Valentine Dinner Menu of Roasted Lola Duck ~ Pavlova

by ....RaeDi



Roasted Lola Duck, Potatoes and Carrots with

     Sage, Blood Orange and Blackberry Glaze Sauce




The Valentine Dinner turned out fantastic with a group of amazing friends.  Nothing was meant to be fancy, just wanted it to be a good home cooked meal.  Being together as one with good food that was (in the end) superb without a lot of work is everything a cook could ask for.   All of it was full of flavor and just good old home cooking.  I did this over a few days, working on different dishes for a few hours each day and in the end it did not feel as though it had been a lot of work. 

Anytime I want to roast meat I almost always turn to a cookbook that I have had for several years.  It is called Roasting A Simple Art’ by Barbara KafkaIt is an amazing cookbook.   I have used her recipes and tips more times than not when I have a special meal to prepare. 

I agree with Barbara Kafka that those of us who like duck love the old-fashioned, simple, crisp roasted duck.   She poaches the duck before roasting and it eliminates most of the fat from under the skin.  She uses high-heat roasting to complete the duck.  Poaching and then roasting does keep it from getting dried and stringy and the end results are you do have a nice broth after simmering it. 


For Simmering:

  • One duck, cut wing tips and add to pan
  • Duck Neck
  • Any giblets and such you have add to the pot
  • I added thawed duck stock and bones from my freezer and then added enough water to cover duck by an inch or:
  • Chicken stock if using (enough to cover duck by an inch)
  • 2 Quartered onion
  • 2-3 Crushed cloves of garlic
  • 3 or so large carrots chopped into large pieces
  • 3 or so stalks of celery chopped into large pieces

Into a small stock pot (with one duck you do not need a big pan and this makes for better stock) I added the neck, wing tips and a couple of quartered onions, a couple of crushed cloves of garlic, three large carrots chopped into large pieces, and a couple of stalks of celery chopped into large pieces.   I only added the veggies because I would need to add a little water and wanted more flavor for my stock.  I could have used chicken stock with the duck stock so I had enough fluids to simmer Lola in but decided on the veggies with the water instead.   I now added my thawed duck bones and duck stock from my freezer to the pan.  At this time, if you have any giblets and such add them to the pot, they give so much more added flavor.    I then placed Lola in the pot once everything started to boil.   Making sure the duck stayed submerged under the fluids, I placed a heavy plate on top of the duck when I added it to the pot; I checked it often to make sure she stayed submerged.  When Lola came to a boil I turned the heat down and simmered her for around 45 minutes. 

I spooned off about one tablespoon of fat from pot and I spread this in the roasting pan.   Now I spooned off as much of the fat in the pan as I could.   I removed the plate (or whatever you used to weigh the duck down with) and I then spooned as much of the floating fat that was left in the pot as I could.   I removed Lola from pan and drained (hold the duck over the stock pot and drain all the liquids from her cavity.) I then patted the duck dry and sat her in the roasting pan at room temperature.   I salted and peppered to taste and pressed them gently into the skin.   Be careful, she is hot and the skin is tender.     I let Lola sit and rest in the roasting pan at room temperature for about thirty minutes; this dries the skin out some.   You can roast the duck now or do as I am doing, she will sit in the bottom of my refrig until tomorrow.   I let the temp of her come down before putting in refrig. 

I placed Lola lightly covered in the bottom my refrigerator; she will continue to dry out some more.  I will take the covering off mid- morning or later and let dry in refrig until just before I am ready to roast.  I then stained the stock twice making sure that it was completely clear and placed in refrigerator too.  This makes it easy for me and there is not as much work if you divide it up some.


For Roasting:

To roast preheat to 425 degrees 

  • Lola 
  • 2 quartered blood oranges 
  • 2 crushed cloves of garlic  
  • Sea Salt and Pepper to taste 

I got Lola out of refrig and left her on the counter to come to room temp.  I removed the broth from refrig and spooned off all congealed-hardened fat.  This can be frozen to be used for roasting veggies and such in the future.  I only saved a small portion of the duck fat.   I pre freeze in small teaspoon drops and once frozen put in a container in the freezer and then I can get just what I need when needed.  This is only used for special treats and such, I would not recommend duck fat on a daily basis for anyone.

I preheated the oven to 425 degrees.  I put into Lola’s cavity a couple of blood oranges sliced in quarters and the crushed garlic cloves.  I cooked her on the second level from bottom; I have a convection oven so it cooked differently than a regular oven.  After 10 minutes or so, I started to spoon out the fat that accumulates in the bottom of the pan.  Be very careful, this is very hot; I take the duck out of the oven to do this.  At this time move the duck around a bit to keep it from sticking to the pan. 

I roasted Lola around 45 or so minutes, each duck weighs differently.  When the juices were running clear she was done, for me anyway. 

Roasting Veggies:

Roast at 425 degrees ~ same as duck

The amount depends on how many are sitting at your table.  I get these ready before getting Lola out of the refrigerator.  It makes it easier when you do a small amount of the work at a time. 

  • Fingerlings if you have them if not ~ I used Yukon Gold quartered
  • Whole small carrots
  • Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper to taste  

I had Yukon Gold so this is what I used.   I quartered the Yukon Gold and washed and scrubbed the carrots. I put them in a plastic bag with less than a teaspoon of the grease from cooking duck.  I shook the bag until all were covered with a little of the fat.  I placed them in a shallow pan, put a little sea salt and fresh ground pepper on them and put in oven with duck.  I turned them every 10 minutes or so, they would not get burned and or stuck to pan (can be done as you spoon the grease from duck pan.)  They are done when tender, depending on temp of oven and size of veggies and how many you are roasting can be anywhere from 35-40 minutes give or take.  They are golden, delicious and the duck fat gives them a wonderful flavor without being greasy.  It takes very little fat to cover the veggies especially when you do it with the bag.  You only get what you want. 

Once Lola is done let her rest on counter for a few minutes before slicing.

I made a gravy/sauce from: about ¾ to 1 cup of duck broth.

 Sage, Blood Orange and Blackberry Glaze-Gravy-Sauce 

  • ¾-1 cup of broth
  • 2 Sage leaves
  • Add the Blood oranges and garlic used in cavity of duck
  • 1blood orange cut into wedges
  • 6-10 blackberries
  • Cornstarch ½ to 1 teaspoon

The amount of broth depends on how many are eating.  You would have to change amount of cornstarch to be used up or down depending on amount of broth being used.  Too, increase the number of blood oranges and blackberries needed to be about equal to the amount of broth.  Heat the broth and add the blood oranges and garlic from the duck cavity.  Now you add the slices of the blood oranges and the blackberries and bring to boil and then turn heat down a little for a few minutes.  Let it reduce just a little.  Remove the orange slices, blackberries, and garlic and squeeze them through strainer and put just the juice back in the broth.  Mix cornstarch with a little cooled broth and add to the pan whisking constantly for a couple of minutes, you do not want to taste raw cornstarch.   Keep temp at a beginning boil until thickened.  Remove from heat.  This sauce is very similar to the old fashioned raisin sauce my mom use to make. 

Serve over sliced duck or can be put in individual little sauce cups for dipping.

Save all bones and the broth and freeze for use another time.  I will be making a simple Roasted Duck Soup for tomorrow evenings meal with some of the broth and a little bag of left over duck already in the freezer from our last duck.  (All duck products from my freezer were leftover from a dinner at a friend’s house, her insisting I take home with me.  What a nice treat! )    Adding the stock from previous roasts each time you roast duck makes for a delicious future combo of anything you can possibly cook up! ….

 Steamed Baby Spinach with Pearl Onions and Almond Slivers

  • Spinach ~ amount you would need for how many you are feeding 
  • Pearl Onions ~ For this I use the frozen Pearl Onions, amount by how many you are feeding
  • 1 Heaping Tablespoon Slivered Almonds  

I put spinach mixed with the pearl onion in steamer and steam for a few minutes and turn then turn off heat.  Do not left lid, the steam will finish the spinach to a nice crispness without being overdone.  I put it in a dish and did a slight trickle of Pomegranate Balsamic.  Scatter slivered almonds on top of spinach.  It was perfect.  Spinach is one of my favorite veggies….




Bruschetta for Sliced Baguettes:

Since I had the pates’ it made my work of preparing the different appetizers’ that much easier.  All I had to do was put out some different crackers and I mixed some nuts with dried tart cherries and cranberries which were all a hit.  A few different kinds of cheeses and some grapes, with some sliced apples and I was almost finished.  I made a quick dish of double tomato for Bruschetta for the baguettes’ slices.  First I sliced the baguette at an angle.  I placed the slices on a jelly roll pan and drizzled Black Truffle Oil on and then toasted under broiler until they were getting just a little color and I then added Havarti and Dill cheese on top and broiled a little more until cheese was melted.  I did not cook too long to make them easier to spread the Bruschetta on.   Bruschetta is normally toasted after you put the tomato spread on the baguette, but with the company and the mix I decided to do it this way.  It was delicious.  

Double Tomato Bruschetta:

  • ½ pint cherry tomatoes diced (needed to be used and sure made a difference)
  • 1 small can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 Cup of Spinach striped (when I use fresh Spinach in the bag I always remove the long stems, I wish they would do that when packaging and in the end how much do we pay for all those stems? I love it when it is season and I can grow my own)
  • 2 cloves of garlic diced really small
  • Teaspoon plus of diced Parsley
  • ½ Teaspoon Basil
  • ½ Teaspoon Oregano

Place all but spinach in sauce pan and bring to boil, turn down heat and cook until almost all the liquid is gone.  I stir this frequently so it does not scorch; it does easily when the liquid is almost gone.    Add the spinach and stir in and put in small dish for use.  Heat from the tomatoes will cook the spinach to the right doneness.  Delicious as a spread on baguette slices.  (It is also good on cooked Angel Hair Pasta!) This is full of flavor and color….  




Pavlova Nests with Pastry Cream, Fruits and Chocolate Ganache:

The evening ended with desserts of Pavlova Nests filled with pastry cream, whipped cream, strawberries, blackberries, and with a choice of chopped macadamia or pistachio nuts.  I then drizzled chocolate ganache over each nest.  There too were large strawberries dipped in chocolate ganache for those that wanted just a small taste of dessert. 

While cooking the meringue nests you do not want to open and close the oven door; the meringue nests will get cracks in them.  If you do get cracks and it bothers you, fill cracks in with whip cream later.


Preheat oven to 275 degrees


  • 4 large egg whites at room temperature
  • 1 cup of Castor sugar, also known as “Berry sugar” ( I did not have any Castor sugar so I made my own, I put the amount needed in regular sugar in my mini processor and processed until it was very fine, it works perfect)
  • 1 tsp of white vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbsp of cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp of pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cups of whipping cream


Preheat the oven to 275F and place the rack in middle of the oven. Line a baking pan with parchment paper.  Trace around a circle of something that is the right size for your nests with pencil, turn paper with pencil marks underneath.  Set aside.

In a clean, medium-sized metal bowl, (make sure that anything you use to make the meringues is grease free) beat the egg whites with a clean electric mixer on medium speed. Beat until the whites form soft peaks.  Continue to beat the egg whites and gently sprinkle the sugar into the egg whites, one teaspoon at a time.  Your egg whites should now be glossy stiff peaks.

Sprinkle the cornstarch and vinegar on the meringue and fold in gently with a plastic spatula. Add the vanilla and gently fold the mixture again.  Put some meringue in a pastry bag with a star tip on the end.

Now gently spread the meringue in the circle on the foil to make a circular base. Make sure the edges of the meringue are slightly higher than the center so you have a very slight well in the middle.  I use a pastry tube # 43 and put two ~ three rings of meringue around the edges of bottoms to make the nest. 

I bake the meringue for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until it got a very light color and a slight matt finish.   Turn the oven off and leave the door slightly ajar to let the meringue cool completely. As the meringue cools, it will crack slightly.

I made these the day before I needed them.

Pastry Cream:

This recipe comes from Pastry Chef.  Pastry cream is a basic in a bakery, it is used in so many ways, pies, fillings add some whip cream and the lists goes on and then add nuts, fruits, it has endless possibilities. 


  • 1 quart milk
  • 8 oz sugar, divided
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla or can use beans of one whole vanilla bean
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 1.9 oz of cornstarch
  • 2 oz butter (unsalted)

In bowl whisk together the eggs, corn starch and the half of the sugar and vanilla.  Put aside for now. 

In heavy saucepan cook milk, half the sugar, if using vanilla bean add now, (if using vanilla it is added to egg mixture,) and salt until just below boil.

Temper the milk into the egg mixture (with whisk in hand add a little of hot milk mixture to egg mixture and whisk rapidly and constantly, add a little more of milk mixture to egg mixture ~ do this until you have added all the milk mixture to the egg mixture, whisking the whole time, you do not want to cook the eggs) and then put everything back in saucepan on the stove and cook over medium heat.  Cook, stirring constantly and quickly, until the mixture has come to a boil, letting boil at least 30 seconds, it will be really thick.  If you undercook it, it will taste like raw starch.  Be careful while it is cooking it could bubble up and burn you.  Remove from heat and strain into a bowl.   Place plastic wrap directly on top of pastry cream.  Let cool down to refrigerate. 

I made this the night before.

Whipped Cream


  • 1 cup heavy cream 
  • 2~3 Tablespoon of Splendid
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla

I placed my mixing bowl and whisk blade in refrig for an hour or two to chill them before making Whipped Cream. 

When ready I got my mixer ready with bowl and whisk that are now well chilled.  I poured the heavy cream into mixer bowl added the sugar and begin to beat on low with mixer for about 30 seconds or until mixed well.  I added the vanilla and increased the mixer speed to medium high. 

I then beat the cream mixture until soft peaks form.  I put the whipped cream in a pastry bag with star tip # 43 and placed in glass and then in refrigerator until I would need it.

Chocolate Ganache


  • 8 oz of Semi Sweet Chocolates Pieces
  • ¼  Cup Heavy Cream
  • ¼ Teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter

Heat the butter and cream just to boil.  Pour over chocolate pieces and stir until all chocolate pieces are melted.  Pour into to squirt bottle.  Set aside until cooled to room temp.   If you need to thin this down when ready to use all you need to do is place bottle of Ganache in a glass with warm water.  It will thin out quickly.   Be sure to wipe any water off bottle, you do not want to drip water on the desserts you are making.

Strawberries, Blackberries, Macadamia, and Pistachios’:

Wash blackberries then wash and slice strawberries; they are now ready for completing the Pavlova Nests.  You can do this right before you are putting the nests together. 

Chop up the macadamia or pistachio nuts.  Put in separate bowls.

Making the Pavlova Nests:

Gently spread pastry cream to top of each nest with spatula.  Pipe the whipped cream around the edge of each nest.  Now add the sliced strawberries and arrange in a decorative pattern in pastry cream edges.   Place blackberries in center. 

Drizzle Chocolate Ganache over each of the nests.  They are now ready to serve.  Putting these together when you have everything ready takes very little time at the last minute and everyone loves them and thinks it is really hard to do. 

If I can make these anyone can.  I have a shake in my hands from a bad neck and back and they are not perfect by any means but taste just as good as if a Pastry Chef had made them….