Vegetable Moussaka

Vegetable Moussaka

This casserole is a celebration of vegetables! Look at the list of ingredients. Their variety is stunning! That’s why the complexity of this dish flavors conquers the taste buds of vegetarians and carnivores alike. Just like any other layered dish, benefits from being cooked in advance, set in a refrigerator for a few hours and reheated portioned right before serving. It helps to develop flavors and keep colorful layers presentable.

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Kamo Nanban Soba | Buckwheat Noodles Soup with Duck Breast and Scallions

Kamo Nanban Soba

Duck is one of my favorite ingredients, and Kamo Nanban Soba became one of the most repeated summer soups in my kitchen. This dish can be made with duck tsukune (meatballs) and/or seared and thinly sliced duck breast. Duck meatballs should be pre-cooked, and they are the best when grilled. I prefer duck breast in this dish. One breast is enough for two portions. It takes time to render fat from its skin, so it makes sense to start doing it while making buckwheat noodles. The rest is simple — baste the breasts with hot rendered duck fat until 80% cooked, let rest and cool, keep refrigerated until ready to serve the soup. Thinly sliced and arranged on top of the soba in a bowl, the duck is cooked to complete doneness with steaming hot stock poured right over it.

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My Hawaii: Lomi Lomi

Lomi Lomi Salmon Salad

The name of this salad comes from its cooking method. Lomi lomi today is a term for “massage therapist” or “Hawaiian massage.” In Hawaiian, the word lomi traditionally used to describe an action of kneading, rubbing, or soothing, just like happy or content cats do. It is documented that for ages Hawaiians have beed preparing fresh fish salads by mixing diced ingredients — fish, sweet Maui onions, tomatoes, and salt — and gently massaging them with hands, letting fish to get cured by salt and vegetable juices.

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Salt Roasted Stuffed Onions

Salt Roasted Onions

In the original recipe, whole onions are salt roasted first. Than, their cooked inner layers are scooped out, chopped, seasoned, and mixed with béchamel (flour, butter and milk) for stuffing. Finally, stuffed onions are baked in salt for the second time for serving.

I experimented with a few different thickening ingredients to replace béchamel — nuts (roasted and salted pistachios and marcona almonds), egg yolk, cheese, and corn starch. Proportions for other thickeners per 1 cup of puree were the following: 1 egg yolk (large egg), or 1 oz of grated cheese, or 1 tsp of corn starch. Each of them slightly affected the taste and texture of the stuffing, and all of them were really good. They turned cooked onion puree into a delicacy comparable with foie gras — sweet onion foie gras.

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Preserving Ramps: Dry

Ramps Cheese Roll

Allium tricoccum — commonly known as ramp, ramps, spring onion, ramson, wild leek, wood leek, and wild garlic — is a North American species of wild onion widespread across eastern Canada and the eastern United States. It is similar to better known in Texas chives, but with more delicate and intriguing flavor profile. I often use ramps as a flavoring ingredient for my tasting events and catering. French omelets with ramps are admired and remembered by everybody who tasted them. Green ramps paste adorns fresh pasta, risotto, soups, beans — they become unforgettable. Ramps compound butter is another hit, as well as pickled ramps served with roasted or grilled meats and poultry.

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“Howdy!” Salad

I always think about it as a transitional flavor combination for people who are not familiar with Mexican, Tex-Mex, or Southern cuisines, as an introduction to our local specialties. It tastes wonderful with or without hot chilies. It is beautiful! It is perfect as a light summer meal, or as a side dish. It works well with grilled meats and poultry, with seafood, different tacos and enchiladas, or just corn chips or tortillas.

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Culinary coach and personal chef with extensive knowledge of cuisines from cultures around the world. I invite you into my cooking lab to share my discoveries.
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