Onion Leek Soup with Shoestring Potatoes & Fried Herbs

This was the first course to my 6-course Friendsgiving party for 3 people.

I think I saw this in Bon Appétit Magazine two years ago and I thought that I would use it this year. It was originally going to be on last year’s menu but I ran out of time.

Serves 3.

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[100% organic]

For the Soup

  • ¼ cup butter (half stick)
  • 3 large leeks, white & pale green parts only
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ head garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Slice leeks in half lengthwise, wash out the sand/dirt and thinly slice crosswise.

Melt the butter in a pot over medium heat. Add and sweat the leeks, onion, and garlic, and season with salt. Stirring often, cook until the vegetables begin to soften. Add ½ cup water and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very soft, 15–20 minutes.

Turn off heat and add the milk, cream, and yogurt. Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. Turn heat back on and adding water, by ¼-cupfuls, until the soup is thick enough to hold potatoes without sinking but thin enough that a spoon dragged across the top doesn’t leave a trail. Adjust seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

For the Finish

  • 1 Idaho potato
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 4 flat-leaf parsley sprigs
  • 2 basil sprigs
  • Salt
  • Chive oil

Peel potato and cut into thin matchsticks. Rinse potato in a colander under cold water until water runs clear; pat dry completely. Pick all the herbs and set aside.

Fit a medium saucepan (with thermometer) and pour in oil to measure 2”. Heat over medium-high until thermometer is at 350°F. Working in batches and returning the oil to 350°F between batches, add potato by the handful and fry until golden and crisp, about 2 minutes. Using a spider, transfer potatoes to paper towels to drain. Fry herbs until parsley is translucent, about 15 seconds. Season with salt after each batch.

For extra crispiness, place in dehydrator or 110°F oven.

Serve soup topped with a nest of potatoes and herbs, and a drizzle of chive oil.

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Plans for Thanksgiving 2016

It’s that time of year again… when I start planning for my annual Friendsgiving menu at the end of August for the end of November. I like to plan ahead. It’s not like I set any kind of alarm in my calendar, it just pops into my head randomly towards the end of the summer.

*edit November 14*

2016 has not been a great year, personal struggles and the revelation of our next president. I am also physically exhausted all the time now so I don’t feel like overachieving in my menu for this year. It’s going to be a small, intimate dinner with my brother and best friend. I want to do something easy (in my terms) and spend quality time with quality company.

Kabocha, Ricotta, Caramelized Pearl Onion
Avocado, Bulgarian Feta, Sunflower Seeds
Brussels Sprouts, Capers, Cashew Cream
Selection of Crostini

Onion Leek Soup
Shoestring Potatoes, Crispy Herbs, Chive Oil
1st Course

Day Boat Scallops
Grapefruit, Brown Butter, Marcona Almond
2nd Course

Crisp Octopus
Celeriac & Garlic Purées, Miso Cuttle-Fish Ink Paste, Asian Pear
3rd Course

Duck Leg Confit Pasta
7 Spice, Homemade Fettuccine, Basil Breadcrumbs
4th Course

Duck Breast
Parmesan Truffle Risotto, Maitake Mushroom,
Roasted Shallots, Spinach
5th Course

Triple Layered Dark Chocolate Tart
Raspberry Sorbet, Pistachio, Sea Salt
6th Course

Crab & Tiger Shrimp over Hand Cut Noodles in a Mentaiko Dashi Butter

Last month when I celebrated my birthday, I went to Tuome for dinner. I’ve been wanting to go there since they opened in 2014. The best thing I ate was the snow crab noodles that I had read about. And it was absolutely amazing!!!!! And currently the best thing that I’ve ate in NYC. I just wish there was more snow crab. Last week I went back to Tuome just to have the noodles again along with some duck confit mini brioche burgers.

Last night, I was craving for those noodles again so I decided to make it myself. This took me 2 hours, with another hour for resting the pasta/dough, so 3 hours total but totally worth it. I can’t afford buying snow crab meat so I bought regular lump crab meat.

Serves 4-6.

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[100% organic, sustainable seafood]

For the Noodles

  • 400 g 00 flour
  • 4 eggs + 2 yolks, beaten
  • 1 TBS EVOO
  • Salt

In a bowl, add the flour and make a well in the center. Add in the beaten eggs and yolks, EVOO, and pinch of salt. Using a rubber spatula, start mixing the dry into the wet ingredients. Continue kneading the dough on the counter top until dough is elastic (8-10 minutes). Wrap in plastic and place somewhere warm-ish, allow to rest for 1 hour.

Cut the dough into smaller pieces and roll out to your preference of thickness. Using a sharp knife, fold dough (to make it easier to cut) and slice to your width preference.

Lay cut noodles spread out to dry a bit before cooking.

For the Dashi

  • 2 quarts cold tap water
  • 4 pieces kombu
  • 2 cups bonito flakes, packed

Pour the cold water into a pot and add the kombu. Bring to a simmer on low-medium heat. Do not allow to boil. Once simmering, turn off heat. Discard kombu and add in the bonito flakes. Allow to infuse for 20 minutes or longer, until you need it.

For the Seafood

  • 1.5 lbs tiger shrimp (21/25)
  • ½ lb lump crab meat
  • Ground ginger
  • Salt
  • Canola oil

Pick through crab meat to remove any random shell parts.

Remove the shells and veins from the shrimp. In a pan, heat up some oil. Sear shrimp and season with salt and ground ginger. Add some water/dashi and cover to continue cooking thoroughly. Remove, set aside, and keep warm.

For the Finish

  • ¼ cup spicy mentaiko
  • Dashi (from above)
  • Noodles (from above)
  • Red pepper flakes, as needed
  • Butter, as needed
  • Beurre manié, as needed
  • Chives, finely cut
  • Salt

In a large pot of salted water, cook noodles until al dente.

In a large sauté pan on medium heat, melt ½ pound unsalted butter. Add in 2 cups of dashi, the mentaiko, some chili flakes, some chives, and continue to emulsify on low heat. Add some beurre manié to make sauce thick, if needed. Add in the cooked noodles and reserved shrimp then toss to coat. Taste for seasoning and adjust.

Plate noodles with sauce, top with picked crab and more cut chives.

*Inspired by Tuome.

Lemon Tart

Since last Thanksgiving, I’ve been making this tart about every two weeks. That’s much more frequently than before when I would just make it once or twice a year. I have definitely been eating a lot more desserts, that is at home or outside in restaurants. I’ve been making a lot more ice-creams too.

Makes 8-inch tart.

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[100% organic]

For Pâte Sablée (Short Bread dough)

  • 150 g butter (softened to room temperature)
  • 90 g powdered sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 255 g cake flour (sifted)
  • 1-2 TBS cold water (optional)
  • Butter, as needed, for tart pan

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Using a rubber spatula or spoon, flatten out butter and powdered sugar. Add yolk one by one and then add sifted cake flour. If you don’t have cake flour, substitute with pastry/AP flour (for every 1 cup of pastry/AP flour, remove 1 TBS of it and add 1 TBS cornstarch). Mix slowly to combine. If dry, add the cold water. Form into a ball and flatten it, wrap with plastic and place in refrigerator until firm.

Butter the tart pan and put in freezer.

In between two sheets of parchment paper/plastic wrap/SilPats, roll dough to 1/16 inch. Carefully place into buttered pan, press into place and roll over the top of the pan to remove excess hanging dough. Using a fork, puncture tart shell with holes. Blind bake with weights for 20 minutes. Remove weights and continue baking until golden.

Reserve shell at room temperature before pouring in the tart filling. Lower oven to 300°F.

For the Tart Filling

  • Pinch of flour
  • Butter, as needed
  • 5 eggs
  • 6 lemons: zested, and 150 g juice
  • 200 g granulated sugar
  • 150 g heavy cream

Zest lemons and mix the juices together. Infuse for as long as possible.

In a bowl, add the eggs and sugar. Whisk until fully incorporated. Add cream, mix lightly and continue to whisk. Stir in lemon juice, zest, and pinch of flour. Skim the foam off. Strain before putting it into the cooled pastry shell.

Bake 25-30 minutes. When removing from oven, the custard should jiggle. Cool on wire rack and serve with fresh berries and whipped cream.

Dim Sum: Har Gow 蝦餃

This is my fourth attempt at trying to make my favorite dim sum: Har Gow, which is a traditional type of steamed dumpling served during dim sum, the Chinese equivalent of brunch but without the alcohol. It’s widely known that this dish is the ONE that dim sum chefs are judged on because it’s the epitome of dim sum. Whenever I try a new dim sum spot, I do indeed judge everything about the restaurant on their quality of har gow.

There are so many recipes and resources available yet none of them are foolproof nor tested out to yield perfect results. I have been trying to get the dough recipe down to perfection and for the previous three times, I have failed due to the dough. The filling is easy; it’s basically just shrimp and you can add in bamboo shoots or water chestnuts or something else to give it some texture.

I’m not that skilled yet in rolling dough into perfect circles so I used a ring mold to cut out 3½-inch circles.

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Makes approximately 20 dumplings.

For the Filling

  • 3 water chestnuts
  • 1 lb shrimp
  • 1-inch ginger, microplaned
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • 2 tsp sesame oil

Peel and finely mince the water chestnuts into little cubes.

Peel and de-vien the shrimp. Then using the side of your knife, smash the shrimp and roughly chop them. Place them into a mixing bowl. Add all other ingredients except for water chestnuts. Thoroughly mix shrimp until it gets sticky, add the water chestnuts just to combine, and place in refrigerator until ready to use.

For the Dough

  • 1 cup wheat starch
  • ½ cup tapioca starch
  • 6 TBS/3 oz. boiling water
  • 1 TBS oil

In a mixing bowl, add the two starches and using a spoon, stir starches while slowly adding the boiling water. Continue to stir until the mixture has turned translucent. Add the oil next and continue to stir. While the dough is still hot but cool enough to handle, knead the dough for a few minutes until it becomes a smooth dough ball. Cover the dough with a damp paper towel while you set up your steamer.

I noticed that my bamboo steamer just barely fits into my rice cooker so I steamed them that way since I have two bamboo steamers so I could fit 12 dumplings per steam, instead of using the steamer rack that comes with the rice cooker.

TO ASSEMBLE

Roll dough into a long cylinder and either cut or tear off little 1-inch pieces and roll them into 3½-inch (diameter) circles. Place a little filling in the center and wrap dumplings. It’s difficult to explain how to wrap them and there are several ways to close dumplings. Do what works best for you or YouTube it.

Make sure that dumplings have an inch of expanding space during the cooking process. Steam for 10 minutes and serve with soy and chili sauces.

Cuttlefish Ink Risotto with Calamari, Tomato Concassé, Shichimi & Parsley

There was this dish at work that I wanted to eat but I never got the chance to have the entire dish because my days off are the same days when the restaurant is closed. So I kind of recreated it at home. It doesn’t have the sea urchin on it because I can’t splurge on a tray of fresh sea urchin on myself… with company yes but I would feel so gluttonous if I ate the entire tray alone.

I have some grated cheese in my seafood risottos. I don’t understand the taboo about not putting cheese with seafood. It works for me and I think it helps to bind the rice together.

Serves 2.

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[Calamari from Connecticut, Cuttlefish Ink from Spain]

For the Tomato Concassé

  • 2 onions, finely diced
  • 5 plum tomatoes
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
  • 3 thyme sprigs, picked without the thick stems
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

Boil a pot of water that can fit the tomatoes. Core out tomatoes and make an “X” with a paring knife on the top of each tomato. Have a bowl of ice water on hand. Once water is boiling, cook tomatoes for 30 seconds and immediately place in ice water.

Once tomatoes are cooled, remove from ice water bath and peel skin off. Remove seeds and insides of tomato. Dice tomato into small cubes and set aside.

In a sauté pan and on low-medium heat, add enough olive oil to coat the pan. Sweat the onions, tomatoes, garlic, thyme for 30 minutes. Season lightly with salt. Cool and set aside.

For the Calamari

  • 1 lb calamari, tubes and tentacles
  • Canola oil
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • Shichimi
  • Lemon juice

Clean/rinse the tubes and cut into thin strips. Save one third for garnishing and the rest for cooking within the risotto (below).

For the garnish, sauté/broil the calamari and season with salt, pepper, shichimi, and lemon juice. Keep warm and set aside.

For the Risotto

  • 1½ quarts fish stock
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • ¾ cup Arborio rice
  • ½ cup white wine
  • Reserved cut calamari strips and tentacles
  • 1 TBS cuttlefish ink
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  • Parmesan, for grating
  • Parsley, finely chopped

The fish stock should be hot/simmering before adding into the cooking pan for the risotto.

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 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. Add in two-thirds of the tomato concassé into the rice. Then add in the reserved calamari and season lightly with salt. When the calamari is cooked, add in the ink and fully incorporate ink into rice.

Before rice is finished and taken off heat, grate in some parmesan cheese and taste/adjust for seasoning.

TO ASSEMBLE

Scoop hot rice into bowl, garnish with sautéed/broiled calamari, remaining tomato concassé, and parsley.

Warm Pear Tart with Spiced Crème Chantilly

This was the final course to my 5-course Friendsgiving party for 6 people. When I was thinking about what to make, peaches were still in season. Then I’ve done apple tarts so many times already so I really didn’t want to make it again so I settled for pears! But once again, it looks and tasted amaaaazing!

Makes 8-inch tart.

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[100% organic]

For the Tart Shell

  • 100 g AP flour
  • 100 g cake flour
  • 100 g cold butter, small cubes
  • Pinch of salt
  • 40 g sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 TBS water, whisked

Preheat oven to 400°F. Sift both flours on work surface, mix sugar and salt into it. Using a bench scraper, cut with cold butter (sablay). Create a well, and add the egg-water. Working quickly, compress the dough using the palm of your hand piece by piece (fraisage). Form the dough flat and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.

Butter the tart mold and place in freezer.

For the Compote

  • 3 large Asian pears peeled and chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 50 g sugar
  • 30 g water

Add all the ingredients into a saucepan and cook on medium-low until slightly chunky and dry, approximately 10-15 minutes. Cool over ice.

For the Garnish

  • 2-3 Bosc pears
  • 50 g butter, melted

Peel pears and cut in half. Remove the seeds and cut the halved pears in half again. Mandolin them but not too thin and rub lemon juice over each slice.

Take the dough out of the fridge and brush off excess flour. Roll dough into a thin layer larger than the tart mold. Carefully place over tart mold and press into buttered mold.

Layer all of the cooled compote into the mold, tightly arrange mandolin pears over the top but do not hang over the edges. Brush melted butter over everything.

Bake for 10 minutes at 400°F, then turn temperate down to 350°F and continue baking for 50 minutes.

For the Finish

  • 150 g apricot juice
  • 30 g water
  • 20 g sugar

Mix together, reduce until thick, and brush on after tart is slightly cooled, out of oven.

For the Crème Chantilly

  • 300 mL heavy cream
  • 25 g confectioner’s sugar
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients into an iSi dispenser and charge twice. Place in refrigerator.

Serve whipped cream with slice of warm tart.