Category: Recipes We Love

Duck Hash Recipe Inspired by 39 Rue de Jean

During our January 2014 foodie road trip, we made a stop to Charleston, SC.  We had dinner reservations at some fabulous restaurants (check out the other reviews), and wondered around the town during the day.  We stumbled on 39 Rue de Jean just as we needed to get brunch/lunch, and decided to give it a try.  The TripAdvisor.com audience seemed to like it – and it was very active on a generally slow day in Charleston. The style of the restaurant can be best described as New Orleans funk – lots of wood, a bit of wall clutter, up beat music.  We were in time for brunch – the menu had a lot of standard, slightly up-scaled fare (such as eggs benedict done in about 24 styles), but one item caught our attention:  duck confit hash.  We’re big fans of good hash, and this one made it to our all-time best list.  The hash mix was a perfect combination of duck confit, potatoes, onions, sweet red pepper, and a heavenly gravy that was rich and incredibly flavorful. One of our favorite exercises is to back-engineer restaurant dishes, and to see if we can come close to matching the flavors.  We […]

Poached Dried Figs

When traveling through central Italy, especially Tuscany, you will find that the concept of dessert is often not what we see in the USA.  Most often fresh fruit, dried fruit, nuts, and cheese will be served after dinner. In many cities and regions, it is not unusual to see sweet & savory desserts, such as a sweet spinach pie.  There was a very good discussion of such desserts in the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of La Cucina Italiana. One recipe in particular caught my attention.  When in season, Italians love fresh figs; when not in season, Italians use dried figs.  We Italians love figs, and will use them in appetizers, incorporated into a main course (think about stuffing pork, beef, or lamb with goat cheese and figs), for breakfast, or for dessert.  I was making a Tuscan meal for a small party, and decided that figs needed to be on the menu.  Fresh figs are not quite in season, so I resorted to the dried variety. Most folks are familiar with the Turkish figs – those squat orbs of intense sweetness, having a honey aftertaste.   I have often use black mission figs, which have more of a mocha aftertaste.   […]

Italian Easter Pie – Torta Pasqualina alla Mickalene

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Growing up in an Italian Catholic family was all about family, food, and tradition.  One great tradition was making the Easter Pie. During the Lenten season, we all fasted, especially on Good Friday (no meat) and on Holy Saturday.  When it came to Easter Sunday, we splurged. I can remember the smells on the Saturday before Easter, when Mickalene was frying off the sausage, making the crust, then baking the pies.  We couldn’t wait until we dug into the cheesy, meaty, dense delight – but it was reserved for Easter Sunday morning.  The dish was incredibly labor intensive, and my Mom make enough to feed a small army. There are many varieties of the “Easter Pie,” based on the regional Italian cooking.  It’s called Pizzagaina, pizza piena (stuffed pizza), pastiera in the Naples, pizzachino, pizza rustica, but we called it  Torta Pasqualina (which is simply Easter Pie). For the most part, it is a quiche-like savory pie, but I have also seen some sweet versions.  The basics of the savory version call for eggs, cheese, meat, often a green vegetable (we used spinach, our Tyrolean parts of the family used asparagus, and we’ve seen others use swiss chard).  My Mom’s […]

Magical Mashed Potatoes – A Homage to Joel Robuchon's L'Atelier in NYC

On a cold day in February (2013), we strolled down 58th Street in NYC, and walked into the Four Seasons Hotel to get out of the cold for a few minutes.  We walked to the back of the hotel to see what was happening at one of our favorite restaurants, only to find that Joel Robuchon’s L’Atelier was closed.  We had one of our most memorable meals at L’Atelier, ranking on our all time top ten (a very hard list to make).  We loved the mix of French style service with Asian influenced flavors, albeit one of the most expensive meals on our list.  There was an amazing eel “napoleon,” a fois gras stuffed quail, and a passion fruit soup that we’ll never forget.  As a homage to this magnificent restaurant, here is our version of the super-rich mashed potatoes that is a signature dish of Chef Robuchon, potatoes that are like pudding. Ingredients – 1 lb Ratte potatoes (can also use fingerlings or Yukon Gold potatoes) – 1/2 lb unsalted high quality butter – 1/2 to 3/4 cup hot milk – Salt to taste You will need a potato ricer, and a chinois or tamis to make this recipe.  […]