Sunday, February 28, 2010

Carrot & Pineapple Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting -- Thanks to Ina Garten

Along with yesterday's Fresh Direct delivery came a free Peak Produce item --- a pineapple!
I'm not much for eating pineapple cut up and am really not a fan of pineapple juice, so I figured I should bake it into a dessert for my dinner guests tonight and tomorrow. I wasn't keen on the idea of a pineapple upside-down cake so I searched for desserts with pineapple on the Food Network website. I discovered a wonderful recipe for Ina Garten's Carrot and Pineapple Cake. The recipe seemed easy enough and the photo of the finished cake looked elegant and mouth-watering, so I deemed this to be an excellent use of my peak produce! I went to the store to get the additional ingredients I needed as well as cake pans (it is a true crime I do not have layer cake pans of my own-- hi mom!). There were no 8" round cake pans, as the recipe called for, so I opted for 8" x 8" square pans which worked out great and make for a fun shape.
The cake came out lusciously moist and also crunchy, these textures with that of the silken cream cheese frosting made for a surprisingly welcome dessert.
Josh with the cake we enjoyed after our dinner of Chicken Pot Pies-- his favorite!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Winter Animals -- le canard

After a third of a year craving duck since having a crispy duck at a Thai restaurant in Massachusetts I FINALLY cooked my own and satiated both my desire for the taste of duck and the pleasure of cooking it for myself.
I have been browsing the duck at the meat counter in any grocery store I've been in with little success-- no duck, not even in Whole Foods. I checked online before placing my last Fresh Direct order and saw some too pricey duck breasts. Fortune struck this week when Long Island duck breasts were on the President's Picks list! I ordered them last night and received a beautiful fresh duck breast that I could not wait to cook!
Duck, or "le canard" (en francais), as some of you may know is a meat that must be cooked with
special consideration due to the very thick fat under the skin of the duck. Each section of the duck has a thick layer of fat which keeps them warm in the cold weather and water they spend half or more of their year in. The fat must be rendered before it can become properly delectable. Rendering can be done by pan frying, deep frying, or roasting in a pan upon a rack. I chose pan searing. To the right is a photo of the fat rendered from pan frying alone-- before cooking in the oven.
I slit the fat then salt and peppered the breast.
Prepping the meat
In a hot frying pan, oil-free, I seared the breast fat side down until golden.
Pan Searing
Before hitting the oven
The breast was finished in a 400* oven for about 12 minutes, fat side up.
Finished product-- wonderfully tender crispy duck!
Delicious! I served myself this scrumptious successful feat with smashed red potatoes mixed with garlic & herb Laughing Cow cheese with butter, s&p and a side of cut (frozen) green beans.
My Meal
A thoroughly delightful Saturday evening meal; too bad Thoreau was mostly vegetarian!!

back in the apron....

After my month long hiatus from the kitchen I am back! just got my fresh direct delivery this morning and am enjoying a deliciously fresh lunch of caprese salad. good dinner plans coming for the next couple nights and maybe a cake.....