Chilled Lentil Relish

This doesn’t sound very appetizing from the name but it really is.  The herbs in the lentils play well with others, especially the raspberry vinegar.  Lynn and I made this to serve with the Pan Seared Duck.

Serves 4
Chilled Lentil Relish
1 cup lentils
2 cups chicken stock
2 Tbs diced onion
2 Tbs diced carrot
2 Tbs diced celery
1 Bay leaf
2 sprigs thyme
1 sprig rosemary
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs raspberry vinegar
salt and pepper

1. Gently sweat the onions, carrots, celery, bay leaf, and herbs in a little olive oil over low heat until the onions are translucent. Don’t Add Salt, it will make the lentils gross.

2. Add the lentils and stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.

3. Spread on a plate to chill in the refrigerator.

4. Before serving toss in the olive oil and vinegar and add salt and pepper to taste.


Pan Seared Duck Breast with Raspberry Vinegar Reduction

Lynn and I learned how to make this for Valentine’s Day 3 years ago at a cooking class.  We finally made it this year and it was delicious.  Unfortunately duck breast is really only available at Central Market as far as I’ve been able to find so it’s not an everyday kind of dish.  The crispiness of the duck though with the fatty duck meat is delicious.  We served it over chilled lentils and grilled Belgian endive brushed with duck fat.

pan seared duck

Serves 2
Pan Seared Duck Breast with Raspberry Vinegar Reduction
2 duck breasts, trimmed and scored
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup Raspberry Vinegar
1 cup chicken stock
3 Tbs butter
salt and pepper

1. Place a saute pan over low heat with a little olive oil.

2. Salt both sides of the duck and place in the pan skin side down.  Raise the heat to medium-high and give the pan a few shakes.

3. Once the duck is loudly sizzling cooking for 3 minutes longer, flip and cook an additional 3 minutes.

4. Set the duck aside and let rest, and drain the fat (there should be a lot).

5. Add the sugar and let it caramelize, stirring it around.

6. Add the raspberry vinegar (watch the steam) and stir until it becomes a syrup.

7. Add the stock and reduce by half.

8. Reduce the heat to low and add the butter.  Season with salt and pepper as necessary.

Cranberry Salad

This is a classic Christmas and Thanksgiving side dish in my family.  I’ll often bring it to holiday potlucks and no one will touch it because it’s bright pink.  And I’m kind of okay with that because it’s delicious and that just means more for me.

Serves 8
Cranberry Salad
12 oz fresh cranberries
1 can crushed pineapple (strained)
marshmallows to taste
1 cup sugar
pecans to taste, chopped
Cool Whip (full fat please)

1. Chop the cranberries in a food processor.  Add the pineapple and marshmallows and mix thoroughly (probably not in the food processor unless you like tiny marshmallows).

2. Let this sit in the fridge overnight

3. Add the sugar, and chopped pecans.

4. Mix in cool whip until it looks bright pink.

Chocolate Ganache Crepes with Grand Marnier Syrup

A classic French dessert.  These crepes are really easy and don’t require any special crepeing tools, just a nonstick skillet.


Makes 10 or so crepes
Chocolate Ganache Crepes with Grand Marnier Syrup
2 eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 Tbs sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbs water
1/2 Tbs melted butter

For the Ganache
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 oz bittersweet chocolate

For the Syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbs Grand Marnier (or more if you want)

1. Beat the eggs, gradually add the flour and sugar, alternating with the milk and water.  Beat with the melted butter till there are no lumps

2. Cook the crepes over medium low heat until cooked through (no need to flip)

3. To make the ganache, boil the cream and add the chocolate, mix until smooth and glossy

4. To make the syrup, boil the water and sugar together, remove from heat and add the grand marnier

5. Spread the ganache on half the crepe, fold in half, spread again, fold in half and drizzle with the syrup

Pan Seared Lamb Chops

If you’re not watching Worst Cooks in America on Food Network you should be.  The lack of skill these people have is beyond comprehension.  Anyway last week Chef Spiky-Blonde-Hair made some lamb chops and that inspired me to try on my own.

Granted, I hate lamb, and it’s not just lamb, its also goat.  I’m an equal opportunity hater.  They both taste like someone took good food and then let it sit out too long and then added curdled milk.  But Lynn loves lamb, and I love Lynn so here we are, off to HEB to buy some lamb chops.  The only thing I really know about lamb is that people often eat it with mint, I can only imagine to wash the terrible lamb taste out of their mouths, so I got some of that too.

Turns out, not that bad.  I’m thinking maybe the lamb you get at the butcher counter wasn’t quite as lean and gamey as you’d normally find at a restaurant because this had a great fat too it that almost tasted like butter.  Also, show me a meat I can’t pan sear into deliciousness (maybe not chicken, that’s probably not safe).  As a side note, the mint was really subtle, there’s probably a better way to add that flavor.pan seared lamb

Serves 2
Pan Seared Lamb
4 lamb chops
5 or 6 mint stalks (with leaves)
grapeseed or some neutral oil
salt and pepper

1. Season the lamb with salt and pepper.

2. Heat a skillet on medium heat and add the oil.

3. Add the mint and cook until wilted.

4. Add the lamb and cook until medium (5 minutes or so a side).

5. Let it rest a couple minutes and eat.

Steak au Poivre

There’s a restaurant in Austin called Chez Nous.  In case you never took a foreign language in high school, it’s French.  Lynn and I ate there a little while ago and I had the steak au poivre.  It reminded me that a year or two ago Fine Cooking had a whole article on making this classic French dish so I went hunting and found it on my bookcase.  There’s not a whole lot I love more than pepper, so I tend to get a good thick crust going on these puppies, and that mixed with the tarragon, cognac cream is a great balance of rich and savory.  Also, you get to light stuff on fire and that’s always fun.

steak au poivre

Serves 4
Steak au Poivre
4 steaks of your choosing, I vote Ribeye because I like the marbling in them
1 tsp thyme

2 Tbs butter
1/4 finely diced shallot
1/3 cup plus 1 tsp cognac or brandy
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs fresh tarragon, chopped
1 tsp thyme

1. Heat the oven to 425

2. Season the steaks with salt and thyme and then cover them with as much fresh cracked pepper as you like (mines almost completely covered, it is “Steak with Pepper” after all).

3. Heat a cast iron pan over medium high heat and put a little canola oil in it.

4. Sear the steaks 2-3 minutes a side and put the pan in the oven (steaks still in it).

5. Cook the steaks until they’re done to you’re liking (5 or so minutes for medium rare).

6. Put the steaks on a plate and tent with foil to rest.

7. In the same cast iron skillet add the butter and saute the shallots until soft over medium heat.

8. Add the cognac or brandy and light it on fire if you want to put on a show, reduce to a glazy consistency

9. Add the cream, tarragon, and the thyme, reduce heat to low and simmer while stirring constantly until thick

10. Finish the sauce with the remaining tsp cognac, any accumulated steak juices, and salt to taste.

11. Serve the steaks with sauce spooned over them.


Chocolate Lava Cake

Lynn surprised me with a “you’re making chocolate lava cake for all my friends” party last week.  Never having made them before I valiantly agreed and found this recipe from Ghiradelli.  Not having near enough ramekins either we used a fun cupcake baking sheet so we had flower shaped cakes.

chocolate lave cakeServes 6
Chocolate Lava Cake

2 oz dark chocolate
1/4 cup heavy cream

4 oz dark chocolate
1 stick unsalted butter
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup cake flour

1. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and cream, whisking to blend, refrigerate a couple hours

2. Form the chocolate into 6 balls and refrigerate for later

3. Heat oven to 400 F

4. Melt the chocolate and butter, whisking gently to blend

5. Mix eggs, yolks, sugar, and vanilla on high speed (with your electric mixer of course) about 5 minutes until thick and light

6. Fold in melted chocolate/butter and the flour.

7. Spoon the batter into 6 ramekins and place a cold chocolate ball in the center of each.

8. Bake 15 minutes and let stand for 5 before serving.