Duck with Sweet & Sour Cherry Sauce and Potato Beet Salad

I love eating duck. It’s one of those meats that you have to cook right. In school, during level 6, I didn’t like cooking this dish because it originally had veal stock in it. Since I’m allergic to beef/veal, I couldn’t eat it. I could only nibble the ends of each breast. I remember storing all the ends in a quart container and then I devoured them after class. When you’re in saucier, you don’t have time to get family meal (on Thursdays and Saturdays).

When I was going grocery shopping for my ingredients, my family friends kept on asking where I would buy duck. WHOLE FOODS!!! WHOLE FOODS HAS EVERYTHING!!! That’s my answer to everything! *Ok, Whole Foods didn’t have the mixed colored fingerling potatoes that day so I had to substitute with regular fingerling potatoes.

I scaled down the recipe for the yield of one duck; one duck serves 4 portions. I made four times this recipe for the dinner party that I had yesterday.

[100% organic]

For the Duck

  • 1 Peking duckling
  • Duck bones from the duck
  • Canola oil, as needed
  • ½ onion, chopped roughly
  • ½ large carrot, chopped roughly
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped roughly
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • Bouquet garni in cheesecloth
  • Mushroom trims, if available (I used the trims from the stuffed eggs)
  • 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 1qt for the sauce. Reserve duck legs in remaining liquid and keep warm.

For the Sauce

  • 3 TBS butter
  • 2 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1¼ cups dried sour cherries
  • 1 cup fresh cherries, pitted
  • ¾ cup honey
  • 1 cup red verjus or red wine
  • 5 cups duck braising liquid
  • Bouquet garni
  • Salt & pepper

Caramelize the honey. When the honey is bubbling and golden, add the verjus to it. Add in chopped shallots and crushed garlic. Reduce until syrupy then add in the hot duck braising liquid. Add a loose bouquet garni and the dried sour cherries, and reduce by two-thirds. Strain through a fine sieve. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add the fresh cherries 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 Potato Beet Salad

  • 1 lb mixed colored Pee Wee potatoes
  • ½ lb baby yellow beets
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • Salt

In two separate pots, boil potatoes and beets in cold water. In the potatoes, do not season with salt. Add 1 bay leaf and 2 thyme sprigs. In the beets, season with some salt, and add 1 bay leaf and 2 thyme springs. For both of them, cook until tender.

Let potatoes and beets cool in their cooking liquid. Peel the beets when still warm and cut into small segments. Cut potatoes in half or thin rounds.

For the Herb Salad

  • ¼ cup parsley leaves
  • 10 chives, cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 1 head frisée, only white and light green parts
  • ¼ cup shallots, finely minced
  • Olive oil
  • EVOO
  • Salt & pepper

Frisée and herbs should be washed before cutting. Before serving, frisée should be kept in ice water and chives & parsley should be covered with a damp paper towel.

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.

In a salad spinner, dry the frisée leaves. In a pan, sweat the shallots in some olive oil then add cut potatoes and beets. Once warm, remove from heat. Add frisée and herbs to potatoes and beets. Season with salt & pepper, and EVOO.

Flash heat the duck breasts in the hot oven for 5 minutes. Take it out and let it rest for a minute before you start slicing. One portion includes: half a breast, either the leg or thigh, warm salad, and sauce. Plate to your liking or in picture (above).

Stuffed Eggs, Chimay-Style

Oeufs Farcis Chimay

Before coming to Boston, I was already “hired” to make a multi-course meal for my close family friends and family. I didn’t want to make any amuse bouche / canapés that they’ve all had or seen before because we all travel quite a lot and have eaten quite a smorgasbord of food. I didn’t think that they’ve had those stuffed eggs we made in school during level 2. I’ve made it before for my brother during Thanksgiving in Los Angeles and he couldn’t stop talking about it. I also couldn’t stop babbling about it, when I first made it in class, because I don’t like hard boiled eggs but I will eat an unlimited number of these stuffed eggs.

And of course, these eggs were a hit. I used 18 eggs for a party of 30 people. The eggs I made during Thanksgiving had bacon bits in them but these are just mushrooms so 100% vegetarian.

I peeled these mushrooms because having mushroom trimmings would reinforce the braising liquid needed for the braised duck legs.

[100% organic]

For the Mushroom Duxelles

  • ½ cup shallots, finely minced
  • 2½ cups mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 4 TBS butter
  • Lemon juice, as needed

Sweat the shallots for 5 minutes in the butter, there should be no coloration. Add the chopped mushrooms, season, and add a few drops of lemon juice to prevent oxidation. Cover with a lid and cook over medium heat until all moisture has evaporated. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl and keep warm.

For the Bechamel Sauce

  • 6⅓ cups milk
  • 6 TBS butter
  • 6 TBS flour
  • Salt & pepper

Bring the milk to a simmer in a saucepan. Melt the butter and cook the flour in a separate pan. Cook this mixture for 2-3 minutes, to get that raw flour flavor out. Add the simmering milk to the butter-flour mixture. Place back on stove and bring to a simmer. After the mixture has thickened, whisk for another 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Continue to cook at a low simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.

For the Eggs

  • 18 eggs
  • 3 TBS parsley, finely chopped

Place eggs in pot with just enough water to cover. Once boiling, simmer eggs for 10 minutes and then shock eggs in iced water, to stop the cooking process. The ice water bath also ensures that the dark green outline doesn’t form around the cooked egg yolk. When cool, peel eggs and hold them in cold water until needed.

Slice the eggs lengthwise and remove the yolks. Pass the yolks through a fine sieve and combine with the mushroom mixture. Add a small amount of béchamel sauce to the egg-mushroom-bacon mixture until it has the the desired consistency – don’t make this too thin.

Add the chopped parsley, and season to taste. Put the stuffing in a bowl and cover until needed.

For the Mornay Sauce

  • Béchamel sauce
  • ⅔ cup Gruyère cheese, grated
  • 3 yolks
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
  • Dash of freshly ground nutmeg

Bring the remaining béchamel sauce to a boil and gently add the grated cheese. Whisk until the cheese melts and then remove from heat.

Place the egg yolks in a bowl and stir in several tablespoons of the béchamel sauce to temper yolk. Add the tempered mixture back to the sauce and season with salt, cayenne, and nutmeg. Strain the sauce through a fine chinois and keep warm for later.

For the Finnish

  • 2 TBS parsley, finely chopped
  • Gruyère cheese, as needed

Fill in hollowed egg whites with stuffing, via a piping bag, and make sure to top into a smooth mound. Place the eggs on an oven-proof dish.

TO ASSEMBLE

Nap eggs with the Mornay sauce, and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Place them in a preheated 300°F oven for 10 minutes or until cheese melts. Then slide them under a broiler for 1-2 minutes.

Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.

*Adapted from the French Culinary Institute.

Braised Hake with Mussels & Saffron Potatoes on Rapini Leaves

I am so busy now that I literally have no time to blog nor cook at home. Making udon noodles with miso soup doesn’t count as “cooking”. I haven’t been grocery shopping in two weeks (I usually went 2-3 times a week) and I haven’t been spending time at home that much either. I only come home to sleep and shower. Oh my god. I want a two-day weekend again! I now always look forward to Sundays because that’s my only day off from everything.

June seems to be everyone’s busy + very stressful month. I have a lot of things going on simultaneously (work, internship, school, moving, and looking for other jobs). For now, I’m going to try and post something new every Sunday because that’s the only day that I have to myself. When school is over, I think I’ll get more time again. Six more class days, then my final exam in culinary school, then graduation, then OVER!!!! I can’t wait to finish school.

I wanted to recreate the braised cod at home but:

  • Whole Foods Market (UWS) didn’t have cod today
  • I didn’t want to buy one link of chorizo
  • My kitchen isn’t very equipped, compared to school
  • Why are clams so much more expensive than mussels? Clams in Hong Kong are dirt cheap and there are hundreds of varieties. However, there are no fresh mussels in Hong Kong.

The only thing that I liked from the school’s dish is the use of saffron in the potatoes because it brings a bright neon yellow to the finished dish.

*I used the leftover potato scraps and mussel liquor to make extra flavorful clam chowder.

[100% organic, wild hake]

For the Mussel Liquor Braising Liquid

  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 lbs mussels
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • A few springs of thyme
  • A few stems of parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • Olive oil

*If making fresh chicken stock, take 4 cups/1 quart out and keep warm. Refrigerate the rest.

Warm up chicken stock and set aside. Wash mussels well, soak in salted water for 15 minutes, rinse and drain well. Remove beards.

Heat up a sauteuse, do not add any oil at first. Once it is very hot, add in the mussels and garlic. Toss for a few seconds. Add in a few splashes of olive oil then add in the herbs and pour in the dry white wine. Do not season with salt or pepper.

Continue to toss/shake the pan with the lid on and allow mussels to steam for 7 minutes. Remove from heat and strain through a colander. Remove mussels from their shells, saving 4 shells. Strain mussel liquor through a fine chinois and add that to the warmed chicken stock. This mixture of mussel liquor and chicken stock is the braising liquid for the fish and seasoning liquid for the potatoes and rapini.

For the Potatoes

  • 2 Yukon Gold potatoes
  • Small pinch of saffron
  • Water, as needed

Peel, then cut potatoes into small squares and put them into a small pot with a small pinch of saffron. Pour water so that water covers potatoes completely.

Boil potatoes under tender. Since potatoes are so small, cooking takes a short time. Do not overcook potatoes. Set aside.

For the Fish & Broccoli Rabé

  • 4 hake fillets, skinless (the thicker parts/not tail portions)
  • 4 cups broccoli rabé leaves, packed
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Parsley leaves, thinly sliced
  • Reserved braising liquid
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper

In a pot of salted water, blanch broccoli rabé leaves and then plunge into iced water with ice. Squeeze out excess water from leaves and set aside.

TO ASSEMBLE

In a sauteuse, pour in half of the braising liquid and bring to a low simmer. Season hake fillets with salt and freshly ground black pepper on both sides. Braise fish until done. Time will vary depending on thickness of fish. In a small pan, sauté minced garlic with broccoli rabé leaves. Moisten with some braising liquid. In another pan, add in saffron potatoes with the saffron water, mussels, 4 shells, and some braising liquid. Heat until simmering.

Plate broccoli rabé in a bowl, creating a bed, then place hake on top of broccoli rabé leaves. Carefully pour saffron potatoes and mussels over fish. Garnish with parsley and one mussel sitting in its shell on top of the fish.

*Adapted from The French Culinary Institute.

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.

Fettuccine in a Lemon Garlic Sauce with Asparagus & Fava Beans

Having a dish with no meat, this recipe took me foreverrrrrr – mainly because I made chicken stock from scratch.

I really enjoyed making Pasta alla Chitarra with Morels, Peas & Asparagus in class (garde manger) because the sauce is something that I’ve never done before. First of all, it’s not tomato-based. Second, the pasta is so refreshing!! And third, I am a pro at making the pasta noodles with the chitarra now. It took me 2 minutes to figure out the secret!

If I had a pasta machine and a chitarra, I would make my own pasta noodles.

[100% organic]

For the Brown Chicken Stock

  • 2 lbs poultry bones
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • 1 leek, white & pale green parts only, roughly sliced
  • 1 TBS tomato paste
  • Bouquet garni – ½ head garlic, 1 TBS whole black peppercorns, few parsley stems, few thyme sprigs
  • Canola oil

Preheat oven to 500°F. Trim the bones of fat and skin, then rinse the bones under cold running water. Roast bones with drizzle of canola oil in preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until bones are golden. When bones are done, degrease by straining and let the oil drip for a few minutes while you do something else.

In a stockpot, place the roasted bones and a little of canola oil over medium heat. Add in the onions, carrots, celery, and leeks. Sauté until a little bit of color is reached and then add in the 1 TBS tomato paste. Cook the tomato paste before adding enough cold water to cover the pot. Bring the pot to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Add in bouquet garni and then simmer for 2 hours.

Strain the stock and transfer to a clean pot. Reduce the stock by a quarter, or until chicken stock becomes gelatinous. Cool in an ice bath. Refrigerate if not using immediately.

For the Sauce

  • 1 qt reduced chicken stock
  • 6 garlic heads, peeled
  • 6 lemons, zested (save 1-2 lemons)
  • EVOO
  • Canola oil
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Using a vegetable peeler, zest the lemons. Be careful not to peel the pith of the lemon or else your sauce will be bitter. Blanch the lemon zest 3 times: boil in cold water, strain, boil in cold water, strain, boil in cold water, strain, and set aside.

After peeling all the cloves, degerm the garlic by remove any green parts. Blanch them in cold water, 3 times, too. In a clean pot over low-medium heat, confit the garlic by adding equal parts of canola oil and EVOO, and then cook until tender and sweet, 10-15 minutes.

Purée the chicken stock, garlic, and zest in a blender. Season with salt and black pepper, and taste. Sauce should be bright and garlicky. Set aside.

For the Finish

  • Fettuccine, as needed
  • 1 lb fresh fava beans
  • ½ lb asparagus
  • Tarragon leaves, as needed
  • Parmesan, grated
  • Salt
  • Canola oil

Boil a large pot of salted water.

Remove fava beans from pods and then set aside. Cut off 1-2 inches from the bottom of the asparagus and peel the asparagus one inch from the bottom of the head. Cook the asparagus whole before cutting them. In the salted boiling water, cook the asparagus for 2-3 minutes. Immediately shock in cold water and ice. Once asparagus is cold, cut asparagus on the bias and set aside. Boil the fava beans for 3-5 minutes and shock in cold water and ice. Shell the fava beans and set aside.

TO ASSEMBLE

Reheat ½ cup of sauce, taste and season with salt and pepper. Squeeze a bit of lemon over the sauce and add some asparagus and fava beans, then toss in sauce. Cook pasta until al dente, drain well, and add to sauce. Toss to coat pasta to allow the flavors to blend. If sauce is too thick, add a little bit of heated reduced chicken stock. Add some tarragon leaves and grated parmesan. Plate pasta in a warm bowl and garnish with more grated parmesan.

Braised Artichoke Heart & Lobster Fennel Salad with Caponata, Basil Oil and Vinaigrette

I really like the presentation of this dish in level 6 garde manger. But I don’t like rushing the presentation of this plate because I’m such a perfectionist. I mean, the plate is a cold appetizer; why can’t we make it ahead of time and add the lobster and the arugula garnish at the pickup?

*School has been out of chervil (since last Saturday, WTF) so I had to garnish it with the top of an arugula leaf.

There’s caponata under the lobster too.

Salted Cod Salad with Oranges, Cilantro & Pork Skin Crackling over Toasted Potato Bread

Yesterday night was my last class day doing canapés. The proteins given to my partner and I was salted cod. It was the same cod that we filleted last Saturday. The concept was first conceived as a potato cod salad and then we decided to add some hints of ceviche flavors and serve it over toasted bread.

With the salad, we diced Yukon Gold potatoes and Granny Smith apples. We also added an ear of sweet corn, drizzled some lime juice and finely chopped cilantro. We poached the salted cod in milk and then flaked them into smaller pieces. At school, we have a bread kitchen and there’s always a bunch of different breads lying around. We decided to go with the potato bread. Anyway, the finished product:

Our canapés were popular among our classmates too!