Thursday, March 01, 2012

Chinese Supper @ Claverach Farm

We took advantage of our mild winter here in the Midwest by throwing a grand Chinese dinner at Claverach Farm & Vineyard to celebrate the year of the dragon. Here's the menu and a copy of my fortune cookie recipe:

Claverach Farm Aperitif

Hors d’Oeuvres & Snacks

Shrimp & Edamame Shu Mai Dumplings with Caramelized Lemongrass Sauce & Micro Cilantro

Wood-Oven Roasted & Scallion Glazed Chicken Wings with Shredded Napa Cabbage

Sichuan-Style “Hundred Year Braised Pork” with Scallion Pancakes & Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Kirk’s Fried Rice with Crispy Claverach Ham & Poached Farm Fresh Eggs

Flash-Seared Asian Greens with Ginger & Cashews

Kaffir Lime Tart with Coconut Shortbread, Candied Kumquat Conserve
& Vanilla Bean Crème Chantilly

Homemade Fortune Cookies

Recipe Card for Item: Fortune Cookies

Quantity Produced: 15-20 Cookies

Egg Whites 4 Large
Vanilla Extract 1 Teaspoon
Almond Extract 1 Teaspoon
Vegetable Oil 6 Tablespoons
Flour, All-Purpose 1 Cup
Cornstarch 3 Teaspoons
Salt, Kosher ½ Teaspoon
Sugar 1 Cup
Water 2 Tablespoons

Preparation Procedure- Preheat oven to 300˚
Write out fortunes on 3 ½ “ X ½ “ pieces of paper, set aside.
In a medium bowl, lightly beat the egg white, vanilla extract, almond extract and vegetable oil until frothy, but not stiff. Sift the flour, cornstarch, salt and sugar into a separate bowl. Stir the water into the flour mixture. Add the flour into the egg white mixture and stir until you have a smooth batter. The batter should not be runny, but should drop easily off a wooden spoon. Place level tablespoons of batter onto the cookie sheet, spacing them at least 3 inches apart. Gently tilt the baking sheet back and forth and from side to side so that each tablespoon of batter forms into a circle 4 inches in diameter.
Bake until the outer 1/2-inch of each cookie turns golden brown and they are easy to remove from the baking sheet with a spatula, about 14 - 15 minutes. Working quickly, remove the cookie with a spatula and flip it over in your hand. Place a fortune in the middle of a cookie. To form the fortune cookie shape, fold the cookie in half, then gently pull the edges downward over the rim of a glass, wooden spoon or the edge of a muffin tin. Place the finished cookie in the cup of the muffin tin so that it keeps its shape. Continue with the rest of the cookies.

Eleven Madison Park

Eleven Madison Park (EMP) recently changed ownership from Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group to the restaurant's chef and general manager. As a longtime fan of the restaurant and space (it is one of the grandest restaurants in North America) I decided to swing by for a long lunch on a recent trip to New York. It has always been a hobby of mine to see how eating establishments evolve over time, and EMP should be a case study on how this can be done with aplomb. Fabulous meal, exceptional staff and still the best dining room in Manhattan, it is worth a trip the next time you want a truly special dining experience. And they still serve delectable, tiny, straight-from-the-oven gougeres as an amuse bouche. Here's one of my gougeres recipes:

Recipe Card for Item: Gougeres (Savory Cream Puffs)

Quantity Produced: 3 dozen Gougeres

Water 1 ½ Cups
Butter, Cubed ¼ Cup + 1 teaspoon
Flour 1 ½ Cups
Salt, Kosher Pinch
Eggs 6
Gruyere, Shredded 1 Cup
Fresh Black Pepper ½ teaspoon

Preparation Procedure-

Preheat oven to 400d.. Simmer water, butter and salt. Add flour and cook until shiny, stirring constantly, 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and add eggs, one by one. Add pepper and gruyere, combine thoroughly. With pastry bag or freezer bag with corner cut off, pipe into little mounds on parchment lined sheet pan. Bake 20-30 minutes or until golden.


Took a couple of days of R&R up to Inverness on a recent trip to California where we stayed at an isolated (for California), but very luxurious spot called Mankas Inverness Lodge not far from the Point Reyes National Seashore. A collection of well appointed cabins and houses scattered throughout the woods and along Tomales Bay, it is a great destination for a quirky escape. Just be prepared to eat a lot of shellfish (the bay is known for its oyster/mussel farms). Here's a favorite mussel recipe:

Recipe Card for Item: Steamed Mussels in a Hot & Sour Lemongrass Broth

Quantity Produced: Serves 6-8

Fresh Mussels, Debearded and thoroughly rinsed 5#

Lemongrass Broth:
Chicken Stock 2 Quarts
Lemongrass, Minced 2 Stalks, Inner Leaves Only
Fish Sauce ¼ Cup
Chile Oil 1 Tablespoon
Lime Zest 1 Lime
Lime Juice 1 Lime
Lemon Juice 1 Lemon
Kaffir Lime Leaf (optional) 1 Leaf

Loaf of French Bread, Sliced on Diagonal 1 Loaf
Garlic Clove, Crushed 1 Clove
Olive Oil ½ to 1 Cup
Coarse Salt as needed

To Garnish: Cilantro, Lime Wedges as needed

Preparation Procedure-
Combine all ingredients for the lemongrass broth, NOT the mussels or bread though, bring to a rapid boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and steep 10 minutes longer. Strain and return to a large pot, with room to spare, bring to a boil and add the mussels. Cook mussels until they open, then transfer to a deep bowl. When all mussels are cooked, ladle broth over them (you may have extra which is great with: rice, noodles, dumplings, shrimp, seafood, etc..). Before ladling broth over mussels, rub the French bread with olive oil, garlic and coarse salt. Briefly cook on hot grill, until marks show, about 3-4 minutes. Serve with mussels, cilantro & lime.

Dispatch from San Francisco

Had a great trip to San Francisco recently, here are some of the food highlights:

Mission Chinese Had some great take out from this quirky Americanized Chinese food restaurant (ie. 'Kung Pao Chicken Hearts'). Look for the awning that reads 'Lung Shan Chinese Restaurant'.

A16 This Marina neighborhood Italian restaurant focuses on the foods and wines of Campania. The food is simply, fresh and delicious, while the wine list offers a master's course on Southern Italian varietals (check out there wine club for a great gift to an Italian wine enthusiast).

Murray Circle Restaurant at Cavallo Point After a refreshing ferry ride to Sausalito we enjoyed a leisurely lunch at the hidden gem of a restaurant at the lux Cavallo Point Lodge. If you have a day to kill in San Francisco, it is a worthwhile excursion.