Apple & Lemon Tarts

This was the fifth and final course to my 5-course Friendsgiving party for 6 people.

I had originally planned for this really complicated work of art but since I’m not a pastry chef, I just wanted to give myself an easy dessert course. Easy, meaning, no soils, no foams, no gelées, no silicone molds, no siphons etc… And also, I am off on Thanksgiving so I should give myself a somewhat “light” cooking day. Haha, this is what I L.O.V.E. to do: hosting multi-course dinner parties.

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Sorry, no recipes.

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Duck with Seared Bok Choy, Wheatberries with Maitake Mushroom, Blueberry Reduction

This was the fourth course to my 5-course Friendsgiving party for 6 people.

I had originally planned for using farro instead of wheatberries but farro was sold out. I do like the chewiness of wheatberries compared to farro, however, I still think that farro would have been better for this dish.

Serves 6.

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For the Duck

  • 3 Peking ducks
  • Duck bones from the duck
  • Canola oil, as needed
  • 3 onions, chopped roughly
  • 3 large carrots, chopped roughly
  • 5 celery stalks, chopped roughly
  • 1 garlic head, cut in half horizontally
  • 6 qts chicken stock
  • Bouquet garni in cheesecloth
  • Mushroom trims, if available
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375-400°F.

Butcher and quarter the duck. Manchonner the legs and score the breasts. Cut away as much fat as possible. Breakdown the carcass. Place scored breasts into the fridge.

In a large pan, sauté bones until golden brown; add onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. Continue sautéing on medium heat. *If using more than one duck, brown bones in the oven at 450°F.

In a saucepan, bring chicken stock to a boil.

In a separate pan, heat some oil. Season duck legs with salt and pepper, then sear in hot pan, to develop some color. Turn heat for duck legs down to medium and let it render out some fat. You only need to sear and cook the skin-side of the duck legs. The skin of the duck legs should be a golden brown color before going onto the next step.

Transfer legs, skin side up, on top of bones and vegetables. Add enough hot chicken stock to cover duck three-quarters of the way up. Add the bouquet garni, mushroom trimmings, cover with lid or aluminum foil and braise the legs until tender, about an hour. Make sure the stock is bubbling/boiling before you put it into the oven.

When legs are done, remove from oven and let it cool slightly. Strain braising liquid and reserve for the sauce. Reserve duck legs in remaining liquid and keep warm.

For the Sauce

  • 4 TBS butter
  • 3 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 500mL bottle balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • ¾ cup honey
  • 1 bottle red verjus or red wine
  • Reserved duck braising liquid
  • Bouquet garni
  • Salt & pepper

Caramelize the honey. When the honey is bubbling and golden, add the balsamic vinegar to it. Add in chopped shallots and crushed garlic. Reduce until syrupy then add in the verjus and continue to reduce until syrupy again. Next add in the hot duck braising liquid. Add a loose bouquet garni and 1 cup of the blueberries, and reduce by two-thirds. Strain through a fine sieve. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add the remaining blueberries and continue to reduce, on low-medium heat, until there is some body to the sauce. If sauce is not thickening, add some beurre manié. Keep warm until ready to serve.

For the Wheatberries

  • 1½ cups wheatberries
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 packets maitake mushrooms, base removed

Combine the wheatberries, salt, and chicken stock in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the wheatberries are tender, about 20-40 minutes. Taste often as it is cooking, you want it to be toothsome and retain some structure. Remove from heat, drain any excess liquid, and set aside. Reserve liquid for reheating.

Sweat onions and simultaneously sauté maitake mushrooms in another pan. Fold onions and mushrooms into wheatberries.

For the Finnish

  • 6 heads bok choy, halved lengthwise
  • Canola oil
  • Salt

In a very hot pan, sear bok choy. Season right after removing from heat.

TO ASSEMBLE

Preheat oven to 500°F.

Season duck breasts with salt & pepper, turn heat to low and place a large pan on the stove. Place breast in the pan with skin-side down. Render the fat to all the breasts slowly. Every 5 minutes, pour away rendered fat. After 20-30 minutes, turn breast around and cook flesh side for 3 seconds and remove from pan and place on a wire rack, skin-side up, to rest.

For the braised legs, cut along the joint to separate leg and thigh. Only add a little braising liquid to the pan and have legs and thighs skin-side up. Place on low heat and once braising liquid starts to bubble and reduce, spoon the liquid over all the legs every 5 minutes. When the legs have reached a nice glaze color to them, keep warm and set aside.

Flash heat the duck breasts in the hot oven for 3-5 minutes. Take it out and let it rest for a minute before you start slicing. Plate to your liking or in picture.

Risotto with Shrimp & Sea Beans

This was the third course to my 5-course Friendsgiving party for 6 people.

I absolutely LOVED this course because it was shrimp overload!

Serves 6.

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For the Shrimp Stock

  • 2 lbs large Mayan shrimp/prawns, heads removed and shelled
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 TBS brandy
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 2 TBS tomato paste
  • 1 garlic head, cut horizontally
  • 2 tarragon sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 TBS black peppercorns
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 7 oz. diced tomatoes
  • Canola oil
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Peel shrimp and leave the tails intact. Place shrimp aside in the refrigerator.

In a Dutch oven or very large pot, heat canola oil until smoking hot. Add in shrimp heads and shells and develop a deep orange color, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Then sauté mirepoix (carrots, onions, celery) until there is some color. Add in tomato paste and cook it thoroughly. Flambé with brandy then deglaze with white wine.

Add in diced tomatoes, garlic head, tarragon, bay leaves, peppercorns, and thyme, along with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil then simmer for 1 hour. Strain and discard solids.

Reheat stock for risotto making.

For the Risotto

  • 2 onions, finely diced
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1½ cup Arborio rice
  • ¾ cup dry white wine
  • Shrimp stock from above, as needed
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup sea beans, lightly packed

In a pan on medium-low heat, heat the olive oil. Sweat the onions until translucent. Stir in the rice and make sure the oil fully coats the rice. Cook until the ends of the rice are transparent, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Then add in the wine and cook until completely absorbed and the alcohol has evaporated.

Add 1 cup of the hot stock mixture and simmer, stirring frequently, until all the liquid has been absorbed and the bottom of the pan is almost dry. Adding ½ cup stock at a time, stir until almost all the liquid has been absorbed between each addition. Be careful not to let the bottom of the pan dry out. Continue to stir often, and repeat until the rice is almost al dente. 

Stir in sea beans and keep warm before serving.

For the Finish

  • Reserved shrimp
  • Salt
  • Canola oil
  • 1 handful sea beans
  • Tempura batter

In a large pan, sear shrimp with canola and salt. Keep warm and set aside.

Dip sea beans in tempura batter and fry lightly in a pot of oil.

TO ASSEMBLE

Spoon risotto in a bowl, place shrimp in center and top with tempura sea beans.

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Citrus Marinaded Quail with Parsnip Purée, Arugula, Pea Leaves Salad, and Satsuma

This was the second course to my 5-course Friendsgiving party for 6 people.

I’m really happy the way this dish turned out. It’s EXACTLY how I pictured it!

Serves 6.

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For the Citrus Marinade

  • 6 semi-boneless butterflied quail
  • 2 lemons, zested
  • 2 oranges, zested and juiced
  • 2 limes, zested and juiced
  • 1 TBS sesame oil
  • 3 TBS EVOO
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 3 TBS soy sauce
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1-inch ginger roots, peeled and finely minced
  • Pinch of salt

In a large bowl, mix together all marinading ingredients and add quail. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

For the Parsnip Purée

  • 1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup butter
  • EVOO, salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Place parsnips along with thyme and bay leaf in a tray and season with EVOO, salt, and pepper. Cover with foil and roast for 40 minutes.

Remove parnips from tray and place in a bowl along with cream and butter. Smash with a fork and mix thoroughly. Adjust seasoning.

Keep warm before serving.

For the Quail

  • Marinaded quail
  • Leftover marinade, for basting
  • Canola oil
  • Salt and freshly grounded pepper

Remove quail from bowl and reserve mixture for basting.

In a hot pan, add canola oil and sear quail breast-side down on high heat. Turn heat to medium and be sure to press down. Flip quail after 5 minutes while basting continuously. Cook on the other side for 1-2 minutes and remove from pan. Rest quail before slicing.

For the Salad

  • 4 satsuma mandarins, peeled
  • 6 cups arugula
  • 6 cups pea leaves
  • Citrus Vinaigrette or other simple dressings (such as EVOO + lemon juice)
  • Salt

Peel satsumas, simply dress the greens before plating.

TO ASSEMBLE

Slice quail into 2 sections: wing & breast and leg. Spoon parsnip purée onto plate, place salad greens nicely and arrange quail along the plate.

Butternut Ginger Soup with Pistachio

This was the first course to my 5-course Friendsgiving party for 6 people.

For the taste of the soup, it all depends on your tolerance of the spiciness of ginger. I prefer using freshly pressed ginger than using ginger powder. I like the soup to have a kick at the end from the ginger.

Serves 6, with 2-3 more helpings.

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For the Soup

  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • 2 large yellow onions, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 4 whole star anise
  • 1½ – 2 lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4-inch ginger root, peeled and juiced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1½ cups heavy cream

In a large pot, heat up olive oil and sweat onions until translucent. Add garlic and star anise and continue sweating for another minute. Add in chopped butternut squash, carrots, and celery and fill enough water to almost cover. Bring mixture up to a boil and down to a simmer. Cook for 45 minutes.

After 30 minutes, add in ginger juice. Taste, season, adjust for seasoning and continue cooking for the allotted time.

After 45 minutes, remove star anise from pot and turn off heat. Using an immersion blender, blend soup until smooth. Add in cream and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Keep warm before serving.

For the Garnish

  • 1 cup pistachios, ground

When grinding the pistachios, be careful not to over grind or else the oils from the nut will leech out and mixture will be wet.

TO ASSEMBLE

In warm soup bowls and ladle hot soup into the bowl, then spoon 1 TBS of ground pistachios into the center. Or you may pour soup table-side.

Plans for Thanksgiving 2013

I know I haven’t blogged in forever. First reason: my new studio apartment has poor lighting. I barely have any natural lighting. Second reason: my apartment isn’t accommodating for house parties. Third reason: My job is my life.

I haven’t been hosting any parties since August and the first potential opportunity would be Thanksgiving. Since I cannot host in my tiny apartment, my boss is allowing me to use the restaurant space! That’s super awesome because I’ll be using industry cooking-ware, etc…

This is what I have so far:

Butternut Ginger Soup with Pistachio
1st Course

Citrus Marinaded Quail with Parsnip Purée, Arugula,
Pea Leaves Salad, and Satsuma
2nd Course

Risotto with Shrimp & Sea Beans
3rd Course

Duck with Seared Bok Choy, Wheatberries with
Maitake Mushroom, Blueberry Reduction
4th Course

Apple and Lemon Tarts
5th Course

Leftover Risotto Croquettes

I’ve been meaning to do this for quite some time because I always have leftover risotto lying around in the fridge. Leftover risotto tastes so much better deep fried than reheated! Your hard work is behind you, all you have to do is roll them in the breading and fry them. If you have a mini deep fryer like I do, making these take no work at all!

My breading process:

  1. Roll risotto into balls
  2. Roll them into flour
  3. Swirl/coat them in an egg/cream mixture
  4. Roll them in Panko
  5. Fry!

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