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Eating Out, In

I want that! Home recipes of pro chefs

By Heather Irwin

Ever wish you could make your favorite restaurant dish at home? Well, through the miracle of the telephone, I was able to convince several of my favorite chefs to fess up the how-to’s on some of their favorite restaurant dishes. Here are a few of them, adapted for the home cook.

Sondra Bernstein, chef-owner, the Girl and the Fig

Figs are finally in season, which makes this the absolute best salad to delight friends with. The arugula gives it some spice, the pecans and pancetta some crunch and the goat cheese gives it some creamy goodness.

Sondra Bernstein’s Grilled Fig Salad with Fig and Port Vinaigrette
1/2 pound pancetta (bacon will work fine, too)
12 fresh figs (any kind), halved
6 bunches baby arugula
1 c. pecans, toasted
1 c. Laura Chenel chèvre (or other goat cheese, crumbled)
1 c. fig and port vinaigrette (see following recipe)pepper to taste

Sauté pancetta until crisp, then set aside. Reserve the oil left in the pan and brush the figs with it, then grill for 45 seconds on each side. (Alternatively, bake the figs on a cookie sheet at about 250 degrees for 1 hour. They get nice and gooey.)

In a stainless-steel bowl, toss the arugula, pecans, pancetta and goat cheese with vinaigrette. Serve on individual plates, divide the figs evenly and place around the side; sprinkle with pepper.

Fig and Port Vinaigrette
(This makes extra, and is an amazing salad dressing to keep on hand.)
3 dried Black Mission figs
1 c. ruby port
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1/2 tbsp. minced shallots
1/4 c. blended oil (1 part olive oil to 3 parts canola)
salt and pepper

Rehydrate the figs in the port until soft. Then, in a saucepan, reduce the port over medium heat to 1/2 cup. Purée the figs, port and vinegar in a food processor. Add the shallots and slowly whisk in the oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Cameron Cardoza, Ravenette

This tiny eatery is one of my favorite hidden Healdsburg gems. Small plates are perfect for sharing, and the intimate space makes for great conversation.

Cameron Cardoza’s Baby Back Ribs
2 full racks baby back ribs
3 lemon grass stalks (sliced on bias)
a thumb-sized piece of ginger (coarsely chopped)
1 sliced onion
1 1/2 c. sweet black vinegar (available in Asian markets)
about 10 c. chicken stock (or enough to cover ribs)
salt and pepper

Score membrane on back of the ribs and cut racks in half. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Sear ribs in a hot pan with olive oil until a crust forms, then turn and repeat. Set the ribs aside and in the same pan, sauté the onion, lemongrass and ginger until soft. Add the vinegar, being careful not to inhale fumes, and stir together to deglaze the pan. Finally, place ribs in a deep pan and cover with onion, lemongrass, ginger mixture. Add chicken stock, cover and place into 300 degree oven for approximately 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Bones should pull easily but not all the way off. When done, remove ribs from broth and strain. Reduce broth to syrup consistency and finish with butter.

Oakville Grocery

Whenever people see this lunchtime pizza/salad combo waiting on the counter for pickup, the kitchen gets a flood of orders. The crispy, herbed crust makes a perfect wrapper for a nice, cold salad. The dough takes some time, so if you’re in a pinch, you can use prepared dough. Planning ahead pays off with this one.

Oakville Grocery’s Herbed Pizza Dough
1 c. cold water
4 tsp. olive oil
3 c. bread flour
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dry active yeast
1 tsp. dry thyme
1 tsp. dry oregano
1 tsp. dry rosemary
1 tsp. dry basil

Place water, olive oil and yeast in a container and mix together. Let sit for about 4 minutes to activate the yeast. Place the flour, salt and herbs into a mixer with a dough hook attached. (You can also mix and knead by hand.) Pour the liquid into the mixer and turn on low speed. Mix all together until a dough ball forms (about 2 to 3 minutes). Stop mixer and let rest for 2 minutes. Turn mixer back on to medium speed and knead for about 3 minutes (until the dough is smooth). Place dough in a tightly covered oiled bowl with plenty of room to rise and let sit overnight in your refrigerator.

The next day, pull the dough and portion it into 3-ounce balls. Let sit another couple of hours. Preheat oven with pizza stone to 450 degrees. Roll out pizza dough balls until they are about 10 inches wide, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with shredded Parmesan cheese. Place on pizza stone and bake until just slightly brown on the top (2–3 minutes). You want the crust to be a little soft. Remove from the oven and fold the crust in half.

For the salad, the sky’s the limit. But Oakville uses romaine lettuce, pancetta, rotisserie chicken, Parmesan and fresh tomatoes with caesar dressing. When you’ve mixed the salad, just plop in on top of the crust and fold in half.

Marie Simmons, COPIA

COPIA makes use of its huge gardens and fruit orchards to make great seasonal desserts for its many cooking classes and the restaurant, Julia’s Kitchen. This simple fruit crisp is an uncomplicated way to use up the bounty of the season, deliciously.

When making up this easy crisp, double the recipe for the crumb topping and refrigerate or freeze half for an especially fast fruit crisp later in the season.

Marie Simmons’ Summer Fruit Crisp

For the fruit
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. packed light brown sugar
6–8 c. prepared fresh summer fruit, such as peeled and sliced peaches; sliced plums or nectarines; whole blueberries, raspberries and/or blackberries; or pitted cherries

For the crumb topping
1 c. quick-cooking (not instant) oatmeal
1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
1/3 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
6 tbsp. cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces or coarsely shredded
1/2 c. walnut pieces
whipped cream or ice cream (optional)
preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a large bowl, combine the flour and brown sugar. Add the fruit and toss to coat. Spread the mixture in a shallow, two-quart casserole or 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

In a medium bowl, combine the oatmeal, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Add the butter, working it into the flour mixture with your fingertips until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in the walnuts.

Scatter the topping over the fruit. Bake until the fruit bubbles and the topping is brown, about 35 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature topped with fresh whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.

Tracy Bates, Oxbow School

Trained at Chez Panisse, Tracy’s philosophy of food is to keep it simple and fresh–which is how she does it when cooking for the very creative, very hungry students at Napa’s Oxbow School. Don’t worry too much about getting the amounts perfect; this is a recipe that’s best when you fiddle around a little. They key is to give the onions and tomatoes time to release their juices.

Tracy Bates’ Summer Tomato Panzanella (Tuscan Bread Salad)
1/2 loaf crusty French or Italian bread, crusts removed, torn into approximately 3/4-inch croutons, to yield about 4 cupsextra-virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise (root-end removed first)
red wine vinegar
small handful pitted olives, kalamata or nicoise, roughly chopped
1 tbsp. capers, rinsed and drained
6–8 oz. mozzarella, cut into half-inch cubes (use fresh, if you can)
1 1/2 pounds assorted heirloom tomatoes, both big and small, various colors and stripes. Make sure they’re ripe and flavorful.
1/2 bunch fresh basil, leaves torn into small pieces
1/4 c. Italian parsley leaves roughly chopped
kosher salt and pepper to taste

Drizzle olive oil over the torn croutons, toss to coat evenly. Toast croutons in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes; they should be starting to brown on the edges but still be a bit chewy. Set aside to cool while assembling the other ingredients.

Put red onion slices in a small bowl and cover with red wine vinegar and a pinch of kosher salt. Allow onions to sit for about 15 minutes. Drain and reserve the vinegar for the salad.

Toss the olives, cheese and capers together along with enough olive oil to coat them. Then, core and cut the tomatoes into largeish chunks and halve any cherry tomatoes. Toss with some salt and olive oil and let sit for 10 minutes.

Assemble the salad about 15 minutes before you plan to serve it, allowing the croutons to absorb the delicious oil and juice from the tomatoes. Toss all the ingredients (don’t forget the herbs!) together in a large bowl, add more olive oil and reserved vinegar to taste. Add a generous grind of coarse black pepper. The salad should be moist but not swimming.

From the July 27-August 2, 2005 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.

© 2005 Metro Publishing Inc.

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