Archive for December, 2008

Potato Gratin

Potato Gratin

2 cups whipping cream

1 cup creme fraiche

1 large garlic, minced

3 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, very thinly sliced

1 1/3 cups Gruyere cheese (about 5 ounces)


Slice the peeled potatoes, thinly. I have been using the Borner V-Slicer Mandoline

See here:

Do not wash the potato slices, you want the starch.

If cooking that day, preheat oven to 400.

Butter 13x9x2 inch glass baking dish. 

Bring cream, creme fraiche and garlic to boil in heavy large sauce pan over medium heat.

Add sliced potatoes and cook until liquid returns to boil, about 4 minutes.

This takes time, but it makes for a much better dish. Take saucepan off heat and one at a time lay the potatoes, slightly overlapping, in rows in the buttered baking dish. After 2 layers, add a bit of the cream mixture and season generously with salt and pepper. Do another 2 layers, again do the potatoes one at a time and more of the cream mixture and  season with salt and pepper. The rest of the potatoes should make the final two or three layers, add the rest of the cream mixture and again season with salt and pepper.

This can be done a day ahead and refrigerated covered with foil overnight.

Take the gratin out of the refrigerator and let come to room temperature, about 45 minutes to an hour.

Preheat oven to 400.

Bake the gratin covered for 45 minutes to 50 minutes or until potatoes are soft. Uncover casserole and sprinkle with the Gruyere cheese. Continue baking until potatoes are tender, cheese melts and sauce bubbles, about 15 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes and serve.




Tuna Tartar

Tuna Tartar is on so many restaurant menus, it has become boring and ubiquitous. This is another recipe that I have had for over 25 years and honestly do not know where I found it. It is tuna handled like steak tartar and actually I like it better with tuna than with beef. The key to the dish is buying sashimi grade tuna from a first rate market, preferably a Japanese market. Also chop the tuna with a sharp heavy knife – do not use the Cuisinart.


1 pound sashimi grade tuna, chopped

2 Tbsp. minced onion

1 Tbsp. minced capers

1 1/2 Tbsp. minced cornichons

2 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley

2 egg yolks

2 Tbsp. Dijon-style mustard

1/3 cup peanut oil

1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar

1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 dashes of Tabasco or to taste

1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper or to taste

1 loaf of French bread 


Mix together the onions, capers, cornichons, parsley, egg yolks, mustard, oil, vinegar, Worcestershire, Tabasco, salt and pepper. Using a very sharp knife, remove skin and any bones from tuna. If you bought the tuna at a Japanese market, this should already have been done. Using a large, heavy chef’s knife, chop the tuna moderately fine. Mix the tuna with mustard-onion-caper etc. sauce. Taste for seasoning and adjust pepper if needed.

Turn the tartar into a serving bowl. Refrigerate well-covered. Can be made 4 hours ahead, but not overnight.

Can be placed over crushed ice to serve, but it is not necessary.

Just before serving, preheat the broiler (can use a toaster) and toast the bread until lightly toasted.




This can also be served with seeded crisps.

Seeded Crisps

Gourmet Dec. 97

1/2 cup white sesame seeds

1/4 cup black sesame seeds

2 tablespoons poppy seeds

2 tablespoons mustard seeds

1 Tablespoon coarse kosher salt

3/4 teasp. cayenne pepper ( don’t use full amount)

6 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 quart vegetable oil for deep-frying

40 won-ton wrappers


In small shallow bowl stir together seeds, salt and cayenne. In another small bowl stir together cornstarch and water until combined well.

In a 3 quart heavy kettle heat oil over moderate heat until a themometer registers 360. Working quickly (do not let the oil overheat), brush one side of each of 2 won ton wrappers with cornstarch mixture and gently press coated sides into seed mixture. Shake off any excess seeds from wrappers and fry wrappers, turning them over once, until golden, 8 to 10 seconds total. (some seeds will fall off during frying) With tongs transfer crisps as fried to brown paper or paper towels to drain. Make more crisps, 2 at a time, in same manner.

Crisps may be made 3 days ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.



Roast Goose with Chestnut Stuffing

I have been making this recipe for years. I honestly don’t know where I found it, but if my memory is even close I think it a compilation of goose recipes from different sources.

Roast Goose

10 to 12 pound goose with giblets and liver (be sure they are included)
½ lemon
20 prunes (pitted)
2 tart apples, cored, peeled and quartered
softened unsalted butter
½ cup sherry
½ cup water
1 lemon
1 large onion, peeled and halved

Basting liquid
In saucepan combine ½ cup sherry, ½ cup water and the juice of one lemon

Preparing the Goose for roasting:

Dry goose well with paper towels. Remove loose fat near cavity of the goose. Rub cavity with ½ lemon and season lightly with salt and pepper. Spread ½ of the chestnut stuffing along the cavity of the goose. Arrange the 20 prunes on top. Cover prunes with the remaining stuffing. Top it with the quartered apples, rounded side up. Truss the goose. Prick the goose with a skewer along fatty parts. Coat skin with softened butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 400.

Lay goose breast side up on a rack in a roasting pan for 20 minutes. Lower heat to 325, turn bird on its side and roast for 30 minutes, basting twice with sherry mixture brought to simmer. Turn bird to other side and roast 30 minutes more basting twice with sherry mixture. Add 1 large onion, peeled and halved to roasting pan. Turn goose breast side down, prick fatty parts with skewer, roast it for 30 minutes more, basting twice. Turn bird breast side up and roast 30 minutes more, again basting twice. Be sure to remove fat as it accumulates.

Chestnut Stuffing
2 pounds chestnuts
brown stock
6 slices very dry white bread, toasted
½ pound ground sausage meat
½ cup shallots, finely diced
1 goose liver – halved
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 tsp salt 
1/4 tsp thyme (or to taste)
1/4 tsp pepper

Shell and peel 2 pounds chestnuts. Simmer chestnuts in brown stock to cover about 30 minutes or until soft, but still crumbly. Drain chestnuts and crumble into large bowl with the 6 slices of very dry white bread lightly toasted and crumbled. In skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter and sauté the goose liver for about 5 minutes. Coarsely chop liver and transfer to chestnut mixture. In the same skillet sauté the shallots until golden. Transfer to chestnut mixture. Again in same skillet, sauté the sausage meat, breaking up the meat while sautéing. Transfer to chestnut mixture. Add parsley, salt, thyme and pepper. Combine stuffing well. Correct seasoning. If you like a moister stuffing, you can add some giblet stock. If you like a more compact stuffing, you can also add a beaten egg yolk.

Giblet Stock
Neck, gizzard, heart, scraps from Goose
1 sliced onion
1 sliced carrot
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons rendered goose fat
2 to 6 cups brown stock 
A herb sachet – 2 parsley sprigs, 1/3 bay leaf, 1/8 teaspoon thyme

Chop goose into pieces of 1 1/2 inches. Brown goose and vegetables in the hot goose fat until brown. Pour out browning fat. Add the stock and if needed a little water to cover the vegetables and goose parts by ½ inch. Simmer 1 1/2 hours. Strain and decrease.

½ cup sherry
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 tsp arrowroot

Pour off remaining fat from roasting pan. Remove onion. Add ½ cup sherry and cook over moderately high heat, scraping up brown bits. Add 1 cup of giblet stock.. Add 1/3 cup heavy cream and 2 tsp arrowroot, bring to simmer. Cook over low heat 3 to 4 minutes.

Elua – Oahu

Elua, the Hawaiian word for two, is unique in that two well-known Hawaiian chefs Donato Loperfido and Philippe Padovani have opened a restaurant together.  Their style of cuisine is entirely different from each other, but do not expect collaborative dishes. Each chef devises one side of the menu with Chef Padovani creating a French Mediterranean style menu and Donato Loperfido an Italian inspired menu. In fact, Padovani and Loperfido do not even work together in the kitchen as they alternate cooking responsibilities with the trained second holding down the fort for the absent chef. (According to a press release this approach allows both to pursue their other business interests.)

As to pedigree, Chef Donato was born in Italy and owned two restaurants, Donato’s Ristorante in Kahala and Donato’s Restaurant in Manoa, and was Executive Chef at Sarento’s before opening Elua. Born in Marseilles, but raised in Australia,  learned his craft in three-star Michelin restaurants such as La Pyramide in France and La Mère Blanc in Vonnas and is one of the original twelve members of Hawaii Regional Cuisine, Inc. 

We decided to sample some of each of the chef’s creations.


Chef  Donato – Thinly sliced raw Angus Beef Tenderloin, Hamakua mushrooms fricasse, Pamigiano shavings, truffle vinaigrette – good, but nothing remarkable



 Terrine of Hudson Valley Foie Gras of Duck – “Chef Philippe’s special terrine of Foie Gras served with asparagus and Haricot Vert Salad – not even close to French Laundry’s version.



Chef Donato – We decided to do a half and half dish of gnocchi and risotto

On the left, Risotto con Funghi Misti – Arborio rice with seasonal mushrooms and white truffle oil

On the right, Gnocchi Burro, Salvia and Tartufo Estivo – Fresh in house made Potato Gnocchi with brown butter, sage and summer truffle sauce

The risotto was excellent, but the gnocchi were hard as rocks. Compare the Gnocchi at Ledoyen and French Laundry and you can see the light as air Gnocchi.





French Laundry



Dessert of fruit – no notes


Over-all, I think this trade-off of cooking duties makes for “safe” dishes with too much reliance on truffle oil. Just an OK meal.

Hiroshi Eurasian Tapas, Oahu

Chef Hiroshi Fukui specializes in fusion cuisine – a marriage of Asian and Western flavors. The dishes are meant to be shared, hence the tapas in the restaurant’s name. Chuck Furuya, sommelier, created the wine menu and basically orchestrated our meal.


Chuck Furuya

Instead of bread, you are presented with rice crisps with a small bowl of nori-wasabi aioli for dipping. The rice crisps are made by putting freshly made rice in the oven overnight with just the pilot light on. It is then deep-fried for service.


Rice crisps – these are truly addictive and delicious.



Sizzlin’ Kona Kompachi Carpaccio, Mrs. Cheng’s Tofu, finely diced tomatoes, ponzu vinaigrette, touch of truffle oil. The Kompachi are fished in the coldest waters of the Big Island. The way they find the coldest water is by putting a long tube into the ocean to find the purest and coldest water. The sizzlin’ part of the dish refers to peanut oil that is heated and then quickly poured on top. Mrs. Cheng is known for having one of the best tofu product on the island.

An excellent dish – it appears over-sauced, but the saucing was very delicate and not at all over-powering.



Contemporary sushi – cold smoked hamachi sushi, Pacific Red Fin Fish (Chuck explained that originally this fish was reserved for royalty ) and Bo Bo farms Foie Gras Sushi with teriyaki glaze and essence of shiso – an interesting take on sushi – very inventive – the foie gras sushi was perfect.



Shrimp Chawanmushi “soup” – nalo micro mitsuba, seasonal vegetables and essence of white truffle oil (Whenever a dish called for truffle oil, we asked that the kitchen did a very, very light hand with the oil as I am not a huge fan of white truffle oil – they were more than happy to oblige.)


Not pictured – Marinated Moi “en papillote” – shitake mushrooms, Hau’ula tomato concasse, truffle butter and chili pepper, water-konbu broth – very good again done with a light hand.



My notes are a disaster on this one – Jumbo shrimp



Portuguese sausage pot stickers with sweet corn, garlic chili foam, and truffled ponzu sauce – this was the only poor dish of the night. We were about the last people dining in the restaurant and they were setting up for their staff  Xmas party next door at Vino, their sister Italian restaurant.

Chuck did a superb job of orchestrating this meal plus pairing wines with the food.

Il Silva – Chardonnay – Puglia

Not sure of the wine – Arnes – Piemonte

Raptor Ridge – Pinot Noir – Oregon (Willamette)

Twenty Rows (Grappler) – Zin, Sarah, Cab – Napa (Mt Veeder)

This is a fun place with very good food, not terribly expensive and an interesting wine list.

Hee Hing – Oahu

I have decided that there should be a rule about dim sum restaurants. If it is empty at 12:30 – run, don’t walk away. Reviews about Hee Hing mention it as an Oahu favorite with the locals and an atmosphere that is bustling and efficient.


The bustling room at 12:30.

I was led to believe that they had dim sum carts and I envisioned cart after cart being wheeled from table to table with all sorts of “goodies.” There was one cart that sat in a corner of the room that held all the dim sum offered that day. It wasn’t refilled once during the time we were there. 

We did start with two items from the cart


Roast Pork Bao – not bad, but the pork filling was skimpy at best.



Not a clue – our server was not very forthcoming on what we were eating. Basically this tasted like the type of paste you use to use in grammar school.

Realizing that maybe the carts were a bad idea, we decided to order off the menu. At least the food might be cooked to order.


Sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf with pieces of sausage, shrimp, chicken and pork. This doesn’t look appetizing, but it was actually the best dish we had.



Spareribs with black bean sauce – grisly pork – inedible



Potstickers – the greasiest potstickers I have ever had.

I am not a newbie when it comes to dim sum and LA and SF has some wonderful places with lines out the door by 11 am. This was a disgrace – I can’t even give it a D as that would be too generous.

Brunch for a Steeler Game – Oahu

We were suppose to go to Alan Wong’s Pineapple room for brunch, but my husband, the ultimate Steeler fan, was having withdrawal symptoms at the thought of missing THE game. Being in Oahu in a small hotel room called for some creative thinking.

We had brought caviar from home with us so I just needed accompaniments for the caviar. As we had access to the Hyatt’s Club level where they set out a small breakfast buffet, I took a couple of hard-boiled eggs, lemon, cornichons, red onion and smoked salmon on Sunday morning. The day before I had discovered R Field Wine Company at Foodland. Not only do they have an excellent wine selection, but they also carry excellent charcuterie, salumi and cheese as well as La Brea bread. So on Saturday, we purchased champagne, cheese, charcuterie, bread plus a knife to dice the eggs and red onions. 

Game Day Brunch


Full view – NV Marc Hebrart Champagne, lemon, chopped egg white, chopped egg yolk, chopped red onions, caviar, assorted cheeses, chaucuterie, La Brea bread



Close-up of charcuterie 



Close-up of caviar


Another full view.