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Perfect timing

An ongoing peek into the pages of chef-authored cookbooks.

When Michael Schlow set out to write his cookbook, he never wanted it to end up sitting on a coffee table. That’s not to say It’s About Time isn’t filled with pretty food. After all, it was written by the award-winning chef of three top Boston restaurants. But Schlow’s goal was to have it propped open on the kitchen counter, inspiring and instructing home cooks who have more taste than time. Pros will find it worth their time, too.

It’s About Time: Great Recipes for Everyday Life
by Michael Schlow; Steerforth Press, 2005.
Radius, Via Matta, and Great Bay, Michael Schlow’s three Boston restaurants, focus on three different culinary styles—modern French, authentic regional Italian, and sophisticated seafood. Yet all reflect the earthiness and extreme dedication of the chef. These same qualities shine through in the 150 recipes in his cookbook, all accompanied by chatty sidebars and tips that make the reader feel like Schlow is right there in the kitchen. Although a portion of the book focuses on cooking dinner in 30 minutes or less, other chapters deal with the pleasures of slow cooking—one of Schlow’s signatures—and ideas that make a home cook look like a pro. Attention is paid to seasonality, ingredients, and technique as well.

Maine Crab Tart with Cucumber, Cilantro, and Broken Cumin Vinaigrette

Tarts:
6 oz. jumbo lump crabmeat,
picked clean of cartilage
1 tbsp. mayonnaise
1 pinch fresh thyme, chopped
1 tsp. thinly sliced chives
1 tbsp. chopped shallots
Juice of half a lemon
1 oz. extra-virgin olive oil, plus
additional for oiling the molds
Salt and pepper, to taste
Sugar
4 tbsp. English cucumber, peeled
and cut into 1⁄4-in. dice
1⁄2 oz. rice wine vinegar
2 pinches micro-cilantro, for garnish

Broken Cumin Vinaigrette:
7 oz. balsamic vinegar
1⁄2 tsp. cumin seeds
4 oz. canola oil
1 tbsp. minced shallots
1 tsp. chives, finely sliced
1 small pinch curry powder
Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Prepare tarts: Combine the crab, mayonnaise, thyme, chives, shallot, lemon juice, and 2 tbsp. olive oil in a small mixing bowl. Season the crab mixture with salt, pepper, and a pinch or two of sugar.
  2. In a second bowl, toss cucumbers with rice wine vinegar and salt, to taste, refrigerate both bowls until ready to serve.
  3. Prepare Broken Cumin Vinaigrette: Simmer the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan until reduced to 2 oz. (1⁄4 cup).
  4. Place cumin seeds in a small sauté pan and toast over high heat until lightly browned and fragrant, about 2 min.
  5. Coarsely crack the cumin seeds using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder (or place them on a cutting board, cover them with the bottom of a saucepan, crush them by pressing down firmly).
  6. Combine the vinegar, cumin seeds, and the remaining ingredients in a small bowl, whisking only a few times to incorporate; The vinaigrette should not be smooth and emulsified, but “broken” with visible droplets of vinegar suspended in the oil.
  7. At serving time, check both the crab and cucumber mixture for seasoning and adjust if needed. Lightly brush the inside of two 21⁄2- by 11⁄2-in. ring molds with olive oil. Drain the cucumbers of any excess liquid.
  8. Put each ring mold in the center of a dinner plate. Place 2 tbsp. of the cucumber mixture in each ring mold, and spoon half the crabmeat over the cucumbers in each mold and press down gently, carefully remove the molds.
  9. Spoon 1 tsp. of the vinaigrette around each tart, being careful to leave the vinaigrette “broken” by not stirring too much, garnish tarts with a few cilantro leaves and serve.

Yield: 2 first-course servings.

Lamb Salad With Sweet and Spicy Eggplant, Baby Greens, and Red Pepper Syrup

Sweet and Spicy Eggplant:
2 oz. olive oil
1 med. white onion, diced
1 large eggplant, diced
2 oz. honey
2 oz. red wine vinegar
1⁄4 tsp. cumin powder
1⁄4 tsp. curry powder
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

Red Pepper Syrup:
8 oz. red bell pepper juice
(approximately 3 peppers, juiced)
1⁄2 oz. rice wine vinegar
Sugar
Salt and pepper

Lamb:
2 boneless lamb loins (12 oz. each), trimmed of excess fat
Salt and pepper
2 oz. extra-virgin olive oil
1 pinch fresh rosemary, chopped
1 pinch fresh thyme leaves

Baby Lettuce Bouquets:
4 small handfuls assorted baby lettuces, rinsed (frisee, lolla rossa, mizuna, etc.)
4 whole chives
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Sherry vinegar, for drizzling
Salt and pepper

  1. Prepare eggplant salad: Heat olive oil in sauté pan over high heat. Add onion and sauté for 2-3 min, add eggplant and cook until lightly browned, stirring occasionally, 4-5 min.
  2. Turn down heat to low and add honey, red wine vinegar, cumin, curry, cayenne, salt, and pepper, continue cooking until eggplant is tender but still moist.
  3. When eggplant is finished, add cilantro and combine and adjust seasoning, if needed, to obtain a balance of sweet, spicy, and aromatic flavors.
  4. Prepare red pepper syrup: Place red pepper juice in small saucepot and reduce over high heat to about 3 oz. (6 tbsp) let cool, then add the vinegar; stir in sugar, salt, and pepper to taste, bring to room temperature (can be prepared up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated).
  5. Prepare lamb: Preheat oven to 275°F, season lamb with salt and pepper.
  6. Place the olive oil in an ovenproof sauté pan, add the lamb, and gently brown over med. heat, 1 min. per side, and do not allow the lamb to sear or get too brown; add rosemary and thyme and baste the meat with the pan juices.
  7. Transfer to the oven and roast, turning the meat over and basting every 5 min., until med.-rare, about 18 min. allowing the meat to rest about 10 min. when it is finished; it will be served just warm.
  8. Prepare baby lettuce bouquets: Divide lettuce into four bunches (just as you would a bouquet of flowers) wrap a chive strand a few times around the base of each bunch to hold the lettuces together and tie it off.
  9. Per serving, form two quenelles of eggplant salad and place them on a plate like spokes on a wheel. Slice each lamb loin into six even pieces, and fan out three slices on each plate, placing lettuce bouquets between the eggplant and lamb and drizzle with oil and vinegar; drizzle Red Pepper Syrup in a circle around eggplant and lamb, then garnish with freshly ground pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

Yield: Makes 4 servings.

Rigatoni with Soppressata, White Beans, Tomato, and Black Olives

8 oz. rigatoni
2 oz. extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp. finely diced soppressata
1 pinch fresh rosemary, chopped
Salt, pepper, and crushed
red pepper flakes
2 cups milled tomatoes (see note)
1⁄2 cup cooked white cannellini beans
10 Kalamata olives, rinsed,
pitted, and quartered
4 tbsp. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
12-15 whole Italian parsley leaves

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, adding the rigatoni and boil 7-9 min., until al dente; stir from time to time to keep rigatoni from sticking.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over high heat and add the soppressata and fry for 1 min.
  3. Add the rosemary and a pinch each of salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes, then  add the milled tomatoes and cook for 4 min.
  4. Stir in the white beans and olives, cooking for about 3 more min., until the sauce begins to thicken and turn a darker red; remove the sauce from the heat if it appears cooked before the rigatoni is al dente and check the pasta—it should be almost ready; when it is, strain the pasta and add it to the saucepan.
  5. Cook sauce and pasta together over high heat for 1-2 min., until the pasta absorbs most of the sauce.
  6. Check the seasoning, add the cheese and parsley leaves, toss for 30 sec., and serve.

Yield: 2 generous servings.

Note: To make milled tomatoes,
pass good-quality, canned whole Italian tomatoes and their juices through a
food mill.

Yukon Gold Potato Soup

4 very large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
1 white onion, peeled and diced
1 large celery root, peeled and diced
1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced
1 qt. clear vegetable stock
3 qt. whole milk
8 oz. (1 cup) crème fraîche
2 tbsp. butter
Salt and white pepper

  1. Place potatoes, onion, celery root, leek, vegetable stock, and milk in a large soup pot cooking gently over med. heat until the potatoes and celery root are tender, about 30 min.
  2. Remove from heat, let cool slightly, and puree in batches in a high-speed blender until smooth and creamy.
  3. Return soup to pot and stir in the crème fraiche and butter adding salt and white pepper, to taste.
  4. For the garnish: Bring a med. saucepot full of lightly salted water to a boil and add the shrimp, lower the heat, and simmer until shrimp turn pink and are cooked through; let cool and slice shrimp into 1⁄2-in. pieces and set aside.
  5. Render bacon over low heat until just crispy and drain on paper towels, blanching diced potatoes in salted, boiling water until just tender, then drain and set aside.
  6. Just before serving, combine shrimp, bacon, and potatoes; season with salt and pepperand gently reheat soup over low heat; divide the shrimp-bacon-potato mixture among four warmed soup bowls, and pour in the soup; garnish with the chives and freshly ground pepper.

Yield: 4 servings.

Slow-Roasted Prime Rib-Eye with Robuchon Potatoes, Haricots Verts, Baby Carrots, and Red Wine Sauce

For the Rib-Eye Steaks:
1⁄4 cup canola oil
2 9-oz. prime rib-eye steaks
Salt and pepper
1 pinch fresh thyme, chopped
1 pinch fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tbsp. butter
1 cup Robuchon Potatoes (recipe follows)
1⁄2 cup red wine sauce
Parsley oil, optional
1 tsp. finely diced tomatoes, optional
Fresh chervil sprigs, optional

For the Vegetables:
1 tbsp. butter
1⁄2 cup haricots verts, halved, blanched
8 baby carrots, halved lengthwise and blanched
6 pearl onions, peeled and blanched
Salt and pepper
1 pinch fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 pinch fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

  1. Preheat the oven to 300ºF.
  2. Heat canola oil in a large sauté pan over med. heat for 30 sec.
  3. Season the steaks with salt and pepper and place in the pan. The pan should not be very hot.
  4. Cook the steaks for 1 min. on each side, then add a pinch each of thyme and rosemary.
  5. Add the butter to the pan and tilt toward you to help distribute the butter. Baste the steaks with the melted butter and herbs.
  6. Flip the steaks once more, and baste again.
  7. Transfer the steaks to a roasting pan fitted with a wire rack and place in the oven for about 20 minutes for med.-rare.
  8. Remove the steaks from the oven and allow to rest for at least 10 min.
  9. While the steaks rest, gently reheat the Robuchon Potatoes and the red wine sauce.
  10. Return the steaks to the oven to reheat for 3 to 4 min. while you prepare the Vegetables.
  11. For the Vegetables: Melt the butter in a sauté pan over med.-high heat. Add the haricots verts, carrots, and onions and sauté until heated through.
  12. Season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of thyme and rosemary. Add a drop of lemon juice and taste for seasoning.

Yield: 2 servings.

Robuchon Potatoes

2 lbs. baking potatoes, unpeeled
3 tbsp. salt
1 cup whole milk
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

  1. Preheat the oven to 250ºF.
  2. Place the potatoes in a large pot, cover by an inch with cold water, add the salt, and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to maintain a low boil, and cook until the potatoes are tender when pierced, about 30 min.
  4. Drain the potatoes. Peel as soon as they are cool enough to handle.
  5. Pass the potatoes through a food mill, arrange on a baking sheet, and place in the oven for 15 min. to dry out.
  6. Meanwhile, heat the milk to a simmer in a small saucepot; set aside.
  7. Transfer the potatoes to a med. saucepot, place over moderate heat, and incorporate the butter, a few pieces at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon.
  8. ­Slowly add the milk to the potatoes in a steady stream, continuing to stir.
  9. Pass potato mixture through a tamis or chinois. Salt to taste. Keep potatoes warm until service.

Yield: 4 servings.

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