Monday, January 26, 2009

Movie Night Date Night

The other night Valerie and I decided to have some alone time. In other words we laid low and enjoyed each other’s company quietly. We did some reading and then cooked a little meal for the two of us before settling down to watch a film. One of my favorite things is to go the farmer’s market or gourmet grocer and just wing it when creating a menu. I enjoy taking in all the ingredients and thinking what would go together or what I feel like eating.Valerie loves duck and the gourmet grocer near my apartment only carries it once in a blue moon. Duck is one of the wunderkind meats of the volaille or fowl world though I rarely cook it at home. They happened to have it at the butcher so I threw a domestic Muscovy duck breast into the cart with a few fruits and vegetables before hitting the stove. 

There are few pleasures in life as unrefined as pinching the hot sides of a potato until the fluffy white flesh volcanoes out into a starchy mess. The steamy potato just begs for fatty indulgence and it is such a joy to lather the tuber in butter, sour cream, cheese, bacon, and scallions. Needless to say this baked potato formula can get a little out of hand. To lighten things up I took a cup of nonfat Greek yogurt and kicked it up with paprika, black pepper, olive oil, sliced scallions, chives, and parsley before filling the cavity of each potato. This is a delicious low cal alternative to the butter, sour cream, and green onion mess people pile on their baked spuds. I also roasted some cippolini onions to serve alongside the duck breast. Just lightly coat the peeled whole onions with olive oil and salt before roasting them in a 350-degree oven until browned and tender throughout (30 min). I seared the duck breast in a very hot cast iron skin side down to render some of the thick fat and roasted it in the oven next to the onions for about 12 minutes until medium rare. People in the US cook the hell out of duck leaving it chewy, bland, and an ugly grayish color. When cooked rare duck remains wonderfully moist and tender with a gamey flavor running throughout coupled with a beautiful rust color. The duck, baked potatoes, and roasted onions came together perfectly; a filling meal for the two of us.

Of course no dinner with Valerie is complete without a fresh baked pie as she continues to perfect her crust and experiment with fillings. This evening’s pie was apricot-blueberry with a slightly salty though delicate crust. She puts very little sugar in her pie fillings and only uses butter, flour, and salt in her crust. The filling consisted of fresh blueberries, unfortunately imported from Chile, and canned organic apricots in pear juice which added a juicy element to the pie thickened with a tablespoon of tapioca. The pie was one of the best yet and we had leftovers for days. Overall it was a perfectly quiet evening at home. As always, I encourage you to enjoy and share delicious food and home cooked meals with yourself and others!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great idea for a creamy yet not too caloric potato topping. I`m definitely going to try it. Thanx.