Corn Soup And Soft-Shell Crab

chef shoestring
Chef Gerry Hayden says he can't remember a time when he didn't want to be a chef. He says his mother and her delicious home cooking motivated him. The Saturday Early Show invited him to take the Chef On A Shoestring challenge — creating a three-course meal for four with only $30.

He described the menu as "perfect" for this time of year.

Chilled Sweet White Corn Soup and Basil Essence

1 quart fresh corn kernels (roughly 6 ears)
1 small yellow onion peeled & sliced
1 celery stalk washed, leaves removed & sliced
1 large shallot peeled & sliced
1 quart corn stock or chicken stock
2 tab. unsalted butter
1 bayleaf
1 sprig of thyme
1 oz. canola oil or vegetable oil
salt & white pepper to taste
4 oz. basil
1 cup extra virgin olive oil


Put a heavy-bottom pot over medium high heat and add 1 oz. canola oil and a tab of butter. When butter is melted and slightly brown, add sliced onion, shallot and celery. Season and then reduce heat and sweat until translucent — about 3-4 minutes.

Add corn, season again and then cover. You will cook this for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add bayleaf, thyme and stock bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Check seasoning, remove from heat and transfer into blender in small batches and puree smooth. Pass through fine sieve.

Pour into bowl or shallow dish and refrigerate until chilled though (about 2 hours).

For The Basil Oil

Pick all leaves, set aside 12 smaller leaves for garnish. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Blanch leaves, and then shock in ice water. Remove and squeeze dry in paper towel. Chop fine. Add olive oil to blender and add basil. Season with salt and blend at high speed until basil is finely pureed. Pour into a small bowl and let settle for at least 2 hours.

To plate: Pour soup into 4 chilled soup bowls drizzle each with a tablespoon of basil oil. Garnish with reserved tiny basil leaves.

Pancetta Wrapped Soft-Shell Crab
Over Summer Beans And Balsamic Brown Butter

4 each jumbo soft shell crabs, cleaned of gills and face.
4 oz. thinly sliced pancetta
1/8 cup reduced balsamic vinegar by half
1/8 cup reduced chicken stock
1/2 stick unsalted butter, browned
1 sprig rosemary, leaves picked off stem
1 clove garlic, minced
4 oz. green beans, blanched
4 oz. yellow wax beans, blanched
1 small red onion thinly sliced
1 large brandywine tomato, sliced into 8 pieces.
2 oz. canola oil
1 oz. extra virgin olive oil

For Crabs:

Wrap each crab with the slices of pancetta to cover the body, leaving the legs and claws exposed. Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat. Saute crabs about 2 minutes on each side and until pancetta is golden brown. Remove & reserve warm.

In a blender, add balsamic, chicken stock, rosemary and garlic. Salt and pepper to taste. Puree at high speed, slowly add the browned butter until it is emulsified into vinegar. Check seasoning and reserve warm.

To make the brown butter: Just add the butter to a medium-heat pan. Cook until the butter starts to brown similar to sugar caramelizing. You want to avoid burning the butter so watch it carefully. Reserve the brown butter to add to the blender as stated above.

To plate:

Place the beans and sliced onion in a bowl. Toss with extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place tomato slices, 2 per plate and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil. top with beans and onions. Place crab on top of beans and spoon balsamic brown butter around plate.

Caramelized Peaches With Rosemary-Buttermilk Panna Cotta

1 tablespoon cold water
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
7 tablespoons sugar
2 inch piece of vanilla bean halved split lengthwise and pulp scraped.(optional)
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
1 sprig of rosemary leaves picked off stem


4 farm stand yellow peaches, large, unpeeled, halved & pitted
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

For Panna Cotta:

Place water in a small bowl and sprinkle with the gelatin.

Let the gelatin soften for 5 minutes.meanwhile in a saucepan over medium high heat, warm the cream with the sugar, vanilla bean, pulp & rosemary stirring until sugar dissolves.

Turn off heat and let stand 2-3 minutes to infuse the rosemary & vanilla flavors. Then add the soften gelatin stir until it dissolves then whisk in the buttermilk.

Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a measuring cup with a spout,and pour it into 4 8 oz. ramekins or disposable aluminum cups chill for about 3 hours or until firm.

For Peaches:

Add sugar, corn syrup and just enough water to dissolve sugar in a heavy bottom sauce pot place over high heat and bring to a boil.

Then, cook until sugar caramelizes. While sugar is cooking, cut butter up into small cubes and refrigerate. When sugar is dark amber color, slowly whisk in butter, whipping constantly to emulsify butter into sugar, a few pieces at a time.

Sprinkle in the black pepper add the peaches cut side down to the caramel cover pot with foil and place in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Remove foil and cook an additional 5 minutes remove from oven and let rest for 5-10 minutes.

To Plate:

Remove panna cotta from refrigerator and dip the bottoms of the ramekins into a bowl of warm water for 10 seconds to slightly loosen them invert onto 4 plates and garnish each with 2 pieces of the peaches and a spoonful of the sauce from the pot.



Yellow corn has larger, fuller-flavored kernels. White corn kernels are smaller and sweeter. The peak season for fresh corn is May through September. As soon as it's picked, corn's sugar immediately begins its gradual conversion to starch. When buying corn, look for ears with bright green, snugly fitting husks and golden brown silk. The kernels should be plump and be milky and come all the way to the ears. The row should be tightly spaced.

Soft-Shell Crabs:

They are always sold whole and are in season from April to mid-September, with a peak in June and July. The term "soft-shell" describes a growth state of the crab, during which time it casts off its shell. Its skin hardens into a new one. During those few days before the new shell hardens, these crustaceans are referred to as "soft-shell" crabs.


An Italian bacon that is cured with salt and spices but not smoked. Flavorful, slightly salty pancetta comes in a sausage-like roll. It's used in Italian cooking to flavor sauces, pasta dishes, vegetables and meats. It can be tightly wrapped and refrigerated for up to three weeks or frozen up to 6 months.

Panna cotta:

Italian for "cooked cream." It is a light, silky, eggless custard which is often flavored with caramel. It's served cold, accompanied with fruit or chocolate sauce.

Hayden graduted from the culinary Institute of Art in 1986. He initially worked at the River Café. He worked for chef and mentor Charlie Palmer. He left River Café in 1987 to revamp the pastry shop at the renowned Hotel Bel-Air. He returned to the east coast to work again for Charlie Palmer. He helped Palmer launch the upscale French restaurant, Aureole, in 1988.

He juggled dual roles as both sous chef and pastry chef at Aureole. Later he opened Tribeca Grill with Don in 1990 and then opened Aqua in San Francisco. He returned to Aureole in 1999 as Cef De Cuisine.

He will start his own restaurant. It is slated to open in 2003 and will be named Amuse.