Category Archives: mains

More Ducky Treats … Shredded Duck Tortilla Stack and Duck Crackling Croutons

If you’re on a tight food budget, minimizing waste is important. The dishes below are re-imaginings or by-products of previous dishes.

I occasionally bake sourdough breads but, in the meantime, I store the sourdough starter in my fridge. It’s fed only once a week the minimal amounts to keep it going. Nevertheless, it DOES accumulate so, every 6-8 weeks, I make a batch of flour tortillas, leaving only enough starter behind to keep the culture going. The tortillas freeze well and make great wraps for sandwiches and crusts for individual pizzas. And you can flavour them with various dried herbs, pureed spinach, finely minced sun-dried tomatoes and pastes like pesto, tomato paste, chipotle in adobo and even, cocoa powder.

I happened to run across the last of a tub of gochujang (Korean chili paste) in my fridge recently so I added two rounded teaspoons to a batch of the tortilla dough for a mild spicy flavor and pretty orange colour.

Gochujang Sourdough Flour Tortillas

 

My duck ragu was delicious but I wondered if I could use it in another interesting way, similar to the way I used pulled pork, combined with barbecue sauce, as a topping for flour tortilla pizzas. But I didn’t WANT pizzas. A Mexican tortilla stack came to mind even though tostadas or corn tortillas are usually used for that. I ended up with something that was delicious and let me clear out more items from the fridge (an avocado that was past its prime) and a scant cup of home made refried beans from the freezer. Monterey Jack cheese, recently bought on sale, was shredded and added to the creation. The rest of the cheese, ungrated, was bagged, labelled and dated,  and tossed in the freezer.

Shredded Duck Tortilla Stack with Salsa Rice

Shredded Duck Tortilla Stack – serves 2 or 3

3 7-8 inch diameter flour tortillas (bought or home made, regular or sourdough)
1/4 cup shredded duck ragu
1 cup refried beans
1/4 -1/3 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
2 tbsp sour cream
diced avocado and green onion sliced on the diagonal, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line a pie dish with a sheet of aluminum foil large enough to wrap around your tortilla stack.

Spread half of the refried beans on two of the flour tortillas, spread one tablespoon of sour cream over each stack and then top with half of the duck ragu. Sprinkle a tablespoon or so of grated Monterey Jack cheese over the top.

Place one of the stacks in the prepared pie dish and then place the other stack on top of the first. Top with the last flour tortilla and wrap the aluminum foil around the stack. Bake in the oven for half an hour.

Take the pie dish out of the oven, unwrap and top the tortilla stack with the rest of the grated cheese. Return to the oven and bake uncovered until the cheese melts and is bubbly.

Remove from the oven, cut into desired serving portions, top with the diced avocado and sliced green onions and serve with Mexican rice and salad for a complete meal.

Duck Crackling Croutons

When I made the duck ragu, I removed the thick, fatty skin from the breast, and wrapped it up and then refrigerated it. Since I had the oven on today, I cut the skin into strips about 1 1/2 inches wide, made shallow cross-hatched cuts across the surface of the skin for easy drainage of the rendered fat, and placed the strips of skin on a baking dish. Then I put them in the oven (350 deg F) along with my tortilla stack. Periodically, I drained off the melted fat and, when the strips were nice and crunchy, I removed the baking dish from the oven and let the duck crackling strips cool. Then I diced them and sprinkled them on a Caesar salad in place of croutons.

Caesar Salad with Duck Crackling Croutons

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Fast and Easy Duck Breast Ragu

By using leftover duck breast, from a duck roasted back in February, I cut down on some of the cooking and preparation time for this dish. And it ended up being a very economical meal, as one large duck breast made enough ragu for three servings.

Duck Breast Ragu

Duck Breast Ragu – serves 3

300 gm dried fettuccine or spaghetti, cooked according to package directions

NOTE: For a low/no-carb version, substitute well drained/squeezed spaghetti squash, zucchini noodles or cauli-rice for the pasta.

1 tbsp unsalted butter or olive oil
1 large leftover duck breast
1/2 cup (1 medium) onion, finely diced
1/2 cup (1 medium) carrot, finely diced
1/2 cup (1 stalk) celery, finely diced
1 cup crushed tomatoes*
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
1 dried bay leaf
1-2 fresh sage leaves, or 1 large dried sage leaf
1 cup chicken stock
1 tsp apple cider vinegar**
2-3 cups of water, divided
salt and pepper to taste
~1 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish

* About a cup of tomato products may be used in the ragu. ie. 2 large fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced or 1 1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes with liquid, 1 cup marinara sauce or 1 cup of crushed tomatoes. For an extra hit of tomato, add a tablespoon of tomato paste as well.

** In place of 1/4 cup of white wine, I added the apple cider vinegar to the chicken stock

If your duck breast was frozen on the bone, remove it and cut the breast in half horizontally, to minimize the thickness of the breast, and reduce cooking time.

In a large saute pan, over medium-high heat, melt the butter and saute the onion, carrot, celery and garlic until the vegetables are softened and the onion is transparent. Add the crushed tomatoes (start with the tomato paste first, if using, and cook a couple of minutes to bring out the maximum flavour) and then add the chicken stock and apple cider vinegar scraping the bottom to free up any bits stuck to the pan.

Add the dried bay leaf, the sage leaves and the duck meat, including the bones that the breast was attached to for extra flavour.

 

Add another cup of water, or as much as is needed to cover the meat. Add about 1/4 tsp of salt and 1/8 tsp of ground black pepper. The amount of salt added depends on how salty your chicken stock was. Remember, the liquid will reduce so go easy on the salt. Bring the contents to a boil, cover and then reduce the heat so that the ragu mixture is just simmering. Simmer for one hour, checking after half an hour and then every 15 minutes to make sure that there’s still some liquid left. Stir to prevent sticking as the contents reduce. Add more water if need.

After one hour, test to see if the meat is tender enough to be shredded. If it is, remove to a shallow bowl, shred, and then return the meat to the saute pan. Discard the bones. (If there was any meat left on the breast bone and ribs, pick them off and return to the saute pan … or eat it. It’s the cook’s treat.) If not, simmer for another 10-15 min and check again, adding more water if needed.

NOTE: Bring a pot of water to the boil, season with a generous tablespoon of salt and cook your pasta, until it still has a bit of a bite to it (al dente). Drain, rinse with cold water, return to the pasta pot and cover.

Continue cooking the ragu, with the lid off, until it’s as thick as you like. Taste for salt and pepper level.

Add the reserved cooked pasta to the ragu, stir through and serve.

Garnish with a teaspoon of grated Parmesan cheese.

Italian Easter Ham Pie

This Italian Easter ‘pie’ has many names and several variations as to crust and fillings. This is the version that I decided to make, but if you want to look for others, here are some names to look for:  Italian Easter Ham pie, pizzagaina (or chiena,chena,cena), pizza rustica, pizza ripiena, pizza piena.

Italian Easter Ham Pie for Two – makes 2 4-inch diameter mini deep dish pies

pastry for a pie crust bottom only

140 gm dry curd cheese or cottage cheese or ricotta**
40-50 gm grated Mozzarella cheese
1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten, 1 tbsp removed for egg wash
1/2 tsp dry parsley
1/8 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
6-8 slices diced deli meat (pepperoni, Genoa salami, capocollo or smoked ham)

Egg wash – 1 tbsp beaten egg and a splash of cream or milk

** Home made paneer cheese (an Indian dry curd cheese) was used. I got 290 gm (10.44 oz) of drained cheese from 2 liters (8 cups) of milk and 1/4 cups of white vinegar.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Roll out two bases (8 inches in diameter) and two tops (5 inches in diameter) and line two deep dish disposable aluminum pie tins with the bases. Set aside the tops.

Mix together the filling ingredients and fill the pie tins. Press down a bit on the filling to compact it.

Moisten the edges of the bases, put on the tops, seal and, with the tines of a fork, seal again. Place the pie tins on a baking sheet for convenient transfer to the oven.

Brush the top of the pies with the egg wash and bake for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden brown.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer the two pie tins to a cooling rack. Cool for 30 minutes to set the filling.

The pies may be eaten warm, room temperature or cold with a salad for a complete meal or on their own for a snack.

Chicken Cordon Bleu (“Blue Ribbon” Chicken)

An old style ‘fancy’ dish which is actually very simple to assemble ahead of time and then finish off by crumbing and baking.

I’ve seen it napped with a white sauce or gravy but the honey mustard sauce that the blogger at “Lemon and Mocha” used is a perfect accompaniment to cut through the bland richness of the chicken and cheese. The chicken roll is baked rather than fried making it more diet-friendly.

Chicken Cordon Bleu

Chicken Cordon Bleu – serves 2

2 chicken cutlets, pounded to about 1/16 of an inch
2 slices of deli Black Forest ham
2 slices of provolone cheese (Swiss, Edam or even Havarti would work too)
salt and pepper

Crumb coating ingredients:

In 3 separate shallow pans (pie pans work), assemble the following.

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 egg, whisked together with 1 tsp cold water
1/2 cup seasoned Italian bread crumbs (or toasted Panko bread crumbs)

Pound the chicken cutlets carefully between two sheet of plastic wrap or parchment paper, to minimized the mess. Be careful not to make holes in the chicken.

Preheat the oven to 375 deg Fahrenheit.

Season the chicken cutlets on both sides with salt and pepper. Place one cutlet at a time on your work surface and cover with one slice of the ham and then a slice of the cheese. Roll up (narrow or wide end of the cutlet, it doesn’t really matter) the chicken and use a toothpick to ‘pin’ the roll up. NOTE: You can cover and refrigerate the rolls at this point if making ahead.

Dip one roll at a time into the flour, coating it evenly. Shake off the excess. Dip the floured roll into the beaten egg, allowing the excess to drip off. Dip the roll into the bread crumbs, shaking off the excess. Place on your baking sheet. (I just placed one of the sheets of parchment paper I had used to pound out the chicken on a pie plate and then threw the paper away after baking.)

Bake for 30 minutes or until the breast is firm but still has a bit of bounce to it when pressed down with a finger. If the top isn’t as golden brown as you’d like, turn on the broiler to high and bake for 2-2 1/2 minutes until the crumb coating is as dark as you’d like. There may be some darker areas but as long as it’s not burned, it’s fine.

Honey-Mustard Sauce

Honey-Mustard Sauce – makes a couple of tablespoons, enough to dress 2 chicken rolls

1 tbsp mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
1/2 tbsp honey
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon or French’s mustard

Whisk together in a small bowl until smooth and creamy. Spoon over the hot chicken roll.

NOTE: This would be great as a dip for chicken tenders/fingers or as a salad dressing over fresh greens.

Cheese Spaetzle

Sometimes I run across recipes posted in the blogs I subscribe to that I have to make ASAP because they look and sound amazing.

Like this Cheese Spaetzle from Masala Herb.

I only had about a cup of leftover spaetzle/nokedli in the freezer, so I had to estimate the amount of cheese (old/sharp cheddar) that I used and cut up the smallest onion I found in my mesh bag of onions. I used real butter, rather than margarine, to cook the onion, as the recipe recommended, and tried to slice the rings as evenly as possible so that they would cook at the same rate. As the thinner rings caramelized, I removed them from the frying pan to try to avoid any burning. (Well, I tried.)

It took less than a minute under the broiler to melt the cheese … and then I dug in.

I had intended to leave half of the dish for the next day but ended up finishing the pan cause it was just THAT good.

Creamy Avocado Pasta and a Quick Asparagus Spaghetti Carbonara

Cooking for one can be a chore, but these two pasta dishes need few ingredients, and can be made at the end of a tiring work day. In fact, waiting for the water to boil takes longer than actually cooking/assembling the dish. You can use leftover pasta warmed in very hot tap water if you’re in a hurry. (Or heat 2 cups of water to a boil in the microwave and dilute with a cup of tap water.)

The creaminess of the sauce for this dish owes nothing to cream, butter or even cheese, just a whole avocado mashed with a fork, a bit of lemon juice to cut through its bland richness, and salt and pepper to taste. I’ve seen recipes that add whole kernel corn, diced whole or halved cherry tomatoes but I was too lazy to thaw the corn and didn’t have (nor do I like) raw tomato.

Avocado Pasta

Creamy Avocado Pasta – serves 1

100 gm/3.5 oz dry fettuccine, linguine or spaghetti pasta, cooked according to package directions
1/4 cup reserved pasta cooking water, barely warm
1/2-1 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of garlic powder
1 small avocado
1 green onion, top only, thinly sliced on diagonal (for garnish)
2-3 cherry tomatoes, halved (optional)
2 tbsp fresh corn kernels, or thawed and drained (optional)
dry red pepper flakes (optional, for garnish)

Slice the avocado in half, pit and scoop out the meat into a medium sized bowl. Add 1/2 tbsp lemon juice, a pinch each of salt, pepper and garlic powder and use a fork to mash the avocado into a fairly smooth paste. (I like to leave some smaller chunks for texture.) Add the cooked pasta and 2 tbsp of the reserved pasta cooking water and stir together. Taste. If the sauce seems bland, add a bit more lemon juice. If it’s too thick, add some more reserved pasta cooking water. Adjust salt and pepper amounts to taste.

Sprinkle the tomatoes and corn over the pasta and stir in. Sprinkle on the green onion and red pepper flake garnishes, if using.

Serve immediately as it will not keep.

I’ve made spaghetti carbonara before but am repeating my ‘recipe’ for one person, with the addition of asparagus, cause I had some in the fridge. Delicious, creamy without using ANY cream and fast to put together.

Asparagus Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti Carbonara – serves 1

100 gm/3.5 oz dry fettuccine, linguine or spaghetti pasta, cooked according to package directions
1/4 cup reserved pasta cooking water, barely warm
6-8 asparagus stalks, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
3-4 strips bacon**, fried until crispy and cut into 1/2 inch pieces, reserve some of the fat to cook the asparagus  and add to sauce
1 tbsp bacon fat**
1 egg yolk
2-4 tbsp ground Parmesan cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper

** Vegetarian Option: In place of the bacon/bacon fat, use 1/4 cup coarse seasoned breadcrumbs and olive oil to saute the asparagus and toast up the bread crumbs.

Cook the pasta just before assembling the dish or rewarm by dipping in some very hot water, if using leftover pasta. Drain.

In a small bowl, combine the egg yolk, Parmesan cheese, 1/2 tbsp bacon fat and a couple of tbsp of the cooled pasta cooking water.

In a large saute pan, over medium high heat, saute the asparagus, just until tender using the remaining 1/2 tbsp of the bacon fat. Sprinkle some salt and freshly ground black pepper over the asparagus.

Add the diced bacon strips and re-crisp if using leftovers.

Add the warm pasta and stir to combine and to warm through the pasta.

Take the saute pan OFF the heat and pour the yolk mixture over the hot pasta. Stir well to coat the pasta with the mixture. The grainy mixture will smooth out and become creamy and slightly thickened. Add additional warm pasta cooking water if needed. Season with more salt if needed.

Serve immediately with additional freshly ground pepper over the top.

February Wrap-Up Pt. 2 – Roast Duck and 3 Pepper Pasta

Yes, I know … I thought I was done too. And then I remembered there were a couple of dishes that I forgotten to share.

Spatch-cocked Roasted Duck

I spent $12 for this frozen duck and after thawing and spatch-cocking (remove the backbone and flatten), I sprinkled the top and underside with salt, pepper and some paprika for colour, and roasted using the cooking instructions/time on the package. Both the breasts were removed, wrapped up well and frozen for the future.

While roasting the duck, the fat was drained off periodically so I ended up with a bit over a cup of clean duck fat for future roasting and baking. BONUS!!!

Roasted duck leg, asparagus and boxed stuffing with duck gravy made from pan juices.

Home Made Semolina Pasta

I remembered I had some dried home made 3 pepper pasta noodles in the pantry so I cooked them up. The sauce was jarred Classico tomato and basil spaghetti sauce and hot Italian sausages. Another fast meal that didn’t cost a lot.

February Wrap-Up

ANOTHER PICTURE HEAVY POST WARNING:

February’s been a month of snow and rain and cooking.

I’ve already posted a number of things but there have been meals and dishes produced to nourish the body even if they were not post-worthy on their own or repeats of previous posts.

No-knead sourdough with a bit of ground rolled oats added to make for a taste boost. Toasted and spread with peanut butter … a delicious breakfast addition or snack.

I also made another loaf of sourdough quinoa for sandwiches.

I tried out a recipe for Chipotle Yum Yum Sauce posted on “The Frugal Housewifeblog and used it on pork roast and on poached eggs served on toasted sourdough bread … a sort of Tex-Mex eggs Benedict. Fast and easy to make and delicious.  I’m sure I’ll think of other ways to use it in the future.

Devilled eggs made with the Yum Yum sauce in place of the mayonnaise … so good

Meals and stuff

Creamy beef tortellini soup

Teriyaki baked salmon

Japanese chicken and tofu curry (using prepared roux) over rice

Chinese sausage rice bowl

Sliced bread/baguette pizza

Grilled cheese and cream of tomato soup … I added a couple of strips of cooked bacon to the sandwich as well.

Fried eggs, Polish sausage, cream cheese breakfast or lunch

Puff pastry filled with sweetened whipped cream and fresh blackberries

Blackberry lemonade

 

Boneless Pork Loin Roast

A simple recipe that will give you a moist and tender pork roast with minimal hands on time.

Pork Loin Roast with pan juices, quinoa, roast carrots and salad

Perfectly Moist Pork Loin Roast – serves 4-6

3 lb boneless pork loin roast
1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp pepper
1/2 tbsp garlic powder
1/2 tbsp onion powder
1/4 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a small bowl, combine one tablespoon of the oil, the salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and paprika. Stir together until you get a somewhat runny paste than can be brushed on the roast with a silicone brush. You may need to add some more oil.

Trim off as much of the fat as you wish from the pork. Cut slashes about 1/2 inch deep, and cross-hatches 1 inch apart into the pork. Brush the seasoning mixture on the bottom, ends, and top of the roast. Place in roasting pan fat side up.

Cook at 400 degrees for 10 min.

Lower the heat to 350 degrees and cook for 20 minutes per pound, or  until internal temperature reads 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

NOTE: If you wish, you may add 1 inch cubes of potatoes and/or carrots to the roasting pan. Lightly sprinkle with some salt. The pork juices will further flavour the vegetables.

Remove the pork roast and put a piece of foil loosely on top. Let the meat rest for 10 min before slicing to serve.

A couple of half inch thick slices will be plenty per person. If the vegetables need more time to become tender, return the roasting pan to the oven.

Fasirt (Breaded Hungarian Hamburgers)

When I was growing up my mom would sometimes refer to something called fasirt. I don’t remember ever equating them with ‘regular’ hamburgers that she would make and bbq in the back yard, but there are many similarities between the two. I recently learned that there is a German/Austrian term, ‘faschiertes’, which refers to minced meat. Since we lived in Germany briefly before we came to Canada, it is possible that she conflated the two words. In any case, the term was vaguely familiar to me, but I didn’t know much more than the word itself.

Since joining a Hungarian food FB group, my memory has been jogged by references to this dish, among others, and I am discovering (or rediscovering) Hungarian cuisine. Note that I have yet to find a Romanian food FB group.

Today’s post shares one of the several versions of fasirt that I’ve run across. Pork is used exclusively in some recipes while a combination of pork and beef is used in others. I had one pound of lean ground beef and one pound of lean ground pork in my freezer. So that’s what I used. For a first effort, I was quite pleased with the results. I would recommend frying the patties just before serving, so you can enjoy the crispy outside and the moist, tender interior. Standing doesn’t affect the taste just the texture.

Fasirt Version # 1 – 1 lb 14 oz meat mixture, makes 15 2 oz patties

For the meat patties

1 lb lean ground beef
1/2 lb lean ground pork
3/4 tsp salt (1/2 tsp per pound)
1 tbsp sauteed diced onion
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp Hungarian paprika
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried parsley
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 oz bread (pulsed in food processor) plus 4 tbsp milk

For coating
~1 cup dried unseasoned bread crumbs

In a small bowl, place the fresh bread crumbs and pour the milk over the top. Let the bread soak for about 15 min. Squeeze out any excess milk. (No excess milk found.)

Mix the patty ingredients together, divide into 2 oz portions, shape into balls and pat out into ~ 2 1/2 inch diameter patties. (NOTE: I didn’t over handle the meat mixture but the patties still rounded up a bit more than I wanted. You may want to pat the meat out to a 3 4 inch diameter.)

 

Lightly coat patties with breadcrumbs, shaking off any excess crumbs.

 

In a large cast iron frying pan, heat vegetable oil to medium and then fry the patties about 2 min per side, or until the juices run clear and, if cut open, the center is no longer pink but still moist.

Serve the patties with mashed potatoes, creamed spinach or peas and pickles. Or just dip them in some yogurt based tzatziki.