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Michel Richard: 'Happy In The Kitchen'

Many top chefs look up to Michel Richard because of his innovative interpretations of classic dishes.

His "Citronelle" restaurants in Washington and Los Angeles feature foods we love, with a modern twist.

Richard shares his secrets in the new cookbook, "Happy in the Kitchen."

He also serves up some of his tips and tricks, enabling home cooks to feel as if they're being let in on something.

RECIPES

"Shroomwhich"

Makes 16 pieces; Serves 4 to 6 as an appetizer or 4 as a first course

1 1/2 cups Mushroom jus
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 shallots, minced
1 large garlic clove
3/4 cups Mushroom puree
Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Eight 1/4-inch slices Brioche or pain de mie, crusts removed
8 thin slices Gruyere cheese
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter

Combine the mushroom jus, cream, and shallots in a medium saucepan. Using a rasp grater, grate the garlic directly into the pan (or mince the garlic and add it). Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced by half, to slightly more than 1 cup. Remove the pan from the heat.

Place the mushroom puree in a small bowl. One tablespoon at a time, stir 6 tablespoons of the jus mixture into the puree. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Reserve the remaining jus mixture to use as a dipping sauce (set aside at room temperature for up to 30 minutes or refrigerate for longer).

Lay out 5 pieces of the brioche on your work surface. Trim the slices of cheese to fit the bread, and place 1 slice of cheese on each of the 4 pieces of bread. Using a small offset spatula, spread the mushroom mixture over the cheese. Top the mushrooms with the remaining cheese and bread. (At this point the sandwiches can be wrapped individually in plastic wrap and refrigerated for several hours, or frozen for longer storage. If frozen, defrost before cooking.)

To serve, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Brush the sandwiches on both sides with the melted butter.

Heat a large nonstick pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the sandwiches and brown on both sides. If the cheese is not melted, transfer the sandwiches to a baking sheet and place in a 250F oven until the cheese has melted.

Meanwhile, reheat the reserved jus mixture. Cut each sandwich on the diagonal into 4 triangular pieces. Pour the jus mixture into a small bowl, and serve on the side for dipping.

For more recipes, go to Page 2.

Jolly Green Brussels Sprouts

Serves 4 as a side dish

1 pound frozen Brussels sprouts (3 cups)
2 tablespoons frozen peas, defrosted and at room temperature
2 tablespoons heavy cream, warmed
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
A few drops of fresh lemon juice

Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook for about 8 minutes, or until they are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife.

Meanwhile, place the peas and cream in a mini chopper or spice grinder and puree until smooth.

Drain the Brussels sprouts and shake off the excess water. Melt the butter in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the Brussels sprouts, sprinkle with salt, and swirl the pan from time to time to coat the sprouts with butter and brown them evenly. Sauté for about 3 minutes, or until the outer leaves are just beginning to color.

Transfer the Brussels sprouts to a bowl, top with the pea mixture, and stir to coat the sprouts evenly. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.

Thyme-Glazed Baby Back Ribs

Serves 4 as a Main Course or 6 to 8 as an Appetizer

2 racks baby back ribs (about 2 pounds each)
1/3 cup fine sea salt; plus additional for sprinkling
1 large leek
5 star anise
2 teaspoons chili flakes
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
8 thyme sprigs; plus 2 teaspoons thyme leaves
2 cups 1-inch chunks onion (about 1/2 large)
2 cups 1-inch chunks carrots (about 4 large)
1 1/2 cups honey
1 cup red wine vinegar
Cayenne pepper
Freshly ground black pepper

Cut each rack of ribs crosswise into 2 pieces, and place in a large stockpot. Add enough cold water just to cover, about 4 quarts. Add the salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. As the water heats, skim off any foam that rise and place it in a bowl. Once no more foam comes to the surface, strain the contents of the bowl through a fine-mesh strainer back into the pot, then discard the scum remaining in the strainer.

Meanwhile, cut off the green portions of the leek (discard or reserve for another use) and the root end. Split the leek lengthwise and rinse under warm water to remove any dirt; set aside. Place the star anise, chili flakes, peppercorns, and 4 of the thyme sprigs on a square of cheesecloth and tie into a bundle.

Once there is no more foam in the stockpot, add the spice bundle, leek, onion, carrots, 1 cup of the honey, and the vinegar to the pot. Partially cover the pot and reduce the heat to keep the liquid at just under a simmer; there should be very light bubbling at the edges of the pot. Cook for 45 minutes, or until the meat is tender but not yet falling from the bones. Remove the pot from the heat and cool the ribs completely in the liquid.

Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet pan with a Silpat or parchment paper.

Remove the meat from the cooking liquid and drain on paper towels. (Discard the liquid.) Scrape away and discard any silver skin remaining on the underside of the ribs. Dry the ribs completely.

Warm the remaining 1/2 cup honey in the microwave or on the stove until liquefied. Add cayenne pepper to taste. Brush both sides of the ribs with half the honey and sprinkle with the thyme leaves, salt, and black pepper. Place the ribs meaty side up on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake the ribs for about 30 minutes, or until the tops are lightly caramelized and shiny.

Serve a half rack per person, or cut into individual ribs. Place the ribs on a platter, brush with the remaining honey, and garnish with the remaining thyme sprigs.

Asparagus Salmon

Serves 4 as a Main Course

Salmon:
24 large (about 2 pounds) asparagus spears
Fine sea salt
1 scant tablespoon coarsely chopped tarragon (optional)
An 8- to 9-inch piece (about 1 1/2 pounds) center-cut salmon filet
Extra virgin olive oil
Fleur de sel Freshly ground black pepper

Vinaigrette:
4 reserved asparagus spears (from above)
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste
Granulated sugar
Fine sea salt
Trout caviar (optional)

Cut off the tough bottom ends of the asparagus spears, making sure to leave the asparagus as long as the salmon fillet, and set the trimmed ends aside for the vinaigrette. Reserve 4 unpeeled spears for the vinaigrette. With a vegetable peeler, peel the remaining asparagus spears from about an inch below the tip to the end of the spear. Set a steamer basket in a pot over boiling water. Place the peeled asparagus spears in the basket and steam for 5 to 6 minutes, or until just tender when pierced with the tip of a paring knife; be careful not to overcook. Meanwhile, fill a bowl with ice water. When the asparagus is cooked, submerge it in the ice bath to cool, then drain and roll in a kitchen towel to dry.

Sprinkle the asparagus spears with a pinch of salt and the tarragon, if desired, and roll the spears back and forth so the tarragon adheres.

Preheat the oven to 325F.

To stuff the salmon: using a pair of tweezers or pliers, remove any pinbones. Try to pull them straight out rather than pulling them upward, which would tear the flesh of the fish. Beginning 1 inch from the side of the salmon, using a long sharp slicing knife, cut a pocket in the center of the fillet through the length of the salmon, leaving an inch of the fillet uncut on either side. Push the sides of the salmon together to help open up the pocket.

Line the pocket with a layer of asparagus, all the tips facing the same direction. Make a second layer, reversing the direction of the spears. Continue layering until you have used all the asparagus or until the pocket is filled; the number of layers will vary depending on the thickness of the fillet. It is important not to overstuff the pocket, which could tear the fish. Reserve any extra asparagus for another use. Carefully trim the ends of the salmon so that all the spears are flush with the edges of the salmon. (At this point the salmon can be covered and refrigerated for a few hours.)

Using a very sharp knife or an electric knife, holding the fillet steady with one hand, cut the fish crosswise into 4 equal pieces. Brush a baking pan with a film of olive oil. Place the fillets in the pan, drizzle the tops with olive oil, and season with fleur de sel and pepper.

For the vinaigrette, cut the 4 reserved asparagus spears into 1-inch pieces. Place in a small saucepan, add the water and olive oil, and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat slightly, and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the asparagus is completely softened; the water should have evaporated so the asparagus is stewing in the oil.

Pour the asparagus and any remaining liquid into a blender and puree until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl and whisk in the mustard, lemon juice, and a pinch of each sugar and salt. If using, stir trout caviar to taste into the vinaigrette.

Meanwhile, place the salmon in the oven and cook for 13 to 15 minutes, or until cooked to the desired doneness.

Using a long spatula, lift each piece of the salmon, blot the bottom as necessary with a paper towel, and place on a serving plate. Serve hot or at room temperature, with a pool of vinaigrette on the side of each fillet.

Mushroom Water and Mushroom Puree

Makes 5 cups Mushroom Water and 2 Cups Mushroom Puree

4 pounds button or cremini mushrooms

Run the mushrooms through the fine blade of a meat grinder, and place in a large pot. Or process in small batches in a food processor until finely chopped, and transfer to the pot. Cover the pot, place over medium-high heat, and stir often. Liquid will begin to leach from the mushrooms. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring from time to time, being certain to reach the bottom, until all the mushrooms are tender. The color will have changed to gray.

Line a fine-mesh strainer with a double layer of dampened cheesecloth or a damp kitchen towel and place over a bowl. Transfer the mushrooms and their liquid to the strainer to drain, and let cool slightly. Then lift the cloth with the mushrooms over the strainer and wring out all the liquid from the mushrooms. Let the mushrooms cool in the cloth in the strainer.

Wring out any remaining mushroom liquid. You should have approximately 5 cups mushroom water and 2 cups (1 pound) of mushroom puree. Cover and refrigerate to up to 2 days, or freeze for longer storage.

Brioche

Makes 1 long loaf

1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons warm water (110 to 115F)
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons bread flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup apple juice
2 large eggs
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices, at room temperature, plus butter for the terrine mold

Place the yeast and water in a small bowl, and let stand until the yeast begins to bubble slightly, about 5 minutes.

Place the flour and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add the salt and the yeast mixture, turn the mixer on low speed, and slowly mix. Then mix in the apple juice. Add the eggs one at a time. It may be necessary to stop the mixer and scrape the dough from the sides of the bowl toward the hook. Continue to mix until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl and gathers around the hook. With the mixer running, add the butter a few slices at a time. At first the dough will fall back to the sides of the bowl, but as more butter is added, it will hug the hook. Once the butter is fully incorporated and the dough is smooth, transfer it to a lightly floured large bowl: the dough will be very sticky — use a pastry scraper to gather it into a ball and scrape it into a bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot for 3 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size. The time may vary, depending on the kitchen temperature.

Remove the plastic wrap, wrap your fist in it to keep your hand clean, and punch down the dough to remove any air bubbles. Then spread the plastic wrap over the surface of the dough and refrigerate overnight.

Butter a terrine mold that is 11 1/2 inches long by 3 inches wide and 3 inches deep. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Peel off the plastic, and shape and roll it into a loaf about the length of the terrine mold. Put it seam side down in the mold and set aside in a warm spot for 5 to 7 hours, or until the dough rises to just under the rim of the terrine.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Bake the brioche for 30 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown. To be sure that it is done, stick the tip of a sharp knife into the center of the bread for a few seconds. If it comes out dry and warm, the brioche is ready. Turn the brioche out onto a cooling rack as soon as it is removed from the oven. Let cool until warm before slicing.