The Dish: Chef David Burke

World-renowned chef David Burke got a top-notch education at the Culinary Institute of America and a prestigious pastry academy in Paris. Burke made his reputation by just 26 after becoming executive chef at New York's River Café and earning a slew of stars from critics. 

In 2003, Burke branched out on his own and became a driving force in American cooking with namesake restaurants in New York, Chicago, Las Vegas and Connecticut. Now, he's focused on Washington D.C.'s BLT Prime by David Burke. 

Here are some of Burke's signature recipes: 

Tomato and watercress salad 

Ingredients

1/3 cup olive oil
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon mustard oil
1 ½ tablespoons tarragon vinegar
1 ½ tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 bunch watercress, well washed and dried, tough stems removed
2 very ripe plum tomatoes, peeled, cored, seeded, and julienned 

Directions

1.Combine the olive oils with the mustard oil. Whisk in the vinegars. When well emulsified, season to taste with salt and pepper. (The vinaigrette may be made up to 3 days in advance and stored, covered and refrigerated. Bring it to room temperature before using.)

2.When ready to serve, toss the watercress and tomato julienne together in a mixing bowl. Spoon the vinaigrette over the salad and toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. 

Sweet potato and vanilla purée

Ingredients

2 pounds sweet potatoes peeled and cubed
1 vanilla bean
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup hot milk
Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper 

Directions

1.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the sweet potatoes in a medium saucepan. Add cold, salted water to cover the potatoes by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the hear and simmer the potatoes for about 15 minutes, or when tender. Drain well. Transfer the potatoes in a single layer to a non-stick baking sheet.

2. Place the sweet potatoes in the preheated oven for 5 minutes, or just until their exterior is quite dry. Transfer them to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade.

3. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and, using the edge of a paring knife, scrape the seeds into the sweet potatoes. Add the butter and milk and process to a smooth purée. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer the purée to the top half of a double boiler over very hot water. Cover and keep it warm.

Canadian bacon and onion potato cake with poached eggs and spicy tomato salsa

Ingredients

6 large Idaho Potatoes peeled and patted dry
1 large sweet onion such as Vidalia
1 pound Canadian bacon, chopped
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons bacon fat, vegetable oil, or olive oil
6 large poached eggs
Spicy tomato Salsa (recipe follows)
Sour cream, optional 

Salsa ingredients

4 large, ripe tomatoes
½ cup finely diced red onion
¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons, chopped, canned chipotles in adobo
1 teaspoon roasted garlic purée (recipe follows)
1 teaspoon minced serrano chili
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
Coarse salt and cracked black pepper 
6 heads garlic
½ cup olive oil 

Directions 

1. Using a box grater or a food processor fitted with the shredding blade, shred the potatoes and the onion. Place the grated potatoes and onion in a clean kitchen towel. Fold the towel over the mixture and twist to wring out as much of the liquid as possible.

2. Place the potato mixture in a towel and toss in the bacon. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

4. Heat the fat in a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan (cast iron is the best) over medium-high heat. Add the potato mixture and, using the back of a spatula, press it down into the pan in a smooth layer. Lower the heat and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the bottom of the potato cake is brown and crisp. Slide the potato cake onto a plate and then slide it, browned side up, back into the pan. Place it in the preheated oven and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the interior is well cooked and the bottom is crisp and brown.

5. Remove the potato cake from the oven and cut it into 6 equal wedges. Place a warm poached egg on top of each wedge, and spoon some Spicy Tomato Salsa over the top and around the edge of each plate. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream, if desired.

6. For salsa: Preheat the broiler or a grill. When the tomatoes are cool, remove and discard the core. Place the tomatoes in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process to a slightly chunky purée. Place the tomato purée in a medium bowl and set aside. 

7. Add the onion, cilantro, chipotles in adobo, garlic purée, and serrano chili. Stir to combine. Stir in the lime and orange juices and salt and cracked black pepper to taste. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more juice, salt, and/or pepper, if needed. Cover and store the salsa, refrigerated, until you are ready to use.

8. For roasted garlic puree: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pull the garlic heads apart. Combine the garlic cloves with the olive oil in a baking pan, spreading them out to form a single layer. Place them in the preheated oven and roast them for about 30 minutes or until the garlic is very tender. Remove them from the oven and allow to cool. 

9. When the garlic is cool enough to handle, using your fingertips, push the soft garlic pulp from the skins. Place the pulp on the small bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process to a smooth purée. Transfer it to a nonreactive container. Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week, or freeze up to 3 months.

Orange and strawberry tart with candied bell pepper caramel and lemon ice cream

Candied bell pepper caramel ingredients

1 ½ cups minced bell peppers (use a combination of red and yellow peppers)
1 cup sugar
1 cup apple cider
1 to 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
3 tablespoons butter

Orange and strawberry tart ingredients

1 10-inch sheet puff pastry
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons dark-brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 pints strawberries
4 oranges
1 cup whipped cream
Mint sprigs
Lemon Ice Cream 

Directions

1. For the candied bell pepper caramel: Combine peppers, sugar, and cider in a heavy saucepan and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce has caramelized. 

2. Remove from heat and whisk in Grand Marnier butter. Reserve.

3. Roll out puff pastry until about ¼ inch thick. Place pastry sheet in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

4. While pastry is resting, combine white sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Mix in a bowl and reserve. Wash and hull strawberries and reserve.

4. Zest the oranges before peeling and separating into sections. Remove membrane and seeds, toss orange sections with zest, and reserve. 

5. Remove pastry from refrigerator and place on a board. Invert a 10-inch plate over pastry and, with a pastry cutter or sharp knife, cut around the edge of the plate. Remove plate and carefully place circle of pastry dough on a baking sheet with a non-stick surface. Using point of a sharp knife, prick holes in a circular pattern over entire surface of pastry and return to refrigerator for 10 minutes.

6. Remove pastry from refrigerator. Dust pastry with with half of reserved sugar mixture and bake for about 10 minutes, or until pastry is a golden brown. Remove pastry from oven and, using a spatula, slide pastry onto a plate. Invert plate over baking pan and return pan to oven. Dust with remaining sugar mixture. Pastry will now bake on second side for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until golden brown.

7.  Remove from oven and allow pastry to rest for 5 minutes. Carefully slide onto a cake platter.

To Assemble Tart

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.   

2. Spread whipped cream over pastry. Arrange strawberries, points up, in 2 rows around the perimeter of the pastry.   

3. Place orange sections in a heap in the center of the pastry. (The casual look of the oranges are in contrast to the neat rows of strawberries.) Any remaining strawberries can be sliced and added to the oranges.   

4. Heat candied bell pepper caramel and pour over oranges and strawberries. Garnish with mint and serve with lemon ice cream