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Meal to Salute Summer, on a Shoestring

Despite his laid-back demeanor, Sam Talbot is one busy busy chef.

He's executive chef of Surf Lodge in Montauk, at the east end of Long Island, N.Y., and is opening an as-yet unnamed seafood restaurant in the Mondrian Soho Hotel in Manhattan.

He's also a former "Top Chef" contestant, and recently launched a food truck in Montauk that prepares Hawaiian plate lunches that aren't on his regular menu.

In accepting "The Early Show on Saturday Morning"'s "Chef on a Shoestring" challenge, Sam took a crack at preparing a three-course meal for four on our skimpy budget of $40.

And his chef's hat was automatically tossed into our "How Low Can You Go?" ring. The "shoestringer" whose ingredients cots is lowest will be invited back to make our year-end holiday feast!

He tipped that hat to summer with a meal loaded with healthy, fresh ingredients -- in which he's a big believer.

"Early Show" recipes galore!

MENU
• Summer Tomato Salad
• Mussels with Yellow Curry
• Apple Crisp

FOOD FACTS

Agave: Also called century plant , this family of succulents grows in the southwestern United States, Mexico and Central America. Though poisonous when raw, agave has a sweet, mild flavor when baked or made into a syrup. Certain varieties are used in making the alcoholic beverages mescal, pulque and tequila. (Source: Epicurious.com)

Cilantro: The bright green leaves and stems of the CORIANDER plant. Cilantro (also called Chinese parsley and coriander ) has a lively, pungent fragrance that some describe as "soapy." It is widely used in Asian, Caribbean and Latin American cooking and its distinctive flavor lends itself to highly spiced foods. Cilantro can be found year-round in most supermarkets and is generally sold in bunches. Choose leaves with a bright, even color and no sign of wilting. Cilantro may be stored for up to 1 week in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Or place the bunch, stems down, in a glass of water and cover with a plastic bag, securing the bag to the glass with a rubber band. Refrigerate, changing water every 2 or 3 days. Just before using cilantro, wash and pat dry with paper towels. Both the leaves and relatively tender stems can be used in fresh or cooked dishes. (Source: Epicurious.com)

RECIPES

Summer Tomato Salad

INGREDIENTS:
4 heirloom tomatoes
1 pint grape tomatoes
3 tablespoons basil (sliced)
4 tablespoons whole milk Italian ricotta cheese
1/4 cup simple vinaigrette
(ratio of three parts extra virgin olive oil, one part balsamic vinegar)
4 orange wedges
4 lemon wedges
sea salt to taste

METHOD:
Rinse the Heirloom Tomatoes and cut into 8 wedges (doesn't have to be perfect cuts - it's a fun picnicy dish with a homemade look). Wash grape tomatoes then cut in half. Cut orange and lemon into wedges as if you were using for a cocktail (wedge style, so you feel comfortablke squeezing).
Make sure the basil is clean from any sand or dirt. Then roll the cleaned basil leaves into ball and slice thinly, as with a julienne.
In a large mixing bowl combine the Tomatoes, Basil, and Simple Vinaigrette. Season with Salt to taste. Arrange both the Hierloon and cherry tomatoes over 4 salad plates- then squeeze one lemon and one orange wedge over the top of each salad Finish with a tablespoon of ricotta per salad and add salt as desired.

For more recipes, go to Page 2.

Mussels with Yellow Curry

INGREDIENTS:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 Shallot, diced
3 cloves garlic, smashed and diced
2 tablespoons ginger
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1-1/2 tablespoons yellow curry powder
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 handful broccoli rabe
2 lbs farm raised Mussels
splash of white wine
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
1/4 cup water

METHOD:
Heat the olive oil to medium high in a 6 quart pot. Add the shallot, garlic, ginger, coriander and curry powder. Once mixed add the butter. Saute for about 2 to 3 minutes until the aromatics become translucent. Add the white wine and deglaze. Toss the broccoli rabe into the pan and saute. Add the mussels and saute, add the water and coconut milk. Cover the pot for about 4 minutes. Once the shells open they are cooked. Season well with salt and pepper. Pour the mussels into a serving bowl and garnish with the cilantro.

Apple Crisp

INGREDIENTS:
For the filling:
4 cups apples, sliced
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon + 2 1/4 teaspoons natural sweetener
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
non-stick cooking spray

For the crisp:
1 cup rolled oats
1 tablespoon + 2 1/4 teaspoons natural sweetener
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

METHOD:
Assemble all ingredients and preheat oven to 375F.

Place apples in a large bowl; sprinkle with water, natural sweetener, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg; toss to coat the fruit. Spray 9-inch baking dish with non-stick spray. Place apple mixture in dish.

In a separate small bowl, prepare the crisp by combining oats, sweetener, four, cinnamon, melted butter, melted butter, brown sugar and salt. Stir to form crumbly mixture.

Sprinkle crumb mixture on top of apples and bake 35-40 minutes until apples are tender.

So, how did Sam do in our "How Low Can You Go?" competition?!

Summer Tomato Salad
heirloom tomatoes $7.98
grape tomatoes $2.99
basil $3.99
ricotta $4.49
vinaigrette $0.99
orange $0.75
lemon $0.66
sea salt $2.49
total $24.34

Mussels with Yellow Curry
shallots $0.69
ginger $0.75
coriander seed $0.89
yellow curry powder $0.89
broccoli rabe $1.99
mussels $2.58
white wine $1.99
coconut millk $1.49
total $11.27

Apple Crisp
apples $1.60
oats $1.99
total $3.59

Grand total: $39.20

Our Leaders Board:

1. Amanda Freitag $37.17
The Harrison

2. Mikey Price $37.18
Market Table

3. Kelly Liken $37.20
Restaurant Kelly Liken