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.

Tuna Tartare with Pineapple Sauce

You know me, I love sashimi and any type of tartare. But I love this tartare recipe exceptionally well because of the pineapple sauce it pairs with it. I never got the recipe from Oceana directly but this is what I tasted when I had the pineapple sauce.

I served this as the appetizer to my 4-course dinner. I plated this as a smiley face.

[100% organic, wild tuna]

For the Garnish

  • 3 cucumbers, julienned
  • Salt
  • EVOO
  • Microgreens
  • 1 cup pineapple, small dice
  • 8 wonton wrappers
  • Sesame seeds, as needed
  • Olive oil

Preheat oven to 300°F. Cut the wonton wrappers in half diagonally and then again so you get four triangles from each piece. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Then sprinkle sesame seeds over wonton wrappers. Place in oven on a sheet tray for 4-6 minutes until crispy and golden brown. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack. Put in an airtight container and set aside.

Peel the cucumbers and on a mandolin, julienne the flesh parts only. Do not julienne the core or seeds. Place in a container and set aside in the fridge.

For the Tartare

  • 9 oz. tuna
  • 2 pineapples
  • 2 shallots, finely minced
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, finely sliced
  • ½ cup basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves, thinly sliced
  • 3 limes, juiced
  • Salt & black pepper
  • EVOO

Cut pineapples into small squares, reserve 1 cup for garnish. Reserve scraps, trimmings, and core for sauce and place in blender. Do not keep any flesh with the black bits.

Cut tuna into small dice and set aside, on an ice bath or in the fridge. The tuna and pineapple dice should be relatively similar in size and shape.

In a large mixing bowl, mix diced tuna, chopped pineapples, green chilis, basil, and cilantro. Do not season with salt nor add lime juice until ready to serve because the salt and lime juice will cook the fish. Set aside on an ice bath or place in the fridge.

For the Sauce

  • Pineapple scraps & trimmings
  • 1 tsp agar-agar
  • One 17 oz. sweet rice wine / mirin
  • Cayenne pepper

Place all non-black bits of pineapple scraps and trimmings in a blender, along with the agar-agar and rice wine. Blend until smooth. Pour everything into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add a dash of cayenne pepper. The sauce should be sweet but have a kick at the end. Do not strain the sauce and cool it down immediately.

*Inspired by Oceana.

TO ASSEMBLE

Season the tuna tartare with salt, pepper, lime juice, and EVOO. Mix well and using a 2-inch ring mold, spoon tuna tartare into the mold, on the plate, half way up and press down to firmly pack it in. Season the julienned cucumber with salt and EVOO. Twirl the julienned cucumbers and place on top of the tuna, in the mold. Spoon cold pineapple sauce onto the plate and garnish with 1 tsp pineapple dice and microgreens. Remove ring mold, place two wonton chips in tartare and serve.

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.

Remy’s Ratatouille

Ever since my mandolin arrived in the mail, I’ve been dying to use it and to make something spectacular. One of my really good friends came into town last week and he loves the movie Ratatouille.

Ok, since the movie is a “movie” and it’s Pixar, their ratatouille is PERFECT. See the bottom stack of sliced vegetables, that’s not possible!!!! How can sliced veggies sit on their sides??? Remy’s sauce is also prettier than mine because I don’t have the luxury of having fresh herbs like chervil and tarragon at my disposal. I’m one person at home. What am I supposed to do with the extra herbs??? But I’m still happy with what I came out with and my friend loved it!

******UPDATE SEPTEMBER 10, 2012, I FOUND OUT THE SECRET
about how to plate it as a perfect circle!!!!!******

[100% organic]

For the Sauce

  • One 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 large basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • Sprigs of thyme
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • Water, as needed

In a pan, film a thin coating of olive oil on medium-low heat. Sweat the onions until translucent. There should be no coloration. Then add in the garlic and continue sweating for 30 seconds. Add in the crushed tomatoes and water to thin out the tomatoes. Don’t add too much water or else it will take forever to reduce. Add in the herbs and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes.

Season and taste at the end. Strain through a coarse sieve and put into a clean saucepan. Keep pan warm.

For the Veggies

  • 1 zucchini
  • 2 yellow squash
  • 1 Chinese/graffiti eggplant
  • 4 plum tomatoes
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • Thyme sprigs, as needed
  • Basil leaves
  • Chives, for garnish
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Using a mandolin, slice zucchini and yellow squash to 1.5mm-2mm in thickness. Slice eggplant a little thicker than the zucchini and yellow squash. Peel off the skin to the tomatoes and slice them 2mm-2.5mm in thickness. Set sliced vegetables aside.

To assemble: in a round baking dish, ladle sauce on the bottom and in alternating colors/vegetables, arrange sliced vegetables lying down, over-lapping each other. Sprinkle chopped bell peppers in the center and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Ladle more sauce over everything and place some herbs (thyme sprigs and basil leaves) on top and then bake in oven for 20-30 minutes.

To plate: using a 2-in ring mold, carefully place stacked veggies in the ring mold and top with some sauce, along with the bell peppers. Garnish with chive sprig.

Quick Ratatouille

One of the best things that I’ve learned how to make in culinary school is ratatouille. But making Niçoise-Style Ratatouille takes too long, there’s so much more technique, ingredients, and steps to do. This quick version takes less prep and cooking time because the knife cut is smaller.

This recipe makes three ring molds like the picture below.

[100% organic]

  • ½ onion, very finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 4 plum tomatoes
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into tiny squares
  • 1 eggplant, cut into tiny squares
  • 1 zucchini, cut into tiny squares
  • Bouquet garni
  • EVOO, as needed
  • 3 basil leaves
  • Canola oil
  • Salt

Boil the tomatoes for 15 seconds in boiling water to remove the skin. Place in cold water with ice to stop the cooking process. Remove the skin with a pairing knife, cut the tomato in half (length-wise), then remove the seeds. Reserve those for later, and then finely chop the flesh. Strain the seeds and save the juice.

Place the eggplant in a colander and sprinkle lightly with salt. Let it disgorge while continuing with the recipe.

In a hot pan, add 1 TBS EVOO and sauté the red peppers. Season with salt and drain in a strainer. Repeat for zucchini and eggplant. Before sautéing the eggplant, squeeze out as much moisture as you can.

As the three vegetables are straining, heat 2 TBS EVOO in a pan. Sweat the onions for 5 minutes, until translucent, on low heat. Add in the minced garlic, cook until aromatic. Turn up the heat to medium and add the finely chopped tomatoes, season. Cook for a few minutes and then add in the remaining vegetables, along with the bouquet garni and strained tomato juices.

Cover with parchment paper and simmer gently for 30 minutes until all the moisture has evaporated. Adjust for seasoning.

Fry the basil leaves in canola oil. Place on paper towels and garnish when finish plating in ring molds.

Serve with baguette slices.

*Adapted from the French Culinary Institute.

Seafood Terrine

I’m glad my team is finally done with our charcuterie buffet. I was responsible for making the seafood sausage, seafood terrine, and pork buns. Originally, I was just going to make the seafood sausage but since there was so much of the mousseline/forcemeat, my chef instructor suggested that I make some terrines in addition to the sausages.

Don’t worry, I already cut down the recipe size. Makes 4-5 terrine molds.

[wild arctic char, flounder, scallops]

For the Garnish

  • ¼ lb shrimp
  • ¼ lb fresh scallops
  • ¼ lb arctic char fillets, skinless
  • 1 cup peeled pistachio nuts
  • 2 TBS chives, finely sliced
  • 2 TBS parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 TBS tarragon, finely chopped
  • 1 TBS chervil, finely chopped
  • 1 TBS basil, finely chiffonade
  • Salt, as needed
  • White pepper, as needed

Shell and devein shrimp. Then chop coarsely. Chop scallops and arctic char fillets. Put all seafood in a bowl and place in fridge.

Make sure than all the herbs are finely cut and chopped. Leave pistachios whole.

For the Mousseline

  • 2 lbs flounder/fluke fillets, skinless
  • ½ lb fresh scallops
  • ½ tsp ground white pepper
  • Up to 2 cups heavy cream, ice cold
  • 2 egg whites
  • ½ tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Chop/cube the scallops and the fish fillets then place in the freezer for 30-40 minutes.

Place in food processor with white pepper, salt, and egg whites. Pulse and continue to process by adding ice cold heavy cream slowly until desired consistency. Remove from food processor and place in large mixing bowl.

Fold in all the garnish, first seafood, then pistachios and herbs. Mix well.

Make test dumplings and adjust seasoning.

Line terrines or earthenware containers well with plastic wrap, making sure to allow for overhang, then pack terrines with mousseline. Close terrines with the overhanging plastic wrap and place in a double boiler in simmering water for 10 minutes. Then place in the oven, with the double boiler, for 15-20 minutes. The internal temperature of the terrines should be 145°F.

Remove from oven and take out of double boiler. Place on top of terrine another same-size terrine mold or a piece of wood or heavy cardboard cut to fit inside the mold that has been wrapped in plastic wrap. Put a 1-pound weight in the empty terrine mold or on top of the wood/cardboard. Chill terrine with weights for 24 hours to allow flavors to develop.

Slice them at least 1 cm thick.

This is the marble slab that I presented the seafood terrines on during the charcuterie buffet.

*Adapted from Fritz H. Sonnenschmidt’s “Charcuterie: Sausages, Pates and Accompaniments” and Chef Nicolay Yerofeyev from the French Culinary Institute.

Slow Roasted Vegetable Soup

I love this. Baking makes everything easier. You can do whatever you like, such as drinking wine, and come back to the kitchen to check up on the roasting and then just blend everything! This dish also makes your entire apartment smell good!

I was only going to include just the tomatoes and red bell peppers but they were too light and there was no starchy thing to incorporate everything together. So I added baked sweet potatoes and that was the perfect touch.

[100% organic]

  • 6 plum tomatoes
  • 2 large red bell peppers
  • 2 small sweet potatoes
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Butter, room temperature (enough to coat the oven dish)
  • Olive oil
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • Broth/water

Preheat oven to 325°F. Prepare the tomatoes by removing the skin: remove the core to all the tomatoes and make two perpendicular incisions on top of the tomatoes. Once the water boils, put the tomatoes in and cook for 30 seconds max. Immediately place in cold water with ice. Once the tomatoes are cool to touch, peel the skin and chop into quarters, length-wise.

Remove seeds and membranes to red bell peppers and slice into strips. Rub an ovenproof dish with butter. Place bell peppers and tomatoes in dish. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Scatter the basil leaves over the bell peppers and tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil, and then place in oven. Wash the sweet potatoes and wrap them in foil, put those in the oven too. Bake for 2 hours.

Remove vegetables from oven. Drain the tomatoes and bell peppers, set aside. Unwrap the sweet potatoes and peel the skin. Chop the sweet potatoes roughly and place in a pot. Chop the tomatoes and bell peppers and put those with the sweet potatoes. Add some broth (if available) or water to cover the vegetables. Once boiling, blend until smooth, then add heavy cream on low heat.

Serve immediately with toasted baguette slices and a salad.

*Click here to see it with shrimp.