Friday, April 26, 2013

Spring Tasting

Finally, after a long, long winter, we finally have some spring ingredients to feature in a tasting! This tasting features mint, ramps, green garlic, and asparagus.

Tilefish Mojito Seviche

Tilefile Mojito Seviche. Finally we have some fresh mint to work with and this is an experiment in making it work in a savory application. The seviche contains diced tilefish, brunoise of red onion and jalapeño, green onions, grape tomato, cilantro, mint, lime zest, red pepper flakes, and lime juice. The glass, we rimmed in Hawaiian black sea salt, and the garnishes are lime, mint, and a scoop of mojito sorbet (lime, mint, simple syrup).

Smoked Bluefish
Smoked Bluefish. Bluefish, like most oily fish, takes to brine and smoke, well, like a fish takes to water. And smoky fish loves mild, creamy cheeses. So it didn't take too much to put together a crostino topped with lemon-black pepper goat cheese, ramp pesto, and smoked blue fish. And then pair it with a napoleon of cucumber and smoked bluefish-cream cheese mousse. A little lemon oil brings some citrus brightness to the plate.

Rabbit, Asparagus, and Green Garlic
Rabbit, Asparagus, and Green Garlic. I love green garlic in risotto, ditto asparagus. Here the risotto has both green garlic and asparagus stems. The asparagus tips are grilled for a smoky char that will help the dish pair with a Pinot Noir. On top is a bit of our pulled rabbit wrapped in prosciutto.

Pork and Ramps
Pork and Ramps. I bet you didn't know that I stood there and cleaned ramps for three $%#^&! hours the other day. The tops I made into a classic sopa de ajo (roasted garlic soup with bread, pimentón, and a splash of cream) and the greens Tony made into a classic cream of greens soup. These two soups are yin-yanged on the plate and garnished with grilled ramps and chorizo oil. I made some pork scraps into an awesome chorizo and this is what is in the beggars purse.

Carrots and Ginger
Carrots and Ginger. We still don't have any fruit to work with for desserts so we are still playing games with winter storage vegetables. This is a carrot and ginger upside down cake. The cake is made with polenta to give it some tooth. Crème anglaise, lemon cream cheese, crystallized ginger, and maple syrup-candied carrot comprise the garnishes.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Chef's Tasting

Friends came by recently for a tasting and here is what they ate. Although it wasn't intentional, there's a bit of an egg theme going on here, with quail, duck, and goose eggs featured. It's just a good thing that the birds are laying again!

Salmon Three Ways
Salmon Three Ways. We were just looking for something bright and fresh to start the meal with and we just happen to have some beautiful salmon on hand now. I made a quasi tartare sauce with cornichons, capers, dill, and finely minced gravlax that I topped with a nice piece of fatty belly and then that with a brined, pepper-crusted, and smoked piece of salmon.

Duck and Maitake Mushroom Frittata
Duck and Maitake Mushroom Frittata. We made a simple frittata of duck confit, maitake mushrooms, and duck eggs and then paired it with a daikon and cucumber kimchee, to have something bright to offset the richness of the frittata. This dish sounded fine on paper, but it seems an incomplete thought to me.

Breakfast. There have been many breakfast variations on our tasting menus over the years, because it is just such a damned good dish. This version was designed to show off my latest sausage: ground pork shoulder, Mangalitsa pork belly, and prune purée. The maple syrup is now local from Gene Nowak at Mayfair Farm.

Rabbit Loin with Fennel-Chestnut Sauce

Rabbit Loin. This dish doesn't look all that bright, but I guarantee it was the best dish of the meal. The loin is rolled in fennel pollen before seeing the grill for just long enough to mark it up. Rabbit and fennel is a sublime combination and this sauce that I created last week with caramelized fennel and chestnuts is simply amazing. Note the rabbit loin cooked only to medium; that's how you have to do it.

Lamb Sausage, Moroccan Carrot Slaw, Chickpea Cake
Lamb Sausage. I like the vibrant spices and flavors from northern Africa and tried to bring them together here on a plate. The herbaceous and garlicky lamb sausage is mixed with a carrot slaw made from a fiery harissa and julienned carrots. I made this harissa rather heavier with caraway and fennel than I usually do. The chickpea cake is flavored with sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and some of the preserved lemons that we put up last fall.

"Duck à l'Orange"
Duck à l'Orange. When we break down ducks, legs for confit and breasts for grilling or roasting, we collect the so-called breast tenders, the little muscle that sits atop the breast bone beneath the breast itself. These we pounded out and schnitzled in a crust of panko and five-spice powder. Garnished with orange brown butter, orange suprêmes, and a little salad of micro arugula and tiny mint leaves from our bed outside the restaurant.

Chocolate Peanut Cake, Cayenne Peanut Brittle, Goose Egg Anglaise
Chocolate-Peanut Cake. This is merely chocolate ganache, peanut butter, and goose eggs baked in a water bath until somewhat set, then gently rewarmed so that the center is very gooey and nearly runny. Garnishes are a goose egg crème anglaise, cassis jam, and a peanut brittle that I have made with a lot of salt (salty caramel, yum!) and cayenne pepper. Surprise!