New Year recipes: Manhattan duck with a dash of ‘Sex in the City’

I started writing this as the clock was counting down on December 31st. I was honestly not ready for 2020. My column was late getting published this time, because I felt so uninspired. At least I was, until now. All I could think of was what this past decade brought. I graduated high school and graduated from college. I made many friends along the way, such as one of my best friends Amy Taff. We met shortly after her husband died. I still remember the night we met very well. It was at a block party in the city of Leeds in early October. It was a cold, wet and dreary night a few years back. My aunt introduced us and we’ve been inseparable ever since. Amy wasn’t the only person to lose a loved one in this last decade. I lost a few distant cousins, 4 Aunts, a few uncles and in February 2010. I was forced to deal with something that changed my entire existence. I lost my great grandmother Mary Armstrong. I turned 26 this month. I was the first born child of my parents Kenny and Sandy Armstrong. They tried for nearly ten years, before my mother had a successful pregnancy. I am so lucky to still have my parents, two of my grandfathers and one of my grandmothers. My great grandmothers taught me so much of what I know in the kitchen. I cherish every memory and as I write this I will admit that I’m crying. One thing all children want is to make their family proud. I know my lost loved ones were proud, but it hurts my heart daily that they are gone. They will always live in my memories, but I will never get to hear the words “I love you” from them again. I have a list of childhood adventure that made me who I am. If we let life distract us, then we allow time to make  fools of us all. In the year 2020, let us remember our goals, loved ones and the simple fact, that we should all slow down. Try to keep in mind what is truly important to all of us! It was in the early 2000’s television show

 “Sex and the City” where I once heard a life changing quote. It was said by the lead character Carrie Bradshaw. I think it would be fitting to end our first column of 2020 with it.

“The most important thing in life is your family. There are days you love them, and others you don’t. But, in the end, they’re the people you always come home too. Sometimes it’s the family you’re born into and sometimes it’s the one you make for yourself.”  

-Andrew M. Armstrong 

Lady Baltimore Cake

2 sticks of butter, room temperature

2 Cups of sugar

1 Cup of milk

4 Cups of flour, sifted twice

4 teaspoons of baking powder 

1 Tablespoon of almond extract 

10 egg whites, whipped stiff and firm

Preheat the oven at 350 degrees. 6 pans of equal size, greased very well. Depending on how big you make the cakes it will make 2 completed cakes. Cream the sugar, extract and butter together. Incorporate the milk a little bit at a time. Using a spatula fold in the stiff egg whites alternately with the remaining ingredients. The secret to the best Lady Baltimore Cake is to blend well with as few strokes of the hand, while being as gentle as possible with the batter. Pour the batter equally into the pans and bake at 350 degrees for 25 – 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes, comes out clean.  


Lady Baltimore Filling / Icing 

4 Cups of sugar 

1 Cup of water 

4 egg whites, room temperature 

1 Cup of raisins, chopped 

1 Cup of nuts, chopped 

Vanilla extract to taste

Maraschino cherries 



In a pan cook the sugar and water together, until it reaches the threading stage. In a electric mixer whip the egg whites stiff, then at high speed. Slowly pour the boiling mixture in a steady stream. Half the mixture and mix one half with the remaining ingredients. Top the cakes with additional maraschino cherries, nuts and raisins for decoration. 

Bell Pepper’s Au Gratin

6 bell peppers, the green variety 

1 Tablespoon of capers

4 anchovy fillets, chopped 

1 can of black olives, sliced

1/4 Cup of olive oil 

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of black pepper 

Bread crumbs 

Cheese, shredded

Bake the bell pepper in the oven at 450 degrees for 20 minutes, until they are soft and the skin can be easily removed. Cut the bell peppers into 4 equal pieces and clean out all the seeds and stem debris. In a casserole dish cover them with oil and sprinkle the remaining ingredients over the pieces. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, until the toppings have browned well.

Manhattan Duck in Green Grape Sauce 

1 duck divided into pieces 

1 teaspoon of Italian seasonings 

1 teaspoon of salt

1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg 

2 Tablespoon of butter, heaping

1 Cup of White wine

2 Tablespoons of raspberry jelly

1 1/2 Tablespoons of cornstarch 

2 Tablespoons of ice cold water

1 Cup of green grapes, halved

In a pot melt the butter and add in the seasonings. Stir and brown the duck pieces evenly on each side. Add in the wine and cover the pot. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes, until the duck is tender and thoroughly cooked. Remove the duck pieces and blend in the water, jelly and cornstarch with a whisk. Once it starts to thicken add in the duck pieces and the grapes. Continue cooking for 5 more minutes. The sauce pairs well served over mashed potatoes, accompanied by Cornbread and fresh green beans.

Andrew’s Winter Stew

1 Tablespoon of olive oil 

2 cans of collard greens

1 large onion, diced

1 bunch of green onions, diced

2 Cups of cabbage, shredded 

1 can of mushrooms 

1 Tablespoon of oregano 

1 Tablespoon of garlic powder 

1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasons 

1 Tablespoon of sugar

1 package of raw Italian sausage, chopped

1 Pound package of dried black eye peas, soaked over night and rinsed

Salt and pepper to taste 

Sauté the onions, cabbage and seasonings, together with the sausage and olive oil. Once browned, add in the remaining ingredients and add water as needed. Simmer on low to medium heat, until the beans are soft. 

French Chicken Marengo 

2 whole chickens broken into pieces (around 2 Pounds per chicken)

1/4 Cup of olive oil

1 onion, diced 

1 clove of garlic, crushed and minced

2 Cups of fresh mushrooms, sliced 

6 – 7 tomatoes, diced

1 Cup of dry white wine 

1 Tablespoon of brandy

Heat the olive oil in the bottom of a pot and fry the chicken, until they are browned well on each side. Remove the chicken and put the pieces to the side. Sauté the mushrooms, onions and garlic in the oil. Once cooked add in the wine and bring to a simmer. Add the tomatoes and brandy. Stir the mixture and slightly reduce the mixture. Add the chicken into the mixture and simmer 20 – 30 minutes, until the chicken is completely cooked and so tender, that it is falling off the bone.



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