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.

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.

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)

Soft Scrambled Eggs with Uni Foam

I am a big uni (sea urchin) lover. At work, there are these cute porcelain uni vessels so I asked to borrow one to take home and take pictures with it.

Inside this uni bowl: Soft Scrambled Organic Eggs with Uni Foam, Chives, and Shichimi.

I looked online to find the price for one and there are three sizes, ranging from $10-$15 EACH! That’s too expensive for me now. But it’s on the back of my mind…

Poached Egg with Asparagus & Speck

To the average person, this seems like a breakfast/brunch/lunch item, and it is. In many tasting menus, egg is a popular course to put on towards the start of the tasting.

So here is a Sous Vide Poached Egg, Asparagus, Smoked Speck, Crispy Shallots, Grain Mustard Dressing, and Micro Parsley.

Recipe: Maple Ice Cream

FYI, I make all my ice creams with gelatin sheets – it makes the ice cream smoother and it gives it better texture!

  • ⅔ cup Grade B maple syrup
  • 1¾ cups heavy cream
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 gelatin sheets

First prepare an ice bath. Also, bloom gelatin sheets in some ice and water, set aside.

Heat maple syrup and reduce by a quarter, about 5 minutes, then set aside. In a saucepan, combine heavy cream and milk. Turn on heat to medium-high and warm it up in order to temper eggs. It shouldn’t get to boiling, just heat it up so that it’s hot to the touch then turn off the heat.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks and salt until combined. Temper eggs slowly with heavy cream/milk mixture then return to saucepan and heat. Continue whisking custard mixture until the temperature reaches 168°F. Remove from heat, add in the bloomed gelatin and reduced maple syrup. Taste for seasoning, add more salt if you like your maple ice cream to be less sweet. Then strain through a fine mesh strainer and cool over the ice bath.

Spin according to your ice cream machine’s instructions.

Sample dishes:

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.

Trio of Small Bites

Sometimes I like to start the first course of the tasting menu with a trio of small bites.

Here we have an east coast oyster (I don’t remember the name) with a hibiscus mignonette, a deviled egg, and a chicken croquette with hot paprika aïoli.

Arctic Char Carbonara

I love Arctic char over salmon, cooked that is. I almost never use salmon in any of my cooked dishes. Arctic char is related to both salmon and lake trout. I think it has better flavor than both of those fish.

This was Olive Oil Poached Arctic Char Carbonara with Housemade Fettuccine, Smoked Trout Roe, Crispy Skin, and Micro Dill.

I took the skin off the char and fried it. As for the flesh, in a water bath at 50°C, I sous vide it in extra virgin olive oil for 40 minutes.

Recipe: Salt Cured Duck Eggs

As a kid, I have always loved to eat the salt cured duck yolks in Chinese dumplings (zhongzi, lotus wrapped sticky rice) and mooncakes. For some reason, as an adult living in the U.S., I have an immense craving for it constantly. Buying them in Chinatown, you don’t know what kind of chemicals are preserving them because they come in styrofoam packages (which also makes me angry).

Traditionally, and when things were more innocent back then (without the use of harsh chemicals), these duck eggs were covered in salted charcoal. I remember going to the wet markets in Hong Kong and having to dig through a heap of black rub (the salted charcoal) in order to find the eggs.

This method, brining, gives the same flavor, just not the same pizazz. I have added a couple of quintessential Chinese spices to this recipe too!

  • 12 duck eggs
  • 4 quarts water
  • 4 cups salt
  • 2 TBS Sichuan peppercorns
  • 6 star anise

Place water, salt, Sichuan peppercorns, and star anise in a pot. Bring to a boil, simmer for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely and then place eggs into brine. Eggs need to be fully submerged, use plates as weights. Make a note in your calendar for 30 days!