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Roasted Duck with Red Wine and Wild Rice

November 8, 2011
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Growing up in Illinois eating wild duck for dinner was normal for me.  My father was a hunter and I got to eat all kinds of neat things that most people did’t.  Every year, towards the end of summer, it would come time for the duck blind drawing contest, then the duck hunts, and then the duck eating!  I never realized until later that most kids didn’t grow up eating things like …frogs legs, duck, deer, rabbit, and squirrel.   I mean, really folks?

Later, when I was growing up in California, I realized that these meats weren’t typical fare for most people.  And, around the time I was in college I finally spied my first frozen duck in a specialty super market.  I bought two and asked my mom to make duck for Thanksgiving.  We then had to consult with my father about how he used to make the ducks. One recipe he used was was this amazing slow roasted duck with red wine.   Now, I still get to have it a few times a year.  Thanks to a sale on whole ducks at Whole Foods, I now get to share the recipe with you.

DISCLAIMER – this is best when made in a 2 day process so that you can let the juices sit overnight to properly remove the fat.


1 roasting pan with lid – big enough to fit at least 1 duck

1 whole duck

2 bottles of red wine

1-2 tbsp of dried thyme

2 tbsp butter

2 boxes of Uncle Ben’s wild rice original recipe (NOT quick cooking)

salt and pepper to taste


Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F

Remove duck from package and remove anything inside the cavity of the duck. Feel free to cook this along side your duck or throw away.

Rinse duck in cold water and put in your roasting pan.

Sprinkle the entire duck (front back and sides) with salt, pepper, and thyme.

Place the duck breast side down in the roasting pan. Using a sharp knife make slits on the back of the duck (this is where your butter will go.)

Cut your butter into small chunks and place these chunks in the slits on the back of the duck.

butter in the duck

Butter placed into slices on the duck

Open both bottles of red wine and fill the roasting pan until the wine comes up to cover about half of the duck.  I got two bottles from Trader Joe’s that I like and that cost less than$5 per bottle.

Place the lid on your roasting pan and put the duck in a 325 degree oven for about 2 hours.  The amount of time will depend on the size of the duck.

When duck has finished cooking remove the duck to a cutting board and place all juices into a safe container.  If any parts of the duck have fallen off, strain the juices first so that you don’t have any bones in your liquid.  Let the liquid cool to almost room temperature before placing a lid on your container and putting into your fridge.

While the liquid is cooling – remove all duck meat from the bones. Chop (or hand shred) meat into bite-size chunks and place into a sealed container and put in your fridge until the next day.

duck liquid

duck liquid

Roasted Duck

Final roasted duck

Next Day:

Remove liquid and duck from the fridge.  The duck fat will have risen to the top of the liquid – carefully remove duck fat and put aside. (You can put this in a freezer bag and freeze to use in the future.  Duck fat is delicious to fry potatoes in!)

Skimming off duck fat

Skimming off duck fat

Begin cooking rice using the same directions on the box with the exception of using the liquid from the duck as any liquid that is called for on the box.  If you have extra liquid set aside.  If you don’t have extra and you need more use some chicken broth.  Cook rice for 10 mins until about half cooked – DO NOT cook thoroughly.

Mix the half cooked rice with the duck and place into a casserole dish sprayed with PAM.  I used individual soup bowls that I have at my house.  If you go with smaller containers you will need to cut down on your cooking time by approximately 15 mins.

Place casserole into the oven at 325 degrees and bake for an hour (approximately).  Half way through the baking process check the duck and rice to make sure that it isn’t getting too dried out.  If it is, you can use some of your remaining liquid or a little more broth.  Taste before removing from oven to confirm if it’s done.

If your rice still seems a bit too dry once you take it out you can still add in a tablespoon or two of broth!

Rice before cooking

Rice before cooking


Chicken and Noodles

September 17, 2011

On the rare week in September when it wasn’t 95+ where I live I decided I needed chicken and noodles. The only best way to have them is homemade noodles and broth but sometimes in a jiff I will use packaged noodles. In this case, I didn’t want to take two days to make my masterpiece so I used packaged noodles from Trader Joe’s. I suggest this recipe for those of you who are comfortable in your cooking skill as it’s less of a recipe and more of a guide.
Home made Chicken Broth – see below for recipe and steps
Half of a chicken – chopped – see below for recipe and steps
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper
1 package of Trader Joe’s Noodles – Egg Pappardelle Pasta

Bring chicken broth to a rolling boil
Add in salt and pepper – I typically use 2-3 pinches of salt
Cook noodles in broth according to directions on package
When noodles have finished cooking add in chopped up chicken

Chicken and Noodles
Chicken and Noodles

Roasted Chicken
1 whole roasting chicken – covered in your favorite spices

Rub chicken with your favorite spice rub, or just salt and pepper
Put chicken into oven safe container – I like to use a shallow corning ware dish.
Roast chicken at 400 degrees in oven for 75 minutes.
Let cool for 20-30 mins and then remove chicken from bones
Rough chop half of the chicken for the chicken and noodles
Use the other half for lunches during the week such as chicken panini or chicken salad

Chicken Broth
1 whole roasting chicken carcass
2 celery stalks
1 onion
1 sprig rosemary
10 sprigs thyme
5-10 black peppercorns
1 head of garlic
2 bay leaves

Place chicken bones in a big pot -4 quarts or so… something like this.
Peel the onion, slice in half, add it to the pot
add the rosemary and thyme to the pot
clean the garlic root so that it’s not dirty – slice the top of the head of garlic of so that the garlic is exposed, add entire head to the pot
Clean the celery, chop in halves or thirds, add it to the pot
add to bay leaves to the pot
add 5-10 black peppercorns to the pot (depending on how much you enjoy pepper)
Fill the pot with water so that all of the chicken bones are covered
Bring the pot to a boil, then lower heat so that the pot is at a simmer
Simmer the stock for 3 hours
Strain entire contents of pot into a big bowl
At this point – I prefer to let the stock cool down for an hour before I put it in the fridge to let sit overnight. The next day, before using or freezing, I skim off the fat that is on the top of the bowl.
If you do not want to wait over night you can just use the stock as is for cooking your noodles.

If you want veggies in your chicken and noodles dice onion, celery, and carrots and put them into the boiling stock. Cook as needed to get them soft.

Easy beer braised short ribs

September 7, 2011

I kept waiting and waiting to post until I had time to create a perfect recipe or get good pictures. That hasn’t really happened =) So, here is the dinner I made last night with cell phone pictures. It was pretty good and very easy to pull together. Look forward to a Mexican Chocolate Pie recipe later this week!

Kosher Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper
4 beef short ribs
1 can diced tomatoes
1 small onion chopped
4 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
1/2 bottle of beer
Crock pot

1 cup of white jasmine rice
1 cup of brown jasmine rice
Rice Cooker


Turn crock pot on to low setting

Generously salt and pepper ribs and set into crock pot.
Pour can of diced tomatoes, chopped onions, and 1/2 a bottle of beer over the short ribs.  Cook for 8 hours.
After 8 hours remove the ribs and remove the meat from the bones (most likely it will just fall off).  Shred the beef or cut into small cubes and set aside.
Using a hand blender, blend together the juices, beer, onion and garlic left over in the crock pot to make a sauce.

After the sauce is blended, rinse rice as needed and then add in sauce to rice in rice cooker and cook as normal.

Once rice is finished add in beef and stir into rice.  It’s ready to eat!
Want to cook it on the stove? I’d guess you’d throw it all into a cast iron pot and cook it covered at 350 for 2 hours?
Cut the onions and garlic any way you want – as you’ll just be blending it later. I already had rings of onions left over from burgers the day before so that’s what I used.
This is great to make over night. In fact, I realized at 9.45 pm last night I needed to use the short ribs and so I made this up on the fly.
Cook the rice any way you want – I just happen to have a rice cooker. Also, if you don’t like brown rice or jasmine rice use whatever you want.

Crock pot beef short ribs

Crock pot beef short ribs

4-6 servings.

Beer for the beef

Beer for the beef

Hollywood Pies – Deep Dish Pizza

August 27, 2011

I’m from Illinois. We know pizza. My favorite Chicago deep dish is Giordanos. In fact, there was once when I met my mom in Chicago before heading on to Peoria. She arrived an hour or so before me and was happy enough to pick up this strange pizza I requested. It only took one bite before she understood why I insisted on us getting that very specific brand of pizza.

Thanks to a friend (Missy Leach you ROCK!) I now know the love that is Chicago deep dish right here in Los Angeles. I know, I know. You don’t believe that any pizza can be like real Chicago deep dish if you aren’t actually in Chicago. But, you’re wrong. You are SO wrong.

Let me now introduce you to Hollywood Pies. This place was described to me as the best deep dish and to add to the taste of the pizza was the quirky way in which you get the pizza. You call up a phone #, order, and then drive to an ally. You call a phone # again and your pie is delivered to you in your waiting car. Nope, this isn’t a drug deal….it’s pizza. There are so many rumors about this pizza that I wouldn’t even deem to try and figure out which one is true. Because I was at work, with a dog, I went for the more conventional delivery. The delivery guy let us know that the owner was just some guy from San Diego who decided one day he was going to start making pizza. Thank you San Diegan for taking a chance!

Two pizzas from Hollywood Pies

Two pizzas from Hollywood Pies

So, the next time you’re in LA and you’re wanting to not cook and get great pizza you have GOT to check this place out. We had the Bugsy and the Hollywood Pie and they were both fantastic. I can’t wait to try some new types another time.

Thank you Missy Leach and thank you Hollywood Pies! We really enjoyed this for dinner and will have more for left overs. Davey said he enjoyed it too.

Davey trying to eat my pizza

Davey trying to eat my pizza

Mac and Cheese (with tomatoes!)

August 24, 2011

This is truly a cooking and dog story. When buying ingredients to make this dish I had just finished putting my groceries away when I realized that a block of Gruyere was missing. I was SO annoyed because it was expensive and because whole foods isn’t really *that* close to my house. I was literally cussing the bagger when I stepped out into the front room to see my big dog Mabel having the BEST time eating up my cheese. Oh Mrs. Mabel, you are such a sneak!!

Hi, my name is Mabel. I LOVE Gruyere from whole foods!

Hi, my name is Mabel. I LOVE Gruyere from whole foods!

Anyway, I found this recipe a few weeks ago, and after watching Anna and Kristina’s Grocery Bag and their rave reviews of Ina Garten’s cookbook, I decided to try out this recipe as-is. (Well, mostly as-is!) As it has tomatoes on top I thought that it would be fun to have this to use up even more of my garden tomatoes. Everyone at work loved it so I guess it was a success! Enjoy!

Kosher Salt
1 pound elbow macaroni or cavatappi
1 quart milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
12 ounces Gruyere, grated (4 cups)
8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 pound fresh tomatoes (4 small)
1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large (4-quart) pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, salt (to taste or around 1 tsp), pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish.

Cheese, spices, flour and breadcrumbs

Cheese, spices, flour and breadcrumbs

Slice the tomatoes and arrange on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

Right before the breadcrumbs

Right before the breadcrumbs - pretty tomatoes!

Final product

Final product - yum!

1. Use different types of cheese if you don’t like cheddar or Gruyere
2. If your dog eats your Gruyere be happy that you bought extra at the store, but tell the whole foods worker you were cussing out in your head you’re sorry since he really didn’t forget to put the cheese in your bag.

Fried Tomatoes ala Grandma Eileen

August 21, 2011

I went to visit my mother today and brought her some of my garden tomatoes.  While she was eating one for lunch, sprinkled with black pepper and salt, she started remembering tomato recipes from her childhood. The first was when her mother would fry up tomatoes for her father in butter.  The second, I might make for a different day 😉

After driving home I decided that this would be fantastic to try for my dinner tonight.  I have no idea if I made it correctly, as it was just a short conversation, but it tasted delicious.

1/2 cup of flour
2 big heirloom tomatoes
6-8 Tbsp butter
Kosher salt

Begin by melting 4-5 Tbsp of butter in a sauce pan on a medium high flame.
Thick slice tomatoes, sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper on both sides.

Measure 1/2 cup of flour and place it on a flat-ish surface like a paper plate – set aside.

After butter is melted and starting to bubble flour each slice of tomato (but only as many as will fit in your pan with room between each slice)
Tap off some of the flour and then place each slice into melted butter

frying tomatoes

frying tomatoes

Fry tomato slices in butter for about 4 minutes per side. The floured side down should get lightly browned.
Carefully turn over each tomato slice and fry again for another 4 minutes.

fried tomatoes

fried tomatoes

Remove from pan, place on plate and salt each slice.

finished fried tomatoes

fried tomatoes

Repeat steps for additional slices of tomato. If needed add an additional 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan before frying your second batch. Let this butter melt and get bubbly again before adding in new slices.

Serve with crostini or garlic bread. YUM.

Tips and Tricks:
1. Be careful with your butter, you have to get it warm enough to fry but not hot enough so that it burns. If it turns brown that’s ok but don’t let it burn.
2. If your butter does burn, pour it out, clean the pan and start again.
3. Don’t be intimidated.
4. If you’re wondering if your butter is hot enough to start, try one slice of tomato first. If it isn’t bubbling up around the tomato as it fries it isn’t quite ready yet.

Tomato Pie

August 20, 2011

After three years of gardening I have finally achieved tomato success.  I’m an organic gardener who also tries to use heirloom seeds.  This has proved to be a bit more challenging than had I otherwise just bought random plants and seeds but I find it fascinating and fun so there you go.

The first year I grew tomatoes I randomly planted three plants that I nurtured from seedling. They grew tall and flowered and yet never gave me 1 damn tomato.

Year two was better, I bought plants at our local tomato mania, planted them when I was supposed to and got a few tomatoes from a few plants.

This year, I researched seeds, grew the plantlings, planted at the correct time and went with NINE tomato plants so I could get more than just a few tomatoes…boy have I.  Here is just one weekly harvest:

so many tomatoes

Tomatoes from 1 week

And, now you will understand why, most likely, my next few posts will center around cooking with tomatoes. During one of my cooking days I chose to make a tomato pie. I found a recipe from Paula Dean but really didn’t like some of the items in it. I couldn’t imagine slathering on mayo mixed with cheese to the top of the pie or what that would even taste like. (If you think you would like to try hers, here is the link So, I used her recipe as a base and created my own. The first attempt was decent but came out watery. You will get what I think is a very nicely modified version of that so yours doesn’t have that same problem. Let me know if you tried it and how it works out for you.

1 prepared pie shell
4 tomatoes peeled, semi-seeded, and sliced
10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1-2 pinches of dried oregano
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 slices of cooked bacon
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Place the slices of tomatoes on a clean kitchen towel, salt them, let them sit for 10 mins, and then cover the top with another clean kitchen towel. Lightly press down on the tomatoes (to whisk away some of the liquid from the tops) and then leave covered for another 10 mins.

Peeled Tomatoes

Peeled Tomatoes

Chop the 1/2 cup onion and chiffonade the basil

Chopping onion, chiffonade basil

mmm chopped onion and strips of basil

In a bowl, mix together 1 cup of shredded mozzarella, 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese, and crumble in the two slices of bacon. Toss all ingredients together to mix well.

Two cheeses and bacon mixed

Two cheeses and bacon mixed

Begin to assemble the pie:
Place half the cheese in the bottom of the pie shell
Then layer with your tomatoes.
Pepper the tomatoes and then top with onion and dried oregano (sprinkled over all the tomatoes)
Place the final layer of cheese on top of the tomatoes

layers of cheese, tomato, onion, pepper and herbs

Layered pie

Final tomato pie pre-oven

Final tomato pie pre-oven

Place the pie on a flat cookie sheet and place it into the oven for 40 minutes.
After 40 minutes carefully remove the pie and dab off excess water with paper towels.
Crank the oven up to 400 degrees.
Place the pie back in the 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until top of cheese and crust turns golden brown.
Remove from oven and let sit for at least 15 minutes before cutting (I prefer 30 if possible)

Final Tomato Pie

Final Tomato Pie

Tips and tricks:
1. I get my pie crust at whole foods as it only contains the same ingredients that you would have if you made it from scratch. Feel free to use whatever is your favorite or make your own.
2. Peeling home grown tomatoes are easy – you just peel them like you would an apple.  But if you find it hard you can throw them into a pot of boiling water for about a minute, immediately take them out and cool them down in an ice water bath to stop the cooking.  They should be easier to peel after that.  I also suggest mostly deseeding them as keeping the seeds just seems to add to the water content and a soggy pie is not a fun pie.
3. I suggest you drain the tomatoes using a towel because just draining them on a rack or in a colander didn’t work well for me – enough water wasn’t drained that way.