Monday, August 22, 2011

anniversary dinner

i had a fantastically busy weekend, spent watching the food network, dismembering crabs, and accidentally sunburning - which is extra embarrassing when i think about the stockpile of hawaiian tropic i have in my apartment. i forgot to bring any and instead rubbed what turned out to be expired burt's bees sunblock all over my body, and i tell you, even sitting here typing this is painful. fortunately i think it's juuuuust mild enough that it won't peel, and maybe i'll even end this summer with a bit of color! maybe.

before it gets any fuzzier in my memory, though, i want to write about the dinner my sisters and i made for my parents for their anniversary. thirty years! they are absolutely my heros and number one role models, in life and in love. so we made them a ten-course, pretty-darn-fancy dinner, in hopes of giving them a celebration worthy of their big day.


the menu for the evening:

sourdough rolls with a trio of butters: truffle, tarragon and honey vanilla bean

west coast oysters served with fresh horseradish and lemon

salmon mustard amuse bouche

my sister emily's roasted carrot and avocado salad (which was DELICIOUS but i didn't get a photo of it - as was, sadly, the case with many of the courses. it was pretty hectic in the kitchen, as we were really trying to push out the courses one right after the other so dinner didn't take four hours. . . we managed it in about an hour and a half, which tells you what hustlers my sisters are, and why i don't have photos of about half the courses. i'm going to try to make this at home, photograph it, and put up the recipe, if emily okays it, because i only had one bite but it was heaven.)

avocado and yellowtail tartar with kumquats

truffle egg custard with sauteed oyster mushrooms and crispy duck skin (very similar to this.)

emily's beet & ginger risotto (again, beautiful and delicious with no photos. fail.)

esther's duck ricotta ravioli (arguably the big hit of the evening - there were a few extra which disappeared in NO time. recipe below, with compliments to the chef!)

steak three ways - one served with a classic bechamel and topped with half a baby heirloom tomato; one "steak frites"; one a deconstructed steak salad, with baby arugula, blue cheese, and a drizzle of good, thick balsamic dressing.

a duo of desserts - esther's champagne raspberry sorbet, served in a hollowed out orange and garnished with a raspberry; and my crepe cake with dark chocolate ganache and a cherry vanilla compote. this was so gorgeous and SO tasty, i really blew it not getting photos. will have to recreate sometime.


and some completed courses. . .

avocado & yellowtail tartar

truffle egg custard with sauteed mushrooms and crispy duck skin

steak three ways

and esther's astonishingly beautiful (and delicious) duck ricotta ravioli. recipe follows.

little sister esther's duck & ricotta ravioli

2 duck legs
about 3/4 cup of ricotta cheese
1/2 cup of baby arugula, plus more for garnish
about 3 T finely chopped shallot and garlic
salt & pepper to taste

for sauce:
about 1 cup blanched & chopped tomatoes, skins reserved

1/2 batch pasta dough (recipe and directions in the link, though you have to scroll through some awkward to get it.)
1 egg, beaten


start off by putting a good, thick pan on the stove and turn to medium high heat. add the duck with just a smidge of olive oil. salt & pepper it. allow it to get nice and crispy and lots of fat to render out - i placed another pan on top to help it cook through. flip it over; it should be good and crispy on both sides. let it cool.

once cooled enough, you'll want to rip it apart. we reserved the skin so i could use it on the custard, but it would also be good crisped up as a garnish for the ravioli, on a salad, or whathaveyou. rip the meat into smallish strands, and start the garlic & shallots in the pan that you used to cook the duck in - it should still be full of duck fat. once these start to turn transparent, add the duck, sautee for a minute or so, and then remove and put in a bowl to cool. once cooled to touch, add ricotta, then arugula, and stir up.


ready your pasta; make a sheet, brush it with the egg, and put a rounded tablespoon of filling every inch and a half or so, fold the sheet over, and stamp away.


carefully store these on a sheet pan in the freezer until you're ready to cook them.


get a pot of water boiling; use a pasta basket if you have it. throw in the raviolis and cook them for 5-6 minutes, until they have paled in color and float to the top of the water. heat the pan you used for the duck back up to medium high; toss cooked raviolis in there and sautee until they've got a bit of brown on them, then add the chopped tomatoes and toss in the pan for a few seconds before removing from heat. crisp up the tomato skins in the pan, and serve the raviolis on a plate, garnished with some baby arugula and the crispy tomato skins. voila!

thanks, esther, for letting me share your glory! so many more recipes to come - i know this blog has been food, food, food lately (i secretly prefer it that way) but i promise some outfitty stuff soon - i left my tripod attachment in california and i'm waiting for it to make its way back to me.

xo audrey


  1. Wow that all looks incredible! Are you and your sisters all chefs or is it a delicious hobby? You guys look like pros!

  2. Um, stop teasing me with those pics...kidding - looks AMAZING and congrats to your parents!


  3. Dang, you ladies are amazing! What lucky parents =D The duck ravioli, of course, looks like it's to die for, and that avocado and yellowtail tartar also looks like such a cool and delicious summer dish.

  4. wow, absolutely beautiful photos & menu, i'm SO impressed! such a lovely thing to do for your parents :)

    Katie x

  5. oh my goodness audrey you never cease to amaze me!! everything looks so good!

  6. um, ten course meal??? yeah, that's amazing!

  7. would love to know what your parents did to birth not one but TWO domestic goddesses. they look SO GOOD, btw.

    i've never seen that method of cooking the duck legs. ingenious. thanks for sharing.

  8. Congrats to your parents! All the food looks amazing. It was great meeting you at Rebecca Minkoff, can't wait for our macaron baking date!

  9. this all sounds(and looks!) so freaking amazing i kind of want to're awesome! congrats to your parents!!


  10. That is so great that you would do that for your parents. I love making fine dining food at home but it is hard when you have guests to serve and then eat with, so just feeding your parents would be so much fun.

  11. Everything looks so good! For more facts on nutrition, check out!

  12. Holy moly! This looks like such an extraordinary dinner! I don't think I've ever seen food that fancy and delicious-looking except on television. You are a culinary superstar! :)

    And on a side note, I adore that little ravioli stamper! I didn't know those existed either. You have taught me so many things in just this one post.

    And on another side note, I LOVE YOUR NEW HAIR SO MUCH OMG!

  13. This is the fanciest thing anyone has ever seen anywhere at any time. I don't even eat meat but I want ALL OF IT.

    Lauren @ See Parrot

  14. I've never done duck before (or pasta dough!), but it looks like something worth trying.

    On another food note, my sister recently got back from a trip and gifted me with lavender- and rose-infused sugars. Out of curiosity, what can I do with these? Do you have ideas? Thanks!

  15. @Cosmia thank you! i went to culinary schools but my sisters are just great cooks.

    @Lenore @ Lather. Write. Repeat. thank you!!

    @Heather, 29 Skirts thank you! the ravioli was DIVINE. i was planning on making ahi tuna tartare but i couldn't believe how cheap yellowtail is on the west coast - you guys are so lucky!

    @Katie thank you so much! i think it was a lot of fun for everyone (the dishes, not so much.)

    @Nuha you are too sweet! thank you!

    @Michelle Kendrick Hartney haha, yeah, we literally didn't leave the kitchen i think it was worth it though.

    @十十f十 i kinda improvised the duck cooking, but it worked like a charm. thank you so much! my sisters are both incredible - they got into cooking much earlier than i ever did, and they're both amazing at it.

    @Hithayes!! macarons and pizza! can't wait!

    @dear winsome aw, man! don't cry, come to new york and i'll make you supper.

    @H yeah. . . i think they were kind of bummed that we didn't sit with them for the dinner, but it would have been IMPOSSIBLE. when sam and i have dinner parties, our kitchen is big enough that our table is in there and just a couple feet from where i prepare all the food - i usually end up on my feet for 90% of the meal. i prefer it that way!

    @HazelandMareaw, dude! this is too much niceness! i think that years of eating food way too expensive for my paycheck leeched its way into the way i cook, so at least it wasn't a total waste, haha. thank you!! i'm gettin gused to the hair still but starting to really enjoy it.

  16. @Lauren i'm starting to feel like i should do a couple posts on simple tools you can get to fancy up your food - i brought a few things from home but mostly this was made with tools you can find in just about any kitchen. a couple of tricks can make a pretty normal dish look like it belongs in a restaurant.

    @Kate do it!! pasta dough takes a bit of practice, but it's SO worth it. and the duck is really quite easy.

    depending on how wild you want to get, you could do all kinds of things - use it to rim a glass of a special cocktail, make a rose (or another herb - maybe rosemary? then you could have 'rosemary rose' flavored, which is a kinks song that i love. . . uh, tangent, sorry!) flavored creme brulee and then use the infused sugars to sprinkle on top to burn instead of regular sugar. or make sugar cookies and roll them in this instead of plain sugar. there are so many good things to do with infused sugars. . . i'd be happy to pontificate if you'd like to hear more!

  17. I'm totally impressed and your parents must have been so happy. LOVE that picture of them and the food has made me hungry...darn!

  18. Well, it took me long enough to sit down and REALLY read this though I did quickly read it whilst on the limited wifi camping. I am so, so impressed. Not just with the amazing meal, but that you captured any photos at all, let alone such beautiful ones. You've probably answered this in a past post but how did you learn to cook? It sounds like it runs in the family (unless you just passed it on to your sisters) and yes, do post the recipe for the roasted carrot and avocado salad! That sounds delish...