Friday, July 16, 2010

Vive La France

So July 4th has come and gone and I obviously didn't acknowledge it here.  I did plenty of cooking and eating, but as a shameless Francophile there is another Independence Day that I'm much more interested in celebrating.  14 Julliet is Bastille Day, the French day of independence.  Hamburgers and apple pie are all right, but they don't hold a candle (firework?) to ratatouille and clafoutis.  And can you really compare Bud Light to a good French wine?
I had plenty of fresh, local produce to work with to create a meal straight from Provence.
I finally got the local duck breast I'd been craving, after several trips to Don Otto's.  I seared it in a hot pan and then made a simple red wine-raspberry sauce.
A little cooking tip - try not to splatter hot duck fat on your arm.  Do you need to be told that?  Apparently I do.   Just one of the hazards of being a cook.  I've been burned before and I'll be burned again.  The french wine might have had something to do with my accident...
Or perhaps I was distracted by gooey, stinky goat cheese.
This Bonne Bouche isn't actually French, its from Vermont Butter & Cheese Company.  It has an ash rind, is slightly aged and has a nice tangy but mild flavor.

I thought the perfect French, seasonal accompaniment for the duck would be my roasted eggplant ratatouille.  Also a great way to use some of our abundance of zucchini and summer squash.
I'm really in love with ratatouille.  Also one of my favorite foodie movies.

Seared Duck Breast with Raspberry-Red Wine Sauce
adapted from Food and Wine
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
1/2 dry red wine
1 tsp olive oil
1 medium duck breast
salt & pepper
1 Tbs butter
1 tsp honey
  • Score the skin of duck in a cross-hatch pattern, being careful not to pierce the flesh. 
  • In a medium baking dish, mash 1/4 cup raspberries with a fork.  Add 1/4 cup red wine and olive oil and whisk together.  Add duck breast to the dish skin side down, then turn to coat.  With flesh side down, cover and chill 30 minutes.
  • Remove duck from baking dish and scrape off marinade.  Pat dry and season with salt and pepper.
  • Place duck in medium saute pan skin side down.  Heat over medium heat to crisp skin, then reduce heat to medium low until skin is brown and crispy.  CAREFULLY flip duck breast and cook an additional 2 - 3 minutes.
  • Remove duck from pan to a cutting board, tent with foil, and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, pour duck fat off of pan.  Add reserved marinade and additional 1/4 red wine and simmer over medium hit for 1 - 2 minutes until reduced by half.  Remove from heat and whisk in butter and honey.
  • Slice duck on the diagonal, serve and top with sauce and additional raspberries.
For dessert, I wanted something easy and light.  And French, of course.  A clafoutis seemed like a great idea.  I made rhubarb clafoutis around this time last year, and my mom kept calling it a Doug Flutie.  Its sort of a baked fruit custard.  Traditionally its made with cherries, and those crazy Frenchies don't remove the pits because they think they add flavor.  I opted for blueberries.  The dish couldn't be easier.  You spread fruit in a baking dish, whisk together a custard with a little flour, pour that over the top and bake.  Its puffs beautifully like a souffle in the oven.
10 minutes after I pulled it out of the oven I asked Derek to go look at it and he exclaimed "someone stole half the clafoutis!"

It deflates rather quickly!  But is still delicious and light and just slightly sweet.

Blueberry Clafoutis
inspired by Dorie Greenspan
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1 cup milk (I used 1% but whole is better)
  • Preheat oven to 350º
  • Butter a 2-quart baking dish
  • Arrange blueberries in an even layer in the bottom of the dish
  • Whisk together eggs and sugar for 1 minute
  • Whisk in salt and vanilla
  • Add flour and whisk to combine
  • Whisk in milk until well combined
  • Pour batter over fruit and bake 35 to 40 minutes until puffed and lightly browned
  • Cool and serve warm or at room temperature

Bon Appétit!


  1. OMG She blogged!!!!! I'm already half way to the kitchen to make that Blueberry Doug Flutie. PS- Doug Flutie is from Natick!!!!!
    The Duck looks amazing and the ratatouille looks like the perfect complement. Maybe I'm almost ready to try duck? PS- No picture of the burns? Probably for the best. People, it was not pretty. Love the dishes.

  2. Haha, laughing at Derek's exclamation about clafoutis. I can't believe how much it deflated either. It looks so pretty though. So does the duck!

    I am so sad I missed the Pool Party, too :(