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Published: Tuesday, 7/19/2005

Les Scourtins Des Vieux Moulins (Olive Cookies From the Drome)

9 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Pinch of fine sea salt

1/2 cup cured olives, pitted and coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter until it is soft and pale yellow. Mix in the sugar until blended, then drizzle in the olive oil and mix until combined. Add the flour and sea salt and mix gently but thoroughly until the dough is smooth. Add the olives, mixing until they are thoroughly incorporated.

Place a piece of waxed or parchment paper on a work surface. Place the dough in the middle. Cover it with another piece of waxed or parchment paper. Roll the covered dough until it is about 1/4 inch thick. At this point, refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes. (Dough can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.)

Cut dough into 2-inch rounds, placing rounds about 1/2 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake about 15 minutes, until the cookies are golden. Cool on wire racks.

Yield: About 34 cookies

Watercress and Beet Salad

with Almonds

1 medium beet, or 2 small beets

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 shallots, sliced paper thin

6 cups watercress sprigs

1/2 cup of almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped

Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Steam beet until it is tender through, 30-40 minutes. When the beet is cool enough to handle, peel and dice into small pieces. Reserve.

In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar with salt and pepper to taste. Whisk until the salt dissolves. Slowly whisk in olive oil until the mixture is emulsified. Stir in the shallots and season to taste. Place 2 tablespoons of the dressing in a small bowl. Add diced beet and toss thoroughly, so all pieces are coated.

Add watercress to the dressing in the large bowl; toss gently but thoroughly so watercress is coated. Add almonds and toss again. Divide salad among six plates. Sprinkle equal amounts of the beets atop the salads. Serve immediately.

Yield: 6 servings

MAGRET DE CANARD AU POMMEAU

(Duck Breast in Cider and Apple Brandy)

1 (13-ounce) duck breast

Fleur de sel, or fine sea salt, and ground black pepper

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 cup Pommeau (2/3 cup fresh apple juice and 1/2 cup Calvados)

Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat. When skillet is hot but not smoking, place duck breast in it, skin side down. Cover and cook until the skin is deep golden, about 8 minutes. Turn duck breast and cook it for 2 to 3 minutes on the flesh side, then remove it from the pan. (Do not overcook, since duck meat will toughen. Duck will be rare.)

Drain off all the fat and return duck breast to the pan, skin side down. Continue cooking it over low heat, covered, just until the meat is done on the outside but still very rare on the inside - 5 to 6 minutes. Remove duck from the pan and season with salt and pepper. Add the vinegar and Pommeau to pan, scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan and reduce the liquids by about half, until it is slightly syrupy (about 4 to 5 minutes).

To serve the duck breast, slice it thinly on the bias. Arrange on a warmed platter or four warmed plates. Drizzle the slices with the Pommeau sauce and serve immediately.

Serves 4.

XXX END OF STORY

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