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.

dscn2724

[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.

Advertisements

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

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.

DSCN2584b

[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.

Cockles with Wilted Baby Spinach in a Scallion Thyme Broth

I have the biggest news! My friend told me that there is a freaking seafood market near me, called Dorian’s Seafood Market! It’s just a few blocks away from me and OMG, I went there this morning and I’m so exhilarated! I finally have somewhere to shop for real, fresh seafood. Not like the “plastic” crap they sell at Whole Foods here in NYC. I don’t have to venture to lower Manhattan to Chinatown to get seafood anymore. Plus, the quality of seafood at Dorian’s is much better (and safer) than what gets sold in Chinatown. However, if I want live shrimp and live crab, I’ll still have to get it from Chinatown.

It is 22°C in NYC right now and it’s December 24. I’m thankful that it’s not winter nor snowing because I don’t like that. It’s wonderful, this Xmas Eve.

Serves 1.

DSCN2578b

[Cockles farmed from New Zealand]

  • 1 TBS butter
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 4 scallions, sliced thinly
  • 2 lbs cockles
  • ½ cup white wine
  • Handful baby spinach
  • 1 TBS parsley, finely minced
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Soak the cockles in salted cold water for 20 minutes.

In a pan, melt the butter and sweat the garlic, thyme, and scallions. Turn the heat to high and add the cockles and white wine. Toss and shake the pan. Close the lid and cook for 7 minutes. Before the cockles are ready, add in the spinach and parsley. Throw away any unopened cockles.

Serve with toasted bread.

Smoked Dry-Aged Duck Breast, served with Chinese Steamed Buns, Cucumber, Scallions, Cilantro, and Tian Mian Sauce

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

This year I decided to serve the last savory course family-style! And it turned out so great!!!! I would have been happy if this was the only course served because it’s that amazing!!!

Serves 6.

DSCN2567

[100% organic]

For the Duck

  • 3 ducks (legs used in previous course)
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper

Remove the backbone and have the ducks lying open with breasts up on a wire rack over a sheet tray. Place in fridge and dry-age for 2 weeks.

After two weeks, butcher duck breasts off and score them. Season duck breasts with salt & pepper, turn heat to the lowest setting 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 few minutes, pour away rendered fat. After 10 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.

Using a smoke gun, place duck breasts in a single layer in a glass dish and wrap in plastic. Smoke duck for 10 minutes.

In a pre-heated oven of 500°F, flash heat duck breasts for 1 minute, allow to rest, then slice and serve.

For the Accoutrements

  • Steamed buns (I used 2 packs of 15 for six people)
  • 12 Persian cucumbers, cored and julienned
  • Scallions, julienned
  • Micro cilantro
  • Tian Mian 甜面酱/sweet bean sauce (needs to get sautéed with oil, then cooked with some water for consistency, and salt/sugar for taste)

Shredded Duck Leg Confit in Cream of Mushroom and Chestnut with Crackling & Parsley Chips

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

Last year’s roasted duck legs didn’t turn out so well and I didn’t want to braise them again so I took the classic, ambitious French-route this year, which is why I had to cut a course out because it was too overwhelming for my tiny studio kitchen. It also made sense because why have two soups?

Serves 6.

DSCN2549

[100% organic]

For the Confit

  • 6 legs from 3 ducks, Frenched
  • 2 cups salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 garlic head, minced
  • 12 bay leaves, crushed
  • 12 thyme sprigs, picked and crushed
  • 3 TBS black peppercorns, cracked
  • 2 quarts rendered duck fat

Sprinkle a shallow layer of salt and sugar into a shallow glass/plastic container. Scatter with half the garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and peppercorns over the salt/sugar and lay duck legs on top in a single layer. Scatter over remaining herbs, spices, salt, and sugar. Wrap/cover and refrigerate duck for 1-2 days.

After 24-28 hours, pre-heat oven to 225°F. Remove duck from cure mixture and rinse salt off. Pat dry duck and place in a single layer in an oven-proof baking dish. In a saucepan, gently warm fat until just melted. Cover duck completely with melted fat.

Cook in oven very slowly – you should only see a small bubble every now and then – until the meat is tender and ready to fall off the bone. Approximately 2-4 hours. If the duck seems to be cooking too quickly, or the fat begins to simmer, reduce temperature to 200°F.

When the duck is ready, remove from oven and cool in the fat. Once cool, peel skin off and reserve for cracklings. Using your fingers, shred duck meat and store them in the fat. Duck should be completely submerged.

This entire process can be done in advance because the duck submerged in its own fat can store for several weeks.

For the Duck Skin Cracklings

Under a broiler, crisp up reserved duck leg skin from confit process. Season with salt. For extra crispiness, place in a dehydrator.

For the Cream of Mushroom & Chestnut

  • Butter, as needed
  • 6 leeks, white & pale green parts only, sliced
  • 3 quarts packed mixed mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 lb roasted chestnuts, cut
  • Chicken stock, as needed
  • ¼ lb AP flour
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper

In a pan, sauté mushrooms to get color and aroma. In a saucepan, sweat leeks with butter and add the sautéed mushrooms and roasted chestnuts. Add enough chicken stock to cover. Season and bring to a boil. Turn heat down for simmering. Cook for 15 minutes.

In a separate pot, make a blond roux using ¼ lb butter and ¼ lb AP flour. Scoop away little by little of roux and put it in the saucepan until desired consistency and thickness. Add the heavy cream and adjust for seasoning.

For the Finish

  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 4 flat-leaf parsley sprigs
  • Salt

Pick parsley leaves and set aside.

Fit a medium saucepan (with thermometer) and pour in oil to measure 1”. Heat over medium-high until thermometer is at 350°F. Fry until parsley is translucent, about 15 seconds. Season with salt.

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

TO ASSEMBLE

Scoop soup in bowl, place a large ball of shredded duck confit in the center, garnish with skin cracklings and fried parsley. Serve with toasted bread.

Quail with Glutinous Rice, Chinese Sausage, Dried Shiitake & Spiced Black Currant Ximénez Reduction

This was the second course to my 5-course Friendsgiving party for 6 people. I decided to go with two quails per person again. They’re such tiny birds and one per person is just not enough because Thanksgiving is all about being gluttonous, right? Also, I was going to stuff the quail but I allowed the quails to rest too long after being seared so it was impossible to open them. Don’t make my mistake!

Serves 6.

DSCN2543

[100% organic]

For the Brine

  • 1 cup salt
  • 4 quarts water
  • 8 bay leaves
  • ¼ cup black peppercorns
  • 12 quails

Bring everything to a boil and cool down immediately. Using a cake tester or sharp paring knife, stab quails, then submerge quails in this brine for 6 hours in the fridge.

Once the 6 hours are up, drain and pat dry.

For the Sauce

  • 2 cups black currant juice
  • 2 TBS brown sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 bottle of Montegrato Pedro Ximénez vinegar

Reduce all ingredients nine-tenths of the way. Take out spices. Allow to cool and place in a squeeze bottle.

For the Stuffing

  • 2 cups glutinous rice (ratio: 2½ cups water)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-inch ginger, peeled and minced
  • 3 Chinese sausages, cubed
  • 6 dried shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted, diced
  • 1 TBS brown sugar
  • Salt, as needed
  • Soy sauce, as needed
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced

Cook rice in rice cooker.

Sauté garlic, ginger, and scallions with sausages and mushrooms. Add brown sugar, and season with salt. Turn off heat and add in cooked rice. Add soy sauce and taste for seasoning. Keep rice stuffing warm in rice cooker.

For the Quail

  • 12 brined quail
  • Salt, as needed
  • Oil, for searing
  • Black currant juice, reduced
  • Celery ribbons (I forgot)

Once the quails are patted dry, sear quail well on both sides for color. Stuff the quail and finish in the oven at 450°F. Glaze quails with reduced black currant juice. Peel celery ribbons in iced water and set aside.

TO ASSEMBLE

Squeeze sauce on plate, prop 2 stuffed quails on celery ribbons, and squeeze more sauce over quail. Garnish with micro greens.