Fall/Winter Menu Preview 2005
Judiaann Woo - July/August 2005
Short on seasonal indulgences but long on technique and flavor, seven forward-thinking chefs put a new spin on food for the long nights ahead.
Earth & Ocean, W Seattle
"The restaurant was named by the very talented opening chef, Jean-Michel Boulet, who felt it appropriate to maintain close ties from the source to the plate. Even today, our menu is split into two sections: from the earth and from the ocean. I feel as if I have the best of both worlds. We have the support of the W Seattle, but we're allowed to run essentially as an independent restaurant. I buy from whom I want, and I can change the menu as frequently as I wish. That kind of flexibility allows me to stay creative and cook very seasonally."
Dungeness crab with pork belly lardons, watercress foam & micro watercress salad. "Cure pork belly in a sugar/salt mixture with bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, sage, black peppercorns, and cloves. Smoke over applewood; braise in chicken and veal stocks, using mirepoix and a bouquet garni of the same herbs used in the curing. Reserve the braising liquid; score the fat side of the pork belly; cut it into strips. To order, heat the pork belly in a convection oven in some of the reserved liquid, being sure to leave the scored side exposed so that it browns. For the watercress foam, puree three parts watercress with one part parsley and a spoonful of crushed ice in a blender; add vegetable stock; season. Finish in a saucepan with room temperature butter; aerate with an immersion blender. For the crab, sweat minced garlic and shallots in olive oil; deglaze with white wine; add Dungeness crabmeat; season; finish with lemon juice and chopped chives. On a plate, shape the warm crab in a ring mold; remove the mold; lean a few slices of pork belly against the crab; garnish the top with micro watercress, dressed with lemon juice and salt; spoon watercress foam around."
Trap-caught spot prawns with dinosaur kale, flageolets & blood orange reduction. "Season blanched dinosaur kale stems and leaves with salt, pepper, and white wine vinegar. To order, sweat garlic and shallots in olive oil before adding cooked flageolets and dinosaur kale; finish with chopped parsley. The spot prawns come from Alaska and, occasionally, from the San Juan Islands. It's nice if you can acquire some females with their roe to add texture to the dish. Grill the spot prawns with their heads and shells on; I loosen the shells so that they can be easily removed with a knife and fork. After they're grilled, sauté them briefly in some melted butter; season. To serve, intertwine the prawns and arrange on top of a bed of kale and flageolets. Garnish the plate with blood orange segments. Spoon reduced blood orange juice around and over the spot prawns."
Free-range duck breast with delicata squash, black trumpet mushrooms & fregola. "Score and season a Peking duck breast. Sauté the duck breast, skin side down, in a little olive oil until the fat renders and skin crisps. Flip; finish in the oven to medium-rare; allow to rest before slicing thinly. Cook the fregola [Sardinian couscous] as you would any other pasta; season; coat with olive oil and some European-style butter for creaminess. Split the unskinned squash lengthwise; slice on a Japanese mandoline. Sauté with minced garlic and shallots sweated in olive oil; add black trumpets; sauté some more. Deglaze with white wine; reduce; season; finish with chopped chives and parsley. To serve, arrange a small mound of the squash and mushrooms on a plate; top with fregola; fan the duck breast slices over the top; garnish the plate with some reserved black trumpets and a dusting of black trumpet powder."
Apple a day. Sue McCown. "This warm, soft, crunchy, apple/fig dessert gets garnished with a fluffy ruffle made by alternating paper-thin slices of Granny Smith, Pink Lady, and Fuji apples in a shingling fashion on a Silpat-lined half-sheet pan. Sprinkle the apples with granulated sugar and grated Parmesan; drizzle with a bit of heavy cream before baking for 15 minutes. Make a fig spread by macerating diced dried figs in brandy and sugar. Mix figs in a Robot Coupe until smooth and spread on three-inch rounds of pie dough before baking. Top the fig circle with the apple ruffle and serve hot from the oven with a scoop of Qupe Syrah ice cream. To make the ice cream, add spiced wine syrup to pastry cream; strain; let the mixture rest overnight before using. I discovered this trick of using pastry cream as an ice cream base while cleaning out my walk-in one day. It not only worked but produced ice cream with the most phenomenal and luxurious mouthfeel--rich, soft, and velvety."
New York City
"It all started for me when I left the States for London to attend culinary courses. What was supposed to be a seven month stay turned out to be nine amazing years abroad. I was there when London was experiencing a culinary revolution of sorts. It was an exciting time, with many young chefs breaking out and doing amazing things. Since then, I've traveled around India, Southeast Asia, and Morocco for inspiration and flavor references."
Grilled ox tongue with eggplant/cumin relish, quinoa flatbread & roasted garlic yogurt. "This is comfort food for me. It gets me ready for the long winter to come. Braise ox tongue in brown chicken stock and red wine with thyme, sage, rosemary, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, and star anise. Peel the tongue while it's warm, then chill. Cut into thick slices and grill to order. For an accompanying relish, dice eggplant and sauté quickly to brown the edges, while allowing the insides to remain a little firm. Dress the warm eggplant in a tangy mixture of pickled red onion, lime juice, lime zest, toasted cumin seeds, and lots of cilantro. Serve with some yogurt flavored with roasted garlic cooked in olive oil along with crispy quinoa flatbread. To make the flatbread, add cooked and drained quinoa to unleavened dough; season with paprika for a nice pinkish orange color; roll very thin; bake until crispy. Finish the ox tongue with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, Maldon sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper."
New Zealand sea bass on roasted pumpkin with seaweed/cucumber salad & coconut/curry sauce. "To make the curry sauce, combine Thai yellow curry paste with fresh turmeric, yellow chiles, lots of garlic, ginger, lemongrass, palm sugar, and coconut milk. The fresh turmeric and chiles will impart a nice fruity and spicy flavor to this slightly sweet sauce. Finish with lime juice for some tanginess. Season New Zealand sea bass with Maldon salt and pepper; sear in olive oil; finish in the oven. Pool coconut curry on a plate and add some big chunks of roasted pumpkin. Top with sea bass and finish with some seaweed/cucumber salad to freshen things up. To make the salad, combine shredded cucumber with four different types of seaweed--wakame, hijiki, sugimori, and seaweed stem lettuce--and dress with lime juice, a bit of chile, sesame seeds, and sesame oil."
Grilled lamb neck with sambar bean stew & preserved lemon/fennel pollen yogurt. "Lamb neck is prized in Europe, but it's a difficult cut to find here. It's really a great value, with perfect marbling and a huge amount of flavor. Serve it grilled medium-rare on top of a hearty South Indian–style sambar [vegetable/lentil stew] made from borlotti beans and spiced with cumin and coriander seeds. Add fresh cilantro and mint at the end and serve it with a cooling yogurt flavored with a puree of house-made Moroccan-style preserved lemons and fennel pollen for a licorice-floral flavor. I think I might also serve some crusty bread on the side for sopping up the juices."
Frozen chocolate/clove mousse with cinnamon marshmallow, Graham cracker & caramel sauce. "This is my rich and decadent version of the classic s'more, not the first and certainly not the last adaptation. This dessert consists entirely of different shades of brown, starting with a cylinder of frozen chocolate mousse flavored with cloves. Place the cylinder horizontally on the plate and spoon caramel sauce over the top so that it runs down the sides. Top with a square of just-torched marshmallow flavored with spicy Vietnamese cinnamon and jab in a shard of Graham cracker for a quirky, fun presentation."
New York City
"Some people might be surprised to find a kid from Connecticut cooking with authentic Chinese ingredients and flavors. Me, I'm just intrigued by the many distinct flavors of all the different provinces and the prospect of getting people to think about Chinese food in ways they're not accustomed to. I might incorporate French techniques or try new ideas, but I always taste and make sure a dish is still measuring up on the yummy factor. A good idea is nothing unless it's both delicious and executed consistently."
Marinated jellyfish with cardamom/pear gelée & Chinese mustard froth. "Jellyfish doesn't have much flavor on its own, but it does have a great cartilage-like texture and slippery mouthfeel. Cut sushi-grade jellyfish from Hawaii into ribbons; season with Maldon sea salt, sesame oil, and diced Thai chiles. To make the pear gelée, juice nashi [Japanese pears] and add a small amount of lightly toasted and finely ground green cardamom pods. Steep 10 minutes before adding soaked gelatin sheets and straining. Chill to set. For the mustard froth, mix Chinese mustard powder in water until it forms a paste and allow it to sit 30 minutes. Combine the mustard paste with mineral water--one tablespoon of paste to two cups of water, for instance--butter, and sea salt; heat to lukewarm. To serve, scatter the plate with ribbons of seasoned jellyfish interspersed with chopped pear gelée. Add three dollops of warm Chinese mustard foam, aerated into a cloud of thick bubbles by using an immersion blender. Garnish with baby cilantro and Thai basil leaves."
Lemon poached chicken with autumn tapioca vegetables & glazed baby choy sum. "Season a skinless chicken breast with salt and poach 20 minutes at 140 degrees in lemon beurre fondue. Cut fresh water chestnuts, beets, and carrots into medium-size dice; dust lightly in tapioca powder before blanching and shocking. The tapioca powder will create a clear glossy layer around each cube and make the colors very vibrant. Blanch, then grill baby choy sum [flowering Chinese cabbage]; dress with sea salt and olive oil. Prepare a lemon foam by thickening water and sugar with cornstarch before adding gelatin and fresh lemon juice off the heat. Serve in a deep bowl, starting with a bed of the choy sum. Trim the chicken breast into an even rectangle and slice thinly. Season with fleur de sel and arrange over the choy sum. Combine the water chestnuts, beets, and carrots; arrange over the chicken. Circle the vegetables with a ring of lemon foam. Rim the bowl with some chile oil for a spicy nuance and garnish with baby Thai basil."
Roasted duck breast studded with candied mandarin orange, taro root puree & Sichuan salt. "Cut strips of mandarin orange zest and cook until softened in simple syrup. Reserve the syrup. Using a knife, pierce the duck breast and thread the citrus zest through the breast. Salt and sear in a pan, skin side down, to render the fat and crisp the skin. Flip and finish in the oven to medium-rare. Trim the duck breast into a rectangle and cut into five equally portioned pieces. On a square plate, arrange each piece of duck breast about a half-inch apart at a diagonal with a smear of smooth taro root puree seasoned with melted butter, salt, and white pepper. Drizzle some orange sauce--made by combining some of the reserved simple syrup with Triple Sec and rice wine vinegar--around the plate. Sprinkle the duck and the plate with a blend of sea salt and crushed Sichuan peppercorns."
Five-spice French toast with Red Delicious velouté & butterscotch foam. "For the velouté, sweat shallots in butter and add cored unpeeled quartered Red Delicious apples. Deglaze with brandy, add mineral water, and continue cooking until tender; puree. For the butterscotch foam, make a standard caramel sauce with sugar, butter, and heavy cream; cool to room temperature; add melted gelatin; at service, discharge from a nitrous oxide–charged siphon. Soak thick slices of brioche for two hours in crème anglaise flavored with five-spice powder consisting of individually toasted and finely ground Saigon cinnamon, star anise, cardamom, coriander, and Sichuan peppercorns. Cook in butter and finish in the oven. Serve in a wide shallow bowl, topped with wedges of deeply caramelized apples and the butterscotch foam. Pour the Red Delicious velouté around the French toast tableside."
New York City
"Balance is everything. You can pair very unlikely, downright odd ingredients if you understand and respect how flavors work together. You can also make unconventional substitutions. But the goal is to find harmony and a sense of fluidity with the flavors. I enjoy the process and figuring out how to make the ideas work. I'm always referencing Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen [see Silver Spoon]."
Organic pullet eggs & sweetbreads en cocotte, chestnuts roasted with fall spices, spinach & hazelnuts, Raschera cheese fonduta. "This is a variation of an old classic, oeufs en cocotte. Instead of a standard egg, use pullet eggs, which are the first eggs that a chicken lays. They're smaller and have a more pronounced flavor, which makes them a little more interesting. In a cocotte, along with the egg, are sweetbreads, wilted spinach, and roasted chestnuts tossed in fall spices such as star anise, cloves, and an amazing Indian spice mix called vadouvan, which includes curry leaf, fenugreek, mustard seeds, and garlic. Season with salt, pepper, and olive oil. The eggs are topped with a fonduta of Raschera [a pressed, semifat, semihard cow's milk cheese from Italy's Piedmont region to which a small amount of sheep's and/or goat's milk may be added] with Parmesan and Gruyère, a touch of cream, milk, and nutmeg, then dusted with grated toasted hazelnuts. The eggs are baked in a water bath until partially cooked and then given a little color under the salamander."
Wild sturgeon sous-vide with oregano, preserved lobster mushrooms, orzo with leeks & roasted cauliflower, Tyrolean wine soup emulsion with caraway. "Season sturgeon and vacuum seal in a plastic bag with olive oil, orange zest, and oregano. Cook 23 minutes in 144 degree water. Let fish rest five minutes before reseasoning and searing in a hot pan for color. Serve sturgeon, basted with the sous-vide juices, over a quenelle of orzo combined with sautéed leeks, shallots, garlic, pea-sized florets of roasted cauliflower, chopped chervil, vegetable stock, a little mascarpone, and two drops of fino Sherry vinegar. Serve surrounded with a Tyrolean wine soup, a fortified broth of oxtail consommé, Riesling, and heavy cream accented with the flavor of toasted caraway seeds. Garnish with lobster mushrooms roasted until tender with thyme, olive oil, crushed garlic, salt, and pepper, then preserved in olive oil."
Venison loin lightly smoked with Turkish coffee & pine, caramelized sunchokes, braised savoy cabbage & black trumpets. "Lightly smoke venison with Turkish coffee beans and ground-up pine cones before seasoning with salt and pepper and searing on all sides. Too much and the flavor can get bitter. Roast to rare and let rest 10 minutes before slicing. Serve venison medallions with dime-sized rounds of caramelized sunchokes sautéed with shallots, a chiffonade of braised savoy cabbage cooked with thin strips of pear between the leaves, and black trumpet mushrooms sautéed with leek whites, deglazed with red wine and mushroom-fortified venison stock. Serve with additional venison jus and garnish the plate with a streak of organic yogurt blended with finely ground cashew praline made with a touch of paprika."
Warm sweet potato/cider dumplings, licorice ice cream soda, huckleberries & bitter caramel. "Incorporate a puree of roasted sweet potatoes into a traditional beignet batter and lighten with apple cider. Shape batter into quenelles and deep fry to order. Serve three dumplings on a pool of warm huckleberry compote dusted with confectioners' sugar. Garnish the plate with a swoosh of clear dark caramel sauce flavored with a bit of Frangelico. To the side, serve a mini licorice ice cream soda in a small ceramic demitasse cup with a tiny straw intertwined with a vanilla corkscrew tuile. To make the ice cream soda, fill a siphon with crème anglaise flavored with melted old-fashioned licorice candies and aerate to a frothy, eggnog-like texture."
"I'm still cooking with pots and pans. I've been feeling like an old timer as I experience what's been going on these last few years. Whole food cooking is still more my style. I generally like to keep the taste and texture of things as they are. I tend to use more herbs than spices, and I get nostalgic for a style of cooking more reminiscent of several decades ago. I have guests who look like they've just found a long lost friend when they see classics like Dover sole and veal Oscar on my menu."
Warm Maine lobster with chanterelles, savoy cabbage & Port/veal stock reduction. "I love the savory earthy flavors of braised cabbage, meat juices, and wild chanterelles combined with the sweet briny taste of lobster. Parcook Maine lobster and carefully remove it from the shell in large intact pieces. Sweat Vidalia onions in butter until softened before adding a julienne of shredded savoy cabbage; cook until just barely tender; add Granny Smith apples; turn up the heat to gently caramelize; season. Sauté chanterelles in browned butter before adding the lobster to gently heat through. Serve the lobster and chanterelles over a bed of the cabbage with a reduction of ruby Port, red vine vinegar, and veal stock finished with butter. Garnish with a few additional sautéed chanterelles."
Peppercorn-coated roasted Amish chicken with salsify gratin, oil-cured olives, rosemary & roasted garlic. "Rub a chicken with olive oil, garlic, rosemary, and cracked black pepper; chill it overnight. Sear the chicken in a little olive oil until lightly browned; roast chicken, breast side down, in a hot oven until the skin is well caramelized; flip the chicken over; roast until the juices run clear and the skin is evenly colored. Let it rest before carving. For the sauce, reduce roasted chicken stock and add pitted oil-cured olives and roasted garlic. Finish the sauce with butter and infuse with rosemary leaves for two minutes. To make the gratin, peel and cut salsify into two-inch bâtons and cook in salted water; when cool, layer in a buttered gratin dish with four parts grated Comté to one part Parmesan; sprinkle generously with salt and pepper; grate nutmeg over; cover with heavy cream; bake until the cream is reduced and the top is golden brown. Serve the gratin on the side."
Roasted rack of Summerfield Farm lamb, Laura Chenel fresh goat cheese flan & stone-ground mustard/tarragon natural sauce. "Marinate an eight-rib rack of lamb in olive oil, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, garlic, and cracked black pepper overnight. Season and sear in a hot pan; roast 15 minutes before brushing the surface with stone-ground mustard and sprinkling with a mixture of buttered and toasted panko [Japanese bread crumbs], chopped garlic, and finely chopped parsley. Roast to just past rare. Serve chops with a savory flan made with fresh Laura Chenel goat cheese, milk, and eggs, seasoned with salt, finely ground pepper, and a touch of cayenne. Surround with a lamb jus finished with chopped tarragon and Maille stone-ground mustard."
Clove/honey roasted Comice pear, Dolce Gorgonzola, wildflower honey & toasted walnuts. "I often prefer fruit and cheese for dessert, especially in the fall and winter. Toss peeled and cored Comice pear halves in melted butter with some wildflower honey, a few whole cloves, and a touch of freshly ground pepper. Bake pears in a buttered baking dish until tender and caramelized. Serve pears next to a slice of very soft Dolce Gorgonzola drizzled with more wildflower honey. Spoon a syrup made from reduced ruby Port, red wine vinegar, and honey around. Garnish with some lightly toasted walnuts."
"I spent a good amount of time in Italy, where I discovered how much I enjoy cooking that country's regional cuisine. Although I feel very comfortable working in that style, I didn't necessarily want the restaurant to get labeled as Italian, so I chose a more subtle name. I'd rather have people discover what might be the French, the Spanish, or the Italian influence in one of my dishes. Coincidentally, quince shows up in all three of those cuisines."
Porcini salad four ways: grilled, mousse, conserve & fritto. "To grill, brush porcini with olive oil and cook over an oak or almond wood fire with some vine cuttings; slice them lengthwise; serve over a bed of arugula with a splash of aged balsamic vinegar. For the mousse, spread a blend of porcini sautéed in olive oil, butter, shallots, thyme, and rosemary with some reserved chopped mushrooms and grilled pain de mie. To conserve, steam porcini in vinegar, white wine, chicken stock, garlic, bay leaf, and rosemary; hold in the reduced liquid. And for the fritto, deep fry flour-dusted porcini in olive oil; season with salt."
Paine Farm squab baked in salt crust with roasted chestnuts, chanterelles & salsa di farro. "Season squab inside and out with salt and pepper; place a sprig of rosemary and sage in the cavity. Press grape leaves over the squab to protect the skin and to impart some additional flavor. Encase in a mixture of coarse salt, egg whites, and wild fennel pollen. Bake in a hot oven for 10 to 12 minutes until medium-rare. Allow the squab to rest for six minutes before cracking and removing the squab from the salt crust. Serve the breast and legs with roasted chestnuts, chanterelles sautéed in butter, shallots, and thyme, and a drizzle of salsa di farro. To make the sauce, slowly cook red onions, carrots, and celery with prosciutto. Add squab stock and farro before blending, passing through a chinois, and adding some reserved cooked farro at the end for texture. Garnish the plate with some grape leaves."
Devil's Gulch rabbit stuffed with cotechino, nettles & cicerchie. "Bone a whole rabbit and shape it into a long rectangle. Season with salt and pepper; line the center with a stuffing made from cotechino [a fresh pork sausage from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy], sautéed nettles, onions, prosciutto, toasted ciabatta tossed in stock, Parmesan, a little rosemary, and some rabbit meat. Roll the rabbit into a cylinder and encase with caul fat secured with twine. Gently brown on all sides in a nonstick pan and finish in the oven. Serve sliced stuffed rabbit with braised cicerchie, a legume similar to but flatter than a chickpea, and a rabbit sauce of reduced rabbit and chicken stock, deglazed with red wine with rosemary and garlic."
Quince/apple crostata with nocino ice cream. "On a circle of galette dough, arrange alternating thin slices of sweet crisp Cierra Beauty apples with quince poached in simple syrup over a layer of applesauce made with the skins on and toasted walnuts. Brush the apples and quince with melted butter, sprinkle with sugar, and bake until golden brown. Serve warm with ice cream flavored with nocino, an Italian green walnut liqueur."
CityZen, Mandarin Oriental
"Our food is very product-oriented, and a lot of my inspiration comes from talking to farmers at various markets and hearing about what's new with them. It's a huge effort and it takes time to build relationships, but eventually they'll send you things you may never have thought of before. I think I work with almost 50 purveyors right now."
Braised Path Valley Farms baby fennel with purplette & green Ischia figs, pickled chanterelles, sweet onion marmalade & fennel seed lavosh. "Make lavosh [unleavened Armenian flatbread] dough and use a pasta machine to roll it out very thin. Press on fennel seeds and bake between two Silpat nonstick pads and sheet pans until lightly golden. Brush with egg white, sprinkle with fleur de sel, and continue baking until golden. Cut out quarter-sized disks of lavosh. To make the onion marmalade, cook down minced Texas sweet onions in two parts Champagne vinegar to one part sugar with a touch of water and a thyme sprig until tender and jamlike. Split baby fennel bulbs and cook sous-vide with olive oil, salt, a pinch of sugar, and lemon juice at 181 degrees. Chill bags in an ice bath after 45 minutes. To serve, place two quenelles of the sweet onion jam on a plate and add a swoosh of fennel vinaigrette made with pureed fennel fronds and Champagne vinegar. Scatter the plate with halved purplette and green Ischia figs, pickled chanterelles, and nestle in disks of lavosh here and there."
Manhattan fish chowder. "Make a tomato broth with olive oil, minced garlic, shallots, and peeled Roma tomatoes. Strain and finish with a pat of butter, chopped parsley, and savory. Serve in a shallow bowl with a chunky mix of sliced razor clams steamed in white wine with shallots, parsley, and thyme; braised flageolets cooked in rendered bacon fat, mirepoix, and chicken stock; and diced CityZen cured shoat [a pig weighing between 25 and 40 pounds] leg. Season and sear Chatham cod in olive oil to a golden brown and serve on top of it all."
Pan-roasted Duclair duck breast with foie gras, red Russian kale & white corn pudding. "Season and sear duck breast, skin side down, over medium heat for a long time to render the fat and to cook it evenly. Flip and add a pat of butter, a garlic clove, and a thyme sprig; remove from the heat; let the residual heat finish the cooking. Make a white corn pudding by cooking strained corn juice down until thickened by its natural starch. Whisk continuously during the process and add salt, pepper, and a pat of cold butter at the end. Serve the duck breast over a bed of sautéed red Russian baby kale alongside a pool of white corn pudding. Season and sear a half-inch-thick slice of foie gras in a hot pan and arrange on top of the breast. Sauce with reduced duck jus made with one part veal stock to two parts duck stock and infused with Ceylon cinnamon. Garnish the plate with some peeled green pecans."
Pineapple quince clafoutis with Sémillon sabayon. "Cook pineapple quince sous-vide with sugar until tender. Reserve some of the fruit for the plating and cube the remainder for the clafoutis. Add quince to one-by-two-inch rectangular fleximolds and fill with a batter of eggs, milk, sugar, flour, and butter. Bake clafoutis and unmold. Serve two bars per order, stacked at an angle with a sabayon made with late harvest Sémillon. Garnish the plate with a small dice of the reserved quince and cubes of Sémillon gelée."