Potatoes fried in duck fat

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So, who knew that duck fat was the most amazing thing ever? I sort of did, I guess. Whenever we eat duck confit at home, it comes from a can. It’s amazingly good, and if I make fried potatoes as a side (which I try not to do, because it’s kind of overkill, but I still do it from time to time because they go exceptionally well together…), I always snatch up a little bit of the duck fat to cook them in. But I never thought about trying to save it for other uses, or actually render it from duck thighs instead of trimming and just throwing it away. We made duck a while back in school, and I asked the chef if I could bring the fat home. He was all for it, so I collected the trimmings from my other colleagues and cooked it down until the fat had separated from the bones and skin and other inedible bits, filtered it and brought it home. Continue reading

Celery root purée with hazelnuts

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Can I just say that I love Bon Appétit? This will be the third of their recipes that I post in the last few days and that made up my Thanksgiving feast. I’m not a really traditional person (I even made roasted chicken instead of turkey!) and I live to try new things. The only staple that I have to have at Thanksgiving is green bean casserole (all homemade, thank you very much!) but other than that, I like to mix things up. Of course, there has to be some kind of stuffing, and a potato dish (or two!) and gravy. I had all of those things this year, but decided to swap out the traditional mashed potatoes for this amazing mashed celeriac side dish that piqued my interest because of the addition of toasted hazelnuts and hazelnut oil (and also did include a few potatoes ;). I love the added crunch and flavor that the hazelnuts brought to this purée, which was in and of itself completely divine. I didn’t miss the mashed potatoes one bit, and it was the one part of Thanksgiving dinner that my guests ranted and raved about the most. Continue reading

My favorite potato salad

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I love potato salad. I know that not everyone feels the same. The thing is, a good (or bad) potato salad can make (or break) a picnic or BBQ. And the only way to make sure that your side is fabulous and not boring or tasteless is to make it yourself!

I’ve experimented a lot with potato salad over the last few years, and much more so since I moved to France and couldn’t just go out and buy it at the supermarket. I remember in the beginning, I tried to recreate many American classes for Jé, because I wanted him to know the foods I grew up eating, but mostly because I missed them. It was a hard adjustment to make at first, but I’ve learned to live without most of the American things that I can’t find here. Some recipes, and some dishes, however, have stayed with me. Potato salad is one of those dishes, and I think I’ve pretty much perfected it. Continue reading

Creamy vegetable potage

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Lately, I am totally obsessed with leftovers. I also thoroughly enjoy spending hours in the kitchen, especially in the winter months when it’s too cold and grey to do much of anything outdoors. I spent most of the last few months concocting simple and highly reheatable winter soups to warm us up in the absence of our new fireplace. I resisted the temptation to make anything fancy, and most often turned to a staple in traditional French cuisine: the potage. Continue reading

Hand-cut and twice-fried frites

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Oh, life’s simple pleasures. After blogging about my fabulous Valentine’s Day sloppy joes, my 100% home-made ginger ale and my quick coleslaw, here is the last piece of the puzzle: perfect, crisp and not at all soggy, delicious hand-cut frites. From what I’ve learned, the secret to great fries is thoroughly drying the potatoes and frying them twice. This will give your fries that much-desired shell on the outside, and prevent them from becoming soggy and oil-soaked, even when they cool down. Continue reading

Pear tart with potatoes, caramelized onions, rosemary and roquefort

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What’s not to love about a tart? The flaky, buttery crust, infinite filling choices and awesome simplicity of it wins me over every time. We’re big fans of quiches in our house, and I make a mean roasted tomato and garlic tart in the summer. Over the course of the holiday season, I bought some pears with the intention of making a new dish consisting of roasted pears and rutabagas. As it turns out, instead of buying rutabagas I bought sunchokes (damn French translations!) and found myself with a good quantity of just-ripe fruit sitting around the house waiting to be eaten. Another stroke of luck was that I happened to have a huge hunk of roquefort hiding in the fridge, leftover from Christmas in the South of France.

I’m not a huge fan of roquefort, so this really was a perfect coincidence. It’s a bit too much for me. I’m also weirded out by the veins of mold. It just seems wrong. However, this funky cheese, when mixed with the right ingredients and in the right quantities, can be heavenly. How perfect that I had in my house plenty of one ingredient that happens to be known for adding the perfect sweet touch to the tangy cheese in classic dishes like pear and roquefort salad. I also just happened to have some leftover baked potatoes from our raclette the night before.

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Continue reading