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Duck soba

Oooohhhhhh, yeah. I made two recipes for the photo shoot with Jimi Filo. I spent so much time testing and retesting those matcha bars with strawberry jam until they were just right, that I forgot all about the duck soba!

Allow me to “un-forget” it, because it was really good and deserves its time in the spotlight.

Duck soba

I had to retest this one as well, but thankfully I got it right on the second try. The first time I made it, I tried searing the duck thighs directly in the donabe and then shredding them to add back to the soup. Confession time: I had never cooked duck before. I just assumed it would behave similarly to chicken, but I found out very quickly that it’s a bit different.

The duck didn’t cook all the way through in the same amount of time that chicken would have. Also, the meat clung for its dear life to the bone and I couldn’t get much of it off to use in the soup. I knew I was going to have to figure out a better way to cook the duck for this recipe to truly work.

Duck soba

This time, I baked it. I put it skin side up in a deep baking dish and set it in the oven at 400F degrees for 40 minutes, the same way I roast chicken. It came out with golden brown crispy skin, fully-cooked but tender meat, and enough rendered duck fat to keep me in duck fat fries for the next few years.

The meat is still pretty clingy though, definitely not as easy to get off the bone as chicken, but this time I was able to pick the bones pretty clean and have plenty of duck meat for the soup. You’ve really got to get at it with your hands though, none of this dainty fork-shredding nonsense. It’s gonna be quite an effort, but don’t let that duck think he’s bested you! You’ve gotta call that duck by the wrong name, emasculate him in front of his golfing buddies, and them make him do your taxes while you enjoy an ice cream cone in right front of him and don’t offer him any.

Wow, that got weird.

Duck soba

Here’s the recipe for this ducky and delicious soup…

Duck soba

A hot soup of shredded duck and shiitake mushrooms in a salty broth is the perfect dip for cold soba noodles.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Yield: Serves 2 to 4


  • 4 skin-on bone-in duck thighs
  • approx. 20 sliced shiitake mushroom caps (discard stems)
  • 3 large scallions (sliced thinly)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp. hondashi
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. mirin
  • 4 portions of dried soba noodles

Cooking Directions

  1. Roast duck thighs skin-side up in a deep baking dish for 40 minutes at 400F degrees. Allow to cool completely.
  2. Pull off skin and scrape off any remaining fat with a butter knife. Use your hands to pull the meat from the bones and shred. Discard skin but keep the bones.
  3. Boil soba noodles according to package directions in a large pot of water. When done, drain and rinse under cold water then set aside.
  4. In a clay pot or other heavy-bottomed pot, bring water, hondashi, soy sauce, and mirin up to a simmer along with the reserved duck bones.
  5. Let simmer for 3 minutes or so then remove duck bones and add in the shiitakes, scallions, and shredded duck meat. Let come back up to a simmer for about 5 minutes to soften the shiitakes and scallions before serving with soba noodles on the side for dipping.

Jimi has also finished his own write-up of the the photo shoot, you can check it out here. This was a really cool experience and I hope we can work together again in the future.

Bonus cat shot taken by Jimi…


Silly kitten.

Have you ever cooked duck before?



Date night at The Spence

I know I’ve been absent for a while. Jeff and I both got the flu last month so we’ve both been generally tired and “off” for quite some time now. After an entire month spent indoors eating dry toast for dinner and never seeing the light of day, it was finally time we got out into the world again.

This past weekend we took a date night to The Spence, one of Richard Blais’s newish restaurants in Atlanta. We decided to do our usual thing and order a bajillion small plates in lieu of entrees so that we could try more of the menu, which sounded incredible.

Started off with buffalo sweetbreads garnished with both creamed and powdered bleu cheese and a few sprigs of celery leaf. These were extraordinarily spicy, but still really soft and delicious.

Buffalo sweetbreads

Next was the porcini mushroom and shortrib pasta. It was pretty good, with chewy pasta and a runny egg. There was very little shortrib though, and I think the mushrooms were added as a powder because the flavor was there but they were nowhere to be seen.

Porcini and shortrib pasta

Then harissa spiced beef tartare with fried quail eggs and tater tots. This one was so yummy! I loved the tater tots standing in for the requisite toast, but there really should have been a lot more of them. We ended up just eating several spoonfuls of raw beef towards the end there.

Harissa beef tartare with tater tots

Another delicious dish suffering from a lack of sufficient toast: foie gras with Japanese green peaches. There was other stuff on it too that wasn’t mentioned on the menu. Some shallot slices that tasted like they were marinated in the peach juice, something that looked like yuzu gel but tasted like nothing, possibly crushed hazelnuts, and a pickled olive that took me by surprise. It was really tasty, but again there wasn’t enough toast to pile it all on so we ended up eating almost half of it straight up, which was not my favorite thing ever. Those little green peaches were incredible though.

Foie with green peaches and brioche

Jeff was full so we opted to skip to dessert. I could’ve eaten one more dish but I just hadn’t been too impressed by anything so far so I chose to skip it. We got the yuzu semifreddo with peach sorbet and chili oil….

Yuzu semifreddo and peach sorbet with chili oil

It was gross.

The semifreddo had almost no discernable flavor and the chili oil was CRAZY overpowering. The menu also didn’t mention that there would be flavorless cracker crumbs and bitter cacao nibs, which is strange because chocolate is a common allergen and should always be mentioned up front. There was also one lone sprig of cilantro that completely freaked me out when I wasn’t expecting it. None of the flavors in this dessert went together at all, it was really bizarre and easily the worst dessert I’ve ever had.

All in all, I wasn’t too impressed with The Spence. It was incredibly noisy, so noisy that you kind of have to just give up on talking to each other until you leave. Our waiter kind of sucked too, he acted like he had just decided that we weren’t going to order much from the beginning and that we were wasting his time. Maybe he was just having a bad night but his mood really seemed targeted at us. And maybe this is a weird thing to critique, but I hated the off-center plating of most of the dishes. I know it was intentional, but it didn’t appear intentional. It always just looked like the food had slid to one side of the plate in between the kitchen and the table, made me feel like I was eating rejects.

So, not my favorite Atlanta restaurant. Sucks because there were so many yummy-sounding things on the menu that I wanted to come back and try, but now not so much.

Moving on…

We parked the car at home after dinner and walked into Decatur looking for a place to grab a nice cocktail or two and ended up at The Pinewood. We basically had the whole bar to ourselves, so we really were able to relax and talk and enjoy our drinks leisurely.

I started with the Pinewood cup. It’s white whiskey, mint, sugar, bitter lemon soda, rhubarb bitters, and seasonal fruit. It was fruity and delicious with just enough booze.

Pinewood cup

Jeff got a Brown Derby which includes bourbon, honey, and fresh grapefruit juice. He always orders well, I liked his better than mine!

Brown derby

We were there long enough to try two more cocktails. He had a Dark and Stormy and I had a Porch Punch. The punch had peach and anise flavors; I really enjoyed it. Jeff’s cocktail was extra gingery from its house made ginger beer.

We’ve actually been to The Pinewood once before with some friends, and I even took photos but never got around to blogging about it. The food we had on that occasion was all excellent. I remember some really stand-out fried green tomatoes and the creamiest broad bean hummus.

So if you’re ever in Decatur, definitely give The Pinewood a try. The Spence though, I’m not sure if I would recommend as much.

It was a really nice date night though. I’m glad we’re both feeling better and getting out and about again!

For my fellow Atlantans: What restaurant do you recommend we try next?

For Everyone: What’s the worst dessert you’ve ever had?


Blogger potluck

I haven’t blogged in forever! For the last week or so I’ve been really busy cooking and photographing for the book since we’ve had a few more days of sunshine lately. Every time the sun is out I immediately think “Quick! While the light is good, take photos!”

This past weekend though, I didn’t do any of that. Jeff and I spent Saturday morning bottling our first batch of beer and then that evening I attended an Atlanta blogger potluck hosted at Lee’s house (Who also took this photo of us below, so she’s not in it. Thanks Lee!)

everyone at potluck

From left to right we have Emily, Tina, Stacy, Carol, Traci, Laura, myself, and Laura.

As you can imagine, food bloggers make for a really good potluck! We had:

  • Brie and apples on crakers
  • Olive tapenade toasts
  • Sweet potato tot casserole

Potluck spread 1

As well as:

  • a huge greek salad
  • Nutella sandwiched between vanilla cookies
  • chocolate pretzel cookies
  • chocolate zucchini muffins
  • broccoli salad

Potluck spread 2


  • a carrot cake
  • spinach artichoke dip with crackers and carrots
  • Japanese sweet potato casserole
  • WINE

Potluck spread 3

My contributions were the carrot cake and the Japanese sweet potato casserole. This is the same carrot cake that I made for Christmas, however this time it came out much drier than last time. Someone even commented that it kind of tasted “healthy.” Not my best work, but hey, even less than stellar cake is still CAKE!

My carrot cake for potluck

The casserole was a hit though. This is a recipe I’ve been working on for my cookbook so I knew it was pretty good, but I did not expect the rave response it got! Glad to know I’m on the right track!

My Japanese sweet potato casserole for potluck

We all loaded our plates up to overflowing then went back and did the same with the desserts.

My plate at potluck

It was 4 hours of crazy girl chat about everything from our favorite (and least favorite) blogs, to horror movies! This is a really fun group of girls, and I’m so glad we get to catch up with each other like this every so often. The potluck format was perfect for a bunch of foodies that like to talk!

Thanks again to Lee for hosting such a fun get-together!

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