A Great French Style Salad Dressing

I bought a bottle of Walnut Oil to use as a food safe wood finish. The wonderful smell got to me, and I had to splurge and make some salad dressing with it. It will be difficult to use any other dressing, after tasting this.

Recipe

3 tablespoons Walnut Oil

1 tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard

Honey to taste

Salt and Pepper

Fresh Herbs–Basil, Parsley, and/or Oregano

Simply whisk all of these together, taste it, try not to salivate, and you’re done. This is plenty for two salads.

If you spill some Walnut oil on your cutting board, no worries–it’s the finest food safe finish around, and it will just make your kitchen small better. It is a bit pricey, and imagine this moocher’s reaction when he found the same amount of oil for $1 cheaper at–audible gasp–Whole Foods.

Good Friday Citrus Duck with Orange Wine Sauce

Unlucky Ducky, Lucky Us

I have been working on this recipe for years, and I finally have it where I want it. It’s go to on Christmas and Good Friday now.

Duck

Simple enough. Dry the duck, salt the cavity, and then stuff it up the butt with a quartered naval orange and a quartered Meyer lemon. Cook for thirty minutes at 425 degrees F, and another ninety minutes at 375 degrees F. Before cooking, cut another orange in half, and squeeze the juice of one half of over the bird. After an hour, do the same thing with the other half. A roasting rack helps. Give it the thigh joint prick test after two hours, but it should be done by then.

Orange Wine Sauce

Thicker is Better

The key to this sauce is to reduce it down to a syrup, or even a jelly. Think lamb with mint jelly, and you have the idea.

Ingredients

Juice of two Naval Oranges

Red Wine to taste

1 tablespoon of Honey

1 teaspoon of Sugar

1 teaspoon of Red Wine Vinegar

1/2 cup Chicken Stock

Naturally, you can make this as sweet and sour as you want, with more sugar and more vinegar. Our menu for today is brick oven pizza, and for Easter Sunday, ham and macs and cheese, naturally. It doesn’t get much more Southern than that.

Presidential Pie for the Inauguration Day

Emma and Siegfried Wish You a Hippy Inauguration Day

I have been waiting for just the right opportunity to make this pie, and here it is. It’s a combination sweet potato and pecan pie, and it only has about ten million calories in it. It was also the favorite pie of one President Obama. Naturally, it’s from a bakery in Virginia.

A digression here: since Mr. Jefferson of Virginia was asked to write the constitution for the first French Republic (he declined,) let’s have a few lines of the French national anthem.

Allons enfants de la Patrie,
Le jour de gloire est arrivé !
Contre nous de la tyrannie
L’étendard sanglant est levé, 

“Arise, Children of Patriots,

The Day of Glory has Arrived!

Against us, the Tyrant’s banners

Are elevated.”

Damn skippy. Now, back to pie.

The origin of this pie is Red Truck Bakery in northern Virginia, and the genius behind it is Brian Noyes. Go buy his cook book.

Ingredients

1 Creole Pie Crust (more Southern than the original. I really can’t follow a recipe very well.)

Hickory Nuts (not in the original recipe. See above. As it turned out, mine were all ruined anyway.)

Baked and mashed Sweet Taters, Precious

1 Egg

1 Cup Brown Sugar

1 tablespoon Whipping Cream

Cinnamon, Nutmeg, and Bourbon (as much as you dare)

Fill up half the pie dish. That’s plenty.

That’s just the bottom layer. To quote Will Shakespeare, “I will call it Bottom’s dream.” Quoted out of context as usual. Now to the pecan top layer, which is the scary part.

Ingredients

2 Eggs

1/2 cup Sugar

1/4 cup Sorghum Syrup (VERY southern)

Some Bourbon and Cinnamon

2 tablespoons melted Butter

Pinch of Salt

Here’s where I really depart from the recipe: corn syrup, as called for, is verboten in our kitchen so we improvised a replacement.

Honey

Maple Syrup

1 tablespoon Flour

A layer of Pecan Halves

The last ingredient is a thickener. The result is a masterpiece.

“A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever.” Or at least for Couple of Days

The crust is a bit ragged, but it will have a short life anyway. Handsome Joe and Handsome Kamala should drop by for a bite. Otherwise I am gaining several pounds.

Hot Honey Mustard

Love some Sweet and Hot

Years ago, the best deli in Birmingham was in the tiny suburb of Cahaba Heights. The classic item was a turkey sandwich with a hot honey mustard sauce. I finally got the recipe for the sauce from them, and not much could be simpler.

Here are the grand total of the three ingredients.

Ingredients

12 ounces whole grain Mustard

8 ounces Honey

Powdered hot Mustard

Put as much of the last ingredient in it as you dare. This is also known as Oriental mustard, though ours came from Canada. It varies greatly in heat level, and as a menu at a Chinese restaurant we frequented used to say, “it gives you a pleasant burning sensation up your sinuses.” Fair warning.

Alas, the deli has long since closed, but hot honey mustard lives on, as does that pleasant burning sensation. That one is forever.

Pear Honey

Great Pear

As far as is known, the Roman writer Pliny the Elder published the first pear recipe, where he stated that they should be stewed with honey. Modern pear honey recipes omit the honey, but I’m going old school all the way back to the Roman Empire. I’m bringing back the honey.

Ingredients

6 Bartlett Pears, peeled, cored, and sliced

1 Meyer Lemon

1/4 cup Honey

2 cups Sugar

My six pears cost a whopping two bucks at the Festhalle Farmer’s market, and the honey was local as well. My wife Melanie Jane grew that enormous Meyer lemon, and the sugar came from Sugarland, Texas: old school and down home.

I began with cooking the honey, sliced pears, and the complete interior of the Meyer lemon, minus the seeds. Hint: if you freeze the lemon first, and then cut it in half, the peel comes off all in one piece. Add the sugar, and get ready to go do something else.

A Saucier full of Pears

Cooking Time

2 1/2 Days (Correction: 2 1/2 Hours)

This would be an excellent time to go and write some on that novel that you have been putting off, which is something of a shameless plug, as I am half way through writing a novel that deals with food and mental therapy. To me, good food is the best therapy around.

Don’t forget to stir this occasionally, especially toward the end of the cooking, as it turns into pear syrup. After two and a half hours I brought out our most medieval potato masher, and turned this into the consistency of a really thick honey. All that was left was three half pints, processed in a hot water bath.

The Color You should Look for

It appears those Romans were pretty smart after all.

Mesclun

Live Long and Prosper

Mesclun season is about gone here now, but the fall season is just around the corner. The idea of having a real mixture of baby greens came from the beautiful French province of Provence, where mesclun is a fixture in farmer’s markets.

This mixture of lettuces are the result of a 99 cent purchase of seeds from Ebay. In the adjacent bed there is also Mizuna, Bak Choi, and Broccoli Raab. It’s a virtual UN of salad greens.

A planter is all anyone needs to grow Mesclun, which is a note to poor sods who live in cities. I always serve mine with some jumped up remoulade sauce–with honey and hot sauce added.

Salad Dressing Maison

“Here We are in Our Summer Years, Living on Ice Cream and Chocolate Kisses”– Billy Bragg

I’m always amazed that people actually buy salad dressing, as it takes less than a minute to make a really good one. Here’s my latest creation. By the way, all that title means is “House Salad Dressing.” Once again, everything sounds better in French.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard (Most of the mustard seed actually comes from Canada)

2 tablespoons Catsup

2 tablespoons Mayonnaise

1 tablespoon Sweet Pickle Relish

Salt

Honey to taste

Chipotle Hot Sauce to taste.

The last two are the kickers. This stuff is delicious. Some Romaine lettuce, Cucumbers, and Tomatoes are going to disappear tonight.

Wild Blueberries

The Caviar of Berries

The first wild blueberries are ripe here, which is the cause for some serious noshing (see the next post). These tiny buckshot sized berries have a mind blowing sharpness of taste.

Every other year I will spend an hour or so picking enough of these little devils to make one of my favorite sauces. Here it is: Wild Blueberry Sauce. Serve it on crepes or any pastry.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon Butter

1 cup of Wild Blueberries

2 tablespoons of Honey

Juice of 1 Key Lime

2 drinks of Brandy (One for the dish, one for the cook)

Cook the blueberries in the butter, and then add the other ingredients. More or less honey may be needed depending on the tartness of the berries. Lemon juice can be substituted for the limes, but I always use what I have (my wife grows Key Limes and Meyer Lemons). A crepe is really just a thin pancake, but once again, everything sounds better in French. You could use cognac instead of brandy, but they’re just different priced versions of the same thing.

Honey Blueberry Glazed Ham

Easter Ham, which will be around a while

Thanks to our corporate overlord, Jeff Bezos, and his minions at Whole Foods, we actually had a decent ham for Easter. Still staring at a freezer full of blueberries, we decided to make a new and different glaze for the spiral sliced ham (pre-cooked. Thanks, Mr. Bezos).

The Glaze

Honey to taste

1 tablespoon Sorghum Molasses

The Juice of four cups of Blueberries

Juice of one Lemon

Mix these together, and boil until the glaze thickens slightly. Stud the ham with cloves, glaze, and cook until the ham is warmed through, and the glaze is shiny.

Don’t have a couple of cups of blueberry juice handy? Then whip out your Enterprise #34 cast iron juicer.

Juicer, Old School

Weighing in at a mere 14 pounds, this thing has never met a berry it couldn’t juice. These are readily available on eBay. A food processor and a strainer will work as well, but don’t really make a statement like this beast does.