Archive for the ‘Popular posts’ Category

Reader’s Choice Recipes: Braided Challah Bread

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

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You picked ’em, now I’m cooking ’em. First, it was Pad Thai. Next up is homemade Challah.

This is the second recipe in our Reader’s Choice series, put on in partnership with my fabulous friends over at Cookstr.com.

This recipe is originally by Nick Malgieri, former executive pastry chef at New York’s Windows on the World and current director of the baking program at the Institute of Culinary Education. The recipe is featured on Cookstr.com, as well as in Malgieri’s book, How to Bake.

I’m pleased as can be about the timing of this post. It’s just in time for the Jewish New Year this weekend. And the cooler weather we’ve been having this week has left me just itching to bake.

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Strawberry Brunch Tart with Thyme and Black Pepper

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Strawberry Brunch Tarte with Thyme and Black Pepper at The Hungry Mouse

This is not a fancy tart. It’s not one of those gorgeous, fresh-fruit-and-custard puff pastry things that looks like a piece of art. I’ll make you one of those one of these days. Don’t get me wrong: Those are lovely, too. But, this…this is messy and delicious and is the kind of thing that you want to eat in the kitchen, sticky and standing up, because you just can’t wait.

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Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake at The Hungry Mouse

Hey, you! (Yeah, you!) Summer’s coming. Let’s go to the playground! Oh, or maybe the roller rink. Or both. Sorry…this cake makes me feel like I’m about 12 years old again. And I’m loving it. (Slumber party, anyone?)

This is one of the best chocolate cake recipes I have, hands down. It’s also one of the easiest to make.

This cake is made without eggs, milk, or butter, which makes it a take-off on some war-time cake recipes, when certain ingredients were rationed. It gets its poof from the reaction between the vinegar and baking soda.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake at The Hungry Mouse

This cake doesn’t have a ton of ingredients, but definitely resist the temptation to toss anything additional into the batter. Really. This cake is moist, dense, and super chocolate-y.

The Angry Chef suggested that it would be a great base for those homemade Hostess cupcakes that have been popping up all over the internet.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake at The Hungry Mouse

In terms of serving, you could frost it (try my Creamy Chocolate Frosting), if you like. But all this cake really needs is a little powdered sugar. Maybe a tall glass of ice cold milk or a nice, hot espresso.

That said, I dare you not to just sit down with the pan and a fork.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake at The Hungry Mouse

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake: A note on cocoa powder

Just to clarify, be sure that you use unsweetened cocoa powder for this recipe�not hot chocolate mix that has sugar in it.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake at The Hungry Mouse

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake: A note on pan size

This recipe makes a large, 13 x 9 cake.

To make a layer cake, split the batter up between two 8-inch pans. If you do that, cut baking time down to about 28-30 minutes.

Or, for a single, smaller cake, cut the recipe in half and bake for 28-30 minutes in an 8-inch pan.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
3/4 cup olive oil or canola oil
2 Tbls. white vinegar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups water
spray oil to grease the pan

Makes one 13-inch x 9-inch cake

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake: Make the cake batter

Lightly spray a 13 x 9 baking pan with oil. Line the bottom with a rectangle of parchment paper. Press it down so it sticks and set the pan aside. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Put the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake at The Hungry Mouse

Mix together with a whisk until uniform.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake at The Hungry Mouse

Depending on the brand of cocoa you use, the dry mixture will probably be a really light brown. That’s just fine.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake at The Hungry Mouse

Add the oil to the dry ingredients. (I used regular ole pure olive oil.) Toss in the vinegar and vanilla extract.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake at The Hungry Mouse

Pour in the water.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake at The Hungry Mouse

Mix just until the batter comes together.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake at The Hungry Mouse

You don’t want to overmix it, or you risk the cake getting a little tough. Just smoosh any big lumps against the side of the bowl to break them up.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake at The Hungry Mouse

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake: Bake the cake

Pour the batter into your prepared pan.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake at The Hungry Mouse

Smooth it out so the surface is relatively level. Pop it into your preheated oven and bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake at The Hungry Mouse

When it’s done, the cake should be firm to the touch (when you press on the surface with a finger, the indentation should spring back), and slightly darker brown (but not crispy or hard) on the edges.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake at The Hungry Mouse

Oh, and a toothpick should come out clean when inserted in the middle.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake at The Hungry Mouse

Let the cake cool completely in the pan before cutting and serving.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake at The Hungry Mouse

Keeps well for about 4 days (if it lasts that long), tightly wrapped, on the counter.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake at The Hungry Mouse

Enjoy!

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake at The Hungry Mouse

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake at The Hungry Mouse

 

Raspberry Ice Cream Sundae in an Edible Chocolate Shell

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

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What’s better than an ice cream sundae? How about an ice cream sundae in an edible chocolate bowl? Now that’s what I’m talking about.

Recently, I made a big batch of homemade peanut butter cups.

While I was playing with all that melted chocolate, I made a few extra chocolate shells.

This is a quick and easy way to make a super yummy�and totally edible�dessert. You can dress it up or down, so it’ll be just as impressive at a dinner party as it will at a kid’s birthday.

For this sundae, I filled a chocolate shell with a little blop of raspberry jam, topped it with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream, then drizzled on some warm raspberry jam and a few fresh berries.

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Edible Chocolate Shells: 3 ideas for fillings

I like to keep a few on hand for, um, emergencies. The possibilities are kind of endless, but here are a few ideas of what to do with them:

+Chocolate ice cream + a drizzle of Kahlua + a sprinkle of mini chocolate chips = An after-midnight ice cream nightcap
+Peanut butter + vanilla ice cream + thick fudge sauce + crumbled peanut butter cups = Insanely peanut-buttery sundae
+Coconut gelato + thick fudge sauce + sweetened flaked coconut = Better than a Mounds bar

I could keep going, but you get the idea.

Edible Chocolate Shells: The basic technique

Here’s the basic technique for creating the chocolate shells. You can totally make them in advance and keep them tightly wrapped in the fridge or freezer. Click here to see more and read the full Homemade Peanut Butter & S’mores Cup article.

1. Melt a little bit of your favorite chocolate.

2. Put a big spoonful of melted chocolate in a regular-sized muffin liner.

3. Smoosh the chocolate around to coat the entire inside of the liner.

4. Stick them in the fridge for about a half an hour, or until completely hard.

Now that you have an idea of how to make the chocolate shells, on to the sundae!

Raspberry Ice Cream Sundae in an Edible Chocolate Shell

1 chocolate shell, prepared according to the directions above
1 scoop, vanilla ice cream
2 tsp. raspberry jam or melba sauce
3-6 fresh raspberries
Fresh mint, for garnish

Makes 1 sundae.

Grab your chocolate cup.

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Peel the liner off. Do this carefully, as the cups are kind of fragile.

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Drop 1 teaspoon of raspberry jam in the bottom of the chocolate cup.

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Top with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. If you’re serving these at a dinner party, you can make these a few hours ahead up to this point. (Store them in a zip-top bag in the freezer.) Wait to top with the warm jam and berries until right before serving.

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Put the other teaspoon of raspberry jam in the microwave for a few seconds to warm it up and thin it out.

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Spoon the warm jam over the top of the ice cream.

Your jam will spread out and melt the ice cream a little, and do that heavenly warm-topping-on-cold-ice-cream thing. (Like I said, top your sundae right before serving.)

Drop on a few fresh raspberries.

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Garnish with a sprig of mint.

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Serve immediately. (And don’t forget to eat your bowl.) Enjoy!



Homemade Peanut Butter & S’mores Cups

Friday, February 20th, 2009

Make your own peanut butter cups�and s’mores cups, and fluffernutter cups. I’ve been wanting to do this for ages, and man…am I glad I did. It’s easy, kind of messy, and tons of fun.

Warning: Gratuitous candy photography ahead. I couldn’t help myself. I think my camera might still be semi-coated in chocolate.

How to make homemade, filled chocolate candies

These were such a hit with the Mouse House Crew that I’ll definitely make them again soon. The best part? Once you get the basic chocolate shell down, the possibilities for fillings are almost endless.

Chocolate-coated shells

This time, I filled some of mine with a sweetened peanut-butter paste, and some with marshmallow fluff and graham crackers for an all-in-one s’mores treat. Oh, and a handful got peanut butter and marshmallow fluff, in classic fluffernutter style.

S’mores cup

Here are a few more ideas for fillings

+Chocolate ice cream + a dollop of homemade fudge sauce (fill and freeze, then thaw in the fridge half an hour before serving)
+Peanut butter + jelly
+Marshmallow fluff + raspberry jam
+Dark chocolate fudge + chopped, brandy-soaked dried cherries

Peanut-butter cup

Homemade Peanut Butter & S’mores Cups: A note on ingredients

I used semi-sweet chocolate chips here, but use any kind of chocolate you like. Dark chocolate would be lovely, as well. For the peanut butter, I used smooth, but chunky (or even homemade) would be great.

For the marshmallow fluff, make your own (it’s easy, I swear!)�or use good ole Marshmallow Fluff in a jar.

(Fact #438 about The Hungry Mouse: The Mouse House is located not far from where Marshmallow Fluff was invented.)

Melting chocolate: To temper or not to temper?

In a word, I didn’t bother for these. Basically, tempering chocolate is a method of melting chocolate that helps it keep a nice gloss and a good snap.

If you like, definitely take the time to do this. It’s a good thing to do if you plan to keep them around for a while, and can help eliminate (harmless) spots of bloom on the surface.

Here’s a good explanation from Epicurious:

OK, Mouse! Make with the candy!

Yep, yep. Here you go. There are all sorts of recipes floating around out there for these. Here’s a step-by-step walk-through of how I made mine. Measurements are approximate, and depend on how much of each ingredient you add to each cup.

Homemade Peanut Butter & S’mores Cups

For the candy shells
3-4 cups chocolate chips

For the peanut butter filling
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the s’mores filling
1 cup marshmallow fluff
2 graham crackers, broken in pieces

Yields about 2 dozen mini peanut butter cups and 4-6 large s’mores.

I used mini muffin liners for the peanut-butter cups, and regular-sized ones for the s’mores.

Homemade Peanut Butter & S’mores Cups: Melt the chocolate

Grab your chocolate chips. Set a pot with an inch of water on the stove over high heat. Bring the water up to a boil, then drop the heat to low. Set a large, heat-proof bowl on top of the pot.

Add your chocolate to the bowl. It should immediately start to melt.

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Stir it with a spatula until it’s completely melted. This should only take a few minutes. When it’s totally melted, turn the stove off and set the bowl on a board to cool.

Homemade Peanut Butter & S’mores Cups: Make the peanut butter filling

While your chocolate is cooling, make your peanut butter filling.

Put your peanut butter in a medium-sized bowl.

Add the powdered sugar to it.

Stir to combine well.

When you have a smooth, uniform mixture, add the vanilla extract. (If you wanted a different flavor in the filling, this is the place to add it.)

Stir to combine well. You want to end up with a smooth paste, like this:

Set the peanut butter filling aside. If you’re using additional fillings, gather them together now.

Homemade Peanut Butter & S’mores Cups: Make the chocolate cups

When your chocolate is still melted, but cool enough to handle comfortably, you’re ready to make your chocolate-coated cups.

Grab your muffin liners.

Put a spoonful of chocolate in the middle of the cup.

Using the back of your spoon, smoosh the chocolate around so that it completely coats the inside of the muffin liner, like this:

When your cup is coated, set it aside on a baking sheet or plate (use something that will fit in your fridge).

Repeat with the rest of the muffin liners until they’re all coated.

Homemade Peanut Butter & S’mores Cups: Chill the chocolate cups

When your cups are all filled, pop them into the fridge for about a half an hour, until the chocolate is totally solid. When you’re ready to fill them, take them out of the fridge.

Homemade Peanut Butter & S’mores Cups: Fill the peanut-butter cups

Check your melted chocolate before you start. If it’s too solid to work with, pop it back over a pot of warm water to loosen it up a little.

Put a small lump of peanut butter filling in the chocolate cup. How much you add is up to you. I’d fill them at least halfway up, so there’s a fairly even ratio of chocolate to filling.

With a finger, smoosh the filling down so that it’s flat.

Top with a spoonful of melted chocolate.

Spread the chocolate around with the back of your spoon. Basically, you want to create a chocolate seal, touching all the edges and completely covering the filling.

Set the finished peanut butter cup on a plate or tray (again, one that will fit in your fridge).

Repeat with the rest of the chocolate-coated cups.

Homemade Peanut Butter & S’mores Cups: Fill the s’mores cups

To make a s’mores cup, fill the bottom of the cup a little more than halfway full with marshmallow fluff. Set a piece of a graham cracker on top of the fluff. Press it down gently.

Top with melted chocolate.

Spread the chocolate around with the back of a spoon to completely seal in the filling.

Set aside on a plate or tray. Repeat as needed.

Homemade Peanut Butter & S’mores Cups: Refrigerate the candy

When all your cups are filled and topped with chocolate, pop your candy into the fridge to let the chocolate harden up. Give them an hour, at least, depending on how thick your top layer of chocolate is.

When the chocolate is hard, they should look about like this:

Homemade Peanut Butter & S’mores Cups: Serve and enjoy!

Here’s a peanut butter cup:

And here’s a s’mores cup:

Enjoy!

Gentlemen’s Brownies with Scotch-Infused Frosting

Monday, February 16th, 2009

Gentleman's Brownies

The other day, The Angry Chef headed into the city for his monthly cigar night. I wanted to make something extra special for him and his buddies, who are some of the nicest guys I know.

Mmmm

These brownies are rich, dense, and extra chocolate-y from melted chocolate and cocoa powder.

Gentlemen's Brownies

Their texture is creamy, almost bordering on fudge.

Gentlemen's BrowniesA drizzle of Johnnie Walker Black and brewed espresso balance out the sweetness. They’re filled with a scotch-infused take on my tangy, old-fashioned cream cheese frosting.

Serve with a glass of scotch or a cup of fresh expresso.

Gentlemen’s Brownies

8 oz. bittersweet chocolate
8 Tbls. butter, softened (that’s 1 stick)
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 eggs
3 Tbls. brewed espresso, room temperature or cold
2 Tbls. Johnnie Walker Black, or other scotch you like
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
spray oil

Scotch-Infused Frosting

1 recipe old-fashioned cream cheese icing
2 Tbls. scotch

Bake in either an 8 x 10 or a 7 x 11 pan

Gentlemen’s Brownies: Prep your pan

Don’t skip this step. Seriously. It only takes a minute, and it will help really your brownies come out of the pan easily.

Spray your pan lightly with oil. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan. Press the paper in place. Spritz with oil lightly again. See how to do this step-by-step on this post. You want your pan to look about like this.

Prep your pan

Set your pan aside. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Gentlemen’s Brownies: Chop & melt the chocolate

Grab your chocolate. I used Baker’s Chocolate, but by all means use any bittersweet chocolate you like.

Chop your chocolate up

With a knife, break the chocolate up into small-ish pieces.

Chop your chocolate up

Chop your chocolate up

Fill a pot with an inch or two of water. Set it on the stove over high heat. Bring it to a boil. When it’s boiling, drop the heat to low and set a large, heat-proof bowl on top of the pot of water. Put your chopped chocolate in the bowl.

Melt the chocolate

Stir the chocolate with a spatula. It should start to melt almost immediately.

Melt the chocolate

Stir until the chocolate is completely melted.

Melt the chocolate

When it’s melted, remove the bowl from the stove. Set it aside to cool while you start the brownie batter.

Gentlemen’s Brownies: Make the brownie batter

Put the softened butter and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer (or in a large mixing bowl if you’re using a hand-held mixer).

Butter + sugar

Mix on medium-high to cream the butter and sugar together.

Cream the butter + sugar

You want to create a uniform mixture that’s light and fluffy looking, like this:

butter + sugar

Crack in the eggs.

Add the eggs

Add the eggs

Mix on medium-high until well combined. (Start the mixer on low and gradually speed it up, so your egg doesn’t fly everywhere.)

Mix in the eggs

They should look about like this:

Mix in the eggs

Pour in the espresso and the scotch.

Toss in the scotch

Mix to incorporate. Then toss in the flour and cocoa powder. (If you like, sift the two together in a separate bowl before adding to your mixing bowl. For this recipe, I don’t find it makes a lot of difference, so I skip it.)

Add the cocoa and flour

Mix just to combine.

Mix to combine

Pour in the melted chocolate. It’s OK if it’s warm, you just don’t want it to be hot (or you risk literally scrambling the eggs in your mixing bowl).

In goes the chocolate

Mix on high to combine for maybe 30 seconds or so. Without overbeating it, you want the batter to look about like this.

Brownie batter!

It will be stiff, and have a texture resembling chocolate mousse.

Brownie batter!

Pour out into your prepared pan. Smooth down with a spatula to even out the surface.

Into the pan

Smooth down the batter

Gentlemen’s Brownies: Bake the brownies

Pop the pan into your preheated oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes. When they’re done, they’ll have a lovely even brown color, like this.

Hot out of the oven

When you insert a toothpick halfway between the side and the middle of the pan, it should come out clean. (This time, do this in the place indicated, not in the center.)

Test for doneness

Your toothpick should have just a few crumbs clinging to it, like this:

Done!

If your toothpick is gooey, stick the pan back in the oven for a few minutes, then test again.

Gentlemen’s Brownies: Cool and fill with frosting

Now, you can stop right here. These brownies are great on their own. Cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before cutting. If you’re going to fill them with frosting, cool them to room temperature.

Gentlemen's Brownies

If you’re going to fill them with frosting, whip up a batch of my Old-Fashioned Cream-Cheese Frosting.

Cream cheese frosting

When the frosting is done, add the scotch. (If you wanted a different flavor frosting, this is where you’d add it in.)

Add the scotch to the frosting

Beat it ’til it’s well combined.

Beat the frosting

When your brownies are cool to room temperature, cut into squares.

Mmmm

Split your brownies in half, like this:

Fill with frosting

Fill the brownie

Drop a spoonful of frosting onto one side.

Add the frosting

Smoosh the frosting down a little so it covers most of the brownie.

Fill the brownie

Top with the other half of the brownie. Don’t press down too hard.

Top with the other brownie

Voila!

Filled brownie!

Set it aside on a plate or sheet pan. Repeat with the rest of the brownies.

Fill them all!

When they’re all filled, pop the brownies in the fridge for a few hours to firm up the filling.

Serve and enjoy!



Deep-Fried Chicken Fingers with Crispy Cheez-It Crust

Friday, February 13th, 2009

Deep-Fried Chicken Fingers with Crispy Cheez-It Crust

It’s Friday the 13th and the day before Valentine’s Day. There’s a dizzying array of mouthwatering, chocolate-y recipes out there this week. So…let’s make something fun and crunchy.

Mouse discovers Cheez-It breading. Film at 11.

It didn’t happen exactly like this, but this is close enough.

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The Best Way to Roast a Duck (Hello, Crispy Skin!)

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

Spicy Molasses and Soy Glaze

Intimidated by roasting a whole duck? Don’t be.

It takes a few hours, but it’s really pretty easy. You just need to know what to do with your bird. It’s kind of a labor of love, but it’s definitely worth it.

With this method, the skin is crispy. The meat is succulent, perfectly cooked, and not at all greasy. And best of all? You’ll wind up with about a cup-and-a-half of duck fat. (More on this in a sec.)

This article demonstrates a step-by-step master recipe for roasting a plain duck, and then shows you how to lacquer it with a mouthwateringly spicy molasses and soy glaze. It’s a take off on Martha Stewart’s recipe & method from her Cooking School book.

So you guys know I have a fair obsession with duck fat

Now, I’ve roasted my share of ducks, but I’m always looking for ways to improve two things (which luckily, are tied together): how crisp the skin is and how much duck fat I get. The method below gets a lot of fat out of the duck, and produces beautiful, crackly skin.

Spicy Molasses and Soy Glaze

Wait, Mouse. What can I cook with all that duck fat?

Duck fat keeps for months in the fridge. Use it much in the same way you would use rendered bacon fat. Here are some ideas:

+Duck fat is a glorious companion to potatoes. Make some duck-fat hash browns. Add duck fat to mashed potatoes instead of butter.
+Rub a whole chicken’s skin with it before roasting. It’ll add a good, deep flavor to your bird. (A chicken in duck’s clothing? I’ll take it!)
+Slather it on root veggies and roast with garlic, salt, and pepper.

On to the duck!

I don’t buy duck very often. They don’t usually carry it at my regular grocery store, so I make a special trek to Whole Foods for it. That’s just fine. It’s a treat, after all.

How to roast a duck: The basic technique

Here’s the basic technique I use to roast a duck. Roast it as follows for 4 hours at 300 degrees. After 4 hours, glaze and blast it at high heat for a short time.

  1. Score the skin, cut off excess fat, and poke it all over
  2. Salt and truss
  3. Roast at 300 degrees for 1 hour, breast-side up
  4. Poke, flip, roast for 1 hour, breast-side down
  5. Poke, flip, roast for 1 hour, breast-side up
  6. Poke, flip, roast for 1 hour, breast side down
  7. Poke, flip, blast at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, breast-side up
  8. Brush with glaze
  9. Finish at 400 degrees for 5-7 minutes
  10. Rest, carve & serve

If you’re a meat thermometer kind of person, you want your duck to register 165 degrees F. If you follow the instructions below, you should be just fine.

Read on for step-by-step photo instructions.

Spicy Molasses and Soy Glaze

Master Recipe: Roast Duck

1 whole Pekin duck, 5-6 lbs.
kosher salt

Sweet & Spicy Glaze

1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup molasses
3 Tbls. orange juice
1 Tbls. soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbls. Sriracha chili sauce (adjust to taste)

How to roast a duck: Unwrap the bird & deal with the innards

Grab your duck and unwrap it.

What an excellent duck!

Yank out all the little treats that are inside the duck’s cavity and set them aside. Sometimes they’ll be wrapped in paper. Sometimes they’ll be loose. If they’re loose, be sure to get them all out.

I freeze all the innards except the liver, and toss them into stock. (The liver is the brown-ish, squishy looking thing in the upper left part of the picture below.)

Duck innards

Sidebar: What to do with the duck liver

By all means, save the liver and use it in pate or some other yummy thing.

For a simple and rustic cook’s treat, fry the duck liver in a little butter, garlic, salt, and pepper. Mash it up, then spread it on buttered toast. It makes a lovely snack if you like that kind of thing.

Fry the duck liver in butter Fried duck liver Fried duck liver on toast

How to roast a duck: Score the skin

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

When your duck is empty, rinse it under cold water. Pat it dry with paper towels. Set a rack in a deep-ish roasting pan. Put the duck on the rack. (Or, score the skin, then set it on the rack afterward. Up to you.) Sprinkle the cavity with a little kosher salt.

Rinse and dry your duck

With a very sharp knife, score a diamond pattern into the duck skin on the breast. Slice carefully. You want to cut through most of the fat without cutting into the meat. Luckily, a duck’s layer of fat is fairly thick, so this is pretty easy once you get the hang of it.

Cut on an angle.

Cut on an angle

Slice through the skin and fat, but not into the meat.

Slice through the skin and fat, but not into the meat

You want your duck to look about like this:

Score the duck skin

How to roast a duck: Yank out any quills

Your duck might not have any quills. But if you do see any little pointy things poking out of the duck’s skin like this, just pull them out:

Yank out any little quills

How to roast a duck: Trim off any excess skin (and render it, if you like)

Cut off any excess skin at either end of the duck’s cavity.

Cut off any excess skin

Cut off any excess skin

Cut off any excess skin

Now, you can toss that skin. But if you’re like me, and you want to get as much fat out of your duck as possible, save it.

Cut it into smaller pieces. Put it in a pot with a little water. Bring the water to a simmer. Cover the pot tightly and let it simmer for a while. The skin will let out most of its fat. Strain it into a jar and reserve.

Put the skin in a pot with some water Bring the pot up to a simmer Cover the pot The skin will let out most of its fat Strain it Rendered duck fat

How to roast a duck: Poke the duck all over & truss it

Prick the duck’s skin all over with a sharp knife. This is to create small holes that’ll let the fat escape more readily. The more fat escapes, the crisper the skin will be. Only prick the skin, don’t hit the meat.

Poke it all over

Cross the legs and tie them together like this with a piece of butcher’s twine.

Truss the legs

Tie up the legs

Fold the wings under the duck. (Please note, my duck here is missing one of his wing tips!)

Fold the wings under

I didn’t get a good picture of the wing folding for the duck, but here are some pictures of how to fold a chicken wing, which is similar.

Stretch the wing out Fold it back like this Tuck it under the bird

Sprinkle the duck with salt and pop it into the oven. Roast just like this, breast-side up, for 1 hour at 300 degrees.

Into the oven!

After the first hour: Poke and turn the bird breast-side down

After the first hour, yank the pan out of the oven. The skin will still be pale, and should be just a wee bit crisp when poked.

After the first hour

Prick the skin all over with a knife. When pierced, the skin should let out gloriously molten duck fat. Be sure to get the area around the legs, which is particularly fatty.

Prick the skin

Flip the bird over, so it’s breast-side down.

Flip the bird breast-side down

Pop it back into the oven. Roast breast-side down for 1 hour at 300 degrees.

After the second hour: Poke and turn the bird breast-side up

After the second hour, yank the pan out of the oven. The skin will be browner, and more crisp, like this:

After the second hour

Prick the skin all over. Flip the bird breast-side up.

Flip the bird breast-side up

Pop it back in the oven. Roast breast-side up for 1 hour at 300 degrees.

After the third hour: Poke and turn the bird breast-side down

After the third hour, yank the pan out of the oven. Your duck should be noticeably browner and getting kind of crispy.

After the third hour

Prick the bird all over.

Prick the skin

Flip it over so it’s breast-side down.

Back into the oven

Pop it back in the oven. Roast breast-side down for a final hour at 300 degrees.

While the duck is roasting for its last hour, make the glaze

When the duck is roasting for its fourth hour, it’s time to make the glaze. In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the honey, molasses, orange juice, soy sauce, and hot sauce. Bring to a simmer.

Glaze

Whisk constantly over medium-high heat for a few minutes, ’til it gets thick and syrupy, like this.

Glaze

It should coat the back of a spoon fairly thickly.

Glaze

Set your glaze aside, off the heat, until your duck comes out of the oven.

After the fourth hour: Finish your duck!

Finally! After the 4th hour, yank the pan out of the oven. Crank the heat up to 400 degrees.

Your duck should look about like this:

After the 4th hour

If you’re saving the duck fat for cooking later, remove it from the pan now. (Pull the duck and rack out carefully and pour off the duck fat….or tip the pan and remove it with a spoon. Be extra careful here, fat burns are nasty.) Do this now, before you add the glaze, so the glaze doesn’t get into the fat.

Duck fat!

When you’re done, put the duck back in the pan on the rack. Flip it over, so it’s breast-side up.

Flip the duck over

When your oven hits 400 degrees, stick the pan back into the oven. Roast like this, breast-side up, for 10 minutes or so. This is to help crisp up the skin a little more.

Back into the oven for 10 minutes

After 10 minutes, yank the pan out of the oven. The skin should be golden brown and crisp.

After 10 minutes at 400 degrees

Brush the surface with glaze so that your duck is completely covered. (If your glaze has cooled and is too thick to spread, just warm it up on the stove and it’ll liquify right up.)

Brush with glaze

You want your duck to look about like this:

Brush on the glaze

Stick your pan back in the oven, and roast at 400 degrees for 5-7 minutes, until your duck is a beautiful mahogany color. Keep a close eye on it, and yank it out if it starts to burn.

Your finished duck should look about like this:

Finished duck

Let the duck rest for 10 minutes.

Finished duck

How to roast a duck: Carve, serve, and enjoy!

Transfer your duck to a platter. Carve just like you would a roasted chicken.

Let him rest

Spicy Molasses and Soy Glaze

So, you wanna buy a duck? (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

Oh, oh, oh!

If you haven’t already, don’t forget to enter our contest to win Jamie Oliver’s Nintendo DS Game. I have 3 to give away.

Cheers!

Here are some of the best discounts and sales I’ve found this week.

Martha Stewart for 1-800-Flowers.com

Origins Online (ELC)

Beautorium.com 5 Free Gifts 468x60

Grocery Coupons 05.08.08

DancingDeer_VDAY09_468x60_PSHIP9

***
Copyright 2008-2009 The Hungry Mouse/Jessica B. Konopa. All rights reserved.

Pomegranate-Orange Sorbet

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

When I was just a little mouse, my mom occasionally got me a pomegranate as a treat. It was fun to open, got you properly sticky and covered with ruby-colored juice, and glistened with sweet, deep red seeds that looked like jewels.

To this day, it’s still one of my favorite fruits. (For all the reasons above, plus now I love to cook with them.)

You can imagine my delight, then, when the good folks at Pom Wonderful sent me a case of their 100% pure pomegranate juice to play with. (Thank you!!)

Here’s an easy recipe for an unbelievably delicious Pomegranate-Orange Sorbet. It’s a little sweet, a little tart—and has heady orange notes from a generous drizzle of Triple Sec.

Some love for Pom

They didn’t ask me to say this, but truly, I think their juice is just delicious. It’s 100% pomegranate, so it’s not packed full of other juices (or corn syrup). It has the best�and truest�pomegranate flavor of any juice I’ve tried.

Plus, it comes in a fabulous, curvy bottle. You guys know I’m a sucker for good packaging.

Pomegranates are everywhere!

Pomegranate flavor has been popping up more and more these days, but you’ve probably been enjoying this fruit’s juice longer than you think.

It’s the main ingredient in grenadine, the syrup used to make a number of cocktails�including the famous Shirley Temple.

Read more about pomegranates, learn how to open one, or find out about the health benefits of Pom Wonderful.

Pomegranate-Orange Sorbet: A note on equipment

You’ll need an ice cream maker to make this properly.

I have a fairly basic Cuisinart ice cream maker that I just love. If you’re in the market for one, it’s actually on sale (as of this posting) at Amazon for $49.95�that’s 45% off its $90 list price. I’ve had mine for a few years and can’t say enough about it.

Oh, one thing to note. If you haven’t used one before, many ice cream makers require that you stash the bowl in the freezer ahead of time for a day or so. Just a good thing to know when you’re figuring out timing (i.e. you can’t take it out of the box and *immediately* make ice cream).

How to make Pomegranate-Orange Sorbet without an ice cream maker

Can you still make this if you don’t have an ice cream maker? Sure thing. The consistency just won’t be as smooth, so it would be more of a granita.

Put the sorbet mixture in a shallow dish in the freezer. Stir it every half hour or so, breaking up the ice crystals that form, until it’s completely frozen. It will be coarser in texture, but will still be super yummy.

OK. On to the sorbet!

Pomegranate-Orange Sorbet

1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
3 cups pomegranate juice
2 Tbls. Triple Sec or orange liqueur

Makes about 1 quart.

Pomegranate-Orange Sorbet: Make the sorbet base

Add the water to a medium-sized saucepan.

Add the sugar to the water.

Whisk to combine.

Pour in the pomegranate juice.

Whisk to combine. Set the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking occasionally.

When it comes to a rolling boil, turn the heat off and remove the pot from the stove.

Let the mixture cool to room temperature, then stick it in the fridge to chill it completely.

Pomegranate-Orange Sorbet: Process and freeze the sorbet

When your pomegranate mixture is cold, it’s time to process it in your ice cream maker.

Grab the pomegranate mixture from the fridge. Add the Triple Sec or orange liqueur to it.

Whisk to combine.

Give your mixture a taste at this point. What’s in the pot is what your sorbet will taste like. If you want to add anything else, now is the time to do it.

(Add only liquids now. Most ice cream makers suggest that you add any solids, like candy or nuts, about 5 minutes before the end of processing.)

Your mixture should look about like this:

Process the sorbet in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Pomegranate-Orange Sorbet: How to freeze your sorbet

*Please note that the instructions below apply to my Cuisinart ice cream maker. Check your manual if you have a different kind, as your directions might not be the same.

Pour the sorbet mixture into the ice cream maker with the machine running.

Process for 20-30 minutes, until the sorbet has a slushy consistency, kind of like a frozen margarita or a Slurpee.

After about 20 minutes, it should look about like this:

After another 10 minutes (for a total processing time of 30 minutes), it looked like this:

Remove the bowl from the machine and give it a quick stir.

It should be slushy�not frozen solid.

Quick Tip: For a juicy and potent frozen drink, put some in a glass and add a little more triple sec and a shot or two of vodka.

Transfer to a freezer-safe container. Don’t worry if it gets slightly liquid-y at the edges.

Smooth the surface of the sorbet flat.

Press a piece of plastic wrap down on the surface of the sorbet like this:

Stick the bowl in the freezer for a few hours or overnight, until it’s frozen firm.

Pomegranate-Orange Sorbet: Scoop, serve, and enjoy!

When your sorbet is frozen, it should look about like this. It should be firm to the touch, just like sorbet you get from the grocery store.

Here are some of the best discounts and sales I’ve found this week.

Martha Stewart for 1-800-Flowers.com

Origins Online (ELC)

Beautorium.com 5 Free Gifts 468x60

Grocery Coupons 05.08.08

DancingDeer_VDAY09_468x60_PSHIP9

***
Copyright 2008-2009 The Hungry Mouse/Jessica B. Konopa. All rights reserved.

Two Chocolate-y Valentine’s Treats: Candy & Cocktails, Oh My!

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Valentine’s Day is approaching. Love it or hate it, it’s a fabulous excuse to indulge in a few sweets. Here are recipes for two devilishly delightful chocolate-y treats.

Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Hearts
(Peanut-butter cup and pretzel sandwiches dipped in a lavish amount of chocolate)

Chocolate Cherry Kiss Cocktail
(Created especially for my friend Bunny, this potent and creamy drink is served in a melt-on-your-lips chocolate rimmed glass. Get the full, step-by-step recipe at Bunny Got Blog.)

Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Hearts

So, what’s that, you say? These mini pretzels are suspiciously…heart shaped? Why yes, they are! Quick, get me some chocolate, stat! (Mwahahahaha…)

These Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Hearts are crunchy, creamy, a little salty, and oh-so-sweet.

Making them is half the fun. You need to be patient. You also need to like to play with your food, and not mind getting your paws covered in chocolate and peanut butter.

This is one part recipe and one part technique. Actual measurements will depend on how many Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Hearts you want to make.

For each candy, you’ll need:

+2 mini pretzels
+1 mini peanut butter cup
+melted chocolate

Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Hearts

Mini pretzels
Mini peanut butter cups
Chocolate chips

Make your chocolate and peanut butter cup sandwiches

Grab your mini pretzels and mini peanut butter cups.

Unwrap a peanut butter cup.

Smoosh it down with a finger.

You want to flatten it out, and break the top layer of chocolate into several pieces, exposing the creamy peanut butter filling.

Center it on top of a mini pretzel and press down on it lightly to make it stick.

Set another mini pretzel on top of it, lined up with the one on the bottom.

Gently and evenly, press the top pretzel down. Don’t go crazy. You’re not building a house. You just need to pretzel to stick to the exposed peanut butter filling in a few places.

You want it to look about like this, and hold together in once piece when you pick it up.

If you break the pretzel, just use a new one. I broke a bunch. That’s just fine.

When the top pretzel is secure, set your little sandwich aside.

Repeat with more pretzels and peanut butter cups until you have as many as you like.

Toss your scraps and wrappers. Put your sandwiches aside while you melt the chocolate.

Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Hearts: Melt the dipping chocolate

Bring an inch of water to boil on the stove. When the water’s boiling, drop the heat to low. Set a large, heat-proof bowl on top of the water.

Add your chocolate chips to the bowl. They should start to melt almost instantly.

Stir them with a spatula or wooden spoon.

When the chocolate is completely melted, turn the stove off. Remove the bowl from the pot. (Careful, it will be dripping with hot water.)

Set the chocolate on the counter to cool. Keep an eye on it. You want it to be a comfortable temperature for dipping (i.e. getting your hands in), but still be melted.

Dip your sandwiches

Line a sheet pan or plate with wax paper. Set aside.

When the chocolate is cool enough to touch without burning yourself, dip your pretzel and peanut butter cup sandwiches.

You need to move fast and be kind of gentle.

Depending on how warm your chocolate is, it can slightly melt the peanut butter cup filling, which means the pretzels might slide around a little. That’s just fine.

Cover your sandwich completely in chocolate, then realign the pretzels.

Put the chocolate-coated pretzel sandwich on your prepared pan. Don’t worry about making a mess on the pan.

With your finger (or a chopstick or knife), sculpt the chocolate a little to make sure the heart shape is clear. Depending on the shape of the pretzel, some might have a better heart shape than others.

Keep dipping until you’ve coated all your pretzel sandwiches in chocolate. If you like, you could also sprinkle the tops with finely chopped nuts.

Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Hearts: Chill your candy

When you’re done, stick the pan or plate in the fridge until the chocolate is set.

You want them to look about like this:

Take them out of the fridge when the chocolate is totally hard.

Pull them off the paper (they should come off without a hitch) and transfer them to an airtight container or zip-top bag to store.

You should be able to store them at room temperature. If you find that the chocolate is smearing or getting soft, keep them in the fridge.

Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Hearts: Tips for sharing

For a nice gift presentation, wrap a stack in wax paper and tie it with a silk ribbon. You can also put each heart in a decorative muffin wrapper and pack a handful in a cardboard candy box.

Hey, what about that cocktail?

Yep, yep. Here you go.

I was really excited and honored when Bunny from Bunny Got Blog invited me to be her first-ever guest author. The Angry Chef and I created this Chocolate Cherry Kiss Cocktail just for her.

(If you don’t know Bunny, definitely check her out. She blogs about a lot of topics, from relationships to business, and is always a good read.)

This cocktail is rimmed with solid chocolate�and has two types of vodka, creme de cacao, Godiva liqueur, and light cream. It’s luscious and velvety.

Stop by Bunny Got Blog for the recipe and step-by-step instructions for chocolate coating your glass.

Cheers!




Here are some of the best discounts and sales I’ve found this week.

Sur La Table Winter Sale

After Holiday Sale

Winter Skin & Body Set

***
Copyright 2008-2009 The Hungry Mouse/Jessica B. Konopa. All rights reserved.