Duck to Die For!

The gourmet girls hit another home run on the evening of Tuesday, February 24, 2010 with once again, an amazing meal! We started out with delicious
Artichoke and Spinach Swirls by Raquel. Lara's Orange Fennel Salad had some fun new flavors (Ina Garten). Jodi brought delicious Apple Cheddar Muffins (Williams-Sonoma "Baking"); Lynley provided yummy Blue Potatoes au Gratin (Paula Deen), and the Duck Breast with Blackberry Sauce by Andrea was absolutely fabulous! We finished the evening off with not only our two deserts by Bridget (Coconut Macaroons and Raspberry Cheesecake (both from Barefoot Contessa Family Style) but a visit from two special guests - Loic and Todd! We all enjoyed great food and great company at the Clarke's with a darling table and darling children!

The Group
Self-timer in action once again!

Lara & Jodi

The Clarke Children in their jammies, all ready for bed!

The Group Sans Jodi

Just about to eat!

Lara & Loic

Lynley & Todd

Artichoke and Spinach Swirls
1 (17.3 ounce) package Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained - (I recommend pressing the spinach between two paper towels to ensure as much of the moisture as possible is removed)
1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/2 block cream cheese at room temperature

Thaw the pastry sheets at room temperature for 40 minutes or until they're easy to handle. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Stir the mayonnaise, cheese, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, spinach, cream cheese and artichokes in a small bowl until the ingredients are mixed.
Unfold 1 pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. With the short side facing you, spread half of the spinach mixture on the pastry to within 1-inch of the edges. Starting at the short sides, roll up like a jelly roll. Repeat with remaining pastry sheet and spinach mixture. Cut each roll into 20 (1/2-inch) slices. Place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Remove from the baking sheet and cool slightly on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 40 pastries.

Duck Breast With Blackberry Sauce

4 large boneless duck breast fillets, skin on
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup port wine
1 cup chicken or duck stock
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 cups - blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries ( I used blackberries)

Combine the balsamic vinegar and port wine in a sauce pan and cook until reduced by half. Add the sotck and reduce by half again. Then add brown sugar, rosemary and berries and cook until berries are cooked and beginning to fall apart. If sauce does not thicken, add a little cornstarch to thicken the sauce. Remove the rosemary sprigs just before serving.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
Place the duck breasts on a work surface, skin side up. Using a sharp knife, score the skin in a grid pattern, going through half the thickness of the skin but not through to the meat.
Heat a large ovenproof skillet (such as a cast iron pan) over medium-high heat. Salt and pepper the breasts and add the duck breasts, skin side down, and cook until the skin is golden brown; about 6-8 minutes. Turn the duck breasts over and cook for just a few minutes on the second side over medium-high heat. Next, transfer the skillet to the oven. Cook until the duck breasts are medium-rare, about 6 to 8 minutes.
Remove the skillet from the oven and remove the duck from the pan. Cover it with foil and let it rest for 10 minutes. Slice the duck breasts and top with the warm sauce.

Apple-Cheddar Muffins
1 large Golden Delicious apple
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 TBS sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs
1/4 cup unsalted better, melted, plus extra for greasing

3/4 cup finely grated Cheddar cheese

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 12-cup standard muffin pan
Peel, halve, and core the apple, Cut into 1/8 inch dice; set aside.
In a bowl, stir together the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In another bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, and melted butter until smooth. Stir in the apple and cheese. Add to the combined dry ingredients and stir just until blended.
Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pan, filling each cup about three-fourths full. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 3-5 minutes, then remove.

Coconut Macaroons

14 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 tsp kosher salt

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
Combine the coconut, condensed milk, and vanilla in a large bowl. Whip the egg whites and salt on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until they make medium-firm peaks. Carefully fold the egg whits into the coconut mixture.
Drop the batter onto sheet pans lined with parchment paper using either a 1 3/4 inch diameter ice cream scoop, or two teaspoons. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Cool and serve.

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