Category Archives: Winter

Candied Pomelo Peel

This is sweet from the honey, but retains a nice bitter edge. It’s simple and delicious. And it’s really fast to make.

Pomelos usually show up in the market at the height of winter. They look like really big grapefruit, sometimes having a slight pear-like shape. Skins range from yellow to yellow-green. Find a pomelo that has no blemishes on the skin.

Cut the fruit into quarters, through the stem end. For each quarter, make a small cut between the fruit and the pith nearest one end, and then running your thumbnail around the fruit, separate the peel and fruit. You should be able to remove the peel on each quarter in a single piece. Reserve the fruit for eating.

Cut the peel into strips about 5/8 of an inch wide, but the size and shape is up to you. Turn each strip on its side and trim the pith down so the thickness of the peel is about 3/8-inch.

Put the peels into a pot full of water. Bring it to a strong boil, let it boil for one minute and drain off all the water. Add cold water and in under a minute the peels should be cool enough for you to squeeze out the water without burning yourself. ATTN Repeat the process of boiling, draining and squeezing the peel three more times. Each time you do this it removes some of the bitterness, so you can adjust the bitterness to your taste according to how many times you boil the peel. If you really like a bitter flavor, only boil it a total of three times, not four.

Set up a cake rack and place a sheet of wax paper or foil underneath it.

After the last boiling, put the drained peel back in the pot with 1 to 11/4 cups of honey. (You don’t have to measure it precisely because if it’s too dry you can add more and if there’s a little extra it will boil down or drain off.) Bring to a simmer and move the peel pieces around with tongs or chopsticks. The honey level may seem low, but you will need to get all the sides of the peel covered, so turn them as necessary. Add a little more honey as it cooks down, if needed. When the honey is disappearing and  ATTN the peel is translucent, transfer the pieces to the rack. Make sure the pieces aren’t touching. I find some pieces are done faster (they become translucent as they absorb the honey) and I remove them and let the rest keep cooking.

Preserved Lemons

Cut 6 Meyer lemons as follows: quarter them (almost) going from just below one end almost down to the other. The lemon will remain intact, but if you squeeze it by pressing the two ends towards each other, some juice will ooze out and the segments will be accessible. Using 1/4 cup kosher salt total, press a generous teaspoon of salt into the open segments of each lemon. Squeeze the lemons into a wide-mouth quart canning jar, along with the rest of the salt. Be sure any juice that comes out the lemons as you squeeze them makes its way into the jar. Add juice of 2-3 more lemons (Meyer or otherwise). Add water if necessary, or more lemon juice, to fill jar.

Seal jar with lid. Invert several times to mix contents and help salt dissolve. For the next 7 days, leave jar on counter, inverting each morning. Place in refrigerator after 7th day.

You can make these with any kind of lemon, but Meyer lemons work well, and they are only available in the wintertime.

Celery Root Saute

Peel 2 celery roots, trimming as needed to clean. Slice thinly across the root to make even slices and then cut these cross-wise to make julienne. (The safe way to do this is to cut the root lengthwise and then work with each half to make the thin slices.) Set the julienne aside. Despite what you might read elsewhere, they will not brown if you are going to cook with them for 3-4 hours.

When you are ready to cook them, heat some olive oil to coat the saute pan. Add the julienne and saute for about 10 minutes, or until they are soft and have some color. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with some chopped fresh parsley.

Fennel-Mussel Soup

Wash off and debeard 2 pounds of mussels, discarding any dead ones. While wet, put them in a covered pot and cook on medium-high heat until they have opened; discard any that remain closed. Remove meat from all but 12 of the mussels, reserving the meat and the 12 fully-intact mussels. Strain liquid through a coffee filter to remove any sand and reserve that, too. Do this in advance of making the soup, for up to 2 days.

In a soup pot, saute a chopped onion in a little olive oil. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, a few grinds of black pepper and some whole fennel seeds. While that’s cooking, trim off the stalks from 2 fennel bulbs, reserving a few of the wispy fronds for a garnish. Dice the fennel bulbs and mince a clove of garlic. Open a 28-ounce can of plum tomatoes; remove seeds, chop tomatoes and reserve liquid.

When the onions are soft (maybe 5-10 minutes), stir in the fennel bulbs, garlic, 2 bay leaves, 1 quart of chicken stock, the tomatoes and tomato juice, the mussels (both the one in and out of their shells) and the mussel liquid, 1/2 cup of clam juice and 3 tablespoons of Pernod. Simmer for 10 minutes and check seasoning.

Serve in bowls, placing 2 or 3 of the mussels (in their shells) on the top. Garnish with fennel fronds. This makes 4 to 6 servings.

Magret de Canard

That's French for duck breast.
Serves 3 people, depending on the size of the duck breast and your appetites
Shopping List

1 thick duck breast (magret), preferably very thick

Score the skin side  in 1/2-inch diamonds, only cutting into the fat layer and not into the meat. Make a mixture of 1 tsp kosher salt and 1/2 tsp ground black or green pepper. Rub the generously all over the magret.

Magret de Canard scored and seasoned
Magret de Canard scored and seasoned

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and as it nears the desired temperature heat an oven-proof pan on medium heat. I prefer a cast iron pan. When the pan is hot, place the magret skin-side down. Cook for 7 minutes on that side. Drain excess fat and turn over magret.

Notice the duck fat which needs to be drained away.
Notice the duck fat which needs to be drained away.
The skin is nicely crisp before it goes in the oven.
The skin is nicely crisp before it goes in the oven.

Place pan in oven for 5 to 7 minutes (for rare center). Remove pan from oven, place magret on board and let rest 3 to 5 minutes in a warm place before slicing. Be sure to slice across the grain of the meat.

Let the slicing begin...
Let the slicing begin…

ATTN These times are for a thick magret: if yours is thinner, the cooking time will need to be reduced.

When sliced, it will make about 12-15 slices and serve 3 people.

Clam Soup

Heat some oil in a large pot. Add 2 TBL finely minced garlic. Cook briefly, add 6 anchovies, mashing them as they cook. Add 1 cup white wine, 4 cups canned tomatoes with paste/pulp, 2 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp dried basil, 1/2 cup chopped parsley (fresh), 1 tsp dried red pepper flakes. Taste it before you add any salt or pepper… you probably won’t need either.

Add 3 dozen scrubbed and dried little neck clams. Cook until the clams open, about 5 minutes. Serve with large garlic croutons (slice bread, brush with olive oil, toast until golden brown and rub with cut garlic clove).