André Baranowski
Loup de mer fideuà with green curry velouté & coconut
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Fall/Winter Menu Preview 2009

Judiaann Woo / July 2009

Baby, it's getting colder outside. So what's cooking? Judiaann Woo investigates how chefs from coast to coast plan on lighting a fire under their customers.

Paul Liebrandt
New York City
"It's hard to know what I'm going to be cooking this fall or winter because I don't think that far in advance when it comes to completed dishes. I have a sense of what ingredients and techniques I'd like to incorporate in my menu, but every plate is new and each one deserves to be worked out fully before I feel satisfied enough with it to put it on my menu. These are just some ideas I have right now, but the components and presentation are very likely to change. I need to wait and see what feels right at the time."

Scallop cooked in iodized sugar bread with treviso, Black Mission fig, bay leaf salt & chestnut tuile. "Powdered kombu, a Japanese seaweed, is folded into sweetened pain de mie dough to add an iodine element full of umami. The loaf is baked, frozen, and trimmed into superthin slices using an electric slicer. A wafer will be glued to each diver scallop with maple syrup before getting toasted in a pan with clarified butter to produce a clean crisp crouton fused to the gently colored scallop. The scallops might be served with roasted Black Mission figs glossed in a bay leaf gel seasoned with bay leaf salt. Also on the plate might be some raw, late harvest treviso, a type of radicchio with very thin, irregular-shaped lobes, a chestnut tuile, chestnut puree, and minced black truffle."

Loup de mer fideuà with green curry velouté & coconut "gnocchi." "Fideuà is a traditional Spanish seafood dish from Valencia, like a paella, only with vermicelli pasta instead of rice. For a variation, I think I'll make mine with buckwheat noodles and shellfish stock with langoustines and chanterelles, topped with a crust of green tea brioche crumbs, tarragon, and beurre noisette emulsified with the coral from the langoustines. I might serve it in a little saucier pan to be lightly crisped under the salamander as a side dish to the loup de mer. The loup de mer will be poached in citrus oil, grapeseed oil infused with lemon and grapefruit peel. The ‘gnocchi' might be a specification of coconut juice and tomato confit, dehydrated to look like large raisins, gently warmed and placed on the plate. The green curry velouté will be poured tableside. I'll start with a traditional green curry paste that we make in-house and finish it with a rich shellfish stock emulsified with a light puree of sorrel to produce a vibrant green color."

Cochon de lait. "The cochon de lait, or ‘milk-fed pig,' would come from Quebec and be prepared using various techniques. For the saddle, cook sous-vide with reduced ruby Port seasoned with smoked piment d'Éspelette; place under a salamander; baste with cooking juices from the bag until lacquered. It would be cubed and served over a cassoulette of borlotti beans and sautéed chorizo to complement the spice of the piment d'Éspelette. The boned trotter would be stuffed with the brined meat of the ham hock and an anchovy gremolata before getting cooked and sliced into rounds. It would be served with a super crunchy, dehydrated disk of cassis meringue made of powdered egg whites stabilized with gelatin. The meat from the hind legs would be incorporated into a presse layered with black olive gelée. Delicate Muenster crème thickened with modified tapioca starch would be piped into the mold, lined with thinly shaved and steamed pumpkin. Also on the plate would be shavings of pata negra [jamón ibérico de bellota] with a salad of bitter arugula with the clean, fresh complement of celery root with lemongrass vinaigrette."

Pastry chef Robert Truitt Ricotta & BLiS terrine with powdered Guinness, sage sabayon & pine nut crumble. "I like to keep my plates pretty tight. I don't like searching for things. I like to taste the flavors and textures together so that they can be experienced together as a whole and not in so many little bits and pieces. The center of this dessert is a rectangular bar, a dual layer of supersmooth maple gelée alongside a layer of sweetened, creamy ricotta. The maple syrup from BLiS, a boutique producer in Michigan, is aged in Bourbon barrels and has a wonderful taste that's not too sweet. The ricotta is from fresh sheep's milk, hung overnight in a cheesecloth-lined chinois to remove the excess liquid, mixed with sugar, canella [Mexican cinnamon], gelatin, agar-agar, and some milk to bring it to just the right consistency. Serve with powdered Guinness. The beer, lightly seasoned with salt, is frozen in liquid nitrogen, molded into demispheres, and dipped in a cream and milk chocolate mixture to form a bonbon with a flakey texture like a snow cone with all the taste and personality of fresh Guinness from the bottle. Dotted around and in between will be a cold, whipped sabayon of sage made with egg whites instead of yolks, with pine nut praline crumble and a dehydrated sugar tuile of kabocha squash."

Allison Vines-Rushing & Slade Rushing
New Orleans
"We're probably the only restaurant down here where instead of going to the farmers' market, the farmers' market comes to us. Lujele Farms, a husband and wife farming team, have been growing exclusively for us for the past few years. Just the variety of produce alone is inspiring, but we try to keep the flavors as pure and minimal as possible. I know everyone says that, but we truly want to taste the efforts and the synergy of the farm in everything we serve."

Farm egg ravioli with cider-braised ham hocks & baby bok choy. "Unless it's an ingredient that can't grow locally, we source just about all we can from the farm. We work with Lujele Farms to plan out the growing seasons in advance so we know early on what's coming up for the next menu. This fall, I plan on doing a traditional egg-filled ravioli to really showcase the freshness of their farm eggs. The raw yolks sit on rolled-out pasta within a ring of piped fingerling potatoes made extra smooth with the addition of lots of butter and cream. Egg wash is brushed around, and another sheet of fresh pasta is placed on top before each ravioli is scored and cut out. Blanch the ravioli to order, keeping the yolks just barely cooked, and toss with butter and Sherry vinegar for a little zip at the end. Finish with fleur de sel, fresh thyme, and chervil. Serve the ravioli over the tender picked meat of braised ham hocks with black-eyed peas and sautéed baby bok choy. For the braise, include lots of fresh apples, garlic, mirepoix, apple cider, veal stock and white wine with sage, rosemary, thyme, and bay leaf for a flavorful jus."

Grouper with cauliflower, heirloom spinach, veal cheeks & Creole mustard jus. "For fish like local black grouper, we prefer using large ones, because the meatier portions pair well with something hearty like braised veal cheeks. Braise the cheeks in veal stock, white wine, Madeira, lots of shallots, garlic, lemon peel, rosemary, thyme, bay leaf, peppercorns, parsley stems, and tomato paste. For the grouper, season and dust with Wondra flour before pan-roasting, basting it with brown butter until golden. Nap the grouper with the veal sauce; serve over cubes of the braised and then pan-seared veal cheeks and a mixture of caramelized cauliflower and wilted heirloom spinach. We find the flavor of the heirloom spinach to be sweeter than the traditional variety with a pretty look, similar to baby Swiss chard. The coarse stone-ground flavor and texture of Creole mustard is a nice complement to the crispy cauliflower and earthiness of the spinach and rounds out the sauce for the veal cheeks when combined with a little reduced jus and crème fraîche. Together, this is a dish we'd like to eat on a cold winter's night with a glass of Pinot Noir."

Lamb roasted over pine needles with farm greens & salsify puree. Slade Rushing: "The inspiration for cooking with pine needles comes from my days hunting in the woods as a kid. The fragrance of pine reminds me of rosemary, a natural combination with lamb. For an aromatic rub, blend together juniper berries with pine needles, garlic, ginger, and olive oil to make a ‘pesto;' rub onto lamb; marinate overnight; wipe off; score; sear to render the fat from the loin. Place the lamb over a handful of fresh pine needles with a couple cloves of garlic and seal in a foil packet--en papillote--and finish cooking in the oven to medium-rare. Serve the sliced lamb loin over creamy pureed salsify with a streak of sautéed baby collard greens and broccoli raab. Season lamb with fleur de sel and garnish with fresh chervil. Serve with natural lamb jus finished with a touch of Champagne vinegar and with caramelized cipollini, first cooked until tender in chicken stock and olive oil."

Caramelized parsnips, dark rum & spices, brown sugar ice cream. Slade Rushing: "Years ago as a young and hungry cook in New York City, one of my jobs was to roast parsnips. Inevitably, there'd always be a few pieces that were too dark to serve so I'd find myself looking forward to munching on the scraps. Curiously, they reminded me of bananas. That's where I first got the idea to use parsnips in desserts. This fall, I'm planning on doing a Bananas Foster, a New Orleans classic, only with parsnips. For the sauce, bloom cinnamon sticks, allspice berries, cloves, nutmeg, and peppercorns in a pan; add granulated sugar and cook until melted and deep amber in color; add butter, then dark rum; flambé. For the parsnips, peel, quarter, and steam until just tender. Stack parsnip pieces, raft-like, on a plate and cover with warm strained sauce; serve with a custard-based ice cream flavored with brown sugar and vanilla bean with a spiral of pulled sugar and a sprig of chocolate mint, the only fresh mint that tastes good enough to eat."

Michael Schwartz
Michael's Genuine Food & Drink
"Having come from up north, I've always loved the changing of the seasons. When it turns winter, I naturally say, ‘Let's cook something hearty!' But then I look outside and it's 85 degrees. You learn to make adjustments to make some things a little lighter but still feel seasonal. Here in Florida, some of our best produce comes up in January, February, and March, so at least we don't ever feel limited by a lack of good winter ingredients to choose from."

Stone crab salad with fall tangerines, Belgium endive & pickled purplette onions. "We're really into our stone crabs down here, as you can imagine. They have a toothsome quality and a unique flavor that I think makes them stand out from other varieties of crab. Most of the time I think simplicity is best when it comes to stone crabs--just crack and serve. But occasionally it's nice to see them combined with other Florida flavors, like early season tangerines. Combine large pieces of picked crabmeat with tangerine suprêmes, julienne of endive, pickled purplette onions; dress with extra-virgin olive oil and some juice from the tangerines. Garnish with baby lettuces and micro herbs, including flowering chives and micro cilantro. Together, it's a nice combination of colors and textures with big, bright flavors."

Wood oven–roasted local kingfish with stewed heirloom tomatoes, sourdough crostini & saffron aïoli. "We cook a lot of dishes in our wood oven, which can easily get up to 800 degrees. The intense dry heat plus the smokiness of the wood is perfect for one-pot cookery such as this variation on a Mediterranean fish soup. In a small cast-iron skillet with handles, place stewed heirloom tomatoes cooked in good olive oil with smoked fleur de sel and cipollini; cover with fish stock; place a piece of local kingfish on top so that the skin side gets nice and crispy. Serve with a dollop of saffron aïoli and a garnish of pea shoots and pea tendrils with a big piece of crusty sourdough on the side to soak up all the good broth."

Spiny lobster & Brussels sprout panade with brassica greens salad. "This dish is like a savory bread pudding or moist stuffing made with local spiny lobsters. Poach tails lightly; remove the meat from the shells; combine pieces of lobster and torn chunks of sourdough with Brussels sprout leaves cooked with garlic, onions, parsley, and lots of butter; place mixture in individual baking dishes; add a custard base of eggs and cream flavored with rich lobster stock; cover with foil; bake in a water bath until set. To finish, top panade with seasoned bread crumbs tossed in garlic and butter with dollops of more butter and broil under a salamander just to get some color on top. It's the essence of comfort cuisine. Serve with baby brassica blend, a salad of delicate organic tatsoi and mustard varieties drizzled with just a little peppery olive oil and nothing else. Anything more would just kill it."

Wood oven–roasted Concord grapes with homemade organic ricotta, local honey & grilled walnut bread. "This dessert satisfies the sweet tooth without being too sweet. It's like a cheese and dessert course all rolled into one. To make the fresh ricotta, simmer buttermilk and milk until curds form; gather in cheesecloth, pressing out the whey for two days, to form a fresh but firm ricotta. Serve a nice wedge sprinkled with sea salt and lots of local honey, honeycomb, roasted Concord grapes, and grilled walnut bread on the side. For the grapes, drizzle with olive oil and a touch of salt and roast in a superhot oven to concentrate the flavors. The grapes remind me of my time in the Northeast. I know they're not local, but sometimes we want to eat certain flavors and ingredients at certain times of the year just because they're good. Most of us are from some place else anyway."

Rachel Yang & Seif Chirchi
"It's only natural that we go back to our roots when we cook. Having said that, Joule isn't a Korean restaurant. We might tap into some Korean flavor profiles, but we don't want to limit ourselves to using certain ingredients or techniques. For people who want to have an authentic Korean dining experience, we send them elsewhere. But so far the response has been amazingly supportive."

Fried pork belly with toasted soybean powder & salted shrimp/chile relish. "Braise seasoned pork belly for two to three hours in sake with mirepoix, bouquet garni, and Korean denjang [fermented soybean paste]; chill the pork in the braising liquid; cut into one-inch cubes; deep-fry chunks. Serve three glossy pieces arranged on a plate with a line of toasted soybean powder and dots of salted shrimp/chile relish. The soybean powder, typically used to dust rice cakes, adds a nutty quality to the dish. Garnish with cilantro and sprinkle with coriander salt, made by combining toasted coriander seeds with sea salt in a mortar and pestle. To make the relish, mix together thinly sliced rings of Korean green chiles, diced shallots, scallions, red chile flakes, Chinese black vinegar, and Korean salted shrimp, those tiny brined shrimp that come in a jar. I know pork belly has gotten really popular here in the U.S., but Koreans have always been fans of the fattier parts of the pig. People generally think ‘beef' when it comes to Korean barbecue, but in Korea everyone's got pork belly on the grill. Anyway, you cook it, pork belly is just amazing."

Chicken ballottine with ginseng, sweet rice, parsley/ginko nut salad & date jus. "The inspiration for this dish comes from samgyetang, a Korean soup made from a whole baby chicken stuffed with glutinous rice, ginseng, ginger, garlic, and a combination of ginko nuts, dried jujube fruits, and dates. It's generally served in the heat of the summer, but we're planning on taking those flavors and presenting them in a different way for winter. We know, Koreans are funny: they eat boiling hot soups in the summer and like cold noodle dishes in the winter. Keeping the skin on, bone and butterfly chicken breast. Reserve the bones to make an aromatic stock with mirepoix, ginger, ginseng, garlic, ginko nuts, and chestnuts. Use the stock to cook the sweet rice; reserve the softened dates and some of the broth for the jus. Shape seasoned cooked rice into a log; place the rice and some blanched Swiss chard on the chicken breast; roll up; wrap in caul fat; sear to brown; finish in the oven. Serve slices of the chicken ballottine with a salad of parsley and toasted ginko nuts dressed lightly in olive oil, rice wine vinegar, salt, and pepper. Puree the dates in the broth and finish with butter to complete the jus."

Cumin crusted spicy lamb/brown rice moussaka with tomato marmalade. Rachel Yan: "My husband, Seif, is all-American, but his father is from Tunisia. This dish moves away from my Korean influences and is more Middle Eastern in flavor. Season a bone-in leg of lamb; sear; deglaze with red wine; braise in brown chicken stock with mirepoix, a bouquet garni, tomato paste, cumin, coriander seeds, black pepper, and Aleppo pepper powder; cool before pulling meat off bone; strain reserved liquid; use it to cook the brown rice and to moisten the pulled lamb. To assemble the moussaka, layer thin slices of seasoned and seared Japanese eggplant in individual casserole dishes with béchamel, glazed lamb meat, and seasoned brown rice. Top with toasted and ground cumin seeds mixed with panko and a few drops of olive oil before baking. Finish with a quenelle of tomato marmalade, a drizzle of olive oil, and salt and pepper. The tomato marmalade adds a nice sweet/acidic touch that cuts through the richer flavors of the dish."

Fuyu persimmon tarte Tatin with spicy cinnamon sorbet. "The color and flavor of persimmons always make me think of fall. Fuyus are the ones that can be eaten right away while they're still crunchy. Peel and slice persimmons into wedges and poach until just softened in white wine with sugar, star anise, cinnamon stick, and black peppercorns. Drizzle caramel in the bottom of individual molds; shingle fruit over; top with puff pastry; bake until golden; serve warm with a scoop of spicy cinnamon sorbet, crème anglaise, and toasted pine nuts. The flavors of the sorbet come from a traditional Korean fruit punch called sujeonggwa, a sweet, chilled, spiced drink garnished with dried persimmons and pine nuts. To make the sorbet, bring water, sugar, ginger, and dried persimmons to a boil and cook at least 30 minutes to bring out the flavors. Remove ginger, then puree persimmons into syrup, adding fresh lemon juice at the end. The result is a deeply spiced sorbet that, when spun, turns a pretty pink color."

Tony Maws
Craigie On Main
Cambridge, Massachusetts
"I like that when the weather gets cooler our bodies chime, ‘Hey, it's time to eat!' I try to create food that may be somewhat provocative, but I'm not trying to re-create the wheel or anything like that. For me, the test is to cook something I'd like to eat two days in a row. I use some modern techniques here and there, but overall I don't want to manipulate the food too much. I just want to accentuate it."

Consommé of local matsutake mushrooms with tempura hiramasa belly, Serrano ham powder & pine nut oil. "I love matsutake mushrooms for their intoxicating aroma. Since finding a local forager, I look forward to them even more when they come into season. To further accentuate their pine scent, infuse dashi made with kombu and matsutake stems with fresh pine needles. Serve the clear aromatic consommé tableside to be poured into a bowl containing Australian-raised hiramasa [yellowtail amberjack or kingfish] belly, tempura-fried until just crispy on the outside but still raw in the center. Include in the bowl Serrano ham, frozen into a powder using liquid nitrogen, with a few drops of pine oil. When the hot consommé is poured, the liquid will gently poach the fish and melt the ham to add a nice salty touch. The result is a flavorful combination of aromas and textures. I envision serving this dish as an early course as part of a tasting menu."

Grilled Vermont organic pork belly with Allspice Dram, local maitake mushrooms & sweet-&-sour spaghetti squash. "For a super tasty pork belly with some Jamaican flavor, start with a five-day brine in sugar, salt, ginger, fish sauce, chiles, and cilantro before cooking sous-vide for 36 hours. To serve, trim pork into neat half-inch thick planks and char on a hot grill to caramelize the outside; glaze the pork with some reduced jus; serve on a plate brushed with a gel of St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram, an allspice-flavored liqueur thickened with a bit of agar-agar. Serve pork belly with roasted spaghetti squash dressed in a sweet-and-sour syrup of chiles, ginger, mustard seeds, Demerara and Muscovado sugars, allspice, fish sauce, and lime juice. Also add to the plate maitake mushrooms grilled with olive oil, salt, and pepper. I think the meatiness of maitakes, also known as hen-of-the-woods, is similar in texture to pork belly, so they should complement each other well. The pork is organic, from Vermont. We get all our animals whole and break them down as needed."

Pheasant two ways: foie gras–poached & leg confit. "To confit the legs, first cure in salt, black pepper, shallots, bay leaf, and parsley for two days before cooking in duck fat; when cool, pull meat off bones and mix with minced fresh herbs and a brunoise of carrots, celery, and onion sweated in duck fat; shape the mixture into a log, using plastic wrap; wrap tightly with foil; freeze until firm before slicing into disks. For the breast, cure in a brine flavored with caraway, coriander, garlic, and black cardamom; cook pheasant breast sous-vide in rendered foie gras fat until cooked through. Before serving, sear the skin side of the breast and disks of leg confit until crisp. Serve with Chinese broccoli braised with house-cured guanciale, creamy smoked farro, an agar-agar–thickened sauce of green walnut liqueur called vin de noix, and a pheasant jus to keep things moist. To get the most smoke flavor into the farro, pulse first in a food processor to break up the pieces before cold smoking over fruit woods for an half hour."

Pumpkin & Taza chocolate s'mores with pain d'épices marshmallows & house-made graham crackers. "To capture the flavors of fall, all stacked together, I imagine a gooey s'more full of warm spices, pumpkin, and chocolate. The graham crackers would be house-made, using Anson Mills graham flour. The marshmallows would be flavored with pumpkin and spices like mace, ground ginger, nutmeg, clove, ground anise seed, and cinnamon found in French pain d'épices, a bread similar to gingerbread. My favorite pumpkin is a variety called Long Island cheese, which has less water in its flesh than the more commonly used sugar pumpkins. For a soft chocolate cremeaux filling, temper chocolate and set with gelatin to maintain a texture between a ganache and a mousse. I prefer the Old World style, organic, stone-ground, fruity-flavored Taza chocolate made in nearby Somerville."

Octavio Becerra
Palate Food & Wine
Glendale, California
"We churn our own butter at the restaurant, using a 20-gallon Hobart and Strauss Family Farm's unpasteurized cream. We can't churn all the butter we need, but we churn enough, four or five times a week, to finish dishes and for table service, where it's presented with icicle radishes and *fleur de sel on leftover slate tiles from our remodel. I think it makes a statement about who we are and our commitment to freshness."*

Seared scallops with caramelized cauliflower, pine nuts & pomegranate gastrique. "The deep, warm flavors in this dish just speak fall to me. Pomegranates, in particular, always remind me of the season, and they add a bright acidic balance to the sweet richness of the scallops and the creaminess of the cauliflower. For the cauliflower, slow cook diced florets in lots of butter until caramelized and nutty in flavor; blend into a puree; combine with florets of roasted purple, orange, and white cauliflower for a mix of colors and a duality of textures. For the gastrique, mix reduced fresh pomegranate juice and vinegar into caramel; fold in fresh pomegranate seeds, chopped parsley, chives, and toasted pine nuts to finish. To plate, drizzle gastrique around pan-seared scallops and beat in brown butter for a broken vinaigrette-like feel. Garnish with whatever wild herbs are popping up in the market at the time. It's simple straightforward cooking."

Healthy Family Farms duck breast with forbidden rice, roasted pears, pecans & dandelion. "I get my ducks and other poultry from Healthy Family Farms, a sustainable farm in Santa Paula, about 65 miles northwest of Los Angeles. Trim and score fat on the duck breast; rub with a blend of toasted and ground coriander and fennel seeds, a little cardamom, caraway, saffron threads, sugar, and sea salt; marinate three days; cook halfway via sous-vide; finish on the plancha to render the fat, cooking to a medium-rare rosé; slice breast lengthwise and serve with duck jus and forbidden rice cooked risotto-style with diced onions, minced garlic, olive oil, and chicken stock. The forbidden rice, a short-grain heirloom rice from China, has a dark purple color and rich earthy flavor that complements the duck, best finished with fresh churned butter and a dusting of pulverized dried blood orange that adds a beautiful perfume to the dish. Also on the plate: a salad of tossed dandelion greens, shaved shallots, coarsely chopped toasted pecans, and pecan oil warmed through with wedges of Anjou pears roasted in butter with fleur de sel and lots of cracked black pepper."

DW lamb shoulder with Moroccan squash, spigarello & pickled persimmons. "The DW is for Don Watson of Loveland, Colorado–based Napa Valley Lamb Company, also called Rocky Mountain Wooly Weeders, because his sheep provide landowners an eco-friendly "mowing" service, mostly in the Bay Area for vineyard owners and in the Rocky Mountain region. His baby lamb never reaches more than 20 pounds and has the most delicate flavor and unbelievable texture. For a while, I was acting as his lamb pimp. I'd line up 20 to 25 orders at a time from other area chefs to make it worth his while to come down to our area. For the fall, I'll serve tender herb-marinated pulled shoulder, cooked sous-vide and crisped up in a pan with a significant slice of sweet oven-roasted Moroccan squash and sautéed spigarello, a cousin of broccoli raab, with pickled Fuyu persimmons, and lamb jus around the plate. The lamb itself is so spectacular that it doesn't need many flourishes. It's going to be hard not to pull out some tortillas to make myself some tacos out of that tender meat."

Warm banana/ginger cake with miticrema & rum/raisin caramel. "We have a novice baker here at the restaurant who makes the most amazing banana/ginger loaf. She won't give up the recipe so I'm going to have to enlist her to make me some large batches of this dessert. The banana cake is both light and dense and studded with crystallized ginger plumped up in simple syrup. I'm planning to toast buttered slices in a pan to serve with warm rum/raisin caramel and a quenelle of Spanish miticrema, a sheep's milk cheese similar to cream cheese, sprinkled with black pepper and cardamom. For the rum/raisin sauce, macerate several different varieties and colors of raisins and currants for texture; for a touch of herbaciousness, infuse the dark rum with a bunch of bay leaves."