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!


  1. Hi there! Wonderful food! We are farmers in California and I am intrigued by your use of duck and geese eggs. Is this a coming trend? We are going to raise a small flock of geese primarily for the holiday season but we enjoy the idea of raising them more than we do chickens. Do you think there is a market targeting chefs in Northern California with fresh pastured geese eggs? And roughly how much do your farmers charge you for a dozen?

  2. I don't know about trends. We pretty much march to our own drummer. Duck eggs are pretty amazing: once you've used them, it's hard to go back to chicken eggs. I would think that there is a reasonable market for duck eggs especially with pastry chefs, who would derive the most benefit from these eggs. They make awesome pastries (not to mention huevos con chorizo).

    Goose eggs are a different story: they are hard to work with. Hard to crack, very sticky whites, and yolks that are the consistency of firm crème brulée. We use them because the woman that supplies our duck eggs has no other market for them and we get them on the cheap rather than them going to waste. So I don't see a lucrative market for your goose eggs, alas. They make fine pastries as well, but I prefer duck eggs by a mile.