Just in time for Valentines Day: A Sneak Peak into The Dude Diet and The Dude Diet Dinner Time!
Tell me more about this exclusive WTR V-Day post..
Instead of settling for an over priced pre-fixe menu this Valentines Day, may we suggest cooking up something SCRUMPY for the person/ people you love?! When we think of slam dunk meals that always seem to please the crowd, Serena Wolf — the mastermind behind the blog DomesticateME — comes right to mind.
And, get this, Serena is sharing a few of her favorite date night recipes from her cookbooks with US! The Dude Diet and the Dude Diet Dinnertime are staples for us and we hope these recipes bring love and joy to your dinner tables.
Want more? Serena shared a whole bunch of recipes with us from her blog that you can find on our fabulous interview with her.
Crispy Duck Breasts with Balsamic Cherry Sauce from The Dude Diet Dinnertime*
Cooking duck might seem a little daunting, but a few simple tips and tricks make it a total breeze. First, scoring the skin and fat is key. It helps the fat render and the skin develop a glorious golden brown exterior. Second, starting the duck in a cold pan and cooking it low and slow allows plenty of time for the fat to render and the skin to crisp while keeping the meat tender and succulent. Last but not least, using a meat thermometer allows you to pull off perfectly cooked breasts with zero stress.
This recipe is an awesome date night meal with a side of roasted vegetables, arugula salad, or cauliflower puree, but if you’re looking to dress it down or stretch the duck (which can be pricy) to serve more people, I highly recommend making the dankest of duck tacos. Warm some tortillas; add a little arugula, duck breast, and sweet-tart cherry pan sauce to each; and sprinkle with goat cheese. You won’t regret it.
FoR tHe DUCK:
Two 6- to 8-ounce duck breasts, about 1 inch thick
Kosher salt to taste
FoR tHe SAucE:
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 cup dark sweet cherries, halved and pitted
¼ cup full-bodied red wine, such as
Cabernet Sauvignon (You can then drink the remainder of this wine with your duck.)
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Tiny pinch of kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
- Start by scoring the duck breasts. Place the breasts on a cutting board skin side up. Run a sharp knife across the skin diagonally at ¼-inch intervals. (You want to cut almost through the layer of fat between the skin and flesh, being careful not to cut the flesh itself.) Turn the breast 90 degrees and slice in the opposite direction to create a crosshatch/diamond pattern. Season the duck on both sides with salt.
- Place the breasts skin side down in a large skillet. (Do NOT preheat the skillet!) Place the pan over medium-low heat and cook for 14 to 15 minutes, until most of the fat has rendered, the skin is nicely browned, and the duck breasts have an internal temperature of 125°F. (After about 3 minutes of the cook time, the fat will start bubbling gently in the pan. You want to maintain this gentle bubbling throughout. If the fat isn’t bubbling, in- crease the heat slightly, and if it’s spitting, reduce the ) Flip the breasts and cook for about 2 minutes, until they reach an internal temperature of 130°F for medium-rare meat. Transfer the breasts to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, pour off all but 2 teaspoons of fat from the skillet and return the pan to the stove over medium heat. (Feel free to save the fat in an airtight container in the refrigerator for future use.) Add the shallot and cook for 30 seconds, or just until softened. Add the cherries and wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and cook for 3 minutes, or until the cherries are beginning to soften and the wine has reduced by about half. Add the vinegar, salt, and a few cranks of black pepper (if using) and cook for another 3 minutes, until the cherries are soft but still holding their shape and the sauce has a slightly syrupy consistency.
- Cut the duck breasts crosswise into thin Serve warm topped with the balsamic cherry sauce.
JUST THE TIP: Not only is duck breast nearly as lean as white meat chicken, but it’s also a great source of zinc and selenium (both of which boost immunity) and contains more iron than other poultry and as much as some cuts of beef!
Seared Scallops and Couscous with Cucumber, Orange, and Pistachios from The Dude Diet Dinnertime*
This deceptively impressive meal is the epitome of fresh. Simply seasoned and quickly seared until they develop a beautiful golden crust, the scallops are poised to steal the show, but I’m here to tell you that the citrus-studded whole-wheat couscous gives them a run for their money. And since you can prep the couscous up to a full day in advance, and the scallops take roughly four minutes total to cook, this is an ideal recipe for relaxed entertaining.
One quick warning before you hit the kitchen. Your pan is going to smoke while you cook the scallops. It shouldn’t be too scary, but if you have a sensitive smoke alarm, make sure you’ve got a vent fan on, windows open, or a sous chef to stand on a chair and fan the device while you sear. Forewarned is forearmed.Open a bottle of chilled white wine and you’re good to go.
FoR tHe SCalLopS:
1½ pounds dry scallops (also called diver or day boat scallops)
Kosher salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra- virgin olive oil
FoR tHe CouSCouS:
1 cup water
2 tablespoons extra- virgin olive oil, divided
¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 cup whole-wheat couscous
1⁄3 cup shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
1 large orange (Blood orange or ruby red grapefruit is also great.)
½ English cucumber (aka seedless cucumber), halved lengthwise and very thinly sliced crosswise
½ small red onion, very thinly sliced
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped, plus extra as needed
Juice of 1 large lemon
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Prep the scallops. Pat the scallops dry and season on both sides with salt. Place them on a paper towel–lined plate and refrigerate while you prep the couscous.
- Make the couscous. Combine the water, 1 tablespoon of the oil, and ½ teaspoon of the salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the couscous. Cover the pan with a lid and let stand for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork. Transfer the couscous to a medium bowl and let cool to room temperature.
- Meanwhile, heat a medium skillet over medium When the pan is hot, add the pistachios and cook for about 3 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, until the nuts are toasted and fragrant. Add them to the bowl with the couscous.
- Segment the orange. Using a sharp knife, carefully slice the top and bottom from the orange. Slice the peel and white pith from all around the fruit. (It doesn’t need to be perfect!) Cut between the membranes to release the orange segments, then slice each segment crosswise into roughly ½-inch pieces.
- Add the orange, cucumber, red onion, parsley, lemon juice, the re- maining 1 tablespoon oil, and the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt to the cooled couscous. Toss to combine and season with black Briefly set aside while you cook the scallops. (You also can cover the couscous with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 day.)
- Time to cook the scallops! Gently pat the scallops dry with paper towels—yes, you need to pat them dry twice—and season on both sides with black pepper.
- Heat your largest skillet (I like cast iron) over high When hot, add ½ tablespoon each of the butter and oil. When the butter is melted and bubbling and the oil is smoking slightly, add half of the scallops to the skillet, leaving plenty of space around each one. Cook, undisturbed, for 2 minutes, or until golden brown on the underside. DO NOT MOVE THE SCALLOPS. Turn the scallops over (careful, the fat may spit a little!) and cook undisturbed on the opposite side for another 1 to 2 minutes, until golden brown. (If your scallops are particularly large, you may need to cook them for a minute or two longer.) Transfer the scallops to a paper towel–lined plate. Wipe out the skillet and return it to the heat. Add the remaining ½ tablespoon each of butter and oil to the skillet. Repeat the cooking process with the remaining scallops.
- Divide the couscous among 4 plates or shallow bowls. Top with the scallops and garnish with a little extra parsley if you’re feeling
JUST THE TIP: Make sure you purchase dry scallops for this recipe! Dry scallops are harvested directly from the sea. Off-white and translucent, they taste and smell like the ocean and develop a beautiful crust when seared. Wet scallops (also labeled “soaked” or “treated”) are treated with a chemical brine to extend their shelf life, and they appear whiter, plumper, and glossier than their dry counterparts. They simply don’t taste as good and are nearly impossible to brown because of the amount of water they release.
Dude Diet Chicken Parmesan from The Dude Diet**
1 cup buttermilk
4 garlic cloves, minced
1¼ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
Four 8-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2½ cups crispy brown rice cereal
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
FOR THE SAUCE
1 tablespoon extra- virgin olive oil
¼ medium yellow onion, minced
One 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
(I like San Marzano.)
¼ teaspoon pure cane sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
¹⁄³ cup fresh basil leaves, stacked, rolled, and thinly sliced (aka chiffonade)
One 4-ounce ball fresh mozzarella cheese, grated
Back in my private chef days, one of the NFL players I was cooking for asked if I could make him Chicken Parm. The dude was newly gluten-free and doing his best to eat clean, so the traditional bread crumb–encrusted, fried recipe was obviously out, but serving him a version with grilled chicken cutlets seemed pretty bush league. Instead, I played around with different coatings and techniques until I perfected this super-tender baked Chicken Parmesan dredged in crispy brown rice cereal. It became an instant classic. Ditch the usual pasta side and responsibly round out the meal with a giant salad or your favorite green vegetable.
- In a large shallow baking dish, whisk together the buttermilk, garlic, and 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt.
- Place each chicken breast between two pieces of plastic wrap and, using the bottom of a skillet (or other heavy object of your choice), pound the chicken breasts to a ½-inch thickness.
- Add the chicken breasts to the baking dish, turning them over a couple of times to ensure they’re well coated in the buttermilk Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. (Feel free to marinate the chicken overnight if you’re a planner.)
- Pour the crispy brown rice cereal into a shallow baking dish and lightly crush it with your (You don’t want to completely pulverize the cereal, but you do want to break it down into small pieces so that it will stick to the chicken more easily.) Stir in the Parmesan cheese, oregano, pepper, and the remaining ¼ teaspoon kosher salt.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum Spray a wire rack with cooking spray and place it on top of the baking sheet. (If you don’t have a wire rack, don’t panic. You can bake your chicken directly on the foil-lined baking sheet.)
- Remove the chicken breasts from the buttermilk one at a time, shaking off any excess liquid, and place each one into the crispy rice Coat each breast really well, using your hands to press the cereal onto the chicken. Transfer the coated chicken to the prepared wire rack. Bake for 20 minutes.
- While the chicken is in the oven, whip up your simple marinara Heat the olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the onion and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until translucent and very tender. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, sugar, and salt and simmer for 5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened slightly. Remove from the heat and stir in half of the fresh basil.
- Spoon the sauce onto each of the chicken breasts and top with the mozzarella. Bake for 5 minutes more or until the cheese has melted and is bubbling. (If you like your cheese lightly browned, you can pop the chicken under the broiler for a minute or so.)
- Serve the chicken piping hot topped with the remaining fresh basil.
just the tip: DON’T HAVE BUTTERMILK? MIX 1 TABLESPOON LEMON JUICE OR WHITE VINEGAR WITH 1 CUP MILK, AND LET IT STAND AT ROOM TEMPERATURE FOR 10 MINUTES UNTIL SLIGHTLY THICKENED. BOOM. HOMEMADE BUTTERMILK.
**From the book THE DUDE DIET by Serena Wolf. Copyright © 2016 by Serena Wolf. Published on October 25, 2016 by Harper Wave, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Reprinted by permission.*From the book THE DUDE DIET DINNERTIME by Serena Wolf. Copyright © 2019 by Domesticate Me, LLC. Published on October 29, 2019 by Harper Wave, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Reprinted by permission.
All photographs by Matt Armendariz.
You can find Serena on:
Her blog: domesticate-me.com
In her cookbooks: