Category Archives: Dinner

Vermont Maple Memories: Pepper-seared Filet Mignon with Gorgonzola, Spinach, Turnip Purée and Maple Balsamic Sauce

Pepper-seared Filet Mignon with Maple Balsamic Sauce, Spinach and Turnip Purée. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Pepper-seared Filet Mignon with Maple Balsamic Sauce, Gorgonzola, Spinach and Turnip Purée. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

When it comes to “comfort food” we tend to refer back to the simple things we ate during our childhood, mac and cheese, spaghetti and meatballs, ice cream, apple pie and mom’s chicken soup (to name a few). But having grown up in northern Vermont in the middle of acres and acres of farm land, nothing is more comforting to me than pure Vermont maple syrup. When I was kid, my parents refused to accept payment from our neighbor farmer for the hay he needed to take from our fields every fall to feed his cattle through the winter. I have fond memories of climbing up on to those giant prickly marshmallow-shaped hay bales and attempting to jump from one to the next. Instead, in exchange for the free-hay, farmer Tucker would give us a handsome two-gallon jug of pure grade A Vermont maple syrup, which he had tapped from his own maple trees and boiled down in his Sugar-house into the luscious syrup. In all of my almost 18-years growing up in Vermont, I can’t remember a time when there wasn’t at least one of those huge jugs on the floor of our kitchen pantry. It was a constant staple, like flour, sugar and salt. We never ran out. And what most non-Vermonters don’t realize is that maple syrup isn’t an ingredient meant only for drizzling over pancakes. It’s a secret-weapon ingredient for all kinds of other desserts, savory dishes, salad dressings and in this case, balsamic steak sauce! My brother’s girlfriend Bliss, who also grew up in Vermont but lives in Brooklyn now, admitted to me once, “All of my friends make fun of me for my cooking. They say that I put maple syrup in everything I make.” I looked at her, confused. “Why? That’s a good thing.”

Enjoy!

Heather

Vermont Farm Offerings. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Vermont Farm Offerings. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Pepper-seared Filet Mignon with Gorgonzola, Spinach, Turnip Purée and Maple Balsamic Sauce

Serves 4

For Steak and Sauce:

  • 4( 6-ounce) filet mignons, trimmed
  • Freshly cracked black pepper, (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1/4 cup pure Vermont maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons apple-cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 2 tablespoon French brandy
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola, for topping

For Turnips:

  • 1 lb turnips, peeled and cut into 1″ pieces
  • kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 bunch baby spinach leaves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Coat one side of each filet with cracked pepper.

Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add the turnips and cook until tender, about 10-15 minutes. Drain. Return the turnips to the pan and add the cream. Return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until cream coats the turnips, about 4 minutes. Purée turnip mixture in a food processor until smooth. Cover and keep warm.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large cast-iron (or other oven-proof) skillet over medium-high heat until oil just begins to smoke. Add the filets, pepper side down and sear well on one side for about 3 minutes. Turn the filets over and sear for 2 more minutes before transferring the skillet to the oven for 5 more minutes.

Remove the steaks from the skillet and set aside, covered to keep warm while you make the sauce.

Using the same skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and sauté until soft and translucent, stirring frequently. Stir in the maple syrup, balsamic vinegar and apple-cider vinegar and cook until sauce is reduced by have. Continue to stir. This should take about 5 minutes

Stir in the beef stock. Remove the skillet from heat and add the brandy. Return the skillet to the heat. When the sauce begins to boil, whisk in the butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place a large dollop of the turnips on the center of four plates. Place a delicate handful of the baby spinach on top of each dollop. place the cooked steaks on top of the spinach. Using a large spoon, drizzle the sauce generously over the steaks. Top each steak with desired amount of crumbled Gorgonzola.

Vermont Farmland. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Vermont Farmland. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Vermont Cow. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Vermont Cow. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Pepper-Seared Filet Mignon with Gorgonzola, Spinach, Turnip Purée  and Maple Balsamic Sauce. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Pepper-Seared Filet Mignon with Gorgonzola, Spinach, Turnip Purée and Maple Balsamic Sauce. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

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Filed under Dinner, Gluten-free, Heather Platt, In Season, Lunch, Main Course, Meat, Winter

Suzanne Goin’s AOC Cookbook Preview: Mustard-Grilled Chicken with Spinach, Pine Nuts, Pecorino, and Soft Egg

Mustard-Grilled Chicken, with Spinach, Pine Nuts, Pecorino and Soft Egg. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Mustard-Grilled Chicken, with Spinach, Pine Nuts, Pecorino and Soft Egg. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

As the hostess at Lucques, I am often the one who gets to hear our guests praise and applaud their dining experiences at the end of the night.  As they walk out the door  looking happy and satisfied they will announce, “That was delicious!” with a look of shock on their faces that reads, “I didn’t know that food could taste that good.” I love to see how some guests’ demeanor changes from on their way in to on their way out. It’s amazing what a great meal and a delicious glass of wine can do!

A few years ago, this mustard-grilled chicken dish was on the menu. Let me remind you that the only dish on the Lucques menu that remains year round is Suzanne’s famous braised-beef short ribs. Everything else changes with the seasons and that’s part of what makes it so special for everyone making the food and eating it. But this chicken dish created quite a stir. Guests were literally begging me to keep it on the menu. One gentleman even called in advance to make sure that it would still be available by the time he came in for his reservation. He pleaded with me to tell the chef to keep it there at least a little bit longer. I even came in, myself, to the restaurant where I work  to eat this amazing chicken.  I had to let Suzanne know about the public demand and she did let it linger on the menu for a few more weeks.

So when I saw that the recipe for it had made it’s way into Suzanne’s AOC cookbook, my stomach grumbled and I felt intimidated. How could I possibly recreate something that delicious in my very own home? And having interned in the kitchen at Lucques, myself, I knew that this was a dish with many components. But my taste-testing dinner guests for this particular night were my  blogger/rocker always-honest best friend Anna Bulbrook and my sweet friend Morgan Kibby, who I hadn’t seen in a while because she has been gone touring the world and receiving Grammy nominations with her band M83 and, quite frankly I wanted to impress them.  I couldn’t think of a better way to show off a few tricks I’d learned from cooking in Suzanne’s kitchen and from her books than to make a recipe that had caused a craze.  “I hope you like chicken.” I said to Morgan as she stood in my kitchen two nights after she had walked the red carpet looking completely stunning at The Grammy Awards.  “Are you serious?! I’m so excited to eat this !” She said, “I’m starving. I haven’t eaten in two weeks.” We all laughed. And I smiled to myself, feeling quite self-satisfied to be personally ending a Grammy-red-carpet-starvation diet with something this good!

Morgan at the Grammy Awards.

Morgan at the Grammy Awards

Pretty/Hungry Rocker Girls Anna Bulbrook and Morgan Kibby. Phoot Credit: Heather Platt

Pretty/Hungry Rocker Girls Anna Bulbrook and Morgan Kibby. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Farmer's market shallots for the mustard marinade.. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Farmer’s market shallots for the mustard marinade. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Farmer's Market Baby Spinach. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Farmer’s Market Baby Spinach. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

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Filed under Dinner, Eggs, Heather Platt, In Season, Main Course, Poultry

Suzanne Goin’s AOC Cookbook Preview: Alaskan Halibut with Carrot Purée, Asparagus and Pistou

Alaskan Halibut with Carrot Purée, Asparagus and Pistou. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Alaskan Halibut with Carrot Purée, Asparagus and Pistou. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

If you own Sunday Suppers at Lucques, you are already familiar with the best recipe for carrot purée ever. Suzanne’s recipe, which involves caramelizing the carrot coins in olive oil before puréeing  them into a smooth and silky consistency, is one of my all-time favorite things to make.   I’ve made it dozens of times in various contexts. So when I saw it pop up in her new AOC cookbook, this time with basil instead of cilantro, I couldn’t wait to make it again.

Although this recipe for Alaskan halibut with carrot purée, asparagus, and pistou is in the spring fish section of the book, it highlights something that Suzanne is famous for, dishes inspired by the best of what is in season, whatever that may be. And as Suzanne says in her book, “This is one of those recipes that really is a template, so feel free to substitute whatever vegetables are most beautiful in the market.” So you can feel free to make this delicious dish year-round. And, if you’re lucky enough to have any extra pistou left over after making this, you might find yourself putting it on everything else you eat, as a spread on sandwiches, tossed with pasta, drizzled over eggs or simply dipping some toasted baguette slices in it as the perfect pre-dinner snack. I certainly did.

Santa Monica Farmer's Market Carrots. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Santa Monica Farmer’s Market Carrots. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

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Filed under Dinner, Fish, Gluten-free, Heather Platt, In Season, Main Course, Spring

Suzanne Goin’s AOC Cookbook Preview: Alaskan Black Cod with Kabocha Squash, Golden Raisins, and Pedro Ximenez

Suzanne Goin's Alaskan Black Cod with Kabocha, Golden Raisins and Pedro Ximenez. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Suzanne Goin’s Alaskan Black Cod with Kabocha, Golden Raisins and Pedro Ximenez. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

After reading through the final draft of Suzanne Goin’s  soon-to-be-published AOC cookbook, I felt a) starving and b) inspired to cook EVERY delicious recipe in it. I would scroll through it over and over again reading through the recipes obsessing and thinking, “That one sounds good….oh that sounds so good too. Wait, actually I think I have to make that one first.”

Like Sunday Suppers at Lucques, Suzanne’s AOC cookbook is conveniently divided up into seasons which helped me narrow down my culinary indecision to fall and winter recipes, recipes for which I knew I could find ingredients at the weekly farmer’s market. And as much as I wanted to make EVERYTHING all at once and eat it immediately, I couldn’t stop thinking about this one black cod recipe that involved Suzanne’s favorite of squashes, kabocha, golden raisins, and something called Pedro Ximenez, which she describes as “one of the worlds greatest uses of grapes.” Given that description and my weakness for any recipe involving golden raisins (I love snacking on them while I cook. It’s the same with Marcona almonds, which aren’t in this, but thankfully Suzanne loves Marconas too.) I had to make it. I love recipes that introduce me to new ingredients!  Or in this case, a pantry staple. Everyone should have a bottle of Pedro Ximenez sherry in their kitchen. And after an easy trip to my local wine store and  a pleasant trip to the farmer’s market, I found myself eating one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever tasted. Now the only question is, what to cook next?….

Santa Monica Farmer's Market Kabocha Squash. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Santa Monica Farmer’s Market Kabocha Squash. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Pedro Ximenez Sherry.Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Pedro Ximenez Sherry.
Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Alaskan Black Cod with Kabocha, Golden Raisins and Pedro Ximenez. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Alaskan Black Cod with Kabocha, Golden Raisins and Pedro Ximenez. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

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Filed under Dinner, Fall, Fish, Gluten-free, Heather Platt, In Season, Main Course, Uncategorized, Winter

Suzanne Goin’s AOC Cookbook Preview: Grilled Duck Breast with Preserved Citrus Peel and Sweet Potato Purée

Grilled Duck Breast with Preserved Citrus Peel and Sweet Potato Purée

Grilled Duck Breast with Preserved Citrus Peel and Sweet Potato Purée

A few weeks ago during a busy Sunday Supper at Lucques, I found myself standing in the middle of a conversation between (my boss/idol/friend) chef/owner of Lucques Suzanne Goin and a dinner guest named Shelley who happened to be an old  high school friend of  Suzanne. Shelley was reporting back to Suzanne that many of their friends from Marlborough High School have told  her that Suzanne’s James Beard Award winning cookbook “Sunday Suppers at Lucques”   “is amazing and will change your life!” Shelley admitted that she felt intimidated by it. I proceeded to jump in on the conversation and carry on about how I felt the same way at first “But once you start using it, it’s true! It really will change your life!” Eventually, I extracted myself from the meeting of old friends and got back to my duties at the hostess stand. But at the end of the night, after all of our guests had been seated, Suppers enjoyed, and desserts devoured, I was gathering my belongings in the office to leave for the night. With my purse slung over my shoulder and scarf around my neck, I started to leave and then  stopped in my tracks and turned around to Suzanne who was seated at a desk, typing on her laptop. “Suzanne it’s true.” I said. ” Your cookbook really has changed my life.” She looked up at me. “All of my friends think I’m a really good cook. But it just occurred to me that it’s only because I have your cookbook.” She smiled at me and then said casually, “Here, I’ll email you the latest draft of my AOC cookbook. You can test recipes. ”

Once in awhile, we are told things that leave us speechless. This was one of those things. And by the time I got home (still smiling and giddy), there was an email in my in box with the subject “Here you go!” a note  that said “Merry Christmas..please let me know your results and if anything is confusing.” and an extremely large attachment titled “AOC BOOK DRAFT 1 W WINE FINAL.” I spent my entire Christmas break devouring it….literally and figuratively. And you can trust me when I say; it’s delicious.

The only way I can truly show Suzanne how flattered and grateful I am to have early access to such classified information is to make (and eat) my way through as many recipes as possible.  I couldn’t help but start with duck!

Suzanne Goin's Grilled Duck Breast with Preserved Citrus Peel and Sweet Potato Purée

Suzanne Goin’s Grilled Duck Breast with Preserved Citrus Peel and Sweet Potato Purée

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Filed under Dinner, Fall, Heather Platt, In Season, Main Course, Winter

Hearty and Healthy Autumn Dinners: Pork Tenderloin with Carrot Yam Hash and Roasted Fall Vegetables

Nothing gets me more excited about cooking than fall. Maybe it’s the fact that my birthday passes in October, and I inevitably end up with a pretty new apron, cookbook,  or dutch oven that I just can’t wait to break in. Maybe it’s the fact that the holidays are around the corner and I’m feeling festive. Or that the temperature has cooled down so much that turning the oven on or standing over a simmering pot of something aromatic sounds like a brilliant idea. Or that a trip to the farmer’s market ends with an almost-back-breakingly heavy bag full of fall’s greatest bounties. Brussels sprouts, yams, carrots, cauliflower, parsnips, squash and potatoes vie for my attention. This hearty yet healthy week night dinner was the result of one of those farmer’s market trips. I couldn’t choose between them, so I just came home with everything and this was the result.

Enjoy!

Heather

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Filed under Dinner, Fall, Gluten-free, Heather Platt, In Season, Main Course, Meat

Risotto Therapy: Pan-Seared Scallops with Corn, Bacon and Shiitake Mushroom Risotto

I’ll admit it. I’m a food nerd. I care  more about the James Beard Awards than the Oscars. I would rather read Gourmet than People Magazine. And I would be happier if trapped for  a day in Williams-Sonoma than Bloomingdales. I recently found great joy in helping my close (non-food nerd) friend Natalie complete her wedding registry. I proceeded to talk her I-don’t-even-like-to-cook ears off about the love and care one must give their cast iron skillet if they want to own one,  lectured her on the many uses of a mortar and pestle and the  importance of a proper knife set. She laughed hysterically when I insisted she register for and eight-hundred dollar one.(Seriously, It was gorgeous.) But most importantly we made sure she was all set for risotto-making. Aside from being creamy, delicious and the perfect dinner for two newlyweds, on a stressful day, nothing is more therapeutic than stirring up some risotto.

When asked what to order off of the menu at Lucques, my heart races, my eyes light up and I start saying things about the scallops like “They make you happy to be alive.” “They are to die for.” “They are what makes Lucques Lucques.” And despite my overly-dorky enthusiasm about all thing culinary, it’s all true. Nothing gives me more joy than a delicious meal. This dish, is not the one on the menu at Lucques. You’ll have to go there for that. But the combination of sweet last-of-the-season corn with mushrooms,  topped with perfectly  cooked scallops is inspired by it. And with the crispy bacon inside the creamy risotto, it doesn’t take a food nerd like me to say “I do” to making this recipe.

Congrats Nat and Trev!

Heather

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Filed under Dinner, Gluten-free, Heather Platt