Cooking with Lady Smokey: Welcome 2014

southern cooking new years day

We have two new cookbooks that Grant’s sister Leslie sent us. As we welcome the new year, we can’t wait to dive in and start trying some of these exciting new recipes from both of these. One that I have had my eye on is the new book by Deborah Madison, Vegetable Literacy, and the other is Edward Lee’s Smoke & Pickles which I had not yet heard of but I have had his restaurant in Louisville on my list of places to go for quite some time. Leslie especially thought Smoke & Pickles would appeal to us after hearing about our Korean Thanksgiving. And speaking of new recipes, I am also excited that I was greeted with the newest edition of Saveur (as they celebrate 20 years!) as I went to the mailbox this afternoon.

One Christmas many years ago, my sister gave us a subscription to Saveur magazine. We have amassed quite a collection of them over the years. We have several piles all over our house. Most of them have little slips of paper coming out the top where we have marked recipes to try one day. One of my most relaxing rainy day activities is to sit down on the sofa with some good music on and just go through all those old magazines. It is one of those magazines you can never throw away as their stories about food are so interesting and the recipes timeless.

Mostly, I just get inspired by all the stories and recipes but from time to time, we decide to follow one of their recipes which is quite a task for us as we rarely actually follow a recipe without making changes or substitutions. This recipe below is one we tackled for our Christmas dinner. We had never cooked duck before so we carefully followed the instructions, making only a few changes (such as substituting tamari and mirin for the specific sweet soy sauce they recommended).

Crispy Duck with Glazed Carrots
Serves 4
• 2 lb. small Carrots, peeled (If you have to use large carrots, quarter them lengthwise.)
• 3 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
• 2 tsp Cane Sugar
• 1 (1″) piece fresh Ginger, peeled and grated
• Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper, to taste
• Zest and Juice of 2 Limes
• 4 boneless skin-on Duck Breasts*, skin scored in a crosshatch pattern
• 2 tsp Chinese Five-Spice Powder
• 1 ½ Tbsp Tamari
• 1 ½ Tbsp Mirin
• 1 Tbsp Honey

* The only duck breasts we could find at the time were large so we only used one and our servings were pretty small since we served it over wild rice with a couple side dishes. So, using one large one with sides was enough for 4 servings.

To prepare the Carrots:
Place carrots, butter, sugar, ginger, salt, pepper, and ½ cup water in a 12″ skillet. Place a piece of parchment paper cut to the size of skillet over carrots; bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook until carrots are tender, 12–15 minutes. Uncover; cook until liquid is reduced to a thick glaze, 1–2 minutes. Stir in half the lime zest and juice; keep warm.

To prepare the Duck:
Season flesh side of duck with Chinese five-spice, salt, and pepper. Place duck skin side down in a 12″ skillet; heat over medium-high heat. Cook, without flipping, until fat is rendered and skin is crisp, 5–6 minutes. Flip duck; cook until browned and to desired doneness, about 3 minutes for medium rare or until an instant-read thermometer Inserted into the thickest part of the duck reads 130°. Transfer duck to a cutting board; let rest 10 minutes before thinly slicing on an angle. Bring remaining lime zest and juice, plus kecap manis and honey to a simmer in a 1-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat; cook, stirring, until honey is dissolved, 1–2 minutes. To serve, divide duck breasts and carrots among 4 plates; drizzle with sauce.

Grant came up with this brilliant Roasted Brussels Sprout recipe to accompany the duck and carrots. We also enjoyed some Lundberg Wild Rice Blend as a bed for the sliced duck.

Asian Roasted Brussels Sprouts
20-25 Small Brussels Sprouts, washed and quartered
• 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
• 1 Tbsp Tamari
• 1 pinch of ground White Pepper
• 3 Tbsp finely chopped Roasted Salted Virginia Peanuts

Preheat oven to 375. Mix Brussels sprouts and olive oil in an oven proof baking dish. Roast until Brussels sprouts are golden brown and tender (approximately 30-35 minutes). Remove from oven. Sprinkle tamari and white pepper over sprouts and mix well. Place in a shallow serving dish and sprinkle the chopped peanuts over top.

Here’s the completed meal, as we enjoyed it.

Grant’s wine pairing which was delicious.

And since there were only two of us and we had enough food for four, the next day we chopped up all the leftovers and made a supper yummy fancy fried rice!

It was my hope to offer some delicious herbal cocktail ideas to you for ringing in the new year. Sadly, I came to the realization that just because I can make a variety of simple syrups and enjoy a good cocktail doesn’t mean I am a bartender. I need lots of practice before I can share my ideas. However, I can offer up one good suggestion. The other day Grant brought home a bottle of St. Germain which we have found to be quite delicious mixed with Champagne. So, if you happen to have some leftover Champagne on Thursday morning, enjoy a nice cocktail while you prepare your New Year’s Day lucky collards & black eyed peas.

I’ll close with this yummy shortbread recipe we’ve been enjoying all week. It is actually a Martha Stewart recipe that I found several people had posted online as being a favorite. These little gems go quite nicely with a little nip of Bourbon.

Apricot Shortbread
• 2 sticks Unsalted Butter, room temperature
• ¾ cup sifted Confectioners’ Sugar
• 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
• 2 cups sifted All-Purpose Flour
• ½ tsp Sea Salt
• ½ cup finely chopped Dried Apricots

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, flour, and salt in large mixing bowl. Mix well with your hands. Add dried apricots. Form dough into a couple logs with about a 1” diameter and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator 1 hour. Slice dough about ¼” thick and place on prepared baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Bake until golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool.

And, I’ll close with a little video of our friends (and a band Grant has had so much fun playing with the last few months), Off The Wagon, doing their version of Auld Lang Syne which was recorded at a Music City Roots show last December. I just love their version. It is so great done in a bluegrass style. Enjoy and Happy New Year!