Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Shining Bright

Summer is here again!

As the calender brings the longest day of sunlight for the year I felt it necessary to create two specials that will each be as bright and vibrant as the summer sun.

Inspired by one of my early influences, Ming Tsai, I have been wanting to implement his spin on the classic dish steak au poivre, or peppercorn steak, where he uses all five peppercorns to encrust a filet of beef: white, black and green with their cousins the pink and Schezuan varieties. But due to the season I wanted to see it on a nice Ahi tuna steak which can hold up to the spice of the peppercorns just as well as filet mignon. I pressed each piece into the coarsely ground peppercorns and seared them in a hot pan just enough to toast the crust while keeping the fish a vibrant rare.

Being the first day of summer it was only natural for me to offer a chilled entree, so I thought about what would pair well with the peppercorns and I came up with a beautiful combination of shaved fennel, English cucumbers, pea shoots and the big kicker - sliced peaches. This fresh salad sparkles with harmony, especially with the subtle addition of toasted celery seed and flaky Maldon sea salt to finish it.

Finally, I needed a sauce, so I took a note from a special in the past and elevated it. I steamed yellow bell peppers, peeled them and simmered the flesh in heavy cream before blending and straining the sauce, chilling it and pouring it into a whipped cream canister which creates a silky smooth mousse that's full of flavor and is as light as air.

The other half of my summer celebration specials is a complex combination of ingredients that add up to one simple word: refreshing!

After my introduction to Aperol when using it for a drink special a few weeks ago I realized its infinite potential in the realm of refreshing cocktails. This time, instead of showing how well it could enhance other flavors I wanted to use fresh ingredients to bring out the aperitif's subtle nuance of flavors.

We start first by muddling fresh grapefruit and lemon with ice, which draws out the essential oils from their skins. Then we pour on the Aperol, vodka, fresh grapefruit juice, orange bitters and a splash of St. Germain elderflower liqueur to add that unmistakable floral flavor that makes you think that you're sitting in a flower patch and not in a restaurant on Broadway!

With Love,