Tidewater Kitchen - June 2009
Simply In Season
Always take advantage of the season’s fresh produce to serve a satisfying meal. Search local markets for the freshest, most vibrantly colored fruits and vegetables, butchered meats and poultry and just-out-of-the-water fish and shellfish available.
Knowing how to buy fresh foods at the peak of their quality, how to prepare them and ultimately how to cook them to retain their best flavor is where Chef Tony comes in. Chef Tony of Caffé Tosca in Hingham, MA, shares his culinary talents of Italian rustic food. He chooses high quality food that is in season and prepares it with a minimum of effort. If tomatoes are in season, he slowly roasts cherry tomatoes to get the color and flavor by adding a bit of powdered sugar!
Chef Tony decides what foods appeal to him and forms his menus around that. Good food choices have made him an exceptional chef. He doesn’t use black or white pepper to season his food, but gets his heat from thinly sliced jalapeno peppers, mild but without the pepper taste.
He also shares an asparagus “tip” - grill the heartier asparagus and use the pencil-thin ones for daintier dishes. Since Chef Tony has access to fresh seafood, he likes to put fish, flesh side down, in a pan that has a little olive oil and butter in it. Sauté the fish for a minute to crisp it and then finish it off by baking it in a 500° oven for 10 to 12 minutes.
Chef Tony’s career began by being involved in his parents’ bed and breakfast in New Hampshire. His father would create wonderful breakfasts every morning, so there were plenty of great sensory memories and encouragement from his parents.
Caffé Tosca is a landmark restaurant. My parents and I were inspired by Chef Tony’s creative touches to his fabulous meals and menu last fall. Then my dear friend, Jamie Palmer, and I were later inspired by his innovative cuisine and enjoyed some of his recipes, which he has graciously agreed to share with you.
Check out the Web site for directions or updated menus when you are in the Boston South Shore area: www.toscahingham.com.
GRILLED LOBSTER TAIL SALAD
4 lobster tails
1 Tomato Confit
2 ripe avocados
Wild arugula (also called sylvetta or rocket)
Good balsamic vinegar for drizzling - I use Rubro
1 lb. plum tomatoes
½ oz. confectioner’s sugar
2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
8 basil leaves
1 T. kosher salt
For the confit I cut off the core end of the tomatoes, cut them into quarters and toss with the remaining ingredients. Then I put it all on a high-sided cookie sheet and place in the oven on its lowest setting for about an hour. The longer the tomatoes cook, the better they will be. Take them out and let cool.
Split the 4 lobster tails down the middle, toss with salt, pepper and olive oil. Grill until firm. Place tomato confit on a plate and top with some sliced avocado, lobster tails, pinch of arugula and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
4 large ripe peaches
2 T. sugar in the raw
8 oz. mascarpone cheese
4 oz. whole toasted pecans
This recipe could not be any easier. Cut the peaches in half, scoop out the pit and make a small hole in each half. Toss with a pinch of salt, sugar and a splash of EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil). Grill until they have marks on them, just until they are warm all the way through.
Let mascarpone come up to room temperature and whip it until it’s light. Spoon into peach halves. Drizzle with honey, sprinkle pecans on top and serve. For a real Italian touch, drizzle with a good balsamic vinegar like Rubro instead of the honey.
6 large red beets
3 cups crumbled gorgonzola
2 cups whole milk
1 cup whole, shelled walnuts
Coat beets with kosher salt and olive oil, wrap individually with a couple of drops of water in foil. Place in a 400° convection oven for 2-3 hours (until they feel like an orange when you squeeze them.) Remove from the oven and, with a dish towel, rub off the skin. Dice the beets and let cool. Place walnuts on a cookie sheet and toast until golden brown for a nice crunchiness.
Place 2 cups of gorgonzola, 2 cups of milk, a sprinkle of salt and a dash of Tabasco in a high speed blender and blend until creamy and smooth. Taste.
Toss remaining cup of gorgonzola with beets, walnuts, pinch of salt and juice from 1 lemon. Make a pool of the gorgonzola cream and place the beet salad on top. Top with mache and drizzle with EVOO.
GOAT CHEESE RAVIOLI with ASPARAGUS and SPRING GARLIC
Basic Pasta Recipe:
2 cups flour
4 to 6 egg yolks
1 lb. goat cheese
½ lb asparagus - sliced thin
6 thin slices of Prosciutto de Parma - cut into ribbons
1½ cups spring garlic - sliced thin
¼ lb. butter
Parmagiano Reggiano for grating
Roll out the pasta a little thicker than the thinnest setting on your pasta roller. Working in batches, roll out a sheet about a foot and a half long. Brush lightly with beaten egg. Place small scoops of goat cheese about ½ inch from the bottom edge of pasta sheet about 2 inches apart.
Fold top edge over to meet bottom edge and press lightly everywhere there is no cheese. Cut out, leaving ½ inch around all four sides. Press again to make sure all four sides are sealed.
Boil 2 gallons of water. Place asparagus, garlic, prosciutto and butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. When water comes to a boil, add pasta and cook for 2 minutes or so. Take out and place directly into sauté pan with other ingredients. Add a little of the pasta water to make a nice buttery sauce and spoon out onto plates. Top with Parmesan cheese.