Cheese & History Make Tasty Menu

Guests got a taste of local history along with cheese when Chef Jennifer Luttrell presented a spring menu at Fresh Starts Chef Events.

Chef Jennifer Luttrell-4_sqThe executive chef for The Fork at Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company, who is part of a three-sister team running the business at a historic Marin County dairy, offered a glimpse of ranch evolution as well as recipes using the award-winning products.

The Giacomini family started the dairy in 1959, selling its milk to Clover-Stornetta for 42 years. When the farm began a transition to producing artisan cheese, the sisters banded together to lead the new endeavor.

Point Reyes Blue, introduced in 2000, continues to win awards and remains the company’s flagship product. Cheesemaker Kuba Hemmerling (Chef Jennifer’s husband) crafts other award-winners like Toma, the farmstead’s first non-blue cheese, a cross between Gouda and Havarti; Bay Blue, their version of a Stilton; and super-creamy Mozzarella, available May through October.Chef Jennifer Luttrell-10_sqx

Chef Jennifer opened the menu with a Winter Greens Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette & Bay
Blue, using a light vinaigrette with reserved juice from the Satsuma mandarins to offset the earthy cheese. For winter greens, she likes endive, for “a little texture,” and radicchio, for “color and a different flavor component.”

Mushroom Lasagnas with Pesto Bechamel & Point Reyes Toma was another earthy dish that straddles seasons. Chef Jennifer suggests tweaking the recipe for spring by using asparagus instead of mushrooms. With the focus on the cheeses, the taste was decadent but not heavy.

Chef Jennifer Luttrell-16Although The Fork does make ice cream with both the Original Blue and Gouda, Chef Jennifer opted to demonstrate a Lemon Mousse with Pecan Shortbread as dessert. She claims the fool-proof recipe is simple to assemble and hard to overcook.

Chef Jennifer concluded by telling guests, “I’m not a very fussy chef. I like things to be rustic.” She carries out her emphasis on simplicity and fresh ingredients at The Fork, a culinary teaching and dining space at the ranch that hosts regular classes and events.

Fresh Starts Chef Events thanks the Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese team for donating cheese for the evening and gratefully acknowledges support from The Republic of Tea as premier sponsor for the chef event series. — Contributed by Carol Inkellis with photos courtesy of Neely Wang.

Winter Greens Salad with Bay Blue – Serves 6

Ingredients:
3 small heads of winter greens – endive, radicchio, etc. – washed, dried and torn into pieces
1 bunch arugula, washed, dried, and torn into bite-sized pieces
1 fennel bulb, cleaned, cored, and sliced very thin
3 seedless Satsuma mandarins, peeled and segmented with juice reserved
1 tablespoon of the reserved mandarin juice (may be substituted with fresh orange juice)
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar, or other lightly flavored vinegar
½ cup olive oil
½ cup crumbled Point Reyes Bay Blue
½ cup toasted hazelnuts, skins removed, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Toss greens and fennel together in a large bowl.

Make the vinaigrette by whisking the vinegar, juice, and olive oil until combined. Season with salt, to taste.

Toss lettuce with enough vinaigrette to coat, but not drench, the lettuce. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if desired. Add half of the crumbled Point Reyes Bay Blue and toss to combine. Place salad on individual plates or serving platter.

Toss the mandarins with a little of the vinaigrette and arrange on top of salad. Finish by topping off with remaining cheese and toasted hazelnuts.

 

 

Advertisements
Posted in celebrity chefs, food, recipes | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sammy Hagar Rocks with Rum and Food

The room buzzed as Fresh Starts Chef Events opened a “pop-up party” with rock star-restaurateur Sammy Hagar and Chef Henry Cortez of El Paseo in Mill Valley – even before the Red Rocker himself appeared to mix a Rumrita cocktail.

Chef Henry Cortez with Sammy Hagar talk to guests

A Mill Valley resident for years, the rocker has been a longtime supporter of Homeward Bound of Marin, the nonprofit that benefits from the chef event series. The venerable El Paseo restaurant has come back to life with his backing.

While Chef Henry prepared for his first demonstration, Sammy introduced the Rumrita, hagar-and-cortez-14_cropwhich uses Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum. Made from Maui Gold sugar cane, distilled and filtered only one time, the smooth white rum is, Sammy says, “truly the spirit of aloha.”

He described Chef Henry as “the only chef I’ve ever met who doesn’t want to be a superstar” – a man who likes being at the stove. So Sammy did what he does well, entertaining guests with anecdotes of rock’n’roll, restaurants and building his rum and tequila brands.

Of all these pursuits, Sammy says, the restaurant business is most difficult. But the man is serious about food.

Shrimp in Sofrito at Fresh Starts Chef EventsSammy’s “favorite food countries” are Italy and Spain. With Chef Henry, he’s bringing a Spanish flair to El Paseo, and the evening’s first dish, Shrimp in Sofrito, was an excellent example.

Sofrito, a base often used in Spanish and Italian cooking, is not difficult, but takes up to three hours as onions, red peppers, celery and tomatoes caramelize slowly. Chef Henry set his shrimp atop the sofrito with crispy chorizo and chorizo aioli for garnishes.

The main course of Steak Frites featured melt-in-your-mouth, perfectly cooked Akaushi Chef slicing beef at Fresh Starts Chef EventsWagyu beef, accompanied by Chef Henry’s roasted red onions and chimichurri flavored with smoky sweet pimentón de la Vera. He stresses that the meat needs to be slightly undercooked and left to rest for seven to ten minutes before slicing.

Chef Henry, who has pursued a culinary career since high school, says, “for me, it’s all about technique.” His dedication has drawn a loyal clientele for El Paseo, where Sammy says of his talents, “He blows my mind.”

Steak Frites with Chimichurri

Housemade Warm Chocolate Pudding Cake with a hint of rum wrapped up the menu. The recipe came from Chef Eric Magnani, executive chef for Fresh Starts Culinary Academy, whose students and graduates staffed the kitchen and served guests.

Guests also heard from winemaker Bob Cabral of Three Sticks Wines, invited by Sammy Hagar to offer two new releases for the event. The maker of the first-ever 100-point Pinot Noir, Cabral talked about his history in the business and Three Sticks’ array of select vineyards.

Diners also enjoyed beverages from The Republic of Tea, premier sponsor of Fresh Starts Chef Events, and picked up signed copies of Sammy Hagar’s book, “Are We Having Fun Yet? The Cooking and Partying Handbook.” — Contributed by Carol Inkellis with photos courtesy of Neely Wang.

Basic Sofrito – Makes 5 cupshagar-and-cortez-23_crop

Ingredients:
2 yellow onions, diced to ¼-inch pieces
2 red peppers, diced to ¼-inch pieces
2 celery stalks, pelled and diced to ¼-inch pieces
2 tomatoes, peeled and crushed
12 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
1 tablespoon saffron threads

Directions:
Place all the ingredients in a pan and cover with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper.

Place the pan over medium-low heat for 3 hours, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan every 7 to 10 minutes.

Continue cooking until most of the water from the vegetables has evaporated and the oil has become a clear red color. Set aside and cool.

Posted in celebrity chefs, food, recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Marin Chef Loves Giving Through Food

Watching Chef Heidi Krahling in action at Fresh Starts Chef Events is like sitting in a good friend’s kitchen.

chef-heidi-krahling-2017-15_cropDespite being an award-winning chef, a cookbook author and the owner of Insalata’s and Marinitas, two highly regarded  restaurants, she talks with warmth and humor to 100-plus guests.

It’s clear this local celebrity, who often shares her talents on behalf of community causes, enjoys feeding people. And the guests arrived eager to be fed, including many who have visited one or both of Chef Heidi’s establishments.

She explained the first dish, Marinitas Salad, was adapted from a Rick Bayless recipe and has been a favorite for 30 years. Chef Heidi stressed its versatility, noting you can vary the cheese or leave it out, or use romaine hearts instead of Little Gem lettuce.chef-heidi-krahling-2017-18_crop

The salad departs a bit from her well-known Mediterranean menus with use of poblano peppers. Her tips: pick smooth-skinned peppers without creases or divots so they’ll roast evenly and always roast the pumpkin seeds in the oven rather than atop the stove.

As she tasted the vinaigrette, Chef Heidi referred to those TV chefs who take their first taste and declare, “That’s it!” This chef’s response: “I don’t think so!” The first taste is rarely just right.

Chef Heidi acquired her beloved recipe for the second course, Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemon & Olives, in Morocco — prepared and served not by a chef or a restaurant, but by local women.

chef-heidi-krahling-2017-21_cropPreserved lemons, used extensively in Moroccan cuisine, go into the dish. Chef Heidi offers a short-cut recipe to trim the time needed to cure them from 30 days to five by briefly cooking the lemons at the start.

She recommends chicken thighs for tagine, calling them “God’s perfect piece of chicken.” They’re served over couscous, but she cautions against buying the instant variety, which she says is too delicate and hard to cook.

While the tagine recipe looks complicated, Chef Heidi advises careful attention to mise en place, or assembling all the prepped ingredients before getting started.chef-heidi-krahling-2017-25_crop

Her dessert, Athenian Cream with Kumquat Sauce, came into being when a pastry chef challenged her aversion to putting a panna cotta on Insalata’s dessert menu. Again, Chef Heidi says the recipe can vary, substituting goat yogurt for the mascarpone or sheep’s milk ricotta instead of cream cheese.

As the evening ended, Chef Heidi said, “I love being part of the community, especially on nights like this.” The chef event series supports Homeward Bound of Marin, with students from Fresh Starts Culinary Academy working behind the scenes to make the dishes served to guests.

As the premier sponsor for Fresh Starts Chef Events, The Republic of Tea covers food costs and provides iced tea for diners as well as a gift basket for the raffle. — Contributed by Carol Inkellis with photos courtesy of Neely Wang.

Preserved Lemons – Makes 8 lemons
Most recipes for preserved lemons call for curing the wedges in salt until softened, which takes months. By cooking the lemons first, the process takes about five days. Before using preserved lemons, cut away all the pulp and pith, and give the rinds a quick rinse.

Ingredients:
8 lemons
2½ quarts water
¾ cup salt
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
8 whole cloves
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons coriander seeds, toasted

Directions:
Using a sharp paring knife, score the skin of the lemons with lengthwise incisions at ½-inch intervals, taking care not to cut into the flesh.

In a large pot, combine the lemons, water, and salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and place a plate on top of the lemons to keep them submerged. Cook until the lemon rinds are soft, about 20 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the lemons to a large ceramic crock or glass jar and pack loosely. (You may need two containers; if so, break the cinnamon stick in half and divide it and the lemons between the containers.)

Push the lemons down gently to release their juice. Add the coriander, peppercorns, cloves, bay leaves, and cinnamon stick. Pour enough cooking liquid over the lemons to cover, then cool completely. Cover and refrigerate.

Note: The lemons are best after 5 days and will keep in the refrigerator for 3 months.

 

Posted in celebrity chefs, food, recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chef John Ash Offers Wild Foods

Recipes in the latest cookbook by Chef John Ash, a double James Beard Award-winner, explore the “connection to cultivated food and those foods that exist in the wild,” the author says.
Chef John Ash talks about Maitake mushroomsGuests at Fresh Starts Chef Events got to taste the connection when Chef John, a visionary in Wine Country cuisine, demonstrated four dishes in a benefit evening to support Fresh Starts Culinary Academy and Homeward Bound of Marin.

Though local stores now stock many foods that once were foraged – for example, fish and weeds like dandelion greens – the food world is still adopting new tastes. Insects were not on the menu, “though it’s the future,” the chef says.

His presentation from the book, “Cooking Wild,” began with Maitake Tempura & Ponzu Maitake Mushroom Tempura with Ponzu Dipping SauceDipping Sauce, a revelation to those who think of tempura as greasy and heavy. Chef John coats the mushrooms in corn starch before dipping them in a batter of rice flour for a feathery but satisfying texture.

He offers three rules to frying food: use a clear oil with a high smoke point, such as grapeseed oil; avoid using excess batter or coating on foods; and keep the temperature between 350-375°F, the “sweet spot,” so the food cooks before absorbing too much oil.

Chef John Ash talks about sablefishChef John, an adviser to Seafood Watch of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, prepared a second course of Sablefish with Tomatoes, Pine Nuts & Olives. Also known as black cod or butterfish, he calls this sustainable species “the most forgiving fish — you can’t overcook it and it doesn’t get dry.”

He lightly coated the fish with flour—he recommends Wondra—before cooking. He added spinach from Homeward Bound’s on-site garden into the recipe. Belying his early career as a fine arts painter, he plated the fish and other dishes with colorful style.

The main course of Roast Loin of Venison with Blackberry Sage Sauce uses “the saddle” of Roast Venison with Blackberry Sage Saucethe animal, which needs to be marinated and roasted only to 118-125°F. While most venison sold by butchers is farm-raised, the meat remains lean with no internal fat and needs careful roasting to avoid drying out.

Chef John quizzed the audience and cleared up a myth about marinades. Marinating adds flavor but does not tenderize meat; on the contrary, if meat marinates too long, he warns the acid denatures the protein, making it “floppy and cardboardy.”

Maple Flan by Chef John AshThe Maple Flan comes together easily but has tricky moments, such as coating the bottom of the ramekins with caramel without spilling. Like all the dishes, this one was executed with great results by the Fresh Starts Culinary Academy crew.

Fresh Starts Chef Events’ premier sponsor, The Republic of Tea, underwrote food costs and provided iced tea, while Mycopia Mushrooms, Inc. donated the Maitake mushrooms and wines were contributed by Virginia Dare Winery.

“Food is what sustains us,” Chef John says. He thanked the crowd for sustaining shelter and job-training programs Homeward Bound of Marin with their presence. — Contributed by Carol Inkellis with photos courtesy of Neely Wang.

Sablefish with Tomatoes & Olives – Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 skinless sablefish (black cod) fillets (about 5 oz. each)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 cup dry white wine, such as pinot grigio
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved (quartered if large)
1-1/4 cups shrimp or chicken stock
1/2 cup pitted and slivered Niçoise olives
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1/2 cup lightly toasted pine nuts

Directions:
Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the fish, season generously with salt and pepper and cook until lightly browned and crusty. Remove fish and set aside.

Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the wine and let simmer until reduced by half, about 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, stock and olives. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Stir in rosemary.

Nestle the fish in the sauce browned side up. Return to a simmer, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook until the fish is cooked through and is just starting to flake, about 3 minutes.

Divide fish among 4 shallow soup bowls. Add pine nuts and chives to the sauce and check seasoning. Spoon sauce over the fish and serve immediately.

Posted in celebrity chefs, food, recipes | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Sonoma Menu Layers Local Flavors

As culinary director for Stark Reality restaurants in Sonoma County, Chef David Zimmerman helps supervise divergent menus in favorite local eateries like Bravas Bar de Tapas and Stark’s Steak & Seafood.

chef-david-zimmerman-3sq

Chef David Zimmerman

Just as the menus offer variety, ingredients offer singular flavors that can be built by “seasoning in layers” with careful combinations, Chef David told guests at Fresh Starts Chef Events.

His recipe demonstrations provided a tour of the six award-winning restaurants owned by Chef Mark Stark and wife Terri, with whom he’s worked since 2007.

Chef David’s first recipe of Dungeness Crab & Uni Orzotto with Fennel Pollen began with sweating shallots, a bay leaf, and peppercorns in butter. The uni sauce is blended until smooth, then strained through a fine chinois sieve for a rich, risotto-like dish.

chef-david-zimmerman-13

Dungeness Crab & Uni Orzotto

A main course of Barbecued Lamb Chops with Mint Chutney & Couscous involves several recipes but did not prove to be difficult to prepare.

Chef David started with the Moroccan Barbecue Sauce, which includes a daunting list of ingredients. After toasting the spices in a hot, dry pan “to release the flavors and get the oils moving,” however, everything else went into a pot to simmer. It was strained and ready to go without much trouble.

chef-david-zimmerman-19sq

Chef David prepares lamb chops

While the sauce cooked, Chef David prepared the Preserved Lemon Couscous, which steams in orange juice and water. To prevent this fine, rolled form of pasta from clumping, he worked extra virgin olive oil into it with his hands for a fluffy result.

Rather than mint jelly, which the chef calls “super weird,” the lamb chops are coated with a mint chutney that comes together in the blender. They marinate for at least four hours before cooking over a medium-hot grill. As an alternative, sear in a hot pan (preferably cast iron) and finish in the oven.

chef-david-zimmerman-28

Barbecued Lamb Chops with Mint Chutney & Preserved Lemon Couscous

As the chef worked, students and graduates from Fresh Starts Culinary Academy in Novato, Calif., prepared the menu and served guests. “The support of this staff has made this the easiest demo I’ve ever done. You guys have done an amazing job,” Chef David said.

He closed with a Chocolate Chunk and Banana Bread Pudding that’s a favorite dessert at Stark restaurants. The recipe uses croissants rather than bread; Chef David recommends bittersweet chocolate with 74 percent cacao.

He cautions that the custard must be made carefully so the egg yolks don’t cook. The finished presentation is a rich ending to a meal. A refreshing accompaniment was a Sonoma Rosé Iced Tea from The Republic of Tea, premier sponsor of Fresh Starts Chef Events’ monthly series. — Contributed by Carol Inkellis with photos courtesy of Neely Wang.

Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding

Chocolate Chunk & Banana Bread Pudding

Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread Pudding – Serves 8

Ingredients for the custard:
1 quart heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split
⅔ cup sugar
10 egg yolks
1⅓ tablespoons salt

Directions:
Bring cream and the vanilla bean to a boil, then remove from heat, allowing to steep for 1 hour. Remove the vanilla bean, and scrape out the contents of the pod into the mixture.

In a bowl, whisk together well the sugar, yolks, and salt.

Bring the cream back to a boil and then slowly add to the egg mixture while whisking in a steady stream. Pour through mesh strainer and keep warm.

Ingredients for the bread pudding:
8 croissants, toasted and cut into 2-inch pieces
4 bananas, sliced
1 quart, plus 1 cup custard base
1 pound dark chocolate, cut into chunks

Directions:
Place toasted croissant pieces and sliced bananas in a large bowl.

Add 1 quart of the custard (recipe on previous page), reserving the remaining amount. Let sit until the croissants have soaked up all the liquid.

Evenly divide the mixture into 8 soup bowls and top with a generous amount of the chocolate chunks.

Divide the remaining custard between the 8 bowls, pouring evenly around the mounded custard mixture in each bowl.

Bake at 325°F until the custard is set, about 30-35 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving warm.

Posted in celebrity chefs, food, recipes | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Cooking Up Connections at Backyard

Chef Daniel Kedan talks to guests at Fresh Starts Chef Events

Chef Daniel Kedan 

In his culinary life, Chef Daniel Kedan says he’s “always searching for a connection to farming and locally sourced ingredients.” Guests who tried his menu at Fresh Starts Chef Events will be searching out his restaurant, Backyard, in Forestville.

Through the restaurant, Chef Daniel has cultivated a connection to Sonoma County by sourcing local ingredients with his wife and partner, Marianna Gardenhire. His event focused on the restaurant’s Thursday night tradition: fried chicken with all the fixings.

The chef, who has just opened a kitchen for Siduri Winery in Healdsburg, kicked off the evening with a salad featuring Burrata and topped with Tomato Water Vinaigrette.

His first taste of burrata, he says, spurred him to wonder: “Where has this been my entire Chef stretches mozzarella for burratalife?”

Chef Daniel’s recipe is uncomplicated enough to make at home. It does involve finding  mozzarella curd, which is available at cheese shops, some grocery stores, and Whole Foods.

He recommends using gloves since the cheese is bathed in hot water. But not too hot, or the fat separates out of the cheese. It’s a careful process that leads to stretching the cheese and folding it around a creamy ricotta and mascarpone mixture to make burrata.

Housemade Burrata with Tomato SaladThe vinaigrette comes from a simple puree of summer tomatoes, which is strained to blend with sherry vinegar. With tomato slices, the cheese and herbs, it was a delicious start.

While fried chicken may sound like fast food, Chef Daniel says the secrets of making a spectacular dish are top-quality fresh chicken, a 12-hour brining and a flavorful flour dredge.

Using a 2½-pound bird – the size he declares “just right” – he showed guests how to dip Chef Daniel Kedan preparing fried chickeneach piece into the dredge, then buttermilk, then back into the dredge, and into a pan of rice bran oil heated to 330°F. When it left the pan, he seasoned with salt.

Alongside the chicken, he served Summer Squash Latkes, suggesting Yukon gold, russet, or purple potatoes. Adding  squash uses up the bounty that often piles up in late summer. In this case, the squash came from the garden just outside at Homeward Bound of Marin.

Summer Squash Latkes in pan

Students and chefs from Fresh Starts Culinary Academy prepared the menu for guests. As the plates came out, Chef Daniel said, “This isn’t meant to be healthy. This is meant to be delicious.” And it was, especially paired with wines from Hook & Ladder Winery in the Russian River Valley.

 

To close, guests enjoyed Buttermilk Panna Cotta, which took a few minutes to prepare (and 4 hours to chill), topped with fresh berries.Panna Cotta with berries

The full menu paired with Sonoma iced teas — Chardonnay, Rosé, and Cabernet —from The Republic of Tea, premier sponsor for the chef events. — Contributed by Carol Inkellis with photos courtesy of Neely Wang

For those who can’t make it to Forestville anytime soon, Chef Daniel shared his secret recipes for fried chicken brine and flour dredge to try at home:

Brine for Three Chickens – Serves 10 (3-piece portions)

Ingredients:
2 lemons, halved
2 tablespoons fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
3 cloves garlic, halved
3 teaspoons black peppercorns
10 tablespoons salt
3 tablespoons honey
2 bay leaves
1 gallon (16 cups) water
4 chickens, without giblets, about 2 1/2 – 3 lbs. each

Directions:
Combine 2 cups of water with all of the ingredients except the chicken in a sauce pot. Bring to a boil and stir.

Pour the rest of the water into a large plastic container with the chicken, then add the brine. Let the chicken rest in the brine for 12 hours.

Fried Chicken Flour Dredge – Makes 5 pounds

Ingredients:
5 pounds organic all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons paprika
1½ teaspoons cayenne powder
4½ tablespoons onion powder
4¾ tablespoons garlic powder
1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Combine all ingredients, mixing well. Remember to dredge twice — before a buttermilk dip and again afterward.

 

Posted in celebrity chefs, food, recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chef Josh Silvers Offers Summer Feast

If summer means “living is easy” to you, your kindred spirit is Chef Josh Silvers of Jackson’s Bar & Oven in Santa Rosa. But his easygoing style belies the hard work that got him to his life as chef and restaurant owner.

Chef Josh Silvers talks to guestsA self-described “punk” in his teens, Chef Josh started in the food service industry at the very bottom and worked his way up. He told some of his story to guests at Fresh Starts Chef Events before demonstrating his recipes for a summer feast.

“I love food. It’s what I think about. It’s what I talk about,” he said, relating how he reached success as chef/owner of Syrah, an early leader on the Wine Country restaurant scene, and opened Jackson’s Bar & Oven in 2010.

Chef stirs gazpachoChef Josh began with an ideal warm-weather starter, Summer Watermelon Gazpacho, which hit the palate as both sweet and tart with a hint of spiciness. The chef used one seedless watermelon, dicing one half and puréeing the other before mixing in diced red onions, red bell peppers, and Pasilla peppers, plus cilantro.

To “bring out the oils, which brings out the flavors” in the spices, Chef Josh heated the paprika and two types of chili powder briefly before incorporating them into the gazpacho. As a counter to the mild heat, the evening included beverages from The Republic of Tea, the premium sponsor for the chef events.

Chef cuts pork shoulderChef Josh added that a nice touch for a dinner party would be to serve this gazpacho in Martini glasses. To ensure you relax at your party, it can be made a day ahead and actually improves in taste when it sits for a couple of hours or overnight.

The main dish, Maple & Whiskey Braised Duroc Pork with White Cheddar Grits and Sautéed Rainbow Chard, also starts the day ahead as the pork shoulder requires hours to cook and cool and the sauce takes time to simmer and strain.

To ease party preparations, he suggests trading out higher-end grits like Anson Mills for an instant variety and using a tasty local cheese to round out the flavor. And he emphasized that good whiskey is for drinking, not to be used for cooking this dish.Braised Duroc Pork

He closed his menu with Fresh Yellow Peach Cobbler & Vanilla Bean Chantilly Cream, suggesting that peaches shouldn’t be over-ripe for baked desserts to retain texture. For a light biscuit topping, he added, be sure not to over-mix the dough.

Chef Josh had kind words for students from Fresh Starts Culinary Academy, who helped prepare and serve his dishes for guests. “They made me look good,” he said, joining a round of applause for the kitchen and service crew. Contributed by Carol Inkellis with photos courtesy of Neely Wang.

Chef applauds kitchen crew

Summer Watermelon Gazpacho – Serves 8

Chef Josh Silvers-5_crop

Ingredients:
1 seedless watermelon
2 jalapeños, finely diced
2 red onions, finely diced
2 red bell peppers, finely diced
2 Pasilla peppers, finely diced
1 cup lime juice
½ bunch cilantro
2 cups simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water boiled, then cooled)
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dark chili powder
1 teaspoon New Mexico chili powder

Directions:
Cut the watermelon in half. Finely dice the melon from one half, then purée the other half in the blender with the syrup until smooth.

Fold the diced melon, onions, peppers and cilantro into the purée.

Add spices and season to taste. Add lime juice to taste.

 

 

Posted in celebrity chefs, food, recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment