Recipe Test Nest » 5 Star » Poach, Roast, Steam – Fall at its best!
Poach, Roast, Steam – Fall at its best!

I started the Test Nest experiment to have an excuse to test lots of recipes I never had time to make, but I also wanted to improve my cooking skills by trying things I’ve never made before and that were challenging. There have been flops…but my 1st time roasting a duck was a great experience. I’d definitely do it again…in fact, this Test Nest duck was better than any duck I’ve had at a restaurant. My wonderful testers were Katherine Lum (one of my best friends who was visiting and I wanted to make sure to do a dinner while she was here), Sharon Harris, Jen Swindle, Joon Shin, Dan Farrell, Angela Fischer and Lauren.

Tangerine-Ginger Sparkle (3 Stars)

To make this mocktail we juiced about 10 tangerines for fresh juice and then I added ginger simple syrup. I topped it with some club soda. The ginger wasn’t strong enough so we diced up some ginger and shook in a cocktail shaker. This didn’t really help the ginger to come through. Jen told me that if you press the ginger through a garlic press then you get more juice from the ginger…so I’m going to try that. It would also make more flavor as well to chop up some tangerine and muddle in the glass then top with the drink mixture and ice.

Poached Figs (4 Stars) & Cheese served with Butter Lettuce with Fig Vinaigrette (5 Stars)

I just have to say that the fig vinaigrette is possibly the best vinaigrette that I’ve tasted in my life. I wanted to drink it. This is definitely a combination that I could see in a restaurant. It was fun to serve the figs and cheese along side the tossed greens so that guests could mix their servings as they please. Not sure what else to do to get a 5 star on the poached figs. The liquid and flavor of the poaching liquid was great (you use the leftover liquid for the fig vinaigrette). I think bigger figs are more favorable so I’ll have to make this again when figs are perfectly in season (or get some fresh off a farm) and see how it makes a difference. I have plenty of leftover port wine so I’d be happy to make this monthly just so that I can get the fig vinaigrette again.

A separate note is that the addition of this to the entire meal was a nice contrast behind the fall colors of the rest of the courses.

Roast Duck  (4.5 Stars) with Orange Marmalade Pan Sauce (5 Stars) and served with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Parsnips with Chili Powder (4.5 Stars)

This entire combo was fabulous and the pan sauce was a definitely hit. I was so nervous making duck for the 1st time…especially when the recipe called for roasting for 3 hours at 425 degrees. I thought that must be a typo and my duck would be burnt to a crisp…but sure enough, it was perfect. The skin was amazing…we all wanted more of it; nice and crispy and full of flavor. The roasted veggies were also really amazing and everyone liked the pairing of parsnips with sweet potatoes. The cinnamon and chili powder accented the flavors of the veggies, thyme and orange. I’d suggest cutting the parsnips even smaller, we cut them as suggested in the recipe and they still need a little more roasting. The recipe calls for roasting the veggies with orange slices to infuse them with flavor but the flavor didn’t come through strong enough so the testers suggested tossing them with the orange marmalade pan sauce before roasting and maybe adding some orange zest in the last 10 minutes or roasting.

Salted Caramel Pie (4 stars)

This definitely has potential to be a 5 star recipe. The caramel layer was perfectly salted and full of flavor. I used a vanilla bean infused salt, which I bought from The Filling Station in Chelsea Market and it was the perfect addition. The reason why it wasn’t a 5 is we cut the slices too big so it was a little too rich and overwhelming. It also needed to sit out for longer so that the caramel layer was softer. I think what I would suggest for next time is to take out the pie 2 hours before serving but put the whipped cream on chilled right before cutting. Jen also suggested changing the recipe to be individual servings. The crust was amazing and the caramel boosted the flavor of the graham cracker.

Amaretto Steamers (3.5 Stars)

It’s hard to make steamers stand out. I added 4 tablespoons of Amaretto syrup to about 4 cups of milk, but it could have used more. I also added some nutmeg but I think it still needed a little more nutmeg (1 teaspoon) and I’d also suggest ¼ teaspoon of allspice to really bring out the amaretto. It was a good paring with the pie.

3 Comments (Leave a Reply)

  1. Mike (January 4, 2012)

    Ains – I want all these in a book for Mary to try!

  2. Mary (January 5, 2012)

    Wow, Mike commented before me! I’m behind no doubt. Looks wonderful. Did you get a fancy machine to make steamers? I bet Grammy is jealous, unless of course she bought one first and insisted that you have one to. :)

  3. Ann Henrie (May 31, 2012)

    Been a while since I have looked at your blog. Had fun brousing.

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