Friday, August 30, 2013

Roasted Duck Breast with Roasted Vegetables and Port Reduction Recipe

A perfect dish for the last days of summer, when the weather is cooler, summer vegetables are abundant and full of flavors and fall’s tender greens are starting to come in.

Cook the Duck

Duck breasts, halved.  

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. With a sharp knife score the fat of the duck breasts in a criss-cross pattern. Season the duck with salt and pepper. Warm a heavy bottomed ovenproof skillet over medium heat.
Place the duck breasts, fat side down, in the skillet to render off the fat, about 6 minutes. Reserve rendered duck fat. Turn the duck breasts over and sear for 1 minute. Turn the fat side down again and place the skillet into the oven to roast for 7 to 9 minutes, until breasts are medium rare. Let the duck breasts rest for 5 minutes then thinly slice.
Serve on a top of roasted summer vegetables and sauteed fall greens, drizzled with port reduction (recipes follow).

Port Reduction
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped carrots
2 bay leaves
3 cups port wine
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Continue to boil until thickened and reduced to about 1/2 cup, about 30 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve; let cool to room temperature.

Roasted Vegetables
4 summer squash (about 2 pounds), halved lengthwise if large, sliced crosswise 1 inch thick
2 pints grape or cherry tomatoes
2 onions, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 small cauliflower, cut into small florets
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 cup olive oil
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Divide squash, tomatoes, cauliflower, onions, and garlic between two large rimmed baking sheets. Drizzle with oil, and season with salt and pepper; toss to coat and then spread evenly. Roast (without tossing) until tender and starting to brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, let cool to room temperature and then gently remove the vegetables. Be sure to scoop out the delicious brown crust that forms at the bottom of the vegetables.

Sauteed Fall Greens
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 lbs tender fall greens such as chard, spinach, baby kale cut into bite size pieces.
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until beginning to brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Add greens and toss to coat. Cover and cook until wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add vinegar, salt and crushed red pepper. Toss to coat and serve immediately.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Return of The Jersey Tomatoes

Jersey tomatoes season is finally here! To celebrate the arrival of summer tomatoes we would to like to return to the eternal question - is there such thing as a Jersey tomato? Jim asked a Rutgers extension scientist by the name of Jack Rabin. This conversation is recorded in Locavore Adventures.
“he [Jack] opened our conversation with a shocker.
“You know,” he said, “there’s no such variety as ‘The New Jersey Tomato.’”
Now, as a chef and restaurant owner who really pays attention to what I put on my table and serve to my guests, that news bowled me over. I thought ”New Jersey Tomato” (or Jersey Tomato, for short), was its own variety, born and bred. But Jack said the name actually has been trademarked by a southern New Jersey farm to refer to its own crop.
On the other hand, when you hear the name “Rutgers Tomato,” that’s the real deal. It’s an actual variety of tomato which was developed in 1934 to enhance specific properties. The Rutgers Tomato has earned its place in history...It became a worldwide bestseller - one of the most celebrated tomatoes known not just for its canning properties but for its wonderful eating flavor. ”

And there’s more:  The Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (RNJAES) has rediscovered  the old portfolio of red round tomato varieties that were grown in the early 20th century and named Jersey Tomatoes. These tomatoes were known for their outstanding flavor and hence earned the Jersey Tomato claim to fame. The extension had been working on bringing some of these varieties back for home gardeners and local farm markets. Seeds of the much loved Ramapo and an early season companion Moreton were reintroduced to the market last summer through the Rediscover the Jersey Tomato project. More old time Jersey Tomato variety seed offerings will be added in the next few years.

Read more about the New Jersey tomatoes in Locavore adventure.

Zuppa di Mozzarella
4 1 oz. pieces fresh made mozzarella
2 pounds fresh tomatoes peeled and seeded (Jersey of course)
3 cloves garlic sliced thin
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil ½ cup olive oil

Heat two thirds of the olive oil in a large sauce pan. Add the sliced garlic and cook slowly until lightly browned. Add the crushed red pepper and the tomatoes. Let the sauce cook until it begins to thicken. Season with the parsley, basil and salt. The consistency should be somewhere between soup and sauce
Place one piece of mozzarella in each serving bowl and pour the hot sauce over it. Drizzle with
the remaining olive oil and serve immediately.