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.

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Crispy Soft-Shelled Crab with Three-Grain Risotto & Tiger Shrimp

Yesterday in NYC, it was raining all day. Miserable. Grey. Cold. Rain. It has been spring for the past two weeks and all of a sudden, the polar vortex is back, and winter is coming – again. I was waiting for the rain to stop so that I could go out and buy ingredients for clam chowder but then I thought, clam chowder is so much work and it takes 40 minutes to cook. So I made this instead and it was equally comforting.

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Serves 2.

For the Risotto

  • ½ cup quinoa
  • ½ cup farro
  • ½ cup steel-cut oats
  • 3½ cups stock (I used a blend of fish stock, dashi stock, clam and mussel liquor)
  • Parmesan, as needed
  • ¼ cup strained Greek yogurt
  • 2 TBS chopped parsley
  • 2 TBS chopped chives
  • 12 tiger shrimp, shelled & deveined
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • Lemon wedges
  • Canola oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Cook risotto the old fashioned way or put everything (grains and stock, seasonings) into a rice cooker and wait for that beep. I did the latter since it was a miserable, rainy Monday.

When the risotto is done, set aside, and season shrimp with salt and freshly ground black pepper. In a pan, heat some canola oil and sear the shrimp. Once shrimp is almost cooked, add the white wine and cover until alcohol has burned off. Remove lid and fold in risotto. Grate in parmesan to your taste, add yogurt and herbs. Taste for seasoning and adjust with lemon juice. Keep risotto warm while frying crabs.

For the Crab

  • 4 soft-shelled crabs
  • AP flour, as needed
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Oil for frying
  • Lime wedge

Clean crabs by cutting off their face (I know it sounds so mean), pulling off their aprons (butt flap?), and pull the points of their shell back to reveal their gills and remove those on each side.

Heat oil for frying. Season crabs with salt and freshly ground pepper. Then dress crabs in AP flour and tap crabs to remove excess flour. Fry for 3-5 minutes. Remove and place on wire-rack. Squeeze some lime over and lightly season with salt.

For the Finish

  • Arugula
  • Lime wedge
  • Salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Toss greens with salt, lime, and EVOO before serving.

TO ASSEMBLE

Spoon risotto into a bowl, place arugula salad in the middle, and top with crispy soft-shelled crab.

Cockles with Wilted Baby Spinach in a Scallion Thyme Broth

I have the biggest news! My friend told me that there is a freaking seafood market near me, called Dorian’s Seafood Market! It’s just a few blocks away from me and OMG, I went there this morning and I’m so exhilarated! I finally have somewhere to shop for real, fresh seafood. Not like the “plastic” crap they sell at Whole Foods here in NYC. I don’t have to venture to lower Manhattan to Chinatown to get seafood anymore. Plus, the quality of seafood at Dorian’s is much better (and safer) than what gets sold in Chinatown. However, if I want live shrimp and live crab, I’ll still have to get it from Chinatown.

It is 22°C in NYC right now and it’s December 24. I’m thankful that it’s not winter nor snowing because I don’t like that. It’s wonderful, this Xmas Eve.

Serves 1.

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[Cockles farmed from New Zealand]

  • 1 TBS butter
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 4 scallions, sliced thinly
  • 2 lbs cockles
  • ½ cup white wine
  • Handful baby spinach
  • 1 TBS parsley, finely minced
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Soak the cockles in salted cold water for 20 minutes.

In a pan, melt the butter and sweat the garlic, thyme, and scallions. Turn the heat to high and add the cockles and white wine. Toss and shake the pan. Close the lid and cook for 7 minutes. Before the cockles are ready, add in the spinach and parsley. Throw away any unopened cockles.

Serve with toasted bread.

Shredded Duck Leg Confit in Cream of Mushroom and Chestnut with Crackling & Parsley Chips

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

Last year’s roasted duck legs didn’t turn out so well and I didn’t want to braise them again so I took the classic, ambitious French-route this year, which is why I had to cut a course out because it was too overwhelming for my tiny studio kitchen. It also made sense because why have two soups?

Serves 6.

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[100% organic]

For the Confit

  • 6 legs from 3 ducks, Frenched
  • 2 cups salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 garlic head, minced
  • 12 bay leaves, crushed
  • 12 thyme sprigs, picked and crushed
  • 3 TBS black peppercorns, cracked
  • 2 quarts rendered duck fat

Sprinkle a shallow layer of salt and sugar into a shallow glass/plastic container. Scatter with half the garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and peppercorns over the salt/sugar and lay duck legs on top in a single layer. Scatter over remaining herbs, spices, salt, and sugar. Wrap/cover and refrigerate duck for 1-2 days.

After 24-28 hours, pre-heat oven to 225°F. Remove duck from cure mixture and rinse salt off. Pat dry duck and place in a single layer in an oven-proof baking dish. In a saucepan, gently warm fat until just melted. Cover duck completely with melted fat.

Cook in oven very slowly – you should only see a small bubble every now and then – until the meat is tender and ready to fall off the bone. Approximately 2-4 hours. If the duck seems to be cooking too quickly, or the fat begins to simmer, reduce temperature to 200°F.

When the duck is ready, remove from oven and cool in the fat. Once cool, peel skin off and reserve for cracklings. Using your fingers, shred duck meat and store them in the fat. Duck should be completely submerged.

This entire process can be done in advance because the duck submerged in its own fat can store for several weeks.

For the Duck Skin Cracklings

Under a broiler, crisp up reserved duck leg skin from confit process. Season with salt. For extra crispiness, place in a dehydrator.

For the Cream of Mushroom & Chestnut

  • Butter, as needed
  • 6 leeks, white & pale green parts only, sliced
  • 3 quarts packed mixed mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 lb roasted chestnuts, cut
  • Chicken stock, as needed
  • ¼ lb AP flour
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper

In a pan, sauté mushrooms to get color and aroma. In a saucepan, sweat leeks with butter and add the sautéed mushrooms and roasted chestnuts. Add enough chicken stock to cover. Season and bring to a boil. Turn heat down for simmering. Cook for 15 minutes.

In a separate pot, make a blond roux using ¼ lb butter and ¼ lb AP flour. Scoop away little by little of roux and put it in the saucepan until desired consistency and thickness. Add the heavy cream and adjust for seasoning.

For the Finish

  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 4 flat-leaf parsley sprigs
  • Salt

Pick parsley leaves and set aside.

Fit a medium saucepan (with thermometer) and pour in oil to measure 1”. Heat over medium-high until thermometer is at 350°F. Fry until parsley is translucent, about 15 seconds. Season with salt.

For extra crispiness, place in dehydrator or 110°F oven.

TO ASSEMBLE

Scoop soup in bowl, place a large ball of shredded duck confit in the center, garnish with skin cracklings and fried parsley. Serve with toasted bread.

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.

Linguine Misto Mare

I was looking through my posts and I haven’t done a seafood medley pasta dish yet.

I just have to say, my scallops were cooked to the utmost perfection.

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Serves 4.

[100% organic, wild scallops, environmentally sustainable shrimp, PEI mussels, Manila clams]

For the Seafood Medley

  • 1 lb shrimp, with head and shell on
  • 4 sea scallops
  • 1 lb mussels
  • 1 lb clams
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and white pepper

Peel the shrimp but keep the tails intact. Reserve heads and shrimp shells for shrimp stock.

Clean, scrub, and soak mussels and clams in salted cold water for 15 minutes. De-beard mussels. Cook mussels and clams, separately or together, using simple aromatics (shallots, parsley stems, garlic, black peppercorns, bay leaves, and dry white wine). Strain each jus for future use and keep shellfish warm.

Heat a large pan over high heat and when the pan is hot, add in 2 TBS olive oil. Season the shrimp with salt and white pepper and sauté. Cook until shrimp are curled and pink but not quite cooked through. Remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl. Sear the scallops in a clean pan and also keep them a little undercooked so when you put the shrimp and the scallops into the sauce, the residual heat from the sauce will continue cooking the seafood.

For the Shrimp Stock

  • Reserved shrimp heads and shells
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups water
  • Bouquet garni

Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and when the pan is hot, add olive oil and the shrimp heads and shells. Sauté until the shells turn red. Add the wine, water, and a loose bouqent garni, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the stock for 30 minutes.

Turn off the heat and let the stock sit for 30 minutes for the flavor to deepen. Strain the liquid and discard solids.

For the Sauce

  • ½ head garlic, finely minced
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 2 tsp red chili pepper flakes
  • 2 TBS tomato paste
  • Reserved shrimp stock
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes, with juice
  • ¼ cup parsley, finely chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and white pepper

In a large pan on medium-high heat, add 2 TBS of olive oil and sauté the chopped onions, until the onions start to soften. Add the garlic, thyme, and crushed chili red pepper flakes, tomato paste, and sauté for 1 minute. Pour in the shrimp stock and bring it to a boil. Reduce to about 1 cup, scraping the bottom of the pan to dissolve any browned bits that may be there.

Add the crushed tomatoes, season with salt and white pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat so the sauce is simmering and cook for another 10 minutes. Add the parsley and seafood, cover, and turn off the heat.

For the Linguine

  • 1 lb linguine
  • Few drops of oil
  • Salt

Boil the linguine in salted water and add a few drops of oil to prevent sticking. Cook until al dente, drain, and toss with sauce.

TO ASSEMBLE

Spoon pasta and seafood into bowls, either serve scallops whole to each plate or cut into quarters. Drizzle extra sauce and serve with toasted bread!