Tag Archives: French

Cooking Food

Duck with Lavender Honey

It’s a (relatively) chilly December day, bright and sunny with just a bit of bite in the air — the So-Cal way of announcing winter. Though I don’t miss the long, cold winters in the east and midwest, in a place that gets nearly year-round summer, chill is a a bit of a novelty. It’s also the perfect weather for duck.

Crispy-skinned, savory and fatty, o how I love thee duck. What do I make for Thanksgiving? Duck. Christmas? Duck. Easter? You guessed it. Duck is the new black, people!

What I love about this recipe is that it requires very little hands-on time, which leaves more time for fun things like tabletop decor.

Don’t judge my wrinkled tablecloth. It’s too big and unwieldy to iron properly. I just dim the lights and serve wine which seems to take care of most of the wrinkles. And most other things in life, come to think of it.

I’ve been making this duck for about 13 years and I never tire of it. Hope you’ll love it as much as I do!

DUCK WITH LAVENDER HONEY adapted from Williams-Sonoma’s Savoring France


  • 4 tsp fresh lavender blossoms or 2 tsp dried blossoms
  • 4 tsp herbes de provence
  • 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 duck, about 5.5 lb
  • 4 TBSP lavender, acacia or other strong-flavored honey
  • 3 TBSP red wine

The day before:  Mix the spices and herbs together in a small bowl. Remove the giblets from the duck cavity, rinse the duck and pat it dry. Using a sharp knife, cut crisscrosses through the fat — but not into the meat — of the breast. Rub the duck inside and out with the herb mixture. Discard the neck. Let marinate overnight, or at least 3 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Roast for 2 hours. Remove form the oven and pour off all but 1 TBSP of the collected fat from the pan (I reserve the fat and make french fries with it, but that is admittedly over the top!). Spread the duck breast with 2 TBSP of honey and return to the oven for another 10 minutes. Baste with pan juices, and roast another 10 minutes. Remove duck again and spread with the remaining 2 TBSP honey, and sprinkle with half the lavender blossoms. Roast for 10 minutes longer, then baste again with pan juices. Cook for another 5 minutes and remove form the oven.

Move the duck to a platter, cover the it loosely with aluminum foil, and let stand for 10 minutes while you prepare the sauce.

Put the roasting pan over medium heat and add the remaining lavender blossoms and the red wine. Deglaze the pan, stirring with a wodden spoon to remove any browned bits from the pan bottom. Cook until well blended and slightly reduced, 3-4 minutes. Keep warm.

Carve the duck, place on a platter, drizzle with sauce and serve immediately.

Serves 2-4.





Cooking Food

Amora Mustard

I’ve mentioned a few times before that one of the best pieces in my arsenal is Amora dijon mustard from France — there is simply no other mustard available on the American market that compares (the one that comes closest is Maille — but still it has too much sweetness and not enough kick. Maille seems to sell a different recipe to the American market than the European market. Maille, please stop that!).

This mustard forms the basis of a lot of deliciousness, from creating the perfect vinaigrette to the sauce for chicken dishes. People who don’t even like mustard love this mustard. It has Ryan Gosling-like powers.

My primary sources to date have been:

  • Asking my in-laws to smuggle me some from France (involves physical and  psychological burden)
  • Buying them from questionable vendors at the farmer’s market ($12, with uncertainty on whether or not the jars are fewer than 5 years old)
  • Getting them from Amazon ($9 base price; $14.50 including shipping)

But today I discovered a more cost effective source: Simply Gourmand, a New York-based importer of French goods. Here you can get a family-sized jar of Amora for $4.90. The ground shipping is about $8.50 to where I live, so I spread out the cost by ordering five jars at a time (yes,  I use it that frequently). I placed an order today and my total for 5 jars was $33, or $6.60 per jar including shipping. Je l’aime bien!

Let’s start a mustard revolution. Let’s move forward and say no to the pukey yellow squeeze-bottled ball game mustard with extra refined sugars! Equal mustard rights for Americans, I say!

But first, try the mustard. We’ll take it from there.