2015 Winter Menu

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Cold Days, Warm Hearth

The onset of winter brings shorter, stormy days. While I am not fond of driving home from work in the dark, the rounds of holiday parties, dinners and celebrations more than make up for it. And, into the winter months of January and February, an evening meal with family or a weekend dinner party with friends warms the heart and the hearth.

To me, duck is for special occasions. Like most home cooks, it’s not a dish that I prepare on a regular basis, so its presence on the menu announces, “It’s a party!” My recipe is a modern take on the classic Duck a l’Orange. Enjoy it with a Russian River Pinot Noir on a cold winter night with those you hold dear, then end the evening with a sweet kiss of Kahlua and chocolate.

—Chef Rey Hernandez,
Co-Founder and VP, Epicurean Group





  • Coke Farms Potato and Celery Root Soup with Truffles

    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    2 large leeks (white and pale green parts only) sliced thin
    1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
    1/2 pound celery root, peeled and diced small
    3 cups chicken stock
    1 cup whole milk
    1/2 cup heavy cream
    1/2 ounce black truffle*, thinly sliced
    Kosher salt and fresh ground white pepper

    In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add leeks and cook, while stirring, until softened. Add potatoes and celery root and season with salt and pepper. Stir and cook for 1 minute. Add stock and bring to a boil. Drop heat to a soft simmer and cook for 30 minutes, until potatoes are tender and falling apart. Add milk and stir. Turn off heat. Transfer soup to a blender or use an immersion blender and puree until smooth. Add cream and adjust seasoning to taste. Place in soup pot and keep warm for service.

    To serve:
    Ladle soup into 8 bowls and top with sliced truffle. Serve immediately.

    Link to recipe: Coke Farms Potato and Celery Root Soup with Truffles

    • *Epicurean Tip
      The Exquisite Flavor of Truffles

      Black and white truffles are imported from France and Italy. Oregon is now producing white truffles. Truffles should be firm. There is no need to peel the truffle, just brush it carefully with a coarse pastry brush before slicing it over the soup.

  • Capay Farms Curly Endive and Escarole Salad with Fresh Ginger

    4 cups loosely packed curly endive, washed and drained
    1 head escarole, washed and cut into thin strips
    2 grapefruits, peeled and cut into suprême cut filets (reserve 2 tablespoons juice)
    4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    1 – 2 teaspoons ginger juice* from fresh ginger root
    Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

    Place endive and escarole in a salad bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Top with grapefruit juice, extra virgin olive oil and ginger juice and toss to coat.

    To serve:
    Distribute onto 8 chilled salad plates. Distribute grapefruit segments on top of each salad. Serve immediately.

    Link to recipe: Capay Farms Curly Endive and Escarole Salad with Fresh Ginger

    • *Epicurean Tip
      Ginger Juice Kicks Up the Flavor!

      Fresh ginger juice kicks up the flavor of this dressing. To make ginger juice, wash the fresh ginger root and slice into 1/4 inch slices. Place in a blender and add water until just covered. Puree until smooth. Pour into a fine strainer set over non-reactive container. Press all juice from the pulp. Repeat this procedure, using the same liquid, 2 more times. After the last time, strain through cheesecloth and squeeze the juice from the pulp into a glass container. The juice can be used for tea, dressings or marinades.

    • *Epicurean Tip
      Suprême Cut

      A suprême cut removes peel and pith from citrus fruit. First, slice a little off the top and bottom of the fruit. Trim away the skin and pith, starting at the top and following the curve of the fruit downwards. Cut away all of the skin and the white pith cleanly, avoid also taking the fruit. Trim any pith that you missed. Cut into each side of the segment, next to its connecting membrane, and remove fruit segment. Collect segments and juice in a bowl.

  • Thyme-Rubbed Duck Breast with Airdrome Orchards Mandarin Orange Gastrique, Citrus Couscous and Sautéed Broccolini

    For the Gastrique:
    6 tablespoons evaporated cane juice
    2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
    2 cups fresh Mandarin orange juice (squeezed from about 12 Mandarin oranges)
    3 cups homemade chicken stock

    Place cane juice in a non-reactive saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar melts and cook until the sugar turns deep golden brown. Take the pot off the heat and add vinegar. The mixture will harden. Place over medium heat again until the caramel melts. Slowly add the Mandarin orange juice and bring to a boil. Drop heat to a simmer and cook until the sauce starts to thicken. Add the chicken stock and reduce until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Keep warm and hold until serving.

    For the Duck Breast:
    8 each skin-on duck breasts, 6-8 ounces each
    4 teaspoons evaporated cane juice
    4 tablespoons Kosher salt
    4 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

    Score duck skin on each breast with a crisscross pattern using a sharp paring knife. Mix the cane juice, salt and fresh thyme together and rub each breast with the mixture. Cover and marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

    Heat a cast-iron skillet over low heat. Rinse the rub off the breasts and pat dry. Place the duck breasts, skin side down, in the skillet and cook slowly until the skin is browned and crisp, about 30 to 40 minutes. Flip the breasts over and drain the excess fat* from the pan. Place the pan in the oven and cook for 10 minutes for medium rare. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes.

    To serve:
    Place gastrique onto 8 dinner plates. Slice duck breast into thin slices and fan slices over the gastrique. Serve with couscous and broccolini.

    For the Citrus Couscous:
    4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    2 small carrots, peeled and diced small
    2 small turnips, peeled and diced small
    1/2 cup red onion, diced small
    1 3/4 cup vegetable stock
    1 3/4 cups couscous
    Juice from 2 tangerines
    2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice*
    Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

    In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil until it shimmers. Add carrots, turnip and onion and sauté until just tender. Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Remove pan from the heat and stir in couscous. Place a cover on the pan and let stand for 5-8 minutes. Remove lid, add tangerine and lemon juice and fluff with a fork. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

    For the Broccolini:
    2 tablespoons Kosher salt
    4 bunches broccolini, washed and 1/2 inch trimmed off bottom
    2 ounces extra virgin olive oil
    4 each shallots, peeled and cut julienne
    Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

    Bring 2 quarts water to a boil in a large soup pot. Add 2 tablespoons salt and broccolini. Cook over high heat for 2 minutes. Drain and shock in ice water to cover. Once chilled through, drain and set aside.

    Put olive oil in a large sauté pan and heat over medium high heat until oil shimmers. Add the shallots and cook until tender, about 2 minutes. Add broccolini and stir together until heated through. Add salt and pepper and remove from heat. Serve immediately.

    Link to recipe: Thyme-Rubbed Duck Breast with Airdrome Orchards Mandarin Orange Gastrique, Citrus Couscous and Sautéed Broccolini

    • *Epicurean Tip
      Homemade Chicken Stock

      It’s easy to make your own chicken stock – and it tastes so much better than supermarket stock! The next time you roast a chicken, save the bones. Take a large pot, add the bones and filtered water to cover, along with several pinches of salt, some roughly cut onions and carrots and a handful of fresh herbs, such as rosemary, thyme and parsley. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for several hours.

      Remove pot from heat and discard bones and vegetables. Strain stock through a colander into a large bowl and place in the refrigerator to cool. Skim off the fat that will have accumulated on the surface, then strain the stock through a fine mesh into containers and freeze.

    • *Epicurean Tip
      Non-reactive Pans

      Non-reactive cookware will not react to acid ingredients, such as citrus. When a recipe calls for a non-reactive pot, pan or bowl, use stainless steel, clay, enamel, glass, or plastic.

    • *Epicurean Tip
      Reserve That Duck Fat!

      Reserve that duck fat! It’s delicious for cooking potatoes as a side dish or to season stocks and sauces.

  • Ghirardelli Chocolate Cake with Kahlua Glaze

    Butter for cake pan
    3 large cage-free eggs
    3/4 cup evaporated cane juice
    1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    2 tablespoons Ghirardelli cocoa powder
    1 tablespoon finely ground espresso coffee
    1teaspoon baking powder
    1/8 teaspoon salt

    Place oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Butter an 8-inch round cake pan. In an electric mixer, whip eggs and cane juice until light and foamy. In a separate bowl mix flour, cocoa powder, ground coffee, baking powder and salt with a whip until well blended.

    With your mixer on low speed, add flour mixture to egg mixture until well incorporated. Pour batter into the buttered cake pan. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a paring knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a cake rack until the cake is room temperature. Carefully remove from pan: run a knife around the edge and flip over onto a cutting board or counter top. Tap the bottom gently until it drops. Let rest.

    For the filling:
    1 cup Mascarpone cheese
    1 tablespoon Kahlua, coffee flavored liquor
    1 tablespoon finely ground espresso coffee

    Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix until well blended and smooth. Set aside and hold at room temperature.

    For the glaze:
    1/2 cup heavy cream
    1 tablespoon Kahlua, coffee-flavored liquor
    5 1/2 ounces semi-sweet Ghirardelli chocolate, rough chopped
    1 tablespoon Ghirardelli cocoa powder

    Place cream, Kahlua and chocolate in a non-reactive bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Take off heat and hold.

    To assemble cake:
    Cut cake in half, horizontally. Spread mascarpone filling over lower half and cover with top half of cake. Pour the glaze over the top and spread evenly over the top of the cake. Place cocoa powder in a sifter and sift evenly over the top of the cake.

    To serve:
    Slice into 8 wedges and serve immediately.

    Link to recipe: Ghirardelli Chocolate Cake with Kahlua Glaze