is I have 3 more pounds of duck livers to work with!

NEXT TIME I'M GOING TO SHARE 
A BUNCH OF THE THINGS WE HAVE BEEN 
FEASTING ON IN DEAR OLD IRELAND!


THANKS FOR SHARING MY SPECIAL 
BIRTHDAY DUCK LIVER PATE!

WWW.COOKWITHCINDY.COM

MY APOLOGIES TO SUBSCRIBERS WHO ARE STILL RECEIVING 2 NOTICES EACH TIME I BLOG. GOOGLE WAS GOING TO STOP SENDING EMAILS AT THE END OF JUNE, BUT NOW IT LOOKS LIKE THEY WILL STOP SENDING AT THE END OF AUGUST. 

SO, IN THE MEANTIME, YOU MAY RECEIVE 2 EMAILS (1 FROM GOOGLE AND 1 FROM MY NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIPTION SERVER-MAILCHIP. I'M SURE THIS WILL ALL GET SORTED OUT. 

IN THE MEANTIME, I HOPE YOU ARE ENJOYING MY BLOG!








Monday, July 26, 2021

A SCONE BY ANY OTHER NAME...

I am attempting to make the perfect traditional Irish scone, but have yet to fully accomplish my mission to my total satisfaction. This last batch is a recipe from Darina Allen's Mom. Darina is like the Julia Child of Ireland; a fabulous and creative chef and baker and runs the Ballymaloe Cookery School including organic farm and gardens, just outside of Cork City in Shanagarry. Some day I am going to attend her school. I figured if I used a recipe from her family I could not go wrong. They were not bad by any means, but they just were not perfect. I did a couple things wrong. First, I completely missed the sugar in her list of ingredients. She calls for 50 grams, which is 2 oz. or 1/4 cup of castor sugar. I thought it odd that there was no sugar so used only 2 tsp. Not quite enough. My husband remedied that problem by having them the first time doused in maple syrup and the next serving heaped with Irish marmalade. Second, I used a bit too much butter 8 oz.; not 6; and finally, I think I needed a touch more flour. Next time I will weigh it! They were still quite delicious!

MUMMY'S SWEET WHITE SCONES

Ingredients:
900 g (2 lbs. or 3.8 cups) white flour
175 f (6 oz.) butter. (I used 1 stick, which is 8 oz. Next time I will follow recipe exactly!)
3 free-range eggs
A good pinch of salt (I used a big pinch of Maldon flake salt.)
50 g (2 oz. or 1/4 cup) castor sugar
3 heaping tsp. baking powder
450 ml (15 fl. oz. or 1.875 cups) rich milk to mix (I used 3/4 cup heavy cream and the rest regular whole milk.)

Eggwash Glaze with crunchy Demerara sugar or course granulated sugar for coating the top of the scones. To make the Eggwash Glaze whisk 1 egg with a pinch of salt. This is brushed over the scones before baking to help them brown in the oven. Then top with the sugar. 

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 250C/475F. Sieve all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Cut the butter into cubes, toss in the flour mixture and using your fingers run in the butter. Make a well in the centre. Whisk 3 eggs with the milk, add to the dry ingredients and mix to a soft dough. My dough was very soft!
Turn out onto a floured board. Don't knead, but shape just enough to make a round. Roll out to about 2 1/2c (1 inch) and cut or stamp into scones. 

Here's her tip: Stamp them as little as possible. The first scones will be lighter than the second rolling. 

I used a 1 cup measuring cup to cut them, but the dough was so soft I shaped them with my hands. 
Put on a baking sheet--no need to grease. Brush the tops with egg wash and dip each one in crunchy Demerara or course granulated sugar.
Bake in a hot oven for 10-12 minutes until golden brown on top. Cool on a wire rack.
No complaints from my husband, Jerry, particularly on the size of the scones. I cut them a bit larger than traditionally sized scones. Next time...!

A few weeks ago I tried another scone recipe. I knew these were not Traditional Irish, but they sounded really different and delicious...and they were.

ORANGE CARAWAY SCONES
I found this recipe in an old Gourmet cookbook, called Gourmet's Weekends. These scones are also lacking that beautiful scone height I am hoping to achieve, but the taste and texture were really good. My husband dubbed them "SCOOKIES" as they are part scone; part thick cookie.

Ingredients:
 2 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed Orange Juice
1 Tbsp. freshly grated Orange Zest
1 1/2 tsp. caraway seeds 1 1/4 cups all-purpose white flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp. sugar
2 3/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees and grease a baking sheet. In a small bowl whisk together eggs and cream, reserving 1 Tbsp. egg mixture, and stir in orange juice and zest, and caraway seeds. In a separate bowl whisk together the flours 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Add orange juice mixture to the dry ingredients and stir well with a fork until a dough just forms. The dough will be quite sticky.
With floured hands knead dough lightly on a floured surface for about 30 seconds. Pat dough gently into a 3/4 inch thick round and cut out rounds with a 2 inch cutter dipped in flour. Arrange scones on a prepared baking sheet. 
Form any scraps gently into a ball. Pat out dough and cut out more scones. Brush tops of scones with reserved egg mixture and sprinkle with remaining sugar. Bake in middle of oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden. Cool on a wire rack. These were excellent hot from the oven, slathered with butter and marmalade. 

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT! 

I'M GOING TO KEEP MAKING SCONES 
UNTIL I GET IT JUST RIGHT!

NEXT TIME I'M GOING TO SHARE 
A RECIPE FOR DUCK LIVER PATE!

UNTIL THEN...

www.cookwithcindy.com











Monday, July 12, 2021

4th of JULY FESTIVITIES FROM AFAR!

For the last several years, excluded last year of course, because of COVID, we have been in Ireland for the 4th of July. I like to try to make something that is very American to honor our biggest national holiday. I have made cheesecake in the past for the occasion, but this year I tried a new recipe. I also slow-roasted a duck, which is not traditional July 4th fare, but because it was 50 degrees and drizzling all day, it seemed fitting to have the oven going for hours and very comforting to smell the delicious flavors of roast duck. But first, we're starting with dessert!

RED, WHITE, AND BLUE CHEESECAKE

The decorations are a bit amatuerish, but it sure was fun putting this cake together! I found the recipe online and liked the sounds of a blueberry cheesecake as I have never had that before, but decided to add the strawberries and blueberries to create the American flag. Corny...I know, but made us both feel very festive!

Ingredients:

BLUEBERRY PUREE:

2 cups blueberries

2 Tbsp. sugar

2 tsp. lemon juice

FOR THE CRUST:

This recipe calls for a traditional Graham Cracker crust, but because you can't find Graham Crackers in Ireland I used tea biscuits. Digestives are buttery and not, too sweet.

1 1/2 cups finely crushed Graham Crackers or Digestives

5 Tbsp. butter, melted

1/4 cup sugar

FOR THE CHEESECAKE:

4 (8 oz.) blocks of cream cheese, softened

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs (Eggs in Ireland are so fresh!)

1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 cup sour cream (I used plain Greek yogurt.)

2 Tbsp. white flour

1/4 tsp. Kosher salt

1 cup blueberry puree

FOR THE TOPPING:

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 tsp. vanilla

2 Tbsp. sugar, more if you like the cream very sweet.

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees (160 Celsius). In a food processor, blend blueberries until very smooth. In a small saucepan, over medium heat, add blueberry puree, sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer until slightly reduced, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes. Set aside and let cool to room temperature. I used only about 1 1/2 cups of the puree, but it's a great left-over to make blueberry parfaits.

Next, make the crust. In a large bowl, mix together Graham Cracker crumbs, melted butter and sugar until well combined with mixture resembling wet sand. Press into bottom and up side of an 8"or 9" springform pan that you have previously wrapped tightly in foil.

I love the look and color of the blueberry puree! It is refreshingly tart, which makes for a beautiful contrast with the rich and sweet cheesecake.

To make the parfaits: 
Layer Granola, plain yogurt sweetened with maple syrup, blueberry puree and fresh blueberries. 

Scroll all the way down for the Granola recipe: 
http://cookwithcindy.blogspot.com/search?q=granola
On to the cheesecake:
In a large bowl using either a hand mixer, stand mixer or good old fashioned whisk, beat the cream cheese and sugar until no lumps remain. Add eggs, one at a time, then stir in vanilla and sour cream or yogurt. Add flour and salt and beat until just combined. Fold in blueberry puree, but don't mix it completely. Pour the cheesecake mixture into the crust. 
In a perfect world, I would have done the next step...

Place the cheesecake into a large roasting pan and pour enough boiling water to come halfway up the springform pan. That is why you wrap the cheesecake pan tightly in foil. No matter how good your springform pan clasp is you do not want any water seeping into the cheesecake. This is called a bain marie water bath; a French method used to prevent cracking and help cook evenly. 

Because I was already roasting the duck and my oven is very little, a large roasting pan did not fit in the oven along with the duck so I just placed the cheesecake in the oven sans bain marie and baked for 1 1/2 hours until the cake was slightly jiggly, but not completely set. If I didn't have the duck in the oven, you would then leave the cheesecake in, turn oven heat off, keep the oven door ajar, and let cheesecake cool down in the oven for 1 hour. This also helps prevent cracking. 

I could not use this technique either (because the duck was still cooking), but the good news is I took the cheesecake out after 1 1/2 hours and let it cool on a rack. No cracking! After cooling, cover and place in the refrigerator and let chill for at least 5 hours or overnight. I didn't have that much time, but it did cool for about 2 hours at which point I frosted with the whipped cream and then topped with blueberries and strawberries.
It was a little soft and texture was definitely better the next day, but boy was it delicious!!

I have previously made duck in Ireland and this slow-roasted 4 hour recipe is the one I used for our holiday meal. I made the traditional orange sauce, which was awesome, but not sure it is truly authentic. For the recipe, go to:
http://cookwithcindy.blogspot.com/search?q=duck






Thanks for sharing the 4th of July with us! 

I also made some interesting scones for our 4th of July breakfast. Not exactly traditional Irish, but delicious! 

Next time, I will attempt the perfect traditional Irish scone!

Tune in again soon...

www.cookwithcindy.com


Tuesday, June 29, 2021

MUSHROOM SHALLOT TRUFFLE TART!

It seems like ages since I last blogged, which is not to say I have not been cooking; just no time to write about it! We spent 3 weeks in New England visiting family--our first trip since COVID. From Boston we flew to Ireland and are now getting settled in our quiet, beautiful little village of Spiddal. Quintessential Ireland! Lots of Irish goodies to come, but first, I want to talk about this tart I made for my friend, Dorita before leaving Arizona. I didn't realize until she arrived for dinner that she is not a big truffle fan, but she really liked this tart! The truffle flavor is subtle.

Because I used frozen puff pastry, this tart is quick and easy to throw together and paired with a salad turns an ordinary weeknight supper into something a bit more elegant. 


Ingredients:

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

2 Tbsps. truffle butter, divided

8 oz. mushrooms, sliced, about 1 cup

1/3 cup shallots, sliced

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Salt/Pepper to taste

1 large egg, beaten with 1 Tbsp. of water to make an egg wash

8 oz. goat cheese, softened

A few sprigs of fresh thyme, plus fresh thyme leaves for finishing the tart

Generous sprinkle of truffle zest

I bought this Italian black truffle butter online. It is awesome!

What I like about this truffle zest is that it tastes very authentic;
exactly like truffles, unlike truffle oil, which
can be very harsh and artificial tasting. 

Preparation:

Take puff pastry out and let it thaw for about 40 minutes until soft and pliable. Meanwhile, make the mushroom/shallot mix. Melt 1 Tbsp. butter and 1 Tbsp. truffle butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and saute until dry and are starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the second tablespoon of truffle butter and saute shallots until they are soft and slightly caramelized; about 4 more minutes. Add nutmeg, sprigs of thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.


When puff pastry is pliable, preheat oven to 400 degrees and prepare a 15x10 inch baking sheet with parchment paper.

Flour a smooth surface and roll out the pastry to be a little bigger (about an inch) than the baking sheet as you want to make a lip around the edges. Place the pastry on the baking sheet and crimp the edges. Gently poke the pastry with a fork. When the puff pastry cooks it will puff up and this helps keep the tart in shape. As it cools it puffs down. Brush the pastry with the egg wash.

Pre-bake the tart shell for 10-15 minutes, or until golden in color. 

When the puff pastry comes out of the oven, if it is very puffy, as mine was, very carefully re-poke the crust to deflate making sure you don't poke all the way through the crust to the bottom.

Spread or sprinkle the goat cheese over the entire tart. Top with mushroom/shallot mixture. Sprinkle with a little more fresh thyme.

Bake for 10-12 minutes. This tart is good served warm or at room temperature.


I'm going to close by sending another very happy birthday wish to my dear brother who celebrated on June 13th, and also share a couple shots from our trip to Boston. My brother is a constant inspiration to me. His 'joie de vis', positive attitude and good nature is so uplifting. You are a joy to be around my brother! You make me SMILE and my heart HAPPY!

My brother, Skip getting birthday kisses from Maggie!

And here's the cake I made for his special day. In our family, the only birthday cake was an Angel Food cake. I have made angel food from scratch, but quite honestly Betty Crocker does it better, which makes putting this cake together a snap! Make the cake the day before filling and frosting. After the cake is baked, place upside down on a bottle and let it sit on the counter overnight.

To assemble the cake:
Using a serrated knife, cut the cake into thirds. Whip about 1 1/2 cups heavy cream with 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder and 1/4 cup confectioners sugar. Adjust both if you want it more chocolatey or sweeter. Add a pinch of salt.

Generously fill each layer with the chocolate whipped cream and then frost the outside of the cake with a generous amount of cream. Place about 1 1/2 cups of raspberries in the center of the cake and garnish the edge with additional berries. So simple, but looks kind of impressive.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SKIP!!

NEXT TIME, I PROMISE SOMETHING IRISH!!
North End, Boston. My wonderful 2 sons,
Justin and Michael and husband, Jerry.
Happy family! After 3 attempted wedding
 dates due to COVID...it's official!
Alison is our DAUGHTER (in-law)!


WWW.COOKWITHCINDY.COM







Sunday, May 16, 2021

LOCO FOR LOCAL!

 Last weekend I attended a fabulous art festival in Tucson with my friend Dorita Pina. "Art in the Urban Grove" was held at the The Urban Grove on W. Orange Grove Road. The estate, owned by Sabrina Rigas was originally part of the historic 450 acre citrus grove dating back to the 1920's and founded by amateur horticulturist, M. L. Reid, father of Gene Reid, first director of Tucson City Parks and Rec, later to become the namesake of Reid Park. 

Dorita on the left and Sabrina on the right.

The event featured 42 mixed media vendors, all from Tucson. It was a warm day, but the nearly 40' tall date palms provided beautiful shade. And if you have never had a date palm, which I had not, try one! They are succulent little morsels; sweet and rich with deep hints of butterscotch. The variety of date I bought are called Barhi. Sabrina refers to them as "nature's butterscotch candy". They are quite phenomenal!

This is an oasis in a very hectic city resplendent with a variety of fruit trees, citrus and the date palms, offering 3 varieties of dates. The Urban Grove offers cooking classes, catering, and makes the estate available as a unique and very beautiful event space. 
www.oururbangrove.com
If you want to purchase dates, contact Sabrina by text/phone at:
520-248-2418

NOPALES!
Opuntia Cacti aka Prickly Pear

Nopal is from the Nahuatl word "nohpalli" meaning the pads of the plant. The Nahuas are a group of indigenous people of Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua. 

Nearly 2000 different cactus live in Arizona and many of them offer edible parts, but one of the most common is the Prickly Pear Cactus. Preferably young paddles are harvested and carefully peeled to remove tough skin and large thorns. Gloves are a must! The older, larger paddles can be tough. I have not peeled the paddles myself, but have encountered their thorns many times, while weeding around them. I am amazed each May when this thorny, rugged cacti bursts forth with the most gorgeous, delicate pale yellow blossoms; a true contrast in nature. 

My friend Dorita has been bringing me bags of these wonderful Nopales all cleaned and ready to cook for the last couple of weeks. 
She explained the way her mother, and mother's mother before her, cooked the Nopales. Put them in a dry saucepan over very low heat and cook covered for about 30 minutes until they have dried out. Stir occasionally to help release the liquid. Nopales are similar to okra in that they are filled with a thick viscose, slimy goo. It doesn't sound appealing, but slow cooking removes nearly all of this goo.
This is what they looked like after being cooked. You can also boil them, but that requires multiple rinsing and a long boiling time, which will remove some of the good nutrients. These cacti are touted for their high vitamin content; some believe they are a good hang-over cure. The Nopales have a citrussy, crisp, clean taste, almost lemony. After a little research I tried a different method of cooking them.

Place a cast iron pan over high heat. Add about 1 Tbsp. oil and once hot, drop in the Nopales and a dash of salt. Stir until they are just slightly browned. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking uncovered until all the goo is gone, stirring occasionally. 
They are delicious in salads, eaten plain as a veg, or mixed with eggs. 



I should call this blog, HOMAGE TO MY FRIEND DORITA!!
I love learning about different food cultures from around the world and Dorita has inspired me to learn more about Mexico. Even though we come from different backgrounds/cultures we share so many more interests than differences. Dorita is from an Hispanic/Mexican culture and I am from a half New England/Yankee-Hungarian culture. Is that a culture? We love talking about our pasts and sharing stories about harvesting and cooking, what our lives were like growing up, art, literature, history, gardening and so much more, but especially FOOD!
Here is Dorita's grandmother's recipe for a refreshing salsa fresca. 
I love recipes that are passed down generationally and have so much meaning to our families. This salsa is truly fresh, full-flavored and good on just about anything, and the story about her grandmother making batches of it and giving it as gifts at Christmas to friends, family and ranch workers is priceless!

That will do it for today! 

In a perfect world, I would always prefer 
to eat locally grown produce. 

Here is a shot from yesterday's beautiful 
pre-birthday celebration for ME!

Cake compliments of my dear friend Debby's husband, Steve--a coconut cake with coconut Italian merengue frosting!

YUM! YUM!

Soon off to New England for a couple weeks 
and then to Ireland...

Many more food adventures ahead!!

Please join me again soon...

www.cookwithcindy.com