Shred a pan-fried duck breast that you removed from the heat when just barely done, using two long-tined forks. Let rest and cool so you can handle.

In the meantime, cook down a pound of fresh or frozen whole cranberries in a cup of Offley Ruby Port and a half-cup of fresh-squeezed (crushed) pomegranate juice; or use pure specific store-bought (not mixed blend). Add just a sprinkle of granulated sugar. You will have a sort of jam consistency. Perhaps mash with a potato masher.

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Stir in a tablespoon of pulsed homemade candied citrus rind from your pantry sugar jar. Add a little salt and fresh ground pink peppercorns. Let rest.

Put the whole cranberry pot into your blender and pulse briefly. Pour into a bowl and tap the pomegranate seeds into the sauce.

To get the seeds out easily, cut the pomegranate in half horizontally, turn upside down over a bowl and whack with a wooden spoon to easily release the seeds.

Pour the sauce into a gravy boat with its own saucer and little ladle.

Back to the duck… using filo pastry sheets: brush a little melted butter between two full sheets of thawed filo and cut into three-inch-wide rectangles about five inches long or use Chinese wrappers; roll the shredded duck into a cigar shape filo with open ends. Spritz with extra virgin olive oil and brown just until golden in a little sizzling ghee.

OR: Put a whole, filled, crisped filo long roll onto a long narrow rectangular platter. Cut in half on the diagonal and in half again until you have several cigar-shape pieces about three inches long.

When ready to serve, drizzle with the cranberry pomegranate sauce using the pouring spout or the ladle.

These filo cigars are an exceptional treat and maybe a conversation starter. Serve warm or even at room temperature. Present the cigars accompanied with sugared grapes still on their vine, along with large chards of Stilton.

For dessert, the perfect suggestion: Strawberries: A special super easy dessert.

If you choose to imbibe, South Africa Obikwa Shiraz pairs nicely with the duck-filled filo cigars. Or you might enjoy a robust Tuscan Chianti, red or white. For a lighter dessert choice, George’s Beaujolais has nice light, delicate strawberry undertones.

Note: You could substitute shredded turkey, chicken, partridge, rabbit or lamb (any or all – roasted or barbecued). If your hunter’s frozen supply needs using, you might choose to use shredded venison.

Pound Cake Napoleon

Make your favourite pound cake recipe. When cooled, slice into thick pieces. Using a round sharp cutter, make as many rounds as possible. Or you could bake in a tin. When cool to the touch, slice in half-inch rounds.

You will need two or three pound cake slices per serving. Fill starting at bottom layer with a spritz of cognac, then mound with cognac-congealed figgy jus flavoured whipped butter cream. Position cake round on top.

Mound the next layer with mashed macerated cognac marinated black mission figs from your refrigerated jar.

Put the top layer in place. Add a dollop of stiff Chantilly cream flavoured with real vanilla.

Serve with a steak knife and angled pie fork or salad fork on a see-through glass pie plate surrounded by a splayed fresh fig.

If you have a glass dinner plate, use it as a charger with a real fig leaf on the side as a decoration. They are available at your florist shop.

ALTERNATE(S): You could use any fruit of choice. In season fresh Italian blue plums are wonderful.

You could use blueberries, fresh peaches or even strawberries in season.

For something a little different, replace some of the pound cake flour with dark chocolate powder. Fill with chocolate stiff whipped Chantilly cream and chocolate butter cream and top with mandarin segments or sugared sliced kumquats. Add a little kumquat marmalade to the butter cream.

When you buy your kumquats, collect a few sprigs of leaves for presenting when serving.

If you have any pavlova birds-nests in a tin, crumble them over each Napoleon for a crunchy bite topping.

© “From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks” | Turning everyday meal making into a Gourmet Experience 

The working title for Carolyne’s Gourmet Recipes cookbook is From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks. This kitchen-friendly doyenne has been honoured and referred to as the grande dame of executive real estate in her market area during her 35-year career. She taught gourmet cooking in the mid-70s and wrote a weekly newspaper cooking column, long before gourmet was popular as it is today. Her ebook, Gourmet Cooking - at Home with Carolyne is available here for $5.99 US. Email Carolyne. Scroll down to the comments at each recipe column. Carolyne often adds complimentary "From Lady Ralston's Kitchen" additional recipes in the Recipes for Realtors Comments section at REM.


  1. Savoury Pithiviers (to start or to finish)

    Prepare filling that you would use for a chicken pot pie, keeping the roux rather stiff instead of gravy-like. Using an ice cream scoop make individual servings placed on a parchment lined sheet. Freeze till not quite rock hard. You want to be able to flatten the scoops to mash to look a little like a hamburger patty.

    While the scoops are freezing, prepare frozen, thawed, store-bought butter puff pastry sheets. Using a 3” cookie cutter cut as many rounds as possible. Refrigerate on a baking sheet lined with parchment in coldest part of fridge to keep the pastry cold, firm and puff-able.

    Preheat oven and follow puff pastry package heat instructions. Puff pastry always needs high heat.

    On a parchment lined fresh baking sheet position the pastry rounds so they do not touch one another. Remove pot pie scoops from the freezer and using a small pot, mash to be the same size as the pastry rounds.

    Place a scoop of the chicken mix on each pastry round and cover with another pastry round. A little like a Napoleon.

    Bake on centre oven rack until pastry puffs and becomes golden colour. Turn off the oven and let the pastry dry for another ten minutes. The chicken pot pie mix will continue to cook in its own heat.

    ALTERNATE: Bake individual puff pastry rounds cut to the same size as a Camembert round, in a single layer until puffed and golden. You can store once cooled, in an airtight container for a few days.

    When ready to serve heat the puff pastry rounds for five minutes in a warm oven.

    Cut a room temperature Camembert round in half horizontally and put each half round between two pre-baked puff pastry matching size rounds. Brush top with egg wash and heat in medium oven for ten minutes.

    You could sprinkle the Camembert, before heating between the pre-made puff pastry rounds, with a tablespoon of my kumquat marmalade or you might enjoy my tomato butter on the cheese.

    You could top the cheese with a few homemade candied walnuts from your pantry storage jar, or maybe top with a few homemade candied mixed citrus rinds from your pantry sugar jar.

    Serve right away. The Pithiviers are a wonderful meal opener or closer. Perhaps decorate each plate serving with a small bunch of seedless grapes on the vine, sugared. You might serve a salad on the side.

    Another way to serve: Fill the puff pastry rounds with the same filling you chose for the FILO Cigars. If using duck or pulled chicken or pork definitely top with a dollop of my kumquat marmalade. Very yum!

    If interested, a Stella Artois beer at a cool room temperature pairs nicely. Remember to sprinkle a little salt in a nice thin Pilsner glass before filling with beer. A flute of champagne or Prosecco for a special occasion?

    © “From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks”
    Turning everyday meal making into a Gourmet Experience


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