I have two excellent cooks who are going to have a cookery competition in my next release, Desperate Reflections (Fury Falls Inn Book 3). So that means I got to choose some 19th century recipes to try out, which of course means adapting and tweaking them to something my husband and I might enjoy. Let’s start with the older cook’s menu, shall we?
Sheridan Drake plans to serve Pan Roasted Duck Breasts with Huckleberries, Polenta with cheese, Watercress salad with Molasses Vinaigrette, and creamed corn. So I decided to make most of his menu for dinner recently. All except the creamed corn which I know my husband and I do not enjoy. The results were mixed. The duck and the salad were excellent! The polenta? Fail! The recipe I used overstated the water requirement so I ended up with soup instead of polenta. Even after cooking it for 2 hours we couldn’t begin to eat it. I may try again, maybe.
But I do want to share the duck and the salad recipes so you can try them, too. Today, duck breast is expensive to buy at the grocery. I was surprised to find that my local Publix actually carried them frozen. Back when this recipe was created, though, you simply went hunting for ducks so they were not costly at all back then. The original recipe calls for huckleberries, but since I couldn’t find those easily I substituted blueberries which are apparently similar.
I chose the watercress salad and vinaigrette from the menu of a tavern-style dinner my husband and I went to in 2019 which was a reenactment of the dinner Huntsville, Alabama, threw for President Monroe when he surprised the city with a visit in June of 1819, months before statehood. Watercress is something that Alabama is known for, so I knew it would be included in my book as well. The salad at the dinner included goat cheese and blackberries, with an elderberry and molasses vinaigrette. I was delighted to find a bag of watercress at my Publix, too. All washed and ready to use. I had bought some grated parmesan and romano cheese to use in the failed polenta, so I used that instead of goat cheese (again, it’s not our favorite), and some of the blueberries from the sauce for the duck. The nI just used some of our favorite salad toppings to finish the individual salads.
I located a recipe for molasses vinaigrette at bettycrocker.com and then followed it except I used Dijon mustard instead of coarsely ground mustard. The resulting dressing is delicious, too!
Here are the successful recipes based on what I actually did instead of the original ones. If you try them, let me know what you think. I’d love to hear from you!
Pan Roasted Duck Breasts with Blueberry Sauce
- 2 duck breasts, bone out, with skin
- Dried thyme
- Garlic powder
- Black pepper, ground
- 2 T butter
- 1 T Olive oil
- 2 shallots diced
- ½ cup port wine
- ½ cup beef stock, unsalted
- ½ cup fresh blueberries
Score the skin on the duck breasts. Sprinkle both sides with garlic powder, thyme, and black pepper. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour.
Preheat the broiler with rack in the top third of the oven. Using nonstick saute pan, melt 1 T butter and olive oil until froth subsides. Brown the duck breasts skin side down; do not turn. Reserve the saute pan and its oils. Place breasts in oven safe pan and broil 7-10 minutes, until flesh is opaque. Remove and reserve breasts in warm place.
Using the saute pan, add the shallots, port wine, and stock to deglaze the pan on high heat, until the sauce reduces and thickens. Add the blueberries and simmer on low for 15 minutes. Serve the sauce over the duck breasts.
- Fresh watercress leaves
- Sliced radishes
- Pecan pieces
- Fresh blueberries
- Shredded cheese
Place about 1 cup of leaves in each individual bowl. Top with a few sliced radishes, pecans, blueberries, and add a sprinkle of cheese.
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- ¼ cup cider vinegar
- 2 T molasses
- 1 T Dijon Mustard
- 1 t minced garlic
- ½ t black pepper
In a small bowl whisk together all ingredients until well blended.
Enjoy! Look for Desperate Reflections to release later this spring, too. That gives you plenty of time to read the first two books in the Fury Falls Inn series, The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn and Under Lock and Key, in the meantime… And as always, happy reading!
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Giles Fairhope reluctantly journeys to the Fury Falls Inn for one reason: his beloved sister Cassie needs him after their mother was murdered. His father and three brothers are far away, so she’s alone, without any family, in the wilderness of 1821 northern Alabama. He plans to find his mother’s killers, ensure Cassie’s safety, and then go home. Cassie begs him to stay until their father returns, but Giles has absolutely no desire to see him. When Cassie tells him their mother’s ghost haunts the inn, he suddenly faces his dead mother amidst shocking memories from his past and unexpected changes in himself.
His mother’s ghost insists he find not only the killers but a stolen set of keys. Keys which unlock more than an attic door but also surprising and dangerous family secrets. The revelations change everything he thought he knew about his family and threaten his sister’s safety and perhaps even her life…