A Fruity Delight

Chef Gregory Zakarian describes his style as "dynamic American" — a blend of his French training with a little flair.

The owner and executive chef of the New York City restaurant Town shows The Saturday Early Show how to feed four with tasty dishes on a slim budget.

Zakarian was trained classically under the tutelage of French master chefs. His career took off when he was named the chef of cuisine at Le Cirque. He moved to the 21 Club to become the executive chef. He earned a two-star review from the New York Times.

He left in 1990 to head Restaurant 44 at the Royalton Hotel. He moved to Miami shortly after and then lived in Paris for a while. He returned to New York City in 1998 and he earned a three-star review and the reviewer noted that his menu was "remarkably smart."

Definition
Kaffir Lime: Grown in Southeast Asia and Hawaii. The Kaffir lime tree produces small, pear-shaped citrus fruit with a skin that's bright-yellow-green, bumpy and wrinkled. The glossy, dark green kaffir lime leaves are used in cooking. You can find dried ones at most Asian markets. Fresh leaves are sometimes also available.

Heirloom Tomatoes: the advent of mega-agriculture in America has seen the gradual depletion of ancient varieties of Native non-hybrid plants. Unfortunately for those who appreciate full-flavored fruits and vegetables, produce-seed conglomerates focus only on those strains that have mass-market appeal. Which means they are beautiful and hardy, but not necessarily the best-tasting. Fortunately about 25 years ago, some individuals began saving what whey could of the remaining open-pollinated seed varieties, which have become known as heirloom seeds.

MENU

Watermelon With Tomato Gazpacho
Mussels With Lime Leaves
Sautéed Strawberries


RECIPES:

Watermelon and Tomato Gazpacho with Basil Oil
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 heirloom tomato or a ripe yellow tomato
3 large tomatoes (Red, ripe)
2 hot house cucumbers
8 oz. ripe watermelon
2 red bell pepper, seeded
1 red onion peeled and diced
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
4 sprigs fresh basil
4 sprigs fresh mint
1/4 cup olive oil
dash of tabasco
dash of salt and pepper

Method for Tomato Gazpacho
  1. Dice roughly the large tomatoes, cucumbers, red bell peppers, melon and red onion and marinate with the sherry, olive oil, Tabasco, salt and pepper. Reserve one yellow tomato for the garnish.
  2. Refrigerate overnight.
  3. Next, puree all marinated ingredients in a blender on high speed, until smooth texture.
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Method for Basil Oil
  1. Mix the basil, mint, olive oil in a blender and process for 5 seconds.
  2. Bring the ingredients to boil in a medium pan, whisking constantly for 3 minutes.
  3. Let cool to room temperature and strain through a café filter.
Presentation
Serve in chilled glasses or bowls, garnish with diced heirloom tomato and a few drops of basil oil.

Mussels With Lime Leaves
(Serves 4)

Ingredients for Sweet Garlic Butter
10 garlic cloves
2 cups milk
1/2 cup chopped parsley

Ingredients for Mussels
Shallots peeled and sliced thin (5 ea.)
Fresh turmeric knob sliced
1 or 2 teaspoons of powder tumeric
Kaffir lime leaves (bruised) (2 ea.)
1 cup of dry muscat or sweet white wine
1 cup of dry white wine
2 limes for juice
2 pints of fish stock
1/2 can of coconut milk
1/2 cup of heavy cream
4 lbs of cleaned PEI mussels
1 tsp. fresh cilantro
1 tsp. peppercorn
1 bunch of fresh Italian parsley (washed and cut in chiffonade)
1 each of beefsteak tomato (peeled, seeded, diced small)
2-3 blanched garlic cloves (sliced paper thin)
Sea salt and fresh pepper

Method for kaffir lime broth:
  1. In a medium saucepan over moderate heat, sweat the shallots, coriander, peppercorns, both turmeric, kaffir lime leaves, until shallots are translucent.
  2. Deglaze with the juice of one lime and both wines. Reduce until almost dry.
  3. Next, add in fish stock and reduce by half.
  4. Add in coconut milk and cream, reduce by half. Season with salt, pepper and the remaining lime juice.
  5. Strain and reserve warm.
Method for Garlic Butter
  1. Place the garlic cloves in a small sauce pot.
  2. Cover with milk.
  3. Simmer until the garlic gets very soft.
  4. Strain off half of the milk and discard.
  5. Place reserved garlic and milk into Cuisinart or Robot coupe. Puree until smooth.
  6. Finish with the chopped parsley.
Method for Mussels:
  1. In a heavy pot over moderate heat, put half of the garlic butter with the mussels.
  2. Sweat uncovered for a minute, then pour in the warm kaffir lime broth.
  3. Cover and cook the mussels until they all open.
  4. Add in the remaining garlic butter, parsley, tomato and poached garlic slices.
  5. Serve warm with some toasted baguette.
Sauteed strawberries
(Serves 4)

Ingredients:
1.5 lb strawberries
1/2 tsp.salted butter
Brown sugar 1/2 Tsp.
1 pinch of black pepper
1/2 bunch fresh mint (stemmed and roughly chopped)
1 tsp. (optional) of crème fraiche
1/2 bean (optional) of Vanilla bean

Method:
  1. Clean the strawberries cut them into quarters.
  2. Heat the salted butter in a saucepan. When melted, add the brown sugar. Let cook until lightly caramelized (about three minutes).
  3. Saute the strawberries with the caramel for 15 seconds. Add a pinch of black pepper. Let cook for 30 seconds.
  4. Finally, add the fresh mint and transfer to a bowl.
  5. Top with crème fraiche.
  6. Serve immediately.

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