A Fancy Schmancy Birthday dinner (Weeknight duck breast and roasted shiitakes, garlic and Brussels sprouts with spicy sauce)

My middle sister is my oldest friend.  I don't know what I would do without her.  She is beautiful, smart, thoughtful, crazy in a good way and a wonderful woman.  She is also VERY hard to shop for since she buys herself whatever she wants.  She had a birthday recently (If you know us you will now know how long it takes me to draft a blog post!) and I wanted to make her a fancy meal for it and get her a great gift.  I broke her big casserole dish over the summer cooking at her house so I decided to replace it with this
I wanted to make her something we would never have at home and something that she loves.  It also had to me little to no carb as she lives the lifestyle like me.  I wanted to make cous cous, but she is not a fan so I decided to make quinoa as the starch.  I had a Hollygrove box that week with shiitake mushrooms and green garlic, both things she loves.  I found this recipe that I knew I could adapt.  I ended up having to adapt a lot as I didn't have enough of the ingredients and we had a time crunch due to an unforeseen family obligation.  

Speaking of time crunch, for some strange reason I had a hankering to make duck.  If you know me, if there is duck or Brussels sprouts on the menu I am probably getting it.  My sister is the same way but sub Chilean sea bass for duck.  But I know she and my brother in law love it.  I thought it would be hard to make duck on a weeknight, so I googled "weeknight duck" and found the perfect recipe.

Man was this meal delicious.  We ate a bit late but that did not matter. The kids were in bed, we had wine and talked about adult things over a gourmet meal.  I had to get the duck frozen at whole foods. I was tricked, I thought only one breast was in each package, but apparently two were and I need to remind my sister she has two duck breasts in her freezer!  I kind of made up my version of the mushrooms and didn't take notes so I will try my absolute best to recreate.  Full recipe to follow!

This was taken in the daylight way before I cooked.
You had to see the finished product first. It was so good!

This recipe called for a lot of garlic, which was right up our alley.  My brother in law calls us the garlic queens for a reason!
And I added some bonus green garlic!
Kind of like a really big green onion, but more garlic taste
I noticed she had Brussels sprouts and had to add them to the party!
I salt and peppered and placed them in a hot oven to roast.
Look at those beauties!
It is hard to tell, but I cut some x's across them
Place them fat side down and turn on the heat.
After awhile turn them over.  I wish they would have cooked evenly!
In the meantime chop tomato and garlic.
Add that and the sherry and what not and toss to coat and heat. 
Look at all that yummy duck fat I get to reuse!
A beautiful plate for a beautiful birthday girl!
Weeknight Duck (Borrowed from The Awl)

Enough Duck breasts for how many people you have
Salt and pepper

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees. Season both sides of the breast with kosher salt and black pepper to taste, and then put it on a cutting board, skin-side up. With a sharp knife and a careful hand, gently score the skin in a crisscross pattern, in a reasonably careful fashion to not pierce the tender flesh beneath.  Put both pieces of the breast, skin-side down, on the stove in a dry, room-temperature skillet, and then gradually turn the heat up to medium-high.  Once you hear the sizzling, set your timer for five minutes. Let the meat sit undisturbed until the timer goes off, and then pick up an edge of one piece with your tongs and sneak a glance at the skin. It should be golden brown, crisp, and bacon-ish. Let it sit there for a few more minutes if you aren’t satisfied with the color, or with the amount of fat rendered. Carefully pour the rendered fat into  mason jar or similar.  Flip the breasts over and sear for two minutes.  Flip back over and place it preheated oven for about 8 minutes.  Let the meat rest for a few minutes to let the juices settle and serve.

Roasted Farmer's Market Veggies (inspired by The New York Times)

2 cups mushrooms cut into 1-inch pieces
⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil
12 garlic cloves, 8 whole and 4 finely grated on a Microplane or cheese grater
3 sprigs green garlic, chopped into 1 inch pieces (optional)
2 cups Chopped Brussels sprouts
5 sprigs thyme
black pepper
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or cider vinegar
1 plum tomato, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika

Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a shallow roasting pan, mix together mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, green garlic, 1/3 cup of the olive oil, whole garlic cloves and thyme. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Roast, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are golden brown and just starting to crisp, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven. In a small sauté pan, heat the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil until shimmering. Add grated garlic and red pepper flakes. Sauté until golden brown, and immediately add vinegar, tomato, 1 tablespoon of the parsley, and a pinch of salt. Remove from heat and immediately pour over the mushrooms.  Garnish with the remaining 1 tablespoon chopped parsley and paprika.

Happy Cooking!


P.S. there will be no Friday post as this week has been hella busy so please enjoy your weekends and wish my team luck at Hogs for the Cause please!

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