A year later

I still find it to be:

Fun.
Exciting.
Interesting.
Funny.
A learning experience.
Worth waking up in the morning.
Challenging in all the right ways.
Rewarding.

Last week made a year since The Hubbz and I said *I do* and it’s been a year filled with living, loving and learning. Who would’ve known¬† that two people who had given up on love, who never believed in fairy tales, who faced all the challenges life sent their way would feel like love-struck teenagers ever again.

We got to know each other before we ever met and when we did, we knew almost instantly we would see each other every day for the rest of our lives. On our first official date we decided to cook together, it seemed only appropriate we did the same for our first anniversary.

Want to know what was on the menu?

Tomato & Avocado Salad
Pan Seared Scallops with Red Pepper Confit

I can’t really explain how incredibly good these were, and so easy to put together. The salad was a no-hassle toss together kinda deal, and the parsley¬†made it¬†so fresh and crisp. Then the red pepper confit was out-of-this-world good. I swear I could take a tub of that and eat it on its own!

For the salad:
Cube 4 slices of ciabatta (or other bread you like) into 1-inch cubes and toast them in a nonstick skillet with some butter and olive oil. Set aside and allow to cool.

In a bowl, combine chopped
Tomatoes (I used 3 small ones)
1/2 avocado
1/2 cp fresh mozzarella
about 1 cp fresh Italian parsley (tear the leaves from the stems)
Add the cooled bread and toss with 2-3 tbsp of your favorite vinaigrette. Serve immediately.

For the Red Pepper Confit:
2 large red peppers
about 1/3 cp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic crushed
1/2 red onion (or yellow)

Add all the ingredients to a medium saucepan over medium heat and cook until the peppers have softened completely (about 30 minutes). Allow it to cool for about 15 minutes before pureeing it–use a blender or a small food processor.

Return it to the saucepan and add a bit of broth or water to thin the puree. Keep warm while you cook the scallops.

For the scallops:
10-12 scallops (these were medium-sized)
rosemary stems (remove the springs and save for future use)
salt & pepper

I used the rosemary stems and skewered 2 scallops on each one. You can skip this step if you want.  Heat a nonstick skillet on high and add about 1 tbsp of oil. Make sure the scallops are dry and sprinkle with a bit of salt & pepper and sear them on the skillet. About 2 minutes per side, should be enough for medium-large scallops. Set aside and keep warm.

To plate: I wanted to preserve the crust on the scallops, so I blanched a few asparagus spears to put between the sauce and the scallops. Spread about 2 tbsp of the pureed confit, lay a few asparagus, then top with the scallops.

Happy Anniversary, Papucho!

Cookingly yours,
Anamaris

No rubber duck here

I don’t remember when I first tried duck, but I think it was at a Chinese restaurant and it was their interpretation on Peking duck. I’ve liked the bird ever since, but it wasn’t until my first visit to Paris that I fell helplessly in love it.

Parisians certainly have a love affair with this winged creature. Heck, maybe all of France does, but I know for sure it rules in Paris. I can’t get enough duck confit, I’ve probably ordered it at every restaurant where it was offered. I’ve looked at recipes for it, but I’m still reluctant (read: scared witless) to prepare the confit. Quite honestly, I had not cooked duck until I tried this one.

I bought a bird a few weeks back at the farmers market and hid it away waaaaaay in the back of my little freezer. After peeking and peeping at it for weeks, I pulled it out and decided to tame the wild beast. And by wild beast I mean my fear of failing the duck.

So, on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, I threw caution to the air and went for it. I broke down the bird, pulling out the breasts and left the rest of the carcass intact. That evening I seared the breasts and served them with asparagus or some other veggie, I can’t remember. I overcooked them. Hubby was concerned about eating them too rare and I just let them sear for way too long. I walked away disappointed and slept in the fetal position that night.

The next day, though, the next day I nailed it! Even though I didn’t confit those little legs and thighs, the end result was similar. Tender and juicy with a slight crisp on the skin. Oh yeah, baby. And it was as easy as ordering pizza! No need for a recipe.

In a baking dish I layered the duck leg and thigh portions, these had been salted & peppered. Then I tucked chunks of carrots, together with whole, unpeeled garlic cloves in between the open spaces and threw a few sprigs of fresh thyme here and there.

It went in the oven for 2 hours or so at 300¬į. I just forgot about it, well, as much as you can forget about something in the oven that is permeating every room in your home with a delicious aroma.

When it came out, the skin was golden brown, crisp and perrrrrrfect. The carrots, which are not on my list of faved veggies, were incredibly good. Sweet and soft tasting of garlic, thyme and duck fat. Oh glory.

I will try making duck again. Soon. Real Soon. What do you do with duck?

Cookingly yours,
Anamaris