Category Archives: Real Menus

Samples from real menus that I’ve cooked for real clients.

Citrus-Ginger Tofu Salad with Kelp Noodles

One of my clients loves soba noodles, so I’m always on the lookout for interesting soba recipes. This week, I came across a recipe for Citrus Ginger Tofu Salad with Soba Noodles on Food52, and I prepared it for my client, pretty much as the recipe is written. It is everything you’d want to eat in the summer — bright, refreshing, full of crunchy vegetables. I highly recommend the recipe as written.

The version I made for myself later in the week had a few modifications. For one, I substituted kelp noodles for the soba because I had them on hand. Why did I have kelp noodles on hand? I’ve been meaning to experiment with them for some time because I’m attempting to incorporate more sea vegetables into my diet. The trace minerals found in sea vegetables — including iodine, which was added to table salt to prevent goiters in the early 20th century — are especially beneficial for thyroid health and other hormonal functions. The noodles have no flavor or color — they look like glass noodles — and they’re crunchy. However, after the salad marinated in the fridge overnight, the texture of the noodles resembled that of rice noodles. Also, they’re a raw food, if you’re into that kind of thing.

I also modified the variety of vegetables in the salad, based on what I already had in the refrigerator. For one, I peeled and grated the broccoli stalk, a sadly underutilized ingredient. It’s sweet and crunchy, and it adds another lovely layer of flavor and texture to any summer slaw. The recipe yields a lot of salad, and I’ve been eating the leftovers for the past few days. (If you know me, you know that I hate leftovers, so the fact that I’m not sick of this salad yet is a big recommendation unto itself.)

Here, I served myself the salad without the baked tofu to accompany some seared sockeye salmon. For breakfast because I love a really savory breafast.

Here, I served myself the salad without the baked tofu to accompany some seared sockeye salmon. For breakfast because I love a really savory breakfast.

Citrus-Ginger Tofu Salad with Kelp Noodles
Serves 4 (generously)

For the Tofu + Marinade:

  • 1 ounce orange juice
  • 1 ounce tamari (or other soy sauce, such as shoyu)
  • 1 ounce toasted sesame oil
  • 1 ounce sunflower seed oil (may substitute: grape seed, peanut, raw sesame oil)
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 package extra firm tofu

Preparing the Tofu + Marinade: Preheat the oven to 350º Fahrenheit. In a bowl mix together orange juice, tamari, sesame oil, sunflower oil, ginger, garlic, maple syrup, and cayenne and set aside.

Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes and place into a small baking pan without overlapping. Pour the marinade over the tofu. Put the tofu into the oven and bake for 15 minutes, stir, and bake for 15 minutes more until browned. With a slotted spoon, scoop out the tofu and place onto a plate and allow to cool. Pour the remaining marinade into a bowl and set aside.

For the Salad:

  • Leftover marinade
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 ounce orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
  • salt to taste
  • 1 (12-ounce) package kelp noodles*
  • florets from 1 bunch of broccoli
  • stalks from 1 bunch of broccoli, peeled and coarsely grated
  • 3 small carrots, peeled and coarsely grated (I used a variety of rainbow carrots)
  • 2 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 8 basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted

Preparing the citrus vinaigrette: Add the lemon zest and juice to the remaining marinade. Continue to add the orange juice, rice vinegar, maple syrup, and sea salt to taste. Set aside.

Preparing the salad: Rinse the kelp noodles in cold water and drain. Set aside. Meanwhile, bring a small pot of water to a boil, and blanch the broccoli florets for 30 seconds. Immediately strain the florets and rinse with cold water. Put the blanched broccoli florets, shredded broccoli stalks, carrots, cabbage, cilantro, basil, and sesame seeds into a large bowl and toss. Dress the salad with the citrus vinaigrette. Serve the salad topped with baked tofu and garnished with sesame seeds.

*You can find kelp noodles at Whole Foods and most health-food stores.

Mighty Duck Cracklings

Today, I braised duck legs for one of my clients. Before doing anything else with them, I had to trim the excess skin and fat from the legs — and ducks are fatty, fatty animals. I had 6 legs, so I decided to render the fat from the copious trimmings. Rendering fat is a fairly simple process. I put about half an inch of water in the bottom of an oven-safe saucepan, and to that I added the chopped up fat and skin from the duck. I put it in a low oven (300ºF) and let it do its magic for a couple hours, as I went about my business making celery root purée and braising short ribs in addition to the duck legs. The water is there to prevent the skin and other solids from burning in the beginning, and it evaporates out as the fat renders. After taking it out of the oven, and straining out the solids, I was left with pure golden duck fat

This is not where the story ends! I hope you don’t think that I threw out the precious skin. The skin is where the true magic lies, my friends. I put the skin back into the saucepan with about a tablespoon of the rendered fat and fried it up until it was crispy, crunchy cracklings! Also known as gribenes in Yiddish.Gribenes

I salted them and added them to some of the celery root purée referenced above for my “family meal” for one!

My brother — also a chef — and I are slowly making our way through all of Saveur’s 150 Classic Recipes. Some recipes, we make together, some separately, some only one of us will tackle. This week, I made Pescao en Escabeche for a client, and I loved it so much that I made it again for myself later in the week. Here’s a photo of the one I made for my client. I made a few substitutions based on his personal preferences: red peppers instead of green, red onions, and I substituted cod for the swordfish. The version I made for myself followed the recipe as written. Both were amazingly delicious!

Real Menus: March 1-14

It’s been a little while since I’ve updated menus. Here is a selection of dishes from the past few weeks.

Real Menu: Baby Shower!

I had the privilege of catering my good friend’s baby shower last weekend. Forty-five guests! Here are the highlights of the menu I prepared:

Pink Lemonade with Lavender-Thyme Infused Vodka
Three Kinds of Finger Sandwiches: Minted Radish, Moroccan Carrot with Goat Cheese and Green Olive Tapenade, Curried Chicken Salad on Gluten-Free Bread
Salad of Mixed Greens, Fennel, Red Onions, Shaved Pecorino Romano with Orange-Sherry Vinaigrette and White Truffle Oil
Butternut Squash Lasagna with Mushrooms, Spinach, and Sage Béchamel
Gluten-Free Pasta with Caramelized Onions, Lentils and Kale
Pumpkin Tea Cake
Meyer Lemon and Poppyseed Almond Tea Cake