Duck Breast with Hakurei Turnip, Farro & Tart Cranberry Jus

This was the sixth course, and the last savory course, to my 7-course Friendsgiving party for 8 people.

I always struggle with the last savory course but I decided to keep it simple this time and it worked out to my advantage.

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Serves 8.

For the Duck Stock

  • 4 Peking ducks
  • Duck bones from the duck
  • Canola oil, as needed
  • 4 onions, chopped roughly
  • 4 large carrots, chopped roughly
  • 8 celery stalks, chopped roughly
  • 2 garlic heads, cut in half horizontally
  • 8 qts chicken stock
  • Loose bouquet garni
  • Mushroom trims, if available
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper

Butcher and quarter the duck. Manchonner the legs and score the breasts. Cut away and reserve as much fat as possible. Breakdown the carcass. Place legs and 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. Transfer browned bones and sautéed vegetables into a large stock pot. Add in chicken stock, bouquet garni, and mushroom trims and bring to a boil.

Once boiling, turn heat to a low simmer and reduce until there is one quart of liquid left.

Strain duck stock for making the cherry jus.

For the Cranberry Jus

  • 3 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 leeks, white parts only, sliced thinly
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 bottle fortified red wine, such as Port, Marsala, or Madeira
  • Reserved duck stock
  • 1 cup tart cranberries, plus some for garnish
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Butter, as needed

In a pan, sweat shallots, onions, and leeks in some butter. Then sauté carrots until golden brown. Add in fortified wine, raise heat to high, and bring to a boil. Lower heat to moderately high and simmer vigorously, uncovered, until the liquid has reduced by ⅔. Add reserved duck stock, cherries, and cinnamon stick then raise heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-high, and simmer until mixture is thick enough to lightly coat back of spoon, around 45 minutes. Pour through fine-mesh strainer into small, clean saucepan. Cover and keep warm.

For the Farro

  • 2 cups farro
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • Salt

Combine the farro, salt, and chicken stock in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the farro is tender, about 20-40 minutes. Taste often as it is cooking, you want it to be toothsome and retain some structure. Remove from heat, drain any excess liquid, and set aside. Reserve liquid for reheating.

For the Turnips

  • 1 lb Hakurei turnips
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

Sauté turnips until golden, set aside and keep warm.

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.

Flash heat the duck breasts in the hot oven for 1-2 minutes. Take it out and let it rest for a minute before you start slicing. Plate to your liking or in picture.

  1. Farro
  2. Turnips
  3. Duck Breast
  4. Cherry Jus

Duck with Seared Bok Choy, Wheatberries with Maitake Mushroom, Blueberry Reduction

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

I had originally planned for using farro instead of wheatberries but farro was sold out. I do like the chewiness of wheatberries compared to farro, however, I still think that farro would have been better for this dish.

Serves 6.

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[100% organic]

For the Duck

  • 3 Peking ducks
  • Duck bones from the duck
  • Canola oil, as needed
  • 3 onions, chopped roughly
  • 3 large carrots, chopped roughly
  • 5 celery stalks, chopped roughly
  • 1 garlic head, cut in half horizontally
  • 6 qts chicken stock
  • Bouquet garni in cheesecloth
  • Mushroom trims, if available
  • 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 for the sauce. Reserve duck legs in remaining liquid and keep warm.

For the Sauce

  • 4 TBS butter
  • 3 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 500mL bottle balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • ¾ cup honey
  • 1 bottle red verjus or red wine
  • Reserved duck braising liquid
  • Bouquet garni
  • Salt & pepper

Caramelize the honey. When the honey is bubbling and golden, add the balsamic vinegar to it. Add in chopped shallots and crushed garlic. Reduce until syrupy then add in the verjus and continue to reduce until syrupy again. Next add in the hot duck braising liquid. Add a loose bouquet garni and 1 cup of the blueberries, and reduce by two-thirds. Strain through a fine sieve. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add the remaining blueberries 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 Wheatberries

  • 1½ cups wheatberries
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 packets maitake mushrooms, base removed

Combine the wheatberries, salt, and chicken stock in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the wheatberries are tender, about 20-40 minutes. Taste often as it is cooking, you want it to be toothsome and retain some structure. Remove from heat, drain any excess liquid, and set aside. Reserve liquid for reheating.

Sweat onions and simultaneously sauté maitake mushrooms in another pan. Fold onions and mushrooms into wheatberries.

For the Finnish

  • 6 heads bok choy, halved lengthwise
  • Canola oil
  • Salt

In a very hot pan, sear bok choy. Season right after removing from heat.

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.

Flash heat the duck breasts in the hot oven for 3-5 minutes. Take it out and let it rest for a minute before you start slicing. Plate to your liking or in picture.

Risotto with Shrimp & Sea Beans

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

I absolutely LOVED this course because it was shrimp overload!

Serves 6.

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[100% organic]

For the Shrimp Stock

  • 2 lbs large Mayan shrimp/prawns, heads removed and shelled
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 TBS brandy
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 2 TBS tomato paste
  • 1 garlic head, cut horizontally
  • 2 tarragon sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 TBS black peppercorns
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 7 oz. diced tomatoes
  • Canola oil
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Peel shrimp and leave the tails intact. Place shrimp aside in the refrigerator.

In a Dutch oven or very large pot, heat canola oil until smoking hot. Add in shrimp heads and shells and develop a deep orange color, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Then sauté mirepoix (carrots, onions, celery) until there is some color. Add in tomato paste and cook it thoroughly. Flambé with brandy then deglaze with white wine.

Add in diced tomatoes, garlic head, tarragon, bay leaves, peppercorns, and thyme, along with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil then simmer for 1 hour. Strain and discard solids.

Reheat stock for risotto making.

For the Risotto

  • 2 onions, finely diced
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1½ cup Arborio rice
  • ¾ cup dry white wine
  • Shrimp stock from above, as needed
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup sea beans, lightly packed

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 mixture 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. 

Stir in sea beans and keep warm before serving.

For the Finish

  • Reserved shrimp
  • Salt
  • Canola oil
  • 1 handful sea beans
  • Tempura batter

In a large pan, sear shrimp with canola and salt. Keep warm and set aside.

Dip sea beans in tempura batter and fry lightly in a pot of oil.

TO ASSEMBLE

Spoon risotto in a bowl, place shrimp in center and top with tempura sea beans.

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Butternut Ginger Soup with Pistachio

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

For the taste of the soup, it all depends on your tolerance of the spiciness of ginger. I prefer using freshly pressed ginger than using ginger powder. I like the soup to have a kick at the end from the ginger.

Serves 6, with 2-3 more helpings.

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[100% organic]

For the Soup

  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • 2 large yellow onions, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 4 whole star anise
  • 1½ – 2 lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4-inch ginger root, peeled and juiced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1½ cups heavy cream

In a large pot, heat up olive oil and sweat onions until translucent. Add garlic and star anise and continue sweating for another minute. Add in chopped butternut squash, carrots, and celery and fill enough water to almost cover. Bring mixture up to a boil and down to a simmer. Cook for 45 minutes.

After 30 minutes, add in ginger juice. Taste, season, adjust for seasoning and continue cooking for the allotted time.

After 45 minutes, remove star anise from pot and turn off heat. Using an immersion blender, blend soup until smooth. Add in cream and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Keep warm before serving.

For the Garnish

  • 1 cup pistachios, ground

When grinding the pistachios, be careful not to over grind or else the oils from the nut will leech out and mixture will be wet.

TO ASSEMBLE

In warmed soup bowls, ladle hot soup into the bowl, then spoon 1 TBS of ground pistachios into the center. Or you may pour soup table-side.

Branzino over Roasted Parsnips & Quinoa with Chardonnay Foam Sauce, Lemon Ash

This third course took a long time to develop, like all the components tying together. I originally wanted to do some kind of a purée and have the fish rest on top of that but then I realized that I don’t have a starch dish for my 5-course dinner. I wanted to make farro again but Whole Foods was out of that, like completely empty in the bulk section!! I was then torn between couscous, rice pilaf, and quinoa. I opted for quinoa.

Serves 2.

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[100% organic]

For the Lemon Ash

  • 1 lemon, sliced and seeds removed

In the oven, incinerate one lemon at 500°F or under a broiler. Once cool, blend in a blender and pass through a fine strainer. Place in an airtight container and set aside.

For the Wine Foam

  • Half a bottle of Chardonnay
  • Aromatics – whole black peppercorns, parsley stems, tarragon sprigs, garlic, bay leaves, thyme sprigs
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup cream
  • Salt

The white wine used in this reduction should complement the fish. In a pan, reduce wine with aromatics until almost dry. Add in milk and cream and bring to a simmer. Simmer and infuse for 15 minutes. Strain and season.

Before serving, using an immersion blender, foam up sauce.

For the Parsnips

  • 4 thin parsnips
  • Olive oil
  • Thyme sprigs
  • Salt

Preheat oven at 400°F. Peel parsnips and cut into obliques. Place parsnips in a baking pan and season with olive oil, thyme sprigs, and salt. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes then unwrapped for another 10 minutes. When tender, set aside to cool.

For the Quinoa

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 onions
  • Parsley, finely chopped
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • Bouquet garni
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

The chicken stock sold in stores are usually lacking flavor so go ahead and make a reinforced chicken stock. Sweat one onion, thinly sliced, in a saucepan. Then add in chopped celery and carrots. Once a little caramelized, add in chicken stock and bouquet garni. Reduce by more than half, then strain and continue to reduce. Reduce until you have a little less than one cup.

Cook quinoa with two cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover with lid, and simmer until the grains are translucent and the germ has spiraled out from each grain, about 15 minutes. Once cooked, cool on a tray.

In a large pan, sweat the other onion, small dice, and then add in parsnips, quinoa, and reduced reinforced chicken stock. Heat through, adjust seasoning, add in chopped parsley, and keep warm.

For the Branzino

  • 4 branzino fillets, with skin
  • Butter
  • Thyme sprigs
  • Canola oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Season fish with salt and pepper. In a hot pan, coat the bottom with canola oil. Place fish fillets skin-side down and turn heat down to low. Add in a cube of butter and thyme sprigs. Wait until butter is bubbly, then baste flesh-side of the fish with a spoon. Once fish is white, not pink, turn off heat and quickly flip each fillet over and cook flesh-side for 3-seconds. Remove from pan and place on a wire-rack.

TO ASSEMBLE

Spoon quinoa parsnip mixture onto a plate, place branzino fillet on top. Spoon wine foam over fish and sprinkle with lemon ash.

Tiger Shrimp & Littleneck Clams with Sweet Corn, Tarragon, Parsley, Toasted Garlic Baguette

This was the dish that I didn’t want to let go since my original plans fell through. I love shrimp. I’m sure you already know that by now. Why is it that all the best sauces end up in little quantities? This sauce was SO, SO, SO, SOOOOO GOOD!

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[100% organic]

For the Sauce

  • Reserved shrimp shells
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • Bouquet garni, loose
  • 1 cup yellow sweet corn
  • Beurre manié
  • Cream, as needed
  • Tarragon, whole sprigs and leaves finely chopped
  • Parsley, stems reserved for stock and leaves finely chopped
  • Canola oil
  • (Optional: fish stock)

Peel, clean, devein shrimp but leave tail intact. Reserve shells for stock. Set aside and place back in fridge.

(Since this recipe only serves two, the shells from 10 shrimp is barely enough to make a nice stock. If you have reserved shells and heads in your freezer, use those or lobster scraps.)

In a hot pan, brown shrimp shells but be careful not to burn. Once shells are a nice deep orange color, sweat and then caramelize the mirepoix (onions, carrots, celery). Deglaze with wine and reduce until almost dry. Add fish stock and then enough water to cover and add in loose bouquet garni with a few tarragon sprigs. Simmer for 40 minutes.

Strain stock and transfer to a clean saucepan. Reduce by half and add in beurre manie bit by bit until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Add in yellow corn and cook until heated, 1-2 minutes. Add some cream to desired consistency, season and adjust seasoning. Keep warm.

For the Garlic Baguette

  • ¼ cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 garlic heads, minced
  • ¼ parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • Baguette
  • Salt

Mix the minced garlic and chopped parsley into the soft butter to make a paste. Season garlic butter paste.

Cut baguette diagonally, spread garlic butter, and toast in oven at 300°F until crispy.

For the Garniture

  • 10 tiger shrimp
  • 10 little neck clams
  • Aromatics
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Soak clams in salted water for 10 minutes. In a very hot pan, add clams, aromatics (garlic clove, parsley stems, whole black peppercorns, tarragon sprig), and wine. Cook until fully opened 3-5 minutes. Keep clams warm and in some of its cooking liquid.

Season shrimp with salt and black pepper and sear in a hot pan.

TO ASSEMBLE

At the very last moment, toss the chopped parsley and tarragon into the sauce. Arrange shrimp and clams in a bowl and spoon sauce over. Serve with toasted baguette slices.

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.