Tacos de Papa {Crispy Potato Tacos}

Tacos de Papa

I have something spectacular for y’all to whip up for your Cinco de Mayo festivities tomorrow….

TACOS DE PAPA!!!!

Oh yes, you know you want it.

Crispy tacos filled with a spiced, cheesy-potato concoction and then topped with all kinds of perfect fixins’!

Tacos de Papa

Did you really expect anything less from this Potato-Monster?

I told you I love potatoes in all forms. And when you have a love for potatoes and an obsession with tacos, things like this are just bound to make its way into my kitchen.

Tacos de Papa

Though truthfully, the first time I tried Tacos de Papa, I wasn’t really a fan. It was a few years ago when I first moved to San Diego. I strolled into one of the nearby taquerias and saw a huge sign touting that they had the BEST Tacos de Papa around.

So of course, I had to order them.

Tacos de Papa

But when I took a bite….I was totally let down.

Essentially, it was just a taco filled with boiled potatoes with no spices. BLEH! How bland could you get? So naturally, I was hesitant to order them again.

Thankfully, I was at a small Mom and Pop spot a year or so later and saw a plateful of heaven being delivered to a table nearby. I was immediately struck by food envy and had to try it out.

Tacos de Papa

This time around, these Tacos de Papa were a whole different story. The filling were a cheesy, mashed potato with Latin spices. Now this was what I had hoped for the first time around.

And since then, I make them all of the time.

Tacos de Papa

They’re actually quite easy to make and can be topped with any of your favorite fixins’. You can even doctor up leftover mashed potatoes for a quick meal. Though, I don’t know about you, but I rarely ever have leftover mashed taters.

For extra credit, I like to fry up my own crispy taco shells. They tend to have a better texture with just a little bit of extra effort. Though, store-bought is just fine as well.

Tacos de Papa

Looking for other menu ideas to go along with Tacos de Papa for your Cinco de Mayo menu? How about:

Turkey and Peppers Tacos
Fish Tacos with Avocado-Slaw
Grilled Shrimp Tacos with Spicy Avocado Crema
Roasted Poblano Guacamole
Oven-Roasted Tomato Salsa
Fresh Corn Pico de Gallo
Tortillas de Harina
Blended Mango Margarita
Blood Orange Margarita

Have a Happy Cinco de Mayo!

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Tacos de Papa {Crispy Potato Tacos}
Serves 2

Ingredients:

Avocado-Cabbage Slaw
1 cup ripe avocado, diced
¼ cup Mexican crema or sour cream
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
½ jalapeno pepper, finely diced and seeded
1 tablespoon lime juice
½ tablespoon agave or honey
kosher salt
pepper
2 cups shredded cabbage

Filling:
kosher salt
1 large Russett potato, washed, peeled, cubed
3-4 whole garlic cloves
1 cup shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
¼ cup Mexican crema or sour cream
¼ cup chopped scallions
2 heaping tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
black pepper

Other:
4 crispy taco shells (store bought or homemade)
½ cup diced tomatoes
¼ cup radishes, cut into matchsticks
2 heaping tablespoons Cotija cheese
¼ cup cilantro leaves
lime wedges
hot sauce or salsa of your choice
Prepare the Avocado-Cabbage Slaw. In a blender, puree the avocado, crema, cilantro, jalapeno pepper, lime juice and agave until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. In a large bowl, toss the cabbage with a few spoonfuls of the avocado puree until lightly coated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Prepare the potato filling by bringing a medium sized pot of water to a boil. Add ½ tablespoon kosher salt, potatoes and garlic cloves. Lower the heat to medium. Boil the potatoes until they are tender—about 20 minutes. Drain the pot and add the cheese, spices, and crema. Using a potato masher, mash the items until they are smooth. Stir in the chopped scallions and cilantro. Season with additional salt and black pepper as needed. Set aside.

If you’re frying your own taco shells, pour vegetable oil into a deep pan until it is about ½ an inch deep. Heat the oil to medium Taking one tortilla at a time, fry on each side. Once it becomes golden, take tongs to fold the tortilla in half and hold it in place until it becomes crispy and takes on the shape of a taco. Fry until golden brown and drain on a plate covered with paper towels. Continue until all the shells have been made.

Assemble the tacos. Take one crispy shell and fill it with a quarter of the potato mash. Top with spoonfuls of the Avocado-Cabbage Slaw. Top with the tomatoes, radishes, cilantro and a sprinkle of the Cotija cheese. Continue until all the tacos have been assembled and serve with lime wedges, pico de gallo, hot sauce, etc.

 

Tortillas de Harina {Flour Tortillas}

Tortillas de Harina {Flour Tortillas}

Because it’s Friday, the sun is shining, and Cinco de Mayo is just a few days away……

it’s Tortillas de Harina time!

Tortillas de Harina {Flour Tortillas}

I’ve always preferred flour tortillas to corn.  And c’mon now, there is just something about fresh tortillas that you just cannot beat. But truthfully, I’ve always been kind of shy to make them as I was never sure as to what type of “fat” yielded the best texture and flavor.

Vegetable oil? Lard? Shortening?

Tortillas de Harina {Flour Tortillas}

So one morning a few months ago, I woke up and channeled my inner abuelita. I played around with several different recipes that varied from AP flour to bread flour to a mixture of both masa and AP. I tried vegetable oil bases,  shortening and even lard.

And in the end….the winner in my book? A combo of AP flour and vegetable shortening—and a recipe courtesy of Chef Rick Bayless, the American chef who is renown for authentic Mexican cuisine.

Tortillas de Harina {Flour Tortillas}

Thankfully, the recipe is quite simple and the resting time is only about 30 minutes.  Once rolled out, the tortilla is cooked on a hot cast iron skillet for less than a minute. Tender, slightly flaky (I’d say due to the shortening)….perfect.

You can also add chopped cilantro, chiles, lime zest, etc. Anything that your heart may desire.

Hands down, my new go-to tortilla recipe. And something you DEFINITELY should make for your upcoming Cinco de Mayo festivities!

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Tortillas de Harina {Flour Tortillas}
Makes 12 large tortillas or 24 taco sized tortillas

Ingredients:

2¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus a little extra for rolling the tortillas
5 tablespoons lard or vegetable shortening, or a mixture of the two (I used shortening)
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ cup very warm tap water

Make the dough. Combine the flour and fat in a large mixing bowl, working in the fat with your fingers, until completely incorporated. Dissolve the salt in the water, pour about 2/3 cup of it over the dry ingredients and immediately work it in with a fork; the dough will be in large clumps rather than a homogeneous mass. If all the dry ingredients haven’t been dampened, add the rest of the liquid (plus a little more, if necessary). Scoop the dough onto your work surface and knead until smooth. It should be medium-stiff consistency — definitely not firm, but not quite as soft as most bread dough either.

Rest the dough. Divide the dough into 12 portions and roll each into a ball. Set them on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and let rest at least 30 minutes (to make the dough less springy, easier to roll).

Roll and griddle-bake the tortillas. Heat an ungreased griddle or heavy skillet over medium to medium-high heat.On a lightly floured surface, roll out a portion of the dough into an even 7-inch circle: Flatten a ball of dough, flour it, then roll forward and back across it; rotate a sixth of a turn and roll forward and back again; continue rotating and rolling until you reach a 7-inch circle, lightly flouring the tortilla and work surface from time to time.Lay the tortilla on the hot griddle (you should hear a faint sizzle and see an almost immediate bubbling across the surface). After 30 to 45 seconds, when there are browned splotches underneath, flip it over. Bake 30 to 45 seconds more, until the other side is browned; don’t overbake the tortilla or it will become crisp. Remove and wrap in a cloth napkin placed in a tortilla warmer. Roll and griddle-bake the remaining tortillas in the same manner and stacking them one on top of the other.

Recipe from Rick Bayless

Bucatini with Anchovies and Kale

Bucatini with Anchovies and Kale

Earlier this morning, I ran around town knocking out some errands. Nothing out of the usual….stopping by at the dry cleaners, making my bi-daily homage to Target and picking up some groceries.

I came a cross a beautiful bunch of organic Lacinato Kale for only a $1! Smoking Deal!

This particular variety originates from Italy–Tuscany to be specific. Since I couldn’t pass up the bargain, I grabbed a few bunches for the week.

Fresh Kale

As I was finishing my last errand, I had that moment. That brink when you know things may take a quick turn for the worst.

Yeah…I was about to get h’angry.

Hide yo’ kids! Hide yo’ wives!

It’s not a pretty picture ….and I needing something quick to make to save the world from the Namzilla.

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As soon as I got into the kitchen, I quickly got a pot of water boiling and threw in some bucatini. At first glance, bucatini looks like a thick spaghetti noodle. But it actually is hollow inside and has a great texture and “toothiness” because of it.

Bucatini with Anchovies and Kale

While the noodles boiled, I minced up a pile of garlic and chopped up the kale into thin, long strips–a chiffonade. After quickly sauteing the garlic in olive oil, I added a generous amount of red pepper flakes and a huge dollop of anchovy paste.

Bucatini with Anchovies and Kale

Don’t freak out. The anchovy paste does not taste “fishy” at all but adds a rich, salty depth of flavor that you just can’t replicate. And if you don’t have anchovy paste, feel free to use 2-3 anchovy fillets.

Once the oil is infused with the garlic and anchovies, I added the kale and cooked them until they were tender but still had a bite to them.

Bucatini with Anchovies and Kale

Toss in the cooked bucatini, chopped tomatoes, parmesan–and that’s it!!! Super quick, super savory, and totally satisfying. The whole thing took about 15 minutes to whip up and is perfect for a fast weekday meal.

Phew…Crisis Averted.

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Bucatini with Anchovies and Kale
Serves 3

Ingredients:

kosher salt
½ pound dried bucatini pasta (or other long strand pasta of your choice)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (more to finish)
1 heaping tablespoon anchovy paste or 2-3 anchovy fillets
½ bunch kale, chiffonade
1 cup diced tomatoes
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese (more to finish)
black pepper

Boil the pasta for approximately 7-8 minutes in heavily salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta and reserve ¼ cup of the starchy water that the pasta was cooked in.

While the pasta cooks, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and cook for 1-2 minutes to infuse the oil. Add in the anchovies and stir until it melts into the oil. Toss in the kale and cook for 2 minutes until the leaves have wilted.

Toss in the cooked bucatini, tomatoes and cheese — coating the pasta well. If you want a looser based “sauce”, add a tablespoon at a time of the starchy pasta water until you reach your desired consistency. Season with additional kosher salt and black pepper as needed. Plate the pasta and cover each dish with additional parmesan and red pepper flakes.

Rockin’ Seafood Burgers and Our Backyard Family Antics

Seafood Burgers

April’s Family Dinner was my brother-in-law, Curtis‘, choice as his birthday was just a few days away. And when given the option, Curtis nearly always picks seafood.

We casually brainstormed at the last Family Dinner, throwing out seafood ideas we could potentially make. Initially we were going to tackle some whole fish baked in a sea salt dome but a few weeks ago, I met up for lunch in Newport Beach with some friends at Dory Deli. I had a delicious Ahi Burger and it inspired me to convince the sibs to change our menu.

April 2015 Family Dinner

Since we were all attending my Uncle’s retirement party that Sunday, we had our Family Dinner on a sunny, Saturday afternoon at my seester’s house in Orange County. On days like those, we try to take advantage of the warm weather and enjoy their wonderful backyard.

Lately, I also have been feeling like our lilmunchkins will soon become old munchkins–which has motivated me to take even more pictures of them to try and preserve these moments.

Why do they have to grow up????

Oh, that’s right…we need someone to take care of us during our senile years.

April 2015 Family Dinner

The adults sipped on Lychee-Mint Martinis while we prepped and caught up on life. They’re a light and refreshing martini that can be a bit dangerous because you don’t realize how strong they are until you’ve had a few.

They’re a spin off my Lychee Saketinis but with added herbal notes from the fresh mint that is pureed with the lychees and a heavy hand of fresh lime juice.

Lychee-Mint Martinis

To nosh on, big seester wrapped tender asparagus with slices of salty prosciutto and roasted them in the oven. When she wasn’t looking, I sprinkled finely grated parmesan cheese over the asparagus during the last few minutes while it roasted to add a bit more umami.

I kind of hate myself a little any time I use that phrase but alas…how else can you describe it?

#FirstWorldProblems

Asparagus wrapped in Prosciutto

Since we were having burgers, we thought onion rings would also be a nice addition. But then big seester said…

“STEP UP YOUR GAME! Fry up a Blooming Onion instead!”

Okay…she may not have said it that way, but that’s what I heard when she was talking to me.

April 2015 Family Dinner

If Seester wants a Blooming Onion, Seester gets a Blooming Onion. So I took advantage of the outdoor range and got to frying.

But between you and I, I didn’t get as pretty of a “bloom” as I usually do. Partly because I didn’t dredge it enough and partly because I should have used a smaller pot to help the onion stay a little more intact. It still tasted good but looked more like a flattened sunflower instead of a full dahlia.

For the recipe and pics of how it should have looked, meander on over here.

Crispy Blooming Onion

With a little food in our bellies and libations in our veins, we set about on a little bit of shenangians.

Like balloon soccer and some auntie-niece bonding time….

April 2015 Family Dinner

And there may have also been a little bit of backyard dancing that was involved. Because who doesn’t want to shake their booties to a little 90s R&B?

Eventually we turned our focus back on to dinner because the munchkins morph into Gremlins if they aren’t fed at regular intervals.

Mogwais? Freaking Adorable! Gremlins? Terrifying.

April 2015 Family Dinner

Since the main star of our meal were to be burgers, I volunteered to bake the buns. I was well aware of the heavy responsibility I signed up for but let’s face it. You can have a fantastic burger “patty” but if the bread is terrible, you’re a super sad panda.

Luckily, I stumbled upon a fantastic Brioche Bun recipe from Comme Ça. They were perfect and will now be my go-to recipe for burger buns. I’ll be sharing the recipe and my adventure with them soon.

We also snagged a few Squid Ink Rolls from 85c Bakery Cafe which is an incredibly popular Taiwanese bakery pumping out delicious breads and pastries around the clock. The roll itself is a bit shocking at first glance as it’s a deep black color. However, one bite into the soft roll and any negative misconceptions will be forgotten. They’re scrumptious and should not be passed up on if you happen to stop by one of their bakeries.

Brioche Buns

As for the “patties”, we prepared two types of fish.

The first were Chipotle Salmon Patties from How Sweet It Is. Roughly ground salmon with tons of spices, adobo sauce and parsley. The initial recipe called for the patties to be rolled in crushed tortillas chips before pan-frying them but we opted to use panko bread crumbs instead. These patties were served with a chipotle mayo.

The second were thick Ahi Steaks that were lightly marinated and then grilled–still keeping the centers beautifully pink and rare.

Seared Ahi

Our sides for the evening were hand cut, double-fried French Fries that were also fried up in the backyard and my Roasted Corn and Avocado Salad.

And I don’t mind saying that if you haven’t tried my Roasted Corn and Avocado Salad before, you really must add it to your list for summer grilling dishes. It really is a fantastic side for burgers, ribs, grilled chicken—practically everything!!

April 2015 Family Dinner

We gathered a bunch of fixins’ to top the burgers with. Butter lettuce, baby arugula, creamy avocado slices, tomatoes, my pickled red onions, chipotle mayo, my niece’s “crack sauce” and even tobiko — Japanese flying fish roe.

What’s Crack Sauce? It’s my niece, Stephanie’s, concoction that she uses as a base for her Spicy Tuna mixture. I really don’t know what it consists of other than mayo, tons of sriracha, sesame oil, tobiko and whatever else voodoo goodness she throws in it. And honestly, you can schmear it on or dip anything in it.

SO GOOD!

April 2015 Family Dinner

My family suffers from the MustTakePhotosOfFood Affliction.

Have you heard of it?

No?

WebMd it.

April 2015 Family Dinner

Here’s a head shot of the burgers…

Panko Crusted-Chipotle Salmon Burger with baby arugula, avocados, pickled red onions, chipotle mayo on toasted brioche bun.

Seared Ahi Burger with butter lettuce, tomatoes, avocados, tobiko, “crack sauce” on toasted broiche bun.

Seafood Burgers

Of course I didn’t eat both of the burgers!

But I wanted to…………

I went halvsies with my seester.

Seafood Burgers

And finally, dessert. Because a Family Dinner without dessert is straight up blasphemy. Curtis is a huge matcha fan so we decided to try out Nami’s Green Tea Souffle from Just One Cookbook. If you haven’t checked out her site before, you really must as it’s one of my go-to references for Japanese recipes.

As for the soufflés? They were on point—light, fluffy, airy and paired well with a quick chocolate sauce we whipped up. But the only down side with soufflés is that unless you’re a crazy amazing photographer, it’s near impossible to get a good shot of them before they start to fall. You barely have 0.35109 seconds before the gorgeous, raised souffles begin to sink.

At which point, an angel sheds a tear.

Sigh….

The only time I’ve ever have taken a decent soufflé picture is with these Chocolate Souffles with Raspberry Sauce and I’m fairly convinced it was with sheer luck that it happened.

Nonetheless, the Soufflés were delish.

Matcha Souffle

I should mention that at some point between dessert and clean up, we had a full blown 80s dance party-singing session in the kitchen.

We sounded amazing. Our moves were jaw-dropping. The kids were mortified.

Alas, bellies stuffed, hearts filled…..another Family Dinner to be proud of.

Until next month!

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Fresh Pappardelle with Duck Sugo

Duck Sugo

 

I love duck.

It’s something I enjoy ordering when eating out….confit de canard, pan seared duck breast, or even a glistening Chinese style roasted Peking duck. But it’s not something I really make at home. So when we chose it as the main star for our last Sunday Family Dinner, it took me awhile to decide what I wanted my contribution to the meal would be.

Duck Sugo

The teenagers have been exposed to duck for years now but I was wary of serving the younger muchkins something along the lines of a rare pan seared duck breast. Not that they don’t have refined palates (they shovel down high end sashimis and lobsters like no one’s business) but I wanted to make something that I knew would go over easy and while expanding their taste buds.

A sugo over fresh pasta seemed like a no brainer. Slow braised and simmered so that everything would be married together in flavor.

Sunday Family Dinner

As I shared in my last post, we picked up whole ducks (heads, beaks, feet and all!) that I warily broke down. And although it did test my psyche as I took a huge cleaver to the little duckies, you do get the best bang for your buck when you go with this route.

Plus, I was able to use all the leftover parts to create a rich, deep duck stock that we not only ended up using in the sugo but had quarts leftover for later use.

Sunday Family Dinner

While the stock simmered away, I took on the mise. Yup…that’s right. Any slow cooked sauce I make almost always contains a mirepoix. Translation? Lots and lots of diced onions, carrots and celery. And of course there must also be lots of garlic and fresh herbs.

Sunday Family Dinner

To add an extra depth of flavor, I used reconstituted porcini mushrooms. The mushrooms and their liqueur (the liquid that reconstituted the ‘shrooms) were both used in the sugo.

And if you haven’t noticed, I’m kinda obsessed with ‘shrooms of all sorts.

Duck Sugo

Once the mise is done, I get to browning the duck. Because I don’t care what anyone says— browned meat before a slow cook always makes things taste nice.

Sunday Family Dinner

After the duck is golden brown, you remove it from the pot to allow it to rest. Using the leftover olive oil and rendered duck fat, start sweating away the mirepoix. At some point, cubed pancetta also gets thrown into the mix.

And yes, I realize that this is a duck dish but are you really surprised that I would sneak some pork into the party somehow?

Duck Sugo

Next comes the poricinis, its liqueur, white vino and some more homemade duck stock.

By the way, if you’re not as obsessive as yours truly, feel free to substitute with store bought duck or chicken stock. I wouldn’t blame you for it.

Duck Sugo

Once this all done, you throw the browned duck back into the pot, plop a lid on it and slide it into the oven for about 1.5-2 hours so that it can do it’s magic. Where are the pictures of this step?

Um…let’s just say that someone was too busy drinking a cocktail and forgot to snap a photo of it. Oh who are we kidding…that someone was me.

You can also take this opportunity to finagle your big seester into making fresh pappardelle pasta.  Sure, you can use store-bought but this is what big seesters are for. For making homemade pasta and to bail you out of jail helping out in tricky situations.

Sunday Family Dinner

Once the duck becomes super tender, you remove it from the veggies and shred it into pieces. Then, blend up the veggies and add the meat back into the pot for a last simmer. Once it’s all done, toss the sugo with the fresh al dente pappardelle and top with a bright gremolata.

Heaven.

Especially when you add the bright notes from the gremolata and earthiness from the parmesan.

Duck Sugo

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not a quick process. Not even close!

But sugos are meant for slow cooking days when you’re hanging out at home with loved ones, sipping on vino (or cocktails — or BOTH!) and when you just want to cook something delicious to share with your loved ones to show—well, how much you love them.

Perfect for a Sunday Family Dinner.

Sunday Family Dinner

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Fresh Pappardelle with Duck Sugo
Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

1 quart duck or chicken stock, divided
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
3 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt
black pepper
4 pounds skinless, duck thighs and breasts (bone in)
2 cups diced white onions
2 cups diced celery
2 cups diced carrots
4 ounces diced pancetta
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, divided
1 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
6-8 rosemary sprigs
2 tablespoons chopped sage
¼ cup finely minced parsley
1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
1½ pound pappardelle pasta
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
Heat ½ cup of the duck (chicken) stock and place in a small bowl. Add the dried porcinis, ensuring that all the mushrooms are covered in the liquid. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven or other heavy-bottom pot over medium-high heat. Season the duck with kosher salt and black pepper. In batches, brown all sides of the duck and remove to a large plate to rest.

Lower the heat to medium and add the onions, celery, and carrots. Cook until the vegetables are softened but not browned, about 7-8 minutes. Add the pancetta, garlic, ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the dried porcini mushrooms that were reconstituted in the stock, saving the liquid (its liqueur). Pour in the wine and stir the vegetables around. Cook until the liquids have been reduced by half. Stir in the liquid that the porcinis were reconstituted in–careful not to add in the mushroom grit/sand. Add the remaining duck (chicken) stock and allow the liquids to come to a boil.

Nestle the browned duck back into the pot amongst the vegetables along with the thyme, rosemary and sage. Once the liquids come back up to a boil, cover the pot and place into a 300 degree F oven for 1.5 -2 hours, until the meat is very tender and falling off the bone.

While the duck braises, prepare the gremolata. In a small bowl, add the parsley, lemon zest, remaining red pepper flakes and a few pinches of kosher salt. Use a fork and mash the ingredients together allowing the natural oils from the parsley and lemon to be released. Set aside.

Once the duck has finished cooking and is very tender, carefully remove the pot from the oven. Transfer the duck to a platter and allow to cool slightly. Once the meat is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bone and shred it into bite sized pieces.

Returning to the pot of vegetables, skim off and discard as much oil/fat from the surface as possible. Using an immersion blender, puree the vegetables until it becomes a fairly smooth sauce. Taste and adjust with additional salt or pepper as needed. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can use a standard blender or food processor. Add the shredded duck back to the pot and allow the items to simmer and thicken the sauce over low heat for an additional 10-15 minutes.

While the sugo simmers, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pappardelle until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving about ½ cup of the starchy water.

Add the cooked pappardelle into the sugo, coating the pasta well. If you want a looser based sauce, add a tablespoon at a time of the starchy pasta water until you reach your desired consistency. Taste and add additional salt and pepper as needed. Plate the pasta with the sugo and top each plate with the grated parmesan cheese and gremolata.

Enjoy!

Sunday Family Dinner: Duck, duck, …huh?

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One of the questions I’ve been receiving a lot over the past few months is….“Are you all still doing your Sunday Family Dinners?”

And the answer is—absolutely YES!

But the truth of the matter is……

Well, you see…..

So, the reason is………..

I’m a terrible Procrastinator.

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GAH! The cat is out of the bag!

It’s terrible, I know. Particularly because I spend hours a day scolding coaching college students on how to avoid procrastination.

Trust me, the hypocrisy irony is not lost on me.

Ugh.

Sunday Family Dinner

So yes…since my last Sunday Family Dinner post in July (insert puppy eyes, shamed face here), mi familia still converge at one of the seesters‘ home and get together to get our cookin’ and eatin’ on.

And it’s been darn delicious too.

I definitely don’t want to miss the opportunity to share the past dinners (for my own personal food diary motives and also to share some tasty eats) so I’m committed to posting one recap a week until I catch up.

So hold me to it!

Sunday Family Dinner

Our March fam-din theme was born the way most of ours come to fruition……..while we’re currently eating/feasting on that particular month’s dinner. Does any one else sit around the table with their family enjoying a meal while talking about what their next meal will be?

Just us? Figures…

Well, the theme for March started off with a single ingredient – DUCK. All the dishes were supposed to contain duck in some sort or fashion.

With the exception of dessert….because we may be adventurous but duck flavored dessert did not excite any of us.

Sunday Family Dinner

Since foie gras is now legal again in California, we were planning on having a variation for appetizers. But at the last minute, foie was no where to be found and we didn’t have the time to get it shipped to us. No biggie…we just had to make a few alterations.

Sunday Family Dinner

After doing a little research, I opted to pick up whole ducks from a local Asian grocery store as it was the most affordable route for us. Just a little FYI–most ducks sold at Asian grocers are Long Island (Pekin). So I swung on by our nearby 99 Ranch Market and picked up two duckies. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that they still had their heads and feet intact until I got home.

<Gulp>

photo 2

I admit, I got a little nervous as I stared into their little eyes. But after a pep talk from big seester (more like a “c’mon, just do it!”), I put on my big girl pants and butchered/broke them down. After a quick thank you to the duckies for feeding us and the initial eebie-jeebies, I got over it. Hey, if I’m going to be a responsible carnivore, I’ve got to do the dirty work sometimes.

The main dish was to be a slow cooked sugo of duck with fresh hand cut pappardelle pasta. But since we had so much leftover duck “parts”, I decided to make a rich stock that would be used in the sugo.

Sunday Family Dinner

We even used the duck skin and fat to make crispy, salty duck cracklings–which were surprisingly easy and a darn delicious way to celebrate every part of the duck.

We opted to use Mario Batali’s technique for the cracklings which was kind of a confit-render-fry method. I highly recommend it.

Sunday Family Dinner

As always, we kicked off dinner with a cocktail. True, it wasn’t a duck themed cocktail but more of a nod to spring. I blended fresh mangoes, passion fruit, strawberries and fresh mint together to create a lovely tropical puree. I combined two parts of the fruit puree, 1 part vodka, 1/2 part coconut rum, 1/4 part fresh lemon juice and topped it all off with lemon sparkling water.

Bright, fresh, and packed a punch.

A duck punch.

Sunday Family Dinner

To keep from getting h’angry, we noshed on baked artichoke-lump crab dib with toasted flat bread.

Didn’t you know that crabs were the ducks of the sea?

Just kidding… wait–am I?

Sunday Family Dinner

And we also thought it may be a good idea to have some greens along with our meal. But our greens came in the form of —-

Cherry Tomatoes and Spinach….

Topped with Fresh Mozzarella….

With a shower of crispy Pancetta…

Studded with the freshly made Duck cracklings.

I mean C’MON guys…this salad was practically Vegan.

Sunday Family Dinner

As I mentioned before, there was fresh hand cut pappardelle pasta. Sure, Trader Joe’s sells a perfectly good, packaged dry pappardelle. But why do that when you can guilt your seester into making the pasta from scratch?

She actually used two recipes for the two batches. The first one from Food and Wine had a better flavor from the extra egg yolks. But we liked the texture better from the one we found here. It’s still a work in progress to find the best pappardelle recipe. Any suggestions?

Sunday Family Dinner

We used the pappardelle noodles to soak up all the goodness from the rich duck sugo that was topped with a bright herb gremolata. I’ll be sharing the recipe for the sugo this Friday.

Sunday Family Dinner

And finally, DESSERT!

We had a lemon-herb pound cake that was soaked in Grand Marnier. The cake was smothered with a whipped cream that had freshly made lemon curd folded into it. It was all then topped with a mound of sweet macerated strawberries.

Did you know the nickname for strawberries is duck-berries?

Is that too far of a stretch? :)

Sunday Family Dinner

And that, dear Friends, is a wrap on our “beak to tail”, all things most things Duck themed Family Dinner. I do promise to catch up on previous dinners as there is a lot of goodness to share!

Sunday Family Dinner

And how adorable are our munchkins?

Coddled Eggs with Pesto and Potato-Parsnip Purée

Coddled Eggs with Pesto and Potato-Parsnip Puree

We’ve officially entered “shower” season. And by that, I don’t mean April Showers but Wedding Showers and Baby Showers!

My next two months will be weekends filled with shower games, presents galore, tea sandwiches, little bite sized desserts, and sparkling cocktails (I hope!).

Coddled Eggs with Pesto and Potato-Parsnip Puree

What can I say? Love is in the air and my dear friends and loved ones have a lot to be celebrating over these next few months.

So for my latest contribution to Safest Choice™ Darling Dozen, I thought I would make something that would go well on a menu for both bridal and baby showers.

Coddled Eggs with Pesto and Potato-Parsnip Puree

I’ve always been a huge fan of choosing brunch to host parties and celebrations. It’s the perfect time of day where you can serve a variety of foods to please all palates. A few desserts, sandwiches. croissants, scones, preserves, charcuterie boards, and of course–there has to be eggs!

And these adorable coddled eggs served in mason jars will be an absolute hit at your showers.

Coddled Eggs with Pesto and Potato-Parsnip Puree

They start with a luscious, smooth layer of a potato-parsnip purée….which truthfully, are one of my faves these days. They’re a bit lighter than traditional mashed potatoes but are just as delectable.

Next, comes a layer of savory, herbaceous pesto. And c’mon now–who doesn’t love pesto? But for this particular dish, it really does add some much needed brightness to offset the rich, coddled egg and purée. You can also add some sauteed greens as well.

Finally, the whole thing is topped off with a beautiful egg. Heaven.

Coddled Eggs with Pesto and Potato-Parsnip Puree

Your guests will just love these little jars when served. The yolks are unctuous and runny — perfect to dunk toasted little soldiers into. And since Safest Choice™ uses an all-natural egg pasteurization process to eliminate the risk of salmonella, feel at ease when serving them to mamas-to-be.

Want to find out more about their pasteurization process? Click here

Coddled Eggs with Pesto and Potato-Parsnip Puree

These little cuties can be assembled hours before your parties (even the night before!) to give you even more time to spend with your guests.

Adorable? Check! Easy to assemble? Check! Delicious? Check!

Sounds like a slam dunk dish to me. Happy Shower Season, Friends! <3

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Coddled Eggs with Pesto and Potato-Parsnip Purée
Serves 4

Ingredients:

kosher salt
½ pound russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
1 medium sized parsnip, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
¼ cup heated heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
1 teaspoon garlic powder
black pepper
4 tablespoons pesto
4 large Safest Choice™ pasteurized eggs
sea salt flakes
chopped parsley
serve with soldiers or other bread of your choice

Prepare the potato-parsnip purée by bringing a medium sized pot of water to a boil. Add ½ tablespoon salt, potatoes and parsnips. Boil until they are tender—about 20 minutes. Drain the root vegetables and either run them through a food mill or ricer. Stir the hot heavy cream, 1 tablespoon butter, and garlic powder into the potato-parsnip mixture. Season with additional salt and black pepper as needed. Set aside.

Take 4 small mason jars or ramekins and use the remaining butter to grease the inside of each jar. Divide and spoon the potato-parsnip purée into the bottom of each of the jars. You can also use a small piping bag to do this. Spread one tablespoon pesto on top of each potato-parsnip purée and then carefully top each with an egg.

Fill a large pot with about 2-3 inches of water and bring to a simmer. Place a steam rack inside of the pot of water and carefully place the filled jars/ramekins on top. Cover the pot and steam the eggs for 8-10 minutes until the whites are set but the yolks are still soft. Alternatively, if using mason jars, screw on the lids of each jar and place directly into the pot to simmer for about 10-12 minutes. If the jars/ramekins that I’m using aren’t very high, I prefer to place them on top of a steam rack.

Once done, top each coddled egg with sea salt flakes and chopped parsley. Serve with soldiers or other bread of your choice.

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*DISCLOSURE: As a brand ambassador for the Safest Choice™ Darling Dozen, I was compensated for the creation of this recipe and post. However, as always, all opinions are my own.*