A Brit, a Yank and a Kitchen

Friday, June 29

Duck with Pear & Crushed Peppercorn Sauce

I just love duck. Love it. Usually I will prepare it with a more tangy sauce, like Raspberry... but I decided to try pear this time, as I had a few laying around that needed using. It turned out beautifully.. and was incredibly quick and easy.

Duck with Pear & Crushed Peppercorn Sauce

2 duck breasts, with skin
1 pear, peeled, cored and diced
1/2 cup Calvados, Apple Brandy, or other apple liquor
1/4 cup duck demiglace
2 TBSP whole black peppercorns, crushed
1 tsp corn starch
2 tsp fresh thyme
1 cup apple juice

Score the duck breasts skin. Pat dry and season with salt. Place a pan over high heat until very hot. Reduce heat to medium and place duck breasts, skin side down into pan. Cook for 15 minutes or more depending on how well you like your duck cooked, then flip, cooking for an additional 5 minutes.

Place duck somewhere to keep warm and tent with foil.

Pour off all but 1 TBSP of the rendered duck fat from the pan. Return the pan to heat and sautee the pear until it is nice and golden. Add Calvados to deglaze the pan and scrape up the bits with a wooden spoon. Let reduce to a syrup. Whisk together the corn starch and apple juice and add to the pan. Add thyme, demiglace and peppercorns. Stir until thicken, add salt to taste.

Serve duck with sauce spooned over.


Tuesday, June 26

Lobster Thermador

So yesterday was Dave's birthday. Of course, I asked him what he wanted me to cook for him... and he said he had Lobster Thermador once in Africa, and really enjoyed it. Well... I've never had it before, nevermind cooked it.. but I LOVE lobster and was more than willing to give it a try. Besides, there is an awesome lobster company in Cocoa Beach that sells whole Maine lobster for dead cheap, and I'd been waiting for an excuse to try them out! (Maine'ly Lobster 321-799-4700)

So I picked up a 3 lb beastie on my way home from work and set to work.

He wasn't particularly pleased at his situation.. and let it be known by thrashing around and pinning his legs over the pot just as I was trying to drop him in. Do lobsters hiss? I swear he was hissing at me! (and no I dont mean the "whistle" of steam... he wasnt in the water yet at that point) My sister called at this very moment asking for details on a cream sauce... Carrie, if you read this... the photo above was when I was screaming in the background while Dave was trying to relay my instructions for said cream sauce. Note to self... it is easier said than done to dispatch a giant live lobster into boiling water while dictating a recipe for caper cream sauce to your sister over a speaker phone.

In the end the lobster ended up in the pot and out again, ready to be prepped. This was also new to me, as in my world the lobster is done at this point and all thats needed is drawn butter. It took a LOT of will power to restrain myself from eating one of those whole succulent claws. As luck would have it, however, Dave doesnt like lobster tamale... and OMG do I ever. Its like... little drops of lobster heaven... and this one had a LOT. Finger lickin good.

So that helped curb my desire to eat all the other tastey bits.

Another note to self.... cracking a lobster (especially the claws) with a chef's knife isn't as easy as the pro chefs on TV make it look. I ended up resorting to a meat pounder to crack the claws, while simultaneously flinging lobster bits all over the kitchen (and Dave, who was innocently watching).

mmmm... lobster and Moet..
Dave needs to have birthdays more often

I will say the hardest part of the recipe was simply splitting the shell for presentation. And the little bit of induced trauma from a feisty lobster who decided to pull the "cat not going in the carrier" move on me.

A simple bechamel went over the diced meat, made from tarragon, dijon and Romano.

I do think I still prefer lobster simply steamed and eaten straight from the shell. But it did look impressive and regal on the plate. :)

And here I give you... the aftermess.

Lobster Thermador

  • 1 whole lobster, about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds
  • 2 lemons, halved
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bring a pot of salted water containing the lemons, quartered onion and bouquet garni to a boil. Add the lobster to the boiling water and cook for 8 to 12 minutes. Remove the lobster from the water and place in a bowl of ice water. This will stop the cooking process of the lobster. In a sauce pan, melt the butter. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 to 3 minutes for a blond roux. Add the shallots and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the wine and milk. Bring the liquid up to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes or until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. This sauce will be thicker than a normal Béchamel because it will be used as a filling. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Remove the sauce from the stove and stir in the mustard and tarragon. Remove the lobster from the water and split the lobster in half. Remove the tail meat from the shells and with the back of a knife, gently crack the claws. Dice the tail meat and fold in the Béchamel sauce. Stir in 1/2 cup of the cheese and reseason if necessary.

Divide the mixture and spoon into the two lobster tail shells. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the lobster. Place the filled lobster on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake for about 8 to 10 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Garnish with parsley.

-Ganked & modified From Emeril's

Tuesday, June 19

Tuscan Bean & Vegetable Soup

I didnt have a chance to make it to the market to pick up meat for dinner tonight, so I had to rummage something together from the pantry and veggie drawers. When this happens, dinner doesnt typically turn out very spectacular. But tonight was a pleasant surprise... and I think I will forget to get meat for dinner more often!

I had a couple of cans of beans, and tomatoes... theyre always in there.. its almost like they multiply. Onions and garlic are always stocked in my kitchen. And then I had some leftover squash and zucchini that I didnt use with dinner last night. And of course... that Romano rind thats been lurking in the cheese compartment that is good for nothing other than this very sort of thing!

Tuscan Bean & Veg Soup

2 cans cannellini beans, drained
1 large can whole or crushed tomatoes
1 zucchini, diced
2 summer squash, diced
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups vegetable broth
1 rind parmesan or romano
1 tsp red pepper flakes (or more for heat)
.5 T thyme
.5 T parsley
2 tsp sage
salt & pepper to taste

Sautee onions and garlic in a bit of olive oil until it begins to go transparent. Add zucchini and squash. Continue until softened. Add tomatoes, broth, beans, cheese, and seasonings.

Bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer for one hour.

Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, June 17

Skewers Restaurant, Indialantic Florida

Starter: Baba Ghanouj, falafel, tabouleh, humus

For fathers day we decided to try something new. Out of necessity if nothing else, since my dad is vegan, in Brevard that leaves very few options! So we opted for Greek/Mediterranean.

So let me tell you about Skewers! At least our experience of it on one random night.

The food... the food was fantastic. I mean just look at those pictures! They did taste every bit as good as they looked. And me not being a very big fan of Greek food to start with, its really saying something! The falafel was fresh and crunchy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside. Smooth flavorful baba ghanouj, and thick creamy humus. All of it tasted very fresh.

I am a HUGE lover of baklava, and the one we had there was probably the best I've ever had. Not too syrupy... and that wonderful crispy multilayered action you get with phyllo pastry. Yum.

Also, the Turkish coffee was fantastic. I'd only had it once before and then it was so thick and bitter I couldnt finish it. But at Skewers, it was perfectly sweetened, not bitter at all.. and seemed to be flavored with Anise.

But if only I could finish my review of the place based on food alone.
Although we had reservations at 8pm... the hostess left us standing at the podium for 10 minutes while she went and "cleaned the table" (there were clean tables everywhere in the restaurant). While we stood waiting, wondering if we had been forgotten, a man came in from the garden just outside and asked a passing waitress why they hadnt been seated yet, he was told they were "cleaning his table" 25 minutes ago!

After finally being seated, it took another good 10 minutes before our water was even brought.. and another several before a drink order was taken. Mind you, I do not mind a long drawn out meal... but I'd better have a drink to occupy myself! That being said, service went on slowly like this for the rest of the night, but I didnt mind so much then as I had my drink! ;)

I'm also not sure if our waitress was new... but when she brough out our salads she held them down and said "Who ordered what? I dont know which of these is which."... of course, we'd never been there so we didnt know either! Also, when we asked about dessert, she said they only had baklava and key lime pie... even though their website says they have Bananas Foster Flambé,Grand Marnier strawberries, baklava and Cheesecake of the Day!

The crowning moment however was when Dave (a Brit who is not familiar with Florida bugs - aka small animals) asked, "Lea, what kind of bug is that?". Horrified, I looked over his shoulder to see the BIGGEST palmeto bug I have ever seen. I have lived in Florida most of my life, so that is really saying something. For those of you who dont know.. they are giant roaches (the largest in fact) that FLY!!! While I stood huddled in the corner waiting for someone to get rid of it, my dad joked that he thought he saw a sadle for it somewhere. The waitress even fled in fear of it, and seconds later the whole kitchen staff came running out in aprons and plastic gloves. One of the cooks cupped it under a glass and took the thing away. My dad said casually, "I hope that cook changes his gloves before he goes back to cooking."

It is a good thing I dont get squeemish with food... although I still enjoyed the baklava and coffee that followed, they were both comped on the bill.

So in the end, it was a fantastic meal... not so good service.. and if you dont mind dining with small animals... you're all set.

Wednesday, June 6

The Moo Motherload

So I've been horribly neglecting Copperpots and all of you wonderful foodie friends lately! No excuses! I wont let it happen again! ;)

Anyways... on to the MEAT of this post!

A while back we went in on a mixed quarter of100% grass-fed and finished beef from a local dairy farm... the same one that my contraband dairy originated from. This farmer only slaughters twice a year... and only if he has enough people interested. And I'll tell you... this beef is well worth it.

I've never been a huge beef eater... saving it for the occasional really good steak house, or cooking it for special occasions. But this beef has had me eating more beef in a one week span than I normally would in an entire month! And not necessarily because we're trying to eat our way through our supply before it passes its prime... but because its honestly just THAT GOOD. The flavor is unlike any beef I had ever had. I understand now why I was never been big on beef... because all along I've been eating CRAP beef! The flavor is almost flowery... every cut I've cooked so far has been incredibly tender and juicy. My method for steak is simple...

Preheat oven to 450.
Dry the steak and season on both sides with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.
Heat some oil in an oven proof pan until it begins to smoke.
Open all windows.
Sear the steak on one side for about 4 monutes, until you have a nice crust going on.
Flip it, stick a knob of butter on top, and stick it in the oven for another 8 minutes.
Take it out, let it rest for 5, and EAT IT!

This is how I cook every cut of steak... be it filet... t-bone... or rib steak. It always works perfectly. Assuming of course its a decent size cut.

I know I will be a very sad camper when our supply runs out.. and I have to settle again for the flavorless grey sad excuse for beef they sell at the supermarket.