Duck Breast with Apple & Pecans

I totally forgot to post this from Friendsgiving 2018! But it was the last savory course to that dinner. Here we have Maple Lacquered Duck Breast with Apple Purée and Candied Pecans.

Pear Tart & Ginger Ice Cream

Maybe next year I should start with dessert prep and start from there because every year I have so many ideas on how to make dessert but after everything I go through, I give up and have no time to make a “difficult” dessert and end up doing something that I’m familiar with.

I won’t go on about how I was originally going to incorporate puff pastry into this and how it was going to come with a caramel sauce… one of these days…

I honestly didn’t have enough time to plan out this year’s prep list because my job’s work schedule changed its beginning and ending day of the week so I didn’t realize Thanksgiving was technically one week away… but the way that the schedule is now made it seem like I still had two weeks. SMH.

Here we have a slice of Pear Tart, using two types of pears – Asian Pear for the filling and Red Bosc Pears for the topping – served with fresh ginger ice cream and ginger snap crumble.

Dry-Aged Duck Breast with Hoisin & Pickled Cucumber

With the pasta being rather difficult to make in a tiny studio apartment, I wanted everything else to be relatively easy. Sometimes easy and simple is the way to go, especially when using dry-aged duck breast. The flavors are more intense so you don’t need much to accompany the duck breast.

So here is Dry-Aged Duck Breast with Homemade Hoisin Sauce with Ume Boshi, Pickled Cucumber, and Chive Oil.

5 Spiced Duck Leg Cappellacci

This is probably my most ambitious homemade pasta project for #RontiniFriendsgiving #RontiniParties because I had to marinate the duck legs, cook the duck legs, hand-shred the duck legs, mince/grind the duck legs through a meat grinder, make the farce, pipe the farce into the freshly made pasta dough, fold/shape the dough…

I decided to make the pasta a weekend before the actual date because there was no way that I could make pasta dough from scratch and do all of that in one day along with the other day-of Thanksgiving prep!

So here you have Cappellacci (meaning little hats) filled with 5 Spice Duck Leg with Celery in a Brown Butter Sage Sauce with Fennel, Fines Herbes, Cured Egg Yolk, and Fennel Fronds.

Quail with Autumn Mushrooms

I was going to put more egg (a quail egg) in this holiday menu but as I was writing the prep list, I realized that it’s too much and that the quail egg isn’t completely necessary.

I wasn’t set on one mushroom for this dish. I was open to all that was available! That meant going to the farmer’s market. I also thought I had two weekends before Thanksgiving to prep but after looking at the calendar, I only had one! Food shopping in NYC is difficult because I am only one person with two hands and two shoulders. And bags get heavy quick. The farmer’s market at Union Square is open every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. The best days, in my opinion, are Wednesdays and Fridays.

I didn’t want to risk it so I bought my mushrooms at the biggest Whole Foods Market, the one on Houston/Bowery. Their mushrooms were pretty good, I was there picking through all the nice chanterelles and all the nice king trumpets to put in my bag. And being a Prime member has its benefits!!! I wanted black trumpets too but they didn’t have any. I bought baby Bellas (aka small portobello aka baby cremini) for the purée. And good thing I went to Whole Foods because the market had almost nothing/really shitty mushrooms.

Here you have Quail that was brined then seared, cooked to medium, with a Cremini Purée, roasted Chanterelles and King Trumpets, garnished with its Jus, a Montegrato Pedro Ximénez Reduction, and Crispy Rosemary.

Egg on Egg on Egg

*Biology Class 101: I know sea urchin tongues aren’t really the “roe” but they are the gonads of the creature; for the sake of this post, I am calling them “eggs”. The gonads/sex organs (sometimes also referred to as coral) produce the roe.

Originally, the first course was going to be tuna crudo but I scrapped that idea because I didn’t think it would be a show-stopper!

So here you have Soft Scrambled Eggs folded with Sea Urchin Cream on the bottom, topped with airy Potato Foam, garnished with Sea Urchin Tongues, Trout Roe, Chives, and Pumpernickel Soil.

Blue Corn Tacos with Duck Leg Confit & Red Mole

I only just realized that I forgot to post this from last year’s Friendsgiving… here it is.

Why blue? They look purple to me.

I still stand by the confit method as the best way to cook duck legs. You can never go wrong with confit. And what better way to serve succulent shredded meat than with tacos? Two years ago, I used regular colored tortillas but I wanted the pop of color from the purple blue shells! Also, last year, I kept the legs and breasts separate. I like to switch it up from time to time. Don’t want my guests to get bored with my food!

The red mole here is from one of my good friends! I love it so much!

 

Plans for Friendsgiving 2019

I’m very early this year for my Friendsgiving menu plans! Inspiration started and I decided to just go with it. I’ve been usually doing dinner for four for the past couple of years because that means less glassware to clean but I want to do six people total this year… Here is what I have so far; I expect menu changes…

Egg on Egg on Egg
Sea Urchin • Soft Scramble • Trout Roe
Potato Foam • Pumpernickel Soil
(1st course)

Quail with Autumn Mushrooms
Chanterelles • King Trumpet • Cremini Purée
Rosemary • Montegrato Pedro Ximénez
(2nd course)

5 Spiced Duck Leg Cappellacci
Celery • Brown Butter • Cured Egg Yolk • Fennel
(3rd course)

Dry Aged Duck Breast
Homemade Hoisin • Pickled Cucumber • Chive Oil
(4th course)

Pear Tart
Ginger Snap • Ginger Ice Cream
(5th course)

Kabocha Squash & Stracciatella

I will always love burrata but for me, burrata is “over”… For the past several years, I have been all about stracciatella. Stracciatella cheese is best known to be the gooey center of burrata!!! Stracciatella means “rag,” from the Italian word “strattore” (to stretch), and describes the action to make the cheese as well as how it looks.

That same day where I had seven of the same scallop crudo, I also had roasted squash with burrata cheese. It also hit me surprisingly. But in my version, I substituted burrata for stracciatella and garnished it with toasted pumpkin seeds, reduced Pedro Ximénez vinegar, and chives.

Scallop Crudo with Brown Butter

Never in my life would I have thought to put raw scallops and warm brown butter together!!!

And let me tell you, it’s like the best pairing ever!!! So amazingly good that I ordered 7 of the same dish, one after another; I just couldn’t get enough!! After seven orders of the same dish in a mid-level pricey restaurant, the bill added up and I had to stop myself cold turkey (haha)…

But damn, the nuttiness of the brown butter with the sweetness of the sliced scallops… GENIUS! I was blown away and I cook for a living so this really IMPRESSED me and shook me to my core because it was so simple and my tastebuds exploded!!!! I’m kind of honored that I work under the executive chef of Charlie Bird/Pasquale Jones/Legacy Records! The combination of raw scallops and brown butter was so incredibly sensational that I couldn’t think of anything better to start my 2018 Friendsgiving dinner with!!

Thank you so much Ryan Hardy!

Do you really need me to write down a “recipe” for this? It’s basically sushi-grade raw scallops and freakin’ brown butter! Don’t know how to make brown butter? Put butter in a pot, wait until it gets dark and take it off the heat and strain it. Don’t let the milk solids burn though!!!