It’s getting to be time to clean up the garden. We only had a couple months of produce, this year, but we plan on a good 8 or 9 months next year. We’re rookies and still have a lot to learn – but we ended up with some fun stuff in spite of our non-planning.

Victor has decided he actually likes beets! Not the canned variety which he continues to eschew, but fresh from the garden. I like them any way they arrive on my plate, but I do agree that fresh is best.

Heck, anything right out of the garden is best. I am so glad we finally extended the yard and had the raised beds put in. We’ve only been here 15 years – can’t rush into anything, ya know…

Today, I pulled the last of the beets, most of the leeks, and chard… I thought they would fit in perfectly with my spin on a La Cucina Italiana recipe I’ve done in the past. It’s black beans in a duck ragu.

I didn’t have the duck or the black beans, but I did have white beans, chicken, and andouille sausage – along with beets, chard, and leeks from the garden, so I made up a new version. And, just for the hell of it, I put a fried egg on top.

It was pretty good, if I do say so m’self…

Here’s the original recipe – I’ve actually never followed it completely, but it makes for a great starting off point.

Fagioli Neri con Ragù di Anatra

Black Beans with Duck Ragù
adapted from La Cucina Italiana

  • 1 1/2 cups dried black beans
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 pound boneless duck breast, skin removed and meat cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 small rosemary sprig
  • fine sea salt
  • freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

Rinse beans, then place in a large saucepan and cover with water by 3 inches.  Soak for 8 hours or overnight.

Add bay leaf and 1 tbsp oil to the saucepan with the beans, then place pan over medium heat and bring liquid to a simmer.  Reduce to a bare simmer and cook until beans are very tender, adding water as necessary to keep beans covered by about 1/2 inch, 30 minutes to 1 hour (depending on freshness of beans).

Reserving 1/2 cup of bean cooking liquid, drain beans.

In a large saucepan, heat butter and remaining tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat.  Add duck and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes.  Add onion, carrot, celery, garlic, rosemary, and generous pinch of salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, about 6 minutes.  Remove and discard rosemary, then add wine.  Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until wine is evaporated, about 10 minutes.  Add reserved cooking liquid, reduce heat to low, and cook, covered, until duck is tender, about 45 minutes.

Add beans to ragù and cook, covered, until warmed through, about 10 minutes.

And since I was cooking beans for dinner, we needed a loaf of bread, as well…


This is an Onion and Poppy Seed Bread  from my Mom’s Cook Books. I’ve made it a couple of times in the past but this time I used the leeks from our garden in place of the onions. It came out really, really good. The bread is very much like a stuffed challah. It’s buttery and eggy with a light crumb – and the onion and poppy seed really make it unique.

Here’s the bread recipe, as well…  This one I follow pretty closely.

Onion Poppy Seed Bread


  • 1 pkg active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 4 – 4 1/2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg


  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 3 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg, beaten – for glaze

In large mixer bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add 2 cups flour, melted butter, milk, sugar, salt, and 1 egg. Beat at medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. With wooden spoon, stir in enough additional flour to make a stiff dough – about 2 cups. Spoon onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turn to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from draft, until double in bulk, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, prepare filling: In small bowl, combine onion, melted butter or margarine, poppy seeds, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; set aside.

Punch dough down. On lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 20×8-inch rectangle. Cut in half from 8-inch side, forming two 20×4-inch rectangles.  Spread onion filling onto each to within 1/2 inch of edges. Pinch seams to seal forming a long rope. Repeat with remaining dough. Twist the ropes together. On lightly greased baking sheet, form dough into a ring. Cover and let rise, in warm place, free from draft, until double in bulkm about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush dough ring with the remaining egg. Sprinkle with additional poppy seeds and chopped onion, if desired. Bake for 40 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when tapped with fingers. Cool slightly on wire rack. Makes 1 loaf, about 28 1-inch slices. About 150 calories per slice.

I usually get by with 4 cups of flour. Your results may vary. I also mix it all in the mixer but I really take my time adding the melted butter to make sure it really incorporates into the dough.

The weather is definitely changing – and that means even more homemade breads… I’m going to have to search Mom’s recipes to find something I haven’t made. I’m sure there’s something there…

And, gee… we have Apple Pie for dessert. Rough night at our house…