It’s always a fun adventure for me when people invite me into their homes to cook with them. Particularly when they have a great kitchen with a fabulous view of the East River, a lovable dog and wonderful company. Last week I met with Brad from Williamsburg, the winner of the Tutorial to Table Father’s Day giveaway. He and his dear friend Brooke had shared that they never win anything, so this was an exciting treat! To check out the gift package he won, click here to see the Tutorial to Table Gift Package.
When I work with new clients, I want to become familiar with what I call their “cooking lifestyle.” I ask them questions to find out more about how often they cook and why, what dishes and techniques they feel comfortable doing, and what types of food they like to eat. I ask them what dish they’d like to try, and always encourage that we try something a bit new that they may enjoy eating, but haven’t tried cooking yet. Enter Brad. Brad has a wonderfully equipped kitchen, great palate, and is naturally intuitive in the kitchen. His mother taught him to be creative with ingredients and liberal with recipes, which I love, as Brad was clearly unafraid to try new things.
Which leads me to duck breast. Brad had never tried cooking it before and I love to help people fancy up a weeknight dinner with something that seems so elegant, yet is super simple. Most people don’t know that it only takes about 15-20 minutes to prepare and doesn’t take a lot of work. It’s not easy to find everywhere, but on Fresh Direct I can generally buy one breast (that split, serves two) for around $14 (at $12.99/lb) which is not considering it’s about $7 per person for a duck breast.
So we decided on duck breast with a simple balsamic-honey reduction. Brad told me that he and his partner have a fabulous farro and cherry tomato salad in the Berkshires, so we also did a rendition of that, with roasted cherry tomatoes, arugula and feta. It was my first time cooking with farro as well, and I was pleased to see how simple it was to cook this chewy, nutty, satiating grain. Brad also mentioned that he loved to eat kale, but prepared it the same way each time and wanted some new ideas. So we roasted some carrots and placed them atop the sauteed kale just to create a variation based on something he already knew how to do.
Our recipes and photos are below. While I’m a carnivore at heart and duck breast just makes me melt, I have to say the star of the show was the farro, cherry tomato and arugula salad. I think I’ll be making it again for a potluck bridal shower this weekend. 🙂
In the comments below, I’d love hear, what is a new dish/ingredient you’d like to try in the kitchen?
Duck breast with balsamic-honey reduction
2 whole duck breasts
3 tbsp honey
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Cut the duck breasts in half. Score the duck fat with a sharp knife (see picture).
3. Season duck breasts on both sides with salt and pepper.
4. Heat a medium-size saute pan to medium-high heat. Drizzle with olive oil. When pan is hot, add duck breast skin-side down. Cook for five minutes. Check the color of the skin – it should be a beautiful golden color.
5. Using tongs, turn duck breast over and cook for another five minutes on the stove. Then slide the whole pan into the oven for another 5 minutes. Remove duck breasts from heat to a cutting board or plate and tent with foil to cool. (This is for medium-rare, if you prefer medium cook for 8-10 minutes in the oven).
6. Meanwhile, pour off rendered duck fat into a glass container to cool and save for other use.
7. In the same pan, add honey and balsamic vinegar on medium heat. Stir to reduce honey-balsamic glaze, which takes about 3-5 minutes. It should reduce and thicken.
8. Using tongs, take duck breast and coat in the pan with the honey-balsamic glaze. Slice against the grain on a cutting board and enjoy!
Sauteed kale with roasted carrots
1 bunch of kale
1 bunch of carrots
salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Rinse and roughly chop carrots and place in baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
3. Rinse and roughly chop kale (with or without stems – your preference. A suggestion from the lovely Brooke was to remove the leaves from the stem and finely chop the stem to add some texture).
4. Roast carrots in oven for 35-40 minutes, until they get a nice golden color and are tender when pierced with a fork.
5. Meanwhile, drizzle olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Saute for 5-7 minutes until kale wilts, tossing kale with tongs. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Place kale in a large bowl. When carrots are done roasting, place on top of kale. Voila!
Farro, arugula and roasted cherry tomato salad with feta
1.5 cups of farro
3 big handfuls of arugula
1 pint of cherry tomatoes
4 oz of feta
1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. (If cooking farro salad with roasted carrots and kale, both carrots and cherry tomatoes can roast at the same time).
2. Soak farro in water according to package instructions. (In our case it was 25 minutes. In some cases it could be up to overnight).
3. Cut cherry tomatoes in half and place in a small baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast cherry tomatoes for about 35 minutes until they begin to slightly wilt and shrivel and parts turn a nice golden brown.
4. After farro is done soaking, bring to boil. There should be plenty of water covering the farro (we’ll drain it at the end). With the lid off, reduce the heat so the farro is at a simmer. Cook for about 25 minutes.
5. To make the vinaigrette, use a microplane to zest the lemon peel into a small mason jar or tupperware. Squeeze the juice of the lemon into the jar. Add 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar, a small pinch of dried tarragon (optional) and 3 tbsp of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Shake in jar or tupperware.
7. After farro cooks for 25 minutes, taste to see that farro is cooked al dente (a bit chewy and slightly firm). Use a mesh sieve or appropriate colander to drain the farro.
5. Spread the drained farro on a large baking pan in a single layer to let it cool off.
6. In a large mixing bowl, place roasted cherry tomatoes and farro. Add three handfuls of aruugula and drizzle salad with vinaigrette, tossing to coat. Use a fork to crumble feta onto the salad.