s’cook duck breast with cherry compote

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There’s something exotic and sexy to me about cooking duck at home. I don’t do it often, and usually when I do, it’s to roast a whole duck or two, the way my dad does at Thanksgiving. I almost always find myself drawn to ordering the duck at any high-end restaurant I visit, mostly just because of how infrequently I cook it at home. When I thumbed through my copy of S’Cook and found slabs of juicy duck breast with cherry compote staring back at me.

Ohhhh yeah, I thought to myself, using the same voice as the Kool-Aid Man. That is what I’m making. I imagined myself bursting through the walls of our kitchen, jolly and fat, holding two shimmering raw duck breasts. Of course, in that case, I’d probably also disappoint the crowds of sugar-amped kids waiting for their next hit of artificial sugary drink. Nothing to see here, folks — just a weird Asian woman holding two slabs of raw poultry.

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ground lamb and ham stuffed tomatoes

scook-cookbook-stuffed-tomatoes-1As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve been trying out some recipes from S’Cook: The Complete French Cookery Course by Michelin-starred chef Anne-Sophie Pic, and my favorite section of the cookbook (it’s divided into five parts) is the “For Children” section, which includes classic French recipes for at-home cooks to make for their kids. The recipes in this section aren’t like anything I’ve seen in any kid-oriented cookbook in that all of the dishes are still sophisticated dishes with an emphasis on fresh ingredients. “Contrary to popular belief,” Pic writes, “children will love and appreciate sophisticated food, as long as they are used to tasting unfamiliar things.”

I totally, 100% agree with this. Every week in our house I try anywhere from two to five new recipes on my family. I’m constantly buying new ingredients that I’ve never worked with and am always on the hunt for recipes that I think I can make or adapt for everyone. That’s why I’m so excited about S’Cook, and why I jumped at the chance to try these ground lamb and ham stuffed tomatoes, or what Chef Pic calls “Grandma Suzanne’s stuffed tomatoes.”

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s’cook cookbook giveaway!

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Hey hey hey! Today is a good day. Last week, I was sidelined by a horrible fever and ear infection (yes, I have the immune system of an eight-year-old). On Sunday, the fog lifted and oh, what a brave new world it is. I’m celebrating by hosting another Instagram giveaway, this time of a gorgeous new French cookbook, S’Cook: The Complete Cookery Course, by Michelin-starred French chef Anne-Sophie Pic (a $60 value)! Although Chef Pic has established quite an amazing reputation in France, she’s just started to break through in the U.S. with S’Cook, which is her first English-language cookbook.

I really liked this cookbook from the second I laid my hands on it. It’s chock full of recipes that, taken together, appear to form the basis of modern French cuisine. The photography is beautiful, and the cookbook is organized thoughtfully into five sections of recipes: Entertaining, Everyday, Classics, Homemade and For Children. I loved the section for children especially. It’s nice to see an expert in haute cuisine think about how to make beautiful food for kids. Each section also has breakaway sections with step-by-step photos on how to accomplish basics in French cuisine, like how to make melba toast or a fundamental vegetable stock. I tested three recipes to see whether I could make Chef Pic’s dishes sing in my home kitchen.

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new on the scene: tupelo honey cafe

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Note: I was invited to a media tasting at Tupelo Honey Cafe to sample the food & drinks that I mention in this post. 

Last month I stopped by Tupelo Honey Cafe, a Southern-focused restaurant that started in Asheville, North Carolina and has since expanded to various locations along the East Coast. Their latest outpost is in Arlington, not far from where we live. Southern food is truly my down-home comfort food, the food that I crave when I’m feeling weepy, like when I found out that The Mindy Project got canceled by Fox. Coincidentally, it’s also the food I like to eat the most when I’m giddy, like when I found out that The Mindy Project was resurrected by Hulu. Make up your mind, Hollywood, and stop toying with my emotions!

Anyway, because I love Southern food, I couldn’t resist stopping by Tupelo Honey Cafe to check out their new offerings. I was most taken by their “Ode to Eleanor Roosevelt” sparkling sangria cocktail, a blend of white brandy, triple sec, sparkling wine, Jack Rudy Elderflower tonic, thyme and citrus sour, bitters and garnished with fresh thyme sprig. The cocktail, a refreshing wine cocktail with floral, tart and herbal notes, is only available at the Arlington location. The food, while not other-worldly, is perfectly serviceable Southern food that should appeal to a wide variety of appetites.

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