Cook Bistro-Style, At Home

Chef Laurent Tourondel is Bon Appetit magazine's 2007 Restaurateur of the Year.

His "BLT" bistros in New York, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico have proven to be big hits. He is BLT's executive chef and co-owner.

Incidentally, "BLT" stands for "Bistro Laurent Tourondel," not bacon, lettuce and tomato.

Now, you can find his favorite and most popular bistro recipes in his second cookbook, also called "Bistro Laurent Tourondel" ("Go Fish" was his first).

Tourondel has created an empire around the idea of "bistro."

To him, bistro means an "informal, comfortable" restaurant where the portions are generous, straightforward, and full of flavor. You can walk into any of his restaurants and know you'll not only get great food, but a warm welcome.

Bistro cooking reminds Tourondel of his childhood, when he went to a bistro next door to his grandfather's music school, so it translates to him as great comfort food.

To Tourondel as a chef, bistro cooking means the recipes don't change, except for seasonal ingredients.

His new cookbook reflects the different restaurants he owns. There are recipes for beginners, for those short on time, and for those who have some time to spend in the kitchen.

Tourondel prepared some dishes on The Early Show based on recipes in the new book.

Terminology:

Smoked sea salt is a broad term that generally refers to unrefined salt derived directly from a living ocean or sea. It's harvested by channeling ocean water into large clay trays and allowing the sun and wind to evaporate it naturally.

Manufacturers of sea salt typically don't refine it as much as other kinds of salt, so it still contains traces of other minerals, including iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, manganese, zinc and iodine. Proponents of sea salt rave about its bright, pure, clean flavor, and about the subtleties lent to it by those other trace minerals.

Generally, sea salt is considered healthier and more flavorful that traditional table salt.

It's available in coarse, fine, and extra-fine grain sizes.

Smoked sea salts are a relatively new and exciting gourmet salt in the United States.

They're naturally smoked over real wood fires to infuse the salt crystals with 100 percent natural smoke flavor.

Smoked sea salts add a unique, authentic smokehouse flavor to a wide range of dishes including roasts, chicken, pasta, salads, soups, and sandwiches.

Unlike artificially infused smoke-flavored salts, all smoked sea salts are naturally smoked.

They're great when grilling or oven-roasting. This is a must when cooking salmon.



SMOKED SEA SALT AND BLACK PEPPER-CRUSTED RIB EYE

Smoked salt and pepper gives these steaks added flavor. You can buy smoked salt and pepper at many gourmet shops, but if you have a stovetop smoker, it's easy to make them at home.

Serves 6

1 cup Liquid Smoke
2 tablespoons smoked Maldon sea salt
2 tablespoons smoked black pepper
3 rib eye steaks (preferably dry aged), 30 to 40 ounces each, about 2 inches thick
4 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

Marinate the steak: With a fork, pierce the steak all over on both sides. Place the steak in a shallow dish and pour on the Liquid Smoke. Cover and refrigerate for 48 hours, turning the steak once.

Season the steak: Remove the steak from the liquid. Don't pat dry. Brush on the butter. Season both sides with the smoked salt and pepper.

Grill the steak: Preheat a barbecue grill or stovetop grill pan.

Cook the steaks, 7 to 10 minutes on each side until medium rare. To check for doneness, insert an instant reading thermometer in the thickest part of the meat. The temperature reading should be 130 to135 degrees Fahrenheit for medium-rare.

To Serve: Transfer the steak to a cutting board. Allow to rest 10 to 12 minutes. Cut into 1-thick slices.

Chef's Tip: These steaks are great with good mustard or steak sauce.

Wine Suggestion: Syrah, "Cuvee D'Honneur," Neyers, 2002, Carneros, California: a spicy and smoky Syrah with aromas of black cherries, baking spices and black pepper.



HONEY CARAMELIZED BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH ROASTED CHESTNUTS

Says Tourondel: "My grandfather wasn't really a cook, but he had one specialty: This combination of Brussels sprouts and roasted chestnuts with a caramelized honey glaze. He would make this dish for us on Sundays, and we would eat them with roast leg of lamb."

(Serves 6)

12 ounces chestnuts, roasted and peeled
2 pounds Brussels sprouts, stems trimmed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced shallots
1 cup honey
1 tablespoon sugar
1 -10 ounce slice prosciutto, cut into 1/2-inch strips
1 cup parsley leaves, chopped

Prepare the Chestnuts: Cut the peeled chestnuts into thin slices.

Blanch the Brussels Sprouts: Bring a large pot of salted water to boiling. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook 5 minutes. Drain and transfer the sprouts to a bowl of ice water to cool. Drain well.

Sauté the Brussels Sprouts: In a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter until it begins to foam. Add the garlic and shallots and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes or until the shallots are tender. Add the Brussels sprouts and chestnuts. Stir until well-combined. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the honey, sugar and prosciutto. Turn up the flame to medium-high. Cook, not moving the pan, for about 2 minutes to allow the Brussels sprouts to caramelize and the prosciutto to crisp.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the parsley.

Serve immediately.

Chef's Tip: Baby Brussels sprouts are better looking than the large ones.
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