Waldorf Salad From Waldorf Chef

A smoked salmon dinner featuring the classic Waldorf salad was the bill of fare by Chef on a Shoestring John Doherty, who happens to be the executive chef at New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. He showed how it's done on The Saturday Early Show.

Doherty has been executive chef at the Waldorf-Astoria for 20 years. He decided in his last year of high school that he really wanted to work at this "epitome of luxury and excellence," and after attending culinary school, he landed a job at the hotel in 1978. In 1985, at the age of 27, he was appointed executive chef.

The Waldorf serves 3,000 to 5,000 meals a day, and it's not turning out PB&Js. The hotel plays host to practically every celebrity under the sun, and its food is quite elegant. Every president since Herbert Hoover has dined at the Waldorf. As a matter of fact, Chef Doherty holds the distinction of serving more heads of state, royalty and presidents than any other chef in the country. He says that for him, his interactions with political figures is the most awe-inspiring part of his job.

For more, go to Chef Doherty at the Waldorf-Astoria Web site.

FOOD FACTS

Waldorf Salad: When it was created in the 1890s, this salad only consisted of apples, celery and mayonnaise. Chopped walnuts were later added. The hotel kitchen has "updated" the salad for today's taste, losing the mayo and substituting crème fraise and yogurt. In the Waldorf's restaurants, the salad also comes with truffles and candied walnuts. Unfortunately for you, however, the Chef on a Shoestring budget does not allow for such indulgences!

Crème Fraiche: This is a very thick cream (almost like sour cream) with a bit of a tang.

Here is the menu Doherty prepared on The Saturday Early Show:

Waldorf Salad
Warm Smoked Salmon with Lentils and Tomatoes
Peanut Caramel Sundae

RECIPES

WALDORF SALAD

Please note that this is the recipe for Waldorf Salad as it appears in Chef Doherty's book. However, we had to make some changes for Chef on a Shoestring. We merely toasted the walnuts instead of candying them; we eliminated the truffles and substituted olive oil for walnut oil and celery for celeriac.

Ingredients for candied walnuts
1 quart vegetable oil
1 cup apple juice
1/2 cup honey
1/8 cup dark molasses
1/8 cup maple syrup
1 cup walnut halves

Ingredients for the dressing
1/4 cup crème fraiche
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1½ teaspoons freshly squeeze lemon juice
1/8 cup walnut oil
salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
3/4 tablespoons minced black winter truffles

Ingredients for the Waldorf Salad
1 large Granny Smith apple (unpeeled)
1 large Gala apple (unpeeled)
1/4 cup peeled and julienned celeriac
1/4 cup celery leaves

To prepare the candied walnuts:
Pour the oil into a large sauce pan and set over medium low until a thermometer reads 375 degrees. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan set over medium heat, warm the apple juice, honey, molasses and maple syrup. Bring to a strong simmer, add the walnuts, then turn the heat to medium low. Continue to simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and strain the nuts, discarding the liquid. Carefully add the nuts to the hot oil in batches and fry for about 20 seconds or until they are mahogany in color; be careful not to over fry the nuts, as they will burn quickly. Remove the nuts from the oil with a slotted spoon and spread out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper to cool. When room temperature, chop the walnuts. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

To prepare the dressing:
Combine the crème fraiche, yogurt, and lemon juice in a mixing bowl. Whisk in the walnut oil and season with salt and season with salt and pepper. Fold in half the truffles.

To prepare the salad:
Using a mandoline on the fine comb setting, julienne the Granny Smith and Gala apples into matchstick-sized strips, being careful to avoid the seeds in the core; transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the julienned celeriac to the apples. Gently fold the dressing into the apple mixture until well combined. Divide the salad between chilled serving plates and garnish the top of each salad with some celery leaves and the remaining truffles. Scatter the candied walnuts around each plate.

WARM SMOKED SALMON WITH LENTILS AND TOMATOES

Ingredients for the tomato-basil salad
1/2 clove garlic, crushed with a knife
4 ounces grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1½ large basil leaves, julienned
Pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

Ingredients for the lentils:
1/8 cup diced bacon
1/4 cup diced onion
1/8 cup peeled and diced carrot
1/8 cup diced celery
1½ garlic, minced
1/2 cup green (or brown) lentils
2½ cups chicken stock
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Ingredients for the salmon:
1/2 cup fruit wood chips
4 skinless salmon filets, about 6 ounces each
1 tablespoon grape seed or olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

To prepare the salad:
Rub the inside of a mixing bowl with the crushed garlic to provide flavor for the salad; discard the garlic. Place the tomatoes, vinegar, olive oil, and basil in the mixing bowl and toss to thoroughly combine. Season with salt and pepper.

To prepare the lentils:
Place the bacon in a large saucepan and set over medium heat. Cook for five or six minutes, until the bacon is almost crispy and most of the fat is rendered. Remove the bacon from the saucepan and reserve, discarding all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat. Add the onion to the pan and cook over medium heat until translucent, about 4 or 5 minutes. Add the carrot, celery and garlic, and cook for four minutes longer. Add the lentils and the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, turn the heat to medium low and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 25 to 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and keep warm over low heat.

To prepare the salmon:
Soak the wood chips for about twenty minutes in cold water. Set the salon filets on a plate and coat with the oil, salt, and pepper. Place the salmon in the smoker and smoke for 7 to 10 minutes. Remove the salmon and transfer to a roasting pan. Finish in the oven until cooked through, about 5 to 7 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.

To serve:
Spoon the lentils in the center of warm serving plates. Arrange the salmon filets on top of the lentils and serve with the tomato basil salad.

PEANUT AND CARAMEL SUNDAES

Ingredients for the peanut butter ice cream:
1 pint vanilla ice cream, slightly softened
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

Ingredients for the tapioca:
2½ cups milk
1/3 cup tapioca pearls
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Ingredients for the caramel sauce:
1/2 cup light corn syrup
11 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup plus 1½ tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons sea salt

Ingredients for the caramel Rice Krispies:
1½ tablespoons granulated sugar
1 small box Rice Krispies (about 1 cup)

To prepare the peanut butter ice cream:
Warm the peanut butter slightly in the microwave oven. Place 1 pint of slightly softened store-bought vanilla ice cream in a bowl and stir in warmed peanut butter.

To prepare the tapioca:
Pour 2¼ cups of the milk into a small saucepan and add the tapioca pearls and vanilla. Set over medium high heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn the heat to medium low an simmer the tapioca, stirring constantly, until soft, about 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer the pudding to a bowl and let cool to room temperature. When the tapioca has cooled, stir in the remaining 1/4 cup milk, to give the pudding a creamy consistency.

To prepare the caramel sauce:
Pour the corn syrup and sugar into a small saucepan and stir. Set over medium heat and cook, without stirring. Until the mixture turns a medium caramel color, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the butter, cream and salt. Return the mixture to medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

To prepare the caramel crispies:
Butter a cookie sheet and set aside. Pour 1½ tablespoons of water into a small saucepan, stir in the sugar, and set over medium high heat until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage, about 248 degrees on a candy thermometer. Add the Rice Krispies and, stirring constantly, continue cooking the mixture until the sugar has caramelized and the Rice Krispies are thoroughly coated. Pour the mixture onto the cookie sheet and spread out with a spatula. Let cool completely. When ready to serve, carefully crumble into small chunks.

To serve:
Pour 1 tablespoon of the caramel sauce into Pilsner glasses. Next, add a 1/2 cup layer of tapioca pudding, then 2 small scoops of the peanut butter ice cream. Add another tablespoon of the caramel sauce and top with crumbled caramelized Rice Krispies.