Pearl Couscous with Dried Fruits and Nuts

This makes for good lunches because it keeps for a while, a nice side dish, or an interesting offering in a potluck. Most importantly it’s easy and quick to get together.

Adapted from Foodiecrush.

2 cups pearl couscous
1 cup dried apricot
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup pistachios (roasted, unsalted)
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (roasted, unsalted)

For the dressing:
1 french shallot
1/3 cup olive oil
2 table spoon white balsamic vinegar
2 tea spoon dijon mustard
2 tea spoon honey
salt and pepper to taste


1. Combine the dressing ingredients.

2. Blend until smooth. Adjust seasoning and set aside.

3. Cook the pearl couscous (like pasta) until done but it still has a bit of texture. Drain and coat with the dressing,

4. Cut the dried apricots into smaller pieces. Add the cranberries. I aim for roughly 1 1/2 cup of dried fruits total.

5. Add the fruits to the couscous.

6. Add the pistachios and pumpkin seeds.

7. Mix well to combine and transfer to a serving bowl. This can be eaten cold or warm.


Duck Skewers

The duck meat turned out incredibly tender. The spices may overwhelm the taste of the meat, so adjust accordingly. The same marinade would probably work great with beef.

Ingredients :
2 duck breast
2 table spoon Sri Lanka style curry
2 shallots
2 cloves of garlic
2 tea spoon lemon juice
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 tea spoon salt


1. Put the spices in a mortar and coarsely grind.

2. Put the ground spices in a food processor along with the shallots, garlic, salt, and coconut milk.

3. Pulse until mostly smooth.

4. Cut the duck into cubes. I left the skin on thinking I might be able to crisp it up, but that didn’t work. Just remove it altogether.

5. Pour the marinade over the meat and stir to coat. Allow to marinate for at least an hour, up to overnight.

6. Thread onto skewers.

7. Pre-heat the oven to 375F. Sear the skewers in a pan to color all sides.

8. Then transfer to an ovenproof dish and finish in the oven for 5-10 minutes.

9. Serve with peanut sauce.

Goose breast with cranberry maple sauce

Easier than it looks and very tasty. One goose breast will feed two persons.

1 goose breast
1 french shallot, minced
2/3 cup fresh cranberries
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup veal stock
salt and pepper


1. Pre-heat the oven to 375F.
Score the fat of the goose breast in a cross-hatch pattern, bring careful not to cut the meat. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Put fat side down in a cold skillet and turn on to medium-heat. Allow the fat to render for 2 minutes, removing excess if needed.

3. Turn over and color the other side of the meat for 2 minutes.

4. Transfer to an oven safe plate and put in the oven for 15 minutes.

5. Drain most of the fat from the plate. Add the minced shallots and cook until translucent.

6. Add the cranberries.

7. Add the veal stock (don’t be like me, actually get your stock room temperature first).

8. Add the maple syrup and rosemary.

9. Bring to a boil and reduce the sauce. Adjust seasoning if needed.

10. Take the goose breast out of the oven and allow to rest for 2-3 minutes.

11. Slice and dress with the sauce. Serve with roasted vegetables and a starch of your choice (I went with couscous).

Fiddleheads amandine

Fidddleheads are the furled fronds of a young fern. They are only available for a brief period in spring (afterward they unfurl and become a proper fern). They are a tasty, different green to prepare, but can be toxic if eaten raw or under cooked.

This is a simple preparation, great as a side dish with fish.

220g fiddleheads
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 table spoon butter
3 french shallots, diced
salt and pepper


1. In a dry skillet, toast the almonds on medium heat, tossing often.

2. Once they have gained some color, set aside.

3. Rinse the fiddleheads under lots of water. Make sure to remove any brown scales from them.

4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop the fiddleheads into the boiling water.

5. Boil for 12-15 minutes. The water will turn a weird dark color.

6. Drain the boiled fiddleheads, discarding the water. Rinse well, then transfer to an ice bath to stop the cooking process.

7. In the skillet, melt the butter and add the shallots. Cook for 3 minutes or until the shallots become translucent.

8. Drain the fiddleheads from the ice water and add to the skillet. Coat well with the butter and season with salt and pepper. Saute for a further 3 minutes.

9. Add the toasted almonds and continue cooking for an other 2-3 minutes.

10. Serve warm.

French onion soup with beer

I had a bag full of onion and nothing to do this afternoon. I’ve also been having a craving for a good french onion soup. It was a perfect situation. Except for the cheese. I only had pre-grated Italian mix cheese. It worked but, really, you want emmental or gruyère for this.

2 1/2 lb onions (about 7)
4 table spoon butter
1 table spoon white balsamic vinegar
3 french shallots
2 garlic cloves
1 bottle of dark beer
1 liter of beef broth
1/2 tea spoon dried thyme
1-2 bay leaf
baguette, cut into croutons
cheese, to taste
salt and pepper



1. Peel and half all your onions.

2. Melt the butter in a large soup pot. Thinly slice the onions and throw into the pot. Stir to coat with the butter and add a generous pinch of salt.

3. Cook on medium low-heat for as long as they need to start getting some golden color. If it starts looking dry, add a bit of water and scrape the sugars from the bottom of the pot to recoat the onions.

4. When they are near the color your want (this was after a bit more than 1 hour) add the white balsamic vinegar.

5. Keep an eye on them, the extra sugar will finish caramelizing the onions very fast.

6. Add the diced shallots and the minced garlic. Cook until the garlic is fragrant.

7. Pour in the beer and make sure to scrape up all the sugary fond at the bottom of the pot.

8. Add the beef broth. Simmer for 25 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.

9. When the soup is nearly ready slice the bread into croutons.

10. Put in the oven under the broiler to toast.

11. Ladle the soup into heat resistant bowl. Add toasted croutons and cover with cheese, to taste.

12. Put in oven under broiler until cheese is melted and started to turn golden. Serve immediately.

Mango Chutney

A delicious condiment with grilled meats, or in a roast pork sandwich.

Yield : 5 half pints.

5 lb under ripe (but not green) mangoes
3 cups white sugar
1 table spoon molasses
1-2 jalapenos
1 shallot
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
4 oz tamarind paste
2 tea spoon brown mustard seeds
1 tea spoon yellow mustard seeds
10 green cardamom pods
12 black peppercorns
1 tea spoon kalonji
10 cloves
1/2 tea spoon fenugreek
1/2 tea spoon salt

1. Peel and dice the mangoes. In a large bowl, combine the mangoes with the sugar, jalapenos, molasses, shallot and garlic. Allow to macerate for a minimum of 30 minutes. You can adda few pits in there as well. They will give you more pectin however, resulting in a very firm chutney.

2. Transfer into a large pot. Roughly grind all the spices with a mortar and pestle and add to the pot. Add the tamarind and vinegar. Heat on medium-low heat until the mangoes are soft.

3. After 30-40 minutes the mangoes should be ready. Remove the pits and scrape off the flesh.

4. Either using a potato masher or an immersion blender, break down the mangoes until no chunk remains.

5. Scald the jars. Bring back the chutney to a boil and cook for 5 minutes (while the jars are scalding). This is a picture of teh chutney itself as I was filling the jars.

6. Process for 10 minutes.

Duck Magret with and an orange sauce

Not quite a proper Duck à l’orange, but very good sweet and sour sauce to go with the gaminess of the duck.

Ingredients :
1/4 cup sugar
2 table spoons water
2 table spoons Sherry wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups orange juice
2 minced shallots
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
4 oranges
2 duck magrets
1/4 cup butter
zest of 1 orange


1. In a medium, thick bottom, pot combine the sugar and water. Heat on medium-low heat until it turns a deep amber.

2. Keep an eye on the sugar and brush down any crystals forming on the sides with a wet pastry brush. In the mean time, chop the shallots and measure the orange juice and vinegar.

3. You want the caramel about this color.

4. While holding the pot away from you add the vinegar. It will steam and hiss.

5. Add the orange juice and shallots. Mix well to combine. Bring to a simmer.

6. Allow to reduce until about 2/3 is gone (about 1/2 cup liquid remaining).

7. Add the chicken broth and mix well. Bring back to a simmer.

8. Reduce until about half the liquid is gone. Set aside.

9. Trim excess fat from the magrets. Score the fat in a crisscross pattern. Try not to cut the flesh.

10. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Put fat side down in a cold skillet and turn on the heat to medium. Render out the fat (draining the skillet as needed). Turn and color the flesh side, then transfer to a 350F oven (fat side down) to finish cooking.

11. Use the same skillet and the rendered fat to cook your vegetable sides.

12. Bring the sauce back to temperature. Add the orange zest.

13. using a small sharp knife peel the oranges. Cut out the segments.

14. Whisk the butter into the sauce.
The duck should be done by now. Take it out of the oven and allow it to rest for about 10 minutes.

15. Gently mix in the orange segments (discarding any excess liquid)

16. Slice the magrets, serve immediately with the sauce and orange segments.