Culinary Sense

Adventures with Food and Life

Archive for the month “February, 2012”

Duet of Duck

A view from the front.

Hey Peeps!

Our new menu, which I entitled “Winter II”, has a couple of new cold appetizers (‘apps’). In a previous post, I already wrote about the eggplant involtini. Today, I will write a little bit about our duet of duck.

The basic components are duck confit and duck pate. Duck confit is duck (usually the legs) simmered in fat (usually its own fat). A confit in general is something cooked in a viscous liquid, and can be either fat or syrup, in other words, either savory or sweet. We pick the duck meat from the legs and mix it with powdered gelatin while it is still warm, then press it onto a half sheet pan and weigh it down so that it forms a sheet.

Duck pate is duck livers, blended and baked with reduced cream, butter, and liquor. The color is a bit like bologna. We bake it in bread loaf pans, and then cut it into strips.

Cutting up the pate and the confit.

In this photo, you can see how we cut up the pate (the pinkish stuff) and the confit (the darker, gritty looking stuff) into rectangles.

For the plate-up, we put three pieces onto the plate, along with fig jam and cider braised onions. Then, we top it off with truffle salt (salt with bits of dried truffle in it) and micro greens. (Yes, micro greens seem to top off any dish we make!)

A view from the side.

Pretty nice looking, don’t you think?

~ Carolynn




Our new menu at Solstice also reflects changes in the dessert department.


The creme brulee is a classic, and one of my favorites to make for guests. The brulee is already made by the pastry department, and when we get an order, I pour raw sugar over it and use a torch to ‘brulee’ the top. Basically, the heat melts and caramelizes the sugar, which makes that hard, smooth surface you get to stick your spoon into. And, of course, Baileys is my favorite. These are super-yummy. In the photo, it is served with two chocolate “cigarettes” and a citrus sables cookie. The only thing that has changed is the accoutrements – we changed it to an espresso madeleine.


The pave is a flour-less chocolate cake with chocolate mousse on top. It is cut into strips so that you can see both layers – kind of like layers of pavement. We make a cool design on the plate with berry coulis, and then add raspberries on top of the pave. Then, we add cocoa nibs (crushed cocoa beans) and chocolate sorbet.


This “pudding” is more like a small cake with dates. It’s sweet, and served with hard sauce, which is kind of a caramel sauce made with liquor. We warm up the pudding and sauce, and serve it with cold vanilla ice cream.


The ‘tarte tatin’ is traditionally a cake baked upside-down in a form, with the fruit arranged so that when the cake is baked and flipped over when done, it displays a nice pattern. Our tatins are made with banana and puff pastry, and we bake them just before serving so they are nice and hot. Brown butter caramel sauce on the plate, along with granola crumble and white chocolate cinnamon ice cream complete this dessert.


This is way better than the store bought snickers bar. It’s a dome filled with peanuts, chocolate cake, and nougat, and covered in glossy ganache. There’s chocolate ganache and salted caramel ice cream as well – yum! Although personally, I might have chosen peanut butter ice cream to accompany this desserts, since it’s all about chocolate and peanuts.


The trio plate is a small version of the brulee, pave, and tarte tatin.

More amuse(s) and some specials

Hey Peeps,

yeah, I know my blog post titles aren’t that creative. But they’re practical and pretty much utilitarian. Makes it easier to find stuff when you’re looking for it, you know?

Onto the real part of this blog: photos of food! I’ve been looking over a lot of photos of food, both on this blog and on facebook, and it’s starting to make me hungry. Maybe someday I will learn how to photograph food and plates a little bit better; that would be for your benefit, mostly!

First: the amuse bouches. Or amuses. Or whatever the plural of ‘amuse bouche’ is. We’ve discussed previously that this is the one or two bite lil’ something that the chef sends out to special tables, like VIP tables or tables where people have been waiting for their food for a long time. (And it’s complimentary.)

Amuse: agro dulce and salsify root

This amuse bouche is a small quenelle of agro dulce with a fried salsify root chip. Agro dulce is a mixture of blue cheese and honey, which are blended together until it becomes a paste.

Amuse: roasted chickpeas, watercress, and artichoke spread

This amuse was meant to look like a lily pad. I roasted chickpeas with paprika and put them on watercress leaves, and those on top of artichoke spread, which helped the leaves stick to the plate. Around the edges, I put cilantro oil and red sea salt. (In the photo, the oil had already moved to the side of the plate, unfortunately.)

Amuse: smoked salmon on roasted endive

This amuse is a quenelle of our smoked salmon salad atop a leaf of roasted endive, and some frisee and radish.

Amuse: pesto smear with tapenade bruschetta

This amuse was inspired by my endless desire for Italian food. I made tiny crostini from baguette, and rubbed them with raw garlic just after they came out of the oven. Then, I made a ‘rustic’ tapenade out of an olive mix, including fennel seed, garlic, and capers. ‘Rustic’ is a term chefs use to describe something that was roughly chopped or made – haha. The pesto smear on the plate gives a fresh basil and nutty taste.

And now on to some appetizer specials.

Shrimp 'mosaic' with green curry foam, mango salsa, and chili oil

This was a special we did on Valentine’s Day. The rectangle on the bottom is a shrimp mosaic, which is basically cooked shrimp pressed together, and then the whole sheet is sliced into the final shape. We have a special canister that squirts liquids into a foam. On the left, you can see a green foam quenelle, which is the green curry foam. To the right, mango salad, and the whole thing is topped with micro cilantro. Around the plate, hot chili oil.

Avocado marble and crab salad

Here is a beautiful special. Avocado was pressed into a flat sheet and frozen, then we cut out a circle with a cookie cutter. I made a crab salad with cilantro, lime juice, and shallots. On top, orange segments, also called ‘supreme’, and crispy sweet potato threads. Around the salad, cilantro oil and frisee.

~ Carolynn

Post Navigation