Simple Suppers, Duck Confit

It might seem strange to suggest that duck confit is a simple dinner, but using a sous vide machine makes preparing it easy. The night before you want to eat them, kosher duck legs with salt, pepper, garlic and herbs (I used thyme, rosemary, and sage). In the morning rinse them and seal in a bag with a couple table spoons of duck fat. Drop them in the machine at 167 degrees. Ten hours later when you come home from work crisp the skin and dinner is done.

I’ve been making these for a few months but until last night they were never perfect. I just couldn’t get uniformly crisp skin like you find in restaurants. Then while sitting at Bistro Bis with our friend Jeff, watching him eat their excellent confit, I happened to mention my travails. He pointed out that deep frying them instead of broiling or crisping in a pan might be the key. Well the man is a genius! Finally, perfect, restaurant quality duck legs! Yay! I served these with potatoes grilled with some of the fat the legs were cooked in and peas and asparagus sautéed with olive oil.

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Simple Suppers, Grilled Shrimp and Watermelon Salad

When your AC goes out on a hot weekend and it’s topping 85 inside your house the last thing you want to do is heat up the kitchen. Enter the Big Green Egg. We bought an XL (which is a beast)  in lieu of certain furniture when we bought our house (yes there’s still some Ikea from law school lurking around).  It was a great investment.  Because of it’s ability to cook high and low it’s incredibly versatile.  We even cooked part of our thanksgiving dinner on it (https://gigglinggourmand.wordpress.com/2013/12/02/thanksgiving-meat/).  So when you’re sweltering away, light it up until it’s really hot and throw some shrimp (coated in olive  oil, salt, pepper and cayenne) on until they start to char a bit and are just cooked.  Pull them off, drizzle in garlic butter and you’re set.

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Serve with a simple salad of watermelon chunks with tomatoes, English cucumber, basil, feta (and pickled red onions if you have them) in a sherry vinaigrette (it’s pretty much the salad version of gazpacho).  and wallah you have a lovely summer meal that didn’t require turning on a single kitchen gadget.

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P.S. I usually like to use bigger shrimp but these were what we had on hand and came out really well actually.

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Fancy Schmancy Hot Dogs

When the Bob and I were last in London one of the most fun restaurants we visited was called Bubbledogs (https://gigglinggourmand.wordpress.com/2014/01/10/bubbledogs-london/). It seems to have become a trend everywhere to open restaurants that serve all sorts of interesting takes on the regular old frank.

I’ve never been a huge hot dog fan but when you pile them with toppings suddenly they seem far more interesting. These versions we made at home today included avocados, daikon, kale kimchi, and Japanese mayonnaise. Maybe not all American but pretty darn delicious. (

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Shrimp Heads, Shrimp Heads, Roly Poly Shrimp Heads

Eat them up yum! Ok, Ok, I know I have the words wrong but these fellows were pretty darn delicious. I’ve had a hard time finding a Chinese restaurant that makes good head on salt and pepper shrimp in the DC area. And after a recent trip to Japan, where many fried shrimp heads were consumed the craving was stronger than ever. So I figured I’d just have to make them.  I started with this serious eats recipe: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2012/07/deep-fried-shrimp-recipe.html.  When I made the batter it seemed like it was going to be too thick, but once the shrimp were added it thinned out perfectly.  I tossed them into the fryer for 2-3 minutes until they were crispy.

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For the garnish I used more garlic than the recipe called for and a Thai bird chili and a calbrian chili and some calbrian chili oil instead of red pepper flakes.  I also threw in some chopped scallions for freshness.

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All in all the result was delicious.  Spicy, salty shells and moist, sweet shrimp. I do think that I might try to use smaller shrimp next time though, in hopes that the shells will be a little thinner and fry up slightly more delicately.

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Morning Walks in DC

One of my favorite things is my walkable commute. I especially love checking out the enviable gardens of those with greener thumbs. And who doesn’t love a fresh homeboy? A few snapshots of what The Hill is like before the hellaciously hot summer starts …

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