A Degustation of Autumn...

The start of the "munchies"...

What a great way to start out the early afternoon, when you have just been to the farmers market; brisk and clear, searching for that special something to labor over in your kitchen, to become one with at your battery of kitchen appliances, to warm your soul and quench that culinary thirst...you get it in sight, it's the first of the season, it is the bringer of many things good...Pumpkins! As you contemplate how many ways to indulge in it's utter goodness, you know that you must start by toasting the seeds. Melted sweet butter, enlivened with Tahitian vanilla, smoked maple syrup, done out back on the bbq while you are scooping out the mess, turbinado sugar and fresh bay. Cooked together to form a luscious caramel, then smothered over the seeds to bathe in a sexy glaze. Toss in some rich, warm spices like smoked sweet paprika, ginger, fleur de sel de Guerrande and even some of Tom's "Cowboy Steak" Rubs with Love! In about 15 minutes of hibernating in the kilns of your kitchen, you have something that is a simply something you can not stop nibbling on. But wait...there's more!

A Seared Foie Gras Cobbler...

one could almost call this a grown-up child's "pot pie", oh what the hell, go ahead! Stake your claim to some of the best, little, freshly foraged wild chanterelles you can muster, clean them well and saute them in noisette butter with shallots and thyme. Add in some slivered, roasted cipolline onions, caramelized garlic cloves (whole cloves, placed into a stainless steel pan with butter, stock of choice, sugar and let cook, while liquid is reducing and starting to caramelize. When reduces and starts to get brown and thick, but not burned, deglaze with more stock, and continue to cook and reduce again. Follow this madness again and again until the garlic becomes tender and cooked, yet still holding it's own, and on that last time of deglazing, let it come down until a golden caramel is formed.) Add a touch of roasted poultry jus, or veal stock, creme fraiche and seasonings. Place into a small porcelain cup and top with a "streusel" of crispy, seasoned, chopped shallots, walnuts and brioche crumbs. Bake in oven for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, set that saute pan on the fire and let er' rip! Get nice and hot until trails of smoke rise from the pan. Season the foie gras pieces with salt and white pepper and place in pan. Let cook for approx. 20-30 seconds, turn over and cook another 15 or seconds. If needed, place into oven and cook a bit longer, but no more than a minute. Baste with it's own juices and fat! MMMMMMM! Place on top with an adornment of micro burgundy amaranth, from the chef's garden no doubt!

Poissonier! Poissonier!....you're up!

it's time to cook the fish, and don't you dare let it overcook. You'll be f'd up if you do. What a mess when that happens. You might as well just stop and order out. But, we are not letting that happen are we?!? I love the wild striped bass, it is a very meaty fish and one that holds it's own quite well. Especially in roasting and even braising applications. For this dish, I roasted it, in a bit of Moroccan olive oil and French butter. Salt and white pepper, and a little herbs. Pan roast in hot oven for just about 3-4 minutes at this size. It will get away from you fast so don't go answer the damn phone, the doorbell, change the kids diaper or anything. Seek out some of the nicest and pristine fingerling potatoes you can, look for the guy who has the dirtiest fingers...you know he was digging deep with his passion to find his tubers. After the obvious cleaning, slice about 1/4" thick, toss in evoo, s/p and roast until tender, but not mush-(remember the fish). Place down in center of bowl and place fish on top. Shave truffles over top of fish. Best to get black winter or italian summer/winter truffles if you ask me. Of course, the white Alba are an absolute orgasm, but those are not around just yet. Make the sauce by taking some roasted beets, that have been diced small, shallots, herbs, chestnut honey, Trockenbeerenauslese vinegar, veal jus, chopped cocoa nibs and butter. Heat and whisk to emulsify. Season and drizzle around fish. What a devine rush!

Another fish...well, why not. Meat, not yet. Maybe next time. Take a side of fresh troll caught king salmon, filet out like a butterfly cut, and season the whole thing with tarragon, thyme, pepper, salt, chervil and basil. Roll back up, and tie with string. Cut medallions or "tournedos". Pan sear and finish in oven. That's right, don't even think of walking away. Pair this beauty with duck fat roasted baby french la ratte potatoes, "last-of-season" heirloom tomato jam, cooked slowly and seductively until it comes to fruition by nature of a shiny sheen. Leeks and fennel, sweated gently as if they were fragile to the touch. All this comes together by means of a silky vinaigrette of aged sherry-citrus reduction and walnut oil. A sexy little onion sablee secures it's existence.

Caramel Apple Tart...

although this looks quite unlike my style and nature of pastry preparation, and while homey and rustic, the flavor is incredible. I was actually uncertain about it in the beginning, not because it was rustic and homey, but due to it's lack of depth and added custard, I felt that perhaps the flavor could become muddled like that of a bad mojito. But alas, after the building of flavor, the nurturing of ingredients, the painstaking trying of my patience while it coagulated away, I was convinced...it rocked! The slow caramelization of Gravenstein and Liberty apples from Dog Mountain Farm in Carnation, now probably under a couple feet of raging water right now, placed ever-so-neatly onto a cinnamon short dough, and enrobed in a custard of Calvados, eggs, sugar, honey and cream. Of course, there is vanilla, and citrus zest and even a trace of cracked black pepper! Baked in the oven for over an hour, and then only to come out and re-glazed again with a custard. Bake again, and then, as if emerging from the heavens, a genuinely simple piece of nirvana! Dust that all the way to the table with powdered sugar!

So, there you have it, an autumn taste. A savoring of ingredients. A nuance of something heady and rich. No meat. Who needs it. Well, I am always a sucker for it, but that will come next, in the following encore of a degustation of Fall 2.0. Enjoy...cuisinier.


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