The naked truth about Chardonnay
A fresh look at an underestimated grape — Chardonnay is one of the world’s most versatile grapes, planted with good results in many countries, including France, Australia, Spain, Italy, Chile, South Africa and the United States.
The Ebbitt Room at the
In the beginning … Early summer crops are a precious herald of the cornucopia to come in the late summer and early fall. Their time is short but oh so delectable. Chef David Drake, chef and owner of Restaurant David Drake in
TORRIJA WITH LEMON CREAM
AND BLUEBERRY-BRACHETTO D’ACQUI SAUCE
5 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup fresh mandarin orange juice
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons grated lemon peel
1 qt. milk
¼ cup of sugar
The peel of 1 orange
The peel of 1 lemon
1 cup Brachetto d’Acqui (see Note)
½ cup honey
1 cinnamon stick
4 (1-inch) thick slices of brioche
Blueberry-Brachetto D’Acqui Sauce
1 pint fresh blueberries
1/2 cup Brachetto d’Acqui (see Note)
1 In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks, whole egg and sugar until the mix is pale yellow.
2 Mix in the lemon and mandarin orange juice.
3 Set over a pot of simmering water and cook, whisking constantly until the mix starts to simmer.
4 Remove from fire and gradually incorporate the heavy cream. Set back on the double boiler and whisk until the cream thickens and the internal temperature of the mix reaches 160 degrees. Add lemon peel.
5 Remove from simmering water. Set bowl over another bowl filled with ice and whisk until cold. Refrigerate.
6 To make the torrijas: Bring milk, sugar, half of the orange peel and half of the lemon peel to a boil. Remove from fire and set aside.
7 In a separate 2-quart saucepan, combine wine, honey, remaining lemon and orange peel and cinnamon stick. Bring to a simmer, remove from source of heat and let cool.
8 To make the blueberry sauce: In a clean 2-quart pan, combine blueberries and wine; cook over low heat until it reaches the consistency of syrup.
9 To finish: In a deep-sided frying pan, heat oil over medium heat until it reaches 325 degrees on a deep frying thermometer. If you don’t have a thermometer, test the oil temperature by dropping a cube of white bread into the oil. The oil is hot enough if it browns uniformly in 60 seconds.
10 Meanwhile, whisk the eggs in metal bowl.
11 Dip the bread slices in milk mixture, then the beaten eggs and fry until golden on both sides. Set aside on paper towels.
12 When cold, rest the fried slices of bread in wine-honey mix.
13 Spoon some of the lemon cream on individual serving plates. Top with one slice of bread.
14 Spoon blueberry sauce on top on bread and drizzle some of the wine-honey liquid around.
Yields: 4 servings.
Note: Brachetto d'Acqui is an Italian dessert wine that has the unique property of enhancing the flavor of strawberries and blueberries. If you cannot find it, substitute a sweet, soft and delicate dessert wine.
PAN-SEARED HAM STEAK WITH WILD RICE SALAD AND STRAWBERRY CHUTNEY
2 cups water
½ tsp. salt
1 cup wild rice
2 tbps. extra virgin olive oil
2 tps. raspberry vinegar
4 oz. fresh baby arugula
2 tbsps. grape seed oil
4 (6 oz.) ham steaks
2 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered
2 tbsps. brown sugar
1 tsp. orange zest
½ tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1 tbsp. sherry vinegar
¼ cup Pedro Ximenez dessert wine, optional (see Note)
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 Bring water to a boil in a 1-quart saucepan. Add salt and rice; stir well. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Cook slowly until there is no excess liquid.
2 Remove from source of heat and keep warm until ready to use.
3 Meanwhile, make the strawberry chutney. In a non-reactive bowl, mix all the strawberry chutney ingredients except the butter.
4 Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium to high heat. Add the strawberry mixture and cook until the strawberries are tender. Remove from source of heat, set aside and keep warm.
5 To cook ham steaks: Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add grape seed oil to the pan. When the oil begins to sizzle, add ham steaks, cook until ham surface is lightly caramelized. Turn steaks, cook briefly, remove from pan and allow to rest for 2 minutes.
6 Meanwhile, toss the rice with two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, two teaspoons of raspberry vinegar, the baby arugula and salt and pepper to taste.
7 Arrange salad on the middle of the plate.
8 Slice the ham steak on a bias and place over the rice salad.
9 Spoon strawberry sauce on side of plate and serve.
Yields: 4 servings.
Note: Pedro Ximenez dessert wine is a copper-colored, mildly fortified wine, with an exceptionally thick and heavy body. Its aroma is full of fresh dates and figs. If you cannot find it in your liquor store, substitute sherry.
FILET OF COD CONFIT OVER
CRUSHED SWEET PEAS AND SERRANO HAM
4 (5 oz.) filets of salted cod 1-inch thick or fresh cod
1 qt. extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, skin on, crushed
¼ cup Serrano ham, diced small (see Note)
2 tbsp. shallots, minced
1 tbsp. dry white wine
¾ lb. fresh shelled sweet peas
½ cup vegetable stock (or water)
1 tsp. chopped parsley
¼ cup oil-cured black olives, puréed
1 If using salted cod, place in a container covered with water and refrigerate for 24 hours, changing the water every eight hours. If using fresh cod, be sure the fish has not been skinned.
2 In a large sauté pan pour enough olive oil to cover the fish fillets by a ½ inch. Add crushed garlic cloves and bring to 180 degrees. Carefully place the fish in the oil, skin side up, and cook controlling the temperature for about 25 minutes or until fish flakes easily.
3 Meanwhile, heat 2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil in a separate sauté pan over medium heat. Add diced ham and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the shallots and cook for 1 minute.
4 Pour in the wine and cook until almost evaporated. Add the peas and toss until heated through.
5 Pour the vegetable stock in the pan and cook until the peas are tender. Crush slightly with the back of a fork. Mix in the
6 To plate: Brush a line of black olive purée across a warm plate. Spoon some of the crushed peas on the plate.
7 Remove fish from oil, and lightly pat dry on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place over peas.
Yields: 4 servings.
Note: Serrano ham is a dry-cured Spanish ham, which is similar to the Italian prosciutto.
The chef points out that the most important step in achieving good results in the kitchen is to look for the very best produce at market. Read about how to select the new May/June issue of New Jersey Countryside, available now at bookstores, on newsstands and by subscription. Click here to get one free bonus issue and save more than 80% on a subscription