Duck Confit

Duck confit in jar
Duck confit in jar

Duck confit may seem decadent, but the process doesn’t leave the meat fattier than it began.  You’re  going to have mere slivers of the meat, and you’re not going to drink the fat.

I won’t be serving an entire duck leg or wing for each person. The pieces will be deboned, and the meat will be used as an accent…almost as a seasoning to the dishes it’s used in. I truly do get 10 or more dishes from the two legs and wings of an 11lb duck.

Mind you, it was a very happy, exceptionally lean, free-range duck, from neighbours at Legacy Farm. There was little waste on this bird .

Because the duck used was truly free range, it was almost entirely without fat. Even after rendering the skin from the breasts, which was used for another purpose, there was only a small amount of fat, and there was none at all clinging to the bird.

With no duck fat for sale locally, butter was the only solution. It proved to be a delicious problem.

Crawdad Bisque

 Recipe and photographs by Gayle Hurmuses

This recipe is based on one that I originally had in Halifax, NS, at Cafe Chianti, in 2008, while in town for a conference. I happened to be there the first night and tried the lobster bisque, which took me back to the restaurant twice more during my 4 day stay.

Vegetables for bisque
Vegetables for bisque

It’s been a long time since I was there, so not sure if this is quite as good as the original, but it’s satisfying to me and regularly complimented.

Crawdads (or Crayfish)
Crawdads (or Crayfish)

I normally make this recipe with lobster, as per the original, but on the day that photos were shot, I was using crayfish, hence “crawdads” in the title.

 

 

 

 

 

Singapore Noodles

It’s neither a soup nor a stew, but it is a curry, and it’s one of those great dishes that simply feels good no matter what time of day you have it, but especially in the winter. It has long been one of my favourite takeout/delivery meals for a rainy/cold day and I love it as leftovers for breakfast on the weekends.

As with so many things that they are used in, the onions you choose can really make or break this dish. Be sure to use a nice flavourful Spanish onion for the best results.

 

Chocolate Mole Sauce

I’ve loved mole sauce since the first time I tried it, and the best I’ve ever tasted was in a cantina in Blaine, Washington, just across the border from Canada. My mom had taken me there for lunch and while it was a simple restaurant, the food was stellar. I have tried for years to reproduce that sauce and with this combination, believe that I have hit the jackpot. For my own most recent batch, I rendered the pork fat off of the rind of some double-smoked bacon, gaining particularly delicious results.

This recipe is designed to make a lot because it’s enough trouble to go to that I want lots on hand when I make it and delicious enough that I will use it up in a year’s time….and it makes a great gift.

French Onion Soup

French onion soup is a favourite for many, and simpler to make than most believe. As with all soups, the key is the right ingredients; a good stock, fresh onions and the right kind…not the cheapest by the bag onions, but big, juicy, sweet ones…Spanish onions, Vidalias, something with a full flavour.

Aside from any quantities given here, a good rule of thumb is one onion, 1.5 – 2 cups of stock , and a couple of teaspoons of port or sherry (I prefer port) per serving.

One personal favourite trick is that while the soup is simmering, I like to toss in a few parmesan rinds to add body and flavour. This is a nice trick with most soups, but especially good with French Onion, as it normally does get finished with cheese.

For a vegan stock ,Alison Cole recommends Better Than  Boullion. We are looking for a great recipe for one though.

Dead Easy Dills – Kosher Style

Kosher Dills
Kosher Dills

These are those crisp pickles that snap in your mouth. Crunchy because they are uncooked, making them the hands-down easiest pickles you can make.

You need a saucepan, cheesecloth, jars, or a crock, and the ingredients. Maybe a funnel if you’re using jars. It takes about 15 minutes top to bottom if you use ice cubes instead of cold water.

I have a thing for alliteration, so could not resist putting dill in the title, but fennel is a nice alternative.

Aging them for 2 days makes them what is called “half-sour”, aging for 4 or more days is called: “full sour”.

Note that the longer you age the pickles, the more yeast will form on the top. Try to skim it off, as this will affect the pickle taste. It’s perfectly safe though and a natural part of the kosher pickle.

If the yeast weirds you out, then stop aging the pickles at two days.

Perfect Pickles

PicklesCrpArticle, recipe, and photographs by Gayle Hurmuses

What makes a pickle perfect?

Whether your favourites are sour or sweet, tangy or salty, you want them to have a certain snap when bitten into.  We have a full list of crisp pickle tips to read and follow here.

Given that there are few things more disappointing than trying to bite into a pickle only to have it dissolve in your teeth, it’s worth taking the very few minutes to properly prepare for perfect plump and succulent satisfying pickles that snap.

In addition to these tips, make sure that all your ingredients are at the same hot temperature when you assemble the jars. Your boiling water bath should be properly hot, already at a rolling boil when you drop the jars into it and the jar contents should also be as hot as possible.

This is a cold pack recipe, so make sure that the brine solution is boiling at the ready to be added after the jars have been filled, and immediately before capping them.