Many kids have the opportunity to grow up in exotic places around the world. I got to grow up in Duluth, Minnesota. Growing up I thought that I got a bad shake in life having to grow up in this town that seemed so small and so basic. It took me moving away to college and growing up to really appreciate the beauty of the city that I now can call my hometown.
When I was away in college my father had the chance to achieve one of his lifelong goals, which was to move to the North Shore on Lake Superior and purchase a house right by the lake. This was both thrilling for him and wonderful for me because when I had a chance to visit him I also got to take part in the wonders that are the North Shore. There are beautiful stone beaches that line the lake as well wonderful restaurants and small bakeries like the famous Betty’s Pies. Although at the top of my list for places to eat would have to be the New Scenic Café.
The New Scenic Café is nestled right on the way up the North Shore Scenic Highway a few miles past the French river. This is also a plus because it is only a two minute drive from my father’s house.
Star Tribune (Minneapolis Newspaper) raves “The region’s most inspired cooking can be found at the New Scenic Cafe, a must-visit for Duluth-bound gastro-tourists. For 15 years, chef/owner Scott Graden has taken his cues from the seasons and the local larder, crafting an eclectic array of colorful, artfully composed and subtly delicious fare at lunch and dinner. The serene surroundings, expert service and picturesque lakeside location — roughly 20 exceedingly scenic minutes up the shore from downtown — only add to the experience. As for dessert, here’s hoping your server says what ours did: “We have four kinds of pie tonight.” Music to anyone’s ears, as Graden’s kitchen is home to some of Minnesota’s most gifted pie makers.”
When you enter the café you are met with a mix of a hip cabin and the feeling of a local art gallery all wrapped up into one.
So not only does this place have a wonderful atmosphere but the food here is phenomenal. They are constantly updating their menu to make sure they are offering new pairings and seasonal items that are as fresh as they are delectable. If you take a look at the previous menus you will come across things like cumin scented pork tenderloin with port-fortified cherries ,rutabaga, yukon gold potato in a browned butter cider gastrique or a rib eye calotte with a chocolate mole cashew whip, sfogliatelle covered with medjool dates and heirloom carrots although hands down, my favorites are the seafood options.
One of the things I realize is that we have Nordic Ware fans and customers from all over the Unites States as well as the world, so how can you bring a touch of the New Scenic café to your table without having to travel to Duluth, Minnesota? Lucky for us, I have a recipe to share with you right here from the Café. Below, you will find a beautiful seared duck breast & creamed leek tartlet recipe direct from owner Scott Graden.
This recipe will impress your guests and provide a perfect showcase for your new knowledge of a Duluth, Minnesota favorite. Plus you can bring a little flare from the Scenic café right to your kitchen table.
Something I’ve learned from Nordic Ware’s office culture is that we value high quality products and we also value high quality customer experience. These are also the reasons that keep us going back to the New Scenic Café .
Seared Duck Breast & Creamed Leek Tartlet
yield: 4 servings
Apricot Curry Purée:
1/2 C dried apricots (diced)
1 C water
1 1/2 Tbsp cream sherry
4 threads saffron
1/2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp red curry paste
1 Tbsp brown sugar
3 oz crystallized ginger
1 pinch garam masala (p. 366)
1 tsp vegetable base
1/2 Tbsp kosher salt
Seared Duck Breasts:
4 each duck breasts (6 – 8 oz each)
4 tsp garam masala (p. 366)
2 Tbsp olive oil
Creamed Leek Tartlets:
1/4 C creamed leeks (p. 365)
4 each tartlet shells (2”) (p. 370)
1/4 C blue & goat cheese mousse (p. 363)
4 C microgreens
1/4 C cream sherry vinaigrette (p. 365)
2 each strawberries
2 Tbsp Arya pistachios (hulled)
“I was inspired to create this dish by the work of well-known chef Charlie Trotter, who created a recipe that has a similar composition of flavors. With its bright colors and tastes, it has turned out to be one of the New Scenic Café’s favorites. I simmer dried apricots along with cream sherry, saffron, curry, and other spices and then purée them, to create a sauce with a brilliant orange color that looks lovely on the plate. Accompanying the thinly-sliced duck breast is a small tartlet, made of creamed leeks and a bit of blue & goat cheese mousse. I finish the plate with a small salad of microgreens, fresh strawberries, and Arya pistachios, which are grown in California but originate from Iran (though you can certainly use any pistachios). The rich flavor of Arya pistachios and their intensely bright-green color give this summery dish its final dash of seasonal look and taste.” – Scott Graden
Apricot Curry Purée:
Combine all of the ingredients in a small pot, place the pot over low heat, and cover it with a lid. Warm the mixture slowly to a low boil, and then turn the heat down slightly, letting the mixture simmer for 15 minutes. Pour it into a blender, and purée it until it is completely smooth. (This sauce can be refrigerated and reheated as needed.)
Seared Duck Breasts:
See “seared duck breast & amarena cherries” on page 161 for detailed instructions on how to sear the duck breasts. For this recipe, also season the sides of the breasts that do not have skin with garam masala—but only the non-skin sides. If you sprinkle the garam masala on the skin sides, the spices tend to burn during cooking.
Creamed Leek Tartlets:
While the duck is cooking, preheat the broiler in your oven and warm the creamed leeks gently in a small pot over low heat. Put the blue & goat cheese mousse into a small ziplock bag, and cut about 1/4 inch off one corner of the bag. Spoon the creamed leeks into the tartlet shells and squeeze the ziplock to pipe about 1 tablespoon of the mousse on top of each tartlet.
Place the tartlets on a sheet pan, and set the pan directly under the broiler. Broil the tartlets for about 1 minute or until the mousse melts and just begins to brown in a few spots.
In a small pot, warm the apricot curry purée gently on low heat. Use a spoon to “paint” each plate with the purée, experimenting with the appearance of the sauce on the plate, if you like, to produce a fun and beautiful design. (This colorful dish looks especially appealing on a white plate). If the purée is too thick, stir in a small amount of additional water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to thin it.
Set the seared duck breasts on a cutting board, skin side down (they are much easier to slice evenly this way). Using a sharp knife, slice each breast into 12 to 14 thin, round slices. Fan the slices out a little, and then set a duck breast on each of the plates, positioning it slightly off-center.
Set one of the creamed leek tartlets on each plate, opposite the sliced duck breast. In a small mixing bowl, dress the greens lightly with the cream sherry vinaigrette. Using your hands, create a “ball” of dressed greens and place one in the center of every plate.