Kristen Kish Cooking: Recipes and Techniques by Kristen Kish, EPUB, 0553459767

December 6, 2017

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 Kristen Kish Cooking: Recipes and Techniques by Kristen Kish, EPUB, 0553459767

Kristen Kish Cooking: Recipes and Techniques by Kristen Kish

  • Print Length: 288 Pages
  • Publisher: Clarkson Potter
  • Publication Date: October 31, 2017
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01N22WL2Q
  • ISBN-10: 0553459767
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553459760
  • File Format: EPUB

 

”Preview”

Copyright © 2017 by Kristen Kish

Photographs copyright © 2017 by Kristin Teig

All rights reserved.

Published in the United States by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.

crownpublishing.com

clarksonpotter.com

CLARKSON POTTER is a trademark and POTTER with colophon is a registered trademark of Penguin Random House LLC.

Photograph on this page by Gillian Laub

Photographs on this page and this page by Bravo/David Moir/©2012/NBC Universal/Getty Images

Names: Kish, Kristen, 1983- author. | Erickson, Meredith, 1980- author.

Title: Kristen Kish cooking : recipes and techniques / Kristen Kish with Meredith Erickson ; photographs by Kristin Teig. Description: New York : Clarkson Potter/Publishers, [2017] | Includes index.

Identifiers: LCCN 2016055343 (print) | LCCN 2017006417 (ebook) | ISBN

9780553459760 (hard cover) | ISBN 9780553459777 (Ebook)

Subjects: LCSH: Cooking—Technique. | Creative ability in cooking. | LCGFT:

Cookbooks.

Classification: LCC TX714 .K56665 2017 (print) | LCC TX714 (ebook) | DDC

641.5–dc23

LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2016055343

ISBN 9780553459760

Ebook ISBN 9780553459777

Cover photography by Kristin Teig

v4.1

prh

contents

INTRODUCTION

TECHNIQUES AND TERMS

SNACKS

BEGINNINGS

FROM THE SEA

PASTA AND GRAINS

MEAT

SWEET

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

INDEX

INTRODUCTION

I was born in a small town just outside of Seoul. My birth mother delivered me in Room 2 of a busy, tiny clinic, and then she promptly left. What I know about her is only what I have seen in the police record:

Height: 5’4″

Oval face

Black hair set in a permanent

Arrived wearing navy jogging suit

No other details are available. The police department and clinic waited four days for her to come back. “Some people change their mind,” they said. But she didn’t. On day five I was officially handed over to the state and was named—it was the first name I was given—Kwon Yung Ran. From there I passed through a few different orphanages around Seoul.

On April 22, 1984, at four months old, I flew with an older Korean woman, a chaperone, to Detroit, Michigan, where my new family was eagerly waiting for me. They had already seen pictures of me and had been preparing for my arrival, and so they say I felt like theirs long before they got to take me home. They jumped through hoops to get me, went through the process of interviews and home visits, and then waited for me for months. They truly wanted me to join their family. As I grew up, I realized just how incredible it was to go from unwanted and abandoned by my birth mother to being part of a new, welcoming family, who felt only joy at my arrival. This is a bond we adoptees share.

April 25, 1985, is my adoption day, when everything became official. On September 18, 1987, I was granted US citizenship. All kids have a birthday, but adopted kids have a set of dates, each equally meaningful to us and to our families, with certificates for proof—we’re real-life Cabbage Patch Kids.

I don’t think much about how differently my life could have turned out. When I was really young, my parents (both white, both from Michigan) did everything they could to make me experience my Korean roots. My parents would bring in foreign exchange students in an encouraging they’re-Korean-you’re-Korean-you-should-talk sort of way, someone to relate to. We read The Korean Cinderella book before bed. When I was seven, my parents took me to the Grand Rapids Food Festival, where I had my first taste of kimchi. I loved the flavor (the smell, not so much) and imagined how good it would be piled on top of a Quarter Pounder. This is, perhaps, one of my earliest memories of flavor. Later I realized that adding acid to something big and rich cuts through the fat. That might have been the first dish I built in my head. Like most cooks, I keep in my mind an ever-growing Rolodex of textures, colors, flavors, acidity, and even historical references and old menus. It turns and turns like a hamster wheel.

I’m told my love of knives started early. My mom would catch me cutting up carrots, cabbage, and whatever produce I could get my hands on. I always wanted to use the largest knife in the kitchen, zeroing in on our ten-inch chef’s knife at the age of five. I would chop while cooking shows played on the small TV in the kitchen. I’m proud to tell you I grew up on home-cooked comfort foods, made with canned green beans, button mushrooms, and barbecue sauce from a jug—and even the occasional microwave dinner. These are the dishes that I still request whenever I visit: vegetable soup made with a base of V8; standard meat loaf, which my mom makes with oats—not bread crumbs—and serves with a healthy side of ketchup and a baked potato loaded with sour cream and dried chives; and slices of floured chicken breast, stewed with potatoes, chicken gravy, and green beans.

I grew up in a white suburb forty-five minutes from Lake Michigan. I was very fortunate to have two vacations per year, one American Girl doll, basketball camp, summer day camps, and a ­running-home-after-dark-with-scraped-knees sort of existence. But my absolute favorite thing, starting around the age of five, was watching Discovery Channel’s Great Chefs of the World. Seeing Alain Passard make cassoulet, Raymond Blanc creating cakes and confectionaries, and Takashi Yagihashi working acrobatics (purpose, no wasted movement, efficiency) with his mind-bending noodles—though I didn’t know their names then, I was mesmerized by the mix of global chefs and of places I could only dream of visiting. A great calm washed over me while watching hands work so confidently with what seemed to me then to be innate skill. Seeing the chefs’ agility in the kitchen, the buzz, whisk, stir, and pour, and the little pots was very soothing to me. It was the only time in the day I’d be completely focused. After dinner I would run into our yard to create my own kitchen from twigs, stones, and dirt. I’d collect dried leaves by the handful and sprinkle them onto my tennis racket—my pan. Pretending I was in whites, a little great chef, I would shake the tennis racket like I watched the great sauciers do. I imagined the sizzle and the smells.

As I got older, I stayed indoors and traded my tennis racket for an actual sauté pan, and leaves for vegetables and chicken breasts. Home alone, I would throw whatever I could find into the pan and cook the shit out of everything, until it was basically sawdust. I was going through the process of cooking long before I had a concept of what went together or how to properly execute it.

At the age of thirteen I was at Woodland Mall with my mom, at 5-7-9, your average Forever 21 tween shop, when a man approached me and asked if I had ever considered modeling. I convinced my mom it was what I wanted to do even though I had no clue what it actually meant. My very first casting? A Paul Mitchell Hair runway show! But when they told me I would have to shimmy down the runway like Christie Brinkley (instead of just walking normally), I turned a thousand shades of red and refused.

I was devastated, cried for days. After that, modeling jobs, not surprisingly, came few and far between, the biggest being for a profile of local designer’s dresses in the Grand Rapids Press. When I was eighteen, despite having zero success with modeling to that point, the agent there suggested I sign with Elite, an international agency with offices around the world. Ford and Elite, I was told, were the biggest names. I didn’t know anything about them; all I needed to hear was that they were the best. And so, after my senior year of high school, I hopped a train to Chicago and met with Elite. I shot a portfolio, a calling card for future potential clients who might want to book me. A highlight was the mandate to grow out my eyebrows: they wanted me to change my appearance, which made me even more insecure than before. It was a sign that modeling wasn’t for me, and so I quit, again, at least temporarily.

The next couple years were a dark time in my life, one that is still not easy for me to focus on. But it is when I really got into cooking.

In 2002, I went to college for international business and hated it. I did it simply because it’s what I assumed I was supposed to do. I thought it would provide the level of success that I believed I should be chasing, that my friends in high school were pursuing: power suit, mortgage, kids, all of it. I hated everything about the college experience. I didn’t do well in school, nor did I feel I fit in socially. I wasn’t comfortable with who I was, what I was doing, my sexuality, or what I wanted for my future. My mom could tell I was unhappy and thought speaking with a professional might help. But in therapy, I lied the entire time. I would only hint at the truth in the occasional session to make it seem just realistic enough, like I was making ­progress, but not enough that my therapist could catch onto me. I wasn’t open to anyone.

That summer I decided not to go back to college, and my mom and dad, to their credit, suggested I go to the Cordon Bleu culinary school in Chicago instead. After suiting up with the requisite luggage of knives and far too many tools and gadgets—many more than one needs—I was underway. I doubled up on classes, often starting at 6 a.m. and not finishing until 6 p.m. From the moment I set foot in culinary school, I realized that I had never felt as confident as when I was learning in a kitchen. I loved it. Cooking school provided me with purpose. It didn’t come easy, but it definitely came naturally. I felt happy, which is to say I didn’t feel defeated every second of the day, which is how I often felt previously in school. The real world, however, remained a place where I had yet to learn how to be myself.

When I graduated in 2004, I started working a couple gigs in Chicago. I put in time at a private club in the city where I learned a lot. But I started drinking, doing a lot of drugs. I convinced a restaurant owner to hire me while I was high. Booze and drugs gave me the confidence I needed to get my foot in the door. I remember many instances of staff not being paid, purveyors not being paid. I quit and was without work for months. When not at a bar, I could be found in my apartment, wanting to be by myself, depressed, ashamed of who I was and what I felt I was becoming. I felt unworthy of such a nice apartment that my mom and dad paid for. Eventually, in 2006, at my parents’ urging, I moved back to their house in Michigan as they no longer would support an unmotivated, nonworking child. They had a point.

After finding some form of balance at home and a dose of reality (including deciding to quit using drugs as a crutch), I decided to move to Boston, a city, but one that still seemed somehow manageable. It felt familiar, perhaps because I had visited it as a kid. I rented a single room and was offered a line cook position in a restaurant at the top of one of the tallest building in the city. Within the first year I was scouted again for modeling. I was feeling low—unaccomplished and several steps behind where I should be professionally—and the validation felt good, so I went back into it. I was placed in a Converse ad, had a couple spreads in local magazines, did some runway shows, and was nominated as “Model Boston.” At the same time, I was ­double-shifting as a line cook in a place that did nearly five hundred covers a night. I learned speed, efficiency, and how to cook as a team. It was my first experience cooking on the line.

A year or so later, I was hired as an executive chef—at the age of twenty-four. I knew then that this was a bad sign but it was an offer I couldn’t refuse. It was a shiny new title and incredibly ­validating—just too early. Yet again the checks bounced, and I was in a déjà vu scenario, just like in Chicago. After realizing it was time to start at the bottom and find patience in learning the craft the honest way, I applied for a position with Guy Martin, the French chef from the legendary Le Grand Véfour in Paris.

Guy had come to Boston to open Sensing at the Fairmont Battery Wharf hotel. In my universe, this was huge. It was also a possibility to phase out modeling. I finally felt like I was at a restaurant with credentials that made me proud to work there. I had found the right fit. Gérard Barbin was the chef de cuisine under Guy, and he turned out to be my first mentor. He was professional, confident, and honest, and spoke through his actions. In 2008 he made a banana cake with seared foie gras and green tea. I am not embarrassed to tell you that this blew my mind. Care and creativity and thought went into each dish. It was an open kitchen: quiet, focused, and immaculate, very European. The kind words of Gérard and Guy definitely guided me forward. As Sensing came to its natural end, so did the relationship with my boyfriend at the time. And perhaps my romantic relationships with all men, really.

Next, I toyed with moving to Dubai or London until my best friend, Stephanie Cmar, suggested I check out where she was working: Stir, an intimate (max ten people per night) dining room/demo kitchen. I would have kept running away when things got hard if it weren’t for Stephanie’s persistence that I give Boston and this job a year of my time. So I stayed. Owned by Boston’s cooking doyenne Barbara Lynch, Stir had a rep for building great cooks. I applied and was accepted. How does Stir work? Well, in the space of an evening, the chef in charge is expected to prep and execute a multicourse meal, smile, clean pots and pans, and chat—an intimate dinner-party setting of sorts—all while teaching guests the hows and the whys of what they’re making. It’s a dance I loved then and still love now.

Not only was Stir a great podium to show Barbara what I could do and to give her a reason to trust me to cook for her company, it was a way for me to find my own style. I was fortunate to have a great mix of both freedom and her creative influence. She would tell me, “You already know how to do this, so stop thinking so hard about it!”

She was right. The less time I had to think about how and what to cook, the more my true cook came out. This was just what I needed to gain confidence and to find and trust my own vision.

One evening Barbara was set to come to Stir for the night for us to cook together. The theme was Birds & Burgundy. This was my moment: the first time I tried tweaking a technique for finishing a sauce. Instead of whisking butter into a reduced game-bird stock, I opted for a rich creamy cheese to make a flavorful sauce for a guinea hen dish. Service started and built and built, with great admiration from diners. Midway through, Barbara stopped and said, “This is so good, I can’t take credit for it. This is all Kristen.” And from there I began creating my own menus with more confidence and building my own following among Boston’s diners.

The next year, Barbara was asked to be a guest chef on Top Chef. After that show wrapped, the producers asked her to suggest names for Top Chef Seattle for the following season. She put my name forward, telling the Bravo network and later the New York Times, “She is the rare female chef who has both the culinary chops and the telegenic appeal to suit the extraordinary demands of both professional settings.”

Let me just say that being a TV game-show contestant is a super-weird experience. But as you may have surmised so far, I wasn’t the casting dream. (Friends with Padma Lakshmi, yes. Glamourous or even charismatic like Padma, no.) And being on TV was never my intention. It was Barbara Lynch who mentored me and pushed me and gave me the confidence. She made me do it. And so I agreed to audition for season ten of Top Chef in the summer of 2013.

I arrived in Vegas to start filming the first segment at Emeril Lagasse’s Table 10 restaurant. The setup for the show is that you don’t have to worry about a goddamn thing other than cooking. No wallets, no books, no music, no phones—just your knives. That’s all you’re allowed to bring. In Vegas, we were five chefs vying to get a spot in Seattle.

We were mic’ed and, as soon as we walked in, it just started. Emeril introduced himself to each of the five contestants. The first challenge was to make a soup, any soup you wanted, in thirty minutes. You’re in a brand-new kitchen and you don’t know where anything is; you don’t even know where the ingredients are, let alone what they are, and you are right away going to be judged on that dish! I made an English pea soup with scallops and apples. I would like to tell you it was an informed decision and break down my thought process, but these were simply the ingredients that came across my eyes first. I had to make a quick decision. Emeril told me it was one of the best soups he had had in a long time. As a result, I made it to Top Chef Seattle.

After that stint in Vegas, I went back to Boston for three weeks. During that time, I was allowed to tell only Barbara what I was up to. The confidentiality and contracts were airtight. I told my mom and dad that I’d be going away and we couldn’t speak for six weeks. My long-running struggles with anxiety and depression simmered just below the surface. This would be a big test for me. When the wheels touched down on the runway in Seattle, my heart was pounding. I was taken to a hotel to settle in and sign paperwork, have my chef coat fitted, and mentally prepare before the actual competition and the cameras. We were eighteen people including me all in twin beds and sharing rooms. Everything in our bags was checked for drugs, contraband fruit, excess knives—whatever.

The first day we were herded like cattle into tents and then walked into the studio. From that moment, the cameras were on. As a coping strategy, I immediately started stripping people down in my mind, thinking, “She’s not going to make it past day one.” I don’t know that I always believed it, but I needed to do something. Padma came out and greeted us and delivered the quick-fire challenge: Pacific Northwest shellfish. And we were off!

We filmed every day, double-digit hours. We had very little freedom and even less privacy. I’m talking asking for permission to go to the bathroom. That said, I don’t want to come across as melodramatic, and do want to emphasize that it was an incredibly fortunate life experience. I’m not saying I was in the trenches. I was a cooking competition reality-show contestant.

Throughout the season, I was winning individual challenges, surprisingly. My first win came from re-creating 1950s dishes. I was one of the last to pick something from the menu and chose two sides—french-fried onion rings and button mushrooms. I double-cooked the mushrooms—one of my favorite techniques to this day (see this page)—and caramelized them with garlic, shallots, white wine, vermouth, butter, and parsley to make a classic steakhouse side.

The season began to air months later. As the weeks went by, people began recognizing me on the streets. Publishers, agents, and bad food companies hawking microwave dinners began contacting me. I was eliminated in the second half of the season, and while on the one hand I felt a huge sense of relief, it was tempered by my competitive nature—I still wanted to win.

I knew I’d get my shot on the Last Chance Kitchen (where eliminated contestants go head-to-head for a chance to return to the show). I won two cook-offs in Seattle and two more in Alaska and then was flown to Los Angeles to tape the final two episodes. At this point I already had four comeback wins under my belt by taking a one-day-at-a-time approach. All of a sudden, I had won those final two cook-offs and was back on Top Chef as one of the three finalists. Tom Colicchio walked me from Last Chance Kitchen over to the main set for the next challenge, to whittle us down from three to two finalists.

We had to run a service of our own food at Tom Colicchio’s restaurant Craft in Los Angeles, with Tom expediting at the pass, coordinating the tables’ orders between the kitchen and front of the house. Remember, I’d been working in a demo kitchen and hadn’t worked anything like a traditional service in years. So now, nine months after that first Vegas shoot, I’m in the Top Chef finale. The episode was shot in an LA studio with 150 or so “diners” (along with my dad, brother, and best friend, Stephanie, among those eating). It was the calmest I had felt throughout the entire Top Chef experience. The challenge was simple: five courses head-to-head, the best three out of five wins, and I was up against Brooke Williamson, a tough competitor and LA native. It was a complete blur. We had very little time to think. So I relied heavily on what I knew—technique—to get me through. They declared me the winner after the fourth course. This fact didn’t set in for months, which is good because I had to keep quiet about everything for weeks until the show aired.

I went back to Stir, and while I was relieved to be off camera, I did miss the adrenaline. I felt bored, which forced me to realize I was capable of doing more, of packing more into my day, and that I craved adventure and wanted a new challenge. Within six months, Barbara promoted me to chef de cuisine at Menton, the only Relais & Châteaux property in Boston. I was eager, excited, and ready to learn. I was in training for nearly three months before I touched the menu and made it mine. I loved the service, the kitchen, the process of how that restaurant runs. Menton turned into a lesson in what I wanted and who I wanted to be.

Now let me be clear: I believe it’s important for a cook to stay at a job for at least a year to fully get a sense of the place. It’s a display of character, discipline, integrity, and responsibility that every older and wiser chef looks for on a CV when hiring. However, in this case, I decided to leave after only nine months. Why? Suddenly, I felt I was cooking for the wrong reasons. Here I was with a coveted restaurant job, having just won a TV show, the restaurant was packed with people wanting to try my food—there was nothing not to love! I was comfortable running a kitchen, but cooking at Menton only magnified that I was not yet comfortable with myself.

By the time I left Menton, I’d been working in kitchens on and off for twelve years. Like most cooks, I visited my apartment only to sleep, and my home kitchen had rarely been touched. Truth be told, I feel most relaxed when I’m prepping food in a professional kitchen. I didn’t know how to cook at home. Essentially, I didn’t know how to slow down and take care of myself.

I love the meditative quality of rolling out pasta for hours on end, preparing canapés for a busy service, squeezing custard into countless petits éclairs, the “oh, shit, I’m in the weeds” moments…and, of course, using a knife constantly. And so, after the whirlwind, I realized I had to learn how to relax and cook for myself again. No walk-in refrigerator stocked to the gills, no team help, no adrenaline rush.

I also wanted to cook for my girlfriend at the time. Yes, I said girlfriend. I know for most of you this isn’t that saloon moment where I bust through the swinging doors and the piano player stops. This isn’t a shocking revelation now. But at the time, this was a big deal for me.

I’ve probably always known I was gay, but accepting it was another story. It wasn’t until after Top Chef and Menton that, at the age of twenty-eight, I openly had my first girlfriend. I grew up in a very loving and accepting home, but I was still scared to be myself. I came to a point where I needed, wanted, and no longer could hide my love for another person. I remember lying face up in bed, staring at the ceiling in my apartment with my phone in my hand. I called my parents and scooted around the subject for a good twenty minutes. Finally, I said, “I’m dating someone and we are coming to Michigan,” and then slyly dropped a “she” in somewhere. My mother paused for what felt like eternity and then responded with “Well, I think we already knew.” They asked if I was happy, and I said yes, and that was that. I didn’t publically come out until months later, when I posted a photo on social media of my then girlfriend and myself, not as a statement, just sharing a moment as we all do. The next day an article came out in the New York Times magazine that, in addition to talking about how a women’s place is running the kitchen (the title of the article, actually), casually mentioned my girlfriend. It made a bigger splash than I had ever imagined, and the flood of messages and notes of support were overwhelming.

And just like that, my truth was out, and so was I.

When you are able to live your life as who you are—and not half-truths—every aspect, including your career, will have more room to flourish.

This is a cookbook of recipes from my life, from my beginnings as an adoptee in Seoul, South Korea, to my upbringing in the Midwest, years of cooking under Barbara Lynch, ultimately winning Top Chef, and to how I cook today. But how useful is that to a home cook?

My life has shaped my taste buds. My professional cooking career has focused on classic techniques learned in culinary school and restaurants. Once you know the basics, from braising to pickling, smoking to searing, you can bend them to your will. For example, I love to build complex-tasting sauces by making a flavorful stock and then finishing it by melting stinky cheeses into the hot broth (like the ­recipe for rabbit loin with Époisses de Bourgogne cheese, mustard, and carrot on this page). The idea is based on a technique called emulsification, where a fat is incorporated into a liquid in order to add richness, volume, and, in the case of Époisses, a hit of funk.

Take the two together—my taste buds and technique—and you have the essence of my cooking. Once you know basic cooking ­methods, you can also use them to translate your life and your taste buds into your cooking.

At its core, my food combines a reverence for the 101s with the beautiful mess that has been my life so far. I hope to continue telling my story through my recipes—and that you’ll cook along with me, learn and hone some great techniques, and in turn be able to better express yourself through your cooking and your recipes.

A WORD ON PLATING AND PRESENTATION

I am particular regarding the kind of plates I use. Each one needs to make sense for the dish at hand. For this book, I actually worked with Jeremy Ogusky, a Boston potter, and created a few of my own original pieces (see this page, this page, and this page). And because we all appreciate a beautifully presented dish at a restaurant—I really believe it does make great food taste even better—I am particular about how I put food on each plate. As a result, some of the recipe photographs in this book show smaller, tasting portions instead of the full dish described in the text.

TECHNIQUES AND TERMS

My cooking is not rooted in a place or a region of the world: the core, the very root of my cooking, is technique. I’m all about properly searing and seasoning, the importance of knife skills, and understanding how things cook. And so I’m going to direct you, the reader, as I would instruct fresh cooks in my kitchen. I’m giving you some professional tips to add to your cooking arsenal.

The following classic techniques and terminology appear often in the book. That’s because I consider them essential and use them often. Master them and any recipe, anywhere, will immediately reveal itself to you. I recommend giving this section a once-over before you begin cooking. I’ve also highlighted in each recipe the techniques employed so you will see examples of them in use. You can always come back here to refresh your memory on any method.

PRIMARY TECHNIQUES

BLANCHING: quickly parcooking an ingredient in boiling salted water. I use this method with all sorts of foods, including to make peeling pearl onions easier, to set the vibrant color of peas and other veggies, and even for sweetbreads. The water should taste salty so that the ingredient picks up that seasoning. The desired blanching time, once you have a boil going, is usually 1 to 2 minutes. Once blanched, the ingredient should be plunged into a big bowl of ice water. The point here is to stop the cooking process quickly. Drain the ingredient well before proceeding.

BRAISING: a method of cooking that combines dry heat, simmering, and poaching all in one. Braised meats, such as coq au vin and beef bourguignon, are perhaps the most popular examples of this technique. But I also love to braise vegetables, like radishes, leeks, and beets. The point is to slow-cook tougher cuts of meats (or heartier vegetables) at a low temperature to break them down and yield a luscious texture. Braising can be done either on the stovetop or in the oven, and it’s almost always done with a cover on the pan to retain moisture. It is important that there is enough liquid to come roughly halfway up the piece of meat or vegetables. You don’t want to drown your food, but you need to maintain enough liquid during a long cooking time so food doesn’t burn, and you need to develop enough steam in order to properly braise. Timing cues? A beef bourguignon, for example, takes upward of 4 to 4½ hours, whereas medium-size vegetables can be done in as few as 40 minutes. I almost always sear a cut of meat (see this page) before I braise it to maximize flavor.

BRINING: preserving and flavoring with salted water. A brine lets you season an ingredient in its entirety as opposed to just seasoning the outside with salt. Brining is ideal for large pieces of lean meat, especially whole poultry. It adds flavor and ensures a moist end result. Think of your holiday bird: you brine it to season the meat of the bird from the inside. As the bird sits in the brine, the salt pulls out moisture from the meat. As it continues to sit, the bird will end up drinking up the flavored brine to equal the water weight lost.

CURING: preserving and flavoring with salt. Curing originated hundreds and hundreds of years ago in order to preserve items to extend their shelf life. I do it to season, draw out moisture, and concentrate an ingredient’s texture. In this book I cure fish, squab legs, and duck legs before cooking or smoking.

EMULSIFYING: combining two or more liquids or fats together to create one smooth, consistent sauce. Aioli, butter sauces, cheese sauces, and vinaigrettes are all examples. Personally, I like to fortify stocks with butter or cheese, another example of an emulsification. A properly emulsified sauce is glossy and smooth; a sauce that looks separated, with liquid pooling around curds of solids, has broken. We also emulsify when we’re combining a cold fat into a hot liquid. When emulsifying, a whisk, a hand blender, or a blender is essential. You are looking to incorporate fat into liquid, which is not a natural pairing, so the quick movement of the whisk (or blender blade) is important. Adding the fat little by little is imperative; if you were to dump it all in at one time, the sauce would be more likely to break. The temperature of the ingredients can also play a role. Often a cold fat is whisked bit by bit into a hot liquid. When an emulsion breaks, it can be hard to resuscitate. Sometimes a little hot water can help bring a mayonnaise back together, but more often it is just easier to start over, adding the fat more slowly.

FRYING: cooking an ingredient in hot fat until crisp. If done correctly and in a well-ventilated kitchen, you can fry up some great crunchy, delicious foods. In this book I either shallow-fry or deep-fry. With shallow frying, when the ingredient isn’t completely submerged in the oil, I’ll use grapeseed or another neutral oil, such as canola or vegetable—anything that is essentially flavorless. More and more, I use coconut oil in recipes where I’m not going to mind picking up the flavor from the coconut.

Whenever I fry garlic or shallots, I always start them in cold oil. Bringing the temperature of the ingredient up slowly aids in cooking out any of the pungent onion flavor. The taste becomes less that of a fried onion and more intensely golden and rich. I also find the onion or garlic gets crisper, too, this way.

With a deep fry, where you need a lot of oil to cover the food completely, I use a cheaper neutral oil, usually canola.

There are two important rules about frying:

1. Make sure the oil is hot enough that a bit of food or batter sizzles away as soon as it’s dropped into the oil. If it’s not hot enough, whatever you’re frying will simply act as a sponge and soak up the oil before the crust starts to form, if it ever does, which isn’t pleasant.

2. Always wear pants.

MAKING CONFIT: cooking and preserving meat in fat. Traditionally used for meat, such as duck legs cooked in duck fat, this method can be used for vegetables, too, and oil or clarified butter can take the place of animal fat. For example, I make tomato confit using olive oil with herbs and seasoning. Both the slow-cooking method and the fat are incredibly gentle, rendering ingredients soft, rich in flavor, and unctuous once cooked.

MAKING CUSTARD: the process of emulsifying egg yolks and hot liquid and cooking them until slightly thickened. The ice cream recipes in this book all begin with the base of a stirred custard, or crème anglaise: egg yolks are whisked with sugar, and hot milk and cream are added slowly to temper the yolks; the mixture is then stirred over low heat until it coats the back of a spoon (the nappe stage). This process needs attention. Too fast and too hot will scramble your eggs as opposed to creating a silky smooth, creamy custard. The cooked, stirred custard is then chilled, and you have an ice cream base. But that’s where the standard method stops. I play around with the types of sweeteners, including sugar, honey, and corn syrup. I also experiment with adding cornstarch, and adjusting the ratios of whole eggs to yolks and of milk and cream. Depending on what the ice cream is paired with, I balance all of these factors appropriately. That said, each ice cream also can be made and eaten on its own.

MAKING FRESH PASTA: mixing flour and eggs makes dough. Making fresh pasta is meditative for me and something I recommend that anyone who loves to cook try at least once. Start with my Basic Pasta Dough (this page) and roll it to the thickness you desire. For ravioli, I like it so thin that I can see my hand through it. Cut as desired for the recipe at hand.

Here are some tips:

When rolling pasta dough, use just enough flour to prevent sticking—not so much that you end up with a tough, dry dough.

Filled pastas need to be sealed. The most efficient way is to grab a small spray bottle and fill it with water. It’s fast, and this way you keep your fingers dry for pressing the edges together. I prefer plain water as opposed to an egg wash.

When cooking pasta, make sure your pot is large and you have more water than you need. Pasta water should taste like the sea. Salt the water aggressively so that the pasta is seasoned as it cooks. For 1 gallon of water, I recommend ½ cup of kosher salt. You can’t really ever fix under-seasoned pasta once it’s done cooking. Add the pasta little by little to the boiling water, keeping a rolling simmer; if you get your batch of pasta all in within 10 seconds, you can be assured that it will all cook evenly. Otherwise, pasta can sink to the bottom and become a gluey mess.

When the pasta is cooked, avoid violently dumping all those lovingly crafted dumplings or noodles right into a colander with a torrent of hot cooking water gushing over them. Instead, when the pasta is al dente, remove it from the water in batches using a slotted spoon or a spider. Much more civilized.

MAKING MERINGUE: whipping egg whites with sugar until the mixture is glossy and beautifully white. There are several versions of meringue, some made from cooked sugar and others from raw sugar. Whichever version you are preparing, I recommend using a stand mixer as the process takes a bit of time. Meringue is often whipped to soft, medium, or stiff peaks. This is where you hold up the whisk and the meringue will curl over on itself (soft, see photo) or stick straight up (stiff). Room-temperature eggs whip up best. Make sure the bowl is impeccably clean and that no bits of yolk make it into the whites, or they will not whip to their fullest. Cream of tartar is often added as a stabilizer. Keep soft uncooked meringue at room temperature until ready to use and make it as close as possible to the time you want to use it. Cooked meringue needs to be kept in a cool, dry place to avoid becoming chewy and soft.

PICKLING: preserving and flavoring with acid and salt. Pickling incorporates acid and tang, and so I like adding pickled components to rich dishes to help cut through the fat. There are many ways to pickle. In this book you will see various pickled items using the vinegar method: pouring vinegar, hot or cold, over an ingredient and letting it marinate. Hot vinegar will soften an ingredient a touch, and the flavor will be stronger; cold vinegar will keep things crisper and lighter. Fermented pickles are also amazing but do not make an appearance in this book.

The traditional rule of thumb for pickling is 3:2:1—that is, 3 parts water, 2 parts vinegar, and 1 part sugar (by volume), with the sugar dissolved in the boiling water and vinegar. You can play around with this formula using different herbs and spices, more or less sugar, and different vinegars. The solution can also be used hot or cold, depending on the pickle you want.

POACHING: lightly and slowly cooking something in a flavorful liquid. A stage below a simmer, poaching involves submerging an ingredient in liquid and cooking it very gently until tender. It keeps even lean foods like chicken breasts moist.

REDUCING: to cook a liquid down over time, thus minimizing the quantity, thickening the texture, and intensifying the flavor. Reducing should be done over medium heat in as wide a pan as possible to reduce the cooking time; liquid should boil in the pan. Pan juices and braising and poaching liquids can make flavorful sauces on their own once reduced.

RENDERING: to melt and cook the fat out of an ingredient, typically meat. This technique is often used to cook meat in its own fat, while crisping the skin. Duck skin, for example, has quite a bit of fat to render before the skin will crisp. The rendered fat can then be used to make a confit (see this page) or to roast potatoes.

ROASTING: to cook using high and dry heat in the oven. This is the number one way of browning and bringing out the natural sugars of an ingredient—or crisping its fat—without adding any additional liquids. A key to roasting is not to overcrowd the pan, as doing so will increase moisture and provide steam, the enemies of dry heat. Another tip: don’t line your trays with foil; that creates steam as well! Cut vegetables that are the same size so they cook evenly. And separate different types of vegetables, which might not cook at the same rate.

SEARING: applying high heat to caramelize the exterior of an ingredient. The myth of “it seals in the juices” is something I never bought in to. It sounds nice, but caramelizing meat on the outside does not scientifically create such a barrier. I do it purely for flavor. Searing, or browning, is basically cooking over very high heat with a bit of fat just briefly to brown and color. The meat or vegetables may or may not need additional cooking to cook the inside, but the sear is referring to just the outside. When you place a sirloin in a hot pan, preferably cast-iron, and you see the meat immediately beginning to contort or seize—that’s a good sear. A pan that’s not hot enough means the meat kind of stews and simmers, giving off liquid and not browning. Avoid that sad fate for your steak at all costs!

SMOKING: flavoring and cooking with wood smoke. Smoking can be done either hot or cold. For the latter, the smoke is purely a flavoring and does not cook the food at all. In this book, I smoke using only the hot method, primarily on the stovetop, to incorporate a beautiful smoked flavor into a dish. Smoking at home is easy with an outdoor grill or smoker—or in a well-ventilated kitchen. Here’s how I do it indoors: Soak the wood chips in water for 45 minutes; drain. Put the chips in a small cast-iron pan and ignite them with a kitchen torch. You will begin to notice steam, and then the white smoke will start. When you see the smoke, you’re in business. Lay the ingredient on a small, sturdy wire rack or in a perforated pan. Set over the burning chips in the cast-iron pan. Wrap the setup tightly with aluminum foil to prevent smoke from escaping. Smoke over low heat on your stovetop for as few as 20 minutes or as long as 1½ hours, until the ingredients are to your desired smoky taste. When you’re checking for doneness, be careful when lifting the lid: smoke inhalation is real. If you’re indoors, you might want to step outside for this part!

STEAMING: cooking with indirect moist heat. This method of cooking over—but not touching—simmering liquid keeps foods moist and retains their delicate flavor and texture.

SWEATING: cooking without coloring, usually to remove pungency and soften ingredients such as onions or garlic. Here you’re looking to take out some moisture from an ingredient, not brown it, though the heat should still be in the medium range. Adding a pinch of salt at the beginning helps draw out the moisture to ensure no color or caramelization forms. An average sweat time is 8 to 10 minutes.

ADDITIONAL TECHNIQUES

COOKING MUSHROOMS: heating mushrooms so that they release their liquid and caramelize. The majority of mushrooms carry significant moisture, so I like to double-cook them: the first cooking pulls out excess water, and the second cooking caramelizes them and lets you incorporate flavorings, such as shallot, garlic, herbs, or wine. Without the first step, mushrooms tend to steam and simmer in unflavored liquid, and it can be difficult to get a nice caramelized exterior.

This is how I do it: Cut the mushrooms into sizable pieces—leave the smallest mushrooms whole, halve the medium ones, and quarter the largest ones. Keep in mind that the mushroom pieces will shrink by a third or so during the cooking process. In a large sauté pan, heat oil over medium-high heat until it begins to shimmer. Add a portion of the mushrooms, being careful not to overcrowd the pan, and a pinch of salt. Sweat the mushrooms over medium-high heat until the liquid begins to cook out and the mushrooms are tender. Transfer to a colander set over a bowl to drain them. Once all of the mushrooms have been cooked, repeat the process, adding more oil to the pan and letting it get hot before cooking each batch of mushrooms until caramelized.

COOKING SOUS VIDE: slow-cooking a vacuum-sealed ingredient with flavorings (fat and herbs) in a temperature-controlled water bath. Cooking sous vide keeps an even cooking temperature during the entire process without anything burning off or evaporating. It’s a way of making sure the outside doesn’t cook before the inside, while retaining moisture and imparting flavor. In the past I’ve rigged my own setup at home using plastic wrap and a pot of water whose temperature I monitored with a probe thermometer.

DEGLAZING: adding a liquid after a fond (caramelized bits stuck to the pan) has formed and cooking it until the liquid has fully evaporated. Pour a small amount of liquid (stock, water, wine) into a pan that’s been used for sautéing and bring the liquid to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pan to dissolve the pan sediment and juices. Add additional liquid to make a pan sauce.

GLAZING VEGETABLES: coating them in an emulsion of a fat and liquid. This is usually done to cooked vegetables to add flavor and fat and a glossy sheen. The vegetable is rolled in butter or oil and water or stock in a sauté pan over medium heat until the liquid evaporates and the fat coats the vegetable. Seasonings can include, but are not limited to, herbs, salt, or honey.

MAKING CARAMEL: cooking sugar until liquid and amber in color. This is a simple way of elevating ice cream or adding sweetness to a sauce. Caramelized sugar is nutty with a slight bitterness, depending on how far you take the sugar. I use the sugar and water method, mixing the two together and simmering them until the water evaporates and the sugar can begin to color. (It’s a bit more error proof than starting with dry sugar in a dry pan.)

Here are some tips:

Brush down the sides of the pan with a little water, as any loose sugar crystals climbing up the sides can crystalize your entire sauce.

Don’t agitate the pot. Once the sugar is damp and it’s cooking, avoid touching or stirring it.

Adding an invert sugar (e.g., corn syrup) can act as extra insurance against crystallization.

Be careful when adding cream to the sauce. The sugar is insanely hot and can burn you terribly. Room-temperature cream or even warm cream won’t bubble up as much as cold cream. Either way, go little by little, and make sure your pot is large enough for the cream to temporarily bubble up and double in size.

Don’t try to taste the hot sugar or sauce or dip your finger in it before it has a chance to cool. Cooked sugar is HOT. Have patience.

Keeping caramel sauce in the refrigerator to use later is great, but as it cools, it will thicken. Just warm it back up in a microwave or double boiler, or add more liquid so it can remain loose while cold.

MAKING CLASSIC SAUCES: preparing the five classic sauces in French cooking, known as the “mother sauces:” velouté, béchamel, espagnole, tomato sauce, and hollandaise. Three of these five use a roux (see this page). Velouté begins with a light roux and traditionally a light stock made without browning any of the ingredients. It’s the starting point for a gravy, for example. Béchamel begins with a light roux and an added dairy (think mac and cheese or lasagna); if you add Gruyère, you’ve got a Mornay sauce. Espagnole uses a dark roux to thicken a dark beef or veal stock, which is usually flavored with a browned mirepoix (a mix of carrots, celery, and onions). In a diner or on the streets of New York, you’ll hear it referred to as “brown sauce.” Dressed up, it could be a bordelaise, which has the addition of red wine and when completed often accompanies a great steak. Tomato sauce veers into the Italian with a host of pastas and pizzas. For those two items, you skip the roux; it’s just pure tomatoes and herbs. Hollandaise is an emulsion of egg yolks and clarified butter and usually a hit of acid. On its own, it reigns with asparagus or over eggs Benedict. Add shallots, champagne vinegar, and tarragon and you have another steak and french fry accomplice: béarnaise sauce. An aioli is just like a cold version of hollandaise, if you think about it. Once you know the basics, you can start tweaking them. Think of these sauces as the ultimate building blocks to your cooking repertoire.

MAKING COOKIE DOUGHS AND CAKE BATTERS: combining butter, sugar, flour, and eggs properly. Start with room-temperature butter and eggs, unless your recipe states otherwise. Creaming, or mixing the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, is one of the first steps in making a dough. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the mixing bowl often. When you add the eggs, do so slowly, one at a time, scraping down the sides as needed; otherwise your eggs won’t fully incorporate, and you will end up with lumps and pockets of butter in your batter (in essence, a broken emulsion). If you have wet and dry ingredients, it’s best to alternately add each to the creamed mixture. Once you add the flour, the key is to not overmix. Why? Because overmixing creates a tough dough instead of a tender final product.

MAKING POTATO PURÉES: cooking potatoes and then mashing them. I love country-style mashed potatoes: skin-on, lumpy, and satisfying. But there is also something about a perfectly silken and rich fancy restaurant–quality potato purée. I cook my potatoes one of two ways: baked skin-on or simmered in salty water skin-on until tender when pierced with a knife. I highly suggest the water is perfumed with bay leaves, whole garlic cloves, and thyme.

I peel the potatoes with a small knife while they are as hot as I can carefully handle; the skin will come right off. To yield the smoothest texture, I pass them through a few vessels. First through a ricer, and you could certainly stop here if you wanted. In a restaurant, I continue. I scrape the riced potatoes through a tamis (a round sieve of sorts). From there, I begin to emulsify my fat and/or liquids into them. Finally, the potatoes get pushed through a chinois (a fine-meshed conical sieve) with the back of a ladle to ensure the smoothest of smooth purées.

MAKING A ROUX: a great thickening agent that also adds flavor (depending on how much you toast the flour) and richness via the fat. A roux is equal parts of fat and flour mixed together and cooked over low heat, usually between 8 and 18 minutes (unless you are making a gumbo, which is a whole other story). The more you toast the flour in the fat, the darker the roux, but the less the thickening power. There are four varieties of roux: white, blond, brown, and dark brown. White is cooked for the shortest time, while dark brown cooks the longest. In the recipes herein, I use only white or blond roux. Usually used to thicken sauces, soups, and chowders, this is a building block for the classic sauces. (See also Making Classic Sauces, this page)

TEMPERING: to gradually increase temperatures of delicate ingredients like eggs or chocolate without altering them. Most people know that if you pour a hot liquid over an egg and try to mix the two, the egg will scramble. When cooking a custard, for example, you want to add the hot liquid very slowly, whisking constantly, to gradually increase the eggs’ temperature before proceeding. Tempering meat, on the other hand, means taking the chill off of thick cuts by letting them sit at room temperature for 20 minutes before cooking.

WHIPPING: incorporating air to yield a fluffy, light, voluminous result. Your whipper can be a whisk, elbow grease, an electric mixer, or even a whipping canister. When whipping cream, peaks will form a bit quicker if the cream is cold. When whipping egg whites, the opposite is true: room-temperature whites whip to the fluffiest peaks. Make sure no fat has been introduced to the whites; even a spot of egg yolk can slow down or inhibit your whites. So make sure your bowl is clean, too. I am a big fan of an iSi canister fitted with a nitrous oxide cartridge. (The same canister can be fitted with a carbon dioxide, or CO2, cartridge that also adds air, but in the form of carbonation typically used for making sodas.) You can aerate more than cream or egg whites in an iSi, such as a sauce or a purée. The sauce must be completely smooth, and some may need gelatin or another type of stabilizer to help keep its form once released from the canister. Science and a bit of experimentation and trial and error are helpful when playing around with different liquids in the canister.

WORKING WITH GELATIN: using a gelling agent to set liquids. There are two kinds of gelatin: powdered and sheet. I prefer the latter. Sheets will yield a clearer gel compared to powdered; that’s why they are used more commonly in professional kitchens. One envelope equals 3½ (silver; see below) sheets. Gelatin, whether powdered or in sheets, must be bloomed, or soaked, in cold water for 5 to 15 minutes, until soft. Sheet gelatin should be squeezed out in your hands before using. Gelatin will dissolve into your mixture at 80°F to 100°F and will set once chilled. Boiling gelatin inhibits its setting power. Be sure to leave a minimum of 6 to 8 hours for it to firm up.

In most kitchens we use silver-strength gelatin sheets. There are also bronze and gold sheets; the grades refer to the gelling power of the sheet. Silver grade is the most common because it can be adapted to many recipes without much adjustment.

WORKING WITH YEAST: using a leavening agent to add air, texture, and flavor. The most basic example of yeast in this book is in brioche dough (see this page). I find myself using active-dry yeast that you can find in any grocery store, usually in the little packets. I follow two rules when it comes to yeast:

1. The temperature of the liquid mixed with the yeast cannot be too hot; it will kill the yeast, and you will not get that rise you want. Aim for 5 to 10 degrees above body temperature. There’s no need to measure it using a thermometer; if the liquid feels like a warm bath on your hand, you’re in the right area.

2. Add salt after you add either all or some of the flour, as direct exposure to the salt can retard yeast’s ability to rise.

Your yeast should bubble and foam a few minutes after the warm water and a pinch of flour or sugar is added. If it does not, throw it out and buy fresher yeast.

COOKING TERMS

AU SEC: to cook a deglazing liquid until au sec (“nearly dry”), simmering it until it has completely evaporated.

BTON: an ingredient, often a vegetable, but also bacon and chives, that’s been cut into thin, even-length sticks.

BRUNOISE: vegetables (e.g., carrots, onion, celery) cut into a minuscule ⅛-inch dice.

CARTOUCHE: a circular piece of parchment paper used to cover the surface of a simmering liquid, acting as a lid. This helps keep food submerged and reduces evaporation, while not preventing it completely.

EGG WASH: a mixture of beaten eggs or eggs beaten with milk, water, or cream that is brushed on to the surface of raw dough or pastry prior to baking. It adds to the browning and shine of the finished baked good. I prefer to use just one whole egg, beaten until smooth.

ICE BATH: a combination of ice and cold water in a bowl, generally two handfuls of ice in a large bowl filled with water until half full. An ice bath is used to quickly stop the cooking process when you’ve boiled or blanched something (e.g., vegetables, gnocchi, sweetbreads) as well as to stop the cooking of a custard, such as an ice cream base.

JULIENNE: vegetables (and other foods) cut into thin sticks or bâtons, generally 1⁄16 inch thick.

MIREPOIX: a mixture of diced carrots, onion, and celery, typically used to enhance the flavor of a sauce or stock.

MONTER AU BEURRE: the act of whisking cold butter into a sauce to make it creamier and more luscious.

NAPPE: to coat with a sauce. This term is used to refer to the consistency or thickness of a sauce. Dip a spoon into the sauce, then lift it and run a finger along the back of the spoon to expose the metal or wood. The consistency is correct if the sauce does not re-cover that exposed portion of the spoon. If it’s still too runny, keep reducing the sauce.

ONION BRÛLÉE: a burnt onion, used as a flavor and color enhancer in stocks. Line a large sauté pan (or more than one if you have many onion halves) with three layers of aluminum foil, place onion halves (that have been cut across their equators) cut-side down in the pan, and set the pan over high heat, simply letting the onions be. Once the onion faces start to blacken, reduce the heat to medium-high and let them sit for 35 to 40 minutes. You want to burn those onion faces completely for best color and flavor before adding them to stock.

PIPING BAG: a tool used to accurately press custards or creams (or even potato purée) through a narrow tube when precision is necessary and a spoonful or dollop won’t do. I love and recommend disposable plastic piping bags, but failing that, zip-top plastic bags work great. Just cut off one of the corners to mimic the diameter of a piping tip and start piping!

QUENELLE: a food mixture (e.g., ice cream, vegetable purée, mayonnaise-bound meat or fish) that’s been shaped into an oval or football shape using two dessert spoons with deep bowls (the kind of vintage spoons your grandmother might have had lying around). To make a quenelle, wet two spoons in hot water and put one in each hand. Scoop up a portion of the mixture you’re shaping with one spoon, and use the second spoon to scoop the mixture from the first spoon, smoothing it in the process. Hold the spoons horizontally and give the empty spoon a quarter turn each time you scoop. Repeat a few times until you have a neat oval shape. (For ice cream, just use one spoon to scoop a neat quenelle.)

SABAYON: a foamy, frothy sauce made from wine, sugar (or honey), and egg yolks and whisked continuously over steaming water.

SOUBISE: a sauce made from cooked onion purée.

SUPRÊME: a segment of citrus fruit that is free of any skin, pith, membranes, and seeds. To make citrus suprêmes, use a very sharp knife to cut off the bottom and top of the fruit. Stand the fruit on one of its truncated ends and, following the contours of the fruit, carve off the skin and pith to expose the bright flesh underneath. Next, holding the fruit in one hand and a sharp paring knife in the other, and working over a bowl to catch the juices, free the wedges of fruit from the membranes that surround them.

TURNED VEGETABLES: vegetables cut into little football shapes for easier cooking and attractive presentation. Cut the vegetable into even lengths, then, using a small paring knife, trim a thin curved layer off each length. Turn the vegetable slightly and repeat the trimming gesture; repeat until you have an oblong elegant shape.

SNACKS

ROASTED GARLIC SCAPES

LEMON AIOLI, CRISPY SOPPRESSATA

BRAISED ENDIVE

GRUYÈRE, ’NDUJA, PARSLEY

DEAD-OF-WINTER VEGETABLE RÖSTI

SAFFRON AIOLI

POTATO AND MUSHROOM TOAST

POTATO BRIOCHE

CHICKPEA-BATTERED BROCCOLI

LOMO, MORNAY

BAKED POTATO PURÉE

CRISPY CHICKEN, CAVIAR

BRAISED BABY POTATOES

PANCETTA, COMTÉ, SAGE

SEARED AVOCADO SALAD

PICKLED SHRIMP, PUFFED RICE CRACKER, CILANTRO

BEET AND POTATO CHIPS

PARSNIP, CARAMELIZED ONION, MIZUNA

HAM AND COMTÉ

SEEDED CRACKER, SHALLOT

PUFFED RICE CRACKER

SESAME SEED, HONEY, PEANUT

SPRING PEA TOAST

RADISH, LEMON, CHILE FLAKE

ROASTED GARLIC SCAPES

LEMON AIOLI, CRISPY SOPPRESSATA

SERVES 4 TO 6

EMULSIFYING

ROASTING

NOTE

The aioli recipe yields 1 cup and can be made a day in advance. Everyone has their own preference when it comes to making aioli, be it elbow grease and a whisk, or the addition of potatoes, but I prefer a blender to make the emulsion.

I’ve been roasting these tasty tendrils for over a decade; they make the perfect summer starter with a crisp rosé. Scapes are the stalks that grow from the bulbs of garlic plants. But unlike the bulb’s, the flavor is mellow with a slight sweet bite. I love to buy these by the wild and unruly bundle at the farmer’s market. If you can’t get your hands on scapes, scallions are a good option. Basically, any allium is delicious when dragged into this dip. The whole combination is also a great topping for cheeseburgers!

AIOLI

3 large egg yolks

Grated zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 garlic clove

½ cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

½ cup canola oil

Kosher salt

SCAPES

1 pound garlic scapes, stem ends trimmed

4 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil

Kosher salt

½ pound soppressata, cut into ¼-inch cubes

MAKE THE AIOLI: Combine the egg yolks, zest, lemon juice, and garlic in a blender. Pulse for 10 seconds. Switch to medium speed and very slowly begin to stream in the oils. You’re doing a dance here: you don’t want the mixture to break, but you want to incorporate all of the oil, both olive and canola. If it’s too thick to blend properly, slowly add water, a teaspoon at a time. Add a pinch of salt, taste, and adjust the seasoning accordingly.

If not using right away, refrigerate the aioli with plastic wrap pressed against the surface so a skin doesn’t form.

ROAST THE SCAPES: Preheat the oven to 425°F.

In a bowl, toss the garlic scapes with 3 tablespoons of the grapeseed oil and season with salt. Spread the scapes evenly on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. You don’t want the scapes piled too closely onto one another, so if another pan is needed, go ahead and use one.

Put the pan on the middle rack in the oven and roast just until the ends of the scapes begin to char, about 8 minutes.

In the meantime, in a medium sauté pan, toss the soppressata with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat and render until crispy, 12 to 15 minutes.

TO SERVE: Remove the scapes from the oven and pile them on a serving dish or cutting board. Serve the aioli into a small bowl and scatter the soppresatta on top of the aioli, spooning the cooking oil along with it.

BRAISED ENDIVE

GRUYÈRE, ’NDUJA, PARSLEY

SERVES 4 TO 6

BRAISING

NOTE

The endives need to be salted and refrigerated for 2 hours prior to cooking.

I love hearty French country cooking. A case in point is this vegetable gratin, which features cheesy, crunchy, creamy endive with ’nduja, a spreadable form of Calabrian sausage. This is a flavorful way to kick-start a dinner on a chilly night. My go-to for ’nduja and other charcuterie is Olympia Provisions (www.olympiaprovisions.com) or Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

ENDIVE

3 large heads Belgian endive

¼ cup kosher salt

1 to 2 cups vegetable stock, homemade (this page) or store bought

6 fresh thyme sprigs

2 teaspoons honey

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon sherry vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

GARNISH

1½ cups panko bread crumbs

6 ounces ’nduja sausage

6 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated

2 teaspoons grapeseed or other neutral oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

20 to 30 small fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

PREP THE ENDIVE: Cut each endive in half lengthwise and lay them in a single layer cut-side up on a sheet pan or plate. Sprinkle the salt evenly over the endive. Refrigerate for 2 hours; the salt helps to draw out some of the bitterness of the endive.

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Rinse the endive thoroughly and place them, cut-side down, on a paper towel to drain; pat dry. In a baking dish, arrange the endive, cut-side up, in a single layer. Add just enough vegetable stock to come halfway up the endive. Add the thyme, honey, butter, sherry vinegar, olive oil, and black pepper to taste. Cover with foil and braise until al dente, 45 to 50 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the endive, cut-side down, to a towel to drain off any excess liquid. Pat them dry and transfer them to a small sheet pan or clean baking dish, cut-side up.

Preheat the broiler to high.

MIX THE GARNISH: In a medium bowl, combine the panko,’nduja, cheese, and grapeseed oil, and season with salt and pepper. Mix into a thick paste using your hands.

Crumble the ’nduja mix over the endive. Broil, rotating the pan to ensure even coloring and cooking, until golden and bubbling, 6 to 8 minutes.

TO SERVE: Serve family-style on a platter. Sprinkle liberally with the parsley.

DEAD-OF-WINTER VEGETABLE RÖSTI

SAFFRON AIOLI

SERVES 6 TO 8

FRYING

The idea for this came to me when my coauthor, Meredith, and I were in Montreal late one February, working on the cookbook. It was eighteen degrees below zero, and my ambitious plans of running the famed stairs at the L’Oratoire Saint-Joseph quickly degenerated into eating and drinking the best of what this city has to offer. Which is a lot. And all I could think about eating was rösti, a crisp potato pancake—a hash brown, if you will. Using winter root vegetables brings a depth of flavors and textures. This is perfect for lunch or dinner in an igloo.

1 pound Idaho or russet potatoes, peeled and grated on the large holes of a box grater

1 medium red beet, peeled and grated on the large holes of a box grater

8 ounces rutabaga, peeled and grated (2 cups)

8 ounces butternut squash, peeled and grated (2 cups)

½ cup grated Gruyère cheese

¼ cup golden raisins, plumped in warm water and then drained

2 teaspoons caraway seeds, toasted and finely ground

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1 large egg

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Aioli (see this page), made with half the garlic and 1 teaspoon saffron soaked in 1 teaspoon water

6 to 8 eggs, cooked sunny-side up (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

In a medium bowl, combine the potatoes, beet, rutabaga, squash, cheese, drained raisins, caraway, rosemary, cornstarch, and egg. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed ovenproof sauté pan over high heat. Add a dash of the olive oil and a little butter: I recommend you fry a spoonful of the mix to test for the balance of seasonings and adjust your overall mixture accordingly. Now get the full amount of olive oil and butter sizzling. The hotter the fat is, the less soggy the finished rösti will be—and know this: the crust is the most important part.

Add the vegetable mix to the pan, spreading it out to form a large, thin pancake. Let it sit on high heat until it just starts to brown around the edges, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

TO SERVE: I like to serve the rösti presentation-side up—that is, the side you browned first. Cut it into wedges and serve with a big dollop of aioli and the sunny-side eggs, if using.

POTATO AND MUSHROOM TOAST

POTATO BRIOCHE

SERVES 6

BLANCHING

PICKLING

NOTES

The dough will need to rise for 2 hours, chill for 8 hours or overnight, then proof for another 2 hours the next day.

You will need a potato ricer and an 8½ × 4½-inch loaf pan for this recipe.

I love baking bread at home, and aside from focaccia, potato brioche is the easiest bread recipe I know.

Using the potato flour here gives you a hint of a different flavor, but I really like it for the texture; it adds density while still keeping the dough light. I also find that the brioche holds its crumb better; once toasted, brioche can often be too dry.

The active cooking time here is nothing—under an hour. The most time-consuming part is proofing and chilling the bread dough (see Notes). The brioche, the potato purée, and the pickled onions are all great additions to your arsenal on their own. For the purée, for example, if you add flour and eggs you can proceed to a variation of the Baked Potato Purée (this page). Or you can whisk it into a Roasted Chicken Stock (this page) and build a potato soup.

Akin to a tartine, or open-faced sandwich, this is best served with a frisée salad.

PICKLED ONIONS

¾ cup white vinegar

¼ cup water

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons kosher salt

5 pearl onions, blanched (see this page), shocked, and peeled

POTATO PURÉE

1 pound Idaho or russet potatoes, unpeeled

Kosher salt

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

½ cup crème fraîche

¼ cup heavy cream

Freshly ground black pepper

MUSHROOMS

6 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil

5 ounces maitake mushrooms

6 garlic cloves, smashed

9 fresh thyme sprigs

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter

Sherry vinegar

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

5 ounces oyster mushrooms

5 ounces chanterelles

GARNISH

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

6 (½-inch-thick) slices Potato Brioche (recipe follows)

Kosher salt

15 fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

2 frisée lettuces, hearts only

Fresh lemon juice

Extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons finely sliced fresh chives

PICKLE THE ONIONS: In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt; bring to a simmer over medium heat, and cook until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Add the pearl onions and simmer until al dente, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the onions and pickling juice to a small nonreactive bowl or container and refrigerate. The longer the onions sit in the juice, the more picking liquid they absorb. Once cooled, cut them into small onion coins, separating the rings from each other to resemble miniature onion rings. The pickling liquid can be used to pickle other vegetables in the future; it will keep covered in the fridge for up to 3 days.

MAKE THE POTATO PURéE: Put the whole, unpeeled potatoes in a medium pot and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Season the water with 1 tablespoon salt and the peppercorns. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 25 minutes. Remove the potatoes from the heat and drain.

After they have cooled enough to handle, approximately 10 minutes, peel the potatoes using a paring knife. Push them through a potato ricer into a bowl, and then, using the back of a large spoon, pass the purée through a fine-mesh sieve into another bowl. Add the melted butter, crème fraîche, and heavy cream. Whisk well and season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm in a double boiler.

COOK THE MUSHROOMS: Into a large cast-iron skillet set over high heat, pour 2 tablespoons of the oil to coat the bottom of the pan. When it just begins to smoke, add the maitake mushrooms in one layer without overcrowding the pan. Resist the urge to move the mushrooms around in the pan—let them begin to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. You’ll be able to smell them caramelizing. Next add 2 garlic cloves and 3 thyme sprigs, stirring the mushrooms slightly and seasoning them with salt and pepper. Once the mushrooms are just about browned all over and slightly crisped around the edges, add 4 tablespoons of the butter, letting it foam and bubble for 2 minutes. Add a splash of vinegar, just to add a little tang to the mushrooms’ umami. Sprinkle in one-third of the chopped parsley. Mix well and transfer the contents of the pan to a large plate lined with paper towels. Repeat this entire procedure twice more, wiping your pan before you start afresh, first with the oyster mushrooms and then with the chanterelles. Mix the different mushrooms together.

TO SERVE: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Transfer the mushrooms to a parchment-lined sheet pan and heat in the oven for 5 minutes. Butter each side of the brioche slices and season with salt. Working in batches, toast the bread in a sauté pan over medium-high heat until each side is deep brown and looking slightly fried around the edges.

Toss the parsley, frisée, lemon juice, and olive oil in a bowl and season with salt. Spread roughly ¼ cup of the warm potato purée on each slice of brioche. Now pile on one-sixth of the mushrooms. Garnish with the frisée salad, a few rings of pickled onion, and the sliced chives.

POTATO BRIOCHE

MAKES ONE 8½ × 4½-INCH LOAF

NOTES

You will have leftover Potato Brioche; use it for the Lobster (this page).

Also, when making the brioche dough for this recipe or the Egg Pudding (this page), make sure you save 2 ounces of raw dough to make brioche sauce (this page).

¼ cup lukewarm milk

1½ tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon active-dry yeast

1½ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup potato flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

4 large eggs

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes, at room temperature, plus more for the pan

Fleur de sel, for sprinkling

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the milk, sugar, and yeast and let it sit for about 6 minutes, until the yeast is activated and the mixture starts to foam.

Combine the all-purpose flour and potato flour in a small mixing bowl. With your stand mixer running on medium speed and the dough hook attachment in place, add half the flour mixture gradually. Stir in the kosher salt. Add 3 eggs, one at a time. Add the remaining flour mixture. Once the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl and looks smooth, incorporate the cubed butter gradually. Once all of the butter has been added, mix until the dough looks glossy, another 3 minutes. Remove the bowl from the machine and cover it with plastic wrap. Allow it to sit in a semi-warm place for 1 hour.

Put the bowl in the refrigerator and let the dough chill and rest for 8 hours or overnight.

Generously butter an 8½ × 4½-inch loaf pan. Punch the dough down and form it into a cylinder shape to fit the pan. Lightly pinch together the bottom seams of the dough. Put the bread into the pan, seam-side down, and allow it to rise, uncovered, until the dough has doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. In a small bowl, beat the remaining egg with a fork and brush the dough with this egg wash, sprinkle with fleur de sel, and bake until the loaf has risen, is golden brown, and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Allow to cool completely in the pan.

CHICKPEA-BATTERED BROCCOLI

LOMO, MORNAY

SERVES 4 TO 6

EMULSIFYING

FRYING

The oddly orangey-yellow broccoli cheddar soup I had as a kid is the inspiration for this dish. But here, I’ve taken those original flavors and added lomo, a cured Spanish pork tenderloin. And instead of making a soup, I fry the broccoli in a chickpea-flour tempura; the chickpeas lend a gritty texture that holds the Mornay sauce, which is a béchamel sauce (milk, flour, butter) with Gruyère cheese added. A legit Velveeta, if you will.

MORNAY SAUCE

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups whole milk, warmed

3 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

BROCCOLI

2 quarts canola oil, for frying

2 cups chickpea flour

1½ cups rice flour

1 cup ice cubes

3 cups soda water

Kosher salt

4 cups broccoli florets (ping-pong ball size), each with 2 inches of the stem

GARNISH

4 ounces finely sliced lomo or prosciutto

MAKE THE SAUCE: Melt the butter with the flour in a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisking until it becomes a paste (or roux). Cook gently so that the roux does not brown. Slowly whisk in the warm milk, avoiding lumps if possible (the sauce can be strained if you end up with lots of lumps), and bring the mixture to a simmer. Heat, whisking, until the flour is cooked and the mixture has begun to thicken, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the cheese in three batches, whisking well after each addition. Cook until the cheese is completely melted, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside over very low heat or keep warm in a double boiler.

BROCCOLI: In a heavy high-sided pot, heat the canola oil to 350°F. Line a sheet pan with paper towels for the broccoli to drain on after it comes out of the oil.

To make the tempura batter, whisk together the chickpea flour and 1 cup of the rice flour in a medium bowl, add the ice, and whisk in the soda water, blending well but not whisking too much: you want to keep the bubbles in the soda water! Season with salt. The mixture should resemble a runny pancake batter.

Lightly dust the broccoli florets with the remaining ½ cup rice flour. Shake off any extra flour from each broccoli floret and then dip the floret into the batter, letting the excess drip off for a few seconds. Add florets to the hot oil in batches of 6 or 7. Do not overcrowd the pot. Fry until crisp (rice flour doesn’t ever really get brown), 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to the paper towel–lined sheet pan to drain. Immediately season with salt while still piping hot. This ensures the seasoning will stick. Continue cooking the rest of the broccoli in batches.

TO SERVE: I like to serve this family-style. (If your broccoli has cooled off too much, you can place it in a 300°F oven to bring back up to temperature.) Coat the bottom of your serving plate with the Mornay sauce, pile the crunchy broccoli on top, and drape the finely sliced lomo over that. Forks optional.

BAKED POTATO PURÉE

CRISPY CHICKEN, CAVIAR

SERVES 6

RENDERING

NOTES

I like to make these in 4-ounce individual ramekins, but you can make this as one large dish. Just be sure that whatever you bake it in is pretty enough to serve tableside.

You will need a potato ricer for this recipe.

The brininess of the caviar, fat of the crispy chicken skin, and the starch from the potatoes make this the new expression of umami: the Big Mac 2.0, if you will. This is an indulgent starter or side, or even a festive main with the caviar piled high, perfect for Christmas or a luxe weekend brunch, à la Russ & Daughters, the famed New York City Jewish appetizing shop. I like Snake River Royal White Sturgeon caviar, but use whatever your pocketbook allows. Caviar of any kind is a state of mind as much as a delicacy.

POTATOES

3 pounds Idaho or russet potatoes, unpeeled

Kosher salt

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted

2 large eggs

2 large egg yolks

¾ cup crème fraîche

1 cup heavy cream

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Freshly ground black pepper

GARNISH

Nonstick cooking spray

6 ounces raw chicken skin (ask your butcher; you’ll need enough for 12 crispy chips)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 ounces caviar

3 tablespoons finely sliced fresh chives

¼ cup crème fraîche

COOK THE POTATOES: Put the potatoes in a medium pot and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Season the water with 1 tablespoon salt and the peppercorns. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 25 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and drain the potatoes.

PREP THE GARNISH: Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and spray it with cooking spray. Lay the chicken skins flat, but try not to overlap them. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Then lay a sheet of parchment paper over the skins. Put another sheet pan over top, to act as a weight and ensure the chicken skins will crisp flat. If in doubt, add a cast-iron pan on top as an additional weight. Bake for 8 minutes.

Increase the oven temperature to 400°F. Bake until the skin is a deep golden color and the fat has rendered, an additional 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer the chicken skins to a paper towel–lined plate. Strain and reserve the rendered chicken fat—the schmaltz—for future use; once cool, cover it and refrigerate or freeze. Keep the oven on.

PURéE THE POTATOES: Once the potatoes are cooked, remove the potatoes from the heat and drain. After they have cooled enough to handle, approximately 10 minutes, peel the potatoes using a paring knife. Push them through a potato ricer into a bowl, and then, using the back of a large spoon, pass the purée through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl.

Add the melted butter, eggs, yolks, crème fraîche, and heavy cream to the bowl. Whisk to combine. Sprinkle the flour over the potato mixture and gently whisk again until the flour has been incorporated. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Set 6 ramekins on a sheet pan. Portion the mixture into the ramekins, filling each three-fourths of the way. Transfer to the oven and bake until golden brown, like a baked potato skin, 16 to 20 minutes.

TO SERVE: Spoon a dollop of caviar atop each ramekin, scoop some crème fraiche next to the caviar, sprinkle with the chives, then plunge a couple of chicken-skin chips into each purée.

BRAISED BABY POTATOES

PANCETTA, COMTÉ, SAGE

SERVES 4

BRAISING

I’m always looking for new ways to cook potatoes, those favorite little sponges for flavor and salt. We fry, mash, sauté, purée, roast—so why not braise? Surround them with a flavorful liquid and let them drink it up. The skins hold on to that wonderfully salty liquid, and the meat of the potato remains light, soft, and creamy.

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil

4 ounces pancetta, cut into a small dice

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 pounds small new potatoes

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 fresh thyme sprigs

8 fresh sage leaves

2 cups vegetable stock, homemade (this page) or store-bought

3 ounces watercress

2 teaspoons white vinegar

3 ounces Comté cheese, finely grated

In a wide saucepan—you want the potatoes to lie in one layer—heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until it begins to crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the butter and heat until it melts and begins to sizzle. Continue to fry the pancetta in the fat for 2 minutes.

Add the potatoes and, when they begin to brown on one side, roll them in the fat to brown as much of the outside as possible. Season with salt but be careful: potatoes need a fair amount of seasoning, but the pancetta is salty. Grind in some black pepper; I like a lot for this dish. Push the thyme and sage into the bottom of the pan in between the potatoes to brown and crisp these up, too. Once everything is beautiful and golden, add just enough vegetable stock to come halfway to three-fourths of the way up the potatoes. Cover and simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes.

Remove the lid and allow the liquid to boil and evaporate until the fat is left and you hear a sizzling sound; this signals everything is re-crisping. Cook until crisp and golden, which could take 12 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, dress the watercress with the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil and the vinegar; season with salt.

TO SERVE: Spoon the potatoes onto a platter, sprinkle the cheese on top, and garnish with the watercress salad.

SEARED AVOCADO SALAD

PICKLED SHRIMP, PUFFED RICE CRACKER, CILANTRO

SERVES 4

PICKLING

SEARING

NOTE

To take the bite out of raw onion in a salad, soak it in cold water for 3 minutes, drain, and rinse. Repeat three times more. Drain and refrigerate until ready to use.

Pickled shrimp salad is a Southern thing. I had my first pickled shrimp at the Ordinary in Charleston. I’ve added some traditional shrimp-go-with suspects to this recipe, including avocado and cilantro. I like to dip the rice crackers into the salad or just crumble them on top. This dish is like shrimp toast and avocado toast had a baby, and it’s a very tasty one.

PICKLED SHRIMP

1 pound peeled and deveined 16/20 shrimp, cut into bite-size pieces

2 cups white vinegar

1 cup water

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon sugar

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

2 teaspoons peeled and coarsely chopped fresh ginger

SHRIMP SALAD

Grated zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

¼ small red onion, finely sliced, soaked (see Note), and drained

¼ cup English cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into brunoise (see this page)

1 teaspoon finely minced jalapeño pepper (remove the seeds if you like less heat)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

SEARED AVOCADO

1 just-ripe avocado

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

Kosher salt

1 tablespoon grapeseed or other neutral oil

GARNISH

12 cilantro leaves

5 scallions, dark green part only, finely sliced on the bias

Rice Crackers (this page)

PICKLE THE SHRIMP: Put the shrimp in a medium nonreactive, heatproof bowl. In a small nonreactive saucepan, bring the vinegar, water, salt, sugar, bay leaves, coriander seeds, and ginger to a boil, and boil for 2 minutes. Immediately pour this liquid over the shrimp and let it sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. Place the bowl in an ice bath, cover, then refrigerate for at least 45 minutes, until chilled, or up to 2 hours.

MAKE THE SHRIMP SALAD: Drain the liquid from the shrimp and wipe off the coriander seeds. Toss the shrimp with the lemon zest, lemon juice, chopped cilantro, onion, cucumber, jalapeño pepper, olive oil, and salt to taste.

SEAR THE AVOCADO: Halve the avocadoes lengthwise and then pit and peel them. Cut each piece again in half lengthwise, parallel to the original cut. Slice a little off the two rounded pieces so they lie flat. Sprinkle the avocado pieces with the lime juice and salt on both sides. Heat the grapeseed oil in a sauté pan over high heat. Just as it begins to smoke, add the avocado pieces and lower the heat to medium-high. Sear the first side until nicely browned, about 2 minutes. Gently turn over and repeat on the other side.

TO SERVE: Put one avocado piece on each plate and arrange the shrimp salad around the outline of the avocado, garnishing with the cilantro leaves, scallion greens, and shards of puffed rice cracker.

BEET AND POTATO CHIPS

PARSNIP, CARAMELIZED ONION, MIZUNA

SERVES 6 TO 8

FRYING

ROASTING

SWEATING

NOTE

You will need a mandoline for this recipe. It’s mandatory.

This recipe and the following one are a one-two punch of approachable and tasty hors d’oeuvres. I made this dish the second time I cooked at the James Beard House in New York City. I wanted to do something nostalgic, because of the Beard house space—with its flat brick facade, multiple levels, and outdoor garden reception area tucked away on West 12th Street. It’s such an iconic place in American culinary history. So I honored it by updating another American classic: chips and dip. I grew up on Lay’s potato chips and packaged onion dip. My grandma taught me to get the crumbs at the bottom of the bag by sticking my spoon in dip and using it to lure the little pieces into my mouth. You’ll crave this grown-up version just as much.

PARSNIP DIP

2 large parsnips, peeled, and cut into a large dice

Grapeseed or other neutral oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 large yellow onions, halved and sliced

⅓ cup mascarpone cheese

¼ cup crème fraîche

Grated zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon finely sliced fresh chives

1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard

BEET AND POTATO CHIPS

Canola oil, for frying

1 large Idaho or russet potato, unpeeled and sliced ⅛ inch thick on a mandoline

Kosher salt

1 large red beet, peeled and sliced ⅛ inch thick on a mandoline

GARNISH

25 mizuna leaves (optional)

¼ cup malt vinegar

ROAST THE PARSNIPS: Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Toss the parsnips in 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil and season with salt. Roast in the oven until very tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool a little.

Meanwhile, caramelize the onions. In a large skillet, heat 1 to 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil over medium-high heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the onions and a pinch of salt. Sweat the onions until the liquid begins to cook out and the onions are tender. Reduce the heat to low and slowly caramelize, stirring occasionally, until dark amber in color, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Transfer the onions to a colander set over a bowl to drain. Once the onions have cooled, transfer them to a cutting board and chop them until you have ½ cup.

While the parsnips are still warm (but not hot), transfer them to a blender with the mascarpone and blend on high until smooth. You’re looking for medium to stiff peaks here, and if you have to add 1 tablespoon water or so to achieve that, then so be it.

Scoop the mixture into a bowl, and fold in the onions, crème fraîche, lemon zest, chives, and mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until ready to use, at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.

FRY THE CHIPS: In a large pot, heat 3 to 4 inches of canola oil to 350°F. Line a sheet pan with paper towels.

Working in batches, fry the potatoes until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. After each batch of potatoes comes out of the oil, put them on the paper towel–lined pan and season immediately with salt. Salt won’t stick to chips that have cooled. Next fry the beets in batches until the edges curl and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. These will be a bit more difficult to tell because the golden brown will be harder to see through the deep red color. Remove each batch to the paper towels to drain and salt them.

TO SERVE: On a medium round white plate, pipe a 3- to 4-inch ring of dip in the center. Create a good ¾-inch-high wall of the dip. Stick the beets and potatoes in the ring, alternating the two and creating a wreath of chips. Lay the mizuna leaves, if using, in one layer on the plate. Put the vinegar in a spray bottle (a great way to disperse liquid over leaves without adding too much and wilting them), if you have one, and gently mist the leaves; alternatively, drizzle a little vinegar over them. You will not use all the vinegar. Stick clumps of mizuna leaves in between sections of the chips.

HAM AND COMTÉ

SEEDED CRACKER, SHALLOT

SERVES 4 TO 6

EMULSIFYING

FRYING

Hip-hop musician Questlove’s food salons in New York City are casual parties he hosts every few months, inviting different chefs each time to prepare individual courses for the evening. Each chef takes a turn in his kitchen to dole out a dish. For a recent edition, I was asked to provide the opening salvo, while Edouardo Jordan (Salare, Seattle) followed with a great octopus dish, Andy Ricker (Pok Pok, Portland, Oregon) made a tasty ramen, and Jennifer Yee (Lafayette, New York City) whipped up homemade push-pops and a sundae “dip” station for dessert. So why not start with some kind of a dip and finger food to get the party going, I thought? Deviled ham and pimento cheese hors d’oeuvres in all their delightful tackiness were my inspiration. I prepped all the crackers the night before in an NYC apartment and made a quick day-of run to Eataly for the Comté and country ham. This is a make-ahead gem.

HAM DIP

7 ounces finely sliced jambon de Paris (French ham) or country ham, finely minced

½ cup crème fraîche

½ cup mascarpone cheese

1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard

Grated zest of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons Sriracha or other hot sauce

2 tablespoons fried shallots (see this page)

Kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

CHEESE SAUCE

1 cup heavy cream

4 ounces Comté cheese, finely grated

Kosher salt

GARNISH

2 tablespoons fried shallots (see this page)

3 scallions, green part only, finely sliced on the bias

15 to 20 baby arugula leaves

Kosher salt

Seeded Crackers (recipe follows)

MAKE THE DIP: Fold together the ham, crème fraîche, mascarpone, mustard, lemon zest, lemon juice, Sriracha, fried shallots, salt to taste, and the pepper. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.

MAKE THE CHEESE SAUCE: Close to serving time, bring the heavy cream to a light simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat, then whisk in one-third of the cheese at a time, until all the cheese is incorporated. Allow it to simmer until the mixture thickens slightly and makes a runny cheese sauce that’s slightly thicker than heavy cream. Season to taste with salt.

TO SERVE: Make quenelles of about 3 heaping tablespoons each of the ham mixture and set one in the center of each plate. Spoon some of the cheese sauce over each quenelle, letting it spill onto the plate. Sprinkle the fried shallots over the ham dip. Garnish with the scallions and some baby arugula. Break off large shards of crackers—roughly 3 pieces per portion—and stand them upright in the ham dip.

SEEDED CRACKERS

MAKES 4 LARGE CRACKER SHEETS

NOTE

The crackers can be made up to 5 days ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

1 cup semolina flour, plus more for the pan

1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup warm water

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

2 tablespoons white sesame seeds

Maldon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

In a medium bowl using a spoon, mix together the semolina, all-purpose flour, olive oil, water, and kosher salt into a dough. Transfer the dough to a countertop and knead it for 5 to 6 minutes; when you’re done, it should feel like Play-Doh. Set the dough on a lightly floured surface and cover with a kitchen towel. Let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Cut the dough into quarters. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out a quarter of the dough at a time until the dough is thin enough that you can see the outline of your hand through it.

Sprinkle a little semolina flour on a sheet pan and transfer the rolled-out dough to the pan. Sprinkle the top of the dough evenly with a quarter of the poppy and sesame seeds and with Maldon salt and some pepper. Use your palms to press the seasonings lightly into the dough to make sure they adhere. If you have a second sheet pan available, repeat the procedure with another quarter of the dough.

Bake until the cracker starts to bubble and turn golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the cracker to a wire rack or balance it on top of 4 glasses, anything to keep it from sitting directly on top of a flat surface and steaming itself into softness. This way the cracker will harden as it cools.

Repeat the procedure with the remaining quarters of dough.

PUFFED RICE CRACKER

SESAME SEED, HONEY, PEANUT

SERVES 8 TO 10

FRYING

I turned an Asian peanut bar snack into a dip after appreciating the sticky, candied nuts plus nori combo at a karaoke bar in Gowanus, Brooklyn, with my friend Stacy. You never know where inspiration will strike! The rice cracker is a neutral crisp vehicle to get that shit in your mouth. (It also reminds me of my favorite chip, Munchos, which are puffy.) It’s best to make the rice cracker with leftover cooked rice. Actually, scratch that, it’s best to make the cracker with the overcooked rice that you botched during last night’s dinner (admittedly this happens to me often), so let’s consider this recipe not just tasty but also an opportunity to correct any rice mistakes!

1 tablespoon honey

¼ cup toasted skin-on peanuts, coarsely chopped, plus 1 tablespoon for grating

½ teaspoon unsalted butter

2 tablespoons white sesame seeds

1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Fleur de sel and freshly ground black pepper

Rice Crackers (recipe follows)

In a small sauté pan over medium heat, bring the honey to a simmer for 2 minutes. Stir in the ¼ cup peanuts and the butter and continue simmering for 2 additional minutes. Remove from the heat, add the sesame seeds, Aleppo pepper, and fleur de sel and black pepper to taste. Spread on a parchment-lined sheet pan to cool completely.

TO SERVE: Place a pile of large shards of the puffed crackers on a flat platter and drizzle with the peanut-honey mixture. Finely grate a tablespoon of peanuts over the top of the crackers. (Eat fast or the crackers get mushy.)

RICE CRACKERS

MAKES ABOUT 20 MEDIUM CRACKERS

¾ cup overcooked white rice

¼ cup water, or as needed

2 cups canola oil, for frying

Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 225°F.

In a high-speed blender, blend the rice into a smooth paste, adding a little water if necessary to get it going. Spread the rice paste very thinly onto a sheet pan lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Dehydrate in the oven for 3 to 4 hours, until crisp but still pale. Break into large shards or desired size.

To fry and “puff” the crackers, in a high-sided medium pot, heat the oil to 425°F, until just smoking. Fry the crackers in batches for 5 to 8 seconds, until the cracker puffs and curls. This puffing and curling will happen almost instantly. Drain on paper towels, seasoning with salt immediately. Repeat the process until all your crackers are fried. Store them in a cool, dry place; if your crackers pick up any humidity, they can be refried briefly to crisp them back up.

SPRING PEA TOAST

RADISH, LEMON, CHILE FLAKE

SERVES 4

BLANCHING

FRYING

NOTE

A ficelle is a thinner, smaller version of a baguette.

Avocado toast is delicious and I will continue to eat it long after other chefs and restaurants have moved on. But, for me, avocado has more texture than flavor, so I like to re-create its creamy, fatty, unctuous mouthfeel with the more flavorful English pea. I pair this green spread with butter-fried seeded bread and top it with a little radish and a sprinkling of chile flakes.

1 cup English peas, blanched (see this page)

Grated zest of 1 lemon

3 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher salt

8 (1-inch-thick) slices ficelle bread (see Note)

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

2 garlic cloves, smashed

4 fresh thyme sprigs

GARNISH

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste

2 red radishes, cut into julienne

12 to 15 pea tendrils (optional)

Freshly ground black pepper

1 lemon wedge

In a bowl, mash together the peas, lemon zest, olive oil, and salt to taste with a fork until it looks like lumpy mashed potatoes. Take 2 tablespoons of the peas and pack it onto each slice of bread, creating a mound on top of the bread. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt half of the butter. Once it begins to bubble slightly, add 1 garlic clove and 2 thyme sprigs. Add half the bread slices, pea-side up. You are shallow-frying the toast in an aromatic butter. Once the bread is a nice golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes, remove it from the pan and put the toasts on a paper towel to absorb any excess fat. Dump out the used butter, wipe the pan clean, and repeat with the remaining 4 toasts.

TO SERVE: Arrange the toasts on a platter, season with salt, if necessary, and sprinkle with the red pepper flakes. Scatter the radish and the pea tendrils on top, if desired, and finish with a few turns of black pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.

BEGINNINGS

MELTED LEEKS

MOREL MUSHROOM CREAM

SQUASH AND COCONUT MILK CUSTARD

ROASTED WHOLE HEN-OF-THE-WOODS

PANCETTA PARMESAN BROTH, WILD RICE

TOMATO SALAD

WILD POPPY VINEGAR, ORANGE OIL, GARLIC CARAMEL

DUCK CONFIT SALAD

ROASTED SHALLOT, MUSTARD, ALMOND

CHARRED BEAN SALAD

VINEGAR, SHALLOT

ASPARAGUS SALAD

SMOKED AVOCADO, GRAPEFRUIT, SABAYON

BEET AND NECTARINE

CRUNCHY SEEDS, BAYRISCHER BLUE CHEESE

EGG PUDDING

BROWN BUTTER, CAVIAR, BRIOCHE

KATAIFI-WRAPPED BURRATA

DATE SYRUP, RADISH SALAD

SMOKED VEGETABLE SALAD

BANYULS VINEGAR, LETTUCES, MARCONA ALMONDS

CHICKEN LIVER MOUSSE

PICKLES, PEANUT, CILANTRO

MELTED LEEKS

MOREL MUSHROOM CREAM

SERVES 4

BRAISING

I buy morels from Oregon during peak season, from April to the end of June. Cooking them whole and as simply as possible is ideal. Braising leeks is one of my favorite techniques. I love the texture and the flavor that braised vegetables pick up over time. They remind me of the mushy carrots and celery from a pot roast in the most appealing way.

Leeks are very dirty; they grow vertically up through the soil, and that’s how the dirt gets stuck deep within their layers. To clean them but keep them whole, I prefer this method: Remove the hearty outer layer of the leek. Lay the leek on your cutting board. Insert the tip of your knife 1 inch from the top and slice almost to the bottom of the leek, stopping 1 inch short of the root end. Roll the leek one quarter turn and repeat once more. You are essentially cutting a long + sign down most of the leek while the ends will hold it together. Soak the leeks in cool water for 15 minutes or so, agitating them and running the water into the slits in between soakings. Do this a couple times until the water is clean and free of any particles.

Morels are even dirtier! There’s nothing more satisfying than air-gun-cleaning morels—kind of like taking a can of compressed air to your keyboard or power-washing your car—before service in a restaurant, but yes, I realize that probably isn’t going to happen at home. So water and patience will have to do, because there’s nothing worse than a gritty mushroom. Soak them thoroughly in water, rinse, and repeat a few times until there’s no more grit at the bottom of the bowl. Bite into a mushroom to make sure they are clean.

LEEKS

4 medium leeks, dark green part removed (save for stocks or sauces), trimmed to 4 to 5 inches in length

2 cups Roasted Chicken Stock (this page) or store-bought low-sodium stock

3 fresh thyme sprigs

2 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs

2 strips lemon zest

2 garlic cloves, smashed

1 teaspoon honey

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

MUSHROOM SAUCE

2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil

1 pound morel mushrooms, trimmed, rinsed, and dried, halved only if very large

Kosher salt

1 tablespoon minced shallot

1 garlic clove, minced

½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

2 tablespoons dry sherry

1 cup reserved leek braising liquid

½ cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons (¼ stick) cold unsalted butter, cubed

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Freshly ground black pepper

GARNISH

3 ounces frisée hearts

2 tablespoons finely sliced fresh chives

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon olive oil

Fleur de sel and freshly ground black pepper

BRAISE THE LEEKS: Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Nestle the leeks in a small rectangular roasting dish. Slowly add the chicken stock, stopping short of covering the leeks (about three-fourths of the way). Scatter the thyme sprigs, parsley, lemon zest, and garlic cloves around the leeks. Drizzle the honey, vinegar, and olive oil over top. Dot with the butter. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with aluminum foil or a lid. Bake until the leeks are fork-tender, 1 to 1½ hours. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid to use with the mushrooms.

MEANWHILE, START THE MUSHROOM SAUCE: I like to double-cook mushrooms, once to remove any excess water (water = no flavor) and the second time to caramelize them. Set up a colander or strainer over a bowl next to your stovetop. In a large sauté pan, over medium-high heat, bring 1 tablespoon of the grapeseed oil to a shimmer. Sauté the mushrooms (do this in two batches if your pan feels too small), seasoning with a little salt. Keep stirring them; you’ll begin to notice mushroom water accumulating. Once the mushrooms have purged that initial liquid and before the liquid evaporates, after 3 to 5 minutes, dump the mushrooms and liquid into the strainer. Allow the mushrooms to drain for 15 minutes or so; you’ll be surprised to see how much water was in them.

Wipe out the pan and add the remaining tablespoon grapeseed oil to it. Heat on high until the oil shimmers. Add the mushrooms and spread them out, allowing them to sear and caramelize for 1 to 2 minutes. Don’t touch them! Once you begin to see and smell the browning, sprinkle the shallot, garlic, and thyme over them. Cook, stirring once or twice, until the aromatics have begun to brown, about 3 minutes.

Deglaze the pan with the sherry and cook until au sec (the sherry has evaporated). Add the reserved leek braising liquid and the heavy cream, and reduce over medium heat until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Turn off the heat and slowly whisk in the cold butter. Add the parsley and the lemon juice, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

TO SERVE: Spoon roughly ¼ cup of warm mushroom sauce onto the center of each plate. Set a leek off to one side of the sauce on each plate. Toss the frisée and chives with the lemon juice and olive oil. Finish each plate with a little bundle of chives and frisée salad on the other side of the sauce. Sprinkle with fleur de sel and pepper.

SQUASH AND COCONUT MILK CUSTARD

SERVES 4

MAKING CUSTARD

ROASTING

Here half a roasted squash is filled with coconut milk that’s cooked into a savory crème brûlée of sorts. Delightfully jiggly. I like to serve it as a starter or as a side with roasted chicken; the coconut flavor gives the squash that sweet-savory mix. It’s a great autumn dish that would make a nice veggie option at Thanksgiving.

This dish is inspired by my days at Sensing restaurant.

SQUASH

2 acorn squashes, halved from tip to stem, seeds scooped out

2 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher salt

6 fresh sage leaves

CUSTARD

2 cups canned coconut milk

1 cup heavy cream

6 large egg yolks

2 tablespoons sugar

Grated zest of ½ orange

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Fleur de sel

GARNISH

3 tablespoons Brown Butter (this page)

¼ cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted

ROAST THE SQUASH: Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Trim a small sliver off the skin side of each squash half to create a flat surface so the squash halves sit evenly, like bowls. Transfer to a parchment-lined sheet pan.

Next drizzle ½ tablespoon of the olive oil over each half and season with salt. Tear the sage and sprinkle it over the squash. Roast the squash for about 25 minutes, or until just over halfway cooked.

MAKE THE CUSTARD: While the squash is roasting, in a large bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, cream, egg yolks, sugar, orange zest, pepper, and fleur de sel to taste. Remove the squash from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.

Wrap the outside of each squash half tightly with foil, in anticipation of the impending water bath. Transfer the squash to a baking dish or roasting pan. Pour the coconut custard into the well of each squash, allowing it to seep in and fill up. Next, add hot water from the tap to the baking dish until it reaches halfway up the sides of the squash halves. Bake until the custard begins to set, 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. When you move the squash to test the custard, it should jiggle a bit like gelatin. As it cools slightly, it will set up further. I like to serve this at room temperature, but it’s also good piping hot.

TO SERVE: Serve family-style on a small platter in halves, as roasted, or quartered. Drizzle brown butter over the top of each squash half and sprinkle with the toasted walnuts.

ROASTED WHOLE HEN-OF-THE-WOODS

PANCETTA PARMESAN BROTH, WILD RICE

SERVES 4

EMULSIFYING

ROASTING

Hen-of-the-woods mushrooms (also known as maitake) are made for roasting: the edges get crispy in texture and the flavor is meaty and full of umami, reminiscent of bacon. Because of their low moisture content, they are easy to crisp up—whereas many mushrooms have a tendency to steam. They are beautiful when kept whole. The rich Parmesan broth, crispy-salty pancetta, and chewy wild rice add up to an incredible balance of flavors and textures.

½ cup wild rice

Kosher salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 ounces pancetta, cut into a small dice

1 quart Roasted Chicken Stock (this page) or store-bought low-sodium stock

1 (4 × 4-inch) Parmesan cheese rind

12 ounces hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, broken into 4 clusters

2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil

4 fresh thyme sprigs

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon sherry vinegar

8 teaspoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

First start cooking the wild rice. In a small saucepan, combine the rice with 1½ cups water, and season with salt to taste. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, cover the pan, and reduce the heat. Simmer until tender, 35 to 45 minutes.

While the rice is cooking, in a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and cook the pancetta until crisp, about 10 minutes. Scoop out the pancetta and drain on paper towels. Drain and discard the fat from the pan, and add the chicken stock and Parmesan rind. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to medium and simmer until the stock has reduced by one-fourth to about 3 cups, about 20 minutes.

Lay the mushrooms on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Drizzle with the grapeseed oil and tuck 1 thyme sprig into the folds of each mushroom cluster. Roast until the mushrooms begin to crisp around the edges and their core is just tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt as soon as you remove the pan from the oven. Discard the thyme.

Discard the Parmesan rind. Add the butter and vinegar to the hot stock and, using a hand blender or a whisk, emulsify the mixture. Season with salt to taste.

TO SERVE: Divide the wild rice among four deep but narrow bowls. Place a mushroom cluster on top of each portion of rice. Sprinkle Parmesan evenly on top. Ladle ⅔ cup of broth into each bowl. Garnish with the crispy pancetta bits.

TOMATO SALAD

WILD POPPY VINEGAR, ORANGE OIL, GARLIC CARAMEL

SERVES 4 TO 6

NOTE

If you can’t find wild poppy vinegar at a specialty store, you can buy it online from Oliviers & Company (www.oliviersandco.com). Or you can substitute your favorite vinegar, such as white balsamic, red wine vinegar, or another interesting flavored vinegar.

When I was working at Sensing in Boston in my early twenties, Gérard Barbin, the chef de cuisine, turned me on to wild poppy vinegar. He made a tomato salad, and the vinegar, which smells like flowers and ripe fruit, was the perfect seasoning. Gérard would bring in half a dozen new ingredients a week. As a young cook, I loved being introduced to so many new flavors.

Tomato seeds are full of umami, and I love how the slightly bitter yet sweet caramel here balances their natural acidity. The combo makes my mouth water.

1 whole head of garlic

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 pound ripe heirloom tomatoes, preferably a mix of colors, shapes, and textures

3 tablespoons wild poppy vinegar (see Note)

3 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil

2 tablespoons grated orange zest

3 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons water

3 tablespoons heavy cream

GARNISH

Fleur de sel and freshly ground black pepper

15 purple basil leaves

2 teaspoons poppy seeds, toasted

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Rub the garlic bulb with the olive oil, wrap it inside a pocket of foil, and place it on a sheet pan. Roast until the garlic is very soft, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, open the foil, and set aside until the garlic is cool enough to handle. Slice the cooled bulb crosswise and squeeze out the roasted garlic pulp from each half, reserving it in a small bowl. Discard the skins.

Cut the tomatoes into random shapes: wedges, slices, oblong…whatever. The more shapes and sizes there are, the more pockets and wells for the oil and vinegar to seep into. It also makes for a more visually interesting salad. Combine the tomato pieces in a bowl with the vinegar and allow them to sit at room temperature as you prepare the other ingredients.

Warm the grapeseed oil and orange zest in a very small saucepan over medium-low heat, just until the zest begins to sizzle, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow it to sit for 30 minutes. Strain and reserve the oil.

Next start the caramel for the garlic sauce: Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until the syrup turns dark amber in color, 8 to 10 minutes. Lower the heat before you carefully pour in the heavy cream: it will sizzle wildly! Whisk over low heat to dissolve the caramel into the cream. Add the roasted garlic, lightly mashing it with the whisk as you stir. Remove from the heat and pass through a small strainer to remove any large pieces of garlic. Keep the caramel at room temperature.

TO SERVE: Season the tomatoes with fleur de sel and pepper, then add the orange oil to the bowl and toss gently. Spoon 2 teaspoons of the garlic caramel into the bottom of each deep bowl. Divide the tomatoes on top and spoon 2 tablespoons of the juices in the bowl over each portion. Garnish each bowl with basil leaves, a pinch of poppy seeds, fleur de sel, and pepper.

DUCK CONFIT SALAD

ROASTED SHALLOT, MUSTARD, ALMOND

SERVES 4 TO 6

CURING

EMULSIFYING

MAKING CONFIT

NOTE

The duck needs to cure for 24 to 36 hours before being cooked in its own fat for 6 to 7 hours. Once cooked, the duck can also be reserved for at least a week in the fridge in its fat. Plan accordingly.

This dish is inspired by my time as a culinary student in Chicago. My favorite little bistro there, Bijan’s, still serves my favorite roast chicken salad, packed with romaine, almonds, and goat cheese, and tossed with a mustard vinaigrette. I would sit at the bar or just get it to go after school. Here is my grown-up version of the salad that got me through school, with the same satisfying textures and rich and highly seasoned duck confit standing in for the chicken.

DUCK CONFIT

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons kosher salt

5 fresh rosemary sprigs, leaves only

5 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs

5 fresh thyme sprigs

1 tablespoon pink peppercorns, crushed

4 duck legs

2 garlic cloves, finely sliced

5 to 6 cups rendered duck fat, as needed

GARNISH

6 shallots, halved lengthwise

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 fresh thyme sprigs

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup Marcona almonds, toasted and quartered lengthwise

SALAD

2 large egg yolks

2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard

3 tablespoons sherry vinegar

2 teaspoons honey

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup grapeseed or other neutral oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 heads frisée, white hearts only

4 ounces baby spinach

3 ounces purple mustard greens

MAKE THE DUCK CONFIT: Sprinkle about half the salt, half the rosemary, 3 of the parsley sprigs, 3 of the thyme sprigs, and the pink peppercorns in a baking dish just large enough to hold the legs in a single layer. Put the duck legs on top, skin-side down, then sprinkle the remaining salt and aromatics over the duck. Tuck the garlic between the legs. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours.

When ready to cook the duck, preheat the oven to 220°F.

In a medium saucepan, melt the duck fat over medium heat.

Remove the duck from the fridge and rinse the salt and aromatics off under running cold water; pat dry. Wipe out the baking dish and return the duck to the pan. Pour the melted fat into the pot to cover the duck. Cover with foil or a tight-fitting lid. Transfer to the oven and cook for 6 to 7 hours, until the meat is fork-tender. Remove from the oven and transfer the duck legs to a wire rack set over a sheet pan to cool. Pick the duck meat off the bones in large pieces. Discard the bones and skin.

Increase the oven temperature to 400°F.

PREP THE GARNISH: Toss the shallots with the olive oil and thyme sprigs and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread out the shallots on a parchment-lined sheet pan and roast until golden and tender, 15 to 18 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. When the shallots are cool enough to handle, peel off individual shallot petals.

MAKE THE SALAD DRESSING: Combine the egg yolks, mustard, vinegar, and honey in a blender (or in a tall jar if you plan on using a hand blender). Start blending on low speed, then gradually increase the speed and slowly stream in both of the oils, creating an emulsion. Season the dressing with salt and pepper to taste.

In a large bowl, combine the different lettuces. Add 3 tablespoons of the dressing and very gently toss the lettuces to coat; add more dressing as desired. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

TO SERVE: Place a mound of lettuce in the center of each plate—I like a shallow, wide bowl. Next gently toss the duck pieces and petals of roasted shallot in the same bowl you used for the lettuce. Top the salad with duck pieces and shallot petals. Sprinkle each plate with Marcona almonds.

 

From one of the most exciting young chefs in America today, a cookbook with more than 80 recipes that celebrate impeccable technique and bridge her Korean heritage, Michigan upbringing, Boston cooking years, and more.

Kish won legions of fans, first by helming two of Barbara Lynch’s esteemed Boston restaurants, and then by battling her way back from elimination to win season ten of Top Chef. Her path from Korean orphan to American adoptee, sometime model to distinguished chef, shines a light on her determination and love of food. Her recipes are surprising yet refined, taking the expected—an ingredient or a technique, for example—and using it in a new way to make dishes that are unique and irresistible. She sears avocado and pairs it with brined shrimp flavored with coriander and ginger. A broth laced with pancetta and parmesan is boosted with roasted mushrooms and farro for an earthy, soulful dish. Caramelized honey, which is sweet, smoky, and slightly bitter, is spiked with chiles and lemon and served with fried chicken thighs. The results are delicious, inspiring, and definitely worth trying at home.

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