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.
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.
Serves 3 people, depending on the size of the duck breast and your appetites
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.
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.
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.
♦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.
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).
Trim fennel bulb, cutting off bottom end of bulb. Slice vertically into thin slices. Saute in olive oil on high heat. Let brown, but not burn. You may want to cover it to accelerate the cooking. Toss in some Pernod, stir quickly and serve hot.
Don't wait a for a dinner invitation. Try cooking for yourself for a change.