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White-Hot Chef's Seasonal Light Fare

What could be better for a hot summer day's meal than light offerings straight from California's Napa Valley -- and one of the nation's hottest chefs?

On "The Early Show on Saturday Morning," Christopher Kostow, executive chef of the Meadowood restaurant, prepared them with the best seasonal ingredients -- tomatoes, strawberries and corn.

What's more - as our "Chef on a Shoestring," he tried to do make his three-course meal for four on our paltry $40 budget.

"Early Show" recipes galore!

And he was automatically entered in our "How Low Can You Go?" competition. The "shoestring" chef with the lowest ingredients cost will be invited back to cook our year-end holiday feast.


Tomato and Fruit salad with Ricotta and Basil
Grilled Cod with Corn and Bacon
Strawberry Soup


Ricotta: This rich fresh cheese is slightly grainy but smoother than cottage cheese. It's white, moist and has a slightly sweet flavor. Most Italian ricottas are made from the whey drained off while making cheeses such as mozzarella and provolone. Technically, this type of ricotta is not really cheese because it's made from a cheese by-product. In the United States, ricottas are usually made with a combination of whey and whole or skim milk. The word ricotta means "recooked," and is derived from the fact that the cheese is made by heating the whey from another cooked cheese. Ricotta is a popular ingredient in many Italian savory preparations like lasagna and manicotti, as well as desserts like cassata and cheesecake. (Source:

Cod: This popular saltwater fish can range from 1-1/2 to 100 pounds and comes from the Pacific and North Atlantic Oceans. Cod's mild-flavored meat is white, lean and firm. It's available year-round and comes whole (the smaller specimens) or in large pieces. Cod can be baked, poached, braised, broiled and fried. Whole cod are often stuffed before baking. Cod can be preserved by smoking, salting or drying. (Source:


Tomato and Stone Fruit Salad with Ricotta and Basil

Serves 4

1 large Brandywine Tomato
1/2 pint cherry tomato
2 peaches
1 Red Plum
1 bunch Small Basil
1 pint Fresh Ricotta
1 cup nice extra virgin olive oil
Sea Salt

Clean all tomatoes and fruit. Core the Brandywine Tomato and cut into four slices. Cut Peaches into small wedges. Shave plum very finely. Cut cherry tomatoes in half. If basil is large, cut into bite size pieces. Lay slice of Tomato in a shallow bowl. Arrange the fruit and cherry tomatoes atop the tomato slice, and add three small dollops of ricotta,. Drizzle generously with Olive Oil, top with basil pieces, and sprinkle with sea salt.

Grilled Cod with Corn and Bacon

Serves 4

4 4 oz portions, Black, Ling, or Rock Cod
5 ears yellow corn, shucked, kernels removed (for juicing)
1/4 pound bacon, diced small
2 bunch chives
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (for brushing)
Kosher Salt (to taste)
1 T Butter
1 lime

Brush the Cod well w/ olive oil. Season liberally with salt and set aside. Juice the corn kernels and pass juice through a fine strainer into a small pot. Heat juice until it begins to thicken. As the juice is cooking, render the bacon in a tsp of olive oil. Place the cod on a grill pan or barbeque. As the Cod cooks, add butter to the reduced corn juice. Season with salt and lime juice. Place a dollop of the corn "pudding" in a shallow bowl, then place the grilled cod on top. To garnish, spoon bacon, a teaspoon of rendered fat and scissor chives on top of finished dish. Serve immediately.

To see Christopher's Strawberry Soup menu, and how he did in our "How Low Can You Go?" competition, go to Page 2.

Strawberry Soup w/ Lime and Yogurt

Serves 4

2 pints Strawberries
1 cup sugar
1 lime
1 cup sweet wine
2 cups water
1/2 pint yogurt (in squirt bottle)

Combine in a metal bowl strawberries, sugar, water and wine. Wrap the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and place snugly in a pot of simmering water. Let the strawberry mixture cook for approximately one hour. Remove strawberry liquid and strain from the bowl through a fine strainer. Squeeze three large "dots" of yogurt in a serving bowl. Grate the zest of one lime over the strawberries and yogurt. Pour the strawberry "soup" into the bowl. Enjoy!

So, how did Christopher make out in our "How Low Can You Go?" competition?

Tomato and Fruit Salad
tomato $1.33
cherry tomatoes $1.74
peaches $1.99
red plum $.87
basil $2.49
ricotta cheese $3.89
total $12.31

Grilled Cod
cod $6.49
corn $2.50
bacon $1.00
chives $4.00
lime $.69
total $14.68

Strawberry Soup
strawberries $5.00
lime $.69
sweet wine $3.98
yogurt $1.24
total $10.91

Grand total: $37.90

Our Leaders Board for the year so far:

1. Amanda Freitag $37.17
The Harrison

2. Mikey Price $37.18
Market Table

3. Kelly Liken $37.20
Restaurant Kelly Liken

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