duck consomme with laser-cut nori
Having access to a laser cutter has made me think differently about food.  Although I’ve lasered more edibles than I care to mention, one of the most successful substances for laser cutting is nori – the seaweed paper used in sushi making.  Although nori cuts well, it is extremely delicate and brittle.  Inspired by that delicateness, I decided to use the nori as a garnish for duck consommé, a crystal-clear soup made from duck stock.  The potato creates a dramatic color contrast and allows the Japanese maze design cut out of nori to sit just above the level of the liquid.

Makes: 8 zen bowls
Total kitchen time: about 6 hours, depending…

Shopping list:

  • 8 cups duck consommé, prepared
  • 4 russet potatoes, fat and round
  • 1 tbsp. rendered duck fat
  • 8 laser-cut nori designs of a Japanese maze

Special equipment: laser cutter, 2” biscuit cutter, vacuum sealing machine, sous vide heating immersion circulator

  1. Slice the potatoes into 1” thick discs.  Using the discs that are at least 2” in diameter, cut out 8 rounds with the 2” biscuit cutter. 
  2. Place the potato circles in a vacuum bag and add rendered duck fat.  Vacuum seal.
  3. Cook potatoes in an 85C water bath for 1 hour. 
  4. To serve, place a potato slice in the bottom of a large bowl.  Blot the top of the potato with a paper towel to dry the surface.  Add 1bout 1 cup of consommé to the bowl.  Top with a piece of nori.

If you don’t have access to a laser cutter (a travesty!) you can try cutting shapes using a very sharp hobby knife. 

Nori on Foodista

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soup with mushroom ravioli 
Growing up, matzoh ball soup was my go-to metaphorical ethnic penicillin.  For some, chicken soup will always be the prescribed treatment for aches, pains and a sore throat.  However, there’s no reason that we can’t soothe ourselves with something a little more filling.  Next time you call in sick, email this 30-minute remedy to your significant other as a subtle dinner suggestion.  You’ll be back on your feet in no time.

Makes: 4 bowls
Total kitchen time: 30 minutes

Shopping list:

  • 1 cup pancetta, finely diced (you can use bacon if you want, but make it good bacon)
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 small leek, diced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups shitake mushrooms, sliced into 1/8” strips
  • 1 package portobello mushroom ravioli (or any other ravioli that sounds good to you – lobster, pesto or spinach all work)
  • finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, to garnish
  • 1/4 cup shaved parmesan, to garnish
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  1. Heat a large stockpot over medium heat.  Add the pancetta and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the pancetta has started leaving brown bits on the bottom of the pot. 
  2. Add the onion, garlic and leek and continue to cook over medium heat for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the white wine to deglaze the pot – the acid in the wine will let the brown bits on the bottom become unstuck.  Scrape them up with a wooden spoon or spatula.
  3. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Cover the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Let simmer for at least 20 minutes, or up to 4 hours for maximum flavor.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. 
  4. When you are about ready to serve, bring the soup to a boil and add the mushrooms.  Cook for 1 minute, then add the ravioli and cook according to the package directions, usually about 3 minutes.  Add the tomatoes.
  5. To serve, ladle a generous serving of broth and a few ravioli into a bowl and top with a little parsley and parmesan cheese.
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butternut squash soup 
My best testimonial for this soup was a pile of licked-clean bowls.  Butternut squash is so versatile that there are hundreds of variations on this recipe.  Add chilies and coconut milk for a spicy Asian twist, or add roasted peppers and goat cheese and serve this dish on a hot summer evening.  My version uses classic winter spices for a savory, bold flavor.

Makes: 6 guests go butter-nuts! (too corny?)
Total kitchen time: 1.5 hours

Shopping list:

  • 2 small butternut squash, halved
  • 5 cloves roasted garlic
  • 1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 pat butter
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 2 cups chicken stock (hot)
  • 2 cups heavy cream (warm)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. grated ginger
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds for garnishing
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F.  Place the squash, cut side down, in a large roasting pan.  Add about one inch of water to the pan.  Cover the pan with aluminum foil and roast the squash until they are very tender, about 1 hour. 
  2. Once the squash has cooled, remove it from the skin and cut it into small cubes.  Heat the butter and 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large saucepan.  Add the onion and sweat over low heat until it is tender and transparent, about 10 minutes.  Add the roasted garlic and stir to combine.
    DSC_0021
  3. Add the butternut squash and 1 cup each of chicken stock and heavy cream.  Using an immersion blender (or a food processor), blend until smooth. 
  4. Continue adding the remaining stock and cream until you reach the desired consistency.  Add the cloves, nutmeg, ginger, salt and pepper.  Adjust the seasonings to taste. 

You and your guests will be very happy with this soup.  If you leave out most of the liquid, the same recipe makes a great filling for homemade ravioli. 

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