Thursday, November 10, 2011

Spiced Squash, Fennel & Pear Soup

We are breaking our "code of anonymity" and actually publishing a photo.  Ta da !  In addition to having the Pear Soup recipe this week, Nana and I enjoyed a book signing by Lidia Bastianich at our local Williams Sonoma and we could not resist including it this week. We hope Dorie doesn't mind :)

Per Nana:

I made this soup using an acorn squash that I cut and
roasted as per Dorie's instructions. She mentioned using a
 knife to test for doneness rather than the clock, however
 I had to take mine out of the oven before
the 60 minute timer went off. 
 It was quite well done, and I scooped the meat
 out of the shell instead of peeling it.

At this point, I liked the taste of the vegetable, but the
 combination with the rest of the ingredients just did not work for me.
It is  simple to make. I used my Cuisinart to blend the
 soup and the result was very smooth and creamy.

Unfortunately, the soup was so bland that
 Hubby and I did not enjoy it.  
I decided to share the rest of the dish with Tricia's
family, hoping perhaps it will work for them.
Per Tricia:
I was really looking forward to trying this one -
 just based on it's title.  Love it all. 
But after Nana delivered her pot of soup over here,
 days before I was to try mine - well, you guessed it. 
My incentive to try the recipe went south.
 I decided that if my family enjoyed her soup, I would go
ahead and make a pot myself to work through the recipe.
It was not a hit.  

Mixed results for sure.  I found that when I tasted it
I spent all the time "deconstructing" the flavors in my mouth,
rather than just thinking "this tastes great". 
Could not say that I disliked it, but I also couldn't say
 that I like it very much either.
  My younger son tried the soup and instantly
 turned up his nose after one spoon.  Done.

  My husband has an adventurous palate and declared
 that he liked it very much.  I said that I would then make
 a pot which he responded that I need not go that far.

Nana and I did agree that we loved the texture of this soup.
 We have often commented that we would love to replicate
 various soups we have enjoyed in France, and Dorie
 inspired us this week to get back in the kitchen and experiment.
 That makes it a successful French Friday after all !

And P.S. - I told Nana I would handle the lamb next week  
since another thing we have learned from FFWD is
who does and does not like Cardamom........

Chef Jimmy from Ralph's Restaurant.  His demo was phenomenal and filled the whole store with mouthwatering aromas. The Chicken Trombino was so amazing that we will be loading the car soon enough to head into Philly so we can share seconds with the rest of the family.....
Claims to be the oldest Italian restaurant in Philly. Lidia is a fan and included their Chicken Trombino recipe in her new book, so they were invited to join the book signing. Lucky us !

Thursday, November 3, 2011

20 Minute Honey Glazed Duck Breasts

This was a great introduction to preparing duck for us - simple ingredients, easy prep and quick cooking time.  This recipe was a hit all around ~

Per Nana:

If I submit another blog about not ever doing, tasting 
 or using another item that has appeared in any recipe
 from FFWD,  I will really have all you Doristas wondering
 what I have been doing for 80 years !

That said - I had never tasted duck before.
I truly love it. 
 Hubby has been telling me for years how fatty
and greasy it was when he last ate it (on an airplane???)
 so I never attempted to cook it before.

Over the years (with various failed diets) I have come
to dislike  chicken with a passion.  Thinking this
would be similar, I was not initially enthused. 
Turkey I can handle - once a year, cause I know
there is pumpkin pie at the end.

This recipe, however, is a winner.

After preparing the breast I sliced it and it was quite rare. 
 However, I asked hubby to please try one slice "as is"
and the rest I zapped in the microwave to make everyone happy. 
 (After 57 years of marriage, I have picked up a few tricks)

Surprisingly, we both enjoyed it  rare.  
The sauce was drizzled over the meat
 and it was wonderful.

The preparation was very simple, truly
 fast food, and quite elegant to serve.

Per Tricia:

 As much as I enjoyed cooking this recipe and the
family's raves over the results - I have to share my
 favorite part of this French Friday. 

 Nana ran reconnaissance to secure the duck breast for us
 and that certainly kept us on schedule - ahead in fact. 
My younger son walked in after school and football
find me with the "Dorie book" out and an unidentified substance
on the counter.  "What's that ?"  I responded that it was duck. 
 All of a sudden he got a very confused look on his face
and said - with great alarm- "wait - what day is it ??" 

 Yup - my attempting to complete the recipe on a Wednesday
 had THAT affect on the household.  My second favorite part
 of this dish was that the duck breast came from the company
(D'Artagnan) Nana and I visited in the Chelsea Market earlier this
year - so great memories were associated with that. 
 Yup, this dish was bound to be a winner !

This recipe was everything Dorie said it would be and as usual,
everything behaved as Dorie told us it would.  And boy, was I
glad I used that big iron ware casserole as Dorie wisely suggested
 - that duck did indeed splatter everywhere when cooking. 
My family agreed that this sauce was even better
 than they anticipated.  With the strong ingredients of fresh
 lime juice and balsamic vinegar in the mix, my husband was
 particularly surprised at how well they all complimented each
 other without one overpowering the flavors. 
 I would make this again in a heartbeat - if duck ever goes on sale :)