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


Plans for Thanksgiving 2015

It’s that time of year again! I already set on my menu this year; I just haven’t typed it out yet. And since I don’t want to go outside because it’s cold, and I have caught up with all my TV, I am going to write out all the recipes today.

This year, it’s going to be a small Friendsgiving because I’ll be hosting in my new apartment and my kitchen isn’t all that big. I don’t even own a gas oven so I have to make do with my tiny (but the largest that I could find) convection oven and my two-top gas stove. I bought a smoke gun and an iSi dispenser, so things should be interesting at home!

I originally had six courses but when I was writing up the recipes, I realized that the duck confit would take a lot of my time and that it didn’t really make much sense to have two soups on the menu.

Scallop Crudo
Shichimi, Shimeji, Haricots Verts Salad & Fennel Foam
1st Course

Glutinous Rice, Chinese Sausage, Dried Shiitake, Spiced Black Currant Ximénez Reduction
2nd Course

Shredded Duck Leg Confit
Cream of Mushroom and Chestnut, Crackling, Parsley Chips
3rd Course

Smoked Dry-Aged Duck Breast
Chinese Steamed Buns, Cucumber, Scallions, Cilantro, Tian Mian Sauce
4th Course

Warm Pear Tart
Spiced Crème Chantilly
5th Course

Kabocha Squash & Celeriac Bisque with Duck Fat Roasted Cashews

This was the second course to my 7-course Friendsgiving party for 8 people.

Every year around Thanksgiving time, the first thing that pops into my head is butternut squash soup but I’ve done so many variations of it that I don’t want to post yet another butternut soup on here. I felt that having a small liquid course was a nice way to open up a multi-course dinner without having an amuse or canapé. But then I got thinking that I don’t have any seafood dishes!!!! So that’s why the little scallop dish served as an opening appetizer.


Serves 8.

For the Soup

  • One 2-3 lbs kabocha squash
  • 1 large celery root bulb
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 2 TBS butter
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • ½ cup cream
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 450°F. Peel and remove seeds to squash and cut into 1-inch pieces. Peel celeriac and cut into 1-inch pieces. Toss squash and celeriac with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then spread in an even layer on a sheet pan. Bake in preheated oven until the vegetables are light brown and tender, approximately 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

While the vegetables are in the oven, in a large pot over low heat, sweat shallots, then add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the roasted vegetables and cinnamon. Stir and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add the chicken stock, apple cider, and thyme, then bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, blend soup until smooth. Add additional stock if needed, then add the cream and continue blending. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm for service.

For the Nuts & Garnish

  • 1 tart apple
  • Lemon, to rub on apple
  • 2 tsp duck fat, melted
  • ½ cup cashews
  • Pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Toss the nuts with duck fat and some salt. Spread onto a parchment lined sheet pan and bake for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until nuts just begin to golden.

Peel, core, and dice a tart apple. Rub some lemon on apples to delay oxidation.


In warmed soup bowls, ladle hot soup into the bowl. Garnish with apple dice and cashews. Or you may pour soup table-side.

Roasted Cauliflower & Snow Pea Shoots over Rainbow Quinoa

My Chef has asked me to come up with the new seasonal salad on the à-la-carte menu. Since our recent change to doing a 7-course tasting menu, we haven’t been selling a lot of salads because the seasonal salad used to be on the 5-course tasting menu. We used to offer a 5-course and 10-course tasting.

Keeping food cost in mind, I came up with a salad with what common ingredients we use in house. The salad in the restaurant is a little different from this one because I don’t have the ingredients/kitchen equipment at home but it’s pretty much the same. Instead of sautéed snow pea shoots, the restaurant’s version is mâche (lambs lettuce/corn salad) dressed in a smokey sherry vinaigrette. If I could, I would, but I don’t have the equipment to smoke oil in my apartment.

Serves 2.


[100% organic, except for snow pea shoots & paprika]

For the Cauliflower

  • ½ head cauliflower, stem and leaves removed
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

Remove florets to cauliflower and cut the big florets in half. Toss in olive oil and salt, and bake for 20-30 minutes in a preheated oven at 350°F, until some caramelization occurs.

Remove from oven and set aside.

For the Quinoa

  • ½ cup rainbow quinoa
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • Salt, to taste

Bring the quinoa and stock to a boil in a pot, reduce heat, cover with lid, and simmer until the germ has spiraled out from each grain, about 15-20 minutes. Season with salt to taste then set aside, keep warm, with the lid on.

For the Finish

  • Pine nuts, toasted
  • Snow pea shoots
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  • Hot Pimentón (paprika), for dusting

In a pan, sweat garlic with olive oil for 1 minute. Turn heat up and quickly sauté snow pea shoots, season with salt and set aside, drained on a paper towel.


In a pan, quickly reheat and sear roasted cauliflower then place in a large bowl with quinoa and pine nuts. Toss with olive oil and arrange on a plate. Place snow pea shoots on top and dust with a little hot Spanish Pimentón.

Cream of Pea Soup with Chorizo

I had some leftover frozen peas and I saw some fresh peas at the farmer’s market today so I decided to make some soup. This soup tastes great hot and cold. Now I have Katy Perry’s song stuck in my head.

[100% organic]

For the Pea Soup

  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 Idaho potatoes, roughly chopped in 2 cups water
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1¼ lbs fresh peas, shucked
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • ¼ cup crème fraîche
  • Salt & pepper

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil to medium heat. Add onions and garlic, add a little salt to draw out moisture. Sweat until soft and translucent. Then add in chopped potatoes along with the 2 cups of water and chicken stock and turn heat to high. Bring to a boil and bring down to a simmer on medium-low heat, continue to boil for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, turn heat to high and add in the peas. Cook until peas are soft.

Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth then add in crème fraîche and continuing blending. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Cool immediately to retain the bright green color.

For the Chorizo

  • 2-inch chorizo sausage, small cubes
  • 3 TBS olive oil

In a sauté pan over medium heat, heat olive oil until hot then add in cubed chorizo. Let the chorizo cook for a few minutes then turn off heat. Let the chorizo steep in the pan and then drain, reserve oil as well.

For the Croutons

  • 2 slices white bread
  • 2 TBS butter

Cut off the crust of the bread and then cut into small cubes. In a hot sauté pan, melt the butter and toss the cubed bread. Toss evenly until golden, drain on paper towels and set aside.

For the Finish

  • Cilantro leaves, as needed


For hot soup, heat the soup only until warm because too much heat will ruin the color. Pour soup into bowl and garnish with chorizo, croutons, chorizo oil, and cilantro leaves.

Watermelon Gazpacho with Shrimp, Masago & Basil Oil

When I had something similar to this at school as a canapé, I thought it was *SO* refreshing. It was a hot day and the cold sweet watermelon juice was just divine. And you know that I love anything with shrimp in it. At school, on top of the basil oil, there were also balsamic vinegar reduction and EVOO drizzled on top of the canapé shot.

Isn’t that plate just so cute?

[100% organic, shrimp from Thailand]

For the Watermelon

  • 2 cups watermelon, chopped
  • 3 tiger shrimp, deveined and shells removed
  • Salt & pepper
  • Olive oil

In a blender, liquefy the watermelon. Strain watermelon liquid and discard the watermelon pulp. Set aside.

Pan-sear the shrimp with a little olive oil and season gently with salt and black pepper. Drain on paper towels when done. Dice into small squares and set aside.

For the Basil Oil

  • 2 cups basil leaves, fully packed
  • 1 cup EVOO

Blanch the basil leaves and then dry them out on a sheet tray or paper towel or salad spinner. Put the leaves in a blender and the EVOO. Infuse for at least 30 minutes until ready to use.

For the Finish

  • 2 TBS masago
  • Basil oil, as needed
  • Basil leaves, thinly sliced

Pour watermelon juice into serving cups or bowls, sprinkle generously with diced shrimp, squirt a few drops of basil oil, and top with masago and freshly cut basil.

White Sangria

Hong Kong is in its rainy season and I hate it. I haven’t seen the sun in forever! It’s so humid and wet and depressing and it just keeps on raining and raining and thunder-storming and then more rain and rain and rain and rain and rain and rain……………….

So, I made this lovely pitcher of sangria blanca.

[100% organic]

  • 1 bottle of white wine, such as a Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio
  • 2 cups of freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 1 grapefruit, sliced
  • Natural cane sugar, to taste
  • 1 can of club soda or tonic water (optional)
  • Ice cubes (optional)

Add everything in a pitcher and stir well, except for the sugar. Add sugar to your tasting. Chill in the fridge for a few hours prior to serving. Add some club soda/tonic water and ice before serving, then drink away.

I don’t know if you can tell but it’s raining at the moment. So melancholy.