Monday, December 7, 2009

Cooking with the Queen

Last fall, I spun you, my fine readers, a tale of how I met a beautiful queen and her handsome Italian price. If you missed it, you can check it out here. At the end of our visit last year, we told Jenn (the Leftover Queen) that she and her husband (Roberto) were more than welcome to stay with us the next time they came up to the Valley.

As luck would have it, they took us up on our offer during their last annual fall trip, just a few weeks ago. They also brought their cute little pooch Pepino, who was an absolute joy! (And has me dying for a doggie now!) I gave you a hint about our visitors a few weeks ago when I posted a pic of the little guy:

In addition to enjoy a nice Tapas-style dinner out, as I posted before, we also had a couple of really wonderful dinners in. It was a lot of fun to cook with another foodie and just come up with things on the fly - no recipes need apply.

We started out the first day by picking up my last CSA share. We got a bunch of root vegetables - sweet potatoes, turnips, beets - and we picked some fresh fresh thyme, rosemary and sage. Then we headed home to create. For that first night, I had picked up a duck for us to enjoy. I had never cooked duck - and it turns out Jenn had never cooked a full one either - but we decided to go ahead and wing it. After brainstorming some ideas, we decided to cook the duck like a beer can chicken, believe it or not!

I had Mr. ValleyWriter pick up some local beer on his way home and we enjoyed a little tasting of each so we could decide on which to use for the duck. We ended up going with a raspberry hefenweizen, which had a nice fruity finish we thought would work wonderfully with the duck. So then we set about scoring the skin (to let the fat drain out), buttering and seasoning her (to get the skin crispy), and then standing her up.
(A special shout out to Roberto & Jenn for these great photos!)

We also cut up those fresh veggies and roasted them in some olive oil and the freshly picked herbs. Despite a brief bout of concern brought on by the smoke alarms (due to the high fat content of duck), the results were phenomenal! It roasted away at 425 for about 2 hours and came out a beautiful mahogany color. When it was done, Roberto was game enough to put on my apron (which I won from one of Jenn's great giveaways on The Foodie Blogroll) and cut it up for us!

(Isn't he cute?!)

I thought roasting the duck this way was quite ingenious - and it came out flavorful and moist. We enjoyed a yummy fall meal that night, for sure! Best of all, I'm no longer intimidated by roasting a duck. (Though I have learned that I should open the windows at the start of cooking...)

The next night, Jenn planned a dinner of pork tenderloin, wild rice and carrots for us. All 4 of us helped out with the prep that night. The boys cleaned and cut carrots, I seared the pork (which Jenn had marinated in a delicious apple cider mixture) and Jenn made the wild rice using a risotto method.

We sat down to another amazing meal - made all the more special by great company!

(Ha! You didn't really think you were going to get to see Mr. ValleyWriter's face, now did you? No, no - it's not the series finale yet. Remember, Mr. ValleyWriter is kind of like Mr. Big on Sex in the City. His true identity is a secret. Is he a celebrity? Is he in witness protection? Hmm.... Intriguing, no?)

We had a great time cooking and chatting with Jenn and Roberto and can't wait to do it again soon. It's still amazing to think about how we randomly met on our respective honeymoons, turned out to have so much in common - and now feel like comfortable old friends. All 4 of us (not just the girls!) can just sit and talk about whatever for hours. Mr. ValleyWriter & I just really enjoy their company. Lucky for us, they're moving back to New England in the spring! Hopefully the next "Queen & me" post will be of us cooking in their new house in Vermont. You'll just have to stay tuned!

For now - please head on over to The Leftover Queen to see her account of our visit!

13 comments:

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

YAY! We had a terrific time with you and Mr. Valley Writer, and I feel fortunate to say that I know his real identity! LOL! I can't believe how similar our posts are! Great minds, I tell ya!

Pam said...

Awe, you are all so cute together!

Enjoy the holidays and life in general!

Jenn said...

Ah, the mystery of Mr. ValleyWriter continues. hehehe...

Bellini Valli said...

It is is always special to meet good friends that you have so much in common with as a couple.Sounds like you all had a wonderful time doing what foodies do best.

Carol Egbert said...

Cooking with friends, whether old or new , results in more delicious meals and conversation. Thanks for pictures of the party.

Tasty Eats At Home said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful time! Never thought to cook a duck using the "beer butt" method before!

The Foodie Forkful said...

That duck sounds fabulous - what a great idea!

Kathryn said...

Simply mah-velous, sweetie! The Daffy Duck looks divine....I haven't had duck in years!

Lucky you to have found another couple you two get along so well with-

Tell Mr. Big he's looking good!

Cajun Chef Ryan said...

The mystery continues.... Great times with folks, friends and food.

Maria said...

I love Jenn! She is the best. Glad you had a fun time in the kitchen!

Jessie said...

that is so great that you guys had a great time! everything looks delicious

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Table Talk said...

The only thing that beats cooking with a friend in the kitchen is sitting down afterwards and enjoying the meal together. Looks like you had a lot of fun together!