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.

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.

Seared Quail, Red and White Quinoa, Polenta, Roasted Zucchini with Montegrato Pedro Ximénez Reduction

When I do dinner parties, I don’t actually get to really enjoy my food that much because I’m busy cooking and plating and moving onto the next course. That’s not the case when I cook for myself! I had some leftover of the sherry vinegar reduction that I made from Thanksgiving and it has kept well in the fridge!!

Even though this recipe serves two, I finished it all by myself.

Merry Christmas!

Serves 2.

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[100% organic]

For the Brine

  • ¼ cup salt
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 TBS whole black peppercorns
  • 4 quails

Bring everything (except for the quails) to a boil and cool down immediately. Submerge quails in this brine for at least 6 hours in the fridge.

For the Polenta

  • ½ cup cornmeal
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 TBS butter
  • Whole milk, as needed
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper

In a pot, bring 2 cups of water to a rolling boil. Pour in cornmeal in a steady stream and whisk vigorously. Keep on whisking until cornmeal begins to thicken. Turn heat to low and cook for 20 minutes, remember to whisk every few minutes to prevent sticking. Once polenta is almost done, mix in butter, season with salt and pepper. Add whole milk to desired consistency. Keep warm.

For the Zucchini

  • 2 zucchinis
  • Chive oil
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Toss chopped zucchinis in chive oil, salt, and black pepper. In a preheated 425°F oven, roast vegetables for 15 minutes. Keep warm.

For the Quinoa

  • ½ cup red quinoa
  • ½ cup white quinoa
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • Salt

I cooked everything in my rice cooker. If you have one, use it.

If not, bring the chicken broth to a boil, add in quinoa, aromatics, and salt. Then return to a boil and turn on low, covered, for 20 minutes, or until add broth has been absorbed. Fluff with fork and keep warm.

For the Montegrato Pedro Ximénez Reduction.

TO ASSEMBLE

Remove quail from brine and pat dry. Lightly season with salt and pepper on a wire rack. Sear quail skin-side down in either neutral cooking oil or butter. Sear for 2 minutes and then flip over for another minute. Allow quail to rest before cutting.

Roasted Quail, Crushed Peewee Potatoes, Mushrooms with Montegrato Pedro Ximénez Reduction

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

These little birds are so tiny! Two birds per person was a good idea this year!

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Serves 8.

For the Brine

  • ½ cup salt
  • 8 cups water or 2.5 bottles white wine
  • 8 bay leaves
  • 8 quails

Bring everything to a boil and cool down immediately. Using a cake tester or sharp paring knife, stab quails, then submerge quails in this brine for 6 hours in the fridge.

For the Peewee Potatoes

  • 1 bag of Peewee potatoes
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 1 garlic head
  • 2 TBS whole black peppercorns
  • Salt

In cheesecloth, wrap bouquet garni with twine and in cold, salted water, boil potatoes and simmer until potatoes are tender, 15-20 minutes. Cool down in its cooking water then drain and set aside.

For the Sherry Reduction

  • 1 bottle of Montegrato Pedro Ximénez vinegar
  • 2 TBS brown sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 TBS fresh rosemary, minced
  • Part of a orange rind

In a medium-sized saucepan, add the sherry vinegar and aromatics. Bring to a light boil then turn down to keep at a low simmer.

Be careful not to burn it or over-reduce it. When it becomes nappant (coats a spoon), it will be thick enough. When reduced more, it will thicken up considerably once cooled. You can always gently reheat and add a little water, as needed.

For the Finish

  • 8 maitake mushroom packets
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

TO ASSEMBLE

Remove quail from brine and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper on a wire rack. Sear quail skin-side down in either neutral cooking oil or butter. Sear for 2 minutes and then flip over for another minute.

Sauté mushrooms in a hot pan and season with salt and pepper. Using your thumb, crush potatoes then add in same pan as mushrooms to warm them up.

Reheat balsamic reduction.

Spoon mushrooms and potatoes on warmed plates. Arrange cut quail on plates and then drizzle with balsamic reduction.

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.

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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