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Valentine's Day

I've been wearing pink or red since last week in honor of Valentine's Day, which is Thursday February 14th. I love all holidays, but Valentine's Day is extra special. It's one of the few times I push aside other tasks and focus almost exclusively on my husband of almost 37 years.

Instead of going out to dinner, each year I place a small table in front of our hearth, accessorize it with fine linens, china, crystal, silver flatware, and tall candlesticks, and prepare a special meal designed to spoil us both. We begin with a gorgeous salad or hot, creamy soup served in antique soup cups, followed by rack of lamb or a recipe from my newest book Celebrating Home – roasted duck breasts glazed in a gorgeous Cointreau-orange marmalade sauce (pictured), served with black japonica rice or roasted garlic new potatoes garnished with fresh rosemary, and grilled asparagus or tender green beans. For dessert, chocolate mousse swirled into pretty miniature bowls or an impressive chocolate Valentine cake coated in bittersweet chocolate genache, like the one pictured here, says "I love you" with every decadent bite.

Whatever your plans this Valentine's Day, make it a celebration devoted to those who are special in your life – a sweetheart, family members, or special friends. There's nothing more precious. And to get you started, I'm happy to share my recipe for Orange-Glazed Roasted Duck Breasts from Celebrating Home: A Handbook For Gracious Living (Bright Sky Press, Sept 2012).

Happy Valentine's Day!

-Christy

Orange-Glazed Roasted Duck Breasts

by Christy Rost

Celebrating Home: A Handbook for Gracious Living

Ingredients:

4 boneless duckling breasts
  Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup Cointreau or other orange-flavor liqueur
1/2 cup beef stock or broth
4 tablespoons orange marmalade
  Juice of 1 orange
1 orange, rinsed and thinly sliced, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Rinse the duck and dry them with paper towels. Using a sharp knife, trim excess skin as needed and score the skin to form a diamond pattern, taking care not to pierce the meat. Season both side of the meat well with salt and pepper.

Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Place the duck breasts, skin side down, in the skillet and cook 8 to 10 minutes until the skin is brown and crisp, draining excess fat as needed. Turn the meat over and cook 3 to 5 minutes more to sear it.

Transfer the meat to a roasting pan, reserving the skillet for the sauce, and roast the meat uncovered for 20 minutes. While the meat roasts, drain the fat from the skillet and place the pan over medium heat. When it is hot, deglaze the pan with Cointreau and beef stock, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add orange marmalade and orange juice, stir well, and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Season the sauce with black pepper.

During the final 10 minutes of roasting, spoon the sauce over the duck and cook until the meat is tender and light pink inside. Remove the meat from the oven, cover it with foil, and set it aside 10 minutes to rest. To serve, slice the meat at an angle and fan it out on dinner plates. Spoon any remaining juices next to the meat, garnish with a slice of orange, and serve.

Yield: 4 servings