Thursday, March 15, 2012

Duck with blackberry sauce

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
1 1/4 cups frozen blackberries, thawed
1 1/4 cups canned beef broth
1/2 cup canned low-salt chicken broth
2 tablespoons Cognac or brandy
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

4 5- to 6-ounce duck breast halves with skin

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sugar; stir until sugar dissolves and mixture turns deep amber color, about 5 minutes. Add wine, orange juice and vinegar (mixture will bubble vigorously) and bring to boil, stirring to dissolve caramel. Add 1 1/4 cups berries and both broths and boil until sauce thickens and is reduced to about 1 cup, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes. Strain sauce through sieve into heavy small saucepan, pressing on berries with back of spoon. Mix in Cognac and maple syrup. Set sauce aside. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Trim any excess fat from duck breasts. Cut three 4-inch-long by 1/16-inch-deep lengthwise slits in skin (not meat) of duck. Season duck with salt and pepper. Heat heavy large ovenproof skillet over high heat until hot. Add duck, skin side down, and sear until brown, about 5 minutes. Turn over; cook 3 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven; continue cooking to desired doneness, about 3 minutes for medium.

Meanwhile, bring sauce to simmer over low heat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon butter and whisk just until melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spoon sauce onto plates. Slice duck and place atop sauce. Garnish with additional berries, if desired, and serve.

Recipe adapted from Epicurious

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Marble pound cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, softened, plus 3 tablespoons melted, and some for the pan
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy cream or milk

Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter an 8-by-4-inch loaf pan and line it with parchment paper. Butter the paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt. In another medium bowl, combine the melted butter with the cocoa until smooth.
In a food processor, combine the softened butter with the granulated sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla and process until smooth. Add the dry ingredients and pulse just until combined. Add the cream and process until smooth. Transfer 1 cup of the batter to the bowl with the cocoa and stir until smooth.
Spoon half of the remaining batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Spread the chocolate batter in the pan, then cover with the remaining plain batter. Using a table knife, cut 5 swirls in the batter. Bake the pound cake for 25 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 325° and bake for 25 minutes more. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 15 to 20 minutes longer, or until the cake is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs attached. Let the pound cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then unmold and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Adapted from Food and Wine

Chocolate Yule Log

5 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar, divided
1/2 cup cake flour
1/4 cup baking cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup baking cocoa
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon brewed coffee
2 tablespoons milk

Line a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan with parchment paper; grease the paper. Place egg whites in a small mixing bowl; let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, beat egg yolks on high until light and fluffy. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar, beating until thick and lemon-colored. Combine flour, cocoa and salt; gradually add to egg yolk mixture until blended.
Beat egg whites on medium until foamy. Add cream of tartar; beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining sugar, beating on high until stiff peaks form. Stir a fourth into chocolate mixture. Fold in remaining egg whites until no streaks remain.
Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 12-15 minutes or until cake springs back (do not overbake). Cool for 5 minutes; invert onto a linen towel dusted with confectioners' sugar. Peel off parchment paper. Roll up in the towel, starting with a short side. Cool on a wire rack. In a mixing bowl, beat cream until it begins to thicken. Add sugar and coffee granules. Beat until stiff peaks form; chill. Unroll cooled cake; spread filling to within 1/2 in. of edges. Roll up again. Place on serving platter; chill.
In a mixing bowl, beat frosting ingredients until smooth. Frost cake. Using a fork, make lines resembling tree bark.

Recipe adapted from

Monday, March 5, 2012

Orange chocolate cupcakes

For the cupcakes
3 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 cup hot water
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 orange
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

For the frosting
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line 12 standard muffin cups with paper liners.

2. In a small bowl, stir the cocoa powder into the hot water until it dissolves; set aside. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a bowl. Using the finest rasps of a handheld grater, grate the zest from the orange into the bowl. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and granulated sugar until well combined. Whisk in the buttermilk and vanilla, then the dissolved cocoa. Whisk in the melted butter, then the dry ingredients.

4. Using a tablespoon, divide the batter among the muffin cups filling each about half full. Bake until the cupcakes are puffed and a skewer inserted into the center of one comes out clean 15-20 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Remove the cupcakes from the pan.

5. To make the frosting, melt the chocolate and let cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, using a stand mixer, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar with the paddle on medium speed until creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Beat in the melted chocolate until combined. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch star tip with the frosting and pipe a spiral on top of each cupcake.

6. Refrigerate the cupcakes until 30 minutes before serving to set the frosting.

Recipe adapted from Leite's Culinaria

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Garden herb bread

1 1/4 C water
3 C bread flour
2 tbsp dry milk
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter
1/2 tbsp chives
1/2 tbsp marjoram
1/2 tbsp thyme
1 tsp basil
2 1/4 tsp (1 package) active dry yeast

Add ingredients according to your breadmachine's instructions. Bake on white cycle or in a 375 degree F oven for 35 minutes.