New video: Cutting orange supremes

My New York Kitchen

In my quest to teach you kitchen skills that you never knew you didn’t have, my massive communications team and I are trying out a little video today that demonstrates the mastery of filleting an orange in order to create the spectacular orange supremes. One moment the orange is just sitting in a nondescript fruit bowl on the counter, and the next, freed from all its mundane orange membranes, it suddenly is granting a very certain elegance to a salad or dessert.

This is what it’s all about, folks. It’s the big league. It’s the difference between semi-homemade and going all the way, proving to your dinner guest friends your commitment to elegant food. And perhaps that you have too much time on your hands.

How can you grant this orange such sublime beauty yourself? Check out the clip below:

Did you try it? Did it work? Now, need a place to use them? Check out my Shaved Fennel and Orange Salad recipe here.

Guten Appetit!

 

Best Simple Green Salad

Green Salad

Green Salad Best simple green salad

One of my favorite elements of a multi-course meal is the salad. At our house we eat it after the main course—a fun bit of gastronomic protocol that the French taught us. Or was it the Italians?

It doesn’t seem like such a challenge, but really, how do you make a simple bowl of fresh greens something reliably mouth-pleasingly yummy and savory? It’s a two-part answer: choose crisp greens, and make a memorable dressing.

This evening’s salad consists of Boston Bibb (one of my favorites; love the subtle sweetness) and endives (with a nice contrasting bitterness). But really, any greens work. I look for the freshest leaves the veggie isle can offer up.

And now the dressing, which is the primary focus of today’s labor of love. We are creating a classic vinaigrette, but with some twists. The building blocks of a vinaigrette are acid and oil. On this one we’re using a basic red vinegar and olive oil. Garlic, shallots, and mustard contribute additional flavor.

Garlic Paste - before Garlic Paste - after

Here’s our first little trick: how to avoid having our dinner guests bite into sharp little chunks of garlic in our salad. Particularly if he/she is our date for the night. The secret is pulp. So, mince a clove of garlic, add a teaspoon of salt and then smash both—to a pulp!—with the edge of a heavy kitchen knife. At the end of your effort you want to have a paste-like texture, as shown in the photo above.

Now put the garlic and salt mixture in a small bowl. Add some ground pepper, two or three tablespoons of vinegar, and one tablespoon of mustard (and not just any mustard, but a sharp Dijon, please).

And one last water-soluble component—something sweet. A little sweetness enhances all the other components of this dressing. We’ll provide the magic this time with a tablespoon of maple syrup. But you could also use honey, sugar, or agave juice—you get the idea.

It is important that that all water-soluble ingredients get mixed first. The mustard part of the water-soluble portion will act as an ambassador in the next step, creating an easy emulsion with the oil, resulting in a thick and creamy dressing. So now drizzle in that oil, about 6 tablespoons. As always, taste as you go! The dressing should taste distinctly sharp and spicy. In the end I add a finely-minced shallot.

Dress the salad just seconds before you serve it. For a low-frills weeknight dinner we serve the salad on our dinner plates. This allows us to mix and mingle the last of the main course’s chicken juice (or was that the sauce from the strip steak?). A simple-pleasures treat. You might want to try it with my best roasted chicken.

Yack yack yack. Who would have thought a guy needs to write a dissertation on such a simple thing as a green salad? (I always say, once you’ve written one…) Please excuse my academic extremism here; you’ll see the effort is worth it.

Easy Tomato Salad

Vine-riped Tomatoes While summer is still months away and the winter here in New York seems never-ending, I did feel the urge to eat a Tomato Salad the other day. A risky endeavor, because often the tomatoes we find in the vegetable isle are mealy and lack that luscious, summary aroma that a foodie craves. In the off-season I seem to have the best results with the smaller tomatoes, the heirlooms, and organically grown fruit. Whatever your supply, this recipe is called Easy Tomato Salad for a reason.

Easy Tomato Salad

 

Italian red wine vinegar (just the regular kind) adds nice acidity to this dressing. A touch of honey will soften the punch of the sharp vinegar. Mix it all with Italian olive oil and salt and pepper, and you are set on the salad dressing. My measurements are not quite precise here, so in order to get the vinaigrette right you’ll have to taste it. Maybe a little more salt; is that enough sugar? Need to avoid an overwhelming acidity… and maybe some more olive oil? Experiment and you will get your own standard formula established. Here are the rough proportions:

1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons vinegar
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

I forgo mustard in this recipe because I feel the dressing does not have to be fully emulsified. It is ok to see a little oil floating on top. When you mix the quartered tomatoes with the dressing the whole thing will develop a nice melange of tomato juice, vinegar, and oil. And of course onions should not be absent from any tomato salad. But they can’t be too overwhelming. So I chop a couple scallions to achieve the desired taste. The whole thing could not be easier—try it!

Guten Appetit!

 

Shaved Fennel and Orange Salad

Orange and Fennel Salad Fennel and orange salad

This salad is a healthy winner during the last days of winter. And so simple to create!

Shave the fennel bulbs with the help of a mandoline slicer, as thinly as you can. Cut your oranges into supremes. This requires a little technique, but the result looks very professional. Check out my video that demonstrates this useful technique.

Our vinaigrette is a simple mixture of orange juice, a little champagne vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper, and a dap of Dijon mustard. Some thinly sliced red onion and a few parsley leaves round out this salad nicely.

See pictures above for a nice presentation suggestion.

Enjoy this healthy treat right between winter and spring… maybe it’ll help bring spring to us quicker.

Fillets of orange