Seasonal by fjwuxn

VIEWS: 84 PAGES: 5

									                                                                                        bill of   fare
                                                                                        recipes and food styling by bill scepansky
                                                                                        photography by allan holm




The Three “S’s” of Cooking –
         Simple,
                                        Seasonal
                                                          & Savory




The setting … Martin Appliance’s new Quarryville location offered the perfect demo-style venue. The Molto Mario-esque seating was just the ticket
for an intimate class for three. And, the firepower … what can I say? It was Viking.

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                                                                                    I started by running through the menu with
                                                                                    Cindi, Char and Charles. Then, I had to
                                                                                    get cracking on the dessert, as the sauce
                                                                                    would take time to cook, cool and thicken.
                                                                                    When preparing a meal, always start with
                                                                                    the item that requires the most time to
                                                                                    make.
                                                                                    Using a double-boiler, I cook the Crème                Top left: The next matter of
                                                                                    Anglaise (eggs, sugar and cream) that will      business was pounding the chicken.
                                                                                    take what is typically a breakfast dish to        (Butterfly the breasts first before
                                                                                    a new level – dessert. The goal is for it to           pounding.) Aim for uniform
                                                                                    reach a “nappe” consistency (when it is able       thickness, which will make them
                                                                                    to coat the back of a spoon). The crème                              easier to cook.
                                                                                    will thicken even more as it cools.
                                                                                                                                       Top right: For chicken that sings,
                                                                                                                                   all you need is some freshly chopped
                                                                                                                                        garlic, rosemary, sea salt, black
                                                                                                                                     pepper and good olive oil. Because
                                                                                                                                        the chicken is so thin, the garlic
                                                                                                                                          won’t have a chance to burn.

                                                                                                                                      Right: When grilling the chicken,
                                                                                                                                         the aim is a quick sear; just a
                      This month’s column is a tad bit dif-                  Beach, California, before relocating to Lancaster     minute or so per side will do the job.
                      ferent. In January, we invited readers to submit       and was very familiar with West Coast eateries.
                      their names to win a spot at an intimate cooking       Cindi says that after attending the class, she just
                      demo that yours truly would be providing at a          might get up the nerve to fire up her indoor grill
                      later date.                                            that has gone unused for 10 years.
                          The names were chosen in mid-March – win-             What follows is my curriculum for a fun cook-
                      ners were Char Denlinger, Charles Ferguson and         ing class.
                      Cindi Hendricks. The demo took place on April 1
                      at Martin Appliance’s Quarryville location, where      Enthusiasm
                      the beautiful and well-outfitted demo kitchen             For someone who loves to teach as much as I
                      became our classroom.                                  do, having enthusiastic students was a real treat.
                          My students were top-notch. All three are well     This is the fun aspect of being a chef – there’s
                      traveled and, in my estimation, definitely qualify     nothing better than showing someone a trick or
                      as foodies.                                            giving folks a new technique to try and then see-
                          Of course, we discussed our favorite restaurants   ing the light bulbs go off! And, when they taste
                      and exchanged suggestions on where to dine in          something that moves them and they simultane-
                      such destinations as Philadelphia, Washington,         ously realize that they, too, can easily re-create
                      DC and Napa Valley. We learned that Char               that same taste, then I’ve done my job. Like the
                      recently attended a cooking class while traveling      adage goes: Give a man a fish and you have fed
                      in Tuscany. Charles, who says he knows enough          him for today, but teach a man to fish and you
                      to be dangerous in the kitchen, lived in Newport       have fed him for a lifetime.

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                                                                                                                                          Seasonal Tactics
To accompany the chicken, I prepared a simple, seasonal and                                                                                  Again, seasonality is always something that I
satisfying grilled asparagus and portabella mushroom salad. The secret
                                                                                                                                          stress. June, for example, brings an abundance of
to great grilled asparagus (or any other vegetable) is to first blanch
the items, which serves to introduce a touch of moisture so that they                                                                     asparagus, sugar peas, strawberries and raspberries.
won’t dry out or burn up once they hit the grill. Plus, the moisture                                                                      Local tomatoes will begin to arrive at the end of
helps them steam as they grill. The next step is to stop the cooking                                                                      the month, as will all sorts of other fresh veggies.
process (opposite).                                                                                                                       Eating cannot be any finer than in the coming
                                                                                                                                          months. I guarantee that when your menu is based
                                                                                                                                          upon items that are coming from short distances,
                                                                                                                                          are in good supply and are in high demand,
                                                                                                                                          you’ll look like a pro in the eyes of your family
                                                                                                                                          or guests.
                                                                                                                                             The secret behind your success will be rather
                                                                                                                                          simple – by cooking with the seasons, you’ll be
                                                                                                                                          ahead of the game before you even pick up a knife.
                                                                                                                                          After all, at this time of the year, ingredients are
                                                                                                                                          turning over much quicker at the market, they’re
                                                                                                                                          usually in much better shape and they offer better
                                                                                                                                          nutritive value than do tired, out-of-season items
                                                                                                                                          that have been hanging around.

                                                                                                                                          Words of Wisdom
                                                                                                                                             Let’s delve into the menu. I chose dishes that
                                                                                                                                          offered plenty of great talking points where, while
                                                                                                                                          I was preparing them, I could offer more than
                                                                                                                                          enough info on technique, equipment selection,
                                                                                                                                          etc. After all, my idea of a good cooking demo
                                                                                                                                          is one that teaches how and why you do certain
                                                                                                                                          things rather than merely outline what to do for a


     No Fancy Stuff
         For my demos, I prefer to stick with very
     simple, seasonal preparations rather than get
     caught up in too much technical mumbo jumbo. I
     believe that the most successful cuisine starts with
     the essentials: The freshest ingredients and using
     sound techniques to manipulate them as little as
     possible.
         Sure, high-end “cute” food can certainly
     impress, but it is the properly grilled chicken,
     boiled pasta or blanched vegetables that will make
     the greatest impact on your life from a day-to-day
     perspective. It’s the sort of cuisine that, when
     prepared properly, should impress even the most
     seasoned chef or gourmet (if they’re honest and
     appreciate what’s important).
         Also, I find that students are more receptive
     to items that they can see themselves eating on
     any given day of the week. No sense in showing
     someone how to de-vein, season and sear foie gras
     if they don’t like it, can’t find it or can’t afford it.
                                                                                                                             Once the veggies are blanched, it’s crucial to “shock” them in ice water.
                                                                                                                             This will stop the cooking process and lock in the color, texture and degree
                                                                                                                             of doneness. Once it’s stone cold, drain the asparagus well, as excess surface
                                                                                                                             moisture is the enemy of browning.
                                                                         To grill, simply toss the asparagus in olive oil,
                                                                         salt and pepper. Because it was blanched, you
                                                                         only need to re-heat and “mark” it to arrive
                                                                         at a great grilled taste.




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                                                                                                                                                   Menu
                                                                                                                                                   Tricolor Salad of Escarole, Belgium
                                                                                                                                                   Endive and Radicchio with Lemon-Olive
                                                                                                                                                   Oil Vinaigrette and Shaved Parmesan
                                                                                                                                                   (Opposite page, left)
                                                                                                                                                   Whether you enjoy your salads before or after
                                                                                                                                                   the main course, this one is guaranteed to
                                                                           Slightly fried garlic and extra virgin olive oil are quickly added to   awaken or refresh your palate. Lemon and
                                                                           raw, diced tomatoes and basil. The raw ingredients instantly put a      olive oil make for one of my favorite combos
                                                                           halt to any further cooking on the part of the garlic. The result is    and is by far the easiest of vinaigrettes to
                                                                           fresh tomato sauce that has a sweet, mild garlic taste, as opposed to   prepare. Added to a mix of colorful, pleasantly
                                                                           a strong, garlic bite.                                                  bitter greens, this salad can cut through just
                                                                                                                                                   about anything. The pure tastes at work won’t
                                                                                                                                                   compete with anything and will complement
                                                                                                                                                   most Mediterranean-style dishes.

                                                                                                                                                   Rigatoni with Fresh Tomato Santa Lucia
                                                                                                                                                   Sauce (Opposite page, right)
                                                                                                                                                   Gorgeous on-the-vine tomatoes were simply
                                                                                                                                                   chopped, combined with plenty of fresh
                                                                                                                                                   basil, great olive oil and quickly fried garlic
                                                                                                                                                   for the simplest – yet perhaps best – start-
                                                                                                                                                   of-summer-sauce for al dente-cooked pasta.
                                                                                                                                                   The key here is using the absolute best
                                                                                                                                                   produce you can find and olive oil that’s so
                                                                                                                                                   good, you wouldn’t mind eating it by itself!
                                                                                                                                                   And, be sure to salt your pasta water well
                                                                                                                                                   and don’t overcook it. The pasta needs to
                                                                                                                                                   taste great on its own, since this is in no way
                                                                                                                                                   a heavy, cloying sauce.

                                                                                                                                                   Plancha-Seared Chicken Paillards
                                                                                                                                                   with Warm Grilled Asparagus and
                                                                                                                                                   Portabella Salad (This page, top)
                                                                                                                                                   When proteins are dressed with olive oil,
                                                                                                                                                   garlic and herbs and then seared on a dry,
                                                                                                                                                   flat-top griddle or “plancha” vs. sautéed in the
                                                                                                                                                   oil (in a pan), the flavors end up being quite
                                                                                                                                                   different. Here, organic chicken is served with
                                                                                                                                                   a simple, grilled portabella and asparagus
                                                                                                                                                   salad, and then finished with tomato, feta and
                                                                                                                                                   basil for a fresh, light and seasonal offering.
                                                                                                                                                   Who needs a heavy sauce?

                                                                                                                                                   Sherry and Garlic Sautéed Prawns
                                                                                                                                                   with White Beans and Broccoli Rabe (This
                                                                                                                                                   page, center)
                                                                                                                                                   Sweet, garlicky jumbo shrimp, creamy,
                                                                                                                                                   earthy beans and spicy broccoli rabe pair
                                                                                                                                                   together for a well-balanced and truly
                                                                                                                                                   magical combination. The key to the broccoli
                                                                                                                                                   rabe is to pre-blanch till just tender before
                                                                                                                                                   sautéing, eliminating any problematic
                   given recipe. This way, participants can take from            of shaved Parmesan cheese was added. That was                     stringiness and toning down its sharp bite.
                   the demos what they want and apply these (hope-               it! How could a salad with so few ingredients taste
                   fully) useful tips or techniques to other dishes they         so good? Because it only had a few ingredients! I                 Rustic Bread French Toast
                   prepare at home.                                              guarantee that this salad – when properly cleaned,                with Raspberries, Peaches and Crème
                                                                                 dressed with just enough of the lemon and oil to                  Anglaise (This page, bottom)
                   Salad Side Bar                                                coat, seasoned with a touch of salt and pepper and                French Toast for dinner? Of course! And,
                                                                                 served as quickly as possible – can be absolutely                 Crème Anglaise is what makes it all happen!
                       As you look over the menu, you’ll see that I
                                                                                 mind-blowing from a taste perspective, as well as                 Warm, battered bread, fresh peaches and
                   included a salad. You’re probably thinking big deal,                                                                            raspberries, all drizzled with a cool, silky and
                   what’s to making a salad? As my students discov-              in its simplicity.
                                                                                                                                                   sweet sauce is about as good as it gets for
                   ered, I can talk about salads all day long, which is              As for escarole in a salad, I’m sure that eating it
                                                                                                                                                   any meal of the day. The most important
                   probably why this demo ran so late! (We arrived               raw is something new to many of you. Most people                  elements are having the ripest, juiciest
                   right after lunch and stayed so long that our stu-            envision it in wedding soup or braised with white                 peaches and serving this dish as quickly
                   dents and personnel from Martin’s got to eat the              beans, but when you realize that it is a close relative           as possible in order to capture the hot-cold
                   finished dishes for dinner.)                                  to romaine, it all comes together. The two are simi-              temperatures of the cool sauce hitting the
                       This particular salad consisted of raw escarole,          lar in weight and both can hold up to the full flavor             still-warm and somewhat crisp toast.
                   a little radicchio and endive. Lemon and olive oil            of good, green, extra-virgin olive oil and the full-on
                   were whisked together for the dressing and a touch            assertiveness of straight lemon juice. Essentially, it’s

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                                                                                                                                                   ors, textures and even different flavors,
                                                                                                                                                   thanks to the coral, volcanic ash and
                                                                                                                                                                                                Don’t Overdo
                                                                                                                                                   vegetation that distinguish the waters in       As for shrimp, never watch them
                                                                                                                                                   which these salts are harvested. Rather      actually cook to completion. Take
                                                                                                                                                   than being sun-dried, some salts are         them off the heat or out of the water
                                                                                                                                                   dried over real wood fires, thus adding      while they are still slightly under-
                                                                                                                                                   deep color and smokiness (attributes         done. (Look for the tiniest bit of
                                                                                                                                                   I’ve come to love). Add it to any dish       translucency down their backs, where
                                                                                                                                                   that needs a touch of smoke.                 they were de-veined.) No, you won’t
                                                                                                                                                                                                be eating undercooked shrimp – the
                                                                                                                                                   The Oil Embargo                              heat trapped inside the just-cooked
                                                                                                                                                                                                shrimp will bring them to a finish via
                                                                                                                                                       Oil is a no-no. Contrary to popular      carry-over cooking.
                                                                                                                                                   belief, oil does not prevent boil-overs.
                                                                                                                                                   Actually, it can cause them and now             Throughout the afternoon, I
                                                                                                                                                   you’re talking an even bigger mess. All      touched base on anything I could that
                                                                                                                                                   oil does is add oil. If oily pasta is your   I thought would add to the learning
                                                                                                                                                   cup of tea, great. But, if you are serving   experience, all while I tried everything
                                                                                                                                                   the pasta with a sauce, then good luck in    I could to fill every last remaining spot
                                                                                                                                                   getting the sauce to stick to the noodles    of open space in Martin’s beautiful
                                                                                                                                                   once they’re oiled. Only use oil if you      demo kitchen. I think I brought my
                                                                                                                                                   are cooking mass quantities of pasta for     entire kitchen with me, but I wanted
                                                                                                                                                   future use and you plan on over-cooking      to cover topics such as choosing the
                                                                                                                                                   your noodles past al dente.                  right pot or pan for the job and other
                                                                                                                                                   Forget the Rinse                             equipment-related issues. I also wanted
                                                                                                                                                                                                to show that this was a prepared-from-
                                                                                                                                                   Cycle                                        scratch menu, where I came right from
                                                                                                                                                       Also, don’t rinse pasta once it is       the supermarket with everything I
Our hosts, Clair Lapp (left) and Shawn Reimold (right), turned over the Martin Appliance demo kitchen to (left to right) Cindi Hendricks, Char     cooked. The tiny starch molecules            needed, just as they would.
Denlinger, Charles Ferguson and Chef Bill Scpanasky for a cooking class that was held on April 1.                                                                                                  Speaking of equipment, Martin’s
                                                                                                                                                   that are on the surface of the cooked
                                                                                                                                                   noodles help even the lightest of sauc-      has quite the set-up. If you are look-
a treat for the digestive system. That’s
why I served it European-style, i.e. at
                                                   Pasta Primer: The                                   and helps pasta, or anything else for
                                                                                                       that matter, boil faster, allowing you to
                                                                                                                                                   es “stick” while you eat them. Again,        ing to build or renovate, you need to
                                                                                                                                                                                                check out their Viking set-up, which
the end of the meal! Such a salad pro-             Sauce                                               cook the outside of the pasta quicker –
                                                                                                                                                   if you plan on serving the pasta at a
                                                                                                                                                   later date and the noodles are looking       I was more than happy to put through
vides a palate-cleansing finish of fiber              For the pasta dish – which is, in a              before the inside turns to mush – thus                                                   the paces. This Molto Mario-esque
                                                                                                                                                   completely white vs. slightly golden in
and acidity to help your belly do what             nutshell, hot, al dente-cooked rigatoni             giving a better al dente finish.                                                         setting was the perfect venue to con-
                                                                                                                                                   color (the way al dente pasta should
it needs to do – pave the way for the              with cool, fresh tomatoes, quickly fried                Salt also makes pasta taste a whole                                                  duct such an intimate, three-on-one
                                                                                                                                                   look), then by all means rinse, because
grand finale…dessert!                              garlic, great olive oil and lots of basil –         lot better. Most gets poured off dur-                                                    cooking lesson. I think fun was had
                                                                                                                                                   in that case, the pasta will have a
   All the while I prepared the salad,             I had tons to talk about. Santa Lucia               ing draining, but what salt clings to                                                    by all! h
                                                                                                                                                   greater chance of sticking when you
my stellar students posed question after           Sauce is about as easy as it gets and it’s          or cooks into the pasta will have it
                                                                                                                                                   try to re-heat it and the residue will
question and, as a result, the conversa-           one of my favorite pasta preparations               tasting incredible on its own, before
                                                                                                                                                   only add to the sticky situation.             Bill’s recipes can be found on our website at
tion was peppered with such topics as              when ripe, juicy tomatoes and fragrant              the sauce is even added. (This puts a
                                                                                                                                                       Sauce the noodles just before you                 www.lancastercountymag.com
the importance of salad spinners, sharp            summer basil start to arrive. Of course,            whole lot less pressure on the sauce.)
                                                                                                                                                   are going to eat them. Hot, liquidy and             For recipes in past issues, contact
knives, how to properly toss greens                local Washington Boro tomatoes will be                  My rule of thumb is to always use
                                                                                                                                                   often-acidic sauces will only serve to                 sue@brookshireprinting.com
with dressing, etc.                                best in another month, but on-the-vine              way more water than you think you’ll
                                                                                                                                                   break the noodles down further, poten-
   One of the best things you can do               cluster tomatoes do quite well here, too.           need. The more boiling water you
                                                                                                                                                   tially overcooking them as they sit idle.
for your homemade salad dressings is                  When done properly, this sauce will              have per volume of pasta, the less the
to use a salad spinner. Think about it:
Although it may taste great when you
                                                   knock the socks off of more complex
                                                   or high-end contenders any day. But,
                                                                                                       water will slow from boiling when the
                                                                                                       pasta is added and the faster that it
                                                                                                                                                   Be Judicious                                                         Bill Scepansky, who
                                                                                                                                                       Lastly, to be authentic, don’t satu-                             is a graduate of the
whisk it up, when the dressing hits                because there are so many misconcep-                will return to the boil. After all, it’s                                                                         Culinary Institute
wet greens, it becomes flat, flabby and            tions out there as to how to go about               this lag time that can also cause pasta     rate your cooked pasta in sauce. This                                of America, is the
flavorless. So, what do you do? You                cooking even the simplest of ingredi-               to get mushy. You want it to return to      is a pasta dish, after all. Granted, the                             corporate chef
                                                                                                                                                   sauce should be spectacular, but it’s                                at Four Seasons
add more. Now your salad is soaked                 ents – pasta included – I really wanted             a boil ASAP!                                                                                                     Produce, Inc. in
with dressing. Yuck! Instead, dry your             to spend a good deal of time on this                    One of the easiest improvements         there to make the pasta taste even bet-                              Ephrata.
greens well and add just a little dress-           topic. The premise is a simple one – if             that you can make to your cooking is        ter, not the other way around. See how
ing to start, folding it in thoroughly so          you can get it right, then all of your              by using sea salt instead of common,        long winded I can get!
as to coat each piece of lettuce evenly            pasta dishes from here on out can and               finely ground, iodized table salt. The
(add a touch more, if needed). You                 will improve.                                       less-refined sea salt actually has great
will taste your greens when they’re                                                                    subtle flavors, plus its coarser texture
highlighted with just the right amount             The Science of Salt                                 can add tremendous crunch to your
of dressing and eliminate the puddle of               “Salt the water so it tastes of the              food – notably grilled steaks, seared
watered down, un-used dressing at the              sea!” is what I was taught early on.                fish, etc.
bottom of the bowl.                                Salt lowers the boiling point of water                  Sea salt comes in all sorts of col-




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