Duck Tacos with Refried Black Beans

I usually think of duck meat as being too fatty to agree with me. 😉 After seeing Sara Moulton make these tacos, she convinced me to give it another chance. In this dish, the fatty skin is removed and the shredded duck meat was very moist and flavorful.

I often see the vacuum-sealed, cooked rotisserie duck at Costco. On my last visit, when most the fresh poultry was out of stock and the rotisserie chicken was limited to one per visit, there was plenty of rotisserie duck available. 🙂 These tacos could also be made with rotisserie chicken, of course, but this was a nice change. My son thought that they were “next-level.”

This recipe was adapted from Sara’s Weeknight Meals, via SaraMolton.com. I doubled the original recipe to use the entire rotisserie duck and added additional toppings. The leftover filling was just as delicious reheated and served with fresh toppings and taco shells. The healthy and quick refried black beans were fabulous too.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

For the Spice Blend:

  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano, crumbled
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

For the Filling & Toppings:

  • 1 half of a cooked rotisserie duck
  • 1 T vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
  • 3 T water
  • 12 ready-to-eat regular-size taco shells, warmed according to package directions
  • chopped or shredded iceberg lettuce or finely-shredded cabbage, for serving
  • chopped tomatoes (I used chopped grape tomatoes)m for serving
  • shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese or a Mexican cheese blend, to taste, for serving
  • prepared salsa, for serving
  • light sour cream, for serving
  • cilantro, for serving
  • diced avocado, for serving
  • canned diced chilies, for serving
  • hot sauce, for serving (I used Chipotle Cholula)
  • rice, for serving, optional
  • Refried beans, recipe below

To Make the Spice Blend:

  1. Add the ingredients to a bowl and stir well to combine.

To Make the Fillings, Toppings, & To Serve:

  1. Remove the skin from the duck meat. Shred enough meat from one half of a rotisserie cooked duck to yield 2 1/2 cups.
  2. Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add the shredded duck and spice blend and stir to combine.
  4. Stir in the water and cook, covered, for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  5. Divide the filling among the taco shells.
  6. Top with the lettuce and tomatoes, and sprinkle with cheese.  Top with cilantro, avocado, diced chiles, and hot sauce, as desired. Spoon on the salsa and sour cream, if using.
  7. Serve immediately with refried beans on the side. (The refried beans can be used as an additional taco filling, if desired.)

For the Refried Beans:

  • 2 T vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped (I used 1 large yellow onion when I doubled the recipe)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 cups thoroughly cooked black beans or one 15.5 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock or water
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • chopped cilantro, for garnish
  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer.
  4. Stir in the cumin and chili powder and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Add the beans and chicken stock, cover, and cook until the beans are very soft and the flavors are well blended, about 5 minutes.
  6. Use a fork or potato masher to coarsely mash the beans.
  7. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.

Note: Cooked, rotisserie duck can be purchased online @Maple Leaf Farms.com.

Shakshuka with Feta

As in my last post, this recipe was re-published in a New York Times special section called One Pot/Pan/Skillet: 24 Brilliant Recipes for Everyone Who Hates Doing the Dishes. My dream. 🙂

During this time of self-quarantine, I have made or plan to make several other dishes from this collection including past favorites like One-Pan Shrimp Scampi with Orzo and Mustard Chicken with Shallots and White Wine.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. We ate it for dinner with a crusty sourdough baguette and a giant green salad. This quick and tasty dish can be served any meal of the day.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/8 tsp ground cayenne, or to taste
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes with their juices, coarsely chopped (I used San Marzano)
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, plus more as needed
  • 5 ounces feta, crumbled (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 6 to 8 large eggs (I used 7)
  • chopped cilantro, for serving
  • hot sauce, for serving
  • warm pita or crusty bread, for serving
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-low. (I used a large enameled cast iron pot.)
  3. Add the onion and bell pepper. Cook gently until very soft, about 20 minutes.
  4. Add garlic and cook until tender, 1 to 2 minutes; stir in cumin, paprika and cayenne, and cook 1 minute.
  5. Pour in tomatoes and season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; simmer until tomatoes have thickened, about 10 minutes.
  6. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Stir in crumbled feta.
  7. Gently crack eggs into skillet over tomatoes. Season eggs with salt and pepper.
  8. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until eggs are just set, 7 to 10 minutes.
  9. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with hot sauce and warm bread.

Fried Rice with Kimchi, Bacon & Cabbage

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I am planning on serving shepherd’s pie tonight, but, for those of you serving corned beef and cabbage, this quick dish will put any leftover cabbage to good use. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. We ate it drizzled with sriracha and additional soy sauce. I also served the leftovers with scrambled eggs instead of fried.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 5 tablespoons neutral oil, such as grapeseed or sunflower, plus more as needed (I used canola oil)
  • 3 slices thick-cut bacon, in 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 small bunch scallions, whites and greens separated, sliced
  • 4 cups shredded cabbage (from about 1/2 small head)
  • coarse salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups cooked rice, white or brown, preferably day-old
  • 2 ½ tablespoons fish sauce, plus more as needed
  • ½ tablespoon soy sauce, plus more as needed for serving
  • ½ cup kimchi, drained and chopped, plus more for serving
  • ½ cup green peas (thawed, if frozen)
  • fried eggs or scrambled eggs, for serving, optional
  • toasted sesame oil, for drizzling, optional
  • sriracha or other hot sauce, for serving, optional
  1. One day ahead, cook 2 cups of rice in 4 cups of water or stock. Once cool, store in the refrigerator overnight. (I used brown Basmati rice.)
  2. In a large nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons oil until almost smoking. (I used a large 14-inch stainless steel skillet but a nonstick would have been preferable.)
  3. Stir in bacon, and cook, stirring constantly, until bacon is golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a heatproof bowl, leaving as much oil in the skillet as you can.
  4. Add scallion whites to the pan. Cook until soft, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes. If the pan looks dry, drizzle in a little more oil, then stir in cabbage and a pinch of salt. Cook, continuing to stir frequently, until cabbage is soft, 2 to 4 minutes.
  5. Stir in garlic, and cook until fragrant, another 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the bacon.
  6. Add remaining 3 tablespoons oil to skillet and raise heat to high.
  7. Add rice, and a large pinch of salt, then toss thoroughly to coat with oil. Spread out rice in an even layer along the bottom (and sides if in a wok), and drizzle fish sauce and soy sauce over. Let rice sit until sizzling stops and it starts to crackle and crisp, 1 to 4 minutes. Toss, taste, and add more fish sauce or soy sauce if necessary.
  8. Fold in bacon mixture, kimchi and peas, then transfer to plates.
  9. Top with scallion greens, more kimchi to taste, and fried eggs, if using. (I served it with one fried egg per person.)
  10. Drizzle everything with toasted sesame oil and soy sauce, as desired, and serve immediately with hot sauce on the side.

Brown Irish Soda Bread with Rosemary

Happy St. Patrick’s Day-Eve! I hope that this post finds you healthy and able to use this self-quarantine time to bake.

I typically make a sweeter version of soda bread to serve for breakfast on St. Patrick’s Day. This savory version was a nice change. It was reminiscent of the rosemary biscuits that my husband and I enjoy at our annual anniversary dinner at Volt in Frederick, MD. I loved that it incorporated whole wheat flour.

This recipe is from Midwest Made: Big, Bold Baking from the Heartland by Shauna Sever. I used coarse salt and decreased the baking time. We ate it with salted Irish butter. It was wonderful- very moist and tender.

Yield: One 8-inch loaf

  • 2 cups (256 g) all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled, plus more for dusting
  • 2 cups (240 g) 100% whole wheat flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda, sifted
  • 1 1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp coarse salt or fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 T (57 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch (1.25 cm) pieces
  • 2 cups (450 g) cold, well-shaken buttermilk, plus more for brushing
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 big pinch to 1 tsp flaky sea salt, for sprinkling, optional
  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 425°F/220°C, preferably on convection.
  2. Line a 12×17-inch rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper and dust it with flour.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and whole wheat flour, baking soda, rosemary, salt, and pepper.
  4. Add the butter pieces to the flour mixture. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles a coarse meal.
  5. In a large measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk and honey.
  6. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk mixture.
  7. First use a large flexible spatula, a then your hands, to mix the dough into a sticky mass. Be careful not to over-mix.
  8. Turn out the dough onto the prepared baking sheet and shape it into 6-inch/15 cm ball.
  9. Use a large, floured sharp knife to slice a deep “X” across the top of the bread, about halfway through the ball.
  10. Lightly brush the loaf with buttermilk. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt, if desired. (I used a large pinch.)
  11. Bake at 425°F/220°C for 15 minutes.
  12. Rotate the pan and lower the temperature to 350°F/180°C and bake for 27 to 35 minutes more, or until the bread id deeply golden and sounds hollow when tapped.
  13. Remove the bread from the pan and let cool on a wire rack.

Cream of Fresh Pea Soup

I have one more green soup to share. This bright green soup screams “springtime” to me but it can be a wonderful summertime soup because it is also delicious served chilled. It is a classic soup in my house- I have made it for years using both fresh or frozen peas.

The fresh herbs provide the bright flavor in the finished soup. I have always incorporated fresh dill but I can imagine that it would also be delicious with basil or a combination of fresh herbs.

This recipe is adapted from Mollie Katzen’s The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. Fast, healthy, and delicious.

Yield: 5 to 6 servings

  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, minced
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock, or water
  • 4 cups peas, fresh (about 20 oz) or frozen
  • 1 cup milk (low-fat or soy okay)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 T minced fresh dill, mint, basil, tarragon, parsley, and/or chives
  1. Melt the butter in a soup pot or Dutch oven. Add onion and salt, and cook over medium heat until the onion is soft, 8 to 10 minutes.
  2. Add the stock/water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the peas, cover again, and remove from the heat. Let stand for 5 minutes, or until the peas are tender.
  4. Purée the soup with the milk using an immersion blender, food processor, or blender, then return the purée to the pot.
  5. Reheat the soup very gently. Add the minced fresh herbs just prior to serving.

Note: This soup also tastes wonderful served at room temperature or chilled.

Butter Pecan Blondies

Butter pecan is one of my favorite ice cream flavors. This flavor combination is also absolutely perfect in a buttery blondie. This easy recipe uses pantry staples to create a quick dessert without even using a mixer!

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. I omitted the rum and substituted an additional teaspoon of vanilla extract in its place. I baked mine long enough to achieve light golden brown color but may increase the baking time next time to heighten the depth of flavor.

  • 1 1/2 cups whole raw pecans
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted, plus more for brushing
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 cups light-brown sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum, optional (can substitute 1 additional tsp of vanilla extract)
  1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Spread pecans on a rimmed baking sheet; toast until fragrant, 6 to 7 minutes. Let cool, then chop.
  3. Brush a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with butter (or coat with cooking oil spray), then dust with flour, tapping out excess.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and salt.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together butter and 2 cups brown sugar until combined.
  6. Add eggs to the butter and sugar mixture; whisk until combined. Add vanilla and rum.
  7. Fold in flour mixture with a spatula until just combined (do not overmix).
  8. Fold in half of nuts.
  9. Transfer batter to prepared dish; smooth top with an offset spatula.
  10. Sprinkle top with remaining nuts and 2 tablespoons brown sugar.
  11. Bake until golden around edges and a tester inserted in center comes out with very few crumbs, 22 to 24 minutes. (Watching carefully- Next time I may increase the baking time up to 28 to 30 minutes.)
  12. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before cutting into squares.

Note: Blondies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.

Variations: If you’d rather not use rum, increase the amount of vanilla to 4 teaspoons.

One-Pan Shrimp Scampi with Orzo

This is an incredibly full-flavored one-pan dish. I made it when my mom was visiting because she is such a fan of shrimp. She loved it! 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Ali Slagle. Fast and fabulous.

  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined, patted dry
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced, divided
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup orzo
  • cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups boiling water, seafood stock, or chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the shrimp, 1 tablespoon olive oil, the lemon zest, red-pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and half the garlic. Set aside to marinate (this step can be done up to 1 hour in advance).
  2. To a medium skillet, add the butter, the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and remaining minced garlic; heat over medium.
  3. When the butter starts to bubble, add the orzo and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring often, until the orzo is toasted, about 2 minutes, adjusting the heat as necessary to prevent the garlic from burning.
  4. Carefully add the wine (it will bubble) and stir until absorbed, about 1 minute.
  5. Stir in the water or stock, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until the orzo is al dente, about 12 to 16 minutes.
  6. Add the shrimp in a snug, even layer on top of the orzo, cover, and cook until all the shrimp is pink and cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, 2 minutes.
  8. Sprinkle with parsley and lemon juice, season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

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