Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Birthday dinner

Dave celebrated a birthday last weekend. He doesn't really "celebrate" per se, but he does like me to cook some of his favorite things and I am more than happy to oblige. This year that meant seared duck breast with Gorgonzola polenta. The duck is easy, I brine it in a brine seasoned with juniper, allspice, and garlic. For the polenta, I am a firm believer in the microwave oven as a great way to make polenta. I've seen some purists sneer at me about this, but you just can't argue with the results. I learned the technique and proportions from "Microwave Cooking" by Barbara Kafka and have since of course put a few spins on the recipe. I use medium grain polenta; you really can just use cornmeal (called for in the original recipe) but the texture isn't as interesting. Gorgonzola Rosemary Polenta 3/4 C polenta 4 C water 1 t minced fresh rosemary 1 t minced fresh thyme 1-2 T minced shallot 2 t salt 3 T butter 1/3 C Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled (or more if you really like it) Mix everything but the butter and cheese in a 2-qt. microwave-safe dish. Cook, uncovered, on high power for eight minutes. Stir and cook for another six minutes. Remove from oven and stir in butter and cheese. (Note: if you use regular cornmeal, only cook it the first time for six minutes.) The "birthday cake" was "La Bete Noire," the cover recipe from the September issue of Bon Appetit. Wow. Another in a string of flourless chocolate cakes, it got additional creaminess by using sugar syrup instead of granulated sugar. Better be sure you have quite a few people to feed, though, since it serves about 16 and it is really rich! Dave wanted it served with flaming cherries, but I decided that would not be a good idea since it would melt the ganache and it would run all over the place.

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