Triple Layered Chocolate Tart with Raspberry Sorbet, Pistachio & Sea Salt

This was the final course to my 6-course Friendsgiving party for 3 people.

It sounds decadent and it is but it was not overwhelming! I totally got seconds!

Makes a 9-inch tart.

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[100% organic]

For the Sorbet

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 6 cups raspberries
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Make simple syrup with the sugar and water.

Place the raspberries and lemon juice in a food processor and process until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh chinois and discard the solids.

Whisk the simple syrup into the raspberry purée. Cover and refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour.

Whisk the raspberry mixture to recombine. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

For the Chocolate Tart

Chocolate Base

  • 250 g chocolate cookies, or similar
  • 60 g butter, melted

In a food processor, pulse the cookies into crumbs and press into an oiled/buttered tart pan. Place in fridge to set for at least 30 minutes.

Chocolate Filling

  • 250 g dark chocolate, at least 70% cocoa
  • 350 mL heavy cream (almost 1½ cups)
  • 75 g sugar
  • 2 TBS honey
  • 2 TBS rum

Place the cream, sugar, and honey in a saucepan over low heat and bring to a boil. Add rum then remove from heat.

Meanwhile, break the chocolate into a large heatproof bowl. Pour the cream mixture over the chocolate pieces and whisk until smooth. Allow to cool to 86°F.

Pour the chocolate filling over the cookie crumb base and return to the fridge to set for at least 2 hours.

Chocolate Glaze

  • 63 g water
  • 88 g sugar
  • 63 mL heavy cream
  • 28 g cocoa powder
  • 1¼ gelatin leaves
  • 20 g dark chocolate, chopped

Pour the water and sugar into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the cream and cocoa and simmer for 5 minutes. While the sauce is simmering, bloom the gelatin into a bowl of cold, iced water then squeeze out any excess water when soft.

Remove the saucepan from the heat, whisk in the chocolate and bloomed gelatin and strain through a fine sieve. Leave to cool to about 86°F, stirring occasionally.

Carefully pour the cooled glaze over the tart and return to the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

For the Finish

  • Ground pistachio
  • Flakey sea salt

TO ASSEMBLE

Slice tart with hot knife, quenelle sorbet over bed of ground pistachios. Garnish with crushed flakey sea salt.

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Lemon Tart

Since last Thanksgiving, I’ve been making this tart about every two weeks. That’s much more frequently than before when I would just make it once or twice a year. I have definitely been eating a lot more desserts, that is at home or outside in restaurants. I’ve been making a lot more ice-creams too.

Makes 8-inch tart.

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[100% organic]

For Pâte Sablée (Short Bread dough)

  • 150 g butter (softened to room temperature)
  • 90 g powdered sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 255 g cake flour (sifted)
  • 1-2 TBS cold water (optional)
  • Butter, as needed, for tart pan

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Using a rubber spatula or spoon, flatten out butter and powdered sugar. Add yolk one by one and then add sifted cake flour. If you don’t have cake flour, substitute with pastry/AP flour (for every 1 cup of pastry/AP flour, remove 1 TBS of it and add 1 TBS cornstarch). Mix slowly to combine. If dry, add the cold water. Form into a ball and flatten it, wrap with plastic and place in refrigerator until firm.

Butter the tart pan and put in freezer.

In between two sheets of parchment paper/plastic wrap/SilPats, roll dough to 1/16 inch. Carefully place into buttered pan, press into place and roll over the top of the pan to remove excess hanging dough. Using a fork, puncture tart shell with holes. Blind bake with weights for 20 minutes. Remove weights and continue baking until golden.

Reserve shell at room temperature before pouring in the tart filling. Lower oven to 300°F.

For the Tart Filling

  • Pinch of flour
  • Butter, as needed
  • 5 eggs
  • 6 lemons: zested, and 150 g juice
  • 200 g granulated sugar
  • 150 g heavy cream

Zest lemons and mix the juices together. Infuse for as long as possible.

In a bowl, add the eggs and sugar. Whisk until fully incorporated. Add cream, mix lightly and continue to whisk. Stir in lemon juice, zest, and pinch of flour. Skim the foam off. Strain before putting it into the cooled pastry shell.

Bake 25-30 minutes. When removing from oven, the custard should jiggle. Cool on wire rack and serve with fresh berries and whipped cream.

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.

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[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.

Roasted Spiced Duck Leg & Thigh with Butternut Squash Purée

This was the fifth course to my 7-course Friendsgiving party for 8 people.

I usually serve the legs and breast of the duck together in one composed dish but this time I decided to separate them into two separate courses!

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Serves 8.

For the Marinade

  • 2 bottles red wine
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ cup rosemary, chopped
  • 8 crushed juniper berries
  • 8 star anise
  • 4 bay leaves, crushed
  • 8 duck legs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a small bowl, combine all spices.

Wash and pat dry the skin of the duck leg with a kitchen towel. Using a cake tester or fork, prick tiny holes all over the skin. Rub spice mixture onto skin side of each leg.

Pour the wine into a large mixing bowl and add the legs and stir. Cover with plastic wrap, put in the fridge, and leave to marinate for 3-4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

Remove the legs from the marinade. Pat dry with paper towels to clean off spices. Place on a wire rack on a roasting tray and cook in the middle of the oven for 1 hour or so, depending on the size of the duck legs, basting frequently with pan juices.

For the Purée

  • 1 lb butternut squash, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 small onion, sliced into 8-wedges
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 star anise
  • ½ tsp cardamom seeds, crushed
  • 150 mL/5 oz. cream
  • 1 TBS fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 TBS vegetable oil
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper

Place the cream in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat, stir in cinnamon stick, anise, cardamom seeds, cover, and set aside for at least 1 hour.

Place the butternut squash and onion in a large bowl. Add 1 TBS of oil and toss well to coat. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the tossed squash and onion on it. Roast until the vegetables are fork-tender, about 15-20 minutes.

Remove the squash and onion from the oven and place into a blender. Strain the cream mixture through a chinois over a small bowl. Pour the strained cream into blender, add 1 TBS of lemon juice, season with salt, black pepper, and paprika. Blend until smooth.

TO ASSEMBLE

Remove the duck legs from the oven, cover with foil, and rest for 10 minutes.

Spoon the purée into the center of warmed plates and top with the roasted duck legs. Drizzle with pan juices and serve.

Lemon Saffron Risotto with Mussels

This is a very much long over due post! Wow, this month flew by! I’m not really surprised though because July always goes by so fast for me since it’s my birth month and it’s a constant reminder that I am at the third week of my new age…

I thought work would die down but it hasn’t and I am constantly so very tired and stressed. Not having my usual two consecutive days off contribute to my being tired all the time; my days off are split. I miss my Sunday food parties… I haven’t had the time nor energy to hold house parties since May!! But I insisted to myself that I post something for July because August is right around the corner… and not updating my blog is not an option!

The lightness of the lemon flavoring definitely balanced out the heaviness of the saffron!

Serves 4.

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[100% organic, wild mussels from Canada]

For the Mussels

  • 2 lbs mussels
  • 1 TBS butter
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 3 shallots, finely minced
  • 1 garlic head, cut in half horizontally
  • Parsley stems
  • 1 TBS black whole peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • Pinch of salt

Clean, scrub, and soak mussels in salted cold water for 15 minutes. De-beard mussels.

In a pan on medium low heat, melt butter with olive oil. Sweat shallots with a pinch of salt. Turn up the heat to medium and add in aromatics (garlic, parsley stems, peppercorns, bay leaf) and sweat for 1 minute. Turn heat to high and add in mussels. Cover the pan with a lid and shake the pan over the heat vigorously. Add in white wine and simmer until mussels open up, 3-4 minutes. Mussels will be halfway cooked. You will finish cooking the mussels in the risotto.

Strain the mussel liquor and set aside. Remove each mussel from its shell and set aside, either over ice or in the refrigerator. Discard shells, unless you want to plate mussels in their shells.

For the Risotto

  • 3 TBS butter
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • Reserved mussel liquor
  • Large pinch of saffron
  • 2 qts vegetable stock
  • 4 lemons, juiced and zested
  • 1 cup packed parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • Reserved mussels
  • Salt
  • (Optional: grated Pecorino Romano)

Heat up vegetable stock in a saucepan and keep hot.

In a pan, melt the butter on a low heat. Add in the diced onion and sweat until soft. Stir in the rice and make sure the butter fully coats each grain of rice and cook until the ends of the rice are transparent, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Then add in the mussel liquor and saffron, and cook until completely absorbed.

Add 1 cup of the hot broth and simmer, stirring frequently, until all the liquid has been absorbed, and the bottom of the pan is almost dry. Adding 1 cup broth 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 short of al dente, about 15-20 minutes.

Before the last addition of stock, fold in reserved mussels, lemon juice, lemon zest, and half of the chopped parsley.

Season and taste to adjust seasoning. I like to fold in finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese into my risottos so I rarely have to season with any salt since the cheese is very salty.

Scoop risotto into bowls and top with more chopped parsley. Serve immediately.

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.

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.