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wild about chanterelles.

My love for all things mushroom hunting is not new information to any readers of this blog. It's a fortunate inconvenience that Lo and I have been too busy with life and careers to get out in the woods and do some hunting. It's especially frustrating given all of the fungus hunting successes I have been hearing about since the chanterelles started to pop. Yesterday I took some time to check out my chanterelle spot and it happily provided me with a dozen or so nice size chanterelles and one big early season chicken of the woods. Maybe it's a sign that this fall is going to be a jubilee of mushroom picking and hot cider sipping. It seemed like a good reason to celebrate with food. I called up Clancey's butcher shop in South Minneapolis and checked on their rabbit inventory. I was in luck, chanterelle rabbit sausage with basil was on the menu for the night. 

Lo was out of town so I was cooking for a friend and I didn't take down a recipe. If you are really interested let me know, I can come up with one.

I had some raddichio and endive laying around so the menu was set - Chanterelle rabbit sausage, grilled raddichio with braised endive, and grilled apricot.

I tend to enjoy apricot paired with chanterelles as I find the mushrooms have a similar scent to apricots and juxtaposed, it really brings out the fruitiness of the shrooms.

I have to say, I think the dish was a success as I designed it, but it was even better when I added a fried egg on top the next night. A good mushroom hunt supplies multiple feasts!



As a side note to the novice shroom hunter - the most imortant thing to remember while foraging for wild mushrooms is to positively ID the mushrooms before you eat them, it's VERY important.

Happy hunting and happy eating.



date night. spanish heat.

Lo and I haven't spent time in Spain, but we imagine it's a beautiful country filled with beautiful people all lisping their z's and sipping sangria on topless beaches. I hope we're not disappointed when we finally go. The things we do know about Spain we love (except that whole conquering the Aztecs thing).

Spanish cuisine's most famous dish has to be paella. Lo and I love paella, it's terrific fun to make and deliciously rewarding to eat. The unfortunate part of paella is that it's always too much food for two people. It's not uncommon for us to be eating piles of rice, seafood and sausage for days. Which doesn't sound that bad as I type this...but let's be honest, paella is better when prepared for a group.

For this date night we wanted to connect some of our favorite Spanish influences and make a creative yet light take on paella, something perfect for a couple enjoying a summer night at home.

Spanish influence one: our take on paella. A prosciutto wrapped sole with brown rice, shell peas, clams, tomato, and pickled chiles in a white wine saffron sauce. It carries many of the same great flavors with a lot less effort (or excess). Click on the link below for our original recipe.

Deconstructed paella

Spanish influence two: sangria. Sangria always sets the mood. It tastes like juice, yet packs a boozey punch, so make a small batch if it's just the two of you. Again, you can select the link below for our mix.


And lastly, Spanish influence three: flamenco music. We love Spanish flamenco music. Lo and I had Paco de Lucia playing while we got married. It's romantic, soulful feel is perfect for a hot summer night. We've added a selection of some of our favorite tracks from a great Paco album for you to sample.

 We hope you enjoy this meal as much as we did. Salud!


vinyl & vino. v2. 

Over here at the Duo we love couples, combinations and pairing some of the finer things in life. Music and wine are two of our favorite things.

We're gonna dig through the crates and reach for the wine fridge to pair a perfect combination of music and wine.

The wine we chose tonight is another inexpensive Spanish charmer. Lately we can't get enough Spanish wine. It's so affordable, always interesting and widely available.

Meet the 2009 Carchelo.

It's a blend of three varietals 40% Monastrell (which I admit I know nothing about) 40% Tempranillo (this is that grape that makes Spanish reds so amazing) and 20% Cab Sauvignon.

This wine is a bit flashy, in all the right ways. It's bold and raw. It manages to be peppery and fruity at the same time. I can imagine this wine in a glass next to a really nicely grilled piece of meat.

What I really like about this wine is that it's different. I think it asks you to respect that and thusly I shall present our music recommendation to go with this bold, flashy and fun wine.

When I think flashy, I think Dizzy Gillespie. That's probably been written a hundred times but I don't care. Dizzy is where it's at. He's that flashy unconventional spirit that was born with a gift for music.

In looking through the Dizzy collection and thinking about great combinations one record stood out. It's that funky yet so approachable, To A Finland Station. On this album Dizzy pairs up with one of his proteges Aurturo Sandoval. This whole album is a great conversation between two jazz greats and a treat to listen to. The improvisational aspect of the album is what drives me to think it's a great match for this wine. Multiple grapes working together and having a conversation that leads to something special, much like the album itself.

Here are a couple tracks to listen to from the album, which means we've done 50% of the work for you already. Grab a glass of Carchelo and give it a listen.




food network star. episode 5. justin d's recipe, for relief.

This morning I'm elated to be writing about my experience on the show without the fear of week 5 looming in the distance. I get to put it all behind me, The Biltmore, Scarpetta, STK, camera challenges, and being judged publicly for not having a personality.. or too many of them.

I will never regret being on the show (I hope) it's a unique opportunity that helped me learn a lot about myself. Few moments will ever compare to the joy I felt walking away from that whole experience. I want to keep this short and sweet, so I won't be posting a recipe from the elimination. Instead I just want to express to everyone that's in my life, how much they all mean to me. This has been a really crazy ride and without the people I surround myself with, this would have been a much different experience.

I do want to expand on my saying I'm a private person. I'm a private person as far as being on reality shows go. I have no Real Housewife style desire to be the center of attention. I don't need or want to compete for attention and being on Food Star helped me understand that. I think there is much humor found in being told I have no personality and that I am clearly just a pair of glasses. If Food Network wants Penny's, Chris's and Jyll's, they can have them.

This is most definitely not the end, and here comes the cliché, it's just the beginning. Lo and I are going to get back to blogging about what matters to us, food, love and family. Subscribe to the RSS and follow us on twitter to stay on top of it all. Big things are coming and I can't wait to tell you all about it, soon.


Thanks for watching, 

Justin D.


food network star. episode 4. justin d's recipe.

Before really getting into the episode, I want to first thank everyone for all of the love you have given me. This has been a pretty crazy ride from the moment it started (almost a year ago). Thanks for the continued support.

On to the show! Finally I got to see myself in a camera challenge. For some reason this is the first time they showed my camera challenge, the sad part is.. that food was the worst food I had made to date. Everything else had been fairly successful. To make it even worse, in walks Chef Michael Symon. Shit. Out of all of the Iron Chefs, I connect with his style of cooking the most. It's rustic and similar to my background and training. That dude will throw down on a pig face, which is admirable. So I got to feed Chef Symon something I was pretty ashamed of - I think I used the word "pedestrian" to describe it. I called my dish, Crispix fried ham and black bean puree with a quick pickled jalapeno. I actually thought it tasted good, but it was so uninspired and if there is anything we preach at the Gastronomic Duo, you have to make food with love. Uninspired food is unloved food. I don't think I had ever missed something as much as I missed Lo and Eva at that moment. 


Moving on to the second portion of the show, the Star Challenge. We all know by now what the challenge was, cooking for Cougar Town. I'm on a team with Whitney and Susie and we are the only team of three. Why can't anything ever be normal? Oh that's right, I'm on TV. Our team is to cook for the cast and that means we've gotta keep it light. I decide I'm going to make one of our favorite salads. This is the first time I am going to make something I have made before, everything up to this point has been total on-the-spot first attempts. I need some pretty basic ingredients: Fennel, endive, radicchio, smoked trout and a few greens. "There is no way Courtney Cox and Busy Philipps won't love this," I thought.

We arrive at the store and there is nothing for me. I remember standing in front of the basket that had previously been filled with radicchio and staring at the wilted lone red leaf in the bottom of it. There was also no fennel. How the hell does that happen? We live in Minnesota and I can get fresh fennel bulbs in mid February at any store... but not in LA. So that leaves me with nothing. I have to make a new dish that fits the criteria while shopping for Whitney and Susie as well. That's when the whole quinoa drama began. I challenge anyone to be in that situation and try understanding an excited Susie Jimenez on the phone. Had I used my brain, I would have grabbed tons of quinoa but my brain was filled with other things like, "what the hell am I doing here" and "what am I going to make?"

On the flip side, Susie and Whitney were rock stars and grabbed tons of everything at their store. I really wish I had returned the favor.

I made a dish out of whatever they had grabbed and the few things I had found. It was a terrible salad. It could have been much better, but I haven't done a lot of large party catering.. especially for like 200 people. I dressed my salad early and it just didn't stay on the ingredients like I thought it would. They weren't wrong. It wasn't tasty.

I did think the episode was funny and also honest. That's what happened. From the quinoa to me talking about dropping out, it was all very honest. In those moments I was so filled with doubt and lacked any desire to still be in the competition, that it's amazing I didn't walk out those doors instead of Justin B.

I can't do this post without speaking about Justin Balmes. I didn't know what to think of the other Justin when we first arrived, but after getting to know him.. I can honestly say is a badass. I am proud to call him a friend and excited to work with him in the future.

Lingering on the negative isn't gonna get anyone anywhere.. So I want to also talk about the positive in the show. Being called a sexy Harry Potter chef is pretty hilarious and I've been called much worse. I wonder who I'll be compared to next week? There's only one way to find out. Next week, I need to bring the energy. Let the Harry Potter magic flow.

Below is a link to the recipe for my intended dish. It truly is a tasty salad and one that I am sure everyone would have loved.

Fennel, Endive, Radicchio smoked trout salad with a toasted fennel vinaigrette.