Quail with Market Vegetables & Barley Risotto

~ This is Day 262 ~

This was the third course of five to my #RontiniFriendsgiving 2020 menu. It is a brined semi-boneless Quail with Roasted Market Vegetables, consisting of Chanterelles, Shiitake, Market Carrots, and Pearl Onions, served with Barley Risotto with Fines Herbes and a Brown Chicken Jus.

Plans for Friendsgiving 2020

~ This is Day 258 ~

Thanksgiving Thursday has officially passed for 2020 but my Friendsgiving has not yet! This year, unfortunately, I couldn’t have it on Thursday because of scheduling issues. Not having it on Thanksgiving Thursday seems so weird to me and it’s happening tomorrow, the Sunday of Thanksgiving. I only just realized that I haven’t posted the menu yet. There was a sixth course but my seafood delivery was out of fresh sea urchin from Maine so I axed that dish.

Diver Scallop
Pickled Golden Beets • Apple Sorrel Gel
Micro Red Vein Sorrel
(1st course)

Duck Leg Confit
Celeriac • Hazelnuts
Montegrato Pedro Ximénez
(2nd course)

Quail
Chanterelles • Shiitake • Market Carrots
Pearl Onions • Barley Risotto
(3rd course)

Dry Aged Duck Breast
Pommes Dauphinoise • Caramelized Endive
Red Wine Jus
(4th course)

Grapefruit Sorbet
Kabocha • Contratto • Candied Pepitas
(5th course)

As much as I can’t wait for tomorrow to come, this “Thanksgiving” is dragging and I just want it over with already. Never doing this a Sunday again… keeping it to Thursday next year and all future years.

I know we’re all still in a pandemic and that a lot of people have been alone this holiday weekend but my friends coming are all the same friends that I’ve been seeing since the lockdown and we’ve all been careful, getting tested regularly, and also practicing safe social guidelines.

Recipe: Sichuan Lamb Shanks

~ This is Day 229 ~

In the past 3 weeks, I think I’ve only seen the sun once, or twice… a mere glimpse, before it disappeared back behind the clouds. When the weather is cozy, I like to make braised lamb shanks, Sichuan-style!

On average, one lamb shank per person. Also depends on how big your Dutch oven is.

The Night Before

  • 2-4 lamb shanks
  • Kosher salt

Using a sharp paring knife or cake tester, poke slits in the shanks. Generously season your lamb shanks with kosher salt and place in a container with a lid, or plate and have it covered.

At 4pm-5pm

  • 4-inch ginger
  • 4 stalks scallions
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 TBS sugar
  • 2 TBS doubanjiang
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Bouquet garni
    • 1 TBS fennel seeds
    • 1 TBS Sichuan peppercorns
    • 2-3 pieces star anise
  • ¼ – ½ cup dried whole chilis
  • 3 Yukon potatoes
  • 3 rainbow carrots
  • 6 oz. tofu skin
  • Scallion tops/chives, as garnish

I forgot to mention, before putting on the cartouche, make sure your braising liquid is perfectly seasoned. There is a lot of salt in the fermented chili paste usually, so most of the times, I don’t need to add additional salt. But always check and adjust!

If you liked any of my tools and stuff from the video, you can get it yourself with these links:

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. If you click on one and buy something, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. All opinions are my own.

Of course if you live by an Asian/Chinese supermarket, the spices cost a fraction of Amazon’s links.

Recipe: Vegetable Stock

~ This is Day 151 ~

I always try to make my own stocks if possible because stocks shouldn’t contain salt in them. Every store-bought stock contains salt or low-sodium levels and it’s better to add your own salt in your cooking process.

Makes 3-4 quarts.

  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1 large onion, cut into large chunks
  • 2 carrots, peeled & cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 head fennel, cut into large chunks
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 2 TBS whole black peppercorns
  • Parsley stems
  • 1 head garlic, cut in half horizontally

In a 7.5 quart dutch oven, on medium-heat, sweat the onions, carrots, celery, and fennel with the olive oil for 5 minutes. Then add in the rest of the ingredients and sweat for another 2 minutes before filling the pot with cold water. Bring up to a boil and reduce to a simmer and reduce by half.

Strain and cool. If you’re not going to use it immediately, you can freeze it.

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. If you click on one and buy something, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. All opinions are my own.

Duck Breast with Carrots & Cumin

Remember Lamb Loin with Carrots & Cumin? This is exactly the same dish except instead of lamb loin, it’s duck breast.

Here is Roasted Duck Breast with a Heirloom Carrot, Carrot Cumin Purée, Pickled Mustard Seeds, Coffee Soil, Meat Jus, and Micro Parsley.

Which presentation do you like better?

Lamb Loin with Carrots & Cumin

Cumin and lamb… so delicious together! A classic flavor profile! Cumin is native to the east Mediterranean and South Asia. Cumin’s distinctive flavor is strong and to me, it smells like a homeless person (ha!!) but it doesn’t taste like one!

Here is Lamb Loin with a Roasted Heirloom Carrot, Carrot Cumin Purée, Pickled Mustard Seeds, Coffee Soil, Meat Jus, and Micro Parsley.

Diver Scallop with Pickled Rainbow Carrots

Sometimes things work out but the cost of having it to come to fruition is another matter. I’m not talking about money in this sense of cost. I don’t know about you, but I despise cracking quail eggs because I suck at it. I am terrible with quail eggs, raw or cooked. I just can’t remove its shell without damaging the egg. A quail egg is leathery and doesn’t crack open easily, like a chicken egg is. When it’s raw, the whites always projectile-squirt out and then the cracked bits and pieces of the shell damage the yolk, thus breaking the yolk, and tiny bits of pieces of shell are everywhere. I know you’re supposed to use a knife but it doesn’t really work for me either. When it’s cooked, the first removal of the shell always ends up removing some of the cooked white so then the egg looks ugly.

I just can’t.

However, when I do manage to get it out of its shell intact, magic happens.

This is a seared Diver Scallop with a Carrot Purée, charred pickled Rainbow Carrots, a sunny-side Quail Egg, Bronze Fennel, and Espelette Pepper.

Turkey Romaine Wraps

We, the cooks and chefs, the back of house, make staff meal everyday for all restaurant staff, sometimes called family meal. I believe in eating a nice family meal – meaning some kind of carb, veggies, and protein. A lot of high-end restaurants that I’ve trailed at served some really unhealthy family meals, e.g. hot dogs and dried French fries. So disappointing.

I found out that the only protein everyone eats is chicken. Some people don’t eat beef, some people don’t eat pork (nor bacon, can you believe that?!), some people are vegetarians, etc…

I made these one day with a sample of romaine lettuce. These Turkey Romaine Wraps turned out especially well in its photo-op.

Recipe: Anise Jus

I get asked this question a lot, is “star anise” pronounced as “ah-niece” or “ah-nus”? According to the dictionary, the correct pronunciation is the one that sounds like anus… which is why most people prefer to pronounce it as “ah-niece”.

To make anise jus, it is almost identical to Recipe: Red Wine Jus except, remove the rosemary, thyme, and bay leaves and add a handful of star anise.

  • 6 duck carcasses
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 TBS black peppercorns
  • Handful star anise
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 bottles red wine

Method is exactly the same; add star anise with black peppercorns.

Sample dishes: