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Classics, Illustrated

Back when "Continental cuisine" was the height of culinary cool, we fell in love with duck à l'orange, chateaubriand, and crêpes Suzette. Some of our favorite chefs are doing the Continental again -- and we couldn't be happier.

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Roast Duck à l'Orange

Terrance Brennan, Artisanal and Brennan's Seafood and Chop House
(opening late November)
1 tablespoon juniper berries
6 pieces star anise
1 and 3⁄4 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 and 1⁄2 cinnamon sticks
1 and 3⁄4 tablespoons cardamom pods
1 and 1⁄4 tablespoons whole allspice
1 and 1⁄4 tablespoons whole clove
1 and 1⁄4 cups honey
2 5-to-5 and 1⁄2-pound Long Island ducks
4 oranges, cut into quarters

Sauce:
2 cups orange juice
1 cup veal stock (organic-chicken stock can be substituted)
1 bay leaf
1⁄2 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tablespoon butter
Salt

Toast all the spices in a dry skillet over medium heat until they start to give off a fragrant aroma, about 2 minutes, shaking the pan often to avoid burning. Crush the cardamom pods, allspice, and star anise.

Fill a large stockpot with 1 gallon of water. Add all the spices and honey to the water and bring to a boil over high heat.

Meanwhile, stuff the cavity of each duck with 8 orange quarters. Truss the ducks and prick the entire surface of the skin with a fork, taking care not to puncture the flesh. Put the ducks into the pot and simmer for 12 minutes, placing a plate on top of the birds to keep them submerged. (If your pot is too small to hold both ducks, cook them one at a time.) Remove the ducks from the liquid, drain their cavities, and set them on a rack in a roasting pan to cool. Place them in the refrigerator, uncovered, to air-dry for 1 to 3 days.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Remove the ducks from the refrigerator and bring them to room temperature. Place in the oven and roast for 1 and 3⁄4 to 2 hours, until dark golden brown and crispy, with an internal temperature of 170 degrees. Remove from the oven and set aside to rest for 20 to 25 minutes before serving. If you need to crisp up the skin, place the ducks under the broiler for a minute or two. Serve with glazed turnips and braised mustard greens or turnip tops.

Sauce for duck: Place the orange juice in a 2-quart saucepan and reduce by two thirds over medium heat, about 8 minutes. Add the veal stock, bay leaf, peppercorns, and thyme to the pan and reduce by half, about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and strain through a fine sieve. Whisk the butter into the sauce, and season to taste with salt.

Orange marmalade (optional):
Spice sachet: 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, 1 teaspoon whole cumin, 4 green cardamom pods, 1 cinnamon stick, 2 star anise, 2 whole cloves
4 oranges, cut into a small dice, seeds removed
2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
1 cup simple syrup (1⁄2 cup water and 1⁄2 cup sugar, brought to a simmer)

Toast all the spices in a dry skillet over medium heat, shaking the pan often to avoid burning, until they start to give off a fragrant aroma, about 2 minutes. Put the spices on a square of cheesecloth and tie up the edges with string to make a sachet.

Place the oranges, juice, and simple syrup in a large saucepan, add the sachet, and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes, or until the oranges are tender and the liquid has thickened.

Baked Alaska

Michael Sullivan, Le Zinc
Almond cake:
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 and 3⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
1 and 1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 cup milk
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 pints ice cream, sorbet, or frozen yogurt (strawberry ice cream and raspberry sorbet recommended)

Meringue:
1 cup sugar
8 egg whites
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Almond cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9-inch cake pan.

Add the butter and sugar to the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, and cream together until very light. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated before adding the next egg. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, mix the milk and almond extract. Slowly beat the flour mixture into the butter and eggs, alternating with the milk. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top is golden. Turn out onto a rack to cool.

When cake is cold, spread a layer of softened sorbet over it, followed by the ice cream, shaping it into a dome. Place on a plate and freeze for 2 hours, or until the ice cream is hard.

Meringue: In a small saucepan, stir together the sugar and 1⁄4 cup water. Bring to a boil. When the syrup reaches 236 degrees on a candy thermometer, remove from the heat and pour into a glass measuring cup.

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, and whip until foamy. Add the cream of tartar, and beat until stiff. Whip the sugar syrup into the egg whites slowly and carefully, and continue to whip on high for 2 to 3 minutes, until the egg whites have cooled.

To assemble: Cover the cake base and ice cream with a thick layer of meringue, swirling it with the back of a spoon to form decorative peaks. Place under a preheated broiler to brown -- it will do so almost instantly -- or use a blowtorch.


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