Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Happy 4th!!!

I have to say that July is my favorite month. It isn't only because it is the month of my birthday (the 20th, if you're interested), but also due to the fact that summer and all of its glory is in full swing, launched off with a bang early on for our Independence Day.

July also gives us a lot of my favorite ingredients: a variety of great greens, corn, cherries (I have a great sauce planned for these babies this month), apricot and other stone fruits... Every year I feel like I have more ideas than I do the time in which to use them.

For this week, I wanted to do something rich in concept, but to steer clear of the traditional, heavy sauces that are common with many comfort food dishes, so I went with a play on Chicken 'n' Dumplings, where the chicken is actually the dumpling!

To make the dumplings I ground fresh chicken breasts and then pureed them with cream, eggs, tarragon, parsley and thyme into a smooth paste (known as a mousseline) and cooked them in simmering water by tediously squeezing the mixture through a pastry bag in one hand and snipping them off individually with scissors in the other.

The sauce was something that I have been working on for some time, inspired by the Potato, Chorizo and Manchego Omelet (my personal favorite) that we offer on our brunch menu. I took the rinds and scraps leftover from the wheels of Manchego that we use and I slowly simmered them into a rich broth that I used as the foundation. To incorporate a taste of the season as well as flavor and crunch I added sauteed scallion with local, organic kale and char-grilled corn kernels. I topped it all off with finely shaved Manchego cheese and presented it in one of my new bowls (Dinnerware = Chef Porn).

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It's funny that when I contemplate American Comfort Cuisine I am often amazed how far that concept can now be stretched, and how quickly each generation has adapted and integrated traditions outside of their own cultural backgrounds to make them new parts of their friends and families lives. A case in point: Sangria.
I like to think that Sangria is like a new version of the casserole for our times; everyone has a different recipe or ingredients that they like to use, various potency and sometimes types of wine (Sangria means bloody, but even I have been known to make the bastard rendition: a White Sangria...), so for this week's drink special I made my basic style of Sangria by marinating red wine with Pineapple, Green Apple, Watermelon, Oranges and Brandy (expect a variation or two this summer).

Regardless of approach, the tradition still rings true; Sangria is just another punch that we can socialize over, share tastes and smiles, and enjoy our time together, and I can't think of a better way to celebrate than that.

With Love,