Dry-Aged Duck Breast, Parmesan Truffle Risotto, Roasted Shallots, Wild Mushroom & Spinach

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

Serves 3.

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[100% organic, Long Island Rohan duck]

For the Risotto

  • 3 shallots, minced
  • 3 TBS butter
  • 250 g Arborio rice
  • ½ cup white wine
  • Parmesan rind
  • Hot water
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 100 g parmesan, grated
  • 1 TBS truffle oil
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper

In a large pan, sweat the minced shallots in the butter. Cook until soft. Then add the rice and coat each grain with butter. Add the white wine and cook until almost dry, then add in the parmesan rinds and 1 cup of hot water. Cook until almost dry and add in 1 cup of hot water each time until rice is al dente. Season at the end because parmesan has a lot of salt content.

Remove pan from heat, add lemon juice, grated parmesan, and truffle oil. Taste and adjust seasoning.

For the Duck Breast

  • 3 duck breasts, dry-aged
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

*Click on link to see how to dry age duck*

Butcher duck breasts off and score them. Season duck breasts generously with salt & pepper, turn heat to the lowest setting 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 few minutes, pour away rendered fat. After 10 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.

In a pre-heated oven of 500°F, flash heat duck breasts for 1 minute, allow to rest, then slice and serve.

For the Roasted Shallots

  • 6 shallots, peeled
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

Toss shallots with olive oil and salt then roast in a 350°F oven for 45 minutes. When cool, trim and cut shallots in half, lengthwise.

For the Finish 

  • 100 g maitake mushroom
  • 400 g spinach, blanched
  • Golden pea shoots
  • Butter/neutral oil, as needed
  • Salt

Sauté mushroom and sear halved shallots in hot pan, then add blanched spinach. Turn off heat once everything is heated through.

TO ASSEMBLE

Spoon risotto on plate, top with sliced duck breast, and garnish with mushroom, shallots, and spinach around the risotto. Top with golden pea shoots.

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Baby Octopus, Soft-Shelled Crab, and Wild White Shrimp in Red Curry

It’s been a really long time since I last made Thai red curry at home. I wanted something quick to reheat for lunch with less fuss. The seafood for this initial dish is quite fussy but mainly because my kitchen is so small. For lunch reheats, I’m just going to cook the number of shrimp I would like to eat in the portioned curry plus some vegetables.

[Makes 2 quarts]

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For the Curry

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-inch ginger, sliced into thin planks
  • 2 shallots, sliced thinly
  • ½ cup red curry paste
  • 1 TBS fish sauce
  • 2 TBS brown sugar
  • ½ cup dashi broth
  • Three 14 oz. cans coconut milk
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • Olive oil

In a large pan, coat the bottom of it with olive oil on low-medium heat. Sweat the shallots. Then stir in the minced garlic and ginger, and cook for 30 seconds or until aromatic.

Add the curry paste, fish sauce, brown sugar, and mix well to coat completely. Shake the cans of coconut milk before opening and pour into the pan with the dashi broth and lime juice. Increase heat to medium, and bring the curry to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning for taste. Pour through a mesh strainer and into a clean pot.

TO ASSEMBLE

Arrange whatever seafood (or protein or tofu) you want into a bowl, add in vegetables (I used bok choy and cucumber), pour the curry into the bowl, garnish with sliced jalapeño, cilantro, and Thai basil. Serve with jasmine rice.

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

Kabocha Squash & Celeriac Bisque with Duck Fat Roasted Cashews

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

Every year around Thanksgiving time, the first thing that pops into my head is butternut squash soup but I’ve done so many variations of it that I don’t want to post yet another butternut soup on here. I felt that having a small liquid course was a nice way to open up a multi-course dinner without having an amuse or canapé. But then I got thinking that I don’t have any seafood dishes!!!! So that’s why the little scallop dish served as an opening appetizer.

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Serves 8.

For the Soup

  • One 2-3 lbs kabocha squash
  • 1 large celery root bulb
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 2 TBS butter
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • ½ cup cream
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 450°F. Peel and remove seeds to squash and cut into 1-inch pieces. Peel celeriac and cut into 1-inch pieces. Toss squash and celeriac with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then spread in an even layer on a sheet pan. Bake in preheated oven until the vegetables are light brown and tender, approximately 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

While the vegetables are in the oven, in a large pot over low heat, sweat shallots, then add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the roasted vegetables and cinnamon. Stir and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add the chicken stock, apple cider, and thyme, then bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, blend soup until smooth. Add additional stock if needed, then add the cream and continue blending. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm for service.

For the Nuts & Garnish

  • 1 tart apple
  • Lemon, to rub on apple
  • 2 tsp duck fat, melted
  • ½ cup cashews
  • Pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Toss the nuts with duck fat and some salt. Spread onto a parchment lined sheet pan and bake for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until nuts just begin to golden.

Peel, core, and dice a tart apple. Rub some lemon on apples to delay oxidation.

TO ASSEMBLE

In warmed soup bowls, ladle hot soup into the bowl. Garnish with apple dice and cashews. Or you may pour soup table-side.

Seared Scallops, Edamame Purée & Cumin Froth

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

A few weeks after I made the first draft, I realized that I didn’t have any seafood dishes so that’s how this dish came to be.

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Serves 8.

For the Edamame Purée

  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 1 TBS of grapeseed oil
  • 1 lb frozen shelled edamame
  • 1 cup of milk
  • Salt

Sweat the shallots in the oil. Add the edamame, milk, and pinch of salt and simmer for 10 minutes.

Before pouring into a blender, strain off excess milk but save the milk. Blend until smooth, add enough saved milk to make a thick purée. After blending, cool immediately over an ice bath. The bright green color will fade very quickly if not cooled down as soon as possible. Store in a container in the fridge before the finish.

For the Cumin Froth

  • 4 TBS crème fraîche
  • ½ cup dashi
  • 2.5 g cumin seeds
  • 2.5 g soy lecithin

Combine all ingredients into a blender for 1 minute. Then pour into a small pot and heat gently. Too hot or cold in temperature and the foam won’t be stable and will collapse easily. Using an immersion blender or a hand blender fitted with an aerator, foam up the mix then let it rest for a minute before serving.

For the Scallops

  • 8 scallops
  • Olive oil
  • Butter, as needed
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Clean your scallops and pat dry. Salt and pepper the scallops on both sides. In a very hot pan with a little oil, sauté the scallops for about 2 minutes per side.

TO ASSEMBLE

In a pan, melt 1 TBS butter then gently heat up edamame purée. Adjust seasoning if needed. Spoon purée into the center of the plate, add a seared scallop, and lastly, spoon the froth around to finish and serve immediately!

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.

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.