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.


[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.


Scoop hot rice into bowl, garnish with sautéed/broiled calamari, remaining tomato concassé, and parsley.


Braised Artichoke Heart & Lobster Fennel Salad with Caponata, Basil Oil and Vinaigrette

I really like the presentation of this dish in level 6 garde manger. But I don’t like rushing the presentation of this plate because I’m such a perfectionist. I mean, the plate is a cold appetizer; why can’t we make it ahead of time and add the lobster and the arugula garnish at the pickup?

*School has been out of chervil (since last Saturday, WTF) so I had to garnish it with the top of an arugula leaf.

There’s caponata under the lobster too.

Beets with Edamame Purée, Tomato Fondue & Frisée in Miso Vinaigrette

Soon I’ll be in the entremetier position at school and we each have to come up with a vegetarian dish. I usually get my spikes of creativity during grocery shopping without a shopping list! This creation bombarded my thought process while I was at Whole Foods on Sunday.

It took me three plates to come up with the right layering of the vegetables.

[100% organic]

For the Beets

  • 1½ lbs red and golden beets
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper
  • 2 TBS EVOO

Preheat oven to 400°F. In two separate rectangular baking pans, place beets into them, separately by color, and season generously with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Wrap up the beets and place them in the hot oven for 45-60 minutes, until soft.

Remove the beets, set aside to cool, then peel them. Cut them into small squares, separately, then set aside.

For the Edamame Purée

  • ½ lb shelled edamame
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • Salt

In a pot of boiling hot salted water, blanch edamame for 2 minutes. Cool in iced water and drain. Purée in a food processor with olive oil. I don’t like the edamame purée to be too smooth; I still like to keep some texture in it.

For the Tomato Fondue

  • 4 plum tomatoes
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled & smashed
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper

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 quarters and remove the seeds. Finely chop and set aside.

In a pan on medium-low heat, sweat shallots with 2 TBS olive oil. Then add in finely chopped tomatoes, smashed garlic, and thyme sprigs. Season with salt and pepper and turn heat to low and cook until there is no more moisture, with a lid.

Remove garlic and thyme sprigs from tomato fondue and set aside.

For the Miso Dressing

  • 2 TBS chives, finely chopped
  • ½ cup EVOO
  • 1 shallot, finely minced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1 TBS Dijon mustard
  • 2 TBS miso paste
  • 3 TBS rice vinegar
  • 1 TBS honey
  • Juice of half lemon
  • Salt & freshly group pepper

In a large bowl, place the minced shallots, garlic, mustard, miso paste, rice vinegar, honey, and juice of half a lemon. Whisk them well until fully incorporated. In a steady stream, add in the EVOO while constantly whisking until fully emulsified. Then fold in the chopped chives.

For the Finnish

  • Frisée
  • Chives, finely chopped
  • Salt

Dress the red beets, golden beets, and frisée separately in bowls. Taste and adjust for seasoning.

On a cold plate, place a ring mold in the center. Firmly pack the red beets first, then the golden beets, scoop a generous amount of edamame purée, and lastly, fill the mold with tomato fondue. Top the mold with dressed frisée and spoon some miso vinaigrette around the plate. Garnish with chopped chives.

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!

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.

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.

Braised Lamb Shank with Couscous

For some strange reason, I thought that the food that we would use in culinary school would be organic. That is definitely not the case. I’ve witnessed the biggest gingers and the biggest bell peppers in the world in class and that’s just scary.

  • 2 lamb shanks
  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • ⅔ cup onions, cut into large chunks
  • ⅔ cup carrots, cut into large chunks
  • ½ cup celery, cut into large chunks
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled & crushed
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • ⅔ cup red wine
  • ⅔ cup white wine
  • Brown stock, enough to cover
  • 3 very ripe plum tomatoes, chopped

Give a good sear to the lamb shanks. Add in the braising liquid and mirepoix and braise the lamb for 2.5 hours in the oven (350-400°F), once boiling. Couscous is made with chopped parsley, pine nuts, olive oil, and dried blackcurrants.

*From the French Culinary Institute.