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.

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.

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)

Recipe: Sweet Pea Soup

I was meaning to post this recipe but life got caught in the way. Anyway, whenever spring comes, I love the harvest of fresh English peas. Having said that, I also dislike eating peas in their pea form, which is why I love making sweet pea soup.

  • 2 TBS butter
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 lbs fresh English peas, shelled
  • 1 medium Yukon Gold potato, chopped
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 55 g crème fraîche

Melt unsalted butter, then add onion and celery, and sweat until soft. Season with salt and pepper. Add chicken stock and potato, and raise the heat until it reaches a boil.

Cook the mixture until potatoes are done, add in the peas and bring to a boil. Cook until peas are tender, about 2 minutes.

Have a colander ready to strain mixture, making sure to reserve the liquid. Add solids to VitaMix and some liquid to adjust for consistency as its blending. Finish with crème fraîche and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Once fully blended and smooth, chill over an ice bath to preserve its green color.

Sample dishes:

Chicken Croquetas with Hot Paprika Aïoli

My first chef made these when I first started at Degustation and when my current chef went on vacation for two weeks, I decided to bring these Chicken Croquetas back, served with a Hot Paprika Aïoli.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, puréed or ground chicken or putty?? That whitish grey goop you see when you watch those behind the scene videos at meat factories… WELL, these are not like that. I boil the chicken and hand shred the meat and fold that into the béchamel.

Inside the béchamel, there is also celery, jalapeño, and red onion brunoise.

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:

Recipe: Red Wine Jus

Red Wine Jus is a meat sauce that is made with reduced red wine and reduced meat stock. I prefer using duck bones instead of the usual veal bones because duck bones are more flavorful and not overpowering. And also, I’m allergic to cow.

  • 6 duck carcasses
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 TBS black peppercorns
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 bottles red wine

For the duck carcasses, add in the neck and wings too if you don’t plan on using them for other purposes. Try to trim off as much fat as possible. Roast duck carcasses with some olive oil and salt in an oven at 450°F until nice and brown. In a large stock pot, add browned bones and fill water to cover. Bring to a boil, and simmer until reduced by half.

Remove bones and continue to reduce in a clean pot until gelatinous. On average, 6 carcasses will give you 1.5-2 quarts of gelatinous reduced stock.

Peel the onions and carrots and chop into 1-inch pieces. Cut celery stalks into the same length pieces. In a clean stock pot, heat up some neutral oil and sweat the onions, carrots, and celery. Stir, once soft, add garlic, peppercorns, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves until aromatic. Add in red wine vinegar and continue stirring.

Cook until almost dry and add in the two bottles of red wine. I prefer using deeper, drier red wines with hints of berries. Reduce until almost syrupy.

Strain red wine syrup into a clean pot, discard solids, and add in 1 cup of gelatinous reduced meat stock.

The jus should have some body to it and taste slightly acidic from the red wine. If you want more body to the jus, continue to reduce meat stock, or add some butter. Usually, you don’t need any salt but always taste to double-check.

Sample dishes:

Recipe: Sauce Américaine

As promised, here is my recipe for this amazing sauce.

If done right, this Sauce Américaine is one of the best things in life. Sauce Américaine is a traditional sauce in classical French cuisine, consisting of onions, tomatoes, white wine, brandy, cayenne pepper, butter, and fish velouté. In my interpretation of this sauce, I make a rich lobster stock first, reduce that down until almost syrupy, then mount in the butter, add in a touch of lemon, and et voila!

This recipe is for restaurant quantity, feel free to cut in half or by four to make for home use. Full recipe makes around two reduced quarts of stock.

  • 5 lbs lobster bodies, around 3-4 bodies per pound
  • 1 cup brandy
  • 2 Spanish onions, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 large carrots, sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 TBS black peppercorns
  • 8 thyme sprigs
  • 2 tarragon sprigs
  • 4 bay leaves
  • Handful garlic cloves
  • Handful parsley stems
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup tomato paste
  • Neutral cooking oil
  • Salt

Fresh lobster bodies are best but if you get them frozen, thaw them before use. Smashing frozen bodies is more difficult but it can still be done – it’s just tiring. Trust me. I prefer them fresh so the pounding is instantaneous.

In a rondeau (a wide, shallow pan, similar to a stock pot or a Dutch oven but not nearly as deep, the pan has straight sides), turn heat to high and heat up cooking oil. Add the lobster bodies when oil is about to smoke. Toss and turn and using a hammer or blunt instrument, crush/smash the heads until the coral comes out. Continuing tossing and turning so that it doesn’t burn. Add brandy and flambé aka light on fire. Be careful not to burn your eyebrows – because that does happen, never to me but I’ve seen the damage!

Once lobster bodies are red, add a little bit more cooking oil and add in the chopped vegetables, herbs, and spices (onions, carrots, celery, thyme, tarragon, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaves, parsley stems). Sauté the veggies until soft, add a little salt to breakdown cell walls. When onions are translucent and soft, add in the dry white wine (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc) and cook off wine until almost dry.

Add in tomato paste and toss paste to spread all around everything in the pot. Cook tomato paste for 2 minutes. Next, add enough water to fill the top of lobster bodies. Cover with lid or with foil and bring to a boil. Turn heat to medium low, and simmer for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, water levels should have reduced by half. Using a slotted spoon or mesh skimmer, take solids out and discard. Then using a chinois or mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth, stain liquid into a clean new sauce/stock pot. On high heat, reduce liquid until very dark and syrupy, about four-fifths.

Store lobster stock in pint containers and place in fridge. Best used within two weeks.

Serving ratio for two people:

When serving, heat up ¼ cup of stock, do not continue reducing, add in 2 TBS melted butter. Add a few drops of lemon juice and serve with accompanying sea creatures.

Sample dishes: