Wolfgang Arrives in New York

October 17, 2016

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What took him so long?

Wolfgang Puck has conquered so much of America, it’s hard to believe he’s only now getting around to New York. But he’s arrived with a bang at his new Cut in the Four Seasons Hotel downtown.

It’s dark, cozy, romantic, loud – the kind of place that wants to send you out the door saying, “Boy that was fun!” It’s also inventive and up to the moment.

Consider, for example, the pork belly pictured above.  Half the chefs in the country are doing a version of the pork belly sliders David Chang first made famous at Momofuku Ssam bar – but Cut does it differently.  The pork is from Mosefund farm, and it comes with roasted apples and mustard seeds.  You make your own sandwich, placing the crisp pig between two white circles of dough.  Each one of those little dribs and drabs adds another level of flavor and sophistication. We couldn’t stop eating them.

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This is the Cut version of tuna tartare.  With togarishi crisps, wasabi, soy… the flavors dance around in your mouth very happily.

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And this is their steak tartare, which has a kind of thick egg yolk jam that adds a new layer of richness to the beef, and crisped beef tendon that gives it crunch. Another totally addictive treat.

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A little sashimi – of course! – hamachi, blood orange, ponzu, cucumber.

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Tortelloni with corn, mascarpone, cheese… a delightfully gilded lily.

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From the Negroni cart: the perfect expression of the drink of the moment.  The scent of citrus leaps from the glass.  And the glass is a joy to hold – smooth, a little too large, rounded – with the biggest ice cube you’ve ever seen smack in the middle.  It arrives with long parmesan crisps and a basket of gougeres.

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And then it’s show time: the meat display

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They make a big deal of the wagyu at the bottom, but frankly I’ve never understood the appeal of meat that’s more fat than chew.  We opted for the prime aged American beef at the top

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And onion rings…

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and creamed spinach that looks so unappealing in the photo I took that I refuse to subject you to it. Take my word that it tasted far better than it looked.

Other dishes that did not enjoy their moment on film: bone marrow flan, served snuggled into the bones, which turns out to be the perfect way to stretch marrow into more. I also loved the mush of mushrooms on the side.

Desserts, on the other hand, are pretty: I especially liked this baked Alaska.

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Cut strikes me as the perfect expression of the up and coming FIDI area: lots of inventive nibbles followed by straightforward red meat. The truth is, you might want to come just for a Negroni  – and to watch all those beautiful people come pouring through the door.

 

 

 

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The Sexiest Eggs You’ll Ever Eat

October 15, 2016

ruth_fall_1579Shirred Eggs with Potato Puree

4-5 yukon potatoes, about 1 pound, peeled and cut into half inch slices

one teaspoon sea salt

freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup cream

1/2 stick unsalted butter (4 ounces)

4 eggs

1. Place the potatoes in a pot and cover with an inch of cold water. Add the salt.

2. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes until a fork easily pierces the flesh.

3. Put the potatoes through a ricer. If you do not have a ricer use a fork to break up the flesh.  Season with freshly ground pepper.

4. Slowly melt the butter in a sauce pan over a low flame. When it is melted, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cream.

5. Whisk the cream in a slow stream into the potatoes, whisking all the while. In an instant the potatoes will transform into a smooth, airy, puree. Season to taste.

6. Heat an oven to 375 degrees.

Butter 4 ramekins and put about an inch of whipped potato into each one. Carefully break an egg into a saucer, and then let it slip onto its soft bed of puree. Repeat for each ramekin.

7. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and place the ramekins in a deep baking dish. Pour boiling water into the dish until it comes halfway up the ramekins; be careful not to get the water into the ramekins. Place the dish on a baking sheet, and set the whole thing into the oven.  Bake for 8 minutes, until the whites just begin to set. Remove from the oven and spoon a tablespoon of cream over the egg.

8. Return to the oven for another 5 minutes until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny.

Garnish with any or all of the following and serve immediately.

grey sea salt

chopped chives

bacon

grated cheese

Serves 4.

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Perfect Fall Soup

October 13, 2016

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This is, to me, the perfect soup for this time of year.  It’s about the easiest soup I know, one that transforms a handful of simple ingredients into something, soft thick, almost creamy.  It’s deliciously soothing.  The color is gorgeous, it’s inexpensive – and also vegan.

Butternut Squash Soup

1 onion, coarsely chopped

1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped

2 carrots, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound peeled butternut squash, cut into 3/4 inch dice

1/2 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 3/4 inch chunks

2 teaspoons sea salt

2 1/2 cups boiling water

garnishes: diced Granny Smith or other crisp apple, olive oil, balsamic vinegar.

  1. Put onion, carrots, celery and olive oil into a large casserole and cook for about ten minutes, until they become soft.
  2. Add squash, potatoes, and salt. Stir in boiling water, bring to a simmer, and allow to cook for about half an hour, until the squash and potatoes are very soft.
  3. Puree, in batches, in a blender.  Be cautious; hot soup can be dangerous.
  4. Taste for seasoning. Serve topped with a drizzle of olive oil and/or balsamic, and the diced apple.

Serves 4.

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Things I Love: Strange Snack

October 12, 2016

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These days I find myself going into the refrigerator at all times of the day, chopsticks in hand, to snatch another bite of this chewy, sweet, spicy treat.  It’s dried squid that’s been doused in red pepper sauce, sugar and sesame oil.  A strange snack, perhaps, but once you start to like it, you can’t get enough.

I buy mine at H Mart on 32nd Street in New York, but you can find this at any Korean grocery. If you don’t have a handy Korean grocery, H Mart has an online shop.

Be warned, however; these chewy little bites quickly become addictive.

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How to Stuff a Pumpkin

October 11, 2016

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Swiss Pumpkin

I originally called this pumpkin soup, but it’s really a gratin baked right inside the pumpkin. I was 21 when I developed the recipe, and oblivious to richness so I used nothing but cream. Today I mix the cream with chicken broth (about a cup of cream and a cup of broth). You could also use milk. It’s STILL pretty much of a heart-stopper but it’s irresistible. 

Go out and buy a fairly small pumpkin (about 4 pounds) with a flat bottom. Cut off the top, as if you were going to carve a jack-o-lantern, and hollow it out. Spread the seeds out and dry them to eat later.

Now get a good loaf of French bread, cube it, put the cubes on a baking sheet and toast them lightly in a 350 degree oven for about 9 minutes.  Leave the oven on.

Grate a good amount of one of the Swiss cheeses – Emmenthaler, Gruyere or Appenzeller (you’ll need about 12 ounces). Layer the bread and cheese inside the pumpkin until it’s almost full (leave a half inch on the top because the filling will expand a bit).

Mix 1 cup of chicken stock into a cup of cream. Add a teaspoon of salt. Grind in some black pepper and grate in some nutmeg. Then fill the pumpkin almost to the top with as much of this mixture as you need, replace the top of the pumpkin, brush the outside with neutral oil, set it on a baking sheet, and bake for about 2 hours.

Bring the whole pumpkin to the table. When you serve it be sure to scoop out the pumpkin flesh with the cheese and the cream.

Serves 4

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