Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Parlor and the Kitchen- Chef Advocacy

First of all, congrats to PAYCHECK PRINCESS, the winner of the Mozaik serving bowls. PP- shoot me an e-mail at staceyballisinfo@gmail.com with your shipping address and I will send you your bowls.

Thank you to all who participated, and there will be many other contests with fabulous prizes coming up, so check in frequently!

Today I want to use this opportunity to give a major shout-out to Susan Spicer. Anyone who watched the New Orleans series of Top Chef will recognize her from the finale. If you’ve been watching Treme (and I really hope you have…) she is a consultant for the show and the inspiration for the character Janette Desautel, whose struggle to keep her restaurant open in a post-Katrina reality was heartbreaking and beautiful to watch. (The show gets extra points for cameos by Tom Colicchio, Wylie Dufresne, David Chang and Eric Ripert, and lord knows I would have given my left arm to be at that table!) Anyone who eats in New Orleans knows about her restaurants Bayona , which is at the top of my list for my next visit to the Crescent City, and her new endeavor Mondo.

But these days you might best recognize her as the chef who is TAKING ON BP!

That’s right, chickens, as someone who has built her culinary reputation on the quality of Gulf seafood, Chef Spicer said ENOUGH to BP, ENOUGH to the devastation their continuing incompetence is bringing to a region that really didn’t need one more thing to deal with. So she is leading the culinary charge in suing BP on behalf of several chefs, restaurant owners and purveyors because of the inability to cook with the local seafood on which she and they depend and the effect that is having on her livelihood. For a great article on the suit, click here.

I personally think that this is a very exciting thing, and I am totally impressed with Chef Spicer for taking it on. It is a big deal, and a huge pain in the butt for someone who wasn’t exactly sitting around eating bon bons and wondering how to while away the hours. I find it totally badass, and someday I hope to have the good fortune to tell her so in person.

I’m equally proud that one of my dearest friends, Serena, is part of the legal team from Lowe, Stein, Hoffman, Allweiss and Hauver LLP who are representing Chef Spicer. How cool is that?

So as a shout out to Chef Susan Spicer, here are a few of her recipes, as adapted by Starchefs.com. I encourage you to make one this week!

Yours in Good Taste,

The Polymath


Chef Susan Spicer of Bayona – New Orleans, LA

Adapted by StarChefs

Yield: 4 Servings


 1 Tablespoon olive oil

 1 Tablespoon butter

 1 cup diced potatoes, blanched until tender in water

 1 cup mushrooms, quartered

 1 teaspoon minced garlic

 ½ pound shrimp or crayfish tails

 1 cup peas

 ½ cup white wine

 2 Tablespoons lemon juice

 3 Tablespoons butter

 Salt and pepper, to taste

 Hot sauce, to taste

 ½ cup green onion, finely chopped


Heat oil and butter in medium sauté pan and add diced potatoes. Toss and sauté until lightly browned, then add mushrooms and toss. Cook 2-3 minutes, then add garlic and shrimp or crayfish tails and cook a few more minutes. Add peas, season with salt and pepper and remove from pan to bowl or platter and keep warm in oven. Deglaze pan with wine and lemon juice, bring to boil and reduce by half, then whisk in butter gradually to make creamy sauce. Season with salt, pepper and hot sauce, then pour over shrimp or crayfish, sprinkle with green onion and serve immediately.


Chef Susan Spicer of Bayona – New Orleans, LA

Adapted by StarChefs

Yield: 6 Servings


Potato Salad

 2 Tablespoons shallots, finely chopped

 3 Tablespoons malt, sherry or white wine vinegar

 6 Tablespoons olive oil

 Salt and pepper, to taste

 1 cup Idaho potatoes, small dice, boiled until tender but not mushy

 3 Tablespoons celery hearts, finely chopped

 3 Tablespoons red onion, chopped

 ½ cup toasted bread croutons

 ½ cup diced smoked salmon (about 3-4 ounces)

 2 Tablespoons crisp bacon

 Watercress, for garnish


 1 pound asparagus, trim tips to about 3 inches; chop the rest (except woody ends)

 1 Tablespoon butter

 2 Tablespoons shallots, chopped

 1 cup milk

 1 cup heavy cream

 3 egg yolks

 1 whole egg

 Salt, pepper and nutmeg, to taste


For Potato Salad:

Whisk shallots, vinegar and olive oil together. Season with salt and pepper. In separate bowl, combine potatoes, celery hearts, red onion, croutons and salmon. Stir in half of shallot mixture, season with salt and pepper, toss, and add more shallot mixture to taste. Add bacon, toss again.

For Flan:

Preheat oven to 325°F. Blanch asparagus tips in boiling water about 2-3 minutes, then shock in ice water and set aside. Melt butter in small pot and add shallots. Cook 2 minutes, then add chopped asparagus ends, milk and cream. Simmer gently about 10 minutes or until asparagus pieces are quite tender. Remove from heat and cool 5 minutes, then pour into blender and puree until smooth. Strain, then measure and add milk or more cream to make 2 - 2 ¼ cups asparagus cream. In a bowl, whisk yolks and whole egg together until just frothy. Gently whisk in asparagus cream and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Pour into buttered ramekins or custard dishes, place in roasting pan and fill halfway up sides of ramekins with hot water. Cover pan with foil and place in oven. Bake 20 minutes, then open foil and shake pan gently to see if flans are set. Flans should be firm around the outside but just barely set in center, with no bubbles. If flans are still liquid in center, return to oven and check again after 5-10 minutes. When ready, remove from oven, uncover and set aside until service.

To Serve:

Divide salad between six plates. Place one warm flan per plate, and garnish with watercress.


Chef Susan Spicer of Bayona – New Orleans, LA

Adapted by StarChefs

Yield: 4 Servings


Marinated Red Onions

 2 red onions, sliced into very thin rings

 Salt & pepper, to taste

 ¼ cup sherry vinegar

 ¼ cup olive oil

Cashew Butter

 1 cup cashews, chopped

 ½ cup peanuts, chopped

 3 Tablespoons honey

 1 Tablespoon molasses

 4 Tablespoons softened butter

Apple-Celery Salad

 1 Granny Smith apple

 2 ribs celery heart

 1 shallot, minced

 2 Tablespoons olive oil

 1 Tablespoon walnut vinegar

 Pinch of salt


 8 slices whole grain bread

 2 teaspoons softened butter

 ¾ cup hot pepper jelly *

 ¾ cup cashew butter, room temperature

 1 pound smoked duck, shredded

 4 ounces marinated red onions

 Salt & pepper, to taste


For Onions:

Season onions with salt & pepper. Grill rings until just tender. Remove from heat and immediately toss with vinegar and olive oil.

For Cashew Butter:

Roast cashews & peanuts. In food processor, combine nuts, honey, molasses and salt. Puree. Add softened butter. Puree to desired consistency. You may need to add a splash of warm water. Cashew butter will be soft while warm and will stiffen up as it chills.

For Apple-Celery Salad:

Peel, core and slice apples very thin. Slice celery hearts thin on the bias. Toss with shallots, vinegar, olive oil and salt.

For Sandwiches:

Preheat oven to 400°F. Spread softened butter on both sides of each slice of bread. Grill on each side 1 minute or until toasted, but not too dark. Spread four slices with cashew butter, and other 4 with pepper jelly. Heat duck meat and onions in oven until sizzling hot. Divide meat and onions between 4 sandwiches. Put sandwiches together and slice in half. Serve with apple-celery salad.


Chef Susan Spicer of Bayona – New Orleans, LA

Adapted by StarChefs

Yield: 4 Servings


 8 (2-3 ounce) slices boneless pork loin

 Salt and freshly ground black pepper

 8 slices Italian Fontina cheese

 8 thin slices prosciutto (approx ½ pound)

 Flour, for dusting

 3 Tablespoons olive oil (not extra virgin)

 ¼ cup Marsala or Madeira

 ¼ teaspoon minced garlic

 2 Tablespoons butter

 2 Tablespoons diced sundried tomatoes

 Squeeze of lemon juice


Pound pork medallions 1/8 – inch thick. Season with salt and pepper. Place one piece Fontina on each medallion, then wrap with prosciutto. Dredge in flour and shake off excess. Heat half the olive oil in a medium sauté pan and sauté half the medallions, seam side first; then finish cooking on other side, about 2 minutes per side. Remove pork and keep warm until service. Wipe pan and repeat with rest of the olive oil and pork medallions.

Pour out excess oil and deglaze pan with wine. Add garlic and reduce by half. Whisk in butter and sundried tomatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and add lemon juice, if desired. Place two medallions per plate and spoon sauce over them. Serve warm.

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