The Continued Birthday Celebration

My official birthday was last Saturday, September 30th. I happened to be away last weekend in San Diego and Del Mar, California on numerous reunions. I had the chance to reconnect with my lovely childhood friend that I have known for close to a half of a century. Pretty amazing. I also spent time with four wonderful women from my business school class. They started my weeklong birthday celebration which continued until yesterday with the family celebration. My son and his girlfriend were home from college and also joined us. My husband made duck for the first time ever and it was outstanding. In the morning he had a bit of a challenge finding duck in our local stores but thankfully was able to get his hands on one. He later did research and we agreed that the next time we will order the duck/duck breasts from the D’Artagnan website. He made duck two ways, sous-vide/pan-fried and confit. He seasoned the two breasts and then vacuum-sealed them. The duck breasts were then placed in a sous-vide bath and cooked to 125 degrees Fahrenheit to achieve medium rare meat. Normally they recommend cooking duck breasts to 130 degrees Fahrenheit, however our duck breasts were thin and we did not want to overcook them. After the sous-vide bath, my husband pan-fried the breasts, skin face down to achieve crispness. He generously salted the legs and thighs and set them aside. In the meantime he rendered duck fat from remaining pieces. It was this duck fat that he then used to cook the legs and thighs in a low oven temperature for about 3 hours to achieve the confit style. My husband also made a delicious cherry sauce for the duck. The duck was mouth-watering. We accompanied the duck with parmesan mashed potatoes and sautéed spinach. And the pièce de résistance was my favorite birthday cake in the world, a double layer chocolate cake with a dark chocolate fudge frosting. 

Today is my turn to experiment with a new recipe. A couple of months ago we bought Korean fermented chili paste, Gochujang. I was finally able to use it in a marinade for Korean Bulgogi-style skirt steaks. Bulgogi translates to “fire meat”. The marinade I prepared has Gochujang, garlic, ginger, onion, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, cilantro, sugar, black pepper, and vegetable oil. I marinaded the skirt steaks overnight. The meat will be grilled. We will accompany the steaks with stir-fried snow peas, white rice, and cucumber slices. We will also serve some of the marinade which I set aside for a sauce.

It was my husband who updated The Kitchen Blackboard yesterday. I thought that was very special. Today I share a quote by Adlai E. Stevenson. It reminds me to not focus so much on the age I am turning, but on how I am living this life and making the most of it.

Birthdays are for celebrating!

 

To learn more about confit: http://www.seriouseats.com/2013/01/ask-the-food-lab-what-the-heck-is-confit.html

D’Artagnan: http://www.dartagnan.com/home?gclid=CjwKCAjwmefOBRBJEiwAf7DstOvEvLKWlXIVUW2zom3Y2lSI3FWT1ybjyZONk9jsQrYMDTU2_YKuRxoCI18QAvD_BwE

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Triple Lab September Sunday

Today was a fun day. We invited our  neighbors over who have a 1-year-old yellow lab. With our chocolate and black lab and their yellow lab we completed the collection of awesome labs splashing around the pool.

For dinner I am making a very familiar dish to our family, arroz con pollo. I usually just wing it using some of my mom’s basic recipe. However, today I decided to follow a recipe by The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook. It is a one pot chicken and rice meal. Chicken thighs were marinated in oregano, white vinegar, and salt during the day. The chicken thighs were then cooked partially. Green peppers and onions were sautéed with crushed  red pepper. Chicken broth, water, and tomato sauce were added to the chicken and vegetables. Then the rice, olives, and capers were added and the whole pot went into the oven. When everything is cooked we will remove the skin and bones from the chicken. The pieces of chicken will then go in a sauce of roasted peppers, olive oil, vinegar, and cilantro. The chicken will be placed back on top of the cooked rice. We will accompany the arroz con pollo with green beans with lemon juice and slices of avocado.

Buen Provecho!

 

Welcome Autumn

There are so many people who feel the same as Nathaniel Hawthorne (today’s quote). They love autumn days, the crisp air, the clear blue skies, and the colors of the leaves changing. I try so hard to belong to this group of people but I must admit I am always sad to let summer go. However, mindfulness teaches us to appreciate the present moment. And so I will shift my focus and appreciate the gifts that Autumn will bring. Happy Autumn to all!

Today my husband is using a recipe from the book “Dinners” by Melissa Clark. He will be preparing a dish Turkish in origin, Coconut Kofte kebabs, made with ground beef, shredded coconut, and a wonderful blend of spices including cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, ground allspice, and cayenne pepper. We will serve the Kofte kebabs with a yogurt, garlic, and parsley sauce. In addition we will enjoy roasted cauliflower and naan bread.

Afiyet Olsun! (Bon Appetit in Turkish)

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A September Sunday

It’s been a day getting updates about Hurricane Irma.

Today, we met our son in Philadelphia to bring some things for his apartment and to take him out to lunch. We enjoyed amazing burgers at Bobby Flay’s Burger Palace. They were delicious. One of my husband’s childhood friends is joining us for dinner tonight. Today we are enjoying a vegetarian meal of Coconut Rice Noodles with eggplant. The dish also has corn, cherry tomatoes, onion, garlic, and ginger.

Yesterday’s stuffed pork chops  and potatoes Lyonnaise were delicious. The recipe came from The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2014.

Mother Nature

Mother Nature continues to humble mankind. This weekend we await yet another hurricane. We hope for the safety of everyone in harm’s way.
The anniversary of September 11th is on Monday. Another year anniversary and day of remembrance.
Today I share a quote by Joseph Campbell about heroes. So many ordinary people become heroes in moments of natural disasters and wars. I am grateful for their bravery.
Today we are making stuffed pork chops. The pork chops were brined during the day. The stuffing has bread, onion, celery, garlic, parsley, and thyme. We are accompanying the pork chops with Potatoes Lyonnaise and green beans. The potatoes are sliced thin and prepared with caramelized onions. The green beans are served with butter and garlic.

Happy Labor Day!

I cannot believe it is Labor Day. I am convinced there is a time warp acceleration between Memorial Day and Labor Day. I’m sitting here in disbelief and reluctant to accept that autumn is near. We had a fun surprise last night. My son came home  with two of his college roommates for dinner. We enjoyed delicious grilled burgers, homemade cole slaw, and fries. My husband is the master griller so all the credit goes to him for grilling-to-perfection our medium rare burgers. We served the burgers on Brioche buns. I prepared the toppings that included: caramelized onions, bacon, and guacamole. We made chocolate chip cookies for dessert and to send home with the boys.

Today we are back on the Empty Nester Food Project. It was my turn to pick a recipe. We are enjoying a delicious vegetable lasagna that includes: zucchini, eggplant, spinach, and Kalamata olives. The lasagna has both a red sauce and a cream sauce.  The red sauce was made with crushed tomatoes, garlic, and basil. The cream sauce was made with cottage cheese, heavy cream, garlic, and parmesan cheese. We are looking forward to this new recipe.

Happy September!

Happy September to all. For our family September brings many new adventures and emotions. With both children gone to university, we are now officially “empty nesters”.  My husband and I decided that rather than wallow in sadness over the absence of our children, that we needed to distract ourselves with something positive. Since we both love to cook we decided to pick 2 cookbooks and cook our way through them.

Today we are enjoying a Chile-rubbed spatchcocked chicken. A spatchcocked chicken is when you take a whole chicken and flatten it out by cutting its backbone and sometimes it’s sternum. It makes the roasting time a lot shorter. The chicken will be served with an avocado buttermilk sauce. We will accompany the chicken with roasted Brussel sprouts & carrots and rice.

Today I share a quote by Confucius.