Honey Lacquered Duck and Red Wine Risotto

 Honey Lacquered Duck and Red Wine Risotto

Decadence called and I answered.

I had bought the magret duck after watching an episode of No Reservations in which duck was  prominently featured. I cannot remember the episode but it inceptioned deep into my brain and unwavering desire for duck.

May I digress for a moment though and talk about my deep, unrepentant love of Anthony Bourdain? It’s my blog, so that question is rhetorically asked to myself, and I grant myself permission. It might be cliché and I never really had a “bad boy” phase, but I really dig his devil-may-care attitude. Why shouldn’t you? He has one of the single most desired jobs in the world and took a rather unorthodox path to getting there. That deserves respect, in my book.

I am also painfully aware that he likely has a disdain for food bloggers, and to that point, I will spare two facts in my defense: I do not Instagram every single dinner I eat, and I certainly spend my fair share of time eating/enjoying/seeking out less than prestigious or trendy food. Hell, I subsisted most of last year eating avocados and almonds for dinner.

That being said, let’s get back to this duck. I almost never cook duck as its somewhat pricey, and I just don’t crave it that often. For this meal, we blew the budget on the actual duck breast, so we couldn’t go accessory ingredient crazy. I went recipe hunting for what we could do to make this tasty using things we already had in the cupboard. These recipes require under 10 ingredients, most of which are pantry staples in our household.

Not to toot my own horn, but I am in awe that an ingredient list this remarkably tiny is responsible for the flavor wallop they deliver right to your mouth.

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Citrus-Soy Glazed Salmon with Zucchini & Mushroom Couscous

Citrus-Soy Glazed Salmon with Zucchini & Mushroom Couscous

You may or may not be able to tell, but we eat quite a bit of seafood in the Roxie Ginger household. It goes back to our attempt to do at least one vegetarian, vegan and seafood dish per week, and while we don’t treat it as gospel, we make a genuine effort. 

As soon as the salmon was pulled out of the fridge and put on the counter, our newest addition – a cute (and precocious) black kitten named Booger – started a valiant crusade to try and get on the counter to sample some of the fishy goodness. Having fallen previously victim to the siren’s song that is salmon, I completely understood Booger’s motivation. It also meant we had to make haste and cook this quickly before he got his grubby paws on it.

Get it, paws? He’s a cat.

Don’t get it? Give pause and think on it for a bit.

Get it, pause? IT’S A HOMONYM OF PAWS.

Okay, I’m done here.

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Shrimp Summer Rolls

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For some reason, typing summer rolls brings the “Summer Lovin’” musical sequence from Grease into my head. Come to think of it, this summer really has seemed to happen so fast. While I will not lament its passing until it is officially behind us, the cooling temps and shorter sunlight hours are moving us into this direction of summer’s inevitable end, it seems.

You will not hear me protest its demise too much. I sit here though with a window open, and the day’s plans include removing the air conditioner from the window in the bedroom. It took a cardigan to participate in the past two nights roof shenanigans: playing Banagrams and out-Jaggering Davis at Mick Jagger impersonations. I have discovered that the key to Jaggerisms is pumping, not gyrating the hips. Elvis gyrates. Jagger pumps. Although, I have to admit, I come nowhere close to the holy grail of Jagger impressionism, Noel Fielding from The Mighty Boosh.

Back to summer rolls (…those summer niiiiights), you’ll have to get some rice paper roll wrappers from the Asian food section of a nice grocery, or happen to live in an area that just has those things at the normal grocery. You will use 1 for each roll you intend to make. I suggest 2 per person, and this recipe makes enough for 12 rolls. I suggest setting up a fairly structured mise en place before you even start making these – things can start to get a bit hairy if you’re in a cramped space.

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Grilled Asparagus with Creamy Scallion Dressing

Grilled Asparagus with Creamy Scallion Dressing

A few weeks ago, I went home for a last minute trip back home to Tennessee. The timing was just right, and I was overdue for a visit: my grandmother had open-heart surgery recently and was recuperating. I also wanted to spend some time with my niece and nephew before they moved back to North Carolina. Luckily I was able to find a reasonable fare, and I bought a ticket with 2 days notice to make my way back south.

Let me just say that my niece and nephew are 1 and 3 years old, and after three days with them my appreciation and respect for my sister-in-law went through the roof. Being home all day with those two requires an energy level that I just didn’t know possible. If I could figure out a way to bottle those kids’ energy and sell it, I could quit my day job.

It goes without saying that they’re absolutely adorable; they just happen to also be ornery little monsters. I was relieved to see that my grandmother is spunkier than ever and made sure to provide large spreads for us each day. Even though we beg and plead for her to let us help, she refuses and goes about her way making salads, sandwiches and corned beef – plying the wee ones with popsicles and conveniently hearing “sure, one more slice” when offering pie.

In addition to the food and baby time, I got to spend time with my dad and brother doing one of our favorite family activities: watching horrible action movies. My brother and I spent most of the evening trying to convince my dad to watch a good action movie and take him to see Pacific Rim. We were not so successful on that front, but it was a delightful visit, nonetheless.

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Thai Fish Cakes with Dipping Sauce

Thai Fish Cakes with Dipping Sauce

After a 5 long years at my current company, I’ve decided to accept a position at a new ad agency. I’m excited to try my hand at something new, and I took last week off as a bit of a post-work staycation.

Since I had some more time in my hands, I decided to revisit my resolution to eat more Southeastern Asia-inspired foods. Seeing as most take out places are far from super diet friendly, it had seemed like ages since we’d gotten some of our old favorites.

Finding this recipe seemed like it could be pretty easy weeknight fare, considering the use of canned tuna. While it is slightly more labor-intensive than originally planned, it wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t see whipping these up after work.

Finally, as a caveat: I normally don’t fry things at home. After setting my kitchen cabinets ablaze whilst making home fries in high school, I’m a little gun-shy when it comes to oil frying.  Still, I decided it was time to face my fears; this recipe was just meant to be pan fried.

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Spiked Watermelon Lemonade

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This coming Sunday will see this little blog turn 1 year old. Happy Birthday, Roxie Ginger – it’s been a good run so far. Let’s see a bit more of one another from here on out, what do you say? You’re cool with that? Excellent.

The past 6 weeks have been a whirlwind of big changes, which is becoming a theme of this year methinks. I’m a wood ox in the Chinese zodiac and wasn’t expecting all of this. They say you’ve got to be open to change sometimes and there is no time like the present. Therefore, I’m just rolling with it.

Hrmmm, changes – summer is in full force; I’ve decided to switch jobs, started to see a nutritionist, as well as began practicing yoga. All of these have meant that recipe creation has taken a back burner for a wee bit. I’m happy to say I am taking the front seat once again of my mental and physical wellbeing and am ready to move forward.

Entertaining during the summer months is always a top priority of mine, which means some drinks will be had. Getting friends around a table for board games outside or just some conversation and good music is my idea of paradise. My love of entertaining, coupled with the fact that New York is a drinking town can be at odds with a healthier lifestyle, and it can be especially challenging on nights when willpower is low. While I know that no boozy recipe could be called super diet friendly, this one eliminates a lot by not using pre-made lemonade.

Cheers to the birthday, girl. Cheers to summer. Cheers to big steps forward.

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Bacalao a la Vizcaina

Bacalao a la Vizcaina

Before moving away from Barcelona, the sweet ladies on my team gave me a book of tapas recipes as a going away present. Naturally, the book is written in Spanish, so it takes a fair amount of translation work on my part to figure out the recipes. I don’t think I always get it right, but it usually comes together in the end.

The book isn’t dedicated solely to Catalan tapas; all of Spain is represented, and this Basque classic has been tempting me from its pages for weeks. It has been calling to me like a salty sea siren (not a sea wife, mind you – shout out to my fellow Game of Thrones fans!), luring me in like centuries of sailors before me, and I decided to embrace the salt cod.

Davis and I entertain pretty frequently, and I wanted to shake up our Sunday supper menu a bit. As a good party hostess, I sent out a message before dinner stating that we would be eating something that might not suit everyone. Fortunately for me, everyone was stoked at the outcome – even the fish averse asked for seconds.

I won’t lie though – this is a labor-intensive meal that takes some forethought. You have to soak the fish for at least 8 hours, and change the water fairly often to make sure it’s not too terribly salty. It’s worth the effort, but a 30 minute meal this is not.

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Scallop and Parmesan Risotto with Shitake, Oyster and Baby Bella Mushrooms

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Risotto requires mothering and a watchful eye more than almost any other dish in the world. You stir, pour, stir, pour – wash, rinse, repeat. On a busy night after work, I usually don’t want to put in the effort for anything really complex. However, every now and then you have to go all out. This version of “all out” utilizes ingredients I tend to have on hand: lemon, chicken broth, butter, white wine, and Parmesan cheese. How about going “mostly out,” then.

Luckily for us living in the northeast, scallops are relatively inexpensive this time of year, and Whole Foods carries packs of mixed mushrooms so you aren’t stuck buying a bunch of each kind for a recipe.

So I bought and I stirred, and I poured, and I stirred some more until I got a bowl full of absolute majesty. A word of advice, since this is a very active recipe, I would suggest getting everything prepped and ready before you start cooking the risotto. Therefore, when you’re at the end of the recipe cooking mushrooms, scallops AND still stirring the risotto, you’re not feeling overwhelmed.

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Chili Balsamic Glazed Shrimp with Pasta and Arugula

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After all these seafood-heavy posts, it feels like this is RG’s own personal version of shark week. It’s not my fault that everywhere I turn lately, there’s a glut of affordable, quality seafood in our neighborhood and that might have a lot to do with it. For today’s dish, I wanted to try and do something a little Thai inspired. We don’t eat nearly as much Thai food as I would like due to Davis’ and I’s food allergies, so this is something I want to try and change in our personal kitchen.

Let me warn you, the pictures might look like there is heat in this dish… and well yeah, there is. We love our food spicy and this dish had me sweating. Homemade chili oil tends to do that; you could even follow steps 1 & 2 of this dish for a fiery oil base to cook most anything, if you wanted.

While they might not pack too much heat, my love of red peppers is second to none, so I include them everywhere I can. I think this dish is a bit of a mish mash between sweet and spicy, but it’s one that I can’t wait to make again.

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Cedar Smoked Bass with Broccoli Rabe & Chard

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After watching a somewhat disappointing Barcelona football match, Davis and I made our way on an errand run where we inadvertently ended up with way more amazing striped bass than we expected from a great local grocery. $40 will apparently buy you quite a lot of fish. I’m not really at that level of super ballerdom in my life, so we had to share the maritime bounty. At this point, I had no other recourse other than to call up a couple of friends for an impromptu get together. Really, you don’t want my problems.

For Christmas, my auntie had given me some cedar grilling papers and I’ve been waiting for the perfect chance to use them. It’s not exactly outdoor grilling weather, so we went with the oven after soaking the papers in water and wine. The papers provide such a subtle flavor that they need to be paired with a mild fish, and the rest of the meal should also be kept simple and bright as to not over power the flavor.

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