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.

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.

Scallop Crudo with Shichimi, Shimeji, Haricots Verts Salad & Fennel Foam

This was the first course to my 5-course Friendsgiving party for 6 people. Originally, I had another course before this but I cut it once I realized that the duck confit would take too much of my time and I didn’t want to overwhelm myself.

Serves 6.

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[100% organic, wild scallops]

For the Fennel Foam

  • 2 large fennel bulbs, roughly chopped
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • Bouquet garni: white peppercorns, 1 garlic clove, fennel fronds
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 cup heavy cream

In a pan, sweat the onion, fennel, and bouquet garni with vegetable oil. Once the vegetables have soften, deglaze with white wine. Reduce until au sec, then add the cream and simmer for 15 minutes.

Pour mixture into a blender and blend well. Do not strain. Pour purée into a whip cream dispenser and charge twice. Keep warm.

For the Salad

  • 2 packets brown shimeji mushrooms
  • 1 lb green beans
  • 1 bunch cilantro, picked
  • 1 cup neutral oil

Cut base off of mushrooms (save for stock making) and cut off ends of green beans. Blanch in salted water then shock in iced water.

In a blender, blend on high the cilantro leaves and oil. Blend until the oil is warm, then strain through a fine mesh strainer or through cheesecloth/coffee filters. Reserve oil into a squeeze bottle.

For the Finish

  • 18 diver scallops, soaked in salted cold water, drained, then sliced
  • Shimichi Togarashi
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Cilantro oil (from above)
  • Micro cilantro
  • Fennel fronds (if saved, and I forgot to use it)
  • Sea salt/Maldon salt
  • Lemon

TO ASSEMBLE

In a bowl, lightly toss blanched mushrooms and green beans with cilantro oil,  lemon juice, and salt. Slice scallops into thin rounds.

On the plate:

  1. Season mushrooms and green beans with lemon, cilantro oil, and salt. Arrange salad.
  2. Place scallops on plate, season scallops with crushed sea salt, lemon, and togarashi.
  3. Squeeze an odd number of fennel foam dots.
  4. Garnish with micro cilantro, pomegranate seeds, fennel fronds, and more cilantro oil.

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

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.

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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