Duck Duck (Food Shoot)

I love doing food shoots. The amazing Duo Catering created this DELICIOUS duck breast with panisse crouton, bloomsdale spinach and blood orange and sage demi glace. And of course it was styled by the incredible Kelly Oshiro of sbchic.com. One of the perks of shooting food is you get to EAT once you are done! Its awesome…. Enjoy!

Let’s get started:

Ingredients:

6 7-8 oz Duck Breasts (source from a reliable butcher or specialty market)

*****

2 cups Panisse (Garbanzo Flour) – Polenta is a good substitute

6 cups water or chicken stock

2 Tbl of chopped shallots

1 tsp of picked thyme leaves

*****

6-8 cups washed spinach (roughly 2 bunches)

2 cloves garlic (sliced)

Zest and juice of 1 small lemon

2 Tbl Olive Oil

2 tsp of Butter

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1 cup Veal or Duck Demiglace (homemade or sourced through a specialty grocer)

2 Tbl diced shallots

1 clove sliced garlic

6-8 Sage Leaves

½ cup of Blood Orange Juice (Pomegranate Juice would also work well)

Salt and Pepper to Taste

Serves 6.

Procedure for Panisse:

  1. Sauté shallots in 2 tbl of olive oil in a large saucepot until translucent (2 minutes).
  2. Add 6 cups of chicken stock (or water) to the saucepot and bring to a boil.
  3. Add Panisse and reduce heat to a simmer.
  4. Stir in the chopped thyme.
  5. Cook until Panisse is thickened and pulling away from the pan.
  6. Pour the mixture into an oiled baking pan and allow to cool.
  7. After cooling, cut the Panisse into 1×4 inch rectangles.

Preparing the duck:

  1. Score the skin of the duck breast. (Cut a crosshatch pattern into the skin of the duck taking care not to slice into the flesh of the duck).
  2. Heat a heavy bottom saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Season the duck with salt and pepper.
  4. Place the duck into the pan skin side down.
  5. Reduce heat to a medium low flame and cook until the skin has darkened to a rich brown color and has crisped somewhat (this may take 4-5 minutes).
  6. Flip the duck and continue to cook for 2 minutes more (be careful not to over cook the duck- you are aiming for medium rare).
  7. Remove the duck from the pan and allow to rest while you prepare the remainder of the dish.

Preparing the Duck Sauce:

  1. Immediately after removing the duck from the pan, reserve all but 2 tablespoons of the rendered duck fat (this will keep several weeks in your refrigerator).
  2. Add 2 Tbl diced shallots to the pan and sauté until translucent (1-2 minutes)
  3. Pour the blood orange juice to the pan (this is called deglazing) and reduce by half.
  4. Add the veal or duck stock (you could also use chicken stock in a pinch); add a garlic clove and the sage leaves.
  5. Simmer for a few minutes to allow the flavors to combine while you prepare the rest of the dish.

Cooking the Panisse:

  1. Heat 2 Tbl of olive oil in a pan until it shimmers in the pan (just before it reaches the smoke point).
  2. Place the Panisse croutons in the pan and cook until browned on all sides, remove from pan and set aside.

Wilting the spinach:

  1. In the same pan that you prepared the Panisse in, add an additional tablespoon of olive oil.
  2. Add the cleaned spinach and allow it to begin to wilt.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add the sliced garlic and Lemon.
  5. Finish with 2 tsp of butter (optional)

To Complete:

  1. Slice the duck breasts into 5-6 slices on a bias.
  2. Place two Panisse croutons in the center of each plate.
  3. Top with drained spinach (draining on a paper towel prevents the spinach liquid from running across your plate- ruining your presentation).
  4. Arrange your duck breasts over the spinach in a fanlike pattern.
  5. Spoon 2 Tbl of sauce over each breast (about midway up).
  6. Enjoy with your favorite bottle of wine.

Fettuccine with Homemade Marinara and Buffalo Mozzarella

This pasta is so freaking good. O.M.G. I’m writing this at 8:42 in the morning and now I’m hungry for this dish. The marinara is from scratch but don’t be fooled, its not difficult to make. Instead of buying a jar of pasta sauce, just walk across the isle and grab a can of crushed tomatoes instead. Get a log of goat cheese (or you can use cream cheese) and as long as you have some staples in your cupboard you should be pretty much covered. And I don’t know why but there is something soooooo good about having a few slices of buffalo mozzarella on top drizzled with olive oil and some cracked sea salt and pepper. My husband isn’t usually a big fan of marinara in pasta but he really loves this recipe. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

¾ lbs fettuccine

2 tbs olive oil

2 garlic cloves minced

1 24 oz can crushed tomatoes

¼ cup red wine

1 tbs sugar

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

1 tsp dried oregano

2 tbs tomato paste

2 oz herbed goat cheese

8 oz buffalo mozzarella ball

fresh basil (optional)

Directions:

Boil a large pot of water. Drizzle some olive oil and salt in the water before adding the fettuccine. While the pasta is cooking make sauce.

Heat a pan to medium high and add 2 tbs olive oil. Add minced garlic and sauté until fragrant about a minute. Add crushed tomatoes & tomato paste. Add wine, sugar, cayenne pepper, salt & pepper and oregano. (Crush oregano between your palms to release the oils before adding).  Simmer for 5 minutes and then add goat cheese. Let the goat cheese melt and mix it into the sauce completely. Taste and correct seasoning.

Drain pasta and immediately add pasta into the sauté pan and toss in marinara. Once combined transfer to individual plates or a platter and put slices of the mozzarella on top. Crack some sea salt & pepper and drizzle a little more olive oil on top. Garnish with fresh basil if desired. Enjoy!

I can’t remember the last time I was this grumpy…. (WARNING: This post contains topics of a feminine nature)

Okay its time to vent. My blog might seem all sunshine and rainbows but my day to day struggles often times go unpublished. And now my perfect storm of grumpiness has fallen upon me and I’m documenting it. It all started with a diaper rash….

So Georgiana has this diaper rash that just wasn’t going away. At first it was like any other rash that didn’t seem to bother her too much. We put on all the creams and prescription stuff we had but it didn’t seem to get any better. And then it got so bad that she was in a ton of pain and basically just screamed and clawed at my face for two days straight. I took her into the doctor and it was determined she has strep. (For those of you who don’t know (I didn’t) you can get strep in your bottom.) So the last couple days she’s literally be writhing in pain and climbing all over me crying and screaming. And when we have to put on her medicine its like the world has ended. Okay, so that would be tough on any Mom, right? We’ll add to that your heaviest day of your period. (Sorry male readers). I have the worst periods and have even blacked out and hit my head once when it was really awful. So I’m in a daze all day from my period and from the baby and have to go to the store to get her prescription. When I get home I realize I have  blood stains on my pants even though I was using a heavy flow tampon and wearing a pad.  I don’t think anyone saw them but still. Then I stepped on a piece of glass….

My husband keeps on giving me pieces of advice that make me feel a rush of rage. I know its just my PMSing thats making me crazy but does he think think its really necessary to lecture me on draining the bath tub right away after I’ve been giving our screaming baby a bath and dealing with her madness all day!!!?? Or why is necessary for him to mention that our car might be on the brink of breaking down right in this moment of time?  I gently told him very calmly to please stop giving me advice and to make an effort to not mention things unless absolutely necessary. I think my brain is broken…I think he thinks so too…

Have you ever had a day where literally every human interaction bothers you? Perfectly nice people who are well meaning are driving me crazy. I love my husband with all my heart and he is so extremely patient with me. And yet I can’t seem to be nice no matter how hard I try. Its like I’m trying to catching him saying something I don’t like so I can pounce on it. He’s a saint to deal with me right now.

I’ve always said when I’m on my period I feel like I’m possessed. This time I might actually be true. The end.

Blurry Nature…Blurry Life

This is a view I see often as we travel down the coast to visit my Mom and Dad in Thousand Oaks, CA. This is also how I feel like my life is right now….Everything is whizzing by so fast its hard for me to stop and see all the details. My precious baby girl is growing so fast and I haven’t figured out a way to make the time slow down. But the view still ain’t bad….. 😉

Grilled Peach and Haricot Vert Salad (Food Shoot)

Another fun photo shoot was just posted on the fabulous SB Chic! I had an amazing time capturing this delicious salad made by the talented Duo Catering and styled by the perfection of Kelly Oshiro. What is more delicious than a grilled peach? I’ll tell you…a grilled peach with brown sugar and paired with haricot vert salad! My husband was drooling when he saw these pictures and was immediately asking me when I was going to make this for him.

Sprinkled with brown sugar, tarragon, and then grilled, the peaches get even sweeter.

Paired with blanched haricot vert (green beans) this salad is a light and refreshing treat. Here’s how you can make it yourself:

Ingredients:

-2 Pounds Haricots Vert (may substitute blue lake beans, wax beans, etc.)

-3 each Peaches (Halved and Pitted)

-4 oz Red Rose Radish Sprouts (available at your local farmers market or specialty grocer)

-4 oz Chevre (Feta is a good substitute)

-¼ Preserved Lemon Rind (Salt Cured Lemon) – Rinsed and Minced

-3 Tbl. Plus 2 Tsp. Olive Oil

-½ tsp chopped tarragon

1 Tsp Maldon Sea Salt

Juice of ½ Lemon

2 Tbl Brown Sugar or Honey

Procedure:

  1. Clean Green Beans
  2. Blanch in a large pot of salted boiling water  until tender – roughly 1 minute (it should taste like the sea and maintain it’s boil when the beans are submerged)
  3. Remove beans from blanching water and submerge immediately in ice water, drain and set aside while you gather remaining ingredients.
  4. Combine 2tsp olive oil with brown sugar and brush peaches, allow to marinate while you heat a pan or grill (a cast iron grill pan works well for this purpose)
  5. Grill peaches until sugar has caramelized and the peach has softened somewhat
  6. Sprinkle with tarragon
  7. Toss Green Beans and Sprouts with remaining olive oil, Preserved Lemon and lemon juice.
  8. Divide between 6 plates, top with grilled peach, crumbled chevre and sea salt
  9. Enjoy! Serves 6.

 

Catering: Duo Events
Photographer: Me! (Anna Costa)

Roasted Corn, Bacon and Jalapeno Salad

There is a hilarious story that goes with this recipe. So we had some friends over for dinner and the husband was raving over the salad. He turned to his wife and said, “Honey, you should make this sometime!” and the wife (whose feelings were visibly hurt because she felt he was implying she wasn’t a good cook) replied huffily, “Its just corn!”  The husband promptly answered, “But it has bacon in it!” And then of course there was a 10 minute back pedaling conversation that proceeded where I tried to smooth it over by saying he was just trying to be polite to the hostess etc etc. It was a pretty classic “open mouth insert foot moment.” But this is a pretty delicious salad and its perfect for many occasions such as a picnic. bbq, side dish or just on its own. Make it for your next dinner party but be aware it might incite some heated table conversation!

Ingredients:

8 Ears of Corn Husks on

⅓ cup diced jalapeño (no seeds)

⅓ cup finely chopped chives

4 strips cooked thick applewood smoke bacon chopped

Vinaigrette:

1 tbs dijon mustard

¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 ½ tsp salt

¾ tsp ground pepper

½ cup olive oil

Turn gas grill to medium high and place corn with the husk onto the grill. Cook for approximately 10 minutes and then turn. Grill for long enough so the corn kernels get some nice roasted color. (If you don’t have a grill, you can boil or bake your corn instead)

In the meantime mix together the vinaigrette ingredients and set aside.

Cut corn off the cobb and place corn in a large mixing bowl. Add jalapeños, chives and bacon. Drizzle vinaigrette on top and mix thoroughly. Serve!

Fondant – Step by Step!

Fondant was a challenge for me the first time I tried using it. It was ripping and tearing and looked like an absolute disaster. I was in cake decorating class at the adult school and this one student who was more experienced then me basically had to help me fix it by covering up the WHOLE cake with little decorations and strips of additional fondant. It was a MESS! I basically swore off fondant but then decided I wasn’t going to let something as silly as fondant get me down. So I had my friend Erika walk me through the process one on one and it really made all the difference. Below are the step by step photos of how to make this 3 tiered fondant princess cake!

Two things I learned this morning… (egg’s benedict)

I had a hankering for some eggs benedict this morning. I had all the ingredients so I started cracking with a poached egg (pun intended). 😉 Now, I’ve poached eggs before but never that often and usually not that successfully. And then I found this simple recipe which suggested using a mason jar ring top to sort of guide the egg so it doesn’t spread in the water and get all yucky. It worked! It came out beautifully. Then for the hollandaise. This has been something that I’ve wanted to do but for some reason had one of the brain road blocks that made me think it would be hard. It probably is hard if you try to do it by hand but I found this great recipe that just requires adding ingredients to a blender. Voila! BTW the directions below seem lengthy. Its actually SUPER easy so just read through everything once and you’ll get it. Brunch at home just got better!

Below are the step by step instructions:

Eggs Benedict Recipe

Ingredients:

4 fresh eggs

rice vinegar (optional)

mason jar ring (optional)

2 english muffins

1/4 lbs thick sliced ham

Hollandaise (recipe follows)

Fresh eggs will be easier to poach (they’ll hold together better) than older eggs. Vinegar is optional, it will help the eggs hold together, but if you don’t like the taste, omit.

METHOD

1 First bring water in a saucepan to almost boiling. If the water is already boiling, lower the heat until it is no longer boiling. At this point, you can add one or two teaspoons of vinegar to the water, if you want. The vinegar will help the egg whites to congeal more easily. We use seasoned rice vinegar.

poached-eggs-1.jpg poached-eggs-2.jpg

2 Working with the eggs one by one, crack an egg into a small cup, then place the cup near the surface of the hot water and gently drop the egg into the water. With a spoon, nudge the eggwhites closer to their yolks. This will help the egg whites hold together.

poached-eggs-3.jpg poached-eggs-4.jpg

3 Turn off the heat. Cover. Let sit for 4 minutes, until the egg whites are cooked.

4 Lift eggs out of pan with a slotted spoon.

One trick to make the eggs stay somewhat contained is to take a ring from a mason jar and place it in the pan. Drop the egg over the mason jar ring and let it settle in the ring, then turn off the heat and cover.

poached-egg-1.jpg poached-egg-2.jpg

Hollandaise Sauce:

Put the egg yolk, lemon juice, and cayenne in a blender. Pulse a couple times to combine.

Put the butter in a small microwave proof bowl and heat in a microwave until just melted. With the blender running, gradually add the melted butter into the egg to make a smooth frothy sauce. If the sauce is really thick blend in a teaspoon of lukewarm water to loosen it up. Season with the salt and serve immediately or keep warm in a small heat-proof bowl set over hot (but not simmering) water until ready to serve.

Assembly:
Toast english muffins and set aside. Place thick sliced ham on top of each english muffin half. Top the ham with the poached egg and pour the hollandaise on top. Enjoy!

Pasta Puttanesca with Buffalo Mozzarella

The first time I had this dish was at my sister-in-law Jen’s house. I had never tried anything like it and was pleasantly surprised to find that capers and olives were great in pasta.  I love the bite that you get from anything pickled… I added a little twist to this recipe by putting in some buffalo mozzarella balls at the end. I feel like this gives the dish that little creaminess without it taking away from the essence of what a puttanesca is. This is a great recipe to have as an emergency dinner because you can have most the ingredients sitting on your pantry shelves. Even if you omit the mozzarella its still great. 😉 Enjoy!

Recipe:

3/4 lbs spaghetti

2 cloves garlic minced

2 tbs olive oil

16 oz jar good past sauce such as Rao’s

1/4 cup capers

1/2 cup sliced green olives pitted

red pepper flakes to taste

1/4 cup fresh shredded parmesan

16 oz buffalo mozzarella balls drained

Directions:

Boil a large pot of water and add pasta.

While the pasta is boiling, heat olive oil in a sauté pan and add garlic. Cook for about a minute until fragrant. Add pasta sauce and stir until simmering. Add capers and olives. Add red pepper a little at a time to determine how much spice you like.  Drain pasta and add to sauce. (Add the pasta to the sauce little by little to be sure the ratio of pasta to sauce isn’t too much or too little.) Once pasta is combined with sauce thoroughly, fold in buffalo mozzarella gently. Top with parmesan and serve. Enjoy!