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Chef David Burke’s Favorite Fall Creations

Chef David Burke’s Favorite Fall Creations

Seasonality breeds creativity, and it’s always such an inspiration to see what the weather is offering at the market. As I do with most of the dishes served at my restaurant, I like to take the ordinary and make it extraordinary. I’ll take the most common, overlooked fall ingredients and turn them into something that’s desired and there you have it, they’re the star of the season. Another great thing about seasonal ingredients is that it’s a great opportunity to introduce new produce and techniques to the chefs that work in my restaurants. All of the chefs await the change of season and are eager to create new and exciting dishes; in the fall they’re earthy and rich, in the spring they’re vibrant and colorful. Here are 12 of my favorite fall ingredients to cook with, and what I like to do with them.

Beets

Beets are like crayons to me; I’ll use them in dishes to add color and art to a plate. They’re great roasted and served with a crumble of goat cheese, or can be used in reductions or sauces to go along with your seasonal game dish.

Butternut Squash

I could go on and on about this squash, but my favorite way to use it is in soup. I’ve played around with my recipe a lot, just as The Daily Meal did, and I still haven’t settled on my favorite. It’s also great in other warm, fall dishes like risotto, ravioli, or just by itself roasted.

Pumpkin

Pumpkin a very versatile squash as well, but my favorite way of using it is as a bowl for soup that I’m serving. You also can’t go wrong with my pumpkin egg ravioli, either.

Click here to see the Pumpkin Egg Ravioli Recipe

Brussels Sprouts

When I think of a fall plate, I always imagine Brussels sprouts. They just scream fall, and are great roasted with a light drizzle of maple syrup and tossed with fried pancetta or bacon.

Venison

Also known as deer, venison is one of my favorite games to work with. It’s great grilled and served alongside any of the other seasonal ingredients that I’ve listed here.

Apples

Surprise your guests this fall and instead of making an apple pie, use apples in a savory dish. They’re great for making a sauce for your grilled pork chops, and can even be tossed into a salad. If you can’t resist the sweet aspects of this fall ingredient, try using it in my apple tart recipe.

Click here to see the Apple Tart with Cinnamon Ice Cream Recipe

Pheasant

Pheasant is another fall protein that I get so excited about. Most people roast as they would a chicken or turkey, but I like braising my pheasant and using it in a stew.

Parsley Root

This root vegetable takes on a ton of flavor when it’s roasted. My favorite way to serve it is as fries with an aioli sauce for dipping.

Artichoke

Most people associate artichokes with the spring, but you can get your hands on a few in the fall as well. I like using the hearts to make a white wine sauce for chicken, but they’re also great steamed or roasted.

Pears

It’s hard for me to resist adding pears to a dessert dish in the fall, and my favorite way of serving them is poached, like I do with my chocolate chip pancake recipe.

Click here to see the Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Pancakes with Poached Pears Recipe

Dates

Dates scream fall, and they’re versatile enough to make it into any dish you’re creating. Try sprinkling them on a salad for a first course, serving them with root vegetables as your main, or adding them to a tart for your dessert.

Chestnuts

I take inspiration from one of my favorite holiday songs with these guys and roast them. If you’re looking for something out of the box, try processing them and using them to bread chicken or fish.

David Burke is a world-renowned chef and restaurateur. To learn more about him, his website and his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter @ChefDavidBurke.


Classic Spain – Andalucian Paella Recipe by Chef David

As we begin another Fall season, the splendors of Spain and Italy are calling.

I have been asked many times where my favorite foodie destination was and it’s a tough question to answer. Italy has become my second home over the years and its cuisine is nothing short of flavorful, fresh and fun to make and eat. Spain is equally enchanting with its breathtaking views, exotic culture and delicious dining..

After introducing many travel friends to my favorite foodie destinations in both regions, I felt it would be fun to share with you some of the recipes created by some of my favorite chefs and plan on posting them here on our Journals page on a regular basis. I will select the best from the many chefs I work with or have met along the way in my travels. I hope you will check in regularly and enjoy and share these creations with your family and friends.

Our first stop… the Andalucia region of Spain is known for sun, sea, tapas, and espetos – the traditional way of cooking freshly-caught sea fish, barbecued over a hot fire on the beach – delicious! Exquisite fine dining is also on the menu with no lack of Michelin star experiences.

Andalucia gastronomy is rich in history and Malaga has become the food hub of southern Spain, establishing itself as a top culinary destination. Definitely include it as a must destination on your foodie “bucket list”!

As we make our way to Spain this week, I though there was no better time than now to share a classic Paella recipe by our very talented Chef David. In Andalusia, paella is known as “happy food”, fiesta food, served for family lunches

Young, creative and effusively enthusiastic about food, David Palacios gave up a career as a commercial pilot to peruse his culinary passions. David honed his cooking skills training in Maastricht, Netherlands where he developed the gourmet flair to match his creative instincts. David then moved with his family to Andalucia, his father’s homeland, where he grows fresh organic produce and edible flowers for the use in his gourmet creations. With a deep knowledge of traditional Andalucian cuisine, David adds a modern twist to the many unique dishes he creates for his guests. Chef David has quickly gained accolades for his cuisine from such prestigious press as The Wall Street Journal, Travel + Leisure and CNN. Chef David creations rival any Michelin-starred restaurants in Malaga and will excite gastro-aficionados and foodies alike.

Paella

  • 500 grams round grain rice (Bomba rice is the best) – do not wash the rice as it needs its outer coating of starch.
  • 2 chicken legs chopped
  • ½ rabbit chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic chopped
  • ½ onion finely diced
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup ground fresh tomato
  • 300 grams flat beans cut up in 3cm pieces
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika powder
  • Salt , Pepper, 2 bay leaves, 3 cloves, Pinch of saffron

Heat a big flat pan, add the olive oil, the rabbit and the chicken and fry until golden brown.

Push the meat to the side and add the garlic, onion and beans and fry until the onion gets some colour.

Mix everything together and push to the side. Add in the saffron, paprika powder, bay leaves and cloves, directly over the tomatoes and mix together with the rest of the contents of the pan. Leave to reduce the tomatoes until dark red and add a glass of white wine and reduce again. Add water to the rim of the pan and leave on slow fire for 45 minutes to get a nice stock and tender meat. Add the rice and leave to cook for another 20 minutes. You can use the fire to control the water content by lowering or increasing the fire. View our video here.

Serve warm and enjoy with your family and friends.

Carol Ketelson is the owner and operator of Delectable Destinations LLC. Dedicated to planning, co-ordinating and curating customized group tours to hand-picked destinations. As an experienced travel planner, Carol’s customized itineraries, specialized tours and off-the-beaten-path experiences create memorable journeys for her small groups of singles, couples, divorced, widowed and solo travelers seeking exceptional trips into the culture and cuisine of destinations around the world. Spring and Fall bookings invite travelers to taste delectable local cuisine, culturally rich traditions and mesmerizing sights. For over 10 years, Carol’s tours have captured the true essence of Tuscany, the Amalfi Coast, Puglia, Spain, Ireland and India.


Celebrity chef David Burke to take over food service at Garden City Hotel

Legendary chef David Burke, whose culinary creations range from iconic restaurants such as Manhattan’s davidburke & donatella to fanciful foods such as cheesecake lollipops, is poised to reboot all the food and beverage service at The Garden City Hotel. He will transform the hotel’s signature restaurant, Polo Steakhouse, into Red Salt Room by David Burke, and Polo Lounge into King Bar by David Burke.

According to spokeswoman Sara Anne Fingerman, the hotel’s general manager, Grady Colin, contacted Burke because he wanted to bring some of Burke’s signature whimsy to Garden City. “We want to make the dining here approachable,” she said, “not just the place where you go for your anniversary.” The hotel is banking that Burke’s “clothesline bacon” — strips of bacon suspended from a string with clothespins and presented with a pair of scissors for serving — will turn occasional customers into regulars.

Burke will come aboard as a partner and the hotel’s executive chef, Ari Nieminen, will execute his vision with the existing team. It’s a reunion for the two chefs, who knew one another at The River Cafe in Brooklyn, where, in 1988, Burke burst onto the scene at the age of 26, earning three stars from The New York Times.

From The River Cafe, Burke went on to open Park Avenue Cafe, davidburke & donatella (with Donatella Arpaia), Fishtail by David Burke (all in Manhattan) as well as restaurants in Chicago, Las Vegas and Foxwoods Casino, in Connecticut. He was also featured on Food Network’s “Iron Chef” and Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters.”

In 2015, Burke severed his relationship with his namesake restaurant group (now called Craveable Hospitality Group). Since then he has worked with ESquared Hospitality to open Tavern62 by David Burke on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and BLT Prime by David Burke in the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. The partnership with The Garden City Hotel does not involve ESquared Hospitality.

Red Salt Room, which will serve regional American cuisine, name checks one of Burke’s favorite ingredients: pink Himalayan salt. He has developed a technique of using it to age steaks, and has used bricks of it to line the walls of a dining area at Tavern62. King Bar will serve tavern-friendly small plates. The Garden City Hotel will continue to offer Saturday afternoon tea and its famous Sunday brunch, albeit with Burkean touches such as clothesline bacon, cheesecake lollipops and pastrami salmon.

The restaurant at The Garden City Hotel, which operated for decades as Polo Grill, was relaunched as Polo Steakhouse in 2014, part of a $40 million renovation spearheaded by the hotel’s new owners, Fortuna Realty Group. Newsday awarded it two stars. In 2016, Nieminen took over the kitchen and earned a 2 1⁄2-star review.

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Fingerman said that both new venues are scheduled to open by May. Both Polo Steakhouse and Polo Lounge remain open. The steakhouse will be closed about a week before Red Salt Room opens. The lounge will be transformed overnight.

Polo Steakhouse is in The Garden City Hotel, 45 Seventh St., Garden City, 516-877-9385, gardencityhotel.com/dining.

Erica Marcus, a passionate but skeptical omnivore, has been reporting and opining on the Long Island food scene since 1998.


Dinner at Fishtail by David Burke: a review

First course – oysters (Naked Cowgirl and Mermaid Cover), clams and shrimp with cocktail sauce and mignonette.

Second course – pastrami salmon with potato cake, capers and mustard

Third course – scallop with quail egg, purple cauliflower, eggplant and mustard vinaigrette

Presentation of the salt-encrusted Branzino

Entree – Branzino with tapenade, spinach, grapefruit and baby carrots

Dessert – gluten & dairy free cupcakes with pineapple peppercorn sorbet

Happily chomping on a cupcake

Author (blogger) in front of Fishtail

When I met Chef Sylvain Delpique back in April at Sur la Table, he invited me to come to his restaurant, Fishtail by David Burke. After interviewing Chef Sylvain last week and discovering how much experience he has dealing with food allergies, Therese and I were excited about having dinner at Fishtail last Saturday night.

The upstairs dining room is decorated with a good deal of whimsy, from the fish paintings and Warhol lithograph to the lamps with shades like undulating water and finials shaped like clam shells and fish. There’s even a glass sculpture hanging in the stairwell that looks like buoys made by Chef Michael Ayoub.

Before our dinner began, Chef Sylvain came by to say hello. We had been looking at the menu and getting some ideas, but when he offered to put together a dinner for us, we jumped at the suggestion.

We began with glasses of Trevisiol Prosecco. And a plate of oysters, clams and shrimp from the raw bar with cocktail sauce and a nice mignonette sauce with champagne and red wine vinegar. That was a nice tasty start, but it was after this that things really got interesting.

My appetizer was one of Chef David Burke‘s signature creations, Pastrami Salmon, on a potato cake with capers and dijon mustard. Therese had a pretzel-crusted crab cake. Both dishes were wonderful. The salmon tasted smoked but it also tasted like pastrami, and the fish, the crisp of the fried cake and the sharp taste of the dijon complemented each other perfectly.

The next course was a scallop with a quail egg on top on a bed of purple cauliflower and eggplant with mustard vinaigrette. That scallop was the most perfectly cooked scallop I’ve ever had. The outside was just seared enough to have a little crisp to it, and the inside was cooked just enough so that the scallop wasn’t runny or rubbery, and it was full of flavor. Probably my favorite part of the whole meal.

Finally, we arrived at our entree. One of the guys from the kitchen brought the branzino to us straight from the oven, still in its crust, which was really cool. Then he took it away to filet it and make our dishes. What we ate was the branzino on a bed of spinach with an olive tapenade on top and pieces of grapefruit with baby carrots. Intellectually, the grapefruit didn’t make sense to me, but it actually helped to provide a counterpoint to the rest of the dish, brightening it up a bit. And while we had continued drinking prosecco to this point, for the fish we switched to a nice Pazo señorans albariño.

Chef Sylvain had told me that his pastry chef Genevieve Meli makes a mean gluten-free dairy-free cupcake, and sure enough, that was my dessert – 3 cupcakes and a nice scoop of pineapple peppercorn sorbet. The sorbet was a palate cleanser of sorts, and led me into the pure joy of munching on the cupcakes – one was blueberry with cashew butter icing and the other was strawberry peach. They were so good – the cake had good flavor and texture, and the toppings were incredibly rich and satisfying. I couldn’t finish them all, and happily took one home with me.

Before leaving, we stopped in the kitchen to thank Chef Sylvain once again and compliment him on an excellent meal. We look forward to returning to Fishtail in the near future – perhaps for Sunday brunch with our daughter and her fiance.

I cannot overstate how thankful I am to Chef Sylvain and his staff, especially to our waiter Tim and the manager Nathan and pastry chef Genevieve, for helping to create such an enjoyable and memorable evening for us. As I continue to explore restaurants and meet new chefs in my quest for exceptional dairy free food experiences here in New York City, Chef Sylvain and Fishtail is the standard against which I will measure other chefs and restaurants.


Top Chefs Heating Up The Culinary Scene In Las Vegas

Border Grill may be known as much for its celebrity chef owners (Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger of Food Network&rsquos &ldquoToo Hot Tamales&rdquo) as for its bold flavors, however, executive chef Mike Minor also deserves some credit with making Border Grill one of the most beloved Mexican restaurants in town. One of the city&rsquos trendiest chefs, Minor creates new, innovative dishes daily using seasonal ingredients. Having studied regional cuisine in Oaxaca and Michoacán, Mexico, Minor&rsquos mouth-watering creations are inspired by traditional Mexican and Latin flavors. Next time you&rsquore at the restaurant (which overlooks the lazy river just off Mandalay Beach, making it an ideal summertime dining destination), be sure to try Minor&rsquos Baja ceviche&mdashshrimp, lime-marinated sustainable seasonal fish, jalapeño, tomato and cilantro aioli&mdashor his tasty chicken poblano enchiladas made with smoked chicken, handmade corn tortillas, poblano crema, grilled corn, wild mushrooms and charred poblano chiles.

Price: French toast crème brûlée $17, crab cake & leek tartare $15, matzo onion soup $12

As the executive chef of the only 24/7 restaurant in the world helmed by a James Beard Award-winning chef, Todd Harrington may barely be 30, but he&rsquos definitely a chef to watch. His eagerness to learn, proven prowess at team leadership and dynamic flair for contemporary, palate-pleasing fare caught the attention of Michel Richard, who personally selected Harrington to choreograph his Las Vegas kitchen&rsquos day-to-day operations. No stranger to Caesars Palace, Harrington was previously the senior chef tournant at Nero&rsquos Steakhouse and later the executive chef at Augustus Café (where Central Michel Richard now resides). Although Harrington stays true to Richard&rsquos famous creations for the most part, the menu at the Las Vegas Central does feature several of Harrington&rsquos own dishes that Richard gave his blessing on. Must-tries include the French toast crème brûlée for breakfast and the matzo onion soup (a twist on Richard&rsquos signature onion soup) and crab cake & leek tartare with ginger aioli for lunch or dinner.

Price: Crispy skin maple leaf duck breast $30, heirloom tomato salad $13

One of Las Vegas’ most versatile (and eligible) chefs, David Middleton has worked in some of the city’s most notable kitchens. Before joining the culinary staff at Marché Bacchus in October of 2011, Middleton served as the executive sous chef at Scarpetta inside The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, the chef tournant at Alex inside Wynn Las Vegas and the sous chef at David Burke inside The Venetian. He&rsquos worked alongside James Beard Award-winning chefs Alex Stratta and David Burke and was handpicked for the position at Marché Bacchus by Stratta, who serves as the restaurant&rsquos consulting chef for its food and wine programs. Able to cook a variety of cuisines, Middleton incorporates classic French and Italian techniques in all of his dishes at Marché Bacchus. Two of his most scrumptious selections are the crispy skin maple leaf duck breast&mdashduck breast, fennel-Pernod cream, orange braised fennel, port candied pearl onions, cara cara oranges and a black pepper-coriander duck jus&mdashand the heirloom tomato salad made with burrata cheese, roasted corn, tomato cloud and black garlic crisp. Coupled with the picturesque view of Lake Jacqueline, diners have a meal to remember.

Price: Okonomiyaki $24, 72-hour braised American Wagyu short rib $65, seafood Inaniwa pasta $35

When Mizumi opened its doors to the public on May 4, it not only introduced a taste of new Japan to the Strip, but also introduced Las Vegas to its newest rising-star chef: Devin Hashimoto. Serving sophisticated Japanese cuisine, Mizumi&rsquos menu is a reflection of Hashimoto&rsquos mastery of Japanese cuisine and includes traditional dishes such as okonomiyaki&mdasha Japanese pancake made with shrimp, scallops, cabbage, tonkatsu sauce, creamy mustard, aonori and katsuo&mdashalongside unique creations that pay homage to the executive chef&rsquos Japanese heritage. Signature dishes include the 72-hour braised American Wagyu short rib with creamy satsuma potatoes, fava bean, shitake ragout and red wine miso sauce and the seafood Inaniwa pasta with scallops, king crab, octopus, roasted tomatoes, shiso, lime and uni butter sauce. One bite and guests will instantly be transported to the Far East&mdashno passport required.

Price: Wild game tasting $36, American Kobe chili Texas style $8, charcuterie and deli meats $14


Foie gras and diver scallops with fig puree and watercress

HALIBUT cheeks and short ribs. Scallops and foie gras. Squid and pig’s ears. Lobster and squab. Recognize the theme? It’s surf and turf.

For the guy shuffling chips at a Vegas craps table, hoping for a hot roller -- or at least a meal comped by the pit boss -- surf and turf means a thick steak and a fat lobster tail. But chefs are navigating uncharted waters and ranging beyond the plains to create new takes on the steakhouse standby.

Their sometimes wild iterations continue to evolve and proliferate despite the fact that some food lovers think the classic American pairing is based on an uneasy marriage of meat and fish. And whether inspired by the land-sea combinations of international cuisines or maybe just the American dream of having it all, especially on one plate, today’s surf-and-turf combinations are more varied than the possible rolls on a pair of six-sided dice.

“So many meats go really well with seafood because they’ll add richness or fat that a lot of seafood doesn’t have,” says Water Grill executive chef David Lefevre. “With a flounder or a sole or a John Dory or a flakier, whiter-fleshed seafood, a rich piece of meat contrasts with the lean fish and adds a new dimension of flavor.”

On the other hand, Sona executive chef David Myers combines big-eye tuna with veal tongue because of what he sees as similarities. The tuna is seared rare and the tongue is braised, then crisped in a pan. “I like the depth of flavors, the meaty richness of a specialty meat with the rawness and meatiness of the tuna. It’s a combination that works as a red-wine-oriented dish,” Myers says.

What’s the obsession behind the compulsion to unite land and sea on the plate? “I think people will always gravitate toward surf and turf because we’ve all been raised with it. I remember it from my parents,” says David Lentz, chef at the Hungry Cat, who has offered as a special a “mainstream surf and turf”: grilled rib-eye and butter-poached lobster with a bearnaise sauce. It’s the bearnaise sauce that helps pull it all together, Lentz says, because “you can use it either with the lobster on its own or the steak on its own.”

Lentz also has experimented with pairings such as monkfish with beef cheeks. “It’s through trial and error that we’ve come up with these combinations,” he says.

WHAT’S nostalgia for some may be culinary cliche for others. “I hate steak and lobster. It’s so 1976. People have got to get past the whole steak and lobster thing,” says Michael Bryant, chef at Norman’s in West Hollywood. “When it comes to surf and turf, try something new.”

Bryant definitely is. He’s dishing out chocolate-glazed short ribs with parsnip puree paired with halibut cheeks over bacon-braised cabbage.

Sound like a bit much? But then, surf and turf was born of excess. Steakhouses of the ‘60s and ‘70s may have given rise to the term surf and turf -- one of the earliest published references is said to be a 1967 advertisement in the Yellow Pages for a steakhouse in New York -- but the American steak-and-lobster tradition extends back further. The late 19th century gave rise to New York’s lobster palaces, restaurants that served seafood to the newly wealthy of the Gilded Age. One rich railroad salesman in particular, of significant globosity, liked to eat his steaks with his oysters with his ducks with his lobsters.

In 1940s New York, the Palm, an Italian-restaurant-turned-steakhouse, added 2-pound lobsters to its menu. The bigger the lobsters, the more popular the dish: When, in the ‘70s, the restaurant introduced 4- to-8-pound lobsters, sales jumped from 100 pounds to 25,000 pounds a week.

But there are other reasons surf-and-turf combinations are showing up on contemporary menus. The influence of cuisines that have a long tradition of combining seafood and meat, such as Spanish or Cantonese, and an ever expanding repertoire of specialty ingredients -- Japanese sword squid, veal tongue, baby cuttlefish -- are spurring exuberant experiments.

Lentz’s squid stuffed with chorizo and a clam-and-chorizo dish owes a culinary debt to the Portuguese way with seafood, which often involves pork, as in clams cataplana, a stew of clams and pork sausage. Versions of clams cataplana have been showing up all over Los Angeles such as at the new wine bar Bin 8945 (actually, it’s a sort of mussels cataplana there), and you can even find the Italian classic vitello tonnato, veal with tuna, at new restaurant Bridge.

The Spanish version of surf and turf, the lyrically named mar i muntanya, or sea and mountain, refers to the foothills of the Pyrenees that extend to the Mediterranean Sea. It’s the underlying principle of Catalan dishes such as chicken with lobsters or rabbit with langoustines.

“It’s very Asian to mix meat and fish together,” David Burke of davidburke & donatella in New York, says of his roasted California duck with seared prawns, inspired by such traditional combinations as the Cantonese dishes that bring together crab and pork or prawns and chicken liver. Burke’s also a fan of mixing up other kinds of meat and seafood. He cites the East Coast classic shad roe and bacon, as well as such recent innovations as pork and scallops or tuna and foie gras. “Sweet scallops with a rich oxtail stew is a beautiful combination,” Burke says.

Comparisons in texture and flavor are important jumping off points for chefs’ creations. At Providence in Hollywood, executive chef Michael Cimarusti pairs scallops with beef marrow, tuna with duck confit, and yari ika -- Japanese sword squid -- with pig’s ear. “The texture of the pig’s ear is similar to the squid. It has a snap. The squid has a very clean, nutty, sea-fresh flavor, and the pig’s ear is rich and meaty.” And in a nod to Spanish cuisine, the dish is flavored with smoked paprika and marcona almonds.

“It’s a question of balance. You wouldn’t want one element to trump the other,” he says. Cimarusti says he loves working with sweetbreads. “Their rich unctuousness goes great with shellfish or with white-fleshed fish.”

SQUID or cuttlefish is an especially popular seafood to combine with meat because its mild flavor and leanness make it a veritable blank canvas. At Josie in Santa Monica, Josie LeBalch has combined sepia, or baby cuttlefish, with pounded seared pheasant. She also serves seared sepia with merguez sausage and lentils. The sepia is skewered and served on top of the spicy merguez and lentils.

“It’s the lentils that are the conduit there. They go so well with both the sepia and the sausage,” LeBalch says.

LeBalch’s dish is only incidentally surf and turf, but other chefs are running with the original concept and repackaging it, with mixed results. At Republic, a surf-and-turf tartare is both beef fillet (with capers, olives, shallots and quail egg) and big-eye tuna (with mango, avocado, caviar and ponzu). Simon L.A., which opened a few weeks ago, is serving surf-and-turf tacos -- two beef tacos and two lobster tacos are alternately skewered together.

A lobster-stuffed burger is on the planned menu for Sunset Beach, which is set to open this summer. Chef Joseph Gillard says he spreads out a pound of ground Kobe-style beef, puts poached Maine lobster in the center along with some lobster bisque, folds it all back up carefully into a patty, pan-roasts it and then serves it open-face on toasted brioche. “It’s very rich,” Gillard deadpans.

But “there are an endless amount [of combinations] that don’t work together,” says Michael Mina, the chef behind Stonehill Tavern in Dana Point, Michael Mina in San Francisco and Sea Blue in Las Vegas, among others. “You really have to consider what type of fish you’re using and you have to pick exactly the right flavors and the right cooking methods. I’m a fan of fish and foie gras.”

Another of Mina’s favorite combinations is a crispy-skin black bass with big pieces of pork belly and deep spices such as paprika and curry. “Black bass is great because of the crispy skin. It’s one fish where people will eat the skin. It’s important that the bass is sauteed on that dish so that you get the contrast” of crisp and tender. The pork belly is cooked slowly and then crisped so that there’s a mirroring of the contrasting textures.

But Mina says he still moves a lot of steak and lobster in Las Vegas. “It’s what people want,” he says.

For some, its bedrock popularity in casino centers make classic surf and turf a sure bet. Says chef Bobby Flay, whose Bobby Flay Steak at the Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa in Atlantic City opened this month, “We decided to make a steakhouse but to do lobster in a big way,” Flay says. “I wanted to see steak and lobster at every table at some level.

“What’s better than winning a few bucks at the craps table and then going to spend it on surf and turf?”


6 Amazing Apple Pie Recipes

Apples are the craze during the fall season. You have the classic red, Granny Smith, Gala, Golden, Fuji, and more. From the red to the golden yellow, the sight of an apple shows us fall has arrived. Not only does this fall fruit taste great off the branch, but it serves as one of pie's best fillers.

Apple pie has always been an age-old favorite, dating back to 1390. The first-ever recorded apple pie recipe was created by the Master Cooks of King Richard II. Back then, sugar was scarce and pie crusts were not intended for eating, but just for storage. In the last 600 years, apple pie has had a major makeover with sweet sugars, delightful spices, and flaky crusts. Since 1390, we've seen traditional apple pies, French apple pies, and apple pie "à la mode" (popularized in the 1890s by Charles Watson Townsend after a trip to New York). Apple pie may not have originated in America, but it will always be an American favorite.

Salty Caramel Apple Pie

Nothing says "Autumn" quite like a homemade apple pie! In this caramel apple recipe, the apple remains the star of the show but, in a wild-card move, I've added fleur-de-sel to bring out the robust, hidden flavor notes of the fruit's natural sweetness. Enjoy!

Click Here for to see the Salty Caramel Apple Pie Recipe

Apple Crumb Pie

Here's a fantastic pie from Tate's Bake Shop, located in Southampton. The balanced combination of tart filling and sweet crunchy topping in this apple crumb pie is excellent. If you like your pie less sweet, leave off the crumb topping and top the filling with pie pastry for traditional apple pie.

Here it is, the pie I made earlier this week with cream cheese and apples picked at a friend's wedding in Santa Cruz. I ended up taking this apple pie to my office after I photographed it, and there wasn't anything left on the plate by the time I came back 15 minutes later.

Click Here to see the Apple Pie with Cream Cheese Pie Crust Recipe

Ah, McDonald's apple pies - we liked you better when you were fried, but we also understand why that can't be anymore. Ever since McDonald's started transitioning their menu to target a nutritionally conscious crowd, we've had to settle for our dessert pies un-fried, which are technically turnovers, baked but still delicious. Introduced in the late 1960s, these small dessert treats were hits immediately. There's nothing more American than hamburgers, fries, milkshakes, and pies - and you can find them all under the golden arches.

Bacon Weave Apple Pie

This recipe brings apple pie to the next level and gives the dessert a meaty upgrade. We took an American classic and added sweet flavored bacon inside the pie, added it to the crust, and made a deliciously beautiful bacon-weaved top.

Cheddar Cheeze-It Apple Pie Recipe

Adapted from one of chef David Burke's creations, the original version of this recipe already had Cheddar cheese in it, but we gave it an extra dose with Cheez-It crackers.

For the pie crust :
1 pound cold butter
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chilled vodka
1/2 cup soda water
1/8 cup sugar
1 cup crushed Cheez-Its
Pinch of salt

For the apple filling :

12 Granny Smith apples, cored, quartered, and cut into 1/4-inch slices
Zest and juice from 2 lemons
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
Pinch of salt
3 ounces Bourbon

DIRECTIONS

For the pie crust:
Cut the butter into ¼-inch cubes. With your fingers, blend the butter into the flour, sugar, Cheez-Its, and salt until it becomes pea-sized granules. Mix in the vodka and soda water. Divide the dough into two disks and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until ready to use.

For the apple filling:
Toss the apples in the zest and juice. In a large sauce pan, cook the butter until brown and nutty. Add the apples and stir. Add the remaining ingredients and cook until the apples are al dente. Don't overcook. Pour filling onto sheet pan and let cool to at least room temperature

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Roll out 1 disk of dough into a 16-inch circle that is ¼-inch thick. Line a deep-fluted-removable bottom tart pan with dough. Trim the top so that the dough is flush. Fill with the apples. Roll the second dish of dough to a 14-by-20 inch rectangle and cut into 1-inch strips to make a lattice on the top of the pie. Bake 1 hour. Remove the pie from the oven and grate 2 ounces of aged Cheddar cheese with a microplane over the top. Bake for 10 minutes more to brown the cheese.


Chickweed: An Edible and Medicinal Cold Weather Green

One of our personal favorite edible “weeds” is an annual green that grows from fall through early spring in our area: chickweed (Stellaria media).

Chickweed likely originated in Europe, but has naturalized in virtually every temperate region on earth. It has a long tradition of being used as an edible green for people and farm animals, and it’s also considered to be a nutrient-dense medicinal herb that’s used to treat skin conditions and various other ailments.

We also grow chickweed on the “living roof” of our duck house, aka the Quacker Box. Our girls love chickweed and we’ll occasionally put them on the roof so they can graze and we can laugh.

Another benefit: of all the greens we grow (intentionally or accidentally), chickweed may just be our ducks’ favorite. That’s why we included it in our list of top-10 plants for chickens and ducks.

In fact, it earned its common name “chickweed” because chickens also love it!

What does chickweed taste like?

Some people say chickweed tastes like spinach. We think chickweed tastes almost exactly like corn silk, the wispy threadlike styles that stick out from the top of an ear of corn. In other words: chickweed tastes like sweet, earthy goodness.

Chickweed grows in dense mats, peaking in late winter through early spring in our area, before going to seed and dying.


David Burke at Four Seasons STL

Fun fact that you’ll wish you had known a couple of weeks ago: every year around Valentine’s Day, St. Louis Community College teams up with Four Seasons St. Louis and a celebrity chef to put on their annual “Falling in Love…in Five Courses” signature scholarship fundraiser. Past guests have included Lidia Bastianich and Hugh Acheson this year’s featured chef David Burke.

As exciting as it is to have Burke in town for one night, it was more exciting to hear him announce the opening of Grand Tavern by David Burke near the Fox, coming this fall. Full details on that here .

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Burke’s focus is taking classic American dishes and adding a contemporary spin to them, as you’ll see from the dishes below. Some are a little kitschy, but they’re a reflection of his playful attitude, not something he found on Pinterest (…probably).

The dinner started with passed apps, including deviled quail eggs, maple-pepper bacon, octopus and chorizo kebabs, fried oysters with chipotle aioli (my favorite), goat cheese tarts with ratatouille and grapes, and herb potato wafers topped with ‘caviar cream dip’ (is there any other way to eat potato chips?).

Once guests were seated, the main courses kicked off with pastrami smoked salmon served with a horseradish mousse, mustard oil, and mini corn cakes, which really spoke to my Jewish x Southern roots.

The salmon was followed by “Duck Duck Duck”, which, as you can imagine, consisted of mostly duck. The breast meat was cooked beautifully, but it was the Weight Watchers-friendly foie gras pie underneath it that won my affection. His all-American steakhouse plate—steak, mushrooms, and lobster—was easily the dish of the night. 50-day dry-aged sirloin was seared off and served with a lobster dumpling and an egg filled with a black truffle and bone marrow custard (paging Mike Randolph), topped with sautéed mushrooms.

The meal ended with butterscotch panna cotta with ‘exotic spices’ and crispy meringue, served alongside cheesecake pops, which I don’t have a finished photo of because sometimes you just get too excited about dessert and you eat it.

I’m looking forward to seeing what Burke delivers at Grand Tavern, and I’m hopeful that with him and Michael Gallina opening up shop here, we’ll see some more talent move our way. Fingers crossed.


Chef Leah Cohen talks Pig & Khao, working with husband Ben Byruch & more

A lot of people first took notice of Leah Cohen from the fifth season of Top Chef, but success did not come overnight for Leah. The New York native attended Peter Kump’s New York Cooking School — now the Culinary Institute of America — as a teenager before working for Chef David Burke at Park Avenue Cafe. The Michelin-starred La Madia in Sicily was Leah’s next destination, as followed by Eleven Madison Park. Next she was part of the team at Centro Vinoteca, starting as a sous chef and eventually moving up to Chef de Cuisine. Following her Top Chef exposure, Leah spent a year traveling around Asia, learning from top chefs in Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and the Philippines.

Less than five years ago, Pig & Khao is the product of Leah’s Asian travels, mixing her New York technique with traditional Southeast Asian street food. Pig & Khao has been voted “Best Asian Restaurant in New York City” by Zagat, and “Best SE Asian Restaurant in New York City” by the Epoch Times. New York Times food critic Pete Wells gave Pig & Khao a two-star review — which is harder to earn than it sounds — and Mario Batali recently named Leah as one of three on-the-rise chefs to watch. In turn, Leah has appeared on NBC’s Today Show and CBS This Morning, has been a judge on the Food Network’s Beat Bobby Flay, and has been featured in Food & Wine, Saveur, and Harper’s Bazaar.

Downtown had the pleasure of speaking with Leah via e-mail. She not only opened up about Pig & Khao, but what it is like working with your husband. Leah can be followed on Twitter via @ChefLeahCohen, while Pig & Khao can be visited online at www.pigandkhao.com.

You and your husband Ben work together in the culinary world. What are your specialties versus his?

Leah Cohen: I handle everything in the back of the house. Hiring and training the kitchen staff, all of the menu development and ordering. Ben handles more of the business side of the restaurant. He handles the day to day operations, paying bills, training servers and social media. Sometimes, we have to help each other out and cross over, but for the most part we stick to what we are better at.

How did the idea for you two to work together come about?

LC: Ben was actually hired as my line cook when we first opened and was quickly promoted to sous chef based on his skills. He was my sous chef for about a year until he made the switch to front of house. It’s much better for our relationship that we aren’t directly working together in the kitchen.

It’s known to be challenging to work alongside a spouse or partner. How do you manage to make it work so well?

LC: It can definitely be hard working with your significant other, but we do a good job of keeping business and personal lives separate. We try not to bring home any work drama, and if we do, we just let it out and then move on.

You are both a chef and an owner of a restaurant. How much time is usually spent in the kitchen versus working on the business end of the restaurant?
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LC: I would say I still spend a lot more time in the kitchen than I would like. Staffing is a huge issue — especially in New York City — and I have recently been spending more time in the kitchen than I have in the past. I would say I spend 70% of my time in the kitchen and the other 30% dealing with the business. And of course on my “days off,” I’m working on more business-related things.

Do you feel that there are any misconceptions about life as a chef?

LC: A lot of people think it’s a glamorous job, which it’s not. It’s a lot of long hours, hard work and dedication. And it doesn’t get any easier when you are an owner or your own boss.

How would you describe Pig & Khao to someone that has not yet been there?

LC: Pig & Khao is a Southeastern Asian restaurant which focuses on Thai and Filipino food. The dishes on the menu are inspired by my trips to Southeastern Asia and are meant to be authentic in flavor. The food is served family-style and meant to be shared. The vibe is super low-key fun and unpretentious.

As a chef, where do your creations usually come from? Is it word of mouth and suggestions from other chefs? Recipes from magazines and cookbooks that you adapt? Experimentation?

LC: I usually get inspired by my travels when I do my annual R&D trip to SE Asia. I also get inspired by eating out, reading cookbooks — I especially love David Thompson’s books — Instagram accounts and blogs.

Do you have a favorite item on the Pig & Khao menu?

LC: My favorite menu item at Pig & Khao is a dish that has been on the menu since day one. The dish is called Khao soi, and it was the first dish I knew I wanted to put on the menu. I had it for the first time while traveling in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and I became obsessed.

What are some of the recent additions to your menu?

LC: Some new specials that I have been working on are: Fried Pho, Sous Vide Lamb Neck with Coconut Onion Jam and Roti, Kalabasa Gnocchi with Ginitaang Sauce, Braised Pork Belly and Shoulder Bicol Express, and Crispy Pork Belly with Thai Three Flavor Sauce.

When not busy with Pig & Khao, how do you like to spend your free time?

LC: In my free time, I like to hang out with my friends and family members. I also am somewhat of a gym rat, so I spend a couple of hours a week working out. I also have somewhat of an online shopping addiction, which I’m trying cure. (laughs)

Other than Pig & Khao, do you have a favorite restaurant in Manhattan?

LC: Right now I’m hitting up spots in the outer boroughs. I love Lilia, Llama Inn, Casa Enrique, and Ayada.


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