Stone Crab Salad w/ Celery Rémoulade, Green Apple Gelée & Finger Lime

Hello friends and happy new year! To jump start the year here’s a recipe using the best-of-the-season. Yup. Every element in this fresh, clean-tasting, cool weather salad are at their best right now. From the bottom-up you’ve got fresh stone crab tossed with olive oil and lemon juice, celery rémoulade enlivened with capers, cornichons and fresh herbs, and a salad of frisée and mache with crunchy walnuts to top it off. The crab salad is already great on its own but it becomes perfect served in a pool of lightly-set green apple gelée with tiny cubes of green apple and some finger lime to make the flavor sparkle.

I used stone crab claws for this salad but feel free to use Dungeness crab if you live on the west coast. Maine lump crab meat works great too and so does Peekytoe crab. The most important thing is that your ingredients are fresh, crisp and bright tasting. Enjoy!

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Hamachi-Jalapeño Pizza

This is a variation on the Tuna Pizza I made a while ago and it was inspired by my old favorite dish at Nobu, the Hamachi-Jalapeño sashimi. Your Italian grandma’ will strongly disagree with the “pizza” part and you might even get slapped for it but it’s worth the risk. It’s a disk of flour tortilla that’s toasted, brushed with eel sauce and caramelized in the oven or under a broiler. Thin slices of fatty yellowtail tuna are arranged on top and brushed with a mixture of yuzu and soy sauce which has the wonderful effect of slightly curing the fish. It’s then drizzled with a yuzu-kosho mayonnaise and topped with slivers of Jalapeno and tomatoes, red onion, cilantro leaves and micro greens. If you like sushi and pizza you will beg for more of this. It’s really the best of both worlds.

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Carrément Chocolat

If you believe the Mayan calendar, the end of the world is near. In about three weeks… err. Okay.. What I’m getting at is that end of the world or not you’ll need all the excuses you can find to make this chocolate cake. Most importantly you need to embrace that “who cares about the calories anyway!” attitude. It’s outrageous, delicious and it’s downright contagious. It’s not going to end the world but it might end all chocolate cakes. It has five different textures of chocolate starting from the bottom with a lightly set chocolate brownie, a layer of chocolate cream and a layer of chocolate mousse. The whole thing is covered with a rich chocolate glaze and crowned with a thin, brittle sheet of dark chocolate. It’s a lot of work but think about the reward.

So now that you’ve been warned you’re free to run away from here as fast as you can. If you decide to stay it’s at your own risks and perils. Who knows, you might be sucked into a chocolate vortex and spin like you’re in a chocolate tempering machine. What a nightmare. Three. Two. One…

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Lemon-Olive Oil Cake with Toasted Meringue

This simple Ligurian lemon cake with a light olive taste and a soft texture is a favorite of mine. I love it even more topped with a toasted Swiss meringue which I changed from the original Pierre Hermé recipe because it’s more stable than a regular meringue (in case you want to leave the cake out longer) and has more of a ‘marshmallow’ quality to it. And who doesn’t like a fluffy cloud of meringue on top of anything. Oh, and the cake has raspberries in the middle which you could substitute with blueberries or even rhubarb.

Two things to remember about this recipe. You’ll need to use an extra virgin olive oil that’s mild and fruity but not too assertive. It’s cake. It shouldn’t be like biting into a green olive. Pierre, the magnifique wouldn’t be happy. Also you might be tempted to use a microplane grater to grate the lemons. You won’t hear me say that too often but… don’t. I know it’s much easier than peeling the zest with a vegetable peeler or pairing knife and removing and discarding the white pith, and julienning the zest and dicing it finely, but it’s the best way to do it since you want to extract as much lemon oil as possible by rubbing it into the sugar with your fingertips. That results in an extremely fragrant lemon sugar which, along with the olive oil, gives this cake a nice dose of brightness.

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Wild Mushroom, Smoked Bacon & Comté Quiche

The old-fashioned quiche has been a bit forgotten. Not that it really ever went out of style in France and home cooks still do make them there but it’s regarded as rather ordinary. The ones to get though, are the high-crusted quiche with slightly crinkly top you buy by the slice in good bakeries. They’re excellent. When done right a quiche is the essence of luxury, again using the most common ingredients.  I’ve tried quite a few versions of quiche over the years and besides the classic quiche Lorraine which stars and co-stars ingredients from my favorite food group: smoked bacon, cheese, cream and eggs, this one with the addition of Comté, sauteed wild mushrooms and slightly caramelized onions might be my favorite of all.

When it comes to quiche I’m pretty partial to bacon. Smoked bacon to be exact and a touch of nutmeg. It’s what gives it its character. I’m so freaking hungry. Call me a purist but I’m not a big fan of throwing in every tired vegetable from the fridge either. Make a soup instead. Let’s give quiche a chance, shall we? (Oh no I didn’t)

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