Monday, July 25, 2011

green & gold

yesterday morning sam and i rode our bikes over the manhattan bridge and down to the southside seaport, where the new amsterdam market is held every sunday. i have kind of a thing for farmer's markets, but somehow i'd never made it down to this one before - i guess i'm kind of lazy and generally just walk to the perfectly good market that's about 6 blocks from my apartment. since getting new bikes a couple weeks ago, though, i'm trying to force myself to make at least one long, tough ride per week, and it's much easier to motivate myself when i know there's a bunch of farm-fresh meat, veggies and cheese at the end of that ride. we packed sam's backpack until it was literally overflowing out the top, rode back home. . . and i basically collapsed in bed for an hour or two and watched back to back episodes of breaking bad. i just started watching it this weekend and it is (appropriately enough, considering the plot,) a terrible addiction that has me deep within its clutches. i snapped out of it sometime in the afternoon and decided to make some pickles.


we'd bought about a pound of misfit cucumbers, along with a couple kinds of onion, rainbow chard, 2 duck confit legs, a pig neck fillet, fennel, corn, and peaches. i grabbed a couple of jars, a handful of spices from the cabinet, and this book, and got to picklin'.

i adapted the recipe a bit - i only had 1/3 of the cucumbers it called for, and i didn't have any dill, so i subbed fennel - but the process and temperatures i used were the same, and i think that's very important if you're trying to make something shelf-stable. be careful and be sure to use a thermometer!

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spicy fennel pickles (makes 2 pint jars)

1 lb cucumbers, cut into 3-4" sections and then halved or quartered
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
1 T kosher salt
mustard seeds
whole coriander
caraway seeds
black pepper kernels
cumin seeds
dry mustard
cayenne pepper
2 bay leaves
4 garlic cloves
a few sprigs of fennel


boil a pot of water big enough to cover the jars with at least an inch of water and put the lids in a heatproof bowl. while waiting for the pot to boil, place cider vinegar, water, and salt in a saucepan and bring it up to 180 farenheit. (i used the pasteurizing method - bringing the jars up to 180 for a half hour - rather than the regular process, because it results in crisper pickles.) once your water is boiling, carefully use tongs to lift the jars out and pour the boiling water into the lid bowl. place jars on a paper towel and quickly dump in a little of everything - all spices, about 1 t of the dry mustard, 1/4 t of the cayenne, a couple garlic cloves, some fennel, and a bay leaf in each jar. now place the pickles in the jar, fitting them in as tightly as you can without totally squashing them. now, using a funnel, fill the jars with the cider liquid to about 1/2 inch from the top. remove the lids from their hot water, carefully wipe the lips of the jar with a paper towel, and fit each with a lid. now place them back in the water bath and bring the water up to 180, and make sure it stays that hot for a half hour before removing the jars. take them out, let them rest for an hour, and then check the seal on the lids - if they are both well sealed and not popped up, store them until you're ready to open them up, at which point you should refrigerate; if any of them didn't seal and the lid is popped up, refrigerate and eat them within a week or two.


ta-da! i'm going to give them a few days before testing them out - i'll let you know how they taste.

and for dinner i decided to go ahead and spoil us with some duck confit pasta. i think any long noodle will work well for this one - i used bucatini, which i like because it's like spaghetti with a more fun texture. like pasta straws!


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fennel & duck confit pasta

1 onion (i used a cippolini that we picked up from the farmers market - still with it's stalk attached, so i used a couple leek-like inches of that, too.)
1 bulb of fennel
1 duck confit leg
1/2 box of noodle pasta
1/4 cup of chicken broth
1/3 cup heavy cream
drizzle of olive oil
handful of parmigiano-reggiano cheese
(optional) thinly sliced tomato

slice the onion and fennel as thin as you can. drizzle some olive oil in a sauce pan and turn it on medium; add the fennel and onion and let them saute for a good long while, until they are soft and beginning to caramelize. this'll take some time, so get a big pot of water boiling with a bit of salt, and get to shredding that duck confit leg. pull it apart as much as you can and just put it aside in a bowl, reserving all the nice fatty parts as they'll melt down and help make your pasta saucy.

your water is boiling? great! put the pasta in and keep an eye on it - let it be a leeeetle on the al dente side. i've been using a pot with a pasta strainer piece inside (this one) and it's kind of magic, since most of the time i make pasta i add the pasta and a bit of the pasta water to the sauce before serving.

add the duck to your onion/fennel mixture, and once it's starting to melt down, add the chicken broth, too. let most evaporate and then add half of the cream and stir until it reduces into a thick mixture. you can season some at this point; i used a smokey salt and freshly ground black pepper. once the pasta is ready, dump it in with a few tablespoons of its water and mix it up well with the duck mixture; add the remaining cream and stir until well coated, will mixed, and nice and thick. add cheese to your hearts desire and serve.

i swear i'm not shilling for crate and barrel (although if they wanted to sponsor me i wouldn't say no!) but the multi-cooker came in incredibly handy here because i was able to steam the 2 ears of corn while cooking the pasta, so everything was ready right on time without a bunch of extra mess. i served the corn simply, with kimchi butter.

voila! i served mine with a few slices of yellow tomato on top, partially because i wanted to use the damn thing before it went bad and partly for a little variation of temperature & texture. i think it worked well, but wasn't really necessary.

that's all from me today! i missed posting on hottest-day-ever friday, because i accidentally left my camera in the office thursday night; i'll do my best to get some good outfit shots up this week.

thanks for all the haircut love by the way! i've been cutting it myself in the mirror like a psycho so it's good to hear that it still looks okay, although i guess the scary part, if there is one, is in the back.

more soon,

xo audrey


  1. whoa! you are one hell of a cook. i'm not a fan of pickles but this sounds like a fun process. guess i'll have to ride my bike down to my green market to prepare- i won't cross the bridge though!

  2. I don't like pickles either haha! ^ But what my mom does is just puts cucumber slices in vinegar with pepper in jars for a few days.. they're delicious. and i've never even seen pasta straws before! I feel like i learn so much about food from your blog all the time..

    There was this great recipe in Real Simple where you grill corn after tossing it with cilantro and lemon juice.. I think you'd like it :)

    And thank you so much for such a sweet comment! I adore your blog so it made me very happy.

  3. i love reading your posts, that trip to the market followed by collapsing & watching tv sounds just perfect! (i am currently in the process of working my way through grey's anatomy, having finally clued in to it! i love discovering "new" cult tv series that everyone has already watched years ago, the last one for me was the gilmore girls, i watched it back-to-back for several months!)

    someone mentioned that bucatini type pasta to me recently & i was intrigued, i love thicker style pasta noodles, so will definitely have to give your recipe a go..

    Katie x

  4. That pasta looks sooo deliciously decadent. I love the texture of bucatini too. The first time I had it, I thought of Sour Punch Straws, one of my childhood candy addictions...haha. I'm sure those pickles will turn out wonderful as well. Have you ever considered selling food on Etsy? I think they allow that, don't they?

    In response to your bra question, I've actually never tried any bras specifically marketed as minimizing, although I want to. I like my bras to be at least a little bit padded to prevent nip show-through, so my version of "more minimizing" is just a very, very lightly padded bra.

  5. This is too perfect..I have all of my canning stuff ready, just needed the motivation! Dinner looks amazing too, and fancy. I decided a while back that I wanted to be you,or be married to you..for the food skills or just to eat the food you make haha! Luke and I love breaking bad,dexter,and true blood..seriously,watch tb so we can talk about it. We're always late to the party and only start watching great shows yrs later. We were all excited about the new season of breaking bad and made it home in time for the first episode..then we realized that we missed the whole last season! Fail.


  6. Oh, this all looks SO tasty. I need to make pickles (I love pickles), and you're making me crave food even though I'm not hungry right now. Yum!

  7. I normally love pickles .... expect as a pregnant woman! How weird is that? But your dish looks so yummy. I really wish I had more than 30 mins to cook...I miss cooking.

  8. i've never heard of kimchi butter!

  9. i have been reading along for a while:) i love your cooking and your photos, very inspiring. greetings from a hungarian girl from spain
    ps: short hair suits you very well. I wish i had the guts to go for short hair as well :)

  10. You are so creative and inspirational! I check on your blog everyday! I love how even your cooking is beautiful! Your food has a good wardrobe:)

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