I have to be completely honest here. I feel like I’m failing miserably at posting holiday-appropriate recipes. Looking around at my fellow bloggers, they are inundating the world with cookie-this and cheese-ball-that. I just don’t have it in me to prepare a ton of holiday recipes right now. Maybe when my 1-year-old isn’t tugging my pants down, or when I have more time…maybe next year I can be blogging perfection. The truth of it is I worked myself into a frenzy pre-Thanksgiving, and ran out of steam when I was presented with preparing for the next holiday AND creating a ton of new recipes at the same time.
I want to breathe. I want to enjoy this Christmas with my favorite little guy who it growing so quickly it hurts. He’s walking now, and drinking from a sippy cup. It amazes me to see him tottering around the house – balancing each careful step. Knowing how precious this time is, it feels wrong to stick him in his playpen, or on the iPad, so I can destroy my kitchen baking up a storm.
So I’m taking it easy, dear readers, and I don’t blame you if you do too. Pay attention to the people you love this year. Sit down and spend time with each other. Hold onto these moments. They won’t hold it against you if you don’t bake everything from scratch.
Speaking of scratch, I did manage to squeeze in this silly recipe for gooey gingerbread cakes. I call it silly because I don’t quite know what it is. It’s somewhere in-between a molten cake and a soufflé’, flavored with cinnamon, cloves and ginger. I’m one of those rare people who really love gingerbread. I adore chewy gingerbread men cookies, so wanted little soft cakes that were gooey inside. Served warm with a dusting of powdered sugar and some vanilla ice cream, they are pure heaven. If you love gingerbread.
Happy holidays everyone. I hope to post a few more recipes before Christmas, but I may not make it. Stay tuned!
Adapted from a recipe by Shayla Ebsen
Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C.
Generously grease 5 ramekins with butter (if using 4 ramekins, double cook time).
Combine the flour, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in a bowl.
In a small heavy saucepan, melt butter and white chocolate over medium-low heat. In a separate bowl, combine molasses, vanilla and lemon zest. Pour the warm butter mixture into the molasses mixture and stir until combined.
Using a whisk, add egg yolks to the molasses mixture one at a time until thoroughly combined.
In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer on medium speed. When they become foamy, slowly add the brown sugar. Keep beating until the egg whites form stiff peaks.
Add half of the flour to the molasses mixture. Fold half of the egg whites into the molasses mixture. Keep alternating flour and egg whites, gently folding, until combined.
Pour mixture into ramekins. Cook for 12-14 minutes, checking often to make sure they do not overcook. They are done when they are puffed and the outer ½” edge is firm and golden. The center should still jiggle slightly. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Serve in the ramekins, or run a knife around the edge and flip out onto serving plates. Serve immediately.
Did you make this recipe? I’d love to hear from you! Post a comment below.
I’ve been slacking on recipes this week because we are visiting family for Thanksgiving. This was a big week: baby Grayson’s first Thanksgiving and also his first birthday! I will be posting photos from the nautical-themed party once we return. In the meantime, I’m going to share a little from this weekend.
Thanksgiving is always a big event for us, but this year we had to make sure everyone had some time to spend with the baby, because he won’t be one for much longer *sigh*. This first year was one of the hardest of my life, but also the most rewarding. A baby truly changes everything in your life and I’m grateful I was able to spend this first year with him.
Starting Love and Duck Fat has been my way of channeling my creativity through this time, and I thank each and every reader out there. I had no idea what to expect when I started this blog. I’ve learned so much and look forward to the year ahead. I wish everyone a wonderful holiday. I’ll be back in the kitchen in a few days!
You can find Mimi’s Calvados Rustic Apple cake in her Etsy shop.
Prosciutto, Burrata cheese and figs on thin slices of baguette. This appetizer recipe couldn’t be easier to make, or pack a bigger punch when it comes to being both elegant and unbelievably good. Drizzled with thick, sweet 18 year old balsamic, they are sure to impress all of your guests. Of course, if you are like me, you don’t have any guests and you and your husband gobble them all down in between bites of turkey and oyster stuffing.
Today marks my 70th post after just 4 months of Love and Duck Fat. I was planning a big post about how and why I started my blog, what I’ve done to get a terrific audience (you), and so much more…BUT that got my head spinning. Basically, the post will probably happen when I reach 100. Instead, you get crostini. Really good crostini. So don’t feel jipped.
I gushed over Burrata cheese before, but let’s do it again. If you haven’t tried Burrata cheese yet, you need to! Search the cheeses at a store with a good selection and it just may be there next to the fresh mozzarella balls. Burrata cheese is similar to fresh buffalo mozzarella, but much more decadent. Instead of a solid ball of cheese, Burrata is filled with cream and mozzarella scraps as its being formed. When you slice it open, the thickened cream flows out. This makes it perfect for spooning on top of toasted baguette slices. The sweet creamy taste makes the perfect pairing with fresh fruit and salty prosciutto. Your guests will be impressed, and it only takes about 10 minutes to prepare.
Another Burrata cheese recipe to try:
Yield: 30 crostini
Preheat oven to 375° F/ 190° C
Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet. Drizzle them with olive oil and place in the oven. Cook for 8-10 minutes, until just browned on the edges.
While the baguette slices are cooking, slice the figs and Burrata.
Top the toasted baguette with ½ of a slice of prosciutto, and then spoon on the Burrata. Place a slice of fig on the top. Drizzle a little balsamic across the top and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.
Oyster stuffing is a favorite of mine. It’s a tradition in my family, and this recipe takes it up a notch with shiitake mushrooms and leeks. It’s basically a combination of some of my favorite things, in one rich – yet delicate – dish.
If you grew up along the coast, like I did. Raw oysters are an initiation of sorts. You are an adult if you eat them. If you eat them, you crave them. You covet them.
When I looked online for oyster stuffing recipes, I was a little mortified. Canned oysters? Why on earth would anyone use canned oysters? I know a lot of people do, and I don’t want to turn my nose up at the stuff (I know, I kind of am). I won’t hate you if you use them, but the fresh oysters you find in the refrigerated seafood section are so much better. Ridiculously better. They are sweet and briny and smell like the ocean, not fishy. The fresher your oysters, the less fishy the stuffing.
The way I see it, you only make oyster stuffing once a year. It’s a special occasion, so let’s do the right thing and splurge on the good stuff. If you really want to go all out, get a couple dozen fresh oysters, take them home and shuck them yourself (saving some to eat right away, of course).
There is too much of a good thing, though. One Thanksgiving, my mother decided to double the amount of oysters in her stuffing. She stuffed the turkey and after an hour or so, the whole house smelled like fishy turkey. It permeated the bird, the gravy, the stuffing. We tease her about it every Thanksgiving.
Very slightly adapted from Bon Appetit, November 2000
Preheat oven to 325° F/165° C
First, you need to dry out the bread. Arrange it in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes, until crisp, dry and golden brown. This can be prepared ahead. You could also use stale bread and skip the baking step.
Butter a casserole dish. In a skillet, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat. Saute the mushrooms in the butter until they turn brown and their liquid evaporates. Remove them from the skillet and add to a large bowl.
Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter to the skillet and cook the celery and leeks. Cook the vegetables 8-10 minutes, until they are tender.
Add the celery, leeks, parsley and herbs to the large bowl with the mushrooms. Season with salt and fresh pepper. Toss to combine.
Add bread cubes to the vegetable mixture and toss to combine. Taste for seasoning. Add more salt if necessary.
Add the oysters, oyster liquid and turkey stock to the vegetables and stir to combine. Transfer to the casserole dish and cover with foil. You can chill until you are ready to bake. Bake the stuffing covered for 45 minutes.
I’m on a Brussels sprouts kick, as I should be this time of year. You should too. Because they are yummy!
I wasn’t always a fan of Brussels sprouts. I only recently became a convert. The Brussels sprouts of my past were just…not very good (sorry mom). They were boiled or sautéed and tossed with margarine, which made them sort of soggy and mushy and bitter cabbage-y tasting. I tried to eat them years later, and bought the frozen version that you cook in a microwave. They were also soggy and mushy. So I gave up on poor little Brussels sprouts. They were not for me.
But they were all along. Now that I know how to cook them! Roasted and caramelized, Mr. Sprout is sweet and delicious. They come out soft (in a good way) and delicate. Those cute little things are fun to eat, too. I posted a recipe recently for balsamic glazed Brussels sprouts, and have a few more up my sleeve.
This Brussels sprout soup is really easy to make and has simple ingredients like cream and chicken broth. If you want to make it fancy like I did, garnish your soup with a few Brussels and roasted chestnut toast. I didn’t actually peel the chestnuts for this recipe, but you can if you want. I found a bag of pre-roasted and peeled chestnuts in the grocery store. They taste pretty good, and make a great spread.
Toss the Brussels sprouts in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and arrange in a single layer in a roasting pan. If you are using store-bought, packaged chestnuts, add them to the Brussels sprouts and roast them too.
Roast in a 375° F/190° C oven for 15-20 minutes, until soft and lightly brown. When they are ready, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté the onion for about 5 minutes, until soft. Add 2 garlic cloves (chopped). Add the roasted Brussels sprouts, reserving some for garnish (2 halves per person) and stir.
Add the chicken broth and season with salt and pepper. Cook on low heat, covered, for 15 minutes. Uncover and stir in the cream. Cook for an additional 5 minutes on low heat.
Remove from the heat and use an immersion blender on high to puree the soup until smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender, pour the soup in batches into a blender and puree. Season again to taste.
Toast the baguette slices. Using a food processor, pulse the garlic clove until finely chopped. Add the chestnuts, parsley, salt and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Pulse until the chestnuts are chopped but not pureed. Pour in 2-3 tablespoons of oil, pulsing until the mixture is combined, but still chunky. Taste for seasoning.
Spread the mixture on toast and serve along with the soup.
I planned this Thanksgiving apple cake recipe for weeks, but never thought I’d be making it with a duck in my house. That morning, my son and I took a walk (he in his stroller). I cooked up my applesauce cake layers the day before, with plans to assemble the cake later that afternoon. While we were walking, I spotted some boys chasing a white duck in the yard across the street, which is an odd thing around these parts. I live in downtown Miami. We don’t have white, domestic ducks walking around. The duck was obviously stressed about the situation, so I called over to them, asking who the duck belonged to.
They didn’t know, but said they were trying to get the duck to go to the river. The Miami River. It’s a saltwater river full of boats and huge cargo ships. This is also not a good place for a white, domestic duck. The boys managed to herd the duck to my side of the street and I instructed them on the methods of duck herding (I’m not sure how I know this, but I do).
At this point, the duck decided to make a break for it through a fence into a neighbor’s backyard. This was a bad thing, because there are two big dogs in that yard. Sure enough, the dogs came running, and the duck spit out between the fence posts onto the sidewalk. It’s at this point I decide to save this poor creature, which would require picking it up.
I’m not adept at picking up unwilling fowl, but the duck was exhausted. I quickly grabbed it by the neck with one hand and scooped its wings in with the other. After a few sad quacks, the duck calmed down and I released its neck. The poor thing didn’t try to fight or peck. But now I had my hands full of duck and a stroller full of baby. How to get home? And what was I going to do with my duck?
My neighbor had emerged from her house at this point (thinking her dogs were attacking a bird). She was kind enough to walk back home with me, pushing the stroller. I ended up putting the duck in the shower for safe keeping. I have two big dogs in the yard and had no other safe place for her.
Fast forward and I’m assembling my cake to the sound of happy duck quacking coming from my bathroom. The duck was dirty from several days of wandering, so I turned the shower on just a sprinkle (it’s one of those nice, rain shower heads) and gave the duck a big bowl to sit in. She started bathing right away, fluffing her feathers and making happy sounds, just like ducks do.
Oh yes! We are making a cake. That’s what you are here for…not some crazy duck story. Did I mention how delicious this cake was? The applesauce cake layers came out beautiful and moist, recipe courtesy of Smitten Kitchen. I added my own cinnamon apple layer in the middle and rum-soaked raisins in the cake — completely optional if you don’t go for raisins. The apples cooked in a brown sugar caramel sauce add a decadent “apple pie” taste to each bite. Topped with a divinely light whipped cream frosting, this cake makes the perfect not-too-sweet Thanksgiving season dessert. It brought a whiff of Fall into this frustratingly warm-and-sunny Florida kitchen.
To finish off my story, Mrs. Duck, who we had by now determined was a young female Pekin, had most likely escaped from someone’s illegal backyard livestock cultivation, and was intended for dinner. Mrs. Duck was rescued by The South Florida Wildlife Center where they will find a safe place so she can live out her days peacefully with ducky friends.
Some more delicious desserts:
Preheat oven to 350° F/ 180° C.
Butter and flour two 8” round cake pans. Line with parchment paper if preferred.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in one bowl. In another bowl, beat together butter and sugar until fluffy and light in color, about 2-3 minutes. Drop in your eggs one at a time, beating on low speed in between. Add the applesauce and continue to beat on low speed until combined. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients until just combined. Stir in the walnuts or raisins if you are using them. The batter will have tiny lumps. This is fine.
Divide the batter evenly into the baking pans and cook 25-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pan for 15 minutes, and then invert onto a cooling rack to cool completely. You can wrap the cakes in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator if you are baking them ahead.
In a heavy saucepan on high heat, add the apples, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter. Stir and cover for 2 minutes until the juices release from the apples. You need to quickly cook this, stirring occasionally, until the juice from the apples is cooked down into a slightly thick syrup. This should take about 5-10 minutes on high heat. Make sure the apples don’t scorch or brown. Once you can run a spoon across the bottom of the pan and see very little liquid remaining, remove the pan from the heat and allow the filling to cool.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla extract on medium speed until smooth. Slowly add the cream while you beat on medium speed, scraping the sides of the bowl a few times. Continue to beat the mixture until stiff peaks form.
After cakes are completely cool, trim tops to make them flat (if necessary). Place one cake top-side down on your serving platter. I like to place it on parchment sheets which I remove after the cake is iced. This keeps the plate clean.
Take the apple slices and arrange them tightly overlapping each other. Working from the outside inward, use as many apples as you would like.
Place the second layer top-side down and ice the cake. Use the back of a spoon to create swirls. Place the cake in the refrigerator to set the icing.