A large part of this success is thanks to Christopher Lee, the restaurant's chef de cuisine who recently won the coveted James Beard "Rising Star Chef of the Year 2005" award.
And he has agreed to accept The Saturday Early Show's Chef on a Shoestring challenge of preparing a meal for four on a $40 budget.
The Menu: Garden Fresh Chopped Salad with Ricotta Salata (Pg. 1), Striped Bass with a Warm Spicy Curry Vinaigrette (Pg. 2) and Fresh Blueberries with Granola and Mint Sabayon (Pg. 3).
The following are his recipes:
Garden Fresh Chopped Salad with Ricotta Salata
1 green cucumber
4 ripe plum tomatoes
1 small red onion
1/4 lb ricotta salata, grated
1 lemon, juiced
4 large basil leaves, slivered
1 Tb. red wine vinegar
3 Tb. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
- Give a nice rinse to the tomatoes and cucumber. Then cut the cucumber (skin on), tomatoes, onion and avocado into small dice.
- Add all the vegetables into a medium-size mixing bowl with the lemon juice, red wine vinegar, and the extra virgin olive oil. Mix well.
- Finish the salad with salt, pepper, sliced basil leaves, and grated ricotta salata.
- Adjust seasoning with either more acid or salt and pepper.
Note: Any ingredients can be substituted with vegetables of choice.
2 lbs striped bass fillets, no bones and skin-on
1 bunch green asparagus
2 ears sweet summer corn, yellow or white
1 medium-sized carrot
1 head frisee
1 clove garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 tea. curry powder
1 pinch red chili flakes
1 tea. honey
1 tb. cooking oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil for blanching. Remove the husk from the corn and cut the bottom inch of the asparagus off. Season the water with enough salt until you can taste a balance of seasoning.
- When the water begins to boil, add the whole ears of corn and simmer for 8 minutes. Then remove and cool in the refrigerator.
- In the same pot, bring the water to a boil again, then add the asparagus. Cook the asparagus for 4 minutes, then shock in the ice bath.
- When corn cools, remove the kernels from the ear with a sharp knife. Reserve.
- Peel and rinse the carrot, then julienne with the mandolin. Reserve.
- Clean and rinse the frisee. Reserve.
- Heat a medium-sized saucepan over low heat. When the pan begins to warm, add the cooking oil. Lightly toast the shallot, garlic, and chili flakes. When the garlic begins to brown, add the lemon juice, honey, and curry powder. Continue to lightly warm the dressing for 1 minute. Remove and gently swirl in the extra virgin olive oil. Reserve
- Heat a large sauté pan over high heat for 1 minute. Portion the striped fillets into 4 equal portions and season well with salt and pepper. Add 2 oz. cooking oil to the pan, wait 1 minute, then add the striped bass, skin side down. Cooking time depends on the thickness of the fillets. It should take a 2-inch-thick fillet 3 minutes on each side to cook.
- Meanwhile, heat another pan over high heat. When hot, add 1 tbs. cooking oil, then the corn and asparagus. When the vegetables are hot, divide evenly amongst four plates and place a piece of cooked fish on top. Sauce the dish with the reserved spicy curry dressing, and garnish with the julienned carrots and frisee.
Fresh Blueberries with Granola and Mint Sabayon
1 pint fresh blueberries
1 cup granola, (any variety you like)
6 mint leaves, sliced
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tbs. sugar
2 medium-size stainless mixing bowls
- Rinse the blueberries well and remove all stems.
- In one bowl, add the cream and sugar. Whip until stiff peaks form, or to a normal whipped cream consistency.
- Heat a medium-size pot of water over high heat. Add the yolks to the other mixing bowl and start to whip. When the egg mixture begins to double in volume and turn a canary yellow, finish the sauce by whisking over the boiling water for 1 minute or until the sauce is about 140 degrees.
- Allow the sauce to cool and fold in the whipped cream and sliced mint
- Divide the blueberries and granola among four bowls. Top with the mint sabayon and burn with the torch until golden brown.