Sunday, March 14, 2010


My sister came to New York for a visit and I threw a dinner party for family and friends in her honor (and to celebrate a soon-to-arrive addition to the family!)  I cracked open the Sunday Supper at Lucques cookbook, took a deep breath, and dove into an intense late winter/early spring dinner menu.

I first heard of this book from a friend who made a delicious lobster salad last summer in Maine.  This time on a cold, rainy March evening, the bulbs in the garden just starting to break out of the dirt, we started with a spring onion tart with Gruyere, smoked bacon and arugula salad; followed by bay scallops with chanterelles, sherry, and parsley breadcrumbs; then the main course of braised beef short ribs with whipped potatoes, Swiss chard and horseradish cream; and for dessert, a spectacular chocolate bread pudding brought by a friend.  Needless to say, I had my work cut out for me.  The first challenge was gathering all the ingredients including three separate stops at different Citarellas to find enough live in-shell bay scallops to fit the recipe.  It was a full day of prep and cooking, but I had a great time and the food turned out wonderfully.  I was so happy to get to spend time with my sister and good friends.  Spring is just around the corner!

Spring Onion Tart with Gruyere, Smoked Bacon, and Arugula Salad
(recipe adapted from Suzanne Goin's Sunday Suppers at Lucques)
serves 6

1 sheet frozen all-butter puff pastry
2 extra large egg yolks
1/2 pound slab smoked bacon (preferably applewood smoked)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups diced spring onions
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
1/2 cup diagonally sliced spring onion tops
1/2 cup whole milk ricotta
1/4 cup creme fraiche
1/3 pound thinly sliced Gruyere or Comte
12-16 ounces baby arugula
1/2 lemon for juice
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Defrost the puff pastry slightly and unroll it onto a parchment lined baking sheet.  Use a knife to score a 1/4" border around the edge of the pastry.  Make and egg wash with whisked egg yolk and a splash of water.  Brush the border with the egg wash.  Return the pastry to the freezer until ready to use it.

Slice the bacon into 3/8" thick slices, stack and cut crosswise into 3/8" cubes.  Heat a saute pan over high heat for 2 minutes, add 1 tablespoon oil and heat for another minute.  Add the bacon and saute over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes.  Reduce heat to low, toss in onions, thyme, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Stir together until the onions are just wilted, toss in the onion tops and remove to a platter to cool.

Place the ricotta, remaining egg yolk and remaining tablespoon olive oil in the food processor.  Puree until smooth, transfer to a bowl and gently fold in creme fraiche.  Season with salt and pepper.  Spread the ricotta mixture on the puff pastry within the border.  Lay the Gruyere over and arrange the cooled bacon-onion mixture on top.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the crust is golden brown.  Make sure the crust is cooked through by checking the underside of the tart.  Toss the salad ingredients together with lemon and oil, salt and pepper, and serve with wedges of tart.  The tart can be assembled and stored in the fridge until you are ready to bake it.

Bay Scallops with Chanterelles, Sherry, and Parsley Breadcrumbs
(recipe from Sunday Supper at Lucques)
serves 6

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 pound chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned
2 teaspoons thyme leaves
1 cup sliced spring onions
48 bay scallops, live, in the shell
1 cup Amontillado sherry
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375.  Toss the breadcrumbs with olive oil and 1 tablespoon parsley .  Spread on a baking sheet and toast for 8-10 minutes until golden brown.  Heat two saute pans or dutch ovens on high heat for 2 minutes.  Add 3 tablespoons butter to each pan.  As it foams, add the mushrooms, thyme, salt and pepper in equal parts to each pan.  Stir continually for 6-8 minutes until tender.  Turn the heat down to medium and add another tablespoon of butter to each pan.  Put half the spring onions in each pan, season with salt and pepper and cook 2-3 minutes.  Divide the scallops between the pans , stir to coat with butter.  After 2 minutes add sherry to each pan.  After 30 seconds add chicken stock to each pan.  Turn the heat back up to high and cover both pans.  Let the scallops steam open, covered, for about 5 minutes.  Once they have opened, add the cream, stir.  Toss remaining parsley and transfer contents of both pots to a large bowl.  Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and serve.

Braised Beef Short Ribs with Whipped Potatoes, Swiss Chard, and Horseradish Cream
(recipe adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques)
serves 6

6 beef short ribs, 14-16 ounces each
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon thyme leaves, and 4 whole sprigs of thyme
1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
3 dozen small pearl onions
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup diced onions
1/3 cup diced celery
1/3 cup diced carrot
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1-1/2 cups port wine
2-1/2 cups red wine
6 cups beef stock
4 sprigs flat leaf parsley
2 bunches Swiss chard, cleaned, center ribs removed
1-1/2 pounds russet potatoes
1-1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup whole milk
2 sticks unsalted butter cut into chunks
kosher salt
3/4 cup creme fraiche
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish

Season the short ribs with 1 tablespoon thyme and cracked black pepper.  Coat each rib well, cover and refrigerate overnight.  Take the ribs out an hour before cooking, and after 30 minutes season generously with salt.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Toss the pearl onions with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon thyme, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of pepper.  Spread them on a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes.  Take them out and once they have cooled, slip off the skins.  Turn the oven down to 325 degrees.

Heat a large saute pan over high heat for 3 minutes.  Pour 3 tablespoons olive oil and wait for a minute or two until the pan is very hot, almost smoking.  Place the short ribs in the pan and sear until they are nicely browned on all three meaty sides.  Take your time and do it in batches.  Transfer the ribs to the braising pan, bones standing up.

Turn the heat down to medium and add onion, carrot, celery, thyme sprigs and bay leaves to the pan.  Stir and scrape the crusty parts from the bottom of the pan.  Cook 6-8 minutes until the vegetables begin to caramelize.  Add balsamic vinegar, port, and red wine.  Turn up the heat to high and reduce the liquid by half.  Add the stock and bring to a boil.  Pout the liquid over the short ribs.  The stock mixture should almost cover the ribs.  Tuck the parsley sprigs around the meat.  Cover tightly with aluminum foil and braise for about 3 hours.

Place the potatoes, whole and unpeeled, in a large stockpot with 2 tablespoons salt and water.  Bring to a boil over high heat, then turn down heat and simmer for 40-45 minutes until tender.  Strain the cooked potatoes and let cool, then peel.  Mash the peeled potatoes well, then place in a heavy bottomed pan.  Heat over medium heat for a few minutes to dry them out a bit, then slowly add chunks of butter, stirring continually.  Season to taste.  At the same time, warm cream and milk in a small pot.  Once all the butter has been incorporated, slowly add the warmed cream/milk and continue to stir over a low heat.  You can let the potatoes cool and reheat just before serving, adding a bit of cream if necessary.  Once the potatoes are finished, combine the creme fraiche and horseradish in a small bowl.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Once the ribs are done, remove them from the oven and let sit for 10-15 minutes with the foil removed.  Be careful of the steam and check if ribs are done with a knife if necessary.  Turn the oven up to 400 degrees.  Place the short ribs in the oven for 10-15 minutes to brown.  Strain the broth into a sauce pan and turn up to a high heat to reduce, skimming fat off the top as necessary.  Season to taste.

Heat a large saute pan over high heat for 2 minutes.  Tear the Swiss chard into large pieces.  Add 3 tablespoons olive oil to the pan and cook for a minute or two to wilt the chard until tender.  Add salt and pepper while cooking and add the roasted pearl onions.  Place the chard on a platter, arrange the short ribs on top, and pour juices over the whole mix.  Serve with whipped potatoes and horseradish cream.

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