Monday, March 31, 2014

2014 A to Z Challenge

Tomorrow I and around 2,000 other bloggers start the 2014 A to Z Blogging Challenge. The hosts for this Blogfest are:

Arlee Bird @ Tossing it Out
Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh
Author Stephen Tremp
Tina @ Life is Good
Damyanti@ Amlokiblogs
Jeremy @ Being Retro
Nicole Ayers - The Madlab Post
M. J. Joachim's Writing Tips
Heather M. Gardner
AJ @ Naturally Sweet
Pam @ An Unconventional Librarian

The original idea for this blogfest was Arlee Bird’s. The idea is that for the whole month of April one writes a blog a day (not Sundays those are rest days) pertaining to the letter of the alphabet assigned to that day. April 1 is A, April 2 is B and so on. This is my third time of participating and I have found it great fun. We are also honour bound to visit the blogs of as many of the other participants as we can and they will all return the compliment – we hope. Because there is such a lot of work involved, the hosts have helpers, known as minions, and I am on Tina’s Terrific Team this year (see the badge in the side bar). This involves checking on 20 assigned blogs and making sure they are keeping up and helping if and when necessary then reporting back to our team leaders. I actually had my posts finished by mid March as otherwise there is so much to do it is difficult to keep up. Life still has to be lived after all. Many bloggers don’t write every day so it really is a challenge for them, for me it is easier because I already post 6/7. So, as they say at the Olympics, LET THE GAMES BEGIN.

If you are taking part in the challenge, I wish you all the best and hope to see you along the way. If you haven’t yet signed up, you still can I believe. Click on any one of the host’s names above. In fact you can still sign in til April 2, 2014 and the sign in list gives you the exact date and time. Do join us. The more the merrier. You can get to know all kinds of other bloggers as well as get new followers for your own blog.

This recipe from Food and Wine looks absolutely delicious. Sadly I cannot afford the price one has to pay for duck in these parts. But hopefully some of you will have access to inexpensive duck and can try it.

Pappardelle with Duck Ragu
© Amy Neunsinger

Pappardelle with Duck Ragù

Contributed by Curtis Stone
  • ACTIVE: 1 HR 15 MIN
Celebrity chef Curtis Stone makes his delicious pasta sauce by braising duck legs in white wine with dried porcini, prosciutto and herbs.
  1. 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  2. Three 1-pound duck legs, skin and excess fat removed
  3. Kosher salt
  4. Freshly ground pepper
  5. 6 large shallots, finely chopped
  6. 1 large carrot, chopped
  7. 2 celery stalks, chopped
  8. 3 ounces prosciutto, finely chopped
  9. 2 rosemary sprigs
  10. 2 tablespoons thyme leaves
  11. 4 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
  12. 1/4 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, ground to a powder in a spice grinder
  13. 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  14. 3 cups chicken stock
  15. 8 ounces dried pappardelle noodles
  16. 1/2 cup fresh ricotta cheese
  17. 2 tablespoons freshly grated pecorino cheese, plus more for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Season the duck legs with salt and pepper and add to the casserole. Cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned, about 8 minutes; transfer to a plate.
  2. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the casserole. Add the shallots, carrot, celery, prosciutto, rosemary, thyme and garlic. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened and just starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the porcini powder and wine. Simmer, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the casserole, until slightly reduced, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Return the duck legs to the casserole, cover and braise in the oven until the legs are very tender, about 1 hour and 30 minutes; turn the duck legs halfway through braising.
  3. Transfer the duck legs to a plate and let them cool slightly. Remove the duck meat from the bones and shred into bite-size pieces. Return the duck to the ragù and season with salt and pepper; keep warm. Discard the rosemary stems.
  4. In a large saucepan of salted boiling water, cook the pappardelle until al dente. Drain, reserving 2 cups of the cooking water. In a bowl, whisk the ricotta with 2 tablespoons of the cooking water until smooth.
  5. Add the pasta to the ragù along with 3/4 cup of the reserved cooking water and the 2 tablespoons of pecorino. Cook over moderate heat, stirring gently, until the pasta is hot and coated with sauce; add more cooking water if the sauce is too thick. Transfer the pasta to shallow bowls, top with the ricotta and serve, passing additional pecorino at the table.
Make Ahead: The ragù can be refrigerated overnight. Reheat gently before serving.

Have a great day
Jo (2)


  1. Sitting this year out I'm afraid. But it's fun to read all of the entries.

    1. It's a pity, I enjoyed working with you last year. I am a minion for Tina this year.

  2. You're on a great host team! Ready to rock the Challenge.

    1. Definitely. Glad you are back. Hope all is well.

  3. Good luck! We can't possibly draw that many cartoons in one month, but we're still excited to follow everyone along as they take place in this. Also, that recipe looks amazing. I love cooking duck but I've never made duck legs specifically.

    1. So long as you are following, you could do the odd letter here and there same as Sia McKye was going to do.

  4. Thanks for the awesome ad for us! Hate to break it to you, but we are now over 2000 and you are about to get 20 more blogs ;-) However, that's an amazing amount of participants.
    Oh, and Sia signed up :-)
    Tina @ Life is Good
    A to Z Team @ Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2014

    1. Oops and oh sh*t. Good for Sia or maybe Kat.

  5. Can't wait to start the challenge!

    1. I can't believe you are going to cook all those pies.