Baked Gnocchi with Kale and Italian Sausage

Baked Gnocchi

Sometimes I dream about food.

I know… it’s kind of weird.

And I’m sure a dream expert could delve into it and say that it’s my subconscious telling me that I’m lacking this or that…..or that I’m seeking comfort of familiar things.

Baked Gnocchi

But I kind of think it may have something to do with the copious amounts of Thanksgiving specials I’ve been watching on the Food Network/Cooking Channel lately.

And it also could be a result of me binge watching a ton of episodes of  The Mind of a Chef on Netflix.

It’s what I do.

But stick with me on this.

Baked Gnocchi

At some point this weekend, I dreamt that I was at a small restaurant and the waiter was explaining to us that the special of the day was baked-handmade gnocchi. And I remembered how I thought it sounded absolutely fantastic. When I woke up, I didn’t remember anything else of the dream–other than the gnocchi.


Baked Gnocchi

Who knows.

But that set my course of action yesterday. I had to–no, I NEEDED to make baked gnocchi. Like, STAT!

I rummaged around my pantry and fridge and found that I had everything I needed. I even had some pre-packaged gnocchi I had picked up a few months ago that was just sitting on my shelf, waiting to be used.

Well, I should clarify and say that what actually went into the baked gnocchi was dictated on what proteins and veg I had on hand.

Baked Gnocchi

There was some Italian sausage tucked away in the freezer and half a bunch of kale in my fridge. But if you’re not a kale fan, chard or spinach would be just fine.

Baked Gnocchi

Since I opted for a cream based “sauce”, I thought the dish would need some texture and brightness to cut through all that richness. So while the gnocchi baked, I toasted up some panko bread crumbs with some herbs and spices….and fresh lemon zest!

Trust me on this, the lemon zest did brighten up the party!

Baked Gnocchi

The whole dish was pretty easy to assemble and if you keep a well stocked pantry–it’s a breeze. It really is a similar approach to how I make my mac & cheese but with less cheese. But if you want, go NUTS and use whichever you like…..fontina, gouda, asiago….

Baked Gnocchi

Had I been feeling extra ambitious, I would have made my own gnocchi. But seeing how I was slightly possessed/compelled by my dream, time was of the essence. If you’d like to make them from scratch, here’s how I make homemade gnocchi.

Baked Gnocchi

And if you’re still trying to pull together your Thanksgiving Day menu, this would be a great side dish that can be made in advance. Just add the breadcrumbs and bake until warm and bubbly before serving.

Have a wonderful week!


Baked Gnocchi with Kale and Italian Sausage


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ pound Italian sausage
1 tablespoon flour
½ cup wine
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup chicken stock, more if needed
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
½ teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
¾ teaspoon red pepper flakes, divided
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons chopped parsley, divided
kosher salt
1 pound gnocchi (pre-packaged or homemade)
2 loose cups torn kale leaves
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup shredded gruyere cheese
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat a large skillet with the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add in the sausage and use a wooden spoon to crumble up the meat while it’s browning. Once browned, use a slotted spoon to remove the sausage to a plate that has been lined with paper towels to drain.

Lower the heat to medium-low and sprinkle the flour over the residual sausage grease. Whisk together for a 1-2 minutes to allow the flour to cook through. Pour in the wine and continue whisking for 1 minute. Add the cream and chicken stock and whisk until smooth. Stir in the thyme, fennel seeds, ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, black pepper, nutmeg, and 1 tablespoon chopped parsley. Continue cooking the sauce for a few minutes until it thickens. More stock can be added if it gets too thick.

While the sauce cooks, boil the gnocchi in salted water for a few minutes until they float to the top of the pot. Drain well and pour directly into the cream sauce. Stir in the browned sausage, kale, mozzarella and gruyere. Taste and adjust with additional salt and pepper as needed. Pour the gnocchi mixture into a 9 inch dish and spread even. Bake the gnocchi for 10 minutes.

While the gnocchi bakes, melt the butter with the olive oil over medium heat in a small skillet. Add the panko breadcrumbs, lemon zest, and the remaining red pepper flakes and parsley. Toss and stir until the breadcrumbs have toasted and are golden.

After 10 minutes of baking, carefully remove the dish. Top the gnocchi with the breadcrumb mixture and return to the oven for another 5-7 minutes until the top is golden brown.

Once baked, allow the baked gnocchi to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

SFD – It’s a Family Thing

October 2015 SFD

It’s crazy to think of it but it’s been 3.5 years since my siblings and I first started having our monthly Sunday Family Dinners.

Every month we try to pick some type of theme for dinner and build a menu around it. Each of us are in charge of contributing some portion of the meal whether it be specialty cocktails, appetizers, entrees, desserts–or even staffing the grill.

And we try our darndest to not replicate dishes—which, I don’t mind saying, is kind of tough after 3+ years!

October 2015 SFD

If you’ve been with us since the beginning of our little tradition, you’ve seen the progression of the meals and in fact, some of them are quite elaborate. From “grilling” steaks with a BBQ chimney to breaking down whole ducks to use them beak-to-tail to reducing lobster stock for hours to make lobster martinis to full on N’Awlins seafood boil to a 9-course Korean feast with homemade kimchi….and that’s just to name a few!

October 2015 SFD
I get a lot of comments and compliments (THANK YOU for them!) about how great the food comes out. We’re often quite proud ourselves, too, but here’s a confession. Nearly every month, there’s some point in the preparation where things get really stressful and one (or more) of us starts freaking out.

It could be anything from the porchetta catching on fire (yeah…that did happen), the dessert not setting properly or having to double-fry pounds and pounds of French fries.   And that’s where the bickering usually comes in—but remember, we’re REAL siblings who are very close. If we didn’t bicker, we wouldn’t be family.

That, and the fact that we’re all Type A and OCD.

We blame it on our parents.

October 2015 SFD

But here’s the thing. Although the food is definitely a perk, the best part of SFD is hanging out with each other for no other purpose or cause other than Family Dinner.

It’s a time where the kids get assigned kitchen tasks to build their confidence in their own selves while allowing the adults to pass down a part of ourselves.

October 2015 SFD

It gives the siblings dedicated time to catch up on family gossip, work, and be silly with each other— over cocktails, of course. And the educator in me also sees it as an opportunity to do a little “team-building” as we come together and challenge ourselves with creating dishes that we often have never tried, let alone never made before.

October 2015 SFD

Because of the blog and because I love to document things, I’m always the one running around snapping pics of the fam, food and puppies. Since I’m still a novice/trial-and-error photographer, one of my stresses during SFD is trying to capture photos that I like. I love to snap photos with natural light and try to stay away from photo editing. But this gets particularly difficult during the latter part of the year where it gets dark so early.

So imagine me trying to finish my dishes while running around the house/kitchen/backyard to take photos. I can be a hot mess!

October 2015 SFDWhich, in full disclosure, is why it can take a couple of weeks after a SFD before I actually post the photos and write-up of the dinner. When I get back to San Diego after a weekend at my seesters’ respective houses, I’ll download the shots I took and peruse through them. If I’m unhappy with the quality of the photos, I start to procrastinate because, again, I am not a fan of photo editing……or at least my photo editing skills.

October 2015 SFD

That was certainly the case for our most recent dinner.

But after these past few days of horrific, HORRIFIC events that have taken place in the world, I’ve been reflecting a lot about my family, my loved ones, my work…..and really – just evaluating everything that is important to me.

October 2015 SFD
So when I pulled up the photos from our last SFD, I saw them from a very different perspective.  Shots that I was upset with because the white balance was off or not sharp didn’t frustrate me as when I first reviewed them. Instead, I focused on why I stopped to snap those particular pics in the first place. Like how Nini was covering her face because she didn’t want me to post pics of her (too bad!) or how sweet it was when Maya and Lucas were playing Wii.

October 2015 SFD
Or how the Coq au Vin big seestrah N made was one of the best I’ve ever had.

Or when seestrah T was rolling out homemade dough for her pie–because she rarely bakes!

Or how the boys decided to push tables into the tiny living room instead of using the dining room or backyard so that we could watch Green Bay get the smack down by the Broncos while we ate (HELL YEA!). GO VIKES!

October 2015 SFD
Essentially what I’m saying is that the next time I start freaking out about not being able to snap the perfect shot or become upset that the meat pies browned too much, I need to take a deep breath and check myself and remember to appreciate/enjoy the important things.

Don’t worry– that doesn’t mean the sibling bickering will ever stop.

October 2015 SFD

So indulge me this time around, Friends. In light of the heavy hearts so many of us have had these past few days–please go hug someone you love today. <3


This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Hard Pear Cider Sangria
Appetizers: Pot Roast and Cheddar Hand Pies
Entrees: Coq au Vin over Cheesy Polenta
Dessert: Flaky Salted Caramel Apple Pie

Chipotle-Beer Battered Fish Tacos…and We Turned 6!

Beer Battered Fish Tacos


My Achilles….

Well, one of the many at least.

Beer Battered Fish Tacos

And I gladly use ANY excuse to have them.

Monday = Taco Tuesday Eve…

Tuesday = Taco Tuesday!

Wednesday = The NEW Taco Tuesday...

Thursday = The NEW Taco Wednesday

Friday = Five More Days Until Taco Tuesday….

Beer Battered Fish Tacos

So it’s really no surprise that I’d default to them in light of our 6th Blogiversary!

Yes Friends, this week marks 6 years that I turned to this space to jabber about food, share lots of pics and tell random anecdotes about my family and loved ones.

Beer Battered Fish Tacos

Thanks so much for sticking around with me through the years and for all of the wonderful messages and positive energy you send through the blog-o-verse.

I heart y’all dearly. <3

Beer Battered Fish Tacos

And if I could, I would invite EVERYONE over for a Taco Fiesta to show my appreciation! But alas, mi casa is tiny….

So for now, let me share with you these Chipotle-Beer Battered Fish Tacos. It’s a riff on the beloved Baja Fish Tacos with a slight smoky kick from the addition of chipotles and adobo sauce. They’re wonderfully crisp, bright, and will just put a big–BIG smile on your face.

Much, MUCH ALOHAS to you all…and here’s to many more Foodventures! <3


Chipotle-Beer Battered Fish Tacos
Makes approximately 8-12 tacos


1 cup Mexican crema or sour cream
2 whole chipotle peppers (canned in adobe sauce), divided
2 tablespoons adobo sauce from the canned chipotle peppers, divided
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
vegetable oil
1 pound cod or other firm white fish, cut into 1½ strips|
kosher salt
black pepper
1½ cups all purpose flour
2 heaping tablespoons cornstarch
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 ounces cold lager (I used Pacifico)
8-12 small tortillas (I used homemade flour tortillas)
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 cup thinly sliced cucumbers
sliced avocados
pickled red onions
1 cup thinly sliced radish
2 cups grape tomatoes, quartered
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
lime wedges
hot sauce

Place the crema, 1 chipotle pepper, 1 tablespoon adobo sauce and lime juice in a blender. Puree until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready for use.

Fill a heavy bottom pot with about 2 inches of oil. Heat until it reaches 375 degrees F.

While the oil heats, prepare the fish. Using paper towels, blot off any excess moisture from the fish. Season well with kosher salt and pepper.

Place ½ cup of the flour in a shallow dish. Whisk ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper into the flour. In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining flour, cornstarch, baking powder, garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne pepper. Slowly whisk in the beer until just combined. Mince the remaining chipotle pepper finely and add it with the remaining adobo sauce to the batter. Whisk until just combined.

Work in batches of 3-4 pieces at a time to cook the fish. First, dredge the fish into the seasoned flour. Dust off any excess flour before dipping them into the batter. Allow the excess batter to run off the fish before carefully laying it into the heated oil. Fry the fish for about 2-3 minutes on each side, depending on thickness, until golden brown and cooked through. Remove the fish from the oil and drain on a wire rack that has been placed over a tray or plate. Continue with the process until all of the fish has been cooked.

Assemble the tacos. Warm each tortilla over a skillet, open flame or microwave. Place a small mound of shredded cabbage inside the tortillas. Top with avocado, cucumbers, pickled onions, 1-2 pieces of crispy fish, radish slices, tomatoes, drizzle of chipotle crema, and cilantro. Serve immediately with lime wedges and hot sauce (optional).

Crispy Greek Fries — Opa!!!

Greek Fries

I absolutely die for French Fries.

In fact, my headstone will likely read something along the lines of….

“Here lies Nam…
Loyal daughter, sister, friend…
Mother to puggle Bella…
Devotee of Jack Johnson…

And she LOVED French Fries.”

It borderlines obsession, People. But can you blame me? Crispy, crunchy exterior with a creamy, starchy interior.


It goes without saying that if I see any variation of my beloved on a menu, I will order it. Truffle fries, poutine, carne asada fries….I love them all.

When I used to live in San Jose, I would often go to this little Greek restaurant in the neighborhood called Opa! They had these wonderful Mediterranean style fries on their menu with tons of Feta, garlic, and spices. Just sublime.

Since I’ve moved back down to SoCal, I often find myself with a hankering for those golden delicious, Greek inspired fries. And with just a few ingredients (and a little help from frozen French Fries), I can do a pretty bang up job recreating the Crispy Greek Fries in very little time.

While the potatoes crisp up in the oven, I whip up a simple vinaigrette that mirrors the flavors of a Greek salad. The vinaigrette adds a great flavor and acidity to help cut the richness of the fries and cheese. Once the fries are done, I toss them with a bunch of Feta, Mizithra (if I happen to have some), fresh herbs and bit of the vinaigrette.

And well…you can pretty much guess what happens then.

I black out in a French Fries frenzy and the next thing I know, the plate is empty with only a few specks of Feta as evidence that they ever existed.

I have no shame. Especially when fries are involved.

Crispy Greek Fries

1 pound frozen French Fries
cooking spray
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced shallots
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup quality extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
black pepper
6 ounces crumbled Feta cheese (I used a garlic-herb blend)
2 tablespoons grated Mizithra cheese (optional)
2 tablespoons minced parsley

Cover a large baking sheet with cooking spray and arrange the frozen French Fries into a single layer on top. Coat the top of the fries with additional cooking spray and bake according to package directions until crispy. Be sure to flip and turn the fries a few times during the baking process. I often like to turn the oven on broil for the last minute or so to get them extra crispy. If you want EXTRA CREDIT, fry the French Fries in peanut or vegetable oil that has been heated to 350 degrees F. And if you want to go ALL IN, peel and cut whole potatoes and then deep-fry them.

While the fries bake, prepare the vinaigrette. In a small jar, add the garlic, shallots, oregano, red pepper flakes, mustard, vinegar and oil olive. Add ¼ teaspoon kosher salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Secure the lid tightly on the jar and shake vigorously for a minute until the items have combined and emulsified. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper as needed. Set aside.

Once the fries have cooked through and are crisp, transfer them to a large bowl. Add the Feta, Mizithra (optional), parsley and a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Toss well and add additional vinaigrette if needed to lightly coat the fries. Plate and serve warm.

Our Fishermen Bring it in for Family Dinner!

Fishing Wknd.2

Several weeks ago we sent our boys out to reel us in some fish.

Well actually, they didn’t go on our bidding but rather my B.I.L.(s)–brothers in law, took off for their annual deep sea fishing trip off the coast of San Diego.

But BOY, oh BOY did they come through!

In years past, they’d come back with some beautiful fish (mostly tunas) that would immediately be inhaled as sashimi, poke and other forms of sushi. Sure, we’d keep a few fillets in the freezer for a rainy day but those, too, would quickly disappear.

Fishing Wknd

But this year, those boys must have been doing some crazy praying to Poseidon because it was raining Dorado and Yellowfin for them!

Look at all of those beauties!!!

Someone pass me some soy sauce and wasabi because I’d totally be Gollum up in there!

Don’t judge my LOTR reference….

Fishing Wknd.3

The entire haul was split up among all of the guys on the boat but it still left each person with a hefty amount of Yellowfins and Dorados.


With all of the beautifully fresh and wonderful fish, our theme for Family Dinner was born.

Simple really—we wanted to focus on creating dishes that were fresh and in season.

Fishing Wknd.4And as always, it started off with cocktails. Because cocktails make the world go round….at least we like to think so.

Since it’s Autumn (despite the 80 degree weather we’re having), I decided to serve up a bunch of Apple Moscow Mules. They’re super easy to make and I love how it’s a delicious spin on one of my favorite cocktails.

Apple Moscow MuleSeester T also served up some Champagne Cocktails which was essentially chilled sparkling wine with about an ounce of elderflower cordial. The cordial adds a lovely floral profile to the cocktail. Since elderflower cordial can be a bit on the sweeter side, I’d recommend choosing a brut sparkling wine to balance it.

Wondering how Champagne is seasonal in the Fall?

Champagne season is year round silly.

CocktailLobster season begins in late September here in California.

And since my family gravitates towards lobsters like teenage girls to a Taylor Swift concert, it had to be on the menu in some shape or form.

Sweet, tender and just so damn good.

LobsterSeestrah N chose to make little Chipotle Lobster & Avocado Sliders using Kings Hawaiian Sweet Rolls.

In all honestly, I would have been happy with 2-3 of these beauties and call it a day. But we’re gluttons during Family Dinner– so we noshed on them as appetizers to tie us over.

Lobster RollOf the two catches the boys brought home, we chose to serve the Dorado over the Yellowfin.

Dorado, commonly known as mahimahi or dolphinfish, isn’t a fish that I have too often. Rarely when I do order it out, it’s either in a fish taco or prepared with some type of blacken Cajun seasonings. So when T said she was going to grill it, I thought–heck, if you say so.

She marinated the fillets in a clarified butter-anchovy-capers-herb mixture before the boys grilled them. The Dorado was then finished with some of the sauce it was marinated in and then topped with chopped parsley.

It was awesome.

Surprisingly moist and tender—nothing like I’ve ever experienced with Dorado before. I’m certain it has to do with how fresh the fish was but I am definitely going to give it another try next time I see it on a menu.


T served the fish with a warm Cannellini Bean and Arugula Salad. The vinaigrette had some of the same ingredients as the fish marinade but she also added briny olives and crunchy diced celery. It was a wonderful light pairing to the Dorado.

On a side note, the leftover salad was fantastic the next morning with a runny fried egg on top. Brunch goals and all…..

Cannelini SaladAnd finally, Dessert.

I knew I wanted to make some sort of fruit tart since the prior few Family Dinners were all chocolate desserts. The week leading up to Family Dinner, I had seen figs EVERYWHERE at my markets in San Diego. Because of it, I was inspired to make a Pistachio-Fig Tart filled with a Marscapone Cream.

But when I had gone up to Orange County for the weekend for dinner, I couldn’t find figs for the life of me! I had gone to 5 different stores in search of them but apparently they must have all gone to San Diego on vacation.

N had convinced me to go with plums instead since it was nearing the end of its season. It wasn’t too bad. Although I had grilled the plums, we all agreed that it would have been better had I sprinkled it with sugar and brûléed it. Still, the flavor was good–despite the elusive figs.


All in all, it was a great Family Dinner and was even on the lighter side…..for us, at least :)

BIG THANKS to my B.I.L.s for bringing in the greatest catch for us to date!


This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Apple Moscow Mules and Champagne Cocktails
Appetizers: Chipotle Lobster and Avocado Sliders
Entrees: Grilled Herb Butter Mahi Mahi with Cannellini Bean & Arugula Salad
Dessert: Pistachio-Plum Tart with Marscapone Cream

Apple Moscow Mules — SKOL!

Apple Moscow Mules

By now y’all may have recognized my rather intense allegiance and unwavering devotion to my sports teams. Sure….some may call it an obsession but I like to think of it as loyalty.

I love my VIKINGS and TROJANS. I bleed Purple and Gold AND Cardinal and Gold…..simultaneously!

Apple Moscow Mules

I’m a proud, proud fan.

I talk the talk… I wear the gear….and I got all the goodies.

It’s how we do it.

Apple Moscow Mules

For years, Duck House Sports has been fulfilling all my fanatical needs to ensure that there’s never a doubt who I root for. And I’m not talking about just your basic stuff you can pick up at your local sports store.

We’re talking about Drinkware, Kitchenware, Cookware, Candles, Electronics, and even Ottomans—all printed with the logos/seals of my beloved Vikings and Trojans!

They mean business people!!!

Apple Moscow Mule

My latest acquisition that I am truly OBSESSED with are these freaking awesome Copper Moscow Mule Mugs that have the Vikings logo etched into them. Anyone who knows me, knows how much this gal appreciates a Moscow Mule. So when it’s served in a true copper mug with her beloved NFL team–it’s cause for celebration!

Get those parades going!

To break in my new mugs, I decided to make a few rounds of Moscow Mules….but with an Autumn twist to fit the season. And what is more Fall than apples?

Apple Moscow Mules

Instead of plain vodka, I used a few ounces of apple flavored vodka and added some apple cider to the party. I opted for the Gala Apple flavored vodka from Stolichnaya which is a seasonal item for them. It has a light fragrance and I adore it. But one thing remains true for this mule version as with the old–you’ve got to use a ginger beer with a bite. If not, it’ll be way too sweet and that’s just is really no bueno.

If you’re wondering, I’m not being compensated by Duck House Sports for singing their praises. I just really LOVE all their stuff so if you admire a sports team the way I love my Vikes and Trojans, go check them out so you can step up your fan game.

Have a great weekend Friends and SKOL!!!!!!!


Apple Moscow Mule
Serves 1


2 ounces quality apple flavored vodka
2 ounces apple cider
1/2 ounce lime juice
4 ounces ginger beer
1-2 dashes Angostura Bitters
apple slices, mint sprigs and lime slices for garnish

Fill a Mule mug (or glass of your choice) with ice. Pour the vodka, apple cider and lime juice over the ice. Slowly pour the ginger beer into the mug and stir. Add the dashes of Angostura Bitters to the top and garnish with apple slices, lime slices and mint sprigs.


Crispy Black Cod with Uni {Sea Urchin} Risotto

Black Bass with Uni Risotto

Crispy Black Cod over Uni Risotto.

You need this in your life. You really, REALLY do.

And the truth of the matter is, we made this incredibly decadent dish earlier this year at a Family Dinner though I didn’t post it because I wasn’t a fan of the pictures. But I came across them again while I was digging through my external hard drive and found my mouth watering.

It was so damn good.

Uni (Sea Urchin)

Seeing how we try our darnedest to try and not make the same dish twice for Family Dinner, I knew it would be awhile before I had the chance to rephotograph it. So I apologize for the photo quality but trust me on this, you’ll love this dish.

It was a collaboration between my seestrah T and I. She wanted a luscious fish and although we would usually turn to sea bass, we opted for black cod since it’s much more affordable. Sea bass has a very high oil content which keeps it wonderfully moist and almost buttery once cooked. Black cod mirrors the rich and decadent textures of sea bass but there are a TON of bones in them. So make friends with your fish monger and let them do the work for you.

Black Bass with Uni Risotto

I was in charge of the starch component of the dish and thought risotto would be wonderful with the tender fish. To send things over the top, I chose to make uni risotto by using my base risotto recipe but stirred in lots of pureed uni towards the end. The briny, mildly sweet flavor it brought to the rice was such a wicked compliment to the cod.

Here in Southern California, shelled uni can be found in the sashimi sections of Japanese and other Asian grocery stores. And if you’re feeling really adventurous, you can buy them whole in their spiny shells and remove them at home. I, for one, am okay with not shanking myself and opt to get them prepackaged.

Black Bass with Uni Risotto

And since more uni is always better in my book, we had to top off the whole thing with 1-2 extra pieces. If you’re going to do it, do it right.





Crispy Black Cod with Uni {Sea Urchin} Risotto
Serves 4


12 ounces fresh uni (sea urchin )
4¼ cups seafood stock (ie. lobster, shrimp, etc.), divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 cup diced white onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 cup Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
kosher salt
black pepper
4 pieces black cod, skin-on, de-boned (5-6 ounces each)
vegetable oil
chopped chives to garnish

Take all but 4-6 pieces of uni and put it in a blender with ¼ cup seafood stock. Pulse until it becomes smooth and set aside. Alternatively, you can use an immersion blender or hand-whisk the uni into the stock. The latter method will not have as smooth of a finish.

Heat the remaining seafood stock in a medium saucepan and keep warm over low heat.

Heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a pot (or large, deep set skillet) over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until softened and translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, thyme leaves, rice and stir quickly until the rice is well coated and opaque—about 1-2 minutes.  Stir in the wine and cook until the liquid is nearly all evaporated.

Ladle in 1 cup of the hot stock into the rice. Simmer and slowly stir over medium-low heat until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Add the remaining stock, 1 cup at a time. Continue to simmer and constantly stir, allowing the rice to absorb each addition of stock before adding more. Once done, the risotto should be slightly firm and creamy–approximately 25 minutes in total. Stir in the pureed uni, cheese and remaining butter. Check for seasonings and adjust with the kosher salt and pepper.

While the risotto cooks, heavily season both sides of the cod with black pepper and salt. Using a sharp knife, score the skin side of the fish. Choose a skillet that can handle a high level of heat (ie. cast iron, stainless steel, etc.) Heat the skillet over high heat so that it becomes screaming hot. Once it reaches the desired temperature, add a few tablespoons vegetable oil and swirl it around the skillet. Carefully place each fish, skin side down into the oil. Using a spatula, gently press down on the fish so that they don’t curl up on the sides. Cook the first side of the cod for about 3 minutes — depending on the thickness. Be careful not to flip the fish before the skin has crisped up and formed a crust. Once the first side has cooked, about 2/3 way through, flip and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove the fish from the skillet.

Spoon the risotto into the dishes. Place one piece of cod on top of the risotto and then place 1-2 pieces of uni atop the fish. Sprinkle each plate with chopped chives and serve immediately.