21 April 2009

Recipes: Culinary Salute To Spring

From Denny: More comfort food on a $35 budget from a famous chef! Does life get any better? This is the first I've heard of a hanger steak as explained below in the food facts. It's no wonder most of us have never heard of it; turns out most butchers kept this intensely flavorful cut all to themselves. Now it's become quite popular in upscale restaurants. I guess butchers and chefs decided to "share" with the public finally - for a hefty price. :)

Rhubarb is a wonderful Spring tonic as it is a diuretic. Make sure you DO NOT cook or eat raw the leaves as they are toxic! The stalks are perfectly fine to eat and cook up nicely with a lot of brown sugar, some clarified butter, a little salt as a morning porridge or to slather on your toast. That's how we used to eat it at our house when we lived in Maine for a time. We grew our own rhubarb just outside the kitchen door like a little kitchen garden. As a kid I used to love to go pick the long stalks and the huge prehistoric leaves waved at me. It was like they knew they were going to be breakfast without regret. The mind of a child...

Featured here are the recipes of executive chef Kerry Heffernan of the South Gate Restaurant at New York's Essex House Hotel which overlooks Central Park.

Note: If for any reason this video does not display properly or CBS disables it you can click on the title link to take you to the page where the article and video are both located.


Gemelli: A type of pasta. The name derives from the Italian word for twins. Gemelli aren't twin tubes twisted around one another, as they may appear to be, but rather are a single, "S"-shaped strand twisted into a spiral. It's similar to fusilli.

Hanger Steak: Hanger steak is so-named because it's part of the diaphragm muscle that hangs between the loin and the ribs. Like skirt steak, hanger steak is a grainy, fatty cut that turns out beautifully if it's well-marinated before cooking. But it can be tough if it's prepared incorrectly. Hanger steak is nicknamed "butcher's tenderloin" because butchers traditionally kept this full-flavored, odd-shaped cut for themselves. It's become very popular now at both high-end and lower-priced restaurants. If you can't find hanger steak, you may use skirt steak or even flank steak.

Rhubarb: Rhubarb can be eaten raw with a little sugar sprinkled over it, but is generally cooked with other ingredients to produce a fruit dish of some type. Rhubarb can be used nicely to enhance the flavor of other fruits, such as pairing it with strawberries in baked sauces or beverages. Rhubarb stalks vary from red to pink and may also appear speckled or green. This color variation has little or no impact on the ripeness of the rhubarb. When selecting, choose stalks that are fresh looking, crisp and blemish-free.

Cardamom: Cardamom is the ground seed of a tropical fruit in the ginger family known as Elettaria cardamomum. The seeds are found in ovalshaped fruit pods that are between 1/4 and one-inch long. Cardamom has an intense, pungent, sweet flavor. In India, Cardamom is traditionally used in curry blends, and in Scandinavian countries, it's commonly added to breads; however, most of the world's Cardamom crop is used in Arabic countries as a flavoring for coffee.

Gemelli Pasta with Spring Peas


12 ounces pasta (gemelli or fusilli)

1 pound fresh or 8 ounces frozen peas

1 bunch fresh tarragon, picked and coarsely chopped

1 half pint heavy cream

3 ounces grapeseed or canola oil if for salad

2 ounces dried mushrooms

1 shallot, minced

2 gloves garlic, minced


Bring 4 quarts water to the boil in a large pot.

Shuck, blanch and shock peas if fresh; allow peas to defrost if frozen.

In a broad 4 quart saucepan, bring cream to a boil, season with salt and pepper add dried mushrooms and allow to infuse for 7 minutes. Add Pasta to salted boiling water.

Bring cream back to a boil, and add peas, check seasoning, add ½ tarragon, shallots and garlic and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil remove from heat and reserve.

Check pasta and cook to desired stage. Drain Pasta and toss in cream mixture, serve with remaining chopped tarragon.

Grilled Hanger Steak with Fresh Asparagus and Sweet Onions


1 pound cleaned Hanger steak

1 pound pencil asparagus, trimmed 2 inches from bottom

1 pound spring onions, peeled and sliced horizontally into ½ inch rounds

1 bunch scallions trimmed of roots and washed

1 bunch parsley, stems removed

1 bunch Sage, stems removed

2 ounces canola oil

Zest of ¼ of an orange

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 teaspoon chili flakes


Heat grill to medium/high.

Make a quick herb puree, by blending first garlic, orange rind parsley and canola oil in blender (not food processor) with salt and pepper and blending at progressively higher speeds until bright green but still slightly rough. Taste, correct seasoning and add sage and blend further at high speed until well chopped and combined. Reserve.

Season onions, scallions and asparagus well with salt pepper and canola oil
Cook vegetables on grill, in this order, onions first then asparagus and scallions, until well marked and just about cooked (they will continue to cook off the grill). Reserve on an attractive platter.

Turn grill up to high, clean off any remaining bits of vegetables. Season steak very will on each side and grill steak to desired doneness, remove from grill and allow to "rest" at least 7 minutes so that the juices can recede back into the flesh.

Slice meat and arrange over and around vegetables and serve sauce on the side.

Vanilla Ice Cream with Homemade Rhubarb Syrup and Crumbled Butter Cookies


1 pound fresh rhubarb

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

4 pods green cardamom

1/2 cup Sugar

1/4 cup water

Pinch salt

1 pint ice cream

4 butter cookies (such as Pepperidge farms Bordeaux) roughly crumbled


Wash and trim rhubarb into 3 inch lengths in a sauce pan large enough to accommodate rhubarb in one layer. Bring sugar, water, salt, and cardamom pods to a boil, simmer one minute then add Rhubarb, and vanilla (if you prefer you can do it in 2 batches but it should not exceed one even layer on the bottom surface area).

Cook over medium heat until just before rhubarb is tender (it will go to mush very quickly!), remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Scoop Ice Cream into glasses and layer in poached rhubarb and some of its syrup and crumbled butter cookies over top.

So, how did Heffernan do with our $35 budget?

Gemelli Pasta

pasta $1.19
peas $1.99
tarragon $1.49
heavy cream $1.19
grapeseed oil $3.99
mushrooms $1.99
garlic $.39
shallot $.16
total $12.39

Hanger Steak

hanger steak $4.29
asparagus $1.69
spring onions $1.49
scallions $.69
parsley $.99
sage $1.49
orange zest $.39
chilies $.16
total $11.19

Rhubarb Ice Cream

rhubarb $2.99
Cardamom $4.69
butter cookies $2.00
ice cream $.99
total $10.67

Total: $34.25

Top Three so far in our "How Low Can You Go" competition:

1. Scott Peacock $32.60
Watershed Restaurant

2. Patrick Connolly $33.32
Bobo Restaurant

3. Bill Poirier $33.35
Sonsie Restaurant

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