Sunday, March 1, 2015

Saturday Experiments: Duck Tales

This is going to sound weird, but I really enjoy breaking down a bird. Sure it takes an amateur cook like me some time to do so, but it's economical and relaxing. If you're a household of two, getting a whole bird is perfect, you can get anywhere from 2-4 meals out of it (depending on how much you eat).

Yesterday we went to Chelsea Market (one of my favorite places in NYC) and stopped by Dickson's Farmstand and picked up a whole Peking Duck. You can probably find duck for cheaper in Chinatown, but if you're already saving yourself the money from eating out, why not go for something a little higher quality?

I haven't really made much duck, but it breaks down similar to a chicken - if you need help, visit Saveur. They have a great tutorial on how to break down duck.
Ducks are the fat kids of the poultry family - which makes them delicious!

Broken down for multiple meals!

With any whole bird, always save the bones for stock! I even do this with rotisserie chickens! Put the carcass, wings, and neck into a 9 x 13 baking dish and season liberally with salt and pepper. Add some carrots, an onion, bay leaves, and parsley (and/or thyme) to the bones. Roast them at 500°F for 45 minutes to coax all the flavor out of them. Dump them into a stock pock and add about a gallon of water and let simmer for ~8 hours. During the first hour, if you have stuff on top, skim it off for a clearer broth. After 8 or so hours, strain the broth into containers. You can use it anywhere chicken broth is called for. Or you can add rice, ginger, scallions, and shiitake mushrooms to it and make amazing congee.

Never throw out the bones! Always make a stock.
My bird also came with some liver and gizzards, so naturally I made paté. My version of paté anyways. Just take some duck fat and sauté one minced shallot and one minced garlic. Once the shallots are translucent add the liver and gizzards chopped up, along with a handful of herbs, salt and pepper, and dried cherries (cherries pair great with duck!). Sauté for a minute or so and hit it with a shot of some brown liquor (I used a Maple Bourbon I had on hand). Flambé! Cook for another minute or so and dump everything into a food processor and run it until it's smooth. Refrigerate and serve with sliced bread or crackers!

I don't always eat offals, but when I do, it's paté.
When you buy a whole duck you're going to end up with A LOT of fat, so LUCKY YOU! To render the fat, just put all your fat and skin into a pot and turn your heat very low. Leave it for about 1 1/2 - 2 hrs and you will have a beautiful pot of hot duck fat. Strain it into a container once it's cooled a bit. The internet says duck fat stores for 3 months, but I highly doubt mine will last that long.

I realize this photo isn't very yummy looking, but trust me, it actually is.
 For dinner last night, I pan roasted the duck breasts.

I reserved 2/3 of the fat that rendered out of the duck breasts for my diced potatoes, and to the other 1/3 I added garlic, 3 T of sugar, 4 T of white vinegar, juice of 2 oranges, and rind of 1 orange. After whisking, I hit it with a shot of Bulleit Rye and let it simmer and reduce for about 10  minutes.

During that time, I sautéed some kale in garlic (and hit it with a little red wine vinegar near the end) and I crisped my diced potatoes in the duck fat until they were tender. I seasoned the potatoes with salt, garlic powder, thyme and paprika.

Dinner is served!
I still have to confit my duck legs and my duck stock is going to make a great soup sometime this week. So many applications for one bird! 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Restaurant Review: Sushi Nakazawa

To be fair, I haven't had many sushi omakases, so I'm by no means an expert here, but what I do know is that I really enjoyed my experience. All my friends have told me, and it's true, you have to sit at the bar on a weekday here. Interacting with Nakazawa is 100% worth the extra $30 to sit at the bar (restaurant is $120/pp and the bar is $150/pp). Nakazawa is absolutely adorable and does his best to keep you entertained throughout your meal.

Also, if you like sake - do the $40 sake pairing. 5 pairings, so a great deal!

We begin.

Chum Salmon.
Lightly smoked, sockeye salmon.
Thanks chef for the scallop!
This was possibly horse mackerel.
Mackerel torched with lemon and sea salt.
Yellow tail.
Mackerel aged seven days.
He was moving around...but then....

Nakazawa was like "Saynora Shrimp!"
Giant Ebi.
I'm not all that sure what came next.
The sake pairing was getting to my head by now.
Photo break!
Tuna - from less fatty to o-toro!
Santa Barbara
Salmon Roe.
Salt water eel. My father would be so jealous.
Tuna hand roll.
Tomago! He took so long to perfect it. Liz and I had no idea that this was what Tomago is supposed to taste like!
Finished off with some lychee sorbet and a hot green tea.
A great meal with even better company.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

It's called the Superbowl because it holds a lot of food, right?

I love hosting the Superbowl. I get to have a little themed fun, but ultimately I get to make whatever I want. Over the past few Superbowl parties, I've learned a couple of things:
  1. Pre-make whatever you can pre-make.
  2. Have enough booze.
  3. Don't make dessert - someone will bring it.
This year, the line up was as follows, and if I used a recipe, I've cited it below so you can make it, too!

Buffalo Popcorn from Bon Appetit
I was a big fan. You can make it ahead and it's like kettle corn, but on fire.
 The Cheese Bowl
When making a cheese plate, always have different types and textures!
 Clam Chowder from Food Network
A little thinner than I wanted it, but if you steam your own clams and reserve the juice, the flavor will be great!

I feel like I have Salsa and Guac down to a science, and no game is complete without it to munch on.
 Smoked Salmon Bagel Chip
Next time I'd cut the bagel chips a little thinner, but definitely make your own! 350°F for about 15 minutes and they'll be crisp!
 Pigs in a Blanket (the upscale version) from Food and Wine
Andouille in puff pastry - one yummy item + one yummy item = one yummy item?
 Pretzel Bites from Sally's Baking Addiction
If you can get your hands on Beecher's a combo of Jack and Flagship is the way to go. Same blend they use for their Mac N Cheese. Pretzel recipe is legit and I've been asked to make them again next year.
 Lobster Rolls
A lil lobster, a lil buttered roll, a lil mayo, a lil celery salt. That's all she wrote.
 Xi'an Wings from Serious Eats
The second hit of the night. Spicy but addicting! I would definitely make wings this way, because the extra effort upfront keeps me from having to stand by a fryer half the night. You gotta have wings right?!
Not pictured is the brisket, which I thought came out a little dry - and I didn't get a good picture of it. 

I might have overdone it a little, but hey, the only food holidays greater than the Superbowl are Thanksgiving and Chinese New Year, so really, I was right on the money. I like to go big or go home (except I'm already home) because when you have fun with the food for a party, your guests have fun too.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Recipe: Mama Yu's Turnip Cake

Over the weekend, mom and I made a bet on whether or not I had ever posted the recipe for her turnip cake, which reminded me that I had never posted the recipe for her turnip cake.

Two things:
1. Through this bet, I won the right to have lunch at P.F.Changs and I devoured a large portion of Honey Chicken (Yes, I realize the irony).
2. My mom's turnip cake is better than any turnip cake you've had in your life. Don't believe me? Ask Papa Yu, Liz, and Joe (yes, we're biased, but we're still right). Dim sum turnip cake will never be the same, you will insist on making it yourself (or if you're me, whine until mom does).

Quick warning: This requires an old school rice cooker. I have no idea if this turns out well in a non old school rice cooker. What's an old school rice cooker you ask? The kind that requires you add water to steam and makes rice perfect every time without burning the bottom. Bonus points if it's missing a stub leg (not really).

  • 1 T Dried Shrimp
  • 1-1 1/2 lbs. Daikon
  • 1 Thick Slice of Ham (1/4 in.) or 1 Link of Chinese Sausage (the latter is tastier)
  • 1 Package Rice Flour
  • 2-3 T Fried Scallion
  • 1/2 T Salt
  • 1/2 t Black Pepper
  • 1/2 T Sugar
Start by soaking your dried shrimp in some water, leave them for about 10 minutes while you prepare the rest of your ingredients. Once they're done soaking, give them a rough chop.

Cut your daikon into matchsticks and dice your ham/chinese sausage into small cubes.
A step-by-step on getting it right.
Did you do step 6? I did.
I only had ham, but if you can find chinese sausage, SUBSTITUTE!!!

Add 2 T of vegetable oil into a hot wok (or non-stick pan). Add dried shrimp. Once you can smell the shrimp, add the ham/chinese sausage, and then the daikon. Season with the salt, black pepper, and sugar. Then add the fried scallions.
I, too, would enjoy a bath in fried scallions and meat.
Found at most Chinese supermarkets. As always, the Yu family recommends that you buy "MADE IN TAIWAN"

Add 1 C. water (including the water the shrimp soaked in) to the mixture and cook for 7-9 minutes until the daikon is translucent.
Boom. Cooked through.
While the daikon is cooking, mix 4 1/2 cups off cold water with 1 package of rice flour until smooth.
This is a photo of mom from about 2 years ago. She hasn't aged a day. Literally, this is exactly what she looks like now.
This is what you're looking for. Also found at most Chinese grocery stores.
Mix your rice flour slurry into your daikons and start stirring and moving it around. It will thicken...A LOT. Keep moving until you really can't mix it anymore (will take about 15-20 minutes). Then put it into a greased rice cooker container. Press the mixture in well so there are no gaps of air.
If you stir you won't need to work out that day!
Add 2 1/2 rice cooker cups of water to the side of your rice cooker and place your turnip cake in and steam. Once done, leave until cool. Invert onto a plate. Now you can slice it up and crisp it up on each side.

Serve with soy paste, crushed garlic and chinese "chili" sauce. Posting that just made me hungry, good thing mom made me some this weekend and it's sitting in my fridge.

Note: Rice cooker cup is the cup that comes with your rice cooker.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Our Final Wedding of the Year: Craig & Elizabeth

Wedding 8 of 8: Craig Noyes and Elizabeth Borge
Immaculate Conception Church, Portsmouth, NH
Portsmouth Harbor Events
November 15, 2014

Craig and Liz's wedding was a wonderful way to end our year of weddings. Not only do Joe and I love Portsmouth, they had a beautiful ceremony and a great reception full of good food and great dancing. I usually have pretty low expectation for wedding food (you just can't expect perfection when feeding 100+ people at the exact same time), but the food at this wedding was good and I was part of the clean plate club.

Lovely bride and father walking down the aisle.

Exchanging vows.

Ryan & Jess

Amanda and Laura looking stunning!

BC Couple #1!

BC Couple #2 (and obligatory wedding photo)
BC Couple #3

Beautiful and festive centerpiece. Very well done.

A romantic first dance.

With the bride and groom (aka BC Couple #4)!

I always try to get a roommate shot.

I present to you the RubyStreet Boys. or N'Ruby, or Ruby8 Degrees. [Insert boy band pun here.]
That's a wrap for weddings this year. Congratulations to all of our wonderful friends for getting hitched in 2014.

Now, back to your normal programming of food.