Alfred Portale Simple Pleasures: Home Cooking from the Gotham Bar and Grill's Acclaimed Chef

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When you imagine the quintessential New York City restaurant, one name comes to mind: Alfred Portale's Gotham Bar and Grill. The same is true when you think of the top American restaurants:Gotham has been one of our most cherished culinary institutions for two decades.

Led by executive chef and co-owner Alfred Portale, Gotham has been honored with four consecutive New York Times three-star reviews and has resided among the Zagat Survey's top five New York City restaurants for ...

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2004 Hardcover New in New dust jacket 0060535024. Remainder; 44 oz.; 262 pages; New HC w/DJ unread w/remainder mark bottom edge. When you imagine the quintessential New York ... City restaurant, one name comes to mind: Alfred Portale's Gotham Bar and Grill. The same is true when you think of the top American restaurants: Gotham has been one of our most cherished culinary institutions for two decades. Led by executive chef and co-owner Alfred Portale, Gotham has been honored with four consecutive New York Times three-star reviews and has resided among the Zagat Survey's top five New York City restaurants for more than ten years. Known for Portale's defining modern American cooking, impeccable service, and soaring space, Gotham was recently named "Most Outstanding Restaurant" in the nation by the James Beard Foundation. But what does Portale cook when he's not working? In Alfred Portale Simple Pleasures, one of our most accomplished chefs invites you to taste the sublime and surprisingly easy-to-prepare, restau Read more Show Less

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Overview

When you imagine the quintessential New York City restaurant, one name comes to mind: Alfred Portale's Gotham Bar and Grill. The same is true when you think of the top American restaurants:Gotham has been one of our most cherished culinary institutions for two decades.

Led by executive chef and co-owner Alfred Portale, Gotham has been honored with four consecutive New York Times three-star reviews and has resided among the Zagat Survey's top five New York City restaurants for more than ten years. Known for Portale's defining modern American cooking, impeccable service, and soaring space, Gotham was recently named "Most Outstanding Restaurant" in the nation by the James Beard Foundation.

But what does Portale cook when he's not working? In Alfred Portale Simple Pleasures, one of our most accomplished chefs invites you to taste the sublime and surprisingly easy-to-prepare, restaurant-quality dishes he serves to friends and family at home.

The 125 recipes include home versions of Gotham classics as well as new recipes straight from Portale's home kitchen. They're all simple enough for any home cook, and spectacular enough to impress anyone who tastes them.

At the center of Alfred Portale Simple Pleasures are elemental main courses such as Roast Cod with a New England Chowder Sauce, Filet Mignon with Madeira Sauce, and Sautéed Chicken Breasts with Button Mushrooms and Sage. Pick one, then build a meal by pairing it with recipes from the chapters of salads, starters, and small plates; soups, sandwiches, and pizzas; pasta and risotto; side dishes; and desserts.

Along with the recipes, Portale offers pairing suggestions for building a menu, variations for adapting recipes according to season and personal taste, and flavor-building instructions on how to accent a dish with extravagant extras such as caviar or everyday additions such as flavored oils. In other words, home cooks will learn how to add a Gotham-inspired twist to their own favorite recipes.

The supermarket-friendly dishes include modern classics such as Spicy Shrimp Salad with Mango, Avocado, and Lime Vinaigrette; Pumpkin and Caramelized Onion Soup with Gruyère and Sage; and Sautéed Spinach with Garlic, Ginger, and Sesame Oil. Alfred helps you transform everything from ordinary weekday lunches to Saturday night dinner parties into anything but ordinary.

Of course, no meal is complete without dessert, and Portale delivers sweet and sophisticated send-offs, including Lime Meringue Tarts, a simple Summer Plum Pudding, and an elegant Chocolate-Grand Marnier Cake.

Alfred Portale Simple Pleasures -- nothing could be simpler or more pleasurable.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
As in his two previous cookbooks, Alfred Portale's Gotham Bar and Grill Cookbook and Alfred Portale's 12 Seasons Cookbook, Portale uses the same flavor-enhancing principles he's used at his top New York City restaurant, Gotham Bar and Grill, for 20 years, but works his magic on home-style foods rather than dishes that require a team of sous chefs to be executed properly. Portale makes particularly good use of vegetables, in such intriguing concoctions as Israeli Couscous Salad with Grilled Summer Vegetables, and Crisp Vegetable Salad with Sunflower Seeds and Mustard Vinaigrette. His headers are informative, like the one for Roasted Chestnut Soup that offers a rundown of how to choose and store the nuts. Repeatedly, recipes that sound somewhat familiar reveal a twist or demonstrate a technique: Roast Turkey, Avocado, Bacon and Blue Cheese Sandwich sounds almost ordinary, but includes a clearly explained method for brining a turkey breast that is helpful beyond the confines of one recipe. Roasted Wild Striped Bass with Leeks, Fingerling Potatoes and Lemon calls for steaming the fish briefly, baking it to draw out its flavor, then reducing the juices into a sauce, but Portale manages to maximize flavor while still minimizing the number of pans dirtied. Photos. (Nov.) Forecast: Portale is the rare chef/author who can transition smoothly between a restaurant kitchen and a home kitchen. His restaurant's longevity means that the pool of past customers is large. Expect brisk sales. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060535025
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/26/2004
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Alfred Portale has enjoyed a stellar career since graduating first in his class from the Culinary Institute of America. He worked in several of France's most revered kitchens, then returned to the United States, and, beginning in 1985, established himself as one of our most influential chefs at the Gotham Bar and Grill. Guided by his vision, Gotham was named "Most Outstanding Restaurant" in the nation by the James Beard Foundation, which also has named Portale himself Best Chef in New York City. His first book, Alfred Portale's Gotham Barand Grill Cookbook , won the IACP/Julia Child Cookbook Award. He lives with his wife and children in Manhattan.

Andrew Friedman is a freelance writer. He lives in New York City.

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First Chapter

Alfred Portale Simple Pleasures
Home Cooking from the Gotham Bar and Grill's Acclaimed Chef

Pumpkin and Caramelized Onion Soup
with Gruyère and Sage

Serves 4 to 6

In this -- my autumnal answer to the classic French onion soup -- the traditional recipe is augmented with roasted pumpkin and an aromatic infusion of sage. But the presentation is as classic as it gets: the soup is poured into individual bowls and topped with cheese, which is melted under the broiler. (Note that you'll need heavy, flameproof ceramic soup bowls for this.)

Seek out, authentic Gruyère for this recipe. As with the classic onion soup, what tops the bowl is almost as important as what's in it. This recipe calls for chicken stock, but if you make or can purchase a good-quality beef or veal stock (the textbook choice), using it here will yield a significantly richer result.

Ingredients

1 medium pumpkin or butternut squash (about 3 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into large dice
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced (about 3 cups sliced)
¼ cup thinly sliced celery
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
6 sage leaves, cut into a chiffonade
1 bay leaf
4 ½ cups Chicken Stock (page 31)
12 baguette slices, cut ½ inch thick (2 slices should fit snugly in each soup bowl), lightly toasted
About 8 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Put the pumpkin in an ovenproof sauté pan. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter, toss, and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven, stirring occasionally, until the pumpkin pieces are caramelized and beginning to soften, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a soup pot set over medium heat. Add the onions and cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the celery, garlic, and sage, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the pumpkin, bay leaf, and stock, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Taste, and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Preheat the broiler.

Put two ovenproof soup bowls on a cookie sheet. Ladle the soup into the bowls, and float 2 slices of toasted bread on top of each serving. Cover the toasts with a generous amount of Gruyère. Broil until browned and bubbly, about 3 minutes. Repeat with the remaining bowls, and serve.

Variations
Muenster and aged Gouda are good substitutes for the Gruyère. A combination of the three cheeses would be pleasantly unique. Kabocha and Hubbard squashes are suitable replacements for the pumpkin.


Pappardelle with Braised Lamb Shank
and Fontina

Serves 6 as an appetizer or 4 as a main course

In Italian households, a popular way of using leftover braised meats is to chop or shred the meat, return it to its own sauce, and toss it with fresh pasta. This recipe goes right to the pasta stage, using the intensely vinous braising liquid as a sauce. Don't be too casual with your choice of Fontina cheeses: Though produced in many countries, including the United States, the best is Fontina d'Aosta, which comes from the Piedmont region of northern Italy. Its fresh flavor makes a big impact on the overall success of this dish. The pappardelle, probably most often seen with rabbit on restaurant menus, is the perfect choice for lamb shanks and other braised-meat sauces.

If you can find it, replace the Parmigiano-Reggiano with an aged Pepato, a Sicilian pecorino punctuated with whole black peppercorns. When the cheese is shaved, the flavor of the pepper is unleashed as well, adding a whole new meaning to the term "freshly grated black pepper."

Ingredients

2 tablespoons canola oil
2 lamb shanks (1 ½ pounds each)
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup diced onion
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
¼ cup diced celery
¼ cup diced carrot
2 ½ cups robust Italian red wine
1 cup canned tomato puree
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 thyme sprig
1 rosemary sprig
1 bay leaf
1 quart Chicken Stock (page 31), or more as needed
1 pound fresh pappardelle pasta
8 ounces Fontina cheese, coarsely grated
¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
½ cup basil chiffonade

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 300°F.

Pour the oil into a heavy-bottomed ovenproof pot that is just large enough to hold the lamb shanks, and set the pot over medium-high heat. Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper, add them to the pot, and cook, turning often, until nicely browned all over, approximately 10 minutes. Remove the shanks from the pot and set them aside.

Add the onions, garlic, celery, and carrots to the pot and sauté until softened but not browned, approximately 5 minutes. Add the wine, raise the heat to high, bring it to a boil, and continue to boil until reduced to ¼ cup, approximately 12 minutes. Stir in the tomato puree, tomato paste, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf, and cook for 6 more minutes. Add the 1 quart stock and bring it to a simmer.

Return the shanks to the pot. If the liquid doesn't completely cover them, add some more stock. When the liquid returns to a simmer, cover the pot with foil or a tight-fitting lid, place it in the oven, and braise the shanks for 2½ hours. Check periodically to be sure the liquid is just barely simmering. If it's bubbling aggressively, lower the temperature by 25 degrees. After the 2½ hours, the meat should pull away from the bone with just the tug of a fork; if it offers any resistance, continue to cook for 15 more minutes. When the shanks are done, remove the pot from the oven, remove the foil, and remove the shanks from the pot, setting them on a cutting board. Set the pot aside to let the liquid cool for about 15 minutes. When the shanks are cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones, and chop or shred it.

Use tongs to remove and discard the bay leaf, thyme, and rosemary from the braising liquid; discard them. Skim off any fat that has risen to the surface. Then place the pot over high heat, bring the liquid to a boil, and let it boil, skimming off any impurities that rise to the surface, until reduced to 2 cups, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

Drain the pasta and transfer it to a large warmed bowl. Add the reserved meat, the sauce, and the cheese, parsley, and basil. Toss, season with salt and pepper, then divide among individual plates or bowls and serve at once.

Variations
This dish would also be delicious made with veal shanks (2 inches thick and cooked for 2 hours), or duck or rabbit legs (cooked for 1 to 1 ½ hours).

Rigatoni has the size and thickness to stand up to such a rich sauce, so use it in place of pappardelle if you like.

Alfred Portale Simple Pleasures
Home Cooking from the Gotham Bar and Grill's Acclaimed Chef
. Copyright © by Alfred Portale. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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