Sunday, December 2, 2012

Recipe for Roast Duck - Thanksgiving Feast 2012

Thanksgiving Dinner 2012--- What The Duck?!

Our Thanksgiving Dinner throughout the years has been divided between Lamb or the standard Turkey. However this year it was decided I should prepare a Duck.  Having spent 40 + years in Minnesota, it was common for us to hunt wild game, so I have accumulated a few recipes. But this Duck is not going to be a wild duck but instead a domestic duck, farm raised, full of fat, bought in the super market frozen, and as such, with an unknown outcome. Undaunted, I embarked on the process of thawing (2 days), pricking and scoring the skin, and coating with a very light sprinkling of kosher salt.  I will not keep you in suspense any longer; the end result was a beautiful, well prepared, delicious Duck. If you have never prepared a domestic duck, be not afraid, as I will share with you my process.

1 whole Duck about 5-6 lbs.
Kosher salt

3 Tbs.  Orange juice
1 Tbs. Soy sauce
2 Tbs.  Molasses (or maple syrup)
¼ cup Honey
¼ cup Panda Express Orange Sauce.
Note: If you do not have some of these ingredients on hand, there is no need to rush to the store to purchase them, simply choose not to use them and instead, add extra honey, orange juice and corn syrup. This should give you a nice glaze.

Be sure to clean out the cavity of the bird, cut off the excess fat from the front as well as the rear including the “parsons nose”. 
Prick the skin all over, score diagonally ending up with diamond shaped marks, sprinkle with kosher salt, truss the wings and legs.

Note: This is a low and slow process that will take in excess of 4 hours to finish. Do not become overly anxious, as the reward is a juicy (not fatty or dry) tasting bird. I also placed a quartered apple in the cavity.

 If time is of the essence, increase the temperature to 350 degrees, turn the bird in 40 to 45 minute intervals, but check the internal temperature each time you turn the bird to prevent over cooking.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Roast uncovered for one hour, breast side up.
Turn the duck to breast side down, prick and drain fat from the pan. Roast for one hour.
Turn the duck to breast side up, prick and drain the fat. Roast for one hour.
Turn the duck to breast side down, prick and drain the fat, Roast for one hour.
Increase the temperature to 400 degrees, turn the duck to breast side up, roast for 10 minutes.
This is the time to brush on the glaze and finish cooking for another 5-7 minutes at 400 degrees.  By now the duck should have reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
Remove the duck from the roaster. Place it on a cooling rack; let it rest while preparing to serve.

I hope the pictures will help guide you through the process and although it may appear to be complicated, I think you will agree it is a matter of replication of a single step and a bit of time. It was a wonderful Thanksgiving meal and the leftovers were used for Asian duck tacos.

Note: You have probably questioned the lack of seasonings but should you desire to add herbs and vegetables to the roaster during the cooking process, by all means do. I personally found it unnecessary and derived a benefit of flavor from the glaze.

Thank you for allowing me to share some time and thoughts with you.

Clark Williams, chef


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Stuffed Zucchini Recipe - Johnsonville Italian Sausage

Stuffed Zucchini


1 Over sized (preferably 12” x 4 ½”) cut into 3 ½’ rounds, OR
2 * Medium, round zucchini, cored
2 Links, Johnsonville Hot Italian sausage casing removed       
½ cup Chopped Japanese eggplant (optional)
½ Medium onion, diced
4 Button mushrooms, chopped
1T Olive oil
1 8oz can Tomato sauce
1 cup Cooked rice
3 cloves garlic, crushed & chopped
Italian Seasoning
1 cup Sargento Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
Salt & Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Crosscut the butt end (the biggest end) of the zucchini into sections approximately 3 ½”, core out the center leaving ½” rim. Chop the portion removed and set aside.

Steam the zucchini shells in the microwave for about 4-5 minutes on high, making certain they are not overcooked. You will need to retain the integrity of the zucchini shell to hold the stuffing without collapsing. Immediately plunge them into an ice water bath to stop further cooking.

In a medium skillet, cook the sausage on med-high breaking the sausage into small chunks.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Using the same skillet, add the olive oil, the onions, garlic, ½ cup of the chopped zucchini, mushrooms and (optional) eggplant, Italian seasoning, salt & pepper to taste. Cook until the zucchini and onions are pale. Add the tomato sauce and any additional zucchini you feel will balance out the mix, cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. Empty the ingredients of the skillet into the bowl containing the cooked sausage, blend into this mix the cooked rice, half the cheese and fold all the ingredients thoroughly to complete the stuffing mix. The heat of the stuffing mixture should be adequate to melt the cheese as it is being incorporated.


Place the empty zucchini shells in a casserole dish or suitable high-sided container. Fill the shells with the mixture, tamping down lightly to fill each shell to the top.  Place in the oven to cook for about 20-30 minutes. Open the oven door and check the temperature of the filling by simply touching the top and if it is warm, now is the time to add the remainder of the cheese to the top of the filling.  Return the casserole to the oven for an additional few minutes and closely observe how the cheese is melting. Caution should be taken to prevent the cheese from scorching.
When the zucchini is cooked to your satisfaction, remove from the oven, place on a rack and let rest for 4 or 5 minutes. Serve by removing the stuffed zucchini from the pan with the aid of a flat blade utensil.

Serve with chunks of fresh baguette, green salad of hearts of romaine, slices of fresh mozzarella and tomato.
Serves 2.
• Round zucchini can often be found in an Asian market or markets such as Whole Foods as well as some Farmers markets during the summer months. If you choose to use a round zucchini, cut off the top and core per recipe instructions keeping in mind to have a flat bottom to maintain balance after stuffing.

*    This filling mix is also great as stuffing for bell peppers.

As always, thank you for visiting.

Clark Williams,

Friday, July 6, 2012

Mexican Pizza Recipe

An amazing burst of flavors and textures, this adaptation from a restaurant favorite of ours in the 80’s is easy and can be customized to suit your tastes. Most of our cooking is done with a pinch of this and a dash of that so as you follow along, feel free to put your personal touches on this great dish. (don’t count on leftovers)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees

We use Mama Mary’s thin crust found in your grocery store or online. This makes life so wonderful and easy but if you are a baker and enjoy the task of making your dough from scratch, please come for dinner next Friday night and bring a batch! Seriously, this Mama Mary’s par baked crust is such a no brainer that we have started experimenting on the grill and they hold up very well.

Pre bake your pizza crust just until heated and the exterior begins to toast, please take heed that they over bake very easily. Remove and begin topping the pizzas. This particular crust is best right on the oven rack but other brands or your own homemade may require a pizza or sheet pan.

If you wish to try this on the BBQ, preheat the BBQ to 400-450 degrees and then turn off all burners but one and turn down enough to maintain the temp – put the pizzas on the grate area with no lit burner (indirect heat) and use the BBQ like an oven. Watch your temps carefully as the BBQ tends to stay very hot and will easily burn your pizza very fast.

First layer: refried beans either pinto or black beans. I like to season them with some cumin and chipotle chili powder before spreading on the pizza crusts. Spread just like you would a pizza sauce and make sure you get a good base, not too thin, not to heavy.

Second layer: chopped grilled chicken or lean browned ground beef
Third layer: chopped sweet onion
Fourth layer: combo of shredded sharp cheddar and mozzarella
Fifth layer: finely chopped jalapenos (optional)

Bake the pie until the cheese starts to turn color and you get that beautiful golden crust. Use a pizza peel to remove the pizzas as they tend to be quite heavy.

Pop the pizzas on a cutting board and top generously with garden fresh chopped ripe tomatoes and chopped cilantro. Cut in to wedges and serve while hot. You may wish to top with sour cream or salsa but we like ours just the way it is.

Optional toppings: corn, chili flakes, chopped garlic, chopped zucchini, sweet red peppers, green peppers, hot chili peppers – use your imagination!

All the best,
Clark Williams

Friday, June 15, 2012

Growing Your Own Herbs - Summer in the Garden

Living in a desert community presents many challenges when it involves trying to grow a garden.  There is the ever-present relentless sun, the water restrictions, the soil conditions and searing heat. My day usually begins about 5:30 AM while the temperatures are moderately cool but by 10:30 AM it is time to return to the air conditioning. Actually today our temperature is expected to cool somewhat with a high of only104 f.

Regardless of the challenges, I find experimenting with various herbs and vegetables placed in different locations in the garden, hoping to find the best places for each of the varieties to grow, is part of the everyday challenge.  Failure, disappointment and success are all words (and emotions) I have become familiar with through the years. But the very promise of a new growing season is in itself exhilarating. I do however, have (as they say in Las Vegas), an “ace up my sleeve” by having a small portable green house that allows me the convenience of being able to start many of my seedlings under cover until they reach the transplant stage. I will post a separate blog with pictures of my green house and a few herbs.

As some of my early spring vegetables have now reached maturity I thought of one of my old favorite recipes, Ratatouille. Having made my dish and finding I had created more leftovers, I decided to use the extra ratatouille in another casserole I have dubbed “ratatouille stuffed manicotti”. It is a simple recipe and as it turned out, a good way to rid my leftover ratatouille.

Ratatouille Stuffed Manicotti

4- tubes  Manicotti Pasta
¼ cup Feta cheese
½ cup Parmesan cheese-shredded (sub.Cheddar, Mozzarella, Swiss, your choice)
1 jar Pasta sauce

FILLING:  Ratatouille (see below for filling recipe)

METHOD:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Drop manicotti tubes in hot water for a few minutes to soften. DO NOT BOIL. Remove from hot water and place either on parchment paper, foil, or wax paper to cool. Do not use paper towels as the manicotti will adhere and create a situation you do not want to deal with. Meanwhile, grease an ovenproof casserole dish and set aside.

Begin to gently fill the now cooled Manicotti tubes with ratatouille being careful not to split the tubes, place the Manicotti in the greased casserole dish, pour the pasta sauce over the manicotti, sprinkle with the cheese(s) of your choice, bake 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Serves 2

Please note - this is a full recipe serving 4 - the above recipe was made from leftovers


1 ¾ cups Diced eggplant, peeled, salted, drained
2 T Olive oil
½ cup Sliced onions
2 cloves Garlic , crushed
1 Red pepper, julienned
1 ½ cups Zucchini 1/2 “ slices   
1 cup Tomatoes, skinned, ¼’d         
1 tsp Oregano
8 leaves Fresh basil, chiffonade or chopped
Shredded cheese, optional  

Pre heat oven to 325 degrees.
Select individual casseroles, coat with spray or butter, set aside.

In a 10” sauté pan add 2-3 T. olive oil. Add onions and garlic. Saute until onions are just turning color, careful not to burn the garlic. Add peppers, zucchini and tomatoes. Stir while cooking for a few minutes.  Add drained eggplant, sprinkle with olive oil. Add more olive oil if necessary. Add oregano, basil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 3-4 minutes.  Transfer contents to individual casseroles, sprinkle with cheese and bake for 30-40 minutes.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Summer Berry Trifle Recipe

Summer Desserts

In a recent Blog I touched on Lemon Curd, and other related products having been created using the herbs and fruit from my garden. Today I have a recipe for you as well as a follow up note regarding the freezing of my lemon curd, not knowing if it would separate or turn to mush upon thawing.  I am happy to report the lemon curd held up very well through the freezing and thawing process and is featured in this recipe, as are my blackberries

Now that the sun is warming the Blackberry vines, it prompts me to begin creating some of my favorite desserts, one of which I will share with you. This recipe is designed for a medium sized Trifle bowl but I have chosen to use personal sized glasses, as demonstrated in the picture, simply because there are only two people in our house and we love leftovers, therefore the personal size size satisfies our needs.

Berry Trifle

½ pint              Blueberries
½ pint              Strawberries
½ pint              Blackberries    (Raspberries are optional)
½                     Lemon, juiced
1/8 cup            Sugar               (plus more if the sauce is too tart)
¾ tsp.              Cornstarch

Lemon Cream:
1/2 pint            Heavy whipping cream, chilled
½ T.                 Sugar
¼ tsp               Vanilla
½ Jar               Lemon curd (approx 6 oz).
½ (or less)      Store bought pound cake cut into ½ inch slices

Place berries in a large bowl and sprinkle with ½ the lemon juice.  Lightly toss.

Combine the berries, sugar, cornstarch and remaining lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a simmer and cook just until the berries begin to break down and give up their juices, about 3 minutes. Remove the berries from the heat, set aside and let cool. The mixture will thicken as it cools.

In a clean, chilled, stainless steel bowl, whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla to a soft peak.  Put the lemon curd into a second bowl and fold in a small portion of whipped cream to loosen the curd. Fold in the remainder of the whipped cream and continue to fold until the curd and whipped cream are thoroughly blended.

To assemble the trifle, spoon a layer of the lemon cream into individual serving glasses, add a layer of cake, breaking the slices into pieces to fit, then soak the cake with a layer of berries and their juice.  Keep repeating this process until the glass is full, then top with whipped cream, garnish (if you desire) with slices of strawberries, a sprig of mint and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serves 3 to 4.

Some side notes to consider:

The use of pound cake is an easy way cut corners where time is an important factor. I prefer Sara Lee brand.

As for the berry preparation, occasionally I will cook the berries a bit longer, transfer them to a blender, and blend until all the berries are in semi liquid form, strain to remove the seeds, which will result in a lovely smooth coulee style sauce. This method provides an option to having to deal with a surplus of seeds.

Doubling the recipe is no problem particularly if you are going to serve a group.

Clark Williams
Personal Chef

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Brunch Frittata Recipe - Whole Lotta Frittata

Sunday Morning Brunch

Sunday Morning brunch means something different to every family but ours is a time to review the issues of the past week, give thanks for the blessings of life and clean up the leftovers.

At our house at least, all of the above are in play but the food aspect usually centers on how many ingredients will our frittata hold while confined to a 10” skillet. I have found not only has it become a challenge but somewhat of a game while attempting to clean up the past week’s leftovers.  While prepping all the available ingredients, I often question my judgment as to the practicality of my morning endeavor but somehow, frequently with a few minor adjustments, I manage to squeeze them all into the pan.

For this Frittata I used:
8 oz.     Jimmy Dean hot breakfast sausage
10 oz.  Simply Hash Brown Potatoes
1 cup   Shredded cheddar cheese
6          Large eggs
3           Fresh button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup Red and green bell pepper, chopped
4 Tbls   Italian parsley, chopped
2 Tbls   Butter
1 cup   Onions, chopped
             Freshly ground pepper to taste
            Oregano or Italian seasoning to taste. (optional)
8 spears Asparagus
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a skillet sauté crumbled sausage, set aside
In a bowl, whisk eggs until frothy.  Stir in sausage, cheese, 3 T. parsley, pepper, mushroom, onions, bell peppers, Italian seasoning and asparagus. NOTE: prepare the asparagus spears by snapping off the thick end and discarding as they are usually woody and tough. Measure the length of the spears you wish to use for dressing the frittata as shown in the picture, chop the remaining pieces and add to the egg mixture. Set the egg mixture aside.

In a skillet, melt one T. butter over medium heat. Firmly press the hash brown potatoes into the pan to conform to the pan shape and cook for 5 to 6 minutes.  After 3 minutes, check the color and texture of the potatoes. When they are firm enough to flip, shake the pan to release the potatoes so they will easily slide onto a flat surface.  The flat surface can be either a dish or platter large enough to accommodate the potatoes. Carefully return the potatoes to the original skillet making certain the uncooked side of the potatoes is face down (the flip). Pour the egg mixture over the potatoes, cook for 2-3 minutes.  Transfer the skillet to the oven to finish.  Continue to cook until the eggs are set and the potatoes are crisp.

When finished to your satisfaction, slide the frittata onto a large platter, garnish with the remaining parsley, slice and serve. Serves 6-8.

Clark Williams, Personal Chef

Monday, March 12, 2012

Lemon Curd Recipe - The End of the Lemon Harvest

While harvesting the remainder of my lemons I thought of how to best utilize the surplus from this year’s crop. Needless to say I have taken care of my neighbors desires for “fresh, right off the tree” lemons so now it is my time to enjoy the rich, tangy rewards offered by my Meyer lemon tree.

I now have 24 jars of frozen juice, a plastic container of dried zest, 4 (remaining) jars of lemon curd, a lemon pie and a few lemon tartlets coming this weekend.  This leaves only enough for garnish while finishing a fish presentation.

The greatest personal reward was to make Lemon Curd as I had always purchased jars from retail sources thinking the process for making lemon curd must be way too complicated and how could I make my curd to be equal to the English version to which I have become so attached.  To my dear readers, I offer a recipe that will not only please your taste buds, but is equal to my favorite English Curd I discovered while having tea at Harrods in London. This recipe is a short approach to mixing the ingredients and can be easily doubled if you enjoy the initial attempt.

2              Large eggs
1/3 cup    Fresh lemon juice
½   cup    Sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
2 Tbls     Cold, unsalted butter cut into small pieces

Add about 1” of water to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. This method replaces the double boiler.

In a bowl whip eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy, gradually mix in lemon juice and zest until fully incorporated.  Place bowl over the simmering water, (bowl should be a size which will fit snugly over the saucepan without the bowl touching the water). Continue whisking until the curd is thick and smooth, about 8 to 10 minutes.  This time will vary depending on the amount of heat you have generated within your saucepan. Keep in mind the water should be simmering not boiling.

Remove the bowl from the heat, begin to blend the small pieces of butter into the curd whisking until the mixture is smooth. Pour the curd into a container, place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to prevent a crust forming and refrigerate overnight or up to two weeks.

Should you wish to have a velvety smooth lemon curd, pour the warm curd through a sieve to remove the particles of zest.

Happy cooking
Clark Williams