i had a fantastically busy weekend, spent watching the food network, dismembering crabs, and accidentally sunburning - which is extra embarrassing when i think about the stockpile of hawaiian tropic i have in my apartment. i forgot to bring any and instead rubbed what turned out to be expired burt's bees sunblock all over my body, and i tell you, even sitting here typing this is painful. fortunately i think it's juuuuust mild enough that it won't peel, and maybe i'll even end this summer with a bit of color! maybe.
before it gets any fuzzier in my memory, though, i want to write about the dinner my sisters and i made for my parents for their anniversary. thirty years! they are absolutely my heros and number one role models, in life and in love. so we made them a ten-course, pretty-darn-fancy dinner, in hopes of giving them a celebration worthy of their big day.
the menu for the evening:
sourdough rolls with a trio of butters: truffle, tarragon and honey vanilla bean
west coast oysters served with fresh horseradish and lemon
salmon mustard amuse bouche
my sister emily's roasted carrot and avocado salad (which was DELICIOUS but i didn't get a photo of it - as was, sadly, the case with many of the courses. it was pretty hectic in the kitchen, as we were really trying to push out the courses one right after the other so dinner didn't take four hours. . . we managed it in about an hour and a half, which tells you what hustlers my sisters are, and why i don't have photos of about half the courses. i'm going to try to make this at home, photograph it, and put up the recipe, if emily okays it, because i only had one bite but it was heaven.)
avocado and yellowtail tartar with kumquats
truffle egg custard with sauteed oyster mushrooms and crispy duck skin (very similar to this.)
emily's beet & ginger risotto (again, beautiful and delicious with no photos. fail.)
esther's duck ricotta ravioli (arguably the big hit of the evening - there were a few extra which disappeared in NO time. recipe below, with compliments to the chef!)
steak three ways - one served with a classic bechamel and topped with half a baby heirloom tomato; one "steak frites"; one a deconstructed steak salad, with baby arugula, blue cheese, and a drizzle of good, thick balsamic dressing.
a duo of desserts - esther's champagne raspberry sorbet, served in a hollowed out orange and garnished with a raspberry; and my crepe cake with dark chocolate ganache and a cherry vanilla compote. this was so gorgeous and SO tasty, i really blew it not getting photos. will have to recreate sometime.
and some completed courses. . .
avocado & yellowtail tartar
truffle egg custard with sauteed mushrooms and crispy duck skin
steak three ways
and esther's astonishingly beautiful (and delicious) duck ricotta ravioli. recipe follows.
little sister esther's duck & ricotta ravioli
2 duck legs
about 3/4 cup of ricotta cheese
1/2 cup of baby arugula, plus more for garnish
about 3 T finely chopped shallot and garlic
salt & pepper to taste
about 1 cup blanched & chopped tomatoes, skins reserved
1/2 batch pasta dough (recipe and directions in the link, though you have to scroll through some awkward to get it.)
1 egg, beaten
start off by putting a good, thick pan on the stove and turn to medium high heat. add the duck with just a smidge of olive oil. salt & pepper it. allow it to get nice and crispy and lots of fat to render out - i placed another pan on top to help it cook through. flip it over; it should be good and crispy on both sides. let it cool.
once cooled enough, you'll want to rip it apart. we reserved the skin so i could use it on the custard, but it would also be good crisped up as a garnish for the ravioli, on a salad, or whathaveyou. rip the meat into smallish strands, and start the garlic & shallots in the pan that you used to cook the duck in - it should still be full of duck fat. once these start to turn transparent, add the duck, sautee for a minute or so, and then remove and put in a bowl to cool. once cooled to touch, add ricotta, then arugula, and stir up.
ready your pasta; make a sheet, brush it with the egg, and put a rounded tablespoon of filling every inch and a half or so, fold the sheet over, and stamp away.
carefully store these on a sheet pan in the freezer until you're ready to cook them.
get a pot of water boiling; use a pasta basket if you have it. throw in the raviolis and cook them for 5-6 minutes, until they have paled in color and float to the top of the water. heat the pan you used for the duck back up to medium high; toss cooked raviolis in there and sautee until they've got a bit of brown on them, then add the chopped tomatoes and toss in the pan for a few seconds before removing from heat. crisp up the tomato skins in the pan, and serve the raviolis on a plate, garnished with some baby arugula and the crispy tomato skins. voila!
thanks, esther, for letting me share your glory! so many more recipes to come - i know this blog has been food, food, food lately (i secretly prefer it that way) but i promise some outfitty stuff soon - i left my tripod attachment in california and i'm waiting for it to make its way back to me.