Cooking in the pan, there were mad rendered duck fat splatters everywhere
The finished product
The finished product up-close
We here at Aplace are nothing if not humble, so no "Aplace cooks" or "Aplace prepares", just a timid, grasping attempt at Ducketta. What's Ducketta, you ask, rightly? Ducketta is an adaptation of the classic Italian dish Porchetta — a big hunk of pork, stuffed with rosemary, garlic, and fennel and parmesan. Substitute a duck breast for a pork torso and, voilà, Ducketta. A dish that combines cheese, duck and garlic !!! My anticulinary instincts were overwhelmed by my appetite.
So how did it end up? Amazingly well, although considering the fact that duck breast is 40 percent fat, you really couldn't go wrong, flavour-wise.
Next time I would make sure to chop my spices more finely and add a little more salt. I'm not a big fan of adding salt to food but when I salted my portion I noticed that it really brought out the flavour of the other spices.
Final note: Because I am lame, I drank water with my duck, but I would suggest a nice Pinot Noir, if you are trying this recipe at home.
It's from a sushi restaurant I ate in, in New York. The only upsetting part of this photo is the Omelette sushi at the left of your screen. Blech. Egg! It upsets me so. Apart from breakfast, I feel eggs should be kept away from people. The mere thought of them as I type upsets me. What foods upset you?
I wish I could adequately blog about all the delicious meals I had in New York City, but it would be inappropriate for me to attempt to synthesize into paragraph form the culinary experiences I had in that city.
In Ottawa, a meal out usually involves a food court or some place our family has been going to for years and years. I've even been known to eagerly look forward to an East Side Mario's pitstop while window shopping at St-Laurent mall. In my natural habitat, a culinary adventurer I am not.
But drop me in a foreign city and suddenly I turn into a latter-day Ruth Reichl, dropping extravagant sums on embarassingly decadent meals. My inner cheapskate throws caution to the wind as I greedily peruse the offerings of the menu (and the wine list, the more esoteric the better).
Which brings us to Supper, the West Village Italian "enoteca" (er, that's restaurant in American) Katherine so kindly brought me to. It, like most of the other restaurants I ate at in New York, brought me immense joy. Having been to Italy this winter, I now consider myself an expert on Tuscan food and I have to say that the appetizers I had there were comparable to the food prepared by my sister's seventy-some-odd-year-old mother-in-law who has never even set foot outside of Italy.
Now I'm back to treating myself to a six-inch chicken teriyaki sub for lunch on Fridays, but my tastebuds will not likely forget their big city adventure.
I cooked dinner tonight. It was decent. I mean, I made it so it wasn't
delicious (not self-deprecation, just realism). I made Brie and spinach chicken from a recipe out of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food. Hate to cook but love that magazine. It's like Rachel Ray (love her too) but a tad more snobby. The fact is I worry about having children one day and needing to feed them and in those dark days I always think "I will just work out of my old Everyday Food magazine and the kiddies will not starve".
Anyways, with a little
more brie and a little less spinach, it would have been awesome. Also, there was no orzo at Loblaws so I subsituted spiral pasta. Here
is a side-by-side comparison of Martha's attempt and mine. Guess which is which. Lol. Recipe follows.
Set a large saucepan of salted water to boil. Heat broiler, with
rack set 4 inches from heat. Place chicken on a large rimmed baking
sheet lined with aluminum foil. Dividing evenly, spread one side of
each cutlet with mustard; top with spinach, then cheese. Season with
salt and pepper. Starting at short end, roll chicken up tightly, and
arrange, seam side down, on sheet.
Season rolled chicken with salt and pepper. Broil, without
turning, until tops are lightly browned and chicken is cooked through,
8 to 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook orzo in boiling water until al dente. Drain well;
return to pot. Add tomatoes, parsley, butter, and lemon juice. Season
with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Serve stuffed chicken with
This souffle (and the savoury leek souffle that preceded it down my gastrointestinal tract) had to be one of the five best things I've eaten in my life. Somehow, in the last 27 years I've managed to never eat a soufflé). I am grateful to Cafe Jacqueline (North Beach) for rectifying this.
Apart from Jacqueline's delicious soufflés, I recommend the cappucinos at Caffe Trieste, the antipasti at North Beach Restaurant , the ragout d'agneau at Chez Papa, the chicken tandoori at Naan 'n Curry and the Lobster ravioli at L'Ottavo.
I don't consider myself a foodie (what a blah term anyways) but I was surprised by how memorable each of my meals was on this trip. I was travelling with people I don't know so well, and talking about our meals and sharing the experience of good food really helped break the ice.
Obviously, eating gourmet meals every night is not really a possibility when my employer isn't subsidizing me but I am resolving to eat at good restaurants more often than just on someone's birthday. I tend to think that spending all that money was somewhat wasteful since the food disappears once you eat it, but I've come to realise that something more remains after a good meal than just empty plates.
But I wonder now, am I being terribly narrow-minded? Are people living in refugee camps, eating rations, somehow not able to attain certain levels of human experience by dint of not eating at the Bay Area's finest eateries? Obviously no. Gosh I have to rethink the entire thesis of this blog post.
On my list of 100 most boring kinds of people ever, "people who are into wine" are way up there. I don't know what it is. All the people I know who are into wine are usually complete blow-hards. I don't think there is a strong correlation between being a blow-hard and being into wine. I think it is just my bad luck. I actually am really keen on learning more about wine (and food). I want to develop my palette so as not to feel like a complete idiot in restaurants. I want to be able to tell a Gewurztraminer from a Sangiovese, y'know ?? (LOL, first two wines listed in my google search)
So for the past few months, I have been making effort: I've bookmarked the New York Times Dining and Wine section and I've been sticking different wine articles on the fridge with a magnet so that I can look at them often. I suppose at some point I will actually have to start buying some wine but I'm ramping up slowly. At some point, I'm going to have to walk into the LCBO without casting a sidelong glance over to the Smirnoff Ice aisle. Once, I have the whole wine thing down, I am going to get into cheese. I love cheese !
Yesterday, these were nothing but tired cliches to me. Today, they resonate in my mind for what they are: the wisdom of the ages. I swear. After consuming one quarter of my fudge wreath, I began cursing the fudge gods. Which would be bad enough. But despite the cursing, I soldiered on and managed to consume a full third of the fudge wreath. I did not fall asleep until 1:30 am. I could literally feel the sugar coursing through my veins, like a miniatiure army of gingerbread men marching in lockstep through my circulatory system.
I declared today a sugar-free day as I had to attend to my studies and have recovered somewhat. All I can say is, Wow, never again. I mean, I will definitely make and eat fudge again, just no more industrial quantities. Just a little heads-up for you all out there.
Apart from being a really lame swear word substitute, fudge is also a delicious sugary treat. So.... I made some !! Yes yours truly, I followed this recipe which is by Rachael Ray via Oprah. It's solidifying right now so I can't say if it's delicious (well, I sort of can, since I've been sneaking bites since I stuck it in the fridge.) I can't tell you how happy I feel to be "baking", feels v. grown-up and accomplished :)
Well, maybe this means I've gone off the deep end, but I have started to take flaxseed oil supplements. You can get more info here. It's a little nutty to take supplements, right? But, honestly, everything I've read about Omega-3 acids leads me to believe they are a bandwagon worth getting on. Only, I'm afraid this is the beginning of the end and pretty soon, I'll be hanging out at the health food store, having my chakra read, and changing my name to Windchime or something of that ilk...
In Margaret Atwood's novel, The Robber Bride, there is a character who works at an energy crystal shop who's real name is Karen, but who changed it to Charis along the way. She's a tragic figure in some ways, and I always think of her when I walk into a health food store, although I suppose there's quite a distance between crystals and supplements. In any event, as soon as I detect any change in my overall health and well-being, I'll report them here. Consider me your guinea pig.