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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Seafood Medley with Seared Coconut Risotto Cake

This was the third course to my 6-course New Year’s Day Dinner party for 8 people.

I love sauce making. Love it! And this sauce was particularly “TO DIE FOR!”

I wasn’t entirely happy with the plating because by this time, it was getting late and the pick-up time for this dish was already taking a long time. I was hungry and I was sure my friends were too. I wished I had planned out the plating for this dish more.

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For the Risotto Cake

  • 2 shallots, finely diced
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1½ cup Arborio rice
  • ¾ cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups dashi stock, or as needed
  • One 13.5 oz. can unsweetened coconut milk
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper

In a pan on medium-low heat, heat the olive oil. Sweat the shallots 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. Add in coconut milk and continue cooking until rice is done and mixture if fairly dry.

Season the risotto and pour out onto a half-sheet pan and refrigerate until thoroughly cooled.

For the Seafood Medley

  • 2 lbs shrimp, with head and shells
  • 16 scallops
  • 2 lbs mussels, cleaned and beards removed
  • 1 TBS butter
  • 3 shallots, finely diced
  • 2 parsley sprigs
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • Canola oil
  • Salt & pepper

Remove heads and shell shrimp. Peel shrimp until the last segment of the tail and the tail itself. Place heads and shells in a bowl, set aside. Devein shrimp and set aside, either over ice or back in the refrigerator.

Get a pan very hot and throw in mussels, butter, shallots, parsley, and bay leaf. 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. Season lightly with salt. Mussels will be halfway cooked. You’ll finish cooking the mussels when the sauce is ready.

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 Shrimp/Mussel Sauce

  • Reserved shrimp heads and shells, from above
  • 3 carrots
  • 2 onions
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 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
  • Reserved mussel jus
  • Canola oil
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper

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. Continue to reduce and reduce until you have around 2 cups of sauce. Add in reserved mussel jus and taste for seasoning. Adjust for seasoning and set aside, keep warm.

For the Finish

  • Risotto
  • Reserved mussels
  • 16 scallops
  • Reserved shrimp, deveined
  • AP flour, as needed
  • Butter, as needed
  • Tarragon, as needed, finely chopped
  • Parsley, as needed, finely chopped
  • Canola oil
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper
  • Lemon wedges

When the risotto has cooled and solidified, punch out eight 2-inch risotto rounds. Brown/sear the risotto round on both sides in a non-stick pan and transfer to a tray. Flash in a 500°F oven before plating.

Make a beurre manié and add it to the sauce until you are satisfied with the consistency. The sauce shouldn’t be too thick. I added just a small pinch of beurre manié. Add mussels to sauce and keep sauce on simmering-heat. As you sear the rest of the seafood, the mussels will be done.

Sear both shrimp and scallops, separately, with salt and pepper. Squeeze some lemon juice over cooked shrimp and scallop, keep warm and set aside.

TO ASSEMBLE

Place risotto cake in the center of the plate. Arrange 2 scallops and shrimp (4-6 pieces) around. Top with spoonful of sauce and mussels. Sprinkle freshly chopped tarragon and parsley over everything and serve immediately.

Brown Butter Gnocchi, Baby Taro, Tomatoes, Shimeji Mushrooms & Watercress with Shiitake Consommé

I always like doing an ambitious dish because it’s fun and I get to spend the whole day cooking. Yesterday was really ambitious because I made three things; the cauliflower-kale soup, used the leftover dill for pork dumplings, and this. Even though this dish took forever, the final result was sooooo delicious. I had to refrain myself from drinking the shiitake mushroom by itself because this was a very labor-intensive process!

I had a lot of vegetable scraps from the cauliflower-kale soup and the trimmings of the raft ingredients so I made my own vegetable stock for this consommé. Just FYI, the organic carrots that I use are as thick as your fingers.

[100% organic]

For the Gnocchi

  • 1 large Idaho potato
  • ¼ cup AP flour, sifted
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • Olive oil

Cook the potato with its skin on in cold water with the bay leaf and thyme until done. Drain, and peel the skin. If you have a food mill, process them. If not, like me, mash finely with a fork and allow to cool.

Sift the flour over the potatoes and add in the salt, cheese, egg, and using your hands, work the ingredients into a soft dough ball. Do not overwork!

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cut off pieces of the dough and using your hands, roll into cylinder shapes. Cut into 1-inch pieces. Press the gnocchi lightly with the tines of a fork or roll them off a gnocchi board. Cook the gnocchi in the salted water and gnocchi are done once they float to the top of the water. Shock in ice water, drain, and transfer to a large tray. Drizzle olive oil over gnocchi to prevent sticking.

For the Consommé

  • 8 cups vegetable stock
  • 4 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, julienned
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • 10 shiitake mushrooms, julienned
  • 2 TBS tomato paste
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • Salt

In a stockpot, bring the vegetable stock to a boil and then turn off the heat and let it cool for 20 minutes.

Place all ingredients – shallots, celery, carrots, shiitake, tomato paste, egg whites, bay leaf, thyme – in a bowl and whisk gently. Add the warm vegetable stock into the bowl and whisk well. Pour the mixture back into the stockpot and bring to a simmer, while stirring often.

A raft will foam and by this point, stop stirring or else you’ll break the raft. At a low simmer, cook for 1 hour. Do not stir or boil. Poke a hole in the center with a ladle and use the ladle to pour the liquid over the raft once in awhile. This will moisten the raft and will further the clarification process.

When the hour is up, turn off heat, and let it to rest for 10 minutes. Then carefully use a ladle to pass it through a chinois lined with cheesecloth. Transfer to a clean pot and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and keep warm.

For the Other Garnitures & Finish

  • Tomatoes
  • Baby taro
  • Shimeji mushrooms
  • Watercress
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Olive oil

Tomatoes: cut “x” on the tomatoes, season lightly with salt and olive oil, and bake in a preheated oven at 300°F for 20 minutes. You still want the tomatoes to be firm and remove the skin. Set aside and keep warm.

Baby Taro: boil a pot of salted water. Add in the taro once water is boiling and cook on medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Remove from water and cut into obliques. Set aside and keep warm.

Shimeji Mushrooms: boil in salted water, set aside and keep warm.

Watercress: wash and pick through, saving the nice sprigs for garnish.

Gnocchi: melt butter and wait for butter to turn a light brown color. Sauté the gnocchi immediately and season lightly with salt. Drain on paper towels and keep warm.

TO ASSEMBLE

In a shallow bowl, arrange tomatoes, taro, gnocchi, and mushrooms in the center. Ladle consommé into bowl and top with watercress garnish. Serve immediately.

Fettuccine in a Lemon Garlic Sauce with Asparagus & Fava Beans

Having a dish with no meat, this recipe took me foreverrrrrr – mainly because I made chicken stock from scratch.

I really enjoyed making Pasta alla Chitarra with Morels, Peas & Asparagus in class (garde manger) because the sauce is something that I’ve never done before. First of all, it’s not tomato-based. Second, the pasta is so refreshing!! And third, I am a pro at making the pasta noodles with the chitarra now. It took me 2 minutes to figure out the secret!

If I had a pasta machine and a chitarra, I would make my own pasta noodles.

[100% organic]

For the Brown Chicken Stock

  • 2 lbs poultry bones
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • 1 leek, white & pale green parts only, roughly sliced
  • 1 TBS tomato paste
  • Bouquet garni – ½ head garlic, 1 TBS whole black peppercorns, few parsley stems, few thyme sprigs
  • Canola oil

Preheat oven to 500°F. Trim the bones of fat and skin, then rinse the bones under cold running water. Roast bones with drizzle of canola oil in preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until bones are golden. When bones are done, degrease by straining and let the oil drip for a few minutes while you do something else.

In a stockpot, place the roasted bones and a little of canola oil over medium heat. Add in the onions, carrots, celery, and leeks. Sauté until a little bit of color is reached and then add in the 1 TBS tomato paste. Cook the tomato paste before adding enough cold water to cover the pot. Bring the pot to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Add in bouquet garni and then simmer for 2 hours.

Strain the stock and transfer to a clean pot. Reduce the stock by a quarter, or until chicken stock becomes gelatinous. Cool in an ice bath. Refrigerate if not using immediately.

For the Sauce

  • 1 qt reduced chicken stock
  • 6 garlic heads, peeled
  • 6 lemons, zested (save 1-2 lemons)
  • EVOO
  • Canola oil
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Using a vegetable peeler, zest the lemons. Be careful not to peel the pith of the lemon or else your sauce will be bitter. Blanch the lemon zest 3 times: boil in cold water, strain, boil in cold water, strain, boil in cold water, strain, and set aside.

After peeling all the cloves, degerm the garlic by remove any green parts. Blanch them in cold water, 3 times, too. In a clean pot over low-medium heat, confit the garlic by adding equal parts of canola oil and EVOO, and then cook until tender and sweet, 10-15 minutes.

Purée the chicken stock, garlic, and zest in a blender. Season with salt and black pepper, and taste. Sauce should be bright and garlicky. Set aside.

For the Finish

  • Fettuccine, as needed
  • 1 lb fresh fava beans
  • ½ lb asparagus
  • Tarragon leaves, as needed
  • Parmesan, grated
  • Salt
  • Canola oil

Boil a large pot of salted water.

Remove fava beans from pods and then set aside. Cut off 1-2 inches from the bottom of the asparagus and peel the asparagus one inch from the bottom of the head. Cook the asparagus whole before cutting them. In the salted boiling water, cook the asparagus for 2-3 minutes. Immediately shock in cold water and ice. Once asparagus is cold, cut asparagus on the bias and set aside. Boil the fava beans for 3-5 minutes and shock in cold water and ice. Shell the fava beans and set aside.

TO ASSEMBLE

Reheat ½ cup of sauce, taste and season with salt and pepper. Squeeze a bit of lemon over the sauce and add some asparagus and fava beans, then toss in sauce. Cook pasta until al dente, drain well, and add to sauce. Toss to coat pasta to allow the flavors to blend. If sauce is too thick, add a little bit of heated reduced chicken stock. Add some tarragon leaves and grated parmesan. Plate pasta in a warm bowl and garnish with more grated parmesan.

Linguine in Arrabbiata with Octopus Tentacle

I am almost done with my menu project! Just two more dishes and then fini!! I wanted to feature all kinds of seafood and the cooking techniques that I’ve learned in school for my menu project. I am limited to certain things when cooking at home because I don’t have all the fancy equipment and machines. I did have to edit and tone down my excitement.

I’ve always had octopus grilled or steamed (sushi). But I boiled and simmered this one for the pasta. The texture turned out right and I was very happy with the dish. This recipe serves two portions.

[100% organic, wild octopus]

For the Octopus

  • 2 octopus tentacles
  • ½ head garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt

In a large pot of salted water, bring to a boil with half a head of garlic and 1 bay leaf.

Put octopus in boiling water and when it comes to a boil again, add a little cold water. Bring it to a boil again, and repeat the addition of cold water for three times. After the third addition of cold water, when the water comes to a boil, turn the heat down to the low simmer and simmer for 20 minutes.

Drain from water and set aside, covered.

For the Arrabbiata Sauce

  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • ½ cup crushed tomatoes with juice
  • 3 TBS EVOO
  • 1 TBS butter
  • 2 TBS red chili pepper flakes
  • 2 TBS tomato paste
  • 1 cup pasta water
  • ⅓ lb linguine
  • Few drops of oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 TBS parsley, finely chopped

Boil the linguine in salted water and add a few drops of oil to prevent sticking. Cook 1 minute short of al dente, remove from heat and drain (pasta should still be quite firm) and keep warm, save 1-2 cups of pasta water.

Melt and heat up the butter and olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Once hot, add in the onions and shallots. Sweat for a couple of minutes, making sure not to burn or have coloration. Add the garlic and cook until aromatic. Put the tomato paste into the pan and cook it well, making sure to mix around with everything else in the pan. Cook for 1 minute.

Then add the crushed tomatoes along with the juices, red pepper flakes, and some of the pasta water (if mixture is too dry) into the pan. Turn heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, season with salt & pepper. Add the octopus into the sauce and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the cooked pasta with the sauce and toss well.

TO ASSEMBLE

Plate pasta in the center of a bowl. Prop the octopus tentacle on top and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve with sliced bread and eat immediately!

Update: Linguine in Arrabbiata with Shrimp & Octopus

I finally and accidentally stumbled upon the missing ingredient that the chefs at Enoteca Vespaio use in their arrabbiata sauce, at least in my opinion: COOKED TOMATO PASTE.

I was really hungry a few days ago and I had just finished my third (6pm, 8pm, 11pm) dinner and as I was getting close to the bottom on my linguine… I was drinking the sauce… it had an intense similarity to something that I loved… and then it hit me! ENOTECA!!!!!

It’s definitely cooked tomato paste that transformed a light spicy tomato sauce to a more complex sauce with depth.

Love it!!

[100% organic, shrimp from Gulf of Mexico, octopus from India]

  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • ½ cup crushed tomatoes with juice
  • 3 TBS EVOO
  • 1 TBS butter
  • 2 TBS red chili pepper flakes (more if you like hotness!)
  • 2 TBS tomato paste
  • 1-2 cups pasta water
  • ½ lb shrimp, peeled to the tail and deveined
  • ¼ lb octopus
  • Linguine
  • Few drops of oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 TBS parsley, finely chopped

Boil the linguine in salted water and add a few drops of oil to prevent sticking. Cook 1 minute short of al dente, remove from heat and drain (pasta should still be quite firm) and keep warm, save 1-2 cups of pasta water.

Melt and heat up the butter and olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Once hot, add in the onions and shallots. Cook for a couple of minutes, making sure not to burn or have coloration. Add the garlic and cook until aromatic. Put the tomato paste into the pan and cook it well, making sure to mix around with everything else in the pan. Cook for 1 minute.

Then add the crushed tomatoes along with the juices, the red pepper flakes, and some of the pasta water, if mixture is too dry. Turn heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, season with salt & pepper. Add the seafood into the sauce and let it cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the cooked pasta with the sauce and toss well.

Sprinkle chopped parsley over pasta and serve with sliced bread. Eat immediately!

Pizza Polenta Stuffed Peppers

The last time I stuffed peppers, I loved how it turned out. I think stuffed peppers are perfect for get-together meals. So this time I found another interesting way to stuff them.

I made this for a dinner party. It’s 100% vegan if you don’t add the parmesan cheese. But how can you call something “pizza” without adding cheese so that’s why I added parmesan as an ingredient. Also garlic… I love garlic and garlic needs to be in a pizza.

[100% organic]

  • 4 bell peppers (peppers should stand upright)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup polenta
  • Sea salt
  • ½ cup quinoa, cooked
  • 3 TBS tomato paste
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 sprigs fresh oregano
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 TBS red pepper flakes
  • 15 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
  • 1 cup grated parmesan, more for garnish

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Bring water to a simmer, add the cornmeal. Stir consistently for the first 5 minutes, watching and stirring frequently. Once it comes together, approximately 20-25 minutes, add the salt to taste. Add the cooked quinoa to polenta, and stir.

Combine tomato paste, rosemary, oregano, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Add that to the quinoa polenta, and stir. Add in fresh basil and stir. When ready, remove from heat then stir in the cup of parmesan cheese.

Cut the top off the peppers and clean out the membranes and seeds. Stuff with quinoa polenta and garnish with basil leaves. Put the tops back onto the peppers and bake for 30 minutes.

Serve immediately. Sprinkle some parmesan over the bell peppers.

*Adapted from Spabettie.