Little by little, I am settling in my new digs. Every evening after work has been taken by something to get, something to set up, nail, paint, something to be delivered, something to be returned. Moving ain’t easy…! But it’s terribly fun and I am enjoying the process. I finally have a bed. Still seating on the floor until Wednesday that a sofa gets delivered. Little by little. The house takes shape.
I have lovely neighbors all around me and the neighborhood is very dog friendly. This motivates even more my decision to bring old pup Tippy back with me after I teach a couple of workshops with Clare in a week. He’ll love the yeard and huge reduction of stairs to climb. At almost 16 years old, he’s ready for some comfort…The labrador next door might need a buddy too.
Work has been intense and absolutely wonderful. I am having a blast. As a true Dujardin, I tend to keep my expressing of emotions in check but inside? Oh inside, I am doing a happy dance. A very happy one. I had lots of hopes and dreams about this position and where I would envision possibilities, I now truly see full realizations.
I am working on really fun cookbook covers shoots for publications such as Cooking Light and Weight Watchers as well as tons of interior shots. Never a moment to get bored. Some of my shoots this week will be out on location while others will be in the natural light studio. I love the challenges and opportunities comin my way. I love how each shoot pushes me to give 200% of myself, whether in the difficulty of execution or in the complete different styles and photo requirements.
This complete change of scenery, pace and time spent without Bill and our immediate circle is made easier by the kindness and thoughtfulness of the people in Birmingham. The town is buzzing and I am happy to check as many places as I can. Restaurants, antiques, music venues, etc… Birmingham definitely has a lot to offer if you let it.
Cooking in my new digs has been fun too. I am still re-arranging cupboards and items and how to make it efficient for the way I prep and cook. I love the kitchen set up and the concrete countertops so making is a real pleasure there and I christened the space by making a couple of my new favorite salads the other week. Nothing tremendously difficult but good, nutritious food I was craving after so many months on the road.
My first official dish in the new house was a fennel and arugula salad loaded with pomegranate seeds, radishes and red onion. I make this salad at least once a week, sometimes adding some crumbled cheese (feta, goat, blue work really well) or some chickpeas. The dressing is a simple lemon vinaigrette with a little mustard for a but of tang and creaminess.
A couple days later, a phone conversation with my brother about food and potatoes roasted in duck fat (instead of olive oil which we do often) prompted a sudden craving for duck breast. There is a certain amount of fat being released from the cooking of the breast itself (to be kept for potatoes!) but the breast itself is a sweet combination of juicy and tender lean meat. Paired with a few fresh figs, some roasted golden beets and a drizzle of vinaigrette and you have one tasty dinner salad.
Before I go…the winner of the “Marmalades” cookbook are: Lindsay E. and Elin Woods. Please email me at mytartelette @ gmail . com with your add so we can get the books off to you!
Fennel and Arugula Salad
One fennel bulb, thinly sliced
6 radishes, thinly sliced
1/2 small read onion, shaved or thinly sliced
1 heaping cup arugula leaves
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
salt and pepper to taste
inaigrette (see here – one of the vinaigrette I make all the time)
In a large bowl, toss all the ingredients together until the vinaigrette slightly covers everything. Eat as soon as possible.
Duck Breast Salad With Figs and Golden Beets
2 golden beets
2 duck breast
2 to 4 cups arugula
1/4 cup dried cranberries
6 fresh figs
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 450. Place the beets in a large piece of aluminium foil. Drizzle with a little olivee oil, salt and pepper. Cook for about 20 to 30 minutes or until tender. Let cool in the foil.
In a large saute pan set over medium high heat, sear the duck son both sides until crispy brown on the outside but still moist and tender inside (About 7 minutes on both sides). Let cool for 10 minutes while you assemble the salad. Slice thin.
In a large bowl, gently toss together the arugula, the cranberries, figs, a drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and top with the sliced duck breast.