Sunday Suppers at Lucques: Seasonal Recipes from Market to Tableby Suzanne Goin
Few chefs in America have won more acclaim than Suzanne Goin, owner of Lucques restaurant. A chef of impeccable pedigree, she got her start cooking at some of the best restaurants in the world–L’Arpège. Olives, and Chez Panisse, to name a few–places where she acquired top-notch skills to match her already flawless culinary instincts. “A great many cooks have come through the kitchen at Chez Panisse,” observes the legendary Alice Waters, “But Suzanne Goin was a stand-out. We all knew immediately that one day she would have a restaurant of her own, and that other cooks would be coming to her for kitchen wisdom and a warm welcome.”
And come they have, in droves. Since opening her L.A. restaurant, Lucques, in 1998, Goin’s cooking has garnered extraordinary accolades. Lucques is now recognized as one of the best restaurants in the country, and she is widely acknowledged as one of the most talented chefs around. Goin’s gospel is her commitment to the freshest ingredients available; her way of combining those ingredients in novel but impeccably appropriate ways continues to awe those who dine at her restaurant.
Her Sunday Supper menus at Lucques–ever changing and always tied to the produce of the season–have drawn raves from all quarters: critics, fellow chefs, and Lucques’s devoted clientele. Now, in her long-awaited cookbook, Sunday Suppers at Lucques, Goin offers the general public, for the first time, the menus that have made her famous.
This inspired cookbook contains:
§132 recipes in all, arranged into four-course menus and organized by season. Each recipes contains detailed instructions that distill the creation of these elegant and classy dishes down to easy-to-follow steps. Recipes include: Braised Beef Shortribs with Potato Puree and Horseradish Cream; Cranberry Walnut Clafoutis; Warm Crepes with Lemon Zest and Hazelnut Brown Butter
§75 full-color photographs that illustrate not only the beauty of the food but the graceful plating techniques that Suzanne Goin is known for
§A wealth of information on seasonal produce–everything from reading a ripe squash to making the most of its flavors. She even tells us where to purchase the best fruit, vegetables, and pantry items
§Detailed instruction on standard cooking techniques both simple and involved, from making breadcrumbs to grilling duck
§A foreword by Alice Waters, owner and head chef of Chez Panisse restaurant and mentor to Suzanne Goin (one-time Chez Panisse line cook)
With this book, Goin gives readers a sublime collection of destined-to-be-classic recipes. More than that, however, she offers advice on how home cooks can truly enjoy the process of cooking and make that process their own. One Sunday with Suzanne Goin is guaranteed to change your approach to cooking–not to mention transform your results in the kitchen.
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Read an Excerpt
Sunday Suppers at Lucques
By Suzanne Goin with Teri Gelber
Random HouseSuzanne Goin with Teri Gelber
All right reserved.
I'm a vegetable fanatic. I always joke that I could be a vegetarian, as long as I were allowed a little steak and bacon every now and then. When I dine out, while others are torn between the veal chop and the salmon, my main concern is "What vegetables do they come with?" And when I get hungry at work, with all the choices that abound in our kitchen, what I crave and reach for most are vegetables. Every season offers its vegetal specialties, but if I had to choose a favorite, it would be spring.
Spring, however, is a moody season: its lingering cold spells and sudden warm stretches can make for temperamental dining. I've tried to provide for such climatic whims by offering a variety of choices in my spring menus. Pick and choose as you like; mix and match according to what's available. Don't banish braised meats and creamy pastas just yet. Instead, give them a spring flourish.
When the sky is threatening showers, I head to the kitchen to make a nourishing stew. Veal Osso Buco with Saffron Risotto, English Peas, and Pea Shoots will warm you up, and with all of those bright spring vegetables, you'll know that winter is finally at an end. When a warm spring day hits, it's the perfect time to make a lighter main course and eat alfresco. The Halibut with Fingerlings, Fava Beans, Meyer Lemon, and Savory Creme Fraiche will satisfy the heartiest of appetites, while letting you know that the green season has arrived.
The spring collection of menus calls for simpler cooking techniques that do not blunt the brightness of young, fresh spring ingredients. A quick blanch or brief saute is often all that's needed for certain vegetables. A bowl of English peas cooked a few minutes in a pool of sweet butter is perfection. Whereas summer finds me reaching mostly for olive oil, in the spring I still yearn for butter. Saffron Chicken with Parmesan Pudding, Spring Onions, and Sugar Snap Peas needs butter to add depth and dimension to the crunchy green vegetables. And a Saute of White Asparagus, Morels, and Ramps over Polenta cries for the richness only butter can provide.
And oh, spring fruit! Not that winter fruit doesn't have its charms, but after months of relying on dried and cooked fruits for variety, nothing feels more welcome than the advent of berries and stone fruits. The season's first ripe strawberry, apricot, or cherry eaten out of hand tastes like relief itself. But don't be fooled; it's not summer yet. Certain spring arrivals, like rhubarb, require a little manipulation. Even those cherries can stand some cooking: simmered in vanilla caramel, they make an exquisite burgundy-colored compote. Many spring fruits, in fact, are delicious both raw and cooked, and I would never want to choose. Fortunately, as with most of this transitional season's bounty, I don't have to.
Enjoy lovely golden stone-fruit as much as possible during their season. Starting in mid-May, apricots appear at the market, and by mid-June, they've all but disappeared. Castlebrites, Pattersons, and Elgin Marbles are some of my favorite varieties. The smaller, old-fashioned Blenheims are also delicious and have an intense apricot flavor. Apricots won't continue to ripen once they're picked, so avoid greenish-tinted fruit. Look for apricots that have a little red blush on their skin; brown markings or blemishes also indicate a sweeter specimen. Apricots are great eaten out of hand as well as baked into tarts or poached in sweet wine.
Plucked from a large, prehistoric-looking bush, the artichoke is an intriguing edible bud. Large artichokes range from 4 to 6 inches in diameter and conceal meaty, flavorful hearts beneath layers and layers of fibrous leaves. Baby artichokes, as they're called, are actually not babies at all. These mature chokes are smaller-sized buds that grow on the lower portion of the same plant that produces the larger buds.
Though their flavors are similar, small and large artichokes should be treated differently in the kitchen. The larger buds, above the woody stem, have three discrete parts: the leaves, the heart, and the fuzzy and inedible "choke." The traditional method is to steam large artichokes whole and eat the leaves one by one, dipping the end closest to the heart in butter and scraping off with your teeth the bit of meat attached there. The payoff for this low-yield (but delicious) work will be to arrive, once you've excavated the inedible choke within, at the heart--all meaty, edible goodness. If you want to dispense with the leaves all at once, however, you can tear them away, scrape out the choke (a spoon works well for removing all the hairy bits), and steam, saute, or roast the hearts. Sometimes I simply shave raw artichoke hearts into thin slices and dress them in a lemony vinaigrette for a quick artichoke salad.
To prepare baby artichokes, which never really form a choke, you can simply remove the toughest outer leaves, cut about a third off the top of the buds, trim the stems, and then halve or quarter them lengthwise. I like to sear baby artichokes in olive oil, then pan-braise them with a little white wine.
When choosing artichokes, look for unblemished, compact buds with a thick, firm stem still attached. If the stem appears thin or withered, it's an indication that the artichoke was picked more than a few days ago and may be drying out or losing flavor. While preparing artichokes for cooking, you may wish to put the ones you've cut in water with a squeeze of lemon juice to retard discoloration, which has no effect on the taste.
When it comes to asparagus, I'm frequently asked which is better--the fat ones or the skinny ones. I like both. Jumbo asparagus is meatier and juicier and has more texture to bite into. The skinnier spears are more delicate in flavor and usually require no peeling.
To prepare asparagus, snap off the ends where they naturally break. To do this, grab the middle of each spear with one hand and the stalk end with the other. Bend the spear until the end snaps off; it should separate exactly where tough meets tender. Visually, I prefer unpeeled asparagus, but sometimes peeling is unavoidable. After you've snapped off the ends and discarded them, cut off a small piece of a spear and taste it. If the skin of the asparagus seems unpleasantly stringy, use a vegetable peeler to peel the lower section of the stalk, usually about 2 inches' worth.
Big asparagus is delicious steamed and then sauteed in olive oil and topped with a fried egg and shavings of Parmesan. Thinner spears are great cut on the diagonal and sauteed in a spring vegetable ragout.
If you've traveled to certain areas of Germany, Austria, or eastern France in spring, you may have experienced their annual white asparagus craze. Most restaurants display prominent signs announcing the long-awaited arrival of Weisser Spargel. They usually serve the asparagus simply, with a little hollandaise sauce and a slice of Black Forest ham.
Pearly and rich, white asparagus tastes very different from its green counterpart. Grown in complete darkness under a mound of sandy soil, it produces no chlorophyll during its development. Its flavor is nuttier than that of green asparagus, with hints of artichoke and heart of palm.
White asparagus needs to be cooked longer than green; it should be tender and soft rather than al dente. White spears can also be woodier than green, so be sure to snap off the ends and discard them. You'll just have to grin and bear the pain of throwing away a large portion of this expensive delicacy. You'll also want to peel the lower portion of the stalks to remove the fibrous skin.
When choosing asparagus, look for firm, turgid spears and smooth, unbroken tips. Store it, standing upright in a few inches of water, in the refrigerator.
Cherry-picking begins in early May, depending on the variety, and lasts until late June or sometimes even July. Eaten out of hand or cooked into a compote, cherries are among my favorite stone fruits. The cherries that grow around Southern California are all sweet cherries; sour cherries dominate the markets east of the Rockies. A few of the sweet varieties I love are Burlats, Lapins, and of course the classic Bing cherries. The paler Rainiers are delicious for eating, but lose some of their intensity when cooked. In choosing cherries, look for unbruised, plump, fruit, and, of course, taste them!
Fava beans' slippery texture and unusual marshy flavor make them unique among shell beans. You can't always judge a fava bean by its cover; check inside the pod and inspect the beans themselves. They should be firm, plump, and unblemished. If you can, taste one for sweetness and flavor.
To prepare them, remove the beans from their pods and blanch them in salted boiling water for about 2 minutes. Plunge them into ice water to cool them, the slip off their little jackets. At this point, they can be tossed into ragouts or salads or made into a puree.
This green-and-white shoot is the immature precursor to head garlic. Its shape resembles a scallion and its size is similar to a baby leek. Green garlic is easily mistaken for these other members of the onion family, and every time we hire a new, young cook at Lucques, he or she confuses them. I'll tell you the same thing I tell them: use your senses. Smell the stalk. If you detect a garlicky scent, you know it's green garlic. Milder than a garlic clove, green garlic isn't hot or pungent, but it's unmistakably related. To prepare green garlic, trim off the root end and slice the stalks on the diagonal, including some of the flavorful green stems.
I'm a devout fan of green garlic and use it constantly when it's in season. When June rolls around and it disappears from the market, I'm at a loss. Nothing can replace its herbal garlic flavor and slightly chewy texture. If I'm desperate, though I substitute sliced garlic cloves sauteed in olive oil and tossed with a handful of sliced scallions.
Morels are the quintessential mushroom of spring. These cone-shaped fungi have a honeycombed surface and a nutty, woodsy perfume. Smell them to check for that deep, earthy aroma. Store them in the refrigerator in an open paper bag or basket to allow them to breathe.
In a perfect world, you would never submerge a morel in water to clean it, for fear of ruining its beautiful texture. Unfortunately, the only thing worse than eating a waterlogged morel is eating a mouthful of sand hidden within one. You can't always see the sand in the honeycomb exterior or deep inside the cavity of the mushroom. The best way to find out if morels are sandy is to saute a few and taste them. If they're gritty, wash them by filling a large bowl with lukewarm water. Place the morels in the water and gently press down to immerse them. Let the mushrooms sit for a few minutes, occasionally stirring them with your hands, until the dirt loosens and falls to the bottom of the bowl. Carefully lift the morels out of the water and place them on paper towels to dry. If you see a lot of dirt or sand on the bottom of the bowl, repeat the soaking process until the water is clean. If your morels are large, cut them in half lengthwise, maintaining their original conical shape.
In order not to mask their intense, meaty flavor, I like to prepare morels very simply, sauteing them in butter with thyme and shallots. They're delicious with pasta, in omelettes, or in a ragout spooned over toasted brioche.
All year long, my cooking depends on potatoes in some form or another. But in spring, freshly dug new potatoes appear at the farmers' markets, causing potatomania. A new potato is dug from a live plant that still has green leaves attached aboveground. Regular or mature potatoes remain underground longer, allowing them to become larger in size and develop tougher skins; by the time they're harvested, the leaves have long since turned brown and withered away.
Swathed in practically sheer, papery skin, new potatoes are usually on the small side. Europeans have long had a fondness for this preemie-potato, called early-crop potatoes in England and primeurs in France. They have a relatively low starch content, allowing flavor subtleties to come forward, and they require very little dressing up. I love new potatoes steamed and lightly crushed with butter and fleur de sel. Choose potatoes that feel very solid and firm and have no discoloration or sprouts. Store them in a dark, cool cupboard and keep them no longer than a week or two. If you're shopping for new potatoes, be wary: some supermarkets label small red potatoes as new potatoes when they're not new at all.
Peas demand precise growing conditions, which nature, along with a learned and lucky farmer, can only sometimes achieve. From the minute they're picked, peas begin to lose their flavor. Crack open a pod and sample one. It should pop with super-sweet pea flavor. If they taste a little bitter or seem starchy, hold out for better ones. Store peas in the refrigerator, and keep them in their pods to shuck just before cooking.
As for cooking peas, the less you do to them, the better. I cook them in a little water, butter, and salt, and sometimes a pinch of saffron. And remember, fresh peas cook very quickly; watch them carefully so you don't end up with those dreaded mushy peas of childhood.
Also called pea tendrils, pea vines, pea leaves, or pea tenders, these delicate leafy sprigs hold the essence of spring. Their small-to-medium-sized emerald green leaves string together to make the curly knotted vines of the common pea plant. Because they're fragile, it's best to use pea shoots within a few days of purchasing them. Store them in an open plastic bag, surrounding them loosely in paper towels to prevent them from getting wet and mushy. If they smell of old mowed grass, toss them out. If they feel very wet when you buy them, dry them in a salad spinner, cover with a dry towel, and be sure their own weight doesn't compress and mash them. If you buy pea shoots when they're mature and close to the end of their life cycle, trim off the long, tough, stringy tendrils.
Excerpted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin with Teri Gelber Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author
Suzanne Goin graduated from Brown University. She was named Best Creative Chef by Boston magazine in 1994, one of the Best New Chefs by Food & Wine in 1999, and was nominated for a James Beard Award in 2003, 2004, and 2005. She and her business partner, Caroline Styne, also run the restaurant A.O.C. in Los Angeles, where Goin lives with her husband, David Lentz.
Teri Gelber is a food writer and public-radio producer living in Los Angeles.
From the Hardcover edition.
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