Category Archives: Grand Marnier

Duck a l’Orange

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Readers know I’m a huge fan of duck and I’m so fortunate that it is both readily available and incredibly affordable here in Belgium.We actually don’t eat it all that often but when we do, it is always a huge hit. And once again, that was the case with my take on the ultimate duck recipe–duck a l’orange—which I adapted from  Bon Appetite .

Despite its fancy reputation, duck a l’orange is incredibly easy to make. The orang sauce can be made ahead of time then reheated before adding in the butter, orange zest and orange slices. And depending upon your preference, searing your duck breasts can be done in a matter of minutes. Just be sure to use a heavy skillet- I like to use my trust cast iron one– and start with a cold pan. This way you’ll get both a better sear and more delicious pan drippings.

For an extra special treat serve alongside duck fat roasted potatoes. After all, half of the reason for eating duck in my house is to make these potatoes with the drippings.

DUCK A L’ORANGE

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons Sherry wine vinegar

1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice

2 tablespoons minced shallots

2 tablespoon Grand Marnier, or other orange flavored liqueur

4 large oranges

2 1-pound boneless, skin on duck breast halves,

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 cup  unsalted butter

2 tablespoons grated orange peel

 

  • Stir sugar and water in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
  • Increase heat and boil until the syrup turns deep amber, occasionally swirling the pan,for about 8 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and mix in the vinegar (mixture will bubble vigorously).
  • Add the orange juice and shallots; boil until reduced to 1/2 cup, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes.
  • Add in the orange liqueur and return the syrup to a boil. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  • Using a paring knife, cut off peel and white pith from the oranges.
  • Working over bowl, cut between membranes to release segments. Set aside.
  • With a small knife, score the duck skin (do not pierce meat) in a crosshatch pattern. Sprinkle duck with the salt, pepper and garlic powder.
  • Place the duck, skin side down in a cold heavy skillet. Turn the temperature to medium low and render the fat, cooking the duck until the skin is brown and crisp, about 12-15 minutes.
  • Turn the duck and continue to cook until the meat is to your desired liking, about 10 minutes longer for medium-rare.
  • Transfer the duck to a cutting board and allow to stand for ten minutes before slicing. Save the rendered duck fat for another use.
  • Meanwhile, return the sauce to a simmer.
  • Add the butter and 1 tablespoon of the grated orange peel, whisking just until the butter melts.
  • Drain the reserved orange segments and stir them into the sauce.
  • Arrange the sliced duck breast on a patter and spoon the orange slices and sauce over the top. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

 

 

Peach & Cherry Shortcake

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Strawberry shortcake is a classic summer time dessert but why not change things up a bit and substitute whatever fruit is in season? Or make it extra special by using two different fruit? Here I use fresh cherries and fresh white peaches, both of which are readily available at markets right now. The peaches are infused with a peach schnapps but if you prefer an alcoholic free version you can substitute white grape juice or even water. The cherries are made extra special with the addition of a cinnamon stick and Grand Marnier but orange juice can be substituted instead. And everything is better with real whipped cream. Plain whipped cream is nice but I love the addition of a small amount of tangy Greek yogurt. Its adds a surprising element to the topping that is sure to please.

Don’t let the long list of ingredients and multiple steps discourage you from making this recipe. The fruit sauces can be made up to two days in advance and refrigerated until ready to use. The biscuits taste best when made the same day they are served but you can easily bake them up in the morning to be served later in the evening. Only the whipped cream needs to be made at the last minute. So go ahead and serve these tasty shortcakes at your next cookout or summer time gathering. Kids of all ages will love building their own desserts.

For the biscuits:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes and well chilled

3/4 cup cold buttermilk

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  • Pulse the flours sugar, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.
  • Scatter the butter pieces evenly over the top of the flour mixture and pulse to combine, about 12 pulses.
  • Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the buttermilk.  Use a rubber spatula to fold the liquid into the flour until a soft and sticky dough forms.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and quickly roll in into a rough ball.  Do not over mix.
  • Use a sharp knife to divide the dough into 12 even pieces.  Using your hands, quickly form each piece into a ball and place on a large baking sheet.
  • Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the biscuits are browned and flaky.

Yields:  12 biscuits

For the peaches:

4 cups sliced white peaches

1/4 cup Peach Schnapps

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

  • Place the peaches, schanpps, sugar and cinnamon stick in a medium sized saucepan.
  • Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes or until the peaches begin to soften.
  • Remove from the heat and set aside.

For the cherry topping:

4 cups fresh cherries, pitted

2 tablespoons sugar

1 small cinnamon stick

1/2 cup Grand Marnier liqueur, or other orange flavored liqueur

4 teaspoons corn starch

  • Place the cherries in a large sauce pan.  Add the sugar, cinnamon stick and liqueur and stir to combine.
  • Bring to a simmer a cook for 5 minutes or until the cherries start to break down.
  • Stir in the cornstarch and whisk to combine.  Cook an additional 5 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and set aside.

For the cream:

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup plain full fat Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons white sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

  • Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat until all of the ingredients are combined and the cream forms stiff peaks.

To serve:

  • Spilt the biscuits in half and place the bottom half in a dessert dish.
  • Add peaches, cherries and whipped cream in alternating layers.
  • Top with the remaining biscuit half and a dollop of whipped cream.

Serves 12

Blood Orange Marmalade

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Jam and jelly are nice but for me, marmalade is where it is at. With its chunks of candied citrus, marmalade is the perfect topping for toast, muffins and cakes. When slathered on poultry or pork it melts to form a sweet, sticky and tangy glaze that takes an ordinary cut of meat and makes it special. And best of all, marmalade is easy to make. As in so easy that it is a shame to buy it instead of making it yourself.

I recently came into possession of a lot of blood oranges and turning some into marmalade was one of the first things I did. I used a recipe from Epicurious and because I like my marmalades extra chunky (and I had a lot of oranges), increased the amount of fruit called for in the recipe. I also used Grand Marnier as my orange liqueur of choice. You can use your favorite orange liqueur if you prefer or even omit it in its entirety, but I prefer the extra flavor a small amount adds. I also reserve the simple orange syrup that results from the first cooking. It makes for a perfect glaze for sugar cookies or pound cake and makes for a refreshing spritzer when combined with tonic water. And the marmalade? It is delicious and you can eat it on anything and everything. I’ll never go back to buying it again.

BLOOD ORANGE MARMALADE

2 cups sugar, divided
1 1/2 cups water, divided
3 blood oranges, seeded and thinly sliced with peel into rounds
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur

  • Combine 1 cup of the sugar, 1 cup of water and the orange slices in heavy medium saucepan.
  • Bring to simmer over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.
  • Reduce heat to low and cook until orange peel is tender, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.
  • Pour into strainer set over medium bowl. Reserve the syrup for another use and finely chop the orange slices.
  • Combine remaining 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of water and the lemon juice in another heavy medium saucepan.
  • Bring to simmer over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.
  • Add chopped orange. Reduce heat to low then cook until orange is very tender and rind is translucent, about 30 minutes longer.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the Grand Marnier. Transfer the marmalade to small bowl and allow to cool completely before refrigerating for up to one week.

Yield: About 1 1/2 cups

Orange Olive Oil Cake

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Olive oil has always been my oil of choice when it comes to cooking savory foods. I really fell in love with the oil during my time in Albania. In this tiny Mediterranean country where olive groves dotted most landscapes, good quality olive oil was plentiful. (In fact, my favorite Albanian experience of all time was wen we joined friends and pressed our own olive oil). Olive oil was so plentiful in fact, that most people never used butter and instead relied on oil for all aspects of their cooking–including baking. I quickly adopted the habits of my temporary home and gradually increased my use of olive oil while decreasing the amount of butter my family consumed. And soon, I too found myself using olive oil as part of my sweet dishes as well.

This cake, modified from a Food 52 recipe, is truly a Mediterranean experience that highlights two of the best ingredients from this part of the world; the afore mentioned olive oil and sweet and vibrant blood oranges. The olive oil ensures that the cake is rich and moist. Because you use a generous 1 1/3 cups and its flavor is prominent, be sure you use a good flavored oil. If the oil you start with doesn’t taste good, chances are your cake won’t either. Blood oranges are currently plentiful in my local markets so I’ve used their juice and zest here. Feel free to substitute a regular orange if you prefer but be sure to use fresh juice; bottled from concentrate juices won’t yield the same results.

ORANGE OLIVE OIL CAKE

cups all-purpose flour1 3/4 cups sugar1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt1/2 teaspoon baking soda1/2 teaspoon baking powder1 1/3 cups extra-virgin olive oil1 1/4 cups whole milk

large eggs

1 1/2 tablespoons grated orange zest

1/4 cup fresh blood orange juice

1/4 cup Grand Marnier

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350° F.
  • Lightly grease a 9-inch cake pan with non-stick cooking spray and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.
  • In a medium sized bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and baking powder.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, milk, eggs, orange zest, orange juice and Grand Marnier.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, whisking until just combined.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour, until the top is golden and a cake tester comes out clean.
  • Transfer the cake to a rack and let cool for 30 minutes.
  • Run a knife around the edge of the pan, invert the cake onto the rack and let cool completely, 2 hours.

Serves 10-12

 

Boozy Hot Chocolate (Three Ways)

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This very adult hot cocoa doesn’t even resemble the watery version made with powder and adorned with dehydrated marshmallows that I drank as a child. This is rich and creamy with a little kick of your choice. A little goes a long way; especially if you make it with whole milk. So sit back, relax, and enjoy your cup on a cold winter afternoon.

You can add whichever liqueur strikes your fancy. I experimented with Grand Marnier, Frangelico, and a Lilly coffee liqueur. Each was different but all three were good and we couldn’t decided which one we preferred.

BOOZY HOT CHOCOLATE (THREE WAYS)

2 cups 2 percent milk (or whole if your feeling indulgent)

3 1/2 ounces good quality dark chocolate

4 teaspoons dark brown sugar

3 tablespoons liqueur of your choice

Whipped cream

Garnishes as desired (orange zest, whole coffee beans, cocoa powder, etc)

  • Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Add to a medium sized saucepan with the brown sugar and milk.
  • Stirring frequently, warm over medium low heat.
  • Place 1 1/2 tablespoons of the liqueur of your choice in the bottom of each mug. Ladle in the cocoa and stir to combine.
  • Top with a dollop of whipped cream and garnish, if desired. I used orange zest for the Grand Marnier version, a coffee bean for the coffee version, and a dusting of Dutch processed cocoa for the Frangelico version.
  • Drink and enjoy!

Serves 2

Strawberry Shortcake

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Strawberry shortcake is the ultimate summer dessert. The concept is so simple: sweet strawberries and lightly sweetened whipped cream on top of a buttermilk biscuit ensures a dessert that is not too sweet but totally satisfying. The biscuit recipe is my old standby from America’s Test Kitchen. It is a no-fail recipe, always baking up light and fluffy. I like to add a small amount of orange liqueur to both the berries and the whipped cream but if you prefer you can omit entirely or substitute vanilla extract for the liqueur in the cream.

So go ahead and make this class summer treat. Wouldn’t it make a perfect addition to your upcoming Independence Day celebrations?

For the biscuits:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes and well chilled

3/4 cup cold buttermilk

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  • Pulse the flours sugar, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.
  • Scatter the butter pieces evenly over the top of the flour mixture and pulse to combine, about 12 pulses.
  • Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the buttermilk.  Use a rubber spatula to fold the liquid into the flour until a soft and sticky dough forms.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and quickly roll in into a rough ball.  Do not over mix.
  • Use a sharp knife to divide the dough into 12 even pieces.  Using your hands, quickly form each piece into a ball and place on a large baking sheet.
  • Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the biscuits are browned and flaky.

For the strawberries:

1 quart strawberries, sliced

1/4 cup sugar, more to taste

1/8 cup Grand Marnier, or other orange liqueur

  • Place the strawberries in a medium sized sauce pan set over low heat.
  • Sprinkle with the sugar and the liqueur. Stir gently taking care not to break up the berries.
  • Heat slowly, stirring occasionally until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Remove from the heat and transfer to a non-reactive bowl.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled.

For the whipped cream:

1 pint whipping cream

2 tablespoons super fine sugar

1 tablespoon Grand Marnier, or other orange liqueur

  • Place the cream in a large chilled bowl.
  • Using an electric mixer beat the cream on high speed until slightly thickened, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add the sugar and liqueur and continue beating until stiff peaks form.
  • Cover tightly and chill until ready to serve.

To assemble the shortcakes:

  • Split each biscuit in half and place on a plate.
  • Place a tablespoon or two of berries on top of the bottom biscuit and top with a small dollop of whipped cream.
  • Place the remaining biscuit half on top, add a drizzle of the strawberries and another dollop of whipped cream.

 

Yields: 12 shortcakes

Black Forest Brownie Trifles

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In planning a recent dinner party I had visions of serving a rich and perfectly smooth creme brulee.  But then I realized that good quality heavy cream is hard, if not impossible, to come by in Tirana.  Switching gears I started pouring over my favorite food websites in search of an alternative recipe.  I stuck gold when I found a recipe for individual black forest brownie trifles on From Away.  (I encourage those of you who aren’t familiar with this Maine based couple’s writing to check it out.  Not only are their recipes and food insight great but reading their postings helps temporarily fulfill my longing for Maine).  Cherries are at the peak of their season now so this was the perfect dessert.

I love the combination of chocolate and cherries tempered with a bit of whipped cream. The cleaver way of serving these trifles, in individual jelly jars, made me realize they would add the perfect amount of whimsy to my dinner.  I’ve added my own twist onto this recipe.  I prefer my own brownie recipe which is moist and has a touch of almond flavor.  I also adapted my the original cherry recipe by substituting orange liqueur for some of the liquid.

The results?  A simple yet visually pleasing dessert that pleased the entire table.  Try it for yourself.

BLACK FOREST BROWNIE TRIFLES

For the brownies:

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

3 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder

1 1/4 cups sugar

3 large eggs

2 teaspoons extract of your choice, I prefer almond

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

  • Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line an 8-inch square pan with foil then coat lightly with vegetable spray.
  • Melt the chocolates, butter, and cocoa in the microwave, stirring often, 1 to 3 minutes.  Let the mixture cool slightly.
  • Whisk the sugar, eggs, extract, and salt together in a large bowl until well combined.
  • Whisk in the melted chocolate mixture until smooth.  Stir in the flour until no streaks remain.
  • Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes.
  • Let cool completely on a wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours, before removing the brownies from the pan using the foil and cutting into squares.

For the cherries:

4 cups fresh cherries, pitted

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup fresh orange juice

1/2 cup Grand Marnier liqueur, or other orange flavored liqueur

4 teaspoons corn starch

  • Place the cherries in a large sauce pan.  Add the sugar, juice, and liqueur and stir to combine.
  • Bring to a simmer a cook for 5 minutes or until the cherries start to break down.
  • Stir in the cornstarch and whisk to combine.  Cook an additional 5 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and set aside.  Allow to cool for at least 1 hour before assembling the trifles.

For the cream:

16 ounces mascarpone cheese, at room temperature

2 – 2/3 cups whipping cream

1/4 cup powdered sugar

  • Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat until all of the ingredients are combined and the cream forms stiff peaks.

Assembly:

  • Crumble the brownies into small, bite-sized pieces.
  • Alternate layers of brownies, cherries, and cream in each of the 8 serving dishes starting with a layer of brownies and ending with a layer of cream.  Depending upon the depth of your dishes you should have 3 or 4 layers.
  • Top with a fresh cherry if desired.
  • Allow to sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving.

Serves 8

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