Why?: The cause, early on this dewy autumn Saturday morning …
What?: The effect this afternoon …
Wild Duck in a Nectarine Mirepoix served over steamed Jasmine rice.
How?: Staring down four fresh duck breasts in my fridge, I thought about what flavours traditionally pair well with water foul (savoury, fruity things) and how to keep the meat moist and tender in a recipe. The challenge of the why made me focus on how, and inspiration from too many nectarines on my kitchen window sill caused the best what to happen.
Note: My husband or son generally clean the birds and are careful to remove all of the fat & membrane from around the meat and any shot or pin feather residue ~ if your duck breasts still have any shiny membrane or fat left on their surface after cleaning, be sure to careful remove it with a sharp filet knife. The ‘wild’ flavour is mostly in the fat. Remove the fat and you get rid of the wild taste, and are left with a flavourful dark meat similar in density to tender beef or pork when cooked. The key is not to overcook duck, and to keep it moist during the cooking process.
4 Duck Breasts (fresh, or thawed), Butter – to make it dairy free use Ghee (clarified butter), Nectarine Mirepoix (onion, carrot, celery, green pepper, nectarine, green onion, garlic, parsley), Chicken Stock, Orange Juice, White wine, Smoked Paprika, Rubbed Thyme, Bragg Liquid Seasoning, Salt, Pepper, Arrowroot ‘flour’ (to thicken), Steamed Jasmine Rice.
Nectarine Mirepoix Ingredients:
1/4 cup butter
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onions diced
2 carrots (scrubbed, unpeeled) diced
2 celery stalks diced
1/2 green pepper diced
1 nectarine pitted and diced
1/4 cup green onion finely chopped
1 garlic clove minced
1 sprig fresh parsley chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 cup chicken stock (homemade). If using store-bought – choose low sodium type.
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup white wine
1 Tablespoon arrowroot ‘flour’
2 Tablespoons cold water
Additional Herbs, Spices, Seasoning:
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon rubbed thyme
1 teaspoon salt (Himalayan Pink Salt, or sea salt)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground peppercorns
1 Tablespoon Bragg Liquid Seasoning
4 clean Duck Breasts, cube approx. 1/2 inch pieces + 1 additional Tablespoon Butter
Prepare your mirepoix produce (Dice up all the veggies & your nectarine – begin by making sticks, then cubes. The sharper your knife, the easier & finer your end result will be!)
This is also a good time to begin steaming your rice. I used Jasmine Rice with this recipe but you can use Basmati, or your rice of choice.
Saute the veggies & nectarine in 1/4 cup butter + 1 Tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat, tossing frequently, and adding the green onion, parsley, and minced garlic.
As soon as the mirepoix begins to soften reduce heat to low (or turn off completely) & set aside.
If you haven’t already prepared the duck breast meat, cube it up now. Place 1 Tablespoon butter in preheated separate fry pan and toss the cubed up duck in the butter for a few seconds until it just begins to brown. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt & fresh ground pepper, and immediately add the chicken stock, orange juice, and white wine.
Remove duck pan from heat and add the duck and all the liquid to the mirepoix pan.
Stir in the smoked paprika and Bragg Liquid Seasoning. (Note: both of these ingredients as well as chicken stock, pink salt, rubbed thyme, fresh pepper, garlic, parsley, butter and olive oil are available at The Main Ingredient, 326 Charlotte St. Peterborough, ON).
Simmer 10 minutes, while preparing thickener.
Place arrowroot in a measuring cup or small bowl, add 2 Tablespoons cold water + 1/3 cup hot liquid from mirepoix duck mixture and whisk together until smooth. Stir arrowroot mixture back into hot pan on stove to simmer and thicken 5 minutes longer. Turn off heat and keep covered until serving over a bed of hot rice.
with joy over culinary cause and effect,
Diana E. Natalie
This was declared “Learn How To Make Pie Weekend” in my kitchen. That’s right, a ‘foodie’ who blogs about everything but pastry because she has feared trying her hand at it for some thirty years! You have to understand that my mum-in-law and sisters-in-law have always been the pie makers in the family, and I have happily turned out the muffins, loaves, and cookies instead. The wonderful thing about the world of food blogging, however, is the unwitting support we draw from one another…and Deb Perelman over at the Smitten Kitchen gave me the confidence to finally. try. pie.
After all these years of not knowing how, I scoured Deb’s entry all about making Peach Pie, and followed her directions almost. to. the. letter. To thicken the peach pie filling I used the minute tapioca (finely ground in the coffee grinder) rather than corn starch. I chose to make the regular lidded pie, rather than the lattice top pictured in her blog. It’s all over there at The Smitten Kitchen ~ Peach Pie, and pictured here is the result. I used fresh Ontario Peaches, unbleached All Purpose flour, and salted butter (cutting the amount of added salt in half).
Three specific pieces of advise stood out to me: First the part about doing things by hand rather than using the food processor (so that the little bits of butter in the pastry weren’t too small before hitting the hot oven. Secondly the part about keeping everything cold during the pie-dough making process. I whisked the flour, sugar, and salt together and popped the whole bowl in the fridge while I diced up the cold butter onto a small cutting board and popped that in the fridge again whilst filling a cup measure of water with ice cubes to keep the water ice cold prior to blending everything together by hand (and arm!) with a good old fashioned pastry blender. And thirdly, the part about letting the pie cool before serving, so the filling is able to thicken and doesn’t run all over the place when you slice the pie.
I did the tinfoil (shiny side up) over the top crust about half-way through the baking process to protect it from getting too dark. We had some friends in to ‘try the pie’ as it was such a monumental event for me, and overall we were pleased with the pie, especially with the filling, although we thought the crust could have been slightly softer. Next time I may use Deb Perelman’s advise from another blog entry and try half shortening / half butter, instead of all butter. I may also sub in 1/2 cup Spelt Flour to the mix, as it tends to be a very lightweight, non-hybridized flour in the wheat flour family.
with joy over pie and first try’s at anything,
Diana E. Natalie
Whew! That’s a long title, but really, what could I leave out? All of the flavours meld together so well. Another hit with kids and adults alike. High protein, fibre, and nutrient value galore!
4 to 6 sweet potatoes (4 large or 6 medium)
1 1/2 cups red (or white) Quinoa
3/4 cup French Dupuy green lentils
2 cups diced cooked chicken (preferably white / breast meat)
Extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup Toasted sesame seeds (brown, or white)
1/4 cup quality (preferably organic) extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 low sodium Bragg Seasoning (tamari sauce / soy sauce alternative)
2 to 4 Tablespoons Brown Rice Syrup (or honey)
2 fresh garlic cloves
2 Tablespoons finely minced sweet onion (fresh or dried)
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground blended pepper (or black pepper)
If you can roast the sweet potato, and cook the quinoa, lentils, and chicken ahead of time, you will be able to put this salad together in a flash!
To roast the sweet potatoes: Rinse and peel them. Cube them (approximately 1/2 inch to 1 inch cubes). Toss in large bowl with olive oil and a bit of coarse sea salt. Spread evenly in shallow roasting pan and roast at 400 degrees F. for 45 minutes, turing halfway. Cool and set aside (or refrigerate in sealed container until ready to use).
To cook the quinoa: Rinse under cold water in fine mesh sifter or ‘colander’. Place into sauce pan or heavy bottom pot. Add 3 cups cold water and a pinch of sea salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat & simmer 15 minutes. Let stand until cool. Refrigerate for later use.
To cook the lentils: (Note: French Dupuy lentils are lovely and round and hold their shape in salads, soups, or stews. If you can’t find Dupuy lentils, regular green lentils may be used but may take a bit longer to cook). Rinse lentils under cold water, add to pot of boiling salted water. Cook between a simmer & a boil until ‘al dente’ tender (approx. 20 minutes) Drain, cool, and set aside. Or refrigerate for later use.
About the chicken: When I made this salad I just happened to have cooked a whole chicken the day prior. You may need to come up with the chicken part of this recipe in your own way…i.e. cook a couple of chicken breasts ahead of time, or if you’re really in a pinch, purchase a package of the pre-cooked chicken breast meat strips and cube up a couple of cups!
To toast the sesame seeds: Spread evenly on non stick cookie sheet. Place in 300 degree F. oven for 10 to 12 minutes (for brown sesame seeds). 5 to 7 minutes for white sesame seeds. You will smell them when they’re ready to come out of the oven and cool.
To make the vinaigrette: Combine all vinaigrette ingredients in glass jar with lid, or glass measuring cup & shake or whisk together well. Taste for balanced sweet – salty – acid. Add more sweet or salt or acid (vinegar or lemon juice) as needed. Allow to sit at room temperature until ready to dress the salad.
At least a half hour before serving, toss salad ingredients (except sesame seeds) together in a large prep bowl, drizzle with vinaigrette tossing it in gently as you go. Line your serving dish with fresh greens (i.e. whole leave of Kale, or Swiss Chard, Spinach, or Romaine Lettuce). Dump dressed salad mixture into middle of serving dish on top of greens, and arrange gently outward toward sides of serving dish. Sprinkle top with sesame seeds. (Note: they will get mixed throughout the salad a bit once people start dipping into it!).
Serves 10 to 12 people. Keep leftovers refrigerated and enjoy for up to one week.
All ingredients (except the sweet potatoes) available at The Main Ingredient, 326 Charlotte St., Peterborough, ON.
with joy over autumn salads and the smell of wood smoke rising in the neighbourhood,
Diana E. Natalie
A gardener’s delight, this simple salad helps use up and enjoy one more time the fresh taste of this season’s tomatoes and basil.
Fresh garden tomatoes, washed & diced.
Fresh basil, coarsely chopped.
Pepper & sea or himalayan pink salt to taste. (Use a nice Italian or Mediterranean herb salt if you have one).
Splash of sweet white wine vinegar.
Dollop of good quality extra virgin olive oil.
Desired amount of mini bocconcini cheese.
Toss all ingredients together and serve immediately.
with joy over this fresh tomato time of year in zones 4 & 5 (Ontario, Canada).
Diana E. Natalie
Here is the Alive Magazine link with the original idea & photo for this delicious ‘Breakfast Smoothie’, as well as good information regarding avocados, which are indeed one of the worlds healthiest foods.
The Stand In My Kitchen variation eliminates the greens & uses ‘cashew milk’ as a base, rather than Almond milk. You simply blend the raw cashews with water first before adding the other ingredients. You could do the same with raw or blanched almonds, or buy almond milk ready-to-go.
My two favourite brands of Almond milk readily available in most grocery store coolers are ‘Silk – Pure Almond’, and ‘Earth’s Own – Almond Fresh’. ‘Pacific’ also has a nice shelf stable tetra boxed organic unsweetened almond milk.
I have found this breakfast smoothie to be filling & appetite suppressing. Note in the chart here that almonds and cashews are almost identical in calories and total fat. Almonds have more fiber, and cashews more saturated fat and carbohydrate. So I would suggest going the almond route if you are trying to slim down, and choosing the cashew method if you are trying to gain or maintain a healthy weight. If you are making the smoothie for toddlers and younger children, boost the omega-3 essential fatty acid content (EPA and DHA) necessary to brain and nervous system development by adding a few raw walnuts, chia seeds, or hemp hearts to the mix. Actually all of these are beneficial to brain and cardiovascular health in adults as well, so GET CREATIVE with your smoothie!
I’m not opposed to adding the greens, I’m just breaking the family in gently here…so that it starts out looking a bit more ‘chocolately’ than ‘salady’, and will sneak the greens in gradually as we go deeper into the fall and cold & flu season.
The greens add instant energy boosting and detoxing nutritional properties to your liquid breakfast!
One quick & easy ‘green’ addition (tho not inexpensive) is to add a teaspoon of Matcha Green Tea powder.
1/3 cup raw cashews (or almonds)
1 1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla (optional)
1 Tablespoon dark cocoa powder (dutch process cocoa)
1/2 ripe avocado peeled & removed from pit (wrap the other half tightly in plastic wrap and save for tomorrow!)
3 (PITTED) Medjool dates (if you can’t find Medjool’s use 1/2 ripe banana + 1 Tablespoon pure Maple syrup)
2 ice cubes
Place raw cashews into blender, add water & liquify. Add vanilla, cocoa, avocado, and medjool dates (or banana & maple syrup).
Blend, adding ice last, until smooth.
with joy over anything chocolate and nutritious for breakfast,
Diana E. Natalie.
Admittedly, this classifies as one of those dishes dreamed up while staring into a fridge of leftovers on a rainy day following a week of holiday Barbecues entertaining family and friends, when you think it’s a good idea to roast a whole bag of red peppers at once for that dip which never gets made. We also grill a lot of salmon in the summer, and because we forget what a dense and filling fish it is, always end up with lovely bits left in the fridge just begging culinary ingenuity.
And then there’s the Swiss Chard. That ‘beet-looking’ green with the highly nutritious leaves. I only started growing it in the garden because my mum loves it. So easy to grow in our Northern gardens, pretty to look at, and prolific! But what to do with all that Chard?
[Swiss Chard is a lot like spinach, so if you don't have chard, use spinach instead].
This recipe marries leftover salmon, grilled/roasted red pepper, & fresh Swiss Chard or spinach in a delightfully messy-but-fun-to-make entree. It also lets you experiment more with the Basil and Parsley you have growing in your garden or herb pot.
(Dietary NOTES: To make it gluten free, use GF pasta, GF flour blend for the white sauce, & omit the ‘Crab’ which contains wheat starch. This recipe is not dairy free.)
1 box Cannelonni ‘Oven Ready’ Pasta shells
4 to 6 ounces (leftover) grilled / cooked salmon
1 roasted red pepper (skin removed)
1 clove fresh garlic minced
4 ounces Crab Delectables (generally made from Pollock)
1/2 cup chopped fresh Swiss Chard (or Spinach)
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup flour (I used Light Spelt, for Gluten Free use GF Flour Blend)
1 cup chicken stock, or low sodium chicken broth
1 cup light (5%) cream + 3/4 cup 1% milk
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (or a Thai spice blend)
1 Tablespoon fresh chopped Parsley & Basil combined
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground blended pepper
2 Tablespoons (for white sauce) + 1/4 cup parmesan cheese (for top)
[1/4 cup dry white wine - optional]
Grease a 9″ X 12″ glass baking dish with olive oil and set aside.
Finely chop salmon, crab, roasted red pepper, and garlic.
Melt butter in medium saucepan, whisk in flour, and gradually whisk in the cream & milk. Add pepper, nutmeg or Thai spice blend, 2 Tablespoons parmesan, chopped parsley & basil. [Note: 'Herb Scissors' are another favourite kitchen tool for snipping fresh herbs right into your pot or pan!] Cook white sauce over medium heat, whisking regularly, until sauce begins to thicken. Whisk in the white wine.
Finely chop the Swiss Chard, or Spinach.
In a separate bowl, combine the salmon, crab, red pepper, garlic, and chopped chard or spinach, and ADD enough of the white sauce to moisten to a ‘filling-like’ consistency that you can spoon into the dry cannelloni shells.
PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees F. (180 C)
Using the smallest little spoon you can find, scoop the filling into the tubes (cover the bottom end with one of your fingers to keep the filling from spilling out the other end.) A spurtle (one of my favourite kitchen tools) works great to push the filling down into the pasta tubes. Scrape any excess filling off the outside of the cannelloni tubes and lay them into the prepared baking dish. This is all a bit messy but great fun!
Cover all of the stuffed shells in the baking dish with the rest of the reserved white sauce. Sprinkle with the 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.
Cover the baking dish tightly with tin foil, and bake for 34 to 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 5 to 10 minutes more.
Serve with leafy greens & a tomato OR sweet onion vinaigrette. Pare with lemonade or a medium dry white wine.
with joy over moments of inspiration alone in the kitchen again, and “the wedge of light leaking from an open refrigerator door, seeking to satisfy a craving.” 1
Diana E. Natalie
1. Flinn, Kathleen. The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks. New York: Penguin Group Inc., 2011.
Filling, nutritious, and delicious, this ‘bread’ has recently rocked my kitchen world! I’ve made four batches this month for a variety of people and functions. Anyone who has tried it has become a fan, from age five to eighty-five!
You will find variations on the web and in cookbooks under “Danish stone age bread”, and “Paleo Nut Bread”. Each recipe I have encountered is completely grain free, and seems to contain a similar ratio of nuts to seeds – approximately 2 cups nuts to 4 cups seeds.
Easy to make once you have assembled your ingredients. Makes 2 small loaves or 1 larger loaf. [Two small 7 x 4 inch loaf pans or one 9 x 5 loaf pan].
NOTE: If you want to go more savoury, omit the cinnamon, honey, and fruit, and add be sure to add the ground pepper.
If you are adding the dried fruit, you may wish to try others such as currants, cherries, blueberries, or goji berries instead of the cranberries and apricots.
Stenalder Brød is high protein, high in fibre, and high in good anti-inflammatory Omega-3 & Omega-6 and Omega-9 Essential Fatty Acids. It is high potassium, very low sodium, and low to no sugar.
5 eggs + 1 egg white (or, 10 egg whites).
2 Tablespoons raw unpasteurized liquid honey (optional)
1/3 cup extra virgin organic Olive oil, or Grape seed oil, or nut oil (or a combination)
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/2 teaspoon finely ground blended pepper (optional)
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raw (white) sesame seeds
1/2 cup Hemp Hearts
1 cup raw walnut halves
1 cup roasted unsalted almonds
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
2/3 cup ground flax seed
1/3 cup whole flax seed
1/2 cup dried apricots, roughly chopped (optional)
1/2 cup dried cranberries (optional)
Line two small (7 x 4 inch) loaf pans (or one 9 x 5 loaf pan) with parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper with butter or olive oil (I prefer butter, as it makes the outside of the loaves slightly ‘crispy’).
Measure out all of your nuts and seeds into a separate bowl. NOTE: You do not have to chop the nuts and seeds, as they do soften up during baking, but I prefer to coarsely chop the walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds, either with a knife or giving them a quick pulse in a food processor.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
With a stand mixer, handheld mixer, or by hand, whisk the eggs until well mixed, adding the oil, salt, (liquid honey), (pepper), and (cinnamon).
Add the nut & seed mixture, stirring to incorporate well.
Divide the batter between your two lined and buttered loaf pans, or dump it all into one larger lined and buttered loaf pan.
Using a spatula, press the batter in and smooth the top.
Bake at 325 F. for 1 hour. (Most recipes say that when it’s done the bread pan should sound ‘hollow’ when thumped on the bottom with a wooden spoon).
Cool on a wire rack. (I like to lift the bread out of it’s pan(s) using the parchment paper – and cool completely before slicing using a sharp serrated bread knife).
SERVE WITH Strawberry or Cherry jam (or jam of your choice) & wedges of Goat cheese, Feta, or sharp cheddar cheese. Garnish with tiny sprigs of thyme or rosemary.
with joy over simple, filling, and nutritious!
Diana E. Natalie
[Note: This recipe is SCD / Specific Carbohydrate Diet safe after 3 months, for those using the SCD diet for healing of intestinal disease and dysbiosis].
All ingredients for ‘Stone Age Bread’ can be found at The Main Ingredient, “more than just a bulk food store”, 326 Charlotte St., Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.