Key Lime & Coconut

My adventures in the world of food & wine

Monday, December 25, 2006

A Very Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everybody! I hope y'all are stuffed full of yummy food and have gotten everything you wished for. I'm very happy (flat-screen HD tv!!!) and also very full. Christmas dinner was delicious, and in my opinion, waayyy better than Thanksgiving dinner this year. My mom and I decided we were going to make the same main course we made last year (because it was just so darn good): Roast Duck with Lavender and Honey. Amazing!! We also did a repeat of last year's best side dish, Herbes de Provence Red Potato Wedges. We tried out a new side dish with Baby Carrots with Tarragon. Last but not least, I made an absolutely beautiful dessert, a Frozen Grand Marnier Torte with Dark Chocolate Crust and Spiced Cranberries. Ho ho ho!


This duck is the best thing I think I've ever made. I'm a huge fan of duck in the first place, so I'm probably somewhat biased, but the flavors and aromas are so delightful. Not to mention the fact that this is actually easy. I'm sure I'll be making it again next year...

Roast Duck with Lavender and Honey
  • 4 tsp. fresh, or 2 tsp. dried, lavender blossoms
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 4 Tbsp. lavender honey or orange flower honey
  • 5-to-6-pound duck
Preheat oven to 350°F. Finely grind 2 teaspoons fresh or 1 teaspoon dried lavender blossoms, thyme, sea salt and peppercorns in spice grinder or with mortar and pestle. Remove fat deposits and giblets from duck cavity. Trim excess skin and fat from neck area. Rinse inside and out; pat dry. Cutting through skin and fat (but not flesh) of duck breasts, score in crisscross pattern. Rub inside and outside of duck with herb mixture. Place duck, breast up, on rack in roasting pan. Roast 2 hours. Remove from oven. Increase oven temperature to 375°F. Transfer duck to plate. Pour pan juices into 4-cup glass measuring cup; spoon off fat. Return juices and 1 tablespoon fat to pan. Return duck to pan. Brush with 2 tablespoons honey. Roast duck 20 minutes, basting once with pan juices. Brush with 2 tablespoons honey; sprinkle with 1 teaspoon fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried lavender. Roast duck until deep golden and thermometer inserted into innermost part of thigh registers 180°F., about 5 minutes longer.


Baby Carrots with Tarragon
  • 4 bunches (8-oz each) baby carrots, peeled & trimmed
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 Tbsp. minced fresh tarragon or 3 tsp. dried
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
Combine carrots, 1/4 cup water, 1 1/2 tablespoons tarragon, butter, vinegar and honey in heavy large skillet. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; cover and simmer until carrots are almost tender, about 12 minutes. Uncover; cook until carrots are tender and liquid is reduced to glaze, about 6 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to platter. Sprinkle with 1 1/2 tablespoons tarragon.


Herbes de Provence Red Potato Wedges
  • 2 pounds red potatoes, washed
  • 3 Tbsp. EVOO or enough to coat
  • 2 Tbsp. herbes de provence or dried parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, combined
  • 1 Tbsp. grill seasoning (such as McCormick Montreal Seasoning) or 1 tsp. each salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 450F. Line a cookie sheet with foil. Cut potatoes into wedges and drop onto cookie sheet. Coat potatoes n oil. Season with dried spices and grill seasoning. Roast, turning once, 25 minutes.


Frozen Grand Marnier Torte with Dark Chocolate Crust and Spiced Cranberries
(courtesy of Bon Appetit)

This frozen dessert worked out great for us this year since we had a Florida-style, 80-degree Christmas (complete with thunderstorms and a tornado watch). My mom said this was her favorite dessert I've ever made. Not sure I would go that far (I'm not a fan of tart things as much as she is), but it sure was yummy.

Crust:
  • about 9-oz. of chocolate biscotti
  • 1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • 7 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Filling:
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
  • 2 c. chilled heavy whipping cream
  • 5 Tbsp. Grand Marnier
  • 3 Tbsp. frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1 Tbsp. grated orange peel
Topping:
  • 1/2 c. ruby Port
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 5 c. fresh cranberries
For crust: Finely grind biscotti, chips, and sugar in food processor. Add melted butter; blend until wet crumbs form. Set aside 1/2 cup crumb mixture. Press remaining crumb mixture onto bottom and 2 inches up sides of 9–inch–diameter springform pan with 2 3/4–inch–high sides.

For filling:
Whisk first 3 ingredients in medium metal bowl. Set over saucepan of simmering water and whisk vigorously until candy thermometer registers 175°F, about 8 minutes. Remove bowl from over water. Add spices. Using mixer, beat until thick and cool, about 5 minutes. Using electric mixer, beat whipping cream, sour cream, Grand Marnier, orange juice concentrate, and grated orange peel in large bowl until peaks form. Add egg yolk mixture and fold together. Pour 2/3 of filling into crust. Sprinkle with reserved 1/2 cup crumb mixture. Gently spoon remaining filling over. Cover; freeze overnight or up to 3 days.

For topping:
Whisk Port and cornstarch in large skillet to blend. Add sugar, honey, and spices. Bring mixture to boil over high heat, stirring often. Add cranberries; cook until mixture boils and cranberries begin to pop but still hold shape, about 5 minutes. Chill topping at least 6 hours or overnight.

Release pan sides from torte. Transfer torte to platter. Spoon topping over filling.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Kristen said...

Everything looks absolutely amazing. I am going to have to try those potatoes though... they look fantastic!

10:21 PM  
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