Friday, July 27, 2007

Blackberry Season
Wednesday New York Times food section-I read it religiously almost every Wednesday-had a long article on blackberries. New varieties and hybrids such as Marion and Boysen have revolutionized the world of blackberries. The new berries have smaller seeds, ripen faster while retaining their shape and juice, and are now grown in places that were previously inhospitable to the plant. I had bought these berries at a farm stand the previous week and made the pies last week, but the article only increased my appreciation of the berry. I used a new recipe that called for tapioca to thicken the pies, which in theory let the berries retain their shape better through the baking process-I think I'll just use sugar, corn starch and butter in the future-the old way is the best way sometimes.

Still the pies were good, and the color lovely.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Sea Scallops with Gooseberries

I headed out to Whole Foods, I had the need for Sea Scallops. Usually I buy fish for my personal use from the restaurant stock, because I know how fresh it is. Whole Foods is one of the few retail outlets where I will buy fish-(the other being Bob's Seafood). Whole Foods uses the same wholesaler that I do, Plitt Seafood. I know I've talked about them before, but their operation is still amazing to me. I seldom order Scallops for the restaurant, they don't seem to sell that well. I had in mind pairing them with some peaches or nectarines, but when I saw fresh gooseberries I changed strategies, knowing that the sour berries would be a perfect counterpoint to the scallops.

I first made a shellfish broth by steaming clams and mussels in wine with mirepoix. I reserved the clams and mussles and tossed them with remoulade and fresh chives and chilled them for a seperate salad.

I tossed the gooseberries into the shellfish broth with a bit of cream and reduced it slightly. I seasoned the sauce with some cayenne (always cayenne with seafood) and a teaspoon of sugar-I know that sounds heretical, but those berries are so tart that a bit of sugar adds some ying to the yang. I also like the colors of this dish the orange of the carrot, the green of the gooseberry and the white scallops with browned edges.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Mezze is defined in my "Food Lover's Companion" as Greek hors d ouevres, and it is spelled meze with one z. Wikipedia has some other spellings as well, some containing a's. In a cookbook "A Book of Middle Eastern Food" by Claudia Roden it is spelled mezze and defined as hors d ouevres. So there is really no clear definition, but they seem to be a food phenomena throughout the Middle East including Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, as well as the Balkans.

I made baba ghanoush, which is an eggplant spread, flavored with tahini, lemon, garlic, and olive oil. It is incredibly delicious and so simple. Start by grilling a whole eggplant over medium coals until the skin is charred and the flesh soft-very similar to raosting peppers. Scrape off the skin and let the eggplant sit in a strainer to drain off the juices, which can be bitter. Puree the eggplant with some tahini and garlic. Flavor to your liking with fresh lemon juice and olive oil. I also added some fresh chopped parsley. You eat it spread on pita bread.

I also made hummus, which is a chick pea puree flavored again with tahini, garlic, olive oil, and fresh lemon juice. I added some fresh tomato wedges and purple onion slices. Again, heaped on little pita triangles-so refreshing to nibble on a hot Sunday afternoon with a glass of wine.
I also got some fresh figs and stuffed them with Camembert cheese-this was a misstep, the rich cheese sort of drowned out and overwhelmed the the figs-I should have let them stand on their own.
The two spreads look pretty similar, the top one is the baba ghanoush, and the bottom is the hummus.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Sweet Corn

The sweet corn is coming in. At the first of the season, we sell quite alot. I grill some of the ears and serve with a spiced butter. On Fridays this whole month I've been serving them with Alaskan King crab legs in a bowl with new potatoes, all poached in a rich seafood broth-with plenty of drawn butter on the side. These crab legs are marvelous-not your standard "all you can eat" which involve too much effort to get the meat at table, not to mention their smaller size. To me crab and fresh corn are perfect partners-sweet and rich, truly luxurious.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Guinness Ribeyes with Irish Whiskey Butter

I first made this special a couple of weeks ago, and it was quite popular. It has increased rib eye sales by 30% and has only been offered on Friday and Saturday nights. I might add it to the permanent menu. The steak starts out with a marinade including shallot, garlic, tarragon, mustard, soy sauce, and of course Guinness. It is then grilled and finished with an Irish whiskey compound butter. The butter is made by taking a couple cups of the marinade and reducing to a glaze, then add 1/2 cup Irish Whiskey and flame, turn off heat and add 2 tablespoons of worcestershire. When the whiskey-marinade reduction cools, whip it into butter, form the butter into small cylinders and refrigerate until firm. When the steak is grilled to the temperature specified on the order, it is topped with a slice of compound butter to melt accross the top of the steak.