New American With French Influence

Michael Anthony made a return visit to The Saturday Early Show to share some of his recipes for New American cooking with a soupcon of French.

It was Japanese cuisine that inspired Anthony to pursue his passion for food. But it was in France where he learned the techniques to turn his passion into a skilled craft.

Chef Anthony is the co-executive chef at Blue Hill restaurant located in New York City, which serves modern New American cuisine.

Anthony is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio. His love for cooking was fueled during his years in Japan. After graduating at the top of his class with a C.A.P. de cuisine from L'Ecole Superieure de Cuisine Francaise, Paris, Anthony spent the next three years training in France's finest restaurants including Chez Pauline and L'Auberge de Tal Moor.

In 1995, the opportunity to work at Restaurant Daniel brought Anthony back to the United States. Two years later, excited by the prospect of greater responsibility and autonomy, Anthony joined March Restaurant as sous chef and was later promoted to chef de cuisine. He then joined Blue Hill.

We invited Anthony to take our Chef on a Shoestring challenge to create a three-course meal for four for $30 or less.

Anthony's menu: an appetizer of Green Garlic Shoot Soup; an entrée of Grilled Pork Loin with Baby Beet Salad; and for dessert, Strawberry Cobbler.

Terminology:

Brine: A solution of water and salt used for pickling or preserving foods. Herbs and other flavorings can be added to enhance the taste and texture of the food.

Brining is an age-old process of food preservation. The heavy concentrations of salt preserved meats for long ocean voyages or military campaigns when there was no refrigeration. Today, brining is more often used to enhance flavor and tenderness than to preserve meat. Marinating meat in seasoned, salted water increases the moisture content of meat and if seasoning is added to the brining liquid, the flavors are trapped in the meat as well.

The chemistry behind brining is actually pretty simple. Meat already contains salt water. By immersing meats in a liquid with a higher concentration of salt, the liquid is absorbed into the meat. Any flavoring added to the brine will be carried into the meat with the saltwater mixture. And because the meat is now loaded with extra moisture it will stay that way longer while it cooks.

Chef Anthony says he heats the brine solution to dissolve the salt and enhance the flavor of the seasonings. His method also calls for cooling the brine before adding the meat, otherwise he says it will absorb too much salt.

Green Garlic Shoots: Shoots from immature garlic plants that haven't yet formed cloves. They appear in many greenmarkets around mid-May. They look like thick scallions and have a sweet, mild garlic taste with no bitterness.

Recipes:

Green Garlic Shoot Soup
Serves 4

Ingredients:
8 shallots, sliced thinly
4 cloves from garlic confit (see recipe below)
3 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
3 quarts chicken broth or stock
2 tablespoons garlic oil (from garlic confit)
2 quarts green garlic shoots, finely chopped
nutmeg to taste
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1 bunch chives, chopped finely
1 cup heavy cream

To make the soup base, heat the shallots and garlic confit at a low temperature. Add the potatoes and chicken stock and simmer until potatoes are tender (about 5 minutes).

Saute the green garlic shoots in the garlic oil. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Add the soup base to the sautéed garlic shoots and simmer for an additional 4 minutes or until the shoots are tender.

Using a blender, puree the chives and heavy cream until smooth. Chill immediately. (Chilling preserves the nice light green color.)

Warm the soup just before serving.

Garlic Confit Ingredients
10 garlic cloves
1 pint of canola

Cover 10 peeled garlic cloves with 1 pint of canola oil (or other neutral oil) and bring to a warm temperature, just below simmering.

Stir often until garlic is completely tender, about 1 1/2 hours.

Chef's note: You will need only 4 cloves for the soup, the rest you may store in your freezer for another use.


Grilled Berkshire Pork Loin with Baby Beet Salad
Serves 4

Brine Ingredients
3 quarts water
1/3 cup salt
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
1 bay leaf
pinch of black peppercorns
1 clove
2 pieces allspice
5 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 bunch of fresh thyme
1 cinnamon stick

Pork Ingredients
2 pounds pork loin
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients for brine and simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and chill on ice.

When completely cool, pour over pork loin, cover and place in the refrigerator. You should marinate for 24 hours.

Remove pork loin from brine, pat dry and season with salt and pepper. Slice the pork loin into 1 1/2-inch thick medallions. Place the meat on a well-heated grill. Throw away the brine.

Chef's note: It will take approximately 15 minutes for the meat to be cooked to a medium-rare. You should only turn the meat over only once on the grill.

Beet Salad Ingredients
20 pieces baby red beets
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1/2 bunch thyme
1/2 bunch rosemary
3 shallots, minced
4 oranges, segmented
1/4 cup orange juice
3 tablespoons pinenuts, toasted (optional)
3 tablespoons raspberry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
2 tablespoons olive oil
chives for garnish

Wrap beets, oil, salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary in aluminum foil and roast on the side of the grill for 30 minutes. If you are using your oven, pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Roast for approximately 25 minutes.

Remove beets from wrapper and rub off the skin using a kitchen towel. The skin will literally "pop" off, according to Anthony.

In a large bowl, combine the orange segments, the orange juice and shallots and toss with the roasted beets.

To serve: Place one pork medallion on each plate and divide the salad between the four dishes.


Strawberry Cobbler
Serves 4

Ingredients
4 standard ovenproof coffee mugs (approximately 3-ounce capacity)
1 1/3 cup cake flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
3 1/2 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons cold butter
pinch salt
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 pints strawberries (sliced in half)
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
fresh mint for garnish
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Using your fingers, gently mix the dry ingredients with the butter.

Add heavy cream to form a dough.

Allow to rest over night.

Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Chop the strawberries then mix with sugar and let marinate for 30 minutes. Add cornstarch and vanilla extract to the strawberries.

Grease the coffee cups with butter and dust with sugar to avoid burning around edges.

Divide the strawberry mixture evenly between the four cups.

Roll out the dough and punch out circles with the rim of the mug, so that the diameter of the dough matches that of the coffee mugs. Place dough on top of strawberries.

Brush the dough with heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 325 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes.

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