Avocado Pasta

Another Sunday has passed, another food party has ended.

Menu:

I wanted to make a simple and quick pasta for Sunday’s dinner party. There were 4 courses, as usual, and this was the third savory before dessert. My dinner parties always end up really late but last night we finished at 10:30pm. Or maybe I’m getting better with time management.

Serves 4.

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[100% organic]

For the Avocado Sauce

  • 2 large ripe Hass avocados, peeled and pitted
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley
  • Pinch of salt
  • A few turns of freshly ground black pepper

Blend avocado, lemon juice, garlic cloves, parsley, salt and pepper together in a food processor until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning. Set pesto aside in an air-tight container, with cling wrap directly on top to keep air out.

For the Finnish

  • Linguine
  • Pecorino Romano, for grating
  • Candied pecans
  • Sunflower sprouts
  • Olive oil

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add a few drops of oil to prevent sticking. Cook pasta until al dente.

Drain pasta and sprinkle with olive oil to prevent sticking. Plate pasta and scoop desired amount of sauce onto each plate. Toss to combine. Microplane cheese, add sunflower sprouts, and garnish with candied pecans. Serve immediately.

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.

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[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.

TO ASSEMBLE

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.

Pickled Vegetables with Winter Citrus, Warm Purple Potatoes & Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus

My plans fell through for this 5-course dinner with that someone someone but I didn’t want to scrap this 5-course dinner. I had half of the groceries already so I went ahead with the prepping. I invited a friend over instead. Why have all that food go to waste right?

I had most of my shopping done already and when I went to Whole Foods, they didn’t have beets nor farro. I had to come up with a new salad on the spot. I decided to do something simple since I still had to make 4 of the 5 courses.

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[100% organic]

For the Pickled Vegetables

  • 1 carrot
  • 2 daikon radishes
  • Pickled peanuts
  • ½ cup pear white wine vinegar
  • ½ cup pomegranate white wine vinegar
  • ½ cup sugar, divided in 2

Peel the carrot and using a peeler, continue to peel the carrot to make carrot ribbons. Bring the pomegranate white wine vinegar with equal parts of water and ¼ cup sugar to a boil. Once boiling, take off from heat and pour into a container with a lid. Add in the carrots ribbons and set aside at room temperature until cool then place in fridge.

Peel the daikon radishes and cut into obliques. Bring the pear white wine vinegar with equal parts of water and ¼ cup sugar to a boil. Once boiling, take off from heat and pour into a container with a lid. Add in the daikon and set aside at room temperature until cool then place in fridge.

For the Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus

  • One 15 oz. canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 TBS tahini
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 TBS lemon juice
  • ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Put all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until it forms a thick, smooth paste. Season it to your taste and set aside.

For the Blood Oranges & Vinaigrette

  • 2 blood oranges, suprêmed, juices reserved
  • Pomegranate white wine vinegar
  • 2 lemons, juiced, separated
  • EVOO
  • Salt, to taste

Suprême each orange and reserve juices for vinaigrette. Set suprêmes aside. After suprêming each orange, squeeze the core to get more juice. Strain juice before making vinaigrette.

Ratio: 1 part vinegar :: 2 parts juice :: 3 parts EVOO. Using an immersion blender, blend vinegar, juice, EVOO, and lemon juice from 1 lemon. Season with salt and white pepper, to taste. Before dressing, blend again.

For the Finish

  • 1 bunch watercress
  • 2 black radishes
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 10 small purple potatoes
  • Pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • Parsley, chopped
  • Aromatics
  • Butter
  • Salt

Clean and pick watercress. Using a mandolin, slice thin shavings of black radishes and place in ice water. Peel celery stalks and then using a peeler, make celery ribbons and place in ice water.

Boil and cook purple potatoes with aromatics and a pinch of salt. Once potatoes are cool enough to touch, peel them and cut into bite-sized pieces.

TO ASSEMBLE

Using a large spoon, spoon a good amount of hummus on a chilled plate and slide the spoon through it so it creates a streak. Place pickled vegetables on top of the streak, along with the orange segments.

Warm potatoes in a hot pan with butter, parsley, and salt, and place onto the plate.

In a mixing bowl, lightly dress watercress, celery ribbons, and black radishes. Carefully place greens on top and sprinkle pickled peanuts and toasted pumpkin seeds over everything.

Cauliflower Soup with Shimeji Mushrooms, Edamame, Haricots Verts & Celery Leaves

This was the second course to my 6-course New Year’s Day Dinner party for 8 people.

I loved the cauliflower soup so much at Jack’s Luxury Oyster Bar so I sought to recreate it for this holiday party. I poured the soup table-side. The soup was really delicious and I want to make it again!

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[100% organic]

For the Soup

  • 1 medium onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 cauliflower heads, green leaves removed
  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • Milk, to taste
  • EVOO, to taste
  • Salt & freshly ground white pepper

Break the cauliflower into small florets and set aside.

In a pot, sweat the onions on low heat in olive oil until translucent and soft. No coloration! Add the cauliflower and enough water to cover. Season to taste and bring to a boil then turn heat down to a low simmer. Cook until tender, about 20 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add milk and EVOO to adjust consistency then set aside and keep warm.

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For the Garniture

  • 2 packets of shimeji mushrooms
  • ¼ lb green beans, cut on the bias
  • ½ cup edamame, shelled and skinned
  • Celery leaves from 1 head of celery

In a pot of salted water, blanch the mushrooms then shock in ice water and drain, set aside.

The edamame is usually cooked so after shelling and skinning, blanch for 1 second and shock in ice water. Drain, set aside.

TO ASSEMBLE

Arrange the garniture evenly in eight bowls. Pour the cauliflower soup to cover garniture or table-side.

Beet Frisée Watercress Salad with Orange Suprêmes & Candied Zest

This was the first course to my 6-course New Year’s Day Dinner party for 8 people.

I have adapted Oceana‘s beet salad. I was very happy with this dish and at the same time, I found out that burnt candied orange zest goes so well as a garnish for a cocktail drink – Red Lion (Gin, Cointreau, orange juice, lemon juice, Grenadine).

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For the Beets & Purée

  • 8 large red beets
  • 1 garlic head, cut horizontally
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 TBS whole black peppercorns
  • 2 cups balsamic vinegar
  • Salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove beet greens and wash beets well. In a deep baking dish, place all ingredients in and a light sprinkle of salt. Bake until tender.

Peel beets while warm and cut each beet into 6 pieces. Save scraps for purée. Serving size per person is 5 beet pieces. Choose the nicest pieces for serving and reserve all other pieces for the purée. In a blender, purée all scraps and ugly pieces. You may have to add a few tablespoons of water. Season purée with salt, to taste. Set both purée and beet pieces aside.

For the Salad

  • 2 watercress bunches, picked
  • 1 frisée head, white and light green parts only

Pick and wash watercress and frisée. Set aside.

For the Suprêmes & Vinaigrette

  • 4 navel oranges, zested, suprêmed, juices reserved
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • EVOO
  • Salt, to taste
  • White pepper, to taste

4 navel orange suprêmes was divided exactly for 8 people’s salads. You may want to increase the number of oranges if you’re unfamiliar with suprêming.

Zest two of the oranges with a peeler. Julienne the zest and set aside.

Suprême each orange and reserve juices for vinaigrette. Set suprêmes aside. After suprêming each orange, squeeze the core to get more juice. Strain juice before making vinaigrette.

Ratio: 1 part vinegar :: 2 parts juice :: 3 parts EVOO. Using an immersion blender, blend vinegar, juice, EVOO, and lemon juice. Season with salt and white pepper, to taste. Before dressing, blend again.

For the Candied Zest

  • Orange zest from above
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • Water

Boil the zest three times, in cold water each time, for 5 minutes each time, changing the water each time.

In a shallow pot, add lemon juice, sugar, and enough water to cover orange zest and on low heat, cook until water has evaporated and mixture is bubbly. Be very careful not to burn because when you remove from the heat, the pot will continue to cook and sugar caramelizes fast.

When zest is still warm, remove each julienned zest from pot and place on parchment paper.

TO ASSEMBLE

Using a large spoon, spoon a good amount of beet purée on a chilled plate and slide the spoon through it so it creates a streak. Place 5 beet pieces on top of the streak, facing the same direction. Place 5 orange suprêmes beside each beet piece. In a large mixing bowl, dress watercress and frisée. Carefully place greens on top of beets. Place 5 candied zest pieces on top of salad, then serve.

Cauliflower-Kale Soup with Dill & Baby Taro

I was planning on posting several new projects during my week off but Hurricane Sandy ruined everything. There was no public transport for several days and once it resumed, it was only the buses and very limited service. NYC was cray-cray at the end of October. After Sandy hit NYC, two days later I went to Whole Foods and it was still pretty empty. I felt like I was part of a disaster film, before the end of the world… People were still in a frenzy, grabbing whatever they could get. It was unreal… One thing I did find amusing was that Hurricane Sandy made New Yorkers eat bread. Bread is perishable, why weren’t people fighting to buy the last box of cereal??

Luckily for me, I live in upper Manhattan so I had power for the entire time. Unfortunately, Degustation is in the East Village and power was finally restored on Friday November 2. But we bounced back and started serving everything on the menu two days later; that can’t be said for other restaurants!

In the restaurant, kale is featured in the seasonal salad. I have never liked eating kale so I was experimenting and it turned out great! However, I do like snacking on the mounds of kale chips that I make almost everyday. I would have loved to put a kale chip on this dish but I hate my oven…

[100% organic]

For the Soup

  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped
  • ½ cup dill, finely chopped
  • 5 large curly kale leaves, stems removed
  • 6 cups vegetable/chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

In a large pot, sweat the onions with olive oil and a pinch of salt. Once the onions are soft and translucent, add in the garlic and ¼ cup of dill and continue sweating for 2 minutes. Add in the chopped cauliflower, stems included. Add in the vegetable/chicken stock and enough water to cover. Bring mixture to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, until cauliflower is tender.

Remove the tough stems to the kale and roughly chop into strips. Add in the kale once cauliflower is tender and cook until kale is wilted and soft, 3-5 minutes. Add in the remaining ¼ cup of dill and simmer for 5 minutes. Using an immersion blender, blend until soup is smooth and no longer chunky. Season and taste for seasoning, then keep warm.

For the Taro

  • 4 baby taro, peeled

Boil a pot of salted water. Add in the taro once water is boiling and cook on medium-high heat for 10 minutes.

Remove from water and cut into obliques. Keep warm for soup garnish.

For the Finish

  • Dill sprigs
  • EVOO
  • (Kale chips)

Ladle soup into bowls, garnish with chopped taro and a dill sprig. If you have kale chips, use them! Drizzle EVOO and serve!

Virgin Mojito Granita

NEW POST!!! Finally! This weekend, I had time to make new things and update my food blog. Who knew that starting a new full-time job and moving apartments could make me so busy, so incredibly busy that I wouldn’t be able to do two of my favorite pastimes: grocery shopping + cooking. I am finally not living out of suitcases anymore.

I know this dessert is ideal for the summer time but I’ve been dying to try another flavor since making the raspberry granita in Boston. Nevertheless, it is refreshing and a great palate cleanser. This granita is both sweet and bitter at the same time – love!

[100% organic]

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 5 limes, zest and juiced
  • 1 cup packed mint leaves, torn
  • Mint sprigs, for garnish

Make syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat: combine water and sugar. Bring to a boil and carefully stir until sugar has dissolved. Add in torn mint leaves and steep for 15 minutes, covered. Strain in a bowl and cool over an ice bath.

Stir in lime juice and zest and pour mixture into a shallow pan and place in the freezer for 1 hour. Remove and scrape the crystallized lime-mint syrup from the sides of the pan and return to the freezer. Repeat this process every 45 minutes, until completely frozen or for about 4 hours.

Serve by fluffing the flakes with a fork and garnish with a mint sprig.