American Pale Ale beer jelly (or vanilla) infused yogurt pudding with caramelized peaches

This summer I cooked a lot of peaches …. mostly because I wanted to nail one recipe, and one only: a French tatin peach pie. Peach pie can be really soggy, this was my challenge. It took me 6 to 7 peach pies, but now I nail it. My peaches are perfectly caramelized and my tatin peach pie is not anymore soggy.

The positive aspect of this experience is the fact that I have rediscovered that caramelized peaches in sugar and butter is real yummy. It also brought back some sweet memories: my grandmother sweet indulgence made with peaches. I wanted to bring back these memories, with a little twist.

Peach with beer? Mummm, can we pair them?

Through my reading about pairing food with beer, I have learnt that American Pale Ale works well with caramel and fruits. Et voila!

it gave me the idea to try baked yogurt pudding with caramelized peaches and American Pale Ale beer jelly. And it was not a mistake, it is gorgeous!

I think it is time to cook, this is my recipe:

Prep Time: 15 min                   Cook Time: 30 to 45 min                    Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

4 peaches, ripe but firm

30 grams (2 tablespoons) butter

40 grams (1/4 cup) sugar

250 grams (1 cup) plain yoghurt

140 grams (0.6 cup) sweetened condensed milk

80 grams (0.3 cup) cream fraîche

4 teaspoons of Imperial IPA Beer Jelly (or one teaspoon of vanilla extract as an alternative)

1 egg, lightly beaten

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 160°C.

Cut peaches into quarters. Pan fry them quickly in butter (be sure to use a pan large enough to have one layer of fruits) on high heat for 5 to 7 minutes.

Add the granulated sugar and mix. Lower the heat to medium heat and wait for peaches render their juice (it can take 10 to 12 minutes). Increase the heat to high and dry and simmer the peaches until there is no more juice.

It is really important to have at that point no liquid at all because the peaches will release some juice when cooking in the oven, and if this is the case, the peach pie will be soggy.

Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove the peaches from the caramel and transfer them equitably to 4 X 250 ml glass Masson jar.

Warm up the American Pale Ale Beer Jelly using a microwave or a water bath.

Mix together the yoghurt, condensed milk, cream, beer jelly and egg in a medium bowl.

Pour the yoghurt mixture over the peaches and bake in the oven for 20–35 minutes, or until the pudding is just set. I find that 25 minutes is enough but it will all depend of your stove.

When the pudding is cooked, it will look smooth like a panna cotta, but it will still be a little wobbly. It is important not to cook it for any longer once it reaches this stage, because overcooking will make it curdle and the water separate.

Chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour, then serve.

The pudding will become firmer and lose its wobbliness when it is chilled in the refrigerator.

You can keep this dessert for at least 48 hours in the fridge. It is a really refreshing sweet treat.

French tomato pie with goat cheese and Imperial IPA beer jelly (or honey)

This is a classic in French cuisine – mustard, tomatoes and cheese layered on a flaky pie crust. This was my first recipe published last year in my blog: Alchimie et gourmandise. We love this pie – we call it the French pizza. I wanted to revisit this classic this summer, and add a little of “je ne sais quoi…”.

As I am working with local craft beer, my idea was to add some Imperial IPA beer jelly to the mustard and to pair this aromatic jelly with goat cheese… A must to try. I hope you will enjoy this French pie with a Canadian twist as much as us.

If you don’t have any beer jelly, don’t worry. You can use also honey or apple cider jelly.

I think it is time to cook, this is my recipe:

Pie crust recipe

Ingredients

250 grams all-purpose organic unbleached flour

125 grams of butter, cubed and very cold

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

100 ml very cold water, plus more is needed

Directions

Whisk together the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl.

Add the cubed butter to the flour mixture, and cut it using a pastry cutter (rubbing it in with your fingertips also works in a pinch). Keep working the butter into the dough until in coarse crumbs with a few larger pieces.

Scrape off any residual butter-flour mixture from the pastry cutter, and drizzle in the water.

Gently work the water into the dough with a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon until it becomes a shaggy but relatively cohesive mass. Give the dough a few kneads with your hands (fewer than 10) so that it forms a rough ball.

Try to work these steps as fast as you can. This is one of the secrets for a flaky crust.

Wrap the ball in plastic wrap, and chill for at minimum one hour or overnight. This allows the water to fully hydrate the dough, making for a more cohesive product that’s easier to roll out.

The tomato mustard French pie

 Ingredients

100 g of mustard

I use normally a combination (50/50) of artisan whole-grain mustard (not sweet at all) and Maille Dijon Originale mustard. French mustard like Maille is the best choice because it is not sweet and it will pair perfectly with the Imperial IPA beer jelly, honey or apple cider jelly.

1 tablespoon + 4 to 5 teaspoons Imperial IPA beer jelly (or honey or apple cider jelly as an alternative)

If you are using honey or sweet apple cider jelly, put a little less because it is going to be too sweet.

3 large or 5 medium ripe heirloom tomatoes (like candy’s old yellow, green zebra, cavern…)

5 to 6 round slices of goat cheese – 250 g (8 ounces) (like The Tournevent, la fromagerie Hamel, Quebec)

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 tablespoons of fresh herbs of Provence (a combination of parsley, marjoram, rosemary, thyme or oregano)

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Fit the pie crust into a 11-inch pie dish (or smaller size like a 9-inch). With a fork, poke holes into the bottom of the crust.

Precook the crust for 7 to 10 min. Meanwhile, cut the tomatoes into slices 3-5 mm thick. Lay the slices as on paper towels to remove excess water content in tomatoes if needed

Remove the crust from the oven.

Mix together the two kinds of mustard with one tablespoon of Imperial IPA beer jelly. Spread it over the bottom of the pie crust in an even layer. Cover the mustard with slices of tomato, overlapping in a spiral from the edge to the center. They will slightly shrink while cooking. Then, don’t be afraid to put two layers of tomatoes.

Arrange the slices of goat cheese on top, and add a teaspoon of Imperial IPA beer jelly on each disk of goat cheese. Drizzle olive oil over the tomatoes, and sprinkle the tart with the herbs of Provence.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes at 450 degree F, or until the dough is cooked, the tomatoes are tender, and the cheese on top is nicely browned. Depending on the heat of your oven, if the cheese doesn’t brown as much as you’d like it, you might want to pass it under the broiler until it’s just right.

Remove from the oven and let it to rest for 15 min.

Imperial IPA beer jelly (or vanilla) infused yogurt pudding with tomato compote

In the French Caribbean islands, we are making vanilla tomato jam. And yes, tomato is a fruit and not a vegetable!

I have always loved the idea to use tomatoes in sweet recipes. I started with jam a few years ago. This is one of my favorite jam here in Toronto. We have so much tomatoes during the summer. But this summer, I wanted to be a little more adventurous and I have decided to develop a dessert with tomatoes that also includes one of my beer jellies.

Imperial IPA beer jelly is the perfect choice because hops and tomatoes work really well together. But don’t worry, if you don’t have any Imperial IPA beer jelly, you can use vanilla for both the tomato compote and the yogurt pudding. It is going to be delicious too.
Inspired by Indian cuisine, this is an aromatic, crunchy, creamy and refreshing sweet treat (adapted from Ragini Dey’s recipe (Spice Kitchen)). It remind me one of my grand mother Adele recipe. Hope you will like it!

I think it is time to cook, this is my recipe:

Prep Time: 15 min        Cook Time: 30 to 45 min         Yield: 4 servings

 Ingredients

4 ripe tomatoes, chopped

1 vanilla bean

4 curry leafs (or 1 small bay leaf)

4 pods of green cardamom (opened, seeds removed and ground)

180 grams (7/8 cup) sugar

250 grams (1 cup) plain yoghurt

140 grams (0.6 cup) sweetened condensed milk

80 grams (0.3 cup) cream fraîche

4 teaspoons of Imperial IPA Beer Jelly (or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract as an alternative)

1 egg, lightly beaten

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 320°F (160°C).

Cut lengthwise down the vanilla bean into two halves and scrape the pod halves to collect the seeds.

Mix together the tomato, vanilla pod and seeds, curry leafs, cardamom and sugar in a medium saucepan over a medium heat and cook for about 8–10 minutes.

Do not overcook the tomatoes, it is really important to keep intact the crunchiness and the freshness of this fruit.

Remove the tomatoes, and distribute them equitably between 4 X 250 ml glass Masson jars.

Reduce the tomato syrup half or until it forms a syrup. Remove the vanilla bean and curry leafs, and pour the syrup into the jars over the tomatoes.

Warm up the Imperial IPA Beer Jelly using a microwave or using a water bath.

Mix together the yoghurt, condensed milk, cream, beer jelly and egg in a medium bowl.

Pour the yoghurt mixture over the tomato mixture and bake in the oven for 20–35 minutes, or until the pudding is just set. It seems that 25 minutes is enough but it will all depend of your stove.

When the pudding is cooked, it will look smooth like a panna cotta and still a little wobbly. Do not cook it for any longer once it reaches this stage, because overcooking will make it curdle and the water will separate.

Chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour, then serve. The pudding will become firmer and lose its wobbliness when chilled.

You can keep this dessert for at least 48 hours in the fridge. It is a really refreshing sweet delicacy!

Socca … An easy going but delicious Provençal street food

One funny thing, I never ate socca when living in France. I went to Provence several times, but never to Nice specifically (the kingdom of socca).

How did I discover socca?

In little India, here in Toronto. Funny! We were in an Indian restaurant, enjoying our vegetarian meal. As we try not to eat too much meat, we were looking for inspiration – some ideas for “meatless meals”, and we started to look at the different ingredients used in vegetarian Indian recipes. Chickpea flour was one main ingredient of the food we were eating, and I started to look on internet what we could do with this flour… and this is how we have discovered that chickpea flour is used since a long time and with a lot of success in French cuisine.

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Socca and Cade are Provençal pancakes that go back at least to 1860. Cade de Toulon, probably the most ancient, was made from corn flour and the Socca de Nice that evolved from it is made from chick-pea flour. In that ancient time, there were cade/socca sellers at the marchés and at work sites where they provided the favorite morning meal of the workers. The cade/socca sellers used special wagons with built-in charcoal ovens to keep their wares hot while they announced them with the appropriate cries of “cada, cada, cada” or “socca, socca, socca caouda”. Some of the ambulatory socca/cade sellers (or their descendents) are still to be found in the markets at Nice, Toulon and la Seyne-sur-Mer, where the slices are served in paper cones. In Nice, the Cave Ricord restaurant has been selling socca continuously for the past 80 years.

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Socca is a simple but easy to love traditional Provence street food made of chickpeas flour. Yesteryear, it was cooked using a large round (50-70 cm diameter) copper “pie tin” (plaque) in a very hot wood-fired oven for about six minutes, until the top is golden. The copper is important for spreading the heat evenly. Nowadays, you can cook socca in the oven or on the stove in a cast iron skillet. Personally, I like to use a good quality non stick skillet or a non stick cookie sheet because socca can badly stick to your pan. I have experienced this misadventure several times in the past before I decided to switch for a non stick skillet. You can make your socca really fine and crispy, or a little more thick – still crispy outside but creamy inside. Yummy!

Chick peas (like chick pea flour) is gluten free and really nutritious: 22 grams protein and 11 grams fiber per 100 grams as well as a low glycemic index that help to control hunger cravings (satiety). It can also help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, and it is a good source of minerals (like magnesium (41% daily value) and phosphorus (32%) – essential to healthy bones, potassium (24%) – help keep fluids and minerals in balance in the body and regulates blood pressure, and also iron (24%), zinc (19%), copper (46%), and manganese (80%) per 100 grams) as well as vitamins (thiamin (32%) and vitamin B6 (25%) – two of the B vitamins that help you convert food into energy, folate (104%) – essential to red blood cell development and the prevention of certain birth defects and vitamin K (11%) per 100 grams).

Unfortunately, chickpeas, like all nuts and seeds, grains and pulses, contain food phytate that can bind minerals, and prevent their full absorption. Furthermore, chickpeas, like other pulses, can be difficult to digest. However, the minerals in chickpeas like the minerals in other pulses, grains and nuts, are better absorbed when the chickpeas are prepared properly through sprouting, soaking or souring.   These traditional processes render the minerals found in these different foods more bioavailable, and can also render the bean easier to digest.

For this specific recipe, I am using the souring technique – i.e. soaking the chickpea flour overnight (or for 24 hours) in an acidic environment (lemon juice or beer + lemon juice). It also gives the final flatbread a wonderful, faint, tartness that complements the naturally earthy, nutty flavor of the chickpeas.

I think it is time to cook, this is my recipe:

Adapted from Nourished Kitchen recipe.

Prep Time: 12 to 24 hours                            Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 1 thick 12.5 inches pancake or two thin 7 inches pancakes

Ingredients

1 cup chickpea flour

3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice (or only 2 teaspoons lemon juice if you use beer)

1 1/4 cups water (or 3/4 cup American Pale Ale beer + 1/2 cup water)

I will recommend to use a light beer for this recipe like the American Pale Ale from Black Oak. I find its buttered bread, english muffin kind of malt taste works perfectly with the naturally earthy, nutty flavor of the chickpeas. The hops flavors are also present with a soft aftertaste bitterness.

3 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional for greasing the pan

1/2 teaspoon unrefined sea salt

 

Instructions

Dump the chickpea flour into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Stir in the lemon juice and water (or beer + water + lemon juice). Cover the bowl, and allow it to rest at room temperature at least 12 and up to 24 hours.

Whisk in olive oil and salt, until it forms a thin, smooth batter.

Film a non stick pan with oil and set over medium-high heat. Pour in the socca batter. Decrease temperature to medium heat. After about 8 to 10 minutes (shorter time if you are using a smaller pan) when the edges are firm, gently lift the pancake and flip it. Cook on the other side for another 2 to 3 minutes, until both surfaces are dry and beginning to brown.

Gently remove the socca from the pan, continue with the remaining half of the batter if you are using a smaller pan. Cut into squares, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with a little good olive oil.

Socca is best if eaten immediately after baking while still warm, but can be refrigerated (keep it in aluminium foil) and re-toasted for up to a week.

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Socca is delicious sprinkled with salt and pepper and served with some olive oil, cured olives, cherry tomatoes, Mediterranean cheese… You can also be inspired and creative – use or serve socca with whatever you happen to like (some great ideas here).

Bonne Appetite!

French green salad with Imperial IPA beer jelly vinaigrette, pickled cherry and pecorino cheese

A green salad is the corner stone of every meal in France – It can be the first course, or a side dish with the main course for lunch, or your main dish with cheese or a hardboiled egg for dinner.

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One important aspect and characteristic of the French green salad is the vinaigrette or “sauce moutarde”. It must be very mustardy. This was, and is still like this in my family in Burgundy. A strong mustard, the Dijon mustard… is the star!

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As a French expatriate, there are some food products that I can’t live without… and mustard is number one in my list. I can eat American mustard with hot dogs or with my burger but not in a salad dressing. Dijon mustard was the one in France, Dijon mustard is still the one in Canada.

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And let you go, be a real French! Don’t be afraid to make things “au pif’ or “by the nose”. We do this all the time when it comes to salad dressing.

 

Good quality mustard, shallot and/or garlic, a mild but flavourful wine vinegar and a good vegetable oil. This is the perfect combination!

No red wine balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil with Dijon mustard… There would be too much competition between so many good and tasty ingredients. You really want to taste and enjoy the flavor of the mustard.

Don’t get me wrong! I love red wine balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil with salad or other vegetables but without mustard.

As a food artisan start-up, the beer jelly is my leading product. A breakthrough for me! it pairs so marvellously with cheeses (like pecorino cheese with peppercorns) and it is easy to use when you are cooking … a teaspoon here or there.

Imperial IPA beer jelly (because of the hops flavor) works perfectly in a salad dressing and complements very well the taste of the green leaves. It is a must to try! A simple dish like a green salad can be so tasty… a symphony of flavours. You won’t look behind you after.

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If you are not living in Toronto (e-commerce for Canada available soon on my company website), you can find a similar product in USA. If not, I suggest you replace the beer jelly with apple cider jelly or apple jelly. Try to find one that is not too sweet, and in this case use apple cider vinegar.

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I think it is time to cook, this is my recipe:

French Imperial IPA beer jelly vinaigrette

A few simple ingredients that can come together so well, when done right. A symphony of flavors!

 

Makes about 60 ml (1/4 cup), enough for one large green salad

Ingredients

A pinch (1/8 teaspoon) sea salt

1 tablespoon white balsamic wine vinegar

1/2 small shallot, peeled and minced (about 1 tablespoon) (facultative)

A generous teaspoon Dijon originale mustard like Maille

A generous teaspoon old style mustard like Maille

1 teaspoon of Imperial IPA beer jelly (or apple cider jelly or apple jelly)

3 to 4 tablespoons (45 ml to 60 ml) vegetable oil like sunflower

Fresh ground pepper

Fresh herbs, if desired

 

Preparation

In a large bowl, mix together the salt, vinegar, and shallot. Let stand for about ten minutes.

Shallot is the chic cousin of onion. When marinated in vinegar, it gets soften and adds an attention-grabbing flavor to the dressing because of its slight bite. A must, you need to try!

Mix in the two mustards, beer jelly (or apple cider jelly), then add 3 tablespoons (45 ml) of vegetable oil and freshly ground peppercorns. Stir well, then taste. If too sharp, add the additional vegetable oil and more salt, if necessary.

You can add fresh herbs, but it’s better to chop and mix them just before serving so they retain their flavor.

You can keep this salad dressing for about eight hours at room temperature. If you want to make it farther in advance, as I suggest previously, add the shallots and the fresh herbs closer to serving so they don’t loose their fragrance.

 

French green salad with pickled black cherry, pecorino cheese and Imperial IPA beer jelly vinaigrette 

4 servings            Preparation 15 minutes

 

Ingredients

1 Head red leaf lettuce (leaves torn) or a large bag of mixed baby green leaves

50 grams (1/4 cup) of pickled black cherry, pitted and sliced

100 grams (3 ounces) pecorino cheese with peppercorns, shaved or cut in small cubs

You can also use a local cheese like pepper potts cheese. This cheese is rubbed in freshly cracked pepper and aged for 18 months. it is a pasteurized sheep’s milk cheese made in Sudbury, Ontario. A traditional Tuscan-style pecorino recipe!

Salad dressing (recipe above)

Salt and peppercorn

 

Directions

In the large bowl that contains the French Imperial IPA beer vinaigrette, add the lettuce (or mixed green leaves), pickled cherries and half of pecorino and toss to coat. Top with rest of pecorino.

Add fresh ground peppercorns and salt if necessary.

Green Salad with Imperial IPA vinaigrette

Bon Appetite!

Roasted Duck Legs with Oatmeal Brown Ale Beer and Cherry Sauce

The first time I have discovered the possibility to cook duck with cherry was in France. My brother Jean Michel had offered me a cooking book for my 20th anniversary: Larousse Traditional French Cooking by Curnonsky.

Maurice Edmond Sailland was an interesting man. Better known by his pen-name Curnonsky, and dubbed the Prince of Gastronomy, he was the most celebrated writer on gastronomy in France in the 20th century. He was also a prolific fictional author (over 65 books and enormous numbers of newspaper columns) , a bon-vivant, a raconteur and a gourmand (he wrote several cookbooks). He is often considered the inventor of gastronomic motor-tourism as popularized by Michelin, though he himself could not drive.

He advocated simple food over complicated, rustic over refined, and he has often repeated the phrase:

Et surtout, faites simple!

And above all, keep it simple!

I have read his book like a captivating novel, I have prepared many of his recipes…and I have learnt so much from the 1, 5000 recipes he has collected in his cookbook. Thanks Jean Michel for this gift!

Duck and cherry, I have tried this combination many times – or something similar to this recipe – using the whole duck or the ]breasts with red Burgundy wine instead of beer. The first time, it was specifically for my grandfather Paul. Both my grandparents Adele and Paul had a farm and a luxuriant orchard and garden. I have spent so many summers with them, enjoying cooking and making jam and preserving with my grandmother Adele, harvesting the products of their farm and orchard with my grandfather Paul. It was a way to honor him … a fantastic roasted duck with his sour cherries. A little of nostalgia …. but also great memories!

I think it is time to cook, this is my recipe.

4 servings      Preparation 30 minutes            Cooking 2 hours and 15 minutes

 

Ingredients

4 duck legs, skin on

Salt and pepper

3 chopped shallots

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 cup oatmeal brown ale beer

The recipe for this classic French dish is quite standard. You can use red wine or Porto as well as Stout, but I wanted something different, lighter and well balance. The red wine, like the stout, can be overpowering (thick and heavy sometime – more for winter cooking), and as a result, the cherries would play only a second role.

Left-Field-Brewing-First-edits-Photos-by-Mark-Horsley-4As a result, for this recipe, I have decided to use a brown Ale, more specifically the Oatmeal Brown Ale Eephus, from Left Field Brewery.

Left Field Brewery is my neighbour here in Toronto East. One among the vibrant local craft breweries in Ontario! I love to go there and order a sampling of their beers. I bring some food (like cherry), a book about pairing beer with cheese and/or food. I let my imagination wander, and I decide if one of their beers might be an interesting addition to my food and cooking research and development adventure.

Eephus Oatmeal Brown Ale (5.5% alcohol) is malty and nutty, well balanced but on the sweet side, with a touch of bitterness. The perfect pairing for the dark cherry!

The sauce is smooth with a mild but intricate rich flavor and a touch of bitterness. It balances perfectly the aroma of the dark cherry and work perfectly with duck. A must to try!

250 to 300 grams (1 ½ cups) dark sweet cherries

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 tablespoon butter

A few drops of Tabasco chipotle smoky sauce

Black pepper

Salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 F degree.

Pat the skin of the duck leg with a kitchen towel.

Prick the skin of the leg all over (taking care not to pierce the meat).

Season duck legs with salt and pepper.

Place the duck legs skin side down in a cold skillet large enough to accommodate them comfortably. Turn heat to medium, and cook until skin is scrip and mahogany colored (between 6 to 10 minutes). Turn legs over and cook until browned on the other side, about 2 to 4 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack on a roasting tray (or a baking dish) and cook in the middle of the oven for 1 ½ to 2 hours for optimal outcome, i.e. until legs are very tender. Transfer legs to a platter and keep warm (cover with foil).

One thing you need to keep in mind, it is almost impossible to overcook duck legs. Don’t be afraid to let them for more than 1 hour in the oven. The first time I did this recipe, I worried so much and I have removed the duck legs after 50 minutes, mostly because the duck legs have exceeded the optimal cooking temperature of 180 F degree. Yes, for sure it was cooked but it was not tender. I put back in the over the second leg for an extra 40 minutes, and it was perfectly tender after spending extra time in the oven.

Then, these are my two advices: keep in mind the size of the leg (small, medium or large) and start to check if the duck is cooked and tender (using a knife) after 1 hour in the oven … and stay Zen!

Two more tips:

You can reduce the oven to 200 F degree and keep the duck in a warm environment until ready to serve for up to 1 hour.

To crisp the skin back up (it can become soft in the oven), preheat the broiler and place the duck under the broiler for a few minutes, keeping a very close eye to make sure the duck doesn’t burn.

Pour out the drippings from the skillet into a storage container and reserve it for later use.

While the duck is almost cooked, make the cherry sauce.

In the skillet used to brown the duck legs over medium high heat add 2 tablespoons duck fat from the reserved dripping. Add the shallots and cook until soft and lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add brown ale, pitted cherries cut in half, soy sauce, maple syrup, Tabasco sauce and black pepper. Deglaze the pan by scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan (this is going to give an extra yummy taste to the sauce). Allow to boil, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 8 minutes.

Swirl in the butter and rectify seasoning if needed.

Spoon the sauce over the duck just prior to serving, or serve alongside.

The perfect side dish: potatoes as well as French green beans.

Bonne Appetite!

A little of science…

Some nutritional information about Duck:

Duck is not only a richly flavored meat well-suited to strong accompaniments like fruit and potent spices, it is also nutritious.

Duck is rich in dietary protein (11 grams per 100 grams), which helps boost satiety.

Despite the fact it is a significant source of saturated fat, duck is also a good source of monounsaturated fat (almost 50% of the total duck fat contain) – the same fat found in unrefined olive oil, avocados and pastured lard that is renowned for its ability to increase HDL (good cholesterol) and reduce the risk of heart disease. In fact, duck fat is situated between butter and olive oil when we compared their fat composition.

Duck meat is both mineral- and vitamin-rich. It is a rich source of niacin (vitamin B6 – 50% daily requirement per 100 grams serving):

This vitamin plays a vital role in the metabolism of fats in the body. It has also been established to have a cholesterol-lowering effect. Niacin helps to reduce low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol which when oxidized forms plaque in the blood vessels and increase the risk of heart disease. Good choice of meat if you want to promote your cardiovascular health.

Niacin also supports genetic processes. Components of cellular genetic material require niacin for their production. Inadequate niacin in the diet can cause DNA damage. Niacin also helps to stabilize blood sugar and regulates the metabolism of insulin. This makes duck a good dietary item for diabetics.

It is also a good source of riboflavin (12% daily requirement per 100 grams serving), selenium (43%) and iron (13%).

Beer Infused Rice Pilaf…. Made with American Pale

I know, it is a little clumsy to start my blog with the sentence … I love rice! But this is true.

Despite the fact that I am a Frenchy (with some Canadian influences now) and bread is my motto, my brother Jean Michel and me have grew up eating and enjoying one kind of rice: Le Riz Taureau Aile or more specifically the rice from Camargue (the south region of France). This rice is similar to the Italian Arborio rice. it is flavorful, creamy and sticky. It made the most amazing rice pudding, and it is the best side dish for our creamy sauces like the famous blanquette de veau (veal stew). If truth be told, our childhood culinary experience has left a indelible mark on us. We cannot stand bad quality rice at all!

The result, I have a passion for rice… any kinds, and I love cooking dishes with it. In fact, my favorite comfort food when I am tired, a little depressed and I really need to reconnect with my childhood is a bowl of rice with butter. I love the taste of rice with butter… it reminds me my grandmother rice.

Rice with beer, why not?

The idea came to me when I was reading a series of articles about the use of wine in French and Italian cooking. Generally, wine goes into stew and sauce (as well as dessert) in France. In Italy, wine is also used to bring flavors into pasta sauce and risotto. That was it! Italian cooking practices gave me the idea to try to infuse rice with beer. I could go with risotto, but I have decided to try rice pilaf for a change. It is a more easy going preparation and everyday dish. But don’t take me wrong, it can be complex and subtle and more importantly, yummy.

What is rice pilaf?

When you start to read about rice pilaf, you are discovering that there is an interesting and opulent story behind this simple dish.

It is an integral part of formal and informal meal in Asian and Middle East cuisine. Pilaf was known to have been served to Alexander the Great at a royal banquet following his capture of the Sogdian capital of Marakanda (modern Samarkand). And it was first documented by the celebrated Persian scholar Abu Ali Ibn Sina in tenth century, who in his books on medical sciences has dedicated a whole section to preparing various meals, including several types of pilaf. After that, it has spread all over the world and is nowadays an important component of our worldwide culinary practice.

Pilaf is made of a good quality rice like Basmati or Jasmine rice, cooked in a broth seasoned with different ingredients like onion, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, coriander seeds, nuts, dry fruit, saffron as well as meat, fish, lentils, beans, pasta, vegetables… The grains remain separate and in some recipes, you can obtain a fluffy and soft rice, but neither soupy nor sticky.

I think it is time to cook, this is my recipe:

4 to 6 servings                                 Preparation 15 min                            Cooking time 25 minutes

Ingredients

1 onion (or 4 shallots), finely chopped

1 tablespoon (15 grams) olive oil

1 tablespoon (30 ml) butter

2 cups (370 grams) Basmati rice

1 1/2 cups (355 ml) water

1 1/2 cups (355 ml) American Pale Ale beer

For this recipe I have chosen to use an American Pale Ale from Black oak. The taste of this beer is sweet initially with a lightly toasted cereal grain, more biscuit-like than bready as well as slight notes of tart citrus, pine, and herbal hops that can work quite well with sweet onion in this rice dish.

Fresh curry leaves (facultative)

Curry leaves are an herb native to South Asia, unrelated to the ground spice mix called curry powder. They’re an essential component of South Indian cooking, adding a subtle aroma to simple dishes or complexity to highly spicy dishes. It has a peppery flavor and it releases a deliciously nutty aroma when fried in hot oil. Curry leaves can be used in the same way as bay leaves are used in the West. You can find them in Indian grocery shops.

I love to use curry leaves because we are not using a lot of (or not at all) salt in our cooking at home. We cook rice without salt… the nice fragrances come from the rice itself the saffron and the curry leaves

Salt and Pepper

Preparation

In a saucepan, lightly brown the onion in olive oil/butter over medium heat, add the curry leaves and cook for 30 seconds

I am not doing this normally but I am going to do this next for maximum fragrances. Normally, I add the curry leaves with the water when cooking rice.

Season with salt (facultative) and pepper.

Add the rice. Cook, stirring, until the grains are well-coated and some look translucent and the whole mixture smells toasty, about 3 minutes.

Toasting the grains in oil until they start to look translucent helps them separate so they won’t clump. It adds flavor, too.

Add the beer and the water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 18 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.

Remove from heat and fluff the rice with a fork. Then cover the pot with a clean dish towel and seal with the lid for 10 minutes.

The towel absorbs steam, so the rice stays fluffy.

I have served this rice pilaf with sauté spinach for our dinner. It was really good, very flavourful.

I think it will work perfectly also with barbecue or sweet spicy tomato sauce because this rice pilaf has some tanginess flavors with some after taste bitterness. With the left over, I have made a tuna salad with parsley, tomatoes, cucumber and avocado. It was delicious!

Bonne Appetite!