Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Daniel Boulud's Crab-and-Corn Custard and Corn Salad with Yellow-Tomato Vinaigrette

Chef Daniel Boulud
Here’s to the ladies who lunch!  Between sips of Rosé, they eat delicately practicing both self and portion control.  Take this wonderful take on a late summer riff on farm-stand flavors: Sweet corn, ripe tomatoes and fresh basil are combined with fresh crab meat in a custard with just a hint of heat. To complement the richness of the custard, these same ingredients make their way into a salad. Here the corn, tomatoes and basil make a refreshing contrast.  Served side by side, they make a great entrée at brunch or lunch for our ladies. But don't rule out serving this dish as an appetizer at dinner. The recipes are the work of the great Daniel Boulud who knows a lot about the ladies and everyone else who lunches for that matter.
         The great Lyonais chef who trained in France but made his reputation in New York, has restaurants here at every price pointFrom his stand-up Epicerie across from Lincoln Center to DBGB on the Bowery to his two Michelin Star Daniel on the East Side, the chef hits every price point with his inventive menus and great food.  But you can no longer keep a great chef around a single stove.  So Boulud has restaurants in Las Vegas, Palm Beach, Miami, Montreal, Toronto, London, Singapore and Boston.  Somehow Boulud also finds time to contribute monthly to Elle Décor magazine.  His Daniel’s Dish is must-reading for me and that’s where I found the recipe.
         At first glance, it looks slightly daunting.  Perhaps its pedigree would lead you to believe it is complicated.  In reality, it’s actually quite easy to make and the reward is well worth the effort.  You cook a quantity of fresh corn for both custard and salad.  That’s likely the most labor-intensive part of the dish. If you use my method for shucking corn, even that is easy.  You make the custard in a blender. You wilt Romaine lettuce and basil, stack layers of ingredients in a 7 oz. soufflé dish, cover them with custard then bake for a good 45 minutes.  The salad is made while the custard cooks.  The yellow-tomato vinaigrette is a delicate dressing that looks as pretty as it tastes.   Adding to the appeal of this dish is that you can serve the custard warm or at room temperature so you can make this dish far in advance of your guests arrival if you wish.  One note:  I could not find the harissa called for in the original recipe. A quick check revealed that Sriracha sauce was a good substitute.  And a note about substitutes stated you could also use hot sauce.  Whatever you do, do not leave this out.  It adds inestimably to the flavor of the custard.  Here is the recipe:

Daniel Boulud’s Crab-and-Corn Custard and Corn Salad with Yellow-Tomato Vinaigrette.  Makes 6 servings using 7-oz. Soufflé cups.

For the custard:

2 T butter
3 cups fresh sweet yellow corn kernels, from about 6 ears
1½ cups heavy cream
1 T harissa
2 tsp. salt
4 whole eggs
Greenest outer leaves of 3 heads romaine, roughly chopped
½ bunch fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
6 oz. fresh, good-quality lump crabmeat
6 oz. heirloom grape tomatoes, halved

For the Salad:

8 oz. yellow tomatoes, quartered
1 tsp. sugar
2 T white balsamic vinegar
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1½ cups fresh sweet yellow corn kernels, from about 3 ears
12 oz. heirloom grape tomatoes, halved
1 small shallot, finely minced
1 jalapeño, quartered, seeded, and finely minced
½ bunch fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
Hearts of 3 heads romaine

First, prepare the custard:
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
2. To easily shuck corn, place three ears of corn in a microwave oven for 4 minutes. The corn silk will easily separate from the corn and you're left with a perfectly silk-less ear of corn.  To cut the kernels from the corn, take a bundt pan and position the end of the corn in the bundt pan's center.  Cut the corn from the cob and it should all fall into the sides of the bundt pan. 
3. In a medium sauté pan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and add the corn; cook until the kernels are soft and colored bright yellow, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove half of the corn and set it aside.
4.  In a blender, combine the rest of the corn, the cream, the harissa or sriracha, and the salt; puree until smooth. With the blender running on low, add the eggs one at a time. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a pitcher or large measuring container and set it aside.


5. Wipe the pan clean and melt the remaining butter over medium heat. Add the romaine and the chopped basil; cook until just wilted, less than a minute. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels.

6. Place 6 small ramekins or soufflé cups into a casserole dish. Divide the greens evenly between the ramekins and spread to create a layer on the bottom.  (Note: I made this for two hence on two ramekins)

7. Layer with the crabmeat, followed by a layer of cooked corn kernels. Pour the custard mixture evenly into each ramekin and top with a layer of the halved tomatoes, cut sides up. Fill the casserole dish with hot water up to 1 inch from the top. Place in the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the tops are firm. While the custard is baking, make the salad.

Prepare the salad
1. Toss the yellow tomatoes with 1 teaspoon salt, the sugar, and the white balsamic vinegar. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate in a warm place for about 20 minutes. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Pass through a fine-mesh sieve and refrigerate. This can be done several days in advance.

2. In a medium sauté pan, heat the olive oil and add the corn. Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until the kernels are soft, then let cool in a large bowl. Add the grape tomatoes, shallot, jalapeño, and basil, and season with salt. Toss in 2 tablespoons of the yellow-tomato vinaigrette and chill.

3. To serve, cut the lettuce hearts in half and trim and discard the cores. Spoon 1 tablespoon of vinaigrette over each half and top with the tomato-and-corn mixture.
4. Serve the crab-and-corn custard warm or at room temperature alongside the chilled salad.


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Salad Days. 3 Ways to Salute Summer this Weekend: Grilled Watermelon with Feta, Balsamic and Mint, Tomato, Peach and Burrata Salad, Ina Garten's Italian Seafood Salad

        I don’t know how we got to the last week of August so quickly. But it’s been a wonderful summer here and every chance we’ve gotten, we’ve enjoyed great salads all made, with few exceptions, with ingredients found within five miles of our house.  The Watermelons have been a particular draw.  Seedless wonders, they’ve made it into salads with tomatoes before.  But for a starter that’s truly unique, we’ve served rounds of grilled watermelon topped with the tang of crumbled, salty Feta cheese and laced with sweet Balsamic vinegar reduced to its essence.  We also discovered the joyous union of field-ripened tomatoes and local peaches.  Onto this paring we’ve added luscious creamy Buratta cheese and once again a drizzle of rich balsamic reduction.  Finally, it is virtually impossible to top Ina Garten's Italian Seafood Salad.  Aside from its mingling of fresh seafood—all of which, except for the shrimp, came from our bays and ocean—this salad is an inspired choice for any host.  You make the whole thing the night or morning before you serve it.  It then chills until lunch or dinnertime.   You’ll only be absent from your party for as long as it takes to retrieve it from the fridge.  “How easy is that?” as Ms. Garten would say.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

David Lebovitz' Summer Frangipane Fruit Tart

        Picture your favorite summer stone fruit—cherries, peaches, plums, nectarines, fresh apricots, pluots*-- sumptuously emerging from a rich almond cream, their colors a promise of their juicy interiors, a perfect summer pleasure in a perfect buttery crust and there you have it: A great dessert for a dinner party.  You can make the pastry crust the day before, refrigerate it and then use it at will.  And the Frangipane can also be made ahead of time.  So with minimal effort, the day of your party you can present your guests with a freshly made tart.   That’s David Lebovitz’ Summer Frangipane Fruit Tart. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Thomas Keller's Ratatouille

Chef Thomas Keller
         With the farm stands near us barely able to contain the bumper harvest from this glorious sunny summer in the Hamptons, it seems highly appropriate to bring you a great recipe for a vegetable feast.  And what says summer more than this Provençal classic, Ratatouille.  I first published this three years ago and it is so popular, I thought I'd share with you again. So here goes:             
          Thomas Keller, arguably the most influential chef in the country, recently wrote about Ratatouille in the Los Angeles Times.  He wasn’t talking about the 2008 movie of the same name, a fanciful food fable that won the Oscar that year for best Animated Feature.  He was referring to that summer classic that incorporates so many fresh vegetables your kitchen looks like you’ve robbed a farm stand.  What Chef Keller pointed out was how adaptable the dish is.  It starts out as a vegetable stew that’s an incomparable side dish or a vegetarian meal all by itself.
It is quite labor intensive so there’s no point in making a tiny batch of the stuff. Instead Chef Keller encourages making a recipe that yields 16 1 cup portions.  This, he points out, gives you the basis for any number of pasta sauces, a perfect soup base-- even a sandwich spread.  The one thing the dish requires, besides a cornucopia of fresh produce, is time.  The start to finish on the dish is 4 hours.  I’d say that actually errs on the short side. But a lot of that time is spent while the ratatouille sits in the oven reducing the liquid away until you’re left with beautifully tender vegetables in a thick, silken sauce.  So you can sit back and stir occasionally.  All that time is a perfect opportunity to re-view “Ratatouille”, the movie.  If you’re uninitiated to its charms, it’s the story of an ambitious young chef and, yes, a Rat who cook away in a Parisian restaurant.  And what foodie doesn’t want to revisit Paris?

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Daily Meal has just published my latest article and recipe....Enjoy this trip to the South of France!

Salade Niçoise is Not What You Might Think It Is
Get your facts straight regarding salade niçoise, direct from the source
Aug 9, 2016 | 10:01 am
Monte Mathews
Staff Writer
We have the scoop on how a Salade Niçoise should really be made.

         Unless you want to get your head taken off by your server, never ask where the cooked potatoes and green beans are when you order the famed salade niçoise in its home city of Nice on France’s Cote D’Azur. Heaven forbid you miss the tuna you may have gotten used to back home too.
         It turns out the salad is a victim of its own success. It’s been amended and altered from its original recipe so that even the sunniest locals frown upon variations of the real thing. And what is the real thing? Salade niçoise doesn’t even appear in the bible of French cuisine, “Larousse Gastronomique.” Instead, it is pictured as “Mediterranean salad.”

Sunday, August 7, 2016

A Double Play from The New York Times: Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes with Red Pepper Dressing and Best Chicken Salad


         Ask me my favorite day of the week and I will say Wednesday. Saturday and Sunday have their charms.  But of weekdays, nothing compares to Wednesday and the arrival of “Food” from The New York Times.   Formerly called “Dining”, the section was renamed in 2014 “to reflect its increasingly broad focus on food and drink, restaurants and home cooking, gastronomic trends and innovation”.   The newspaper went on to say that the newspaper’s most famous food editor of all, Craig Claiborne had named his first report “Food” when he joined the paper in 1957.  Plus ça change… Every Wednesday, I eagerly await its contents, most particularly, its recipes.   What other newspaper has a “Recipe Lab” where recipes are pored over with a food historian’s eye?  Where else can you find a David Tanis, whose City Kitchen is a constant source of new ideas.  Or “In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite” which is the province of one Melissa Clark, whose recipes have made it onto Chewing the Fat an astonishing total of 33 times.   But today, Melissa is absent as her two colleagues, David Tanis and Julia Moskin take center stage.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Anna Pump's Asian-Flavored Beef, Pepper and Spinach Salad

         The Hamptons are chock-a-block full of famous chefs.  There are those who work here--or at least own restaurants here—like Jean-Georges Vongerichten who just arrived this year at Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton.  There are those who make this place their summer home like Bobby Flay and Marc Murphy. And there are those who have lived here year ‘round and who have spread the gospel of Hamptons food and cooking throughout the country.  Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, immediately comes to mind.  But you might be surprised to know that Ina herself owes a great debt of gratitude to someone she initially hired to work in her original Barefoot Contessa food shop. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Rao's Lemon Chicken My Way, with a hand from Cook's Illustrated

Rao's Original, the toughest table in town.
         One of New York’s most iconic restaurants is almost impossible to get into.  Unless you are a bold-faced name or a local politician or, even better, a family with “connections” to a very specific group of Italian families, your chances of scoring a table there are slim to none.   Rao’s breaks every rule from its location (East Harlem, 455 East 114th Street NYC (Tel: 212-722-6709)) to its size (tiny) to its hours (Monday to Friday only) to its steadfastly sticking to Italian American classics on its menu.   Lately, Rao’s has expanded to Las Vegas and Los Angeles where you’ll find a far bigger welcome at far bigger restaurants than the home office ever provided. 
         High on the list of Rao’s specialties is Roast Lemon Chicken, a chicken lover's dream of crisp-skinned chicken redolent in garlic and lemon and plenty of sauce to soak up in chunks of crusty Italian bread.  For its original recipe, Rao’s cuts two small chickens in half.  They’re quickly cooked under the broiler until they’re golden bronze.  Then a sauce heavy on lemon juice and with olive oil, red wine vinegar and dried oregano is added.  The birds are broiled again and served.  You can find the recipe all over the web.  But what you likely cannot do is to replicate in your home kitchen.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Watermelon and Tomato Salad

        Last summer, we served a version of Watermelon and Tomato salad so often, we were convinced everyone we knew had tasted it.  And this year, we’ve seen so many recipes for it, that we’re sure our readers have been inundated with variations on the dish.  However, most versions we’ve seen include feta cheese, which is a complete no-no in our house.  It’s just not on our list.  This salad however most certainly is.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Steamed Bok Choy with Mapo-Style Pork from Justin Chapple in Food and Wine Magazine


Food and Wine's Justin Chapple
I’ve bought the Bok Choy Trader Joe’s sells quite a few times.  I like the crisp crunch and slightly bitter flavor of the vegetable.  But I have to admit, my Bok Choy hasn’t risen to any great culinary heights.  Recently, as I read through Food and Wine, I came across a recipe that featured an Asian-inspired recipe that looked promising.  And it was!  A raft of Asian flavors made the pork ‘sauce’ a worthy topping for the Bok Choy.  Sweet and spicy, it’s the easiest of dishes to make taking all of 3 steps and 30 minutes from stovetop to table.  It’s from Food and Wine’s Justin Chapple, a young man whose inventiveness can be seen on many of the magazine’s videos.   My discovery of the recipe coincided with the arrival of ground pork to the meat case at Trader Joe’s. Instead of trekking a few blocks more every time I need that particular ingredient, Trader Joe’s became one-stop shopping for this meal. The original recipe was part of a series called “How not to eat a lot of meat”.  However, I had no clue what I would do with the leftover ½ lb of pork so I chose to double the recipe, most of which topped the Bok Choy.  The rest I refrigerated and later used in some Asian-inflected tacos.  But what exactly is Mapo-Style?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Indian-Spiced Chicken with Tomato and Cream


I love Indian food.  Its intriguing blend of exotic spices and flavors are so distinctive and so transforming that it really does represent a cuisine far from our own American classics.  Take this dish from Bon Appetit.  It transforms the simple and inexpensive Chicken leg and thigh into a feast for all the senses:  The scent for the nose.  The color for the eyes. The taste for the palate.  And talk about one pot cooking!  It even includes potatoes so aside from the Indian bread of choice, Naan and some yogurt, dinner comes together effortlessly in a large Dutch Oven.  If Indian food seems counter-intuitive in the heat of summer until you remember that the sub-continent itself is one of the warmest places on earth.   Only in the Himalayas does the temperature average 68 degrees.  The rest of the country hovers in the 70s and 80s in winter and soars into the 90s and even 100s in the heat of summer. So why does this hot country share a passion for spicy, hot food? 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Chop Chop Salad with Gingered Shrimp and with thanks to Daniel Boulud

The man himself, Daniel Boulud
        Who doesn’t love Daniel Boulud?  His restaurants are on everyone’s New York Top 10 list from Daniel to DBGB on the Bowery, of all places.  I have a particular soft spot for his Bar Boulud, across from Lincoln Center and very close to home. It was there that my daughter-in-law, Kym, told us I was going to be a grandfather for the first time. And the food is pretty good as well!  I’m told Daniel is a very fine fellow and wonderful to work with.  I follow him religiously in Elle Décor Magazine where for some years he’s been the lead food writer. I am never disappointed in what he publishes there. That’s where this recipe appeared.  It’s a homage to DBGB’s close proximity to Chinatown with a wonderful Asian influence dressing and an Asian marinade for the shrimp.  With summer meals upon us, this will be a fantastic addition to any lunch or dinner.  As if it didn’t have so much going for it already—crisp vegetables, cool watermelon, tender sweet shrimp, a tangy-creamy dressing—it’s also a perfect Meatless Monday meal, that is if you get an early start because there is some marinating time involved…otherwise print this and save it for the weekend.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Cream Scones with Clotted Cream from "Hand Made Baking" by Kamran Siddiqi

Ah the scone!  Properly made, they’re a thing of great joy at tea time or coffee hour.   But the greater likelihood is that the scone most people encounter comes off as heavy as a hockey puck and just about as appetizing. No matter how much clotted cream is laid on top, an awful lot of scones are dry and tasteless. That had been Andrew’s experience until we encountered the perfect scone. We were aboard Viking Sea where the old adage about salt air making one ravenously hungry was proven true.  Completely out of character, we decided to participate in afternoon tea.  Not that Andrew actually drank tea—he chose a cup of coffee instead. But there we were presented with a triple-decker tray piled with cookies, finger sandwiches, macarons and topping it off, buttery, moist and tender scones. Ever since we got home, Andrew has been making variations on the scone to great success and accolades from every single scone doubter.  His scones are a masterpiece and the source of his recipe is just as fascinating.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Salt and Pepper Chicken Wings with Parmesan Dipping Sauce


In the pantheon of things we love to eat, the Chicken Wing is high on our list.  Crispy, crunchy and easy as all get out to make, I could likely put these on our dinner menu once a week.  As wing lovers, I’ve tried all kinds of recipes for these delicious little finger-licking goodies and almost without fail, we love the results.   But in terms of simplicity, nothing comes close to this take on wings: 10 minutes tops in prep and 45 minutes undisturbed in a hot oven and that’s it. The recipe was brought to my attention by Tyler Florence in his “Tyler Florence Family Meal” (Rodale 2010).  Tyler subheads this book “Bringing People Together Never Tasted Better”.  And I couldn’t agree more. Tyler attributes the recipe to The Wayfare Tavern in San Francisco (558 Sacramento St. Tel: 415 772 9060).  And like every chicken wing recipe in America, it owes at least something to the ubiquitous Buffalo Wing.  In fact, every recipe for Chicken Wings pays some homage to the original because if it hadn’t been for Buffalo, we might never have tasted wings at all.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Andrew's Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

         One of the great joys of summer is that Andrew is back at the beach and back into baking.   It’s not that we don’t have temporary bursts of wonderful cakes, pies and cookies at other times of the year, but in Summer he settles in a routine which revolves around at least a dessert a weekend.  These are either served to our guests or taken to our hosts at the dinner parties that are as much a part of our summer as sunshine.  His selections often follow what is freshest and at its flavor peak as the season progresses.  
         These few past few weeks that’s meant Rhubarb, tart and tangy and grown just over the hill from our house.  And then there are the strawberries from the same farm. Once you have even looked at these two things there is no question that they are not from the supermarket.   And then there’s the taste: Sublime strawberry sweetness and juiciness unlike anything we taste in berries shipped 2500 miles (at least) to get here.  Rhubarb is an even more seasonal treat: it simply isn’t sold except for these few fleeting weeks early in the growing season. Combined, these two fruits were baked into a Demerara sugar encrusted lattice work pie, melding sweet and tart and tangy all together.  The only thing missing was the essential scoop of Vanilla ice cream that seems to exist only to make Strawberry Rhubarb pie irresistible.