Todos Santos Chocolatier

Happy Valentine's Day!

This Valentine's Day is not quite the one that I had imagined as we have felt the full force of the ice storm here in Augusta, Georgia. I'm posting today while sitting in my car trying to warm up and charge my phone. We have been without power for three days! More on that later. Back to topic. Isn't this the most beautiful piece of chocolate!! I love these handmade gold-leafed chocolates from Todos Santos Chocolatier in Santa Fe, New Mexico. So very special for Valentine's Day. They also make wonderful favors for weddings.

Photography By: Ryannan Bryer de Hickman for The Santa Fe New Mexican. ByPosted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Pan Roasted Duck with Seared Foie Gras & Caramelized Pears

If someone were to ask me "What is the best meal you ever had?"  The first to come to mind would be the Pan Roasted Duck with Seared Foie Gras & Caramelized Pears that was prepared by Chef Brian Recor.  
Some years back, I had a magazine assignment at Rattlesnake in Indio, CA.  I had numerous assignments that day all over the Palm Springs area.  If you have ever been to Palm Springs you know that it is very spread out between Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, La Quinta, Indian Wells, Indio etc.  At any rate I felt really rushed during this assignment.  Brian was right on time preparing this beautiful dish.  I did the photo shoot and Brian asked if I would like to taste the Roasted Duck.  I knew I was going to already be late for my next assignment, so I told him I would love to, could I get it to go?  He looked a little crestfallen but reassembled it into a styrofoam container and we said our goodbyes.  I love photographing chefs because they are usually fun creative types.  Brian was all of those - a lovely person.  At any rate, I'm racing back to Palm Springs and was ravenous, so I took a bite of the food (one hand on the wheel the other on a fork - I'm a pro at eating in my car on the run) and it was bar none the best thing I've ever tasted!  Immediately I felt terrible that I hadn't been able to take the time to sit down properly and enjoy this wonderful meal with the chef.  This most joyous thing about preparing a good meal is sharing it.  I later conveyed my appreciation for his culinary talents via email, but have always felt a little sad not to be able to express, just how wonderful it was, in person.
While pondering what I might make for Valentine's Day - this dish came to mind.  While I don't have his recipe, I found one that might work:

Pan Roasted Duck with Seared Foie Gras & Caramelized Pears

3 Bosc Pears, peeled, cored and quartered
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 red onion
2 teaspoons olive oil

2 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black peper to taste
3 tablespoons walnut oil
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

6 cups torn escarole leaves
1 bunch watercress, stemmed (about 3 cups)
1 large bunch arugula, stems trimmed (about 3 cups)

6 duck breasts

12 to 18 ounces foie gras, cut into 6 medallions, each about 1/2 inch thick.

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  In a medium bowl, toss the pears with the butter.  Sprinkle with the spices, sugar, salt and pepper.  Toss to coat the pears evenly.  In a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat, saute the pears until they sizzle, about 4 minutes.   Transfer the pears to the oven and roast, turning them a couple times, until golden brown and tender, 25 to 45 minutes.  Set aside and keep warm.

2.  Meanwhile, cut the onion in half through the root end and then into 1/2 inch wedges attached at the root.  Toss with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Spread the onions out in a shallow pan and roast in the oven until soft, about 20 minutes.

3.  Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette:  In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper.  Gradually whisk in the walnut and olive oils to make a creamy dressing.  Set aside.

4.  Heat a heavy ovenproof skillet on med/high and sear the duck breast fat side down first and then the other side.  Transfer to preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes.  (you could do this at the same time as the pears)

5.  When ready to serve, toss the greens together.  Divide the pears and onions amount 6 salad plates.  Heat a large, heavy skillet over high heat.  Season one side of the foie gras medallions with salt and pepper.  Place the medallions in the pan, seasoned-side sown, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until browned.  Drain any excess fat.  Season the medallions with salt and pepper, turn the foie gras with a flat spatula, and cook for 1 or 2 more minutes, or until softened but still firm.  Transfer to a paper towel to drain briefly.  Lightly dress the greens with the vinaigrette and divide among the plates.  Top each salad with a sliced duck breast and a medallion of foie gras and serve immediately.

I'll let you know how it turns out.  What would your most memorable meal be?


Photography By: Ryannan Bryer de Hickman
Desert Magazine


Coq Au Vin

 Last week the snow caught us by surprise.  It so seldom snows here and when the forecast called for two inches.  The entire city stayed home.  Schools were closed for three days and many businesses closed shop.  Having spent most of my life in the mountains - this seemed somewhat ridiculous!  That was until I saw what happened in Atlanta.  Millions of people stranded on the interstates and highways all night long in the freezing cold.  Our daughter and grandson had a flight scheduled to leave out of Atlanta on Wednesday.  Cancelled - so we had one more day with the baby.  I have to admit - I was
 grateful for the snow!   We took him to the beach on Monday and on Wednesday he saw his first snowfall.  The weather changes so much from day to day here.
Yesterday was balmy and warm - today - cold and rainy.  Time for comfort food.  Coq Au Vin is always a good go to and I particularly like this recipe from Patricia Greathouse.  Patricia doesn't always include an ingredients list in her recipes, so I'll try and fill in the gaps:

Coq Au Vin

One cut up large roaster chicken (Patricia uses a rooster)
Two medium yellow onions
3 carrots halved
20 or so mushrooms sliced (I use Baby Bellas)
One bag frozen Pearl Onions
Unsmoked Bacon
Bay Leaf
Fresh Thyme
One bottle of wine (I use white wine - because I don't like the look of purple chicken)
Note:  This recipe doesn't call for garlic - we like garlic in ours and would recommend adding 2 to 4 cloves of garlic.

Salt and pepper the chicken pieces and set aside.

Begin with the unsmoked bacon.  Think of it as adding richness and flavor.  Cut it in lardons and render out the fat in a large skillet.  Drain and reserve it, but leave the fat in the pan.  Add some nice little pearl onions to the pan and brown them on all sides.  Reserve them, too, in the same bowl as the onions.  Add some butter to the pan and brown the mushrooms and add them to the bowl.  Now add even more butter and brown the chicken, which you have patted dry first.  Once the chicken is browned, pour off the fat but keep the browned bits.  Pour the bottle of wine into the pan and deglaze.  Add the chicken, a couple of halved carrots and onions cut almost in half but still held together by the root end.  Top it off with enough chicken broth to cover the chicken,  throw in a bay leaf and a little thyme, put the lid on, and cook on the stove top on the lowest flame or in a slow oven until the rooster is quit tender.  This may take several hours.

Once the rooster is tender, remove the pieces from the cooking liquid and set aside, tented.  Discard the onion and the carrots.  Add the mushrooms, onions, and lardons to the pan and slowly reduce the cooking liquid until it is a rich sauce. Taste for seasoning, and add salt at this point (if you add it earlier, it may be too salty after reduction.)  Add the rooster back in and warm through.  Serve with potatoes, rice, or noodles to enjoy with the sauce.

Photos By: Ryannan Bryer de Hickman
The Zenchilada