Duck Leg Confit with Celeriac & Hazelnuts

~ This is Day 262 ~

This was the second course of five to my #RontiniFriendsgiving 2020 menu. I usually serve one leg per person but I thought for this year, that might be a little too much food so I split the leg between drumstick and thigh. I love making duck leg confit mainly for the aroma. It fills my apartment with this heavenly scent. This is Duck Leg Confit sitting on a bed of silky Celeriac Purée and Brown Buttered Hazelnuts with dots of Montegrato Pedro Ximénez Sherry Vinegar Reduction.

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: Brown Buttered Hazelnuts

~ This is Day 257 ~

You can apply this cooking method to any type of nut, I assume, but I’ve only done this to hazelnuts, pistachios, walnuts, and pecans. Haven’t tried any other kind of nut but I think it should work.

In the restaurant kitchen, this counts as a garnish and garnishes are usually “snacked” on by cooks and chefs. They’re snacked on for a reason because these brown buttered nuts by themselves are indeed an addicting snack! You can either add these awesome toasted nutty nuts to your dish or eat them alone.

(It’s too late now but is it “brown buttered nuts” or “browned butter nuts”. I’m starting to second guess myself… but whatever, you know what I mean!)

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

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Plans for Friendsgiving 2018

I’m super late this year for my Friendsgiving menu. I hope this doesn’t become my new habit because the anxiety doesn’t help.

But here is what I have planned so far. Most of the courses are inspirations or almost near exact replicas from NYC restaurants (i.e. the first three courses). Please forgive me for any originality, it’s been a tiring and stressful year.

Scallop Crudo
Lemon Zest • Brown Butter • Chives
(1st course)

Roasted Kabocha Squash
Stracciatella • Pedro Ximénez • Pepitas
(2nd course)

Duck Leg Confit
Red Mole • Blue Corn Tacos
(3rd course)

Maple Lacquered Duck Breast
Apple Purée • Candied Pecans
(4th course)

Fudge Brownies
Chocolate Sculptures • Vanilla Ice Cream
(5th course)

Romescada

It’s snowing outside. It’s fucking freezing too. It’s unbearably chilly near my window. And all I want is this Romescada with Monkfish, Octopus, and Gambas.

Happy New Year & Happy Holidays!!!

Beet Salad with Dijon Mustard Vinaigrette

I am not a salad person. I have never ordered a salad in a restaurant. I didn’t understand why people loved salads – a bunch of raw vegetables (usually ones with zero or lacking of nutritional values) plopped on a plate, with an unhealthy dose of fatty dressing. Obviously, what I’m talking about are the salads from the 90s.

One of my chef instructors told me that to judge a restaurant or chef, one must order a seafood dish and/or a salad.

So, week by week, I have been creating new interesting salads (that I would eat) for the tasting menu, usually for the first or second course.

This one is a Roasted Red Beet Salad with Bayley Hazen Blue Cheese, Hazelnuts, Pea Tendrils and Dragon Mizuna Greens dressed in a Dijon Mustard Vinaigrette.

Recipe: Romescada

Romescada is a rustic seafood stew from Catalan, Spain. Romescada and Romesco sauce are very similar, in ingredients, but differ in method. Romesco sauce is typically pounded together (or whirled in a food processor or blended in a blender), and olive oil is added until the mixture resembles a reddish mayonnaise. However, Romescada is made with adding the individual ingredients one by one, creating a more in depth flavor profile.

What to add to Romescada is endless. Traditionally, the stew has monkfish or any other firm-fleshed white fish, such as sea bass, and any type of shellfish, bivalve, or cephalopod.

I make Romescada with the unreduced lobster stock from Sauce Américaine. That’s super flavorful. Also, I use sourdough for my bread slices.

  • 1 cup blanched almonds
  • 1 cup peeled hazelnuts
  • 4 slices bread, crusts removed
  • 2 medium Spanish onions, finely chopped
  • 4 dried Ñora chiles or 2 dried Ancho chiles
  • 2 fresh Fresno peppers, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 12 canned Piquillo peppers, chopped, more if needed
  • 2 tsp Pimentón Dulce (sweet paprika)
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 2 cups tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 quarts lobster stock/Sauce Américaine, more if needed
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil

Preheat oven to 400°F. Roast nuts and discard any skins. Then boil them for 15 minutes so that they are easy to blend.

In a large stockpot, add olive oil to depth of ¼-inch, fry 4 bread slices slowly on both sides until crisp and golden. Remove bread, drain on paper towel, cut into ½-inch cubes, and set aside. Add chopped onions to pot, season with salt and freshly ground pepper and cook until onion is softened and lightly colored, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat while you do the next step.

Put dried Ñora/Ancho chilis in a small pot with water, simmer for 15 minutes, drain, and discard water. Remove stems and seeds.

Put roasted nuts, fried bread, garlic, chilis, Fresno, piquillo, and paprika in a food processor. Blend until it comes to a thick paste, adding more piquillo peppers if necessary to make it catch.

Add mixture from food processor to softened onions and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and wine, simmer until mixture has dried out a bit. Add 2 quarts of lobster broth, simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning. If too thick, add more stock.

Sample dishes:

Romescada

Romescada is a rustic seafood stew from Catalan, Spain. Romescada and Romesco sauce are very similar, in ingredients, but differ in method. Romesco is typically made with fresh and dried red peppers, roasted almonds and hazelnuts, garlic, and day-old bread fried in olive oil. These ingredients are then pounded together (or whirled in a food processor), and olive oil is added until the mixture resembles a reddish mayonnaise.

Romescada is reminiscent of bouillabaisse. Often, the stew has monkfish or any other firm-fleshed white fish, such as sea bass, and any type of shellfish, bivalve, or cephalopod.

In my version, I have head-on prawns, little neck clams, and squid.

Scallop & Celeriac

This scallop was on the tasting menu yesterday and it will be on the tasting menu today as well. It is a Seared Scallop with Roasted Celeriac, Celeriac Purée, Hazelnuts, Granny Smith Apples, and Saltwort. I may run out the roasted celeriac today so I’m going to substitute it with kohlrabi.