Special cake/ Duck recipe!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I know I promised you all the recipe for this special cake pictured above, but today me and my mom decided not to disclose this information ;)    Some recipes are meant to be kept in the family, and this happens to be one of them.  We had a wonderful time baking the cake and the custard yesterday.  I've helped my mom make this cake before and I was excited to try it again with her because I want to be able to make it for years to come and pass it on to my kids.  This recipe is my great grandmother's and is my grandfather's favorite cake!  The creamy, citrus custard that is layered in the middle is SO good.  I could eat a huge bowl of this plain.  The cake is a light sponge cake and the glaze on top is the perfect finishing touch!

We don't make this cake very often.. usually just for special occasions.  Tonight my grandparents were going out for dinner with Uncle Mario, Aunt Gail, and Aunt Lynn (my grandpa's brother, sister-in-law, and sister).  My mom had the great idea to surprise them with this cake and bring it to the restaurant ahead of time to be brought out after dinner.  My mom and I agreed that this is what cooking and baking is all about.. family, memories, and making people happy.  We knew that when they saw the cake they would be instantly reminded of their mother and her great talent in the kitchen.  We assembled the cake this morning by adding the custard layer, along with peaches to the bottom cake and topping it off with the second cake layer.  We made the glaze and drizzled it on, along with the special sprinkles my great grandmother always used.  After we finished our insane amount of grocery shopping for Thanksgiving, we dropped the cake off at the restaurant and said our prayers that they would remember to bring it to their table after dinner.

When we got home, I started preparing dinner for myself and my parents.  I wanted to make the duck breasts that I brought home from school on Friday.  I found a nice recipe on food network that had very interesting ingredients, yet I had to change a few things during the cooking process.  Here's the recipe:
4 duck breasts
salt & pepper
1 cup red wine
About 12 dried figs, stems removed, and quartered (next time I would chop them off even smaller)
About 8-10 shallots, sliced thin
1 cup chicken stock
Pinch of ground cloves
1 Tbsp. Sugar
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the shallots.  Cook for about 10 minutes, until slightly browned.  Add the chicken stock, red wine, figs, cloves, sugar, and lemon zest.  Lower the heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes.  Increase the heat (I added a touch more chick. stock) and cook until the mixture is nice and thick.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Heat an oven proof skillet over medium high heat.  Season the duck breasts on both sides with salt and pepper.  Score the skin in a grid pattern.  Add the duck to the skillet, skin side down.  Cook for 6-7 minutes.  Turn the duck over and put the skillet in the oven and continue to cook for another 6-7 minutes.  

Slice the duck and serve with the fig/shallot compote.

I served the duck with roasted brussel sprouts (roasted them in a 400 degree oven with olive oil, salt and pepper) and a baked potato.  I also made some swiss chard for my mom and I (because we love our greens).  I sauteed some onions, added the chard, and poured some pumpkin beer over it.  Seasoned with salt and pepper and a little bit of nutmeg and cayenne.  Covered it and let it cook for about 10 minutes.  

I was very satisfied with the meal I made today, especially because it was the first time I made duck!  The side dishes complimented the meat well and everything was delicious!!


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