A throw-together chicken salad

Faced with hunger, laziness at the end of a long workday, and the start of warm-weather don’t want anything heavy to eat feeling, I was foraging in the refrigerator. I discovered that I had just enough of the dark chicken meat that I had cooked in the Instant Pot to make something like chicken salad, but a bit different.

Add to the shredded dark meat a drizzle of garlic-infused olive oil , a drizzle of  baklouti green chili fused oil, just a few drops of honey-ginger white balsamic vinegar, and some cilantro. Add some diced radishes for crunch. Toss and eat.

(I will admit to cheating on the cilantro: I used Dorot frozen cilantro instead of fresh since I didn’t go to the store to get fresh. It’s not a good looking as fresh, but the flavor is good. (Cilantro and celery are major frustrations for me in cooking for one; I always end up composting a bunch of it.)

…and no, I don’t have any affiliation with Dorot Gardens except that I like the quality and the convenience of having the herbs in the freezer.

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Crudités

After my last visit to my physician for my 100,000-mile maintenance check, I was appalled at the numbers I read on the scales when I weighed in. Arrrggghhhhh! So it time to do something about those numbers. Obviously, more exercise–and I’ve actually Radish Varietiessuccumbed to a fitness device that will make me (horribly) aware of how inactive I can be, especially during working days.

Along with trying to get my butt out of my office chair even on work days, I’m trying to get more veggies and fruits into me. As the weather gets hotter, I want cool things so crudités are appearing often. Most often served with a dip of some sort but I was looking for something to add a bit of zip and zing to raw (or lightly blanched) vegetables: celery, radishes, zucchini, jicama, kohlrabi, etc.

As you all know by now, Bull City Olive Oil is one of my favorite places to find tasty stuff (like truffle salt for popcorn). In addition to olive oil and salts, there is a grand array of balsamic vinegars. I’ve discovered that some of these make a marvelous “dip” for all these veggies–without adding any oil–so that it keeps my cruditès low calorie but still never boring.  Some of the ones I use are honey-ginger, blackberry, blackberry-ginger, black mission fig, and lemongrass-mint.

And–the dark chocolate! Just a few drops with berries or fruit makes a wonderful treat–as does the passionfruit, or the lavender.  All very low cal, but so tasty! I suspect that the coconut white balsamic would be pretty darn good with fruits and berries too. So many possibilities for good taste–and there are always new ones to try–and healthy eating, too.

A son gôut!

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Christmas evening supper

Christmas eve–what’s for supper? Your basic duck breast, pan-seared and dressed with some of the spoils of my visit to Bull City Olive Oil. Just a take-off on a vinaigrette, but what fun. A nice fatty duck breast pan-seared so that the skin is cracklin’ crispy–with a very simple sauce–fruity.

Turn off the smoke alarm so you won’t be interrupted while cooking. You need to start with a skillet that will tolerate high heat–it needs to be almost smoking hot to begin–and no worries about sticking given the fat in the duck skin. I used my favorite carbon steel skillet–very well cured (now black and nonstick), and has the advantages of cast iron, without the weight. Just the right size for two duck breasts.

20161224_173256I had thought that perhaps just a drizzle of one of the infused vinegars would be good, but after tasting the vinegars with a piece of breast that was loose in the package, I decided it needed  more complexity, so I started with  extra-virgin olive oil infused with mushroom and sage–awesome as a condiment in its own right, but for nice fatty duck it needs to be brightened a bit with one of the infused balsamic vinegars. Decisions, decisions!

I had black mission fig, black cherry, and blackberry with ginger. After tasting I decided that blackberry-ginger was what I wanted this evening, though any of these would have been good with duck. I didn’t use typical vinaigrette proportions but I did emulsify the oil and the vinegar (1:1). The mushroom-sage oil is very earthy and a great contrast to the fruitiness of the blackberry with that little spark of ginger.

20161224_174026To prep the breasts I patted them dry and scored the skin side, careful not to cut into the meat–just to help the fat render while pan-searing. You need a very sharp knife so that just the weight of the knife pulled across the skin will cut into it. Then I salted the meat side of the breasts and let them sit for about 20 minutes to season.

After patting them dry I put them into a  very hot skillet, skin side down, and cooked until most of the fat rendered and the skin side was brown and crispy (about 5 to 8 minutes), reducing the heat a bit to keep them from getting too brown before a sufficient amount of fat had rendered. Then turned them and continued to cook until the temperature was 135ºF by instant read thermometer (about 5 minutes).

While the breasts were searing, I whisked the oil and vinegar together, and got the roasted potatoes out of the oven. While the breasts rested (and continued with carry-over cooking), I poured off the excess fat from the pan, left just enough to  sauté a mix of  baby arugula and radicchio for a side. Very quick. Very tasty!

The bitterness of the arugula and radicchio was a great contrast to the richness of the duck, and the blackberry-ginger/mushroom-sage sauce. (Blackberry and sage are awesome together–makes me want to try a sorbet with that combination.)  The Les Hérétiques wine (old vine Carignane grapes) has lots of berry fruit (blackberry  with some earthiness, and minerals) all in all a great wine for this meal even though it’s just my “house” wine.

All together a very flavorful supper for no more time than it took.  So many possible flavor variations possible with this simple sauce. A son gôut!

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