I am a member of the Everywhere Society and Everywhere has provided me with compensation for this post about Macy’s Culinary Council. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own.
The Macy’s Culinary Council includes some of the country’s most esteemed chefs, who then travel to various Macy’s everywhere as cooking ambassadors. This past weekend, I was able to take a “cooking lesson” from Nancy Silverton (Los Angeles chef famously of La Brea Bakery and also Pizzeria Mozza and Osteria Mozza) and our own Northwest celebrity chef, Tom Douglas (of the Seattle restaurant empire- seriously, I love them all, Dahlia Lounge, Dahlia Bakery, Palace Kitchen, Serious Pie, Serious Biscuit, Lola, Brave Horse Tavern and more- 15 restaurants and counting!).
Nancy Silverton doesn’t drink white wine (thus the glass of red) and also approves of having red towels in your holiday kitchen / Mr Crab Cakes, aka Chef Tom Douglas, Culinary Council member at the Macy’s at Washington Square Dec 14, 2013
Courtesy of Nancy Silverton
- Breadsticks with Truffle Butter and Prosciutto
No exact recipe for this, just guidelines, to taste, and 4 ingredients: unsalted butter, truffle salt, breadsticks and prosciutto. Nancy emphasized when you are using just a few simple ingredients, buy the best of each of the ingredients you can. She’s not a fan of white truffle oil because of the chemicals used. But she loves black truffle salt, which is what she utilized (Ritrovo Truffle & Salt with non-salted butter) to create the truffle butter. Spread it on breadsticks. It’s your choice whether you utilize extra pizza dough like she does at her restaurants (they serve these breadsticks on their charcuterie platter I believe) or make or buy them. Finally, wrap prosciutto around and you’re done. Easy and done in 5 minutes! She cautions that if it is warm to not prepare these too far ahead of time. Also make sure you leave a “handle” at the end of the breadstick for holding!
- Burrata with Caviar
It turns out Burrata is quite the trend in LA right now. As a big cheese lover, I’m all about this dish with its big hunk of burrata. Nancy believes the holiday are a great excuse for extravagance and getting some high quality ingredients. Besides acquiring 16 ounces of fresh burrata to make 4 servings, make sure that your caviar (you’ll be using 4 tablespoons of caviar, a tablespoon per serving) is sustainable and domestically farmed. The accompaniments you see here, 1/4 cup each of finely chopped fresh chives, parsley, onion, and finally the last topping of all the servings with 1 grated hard-cooked egg via microplane, all are quite traditional for caviar. The twist is with the presence of creamy silky burrata instead of say toast points adding extra indulgence. Nancy’s very particular with her eggs, and gave her formula for perfectly cooked eggs. First, bring the water to boil in salted water. The purpose of the salt is not for flavor, but in case an egg cracks it will seal the whites in. Once the water is boiling, place your eggs and leave for exactly 5 minutes. Then let the eggs and hot water cool to room temperature. She likes her eggs where the yolk is just set (and definitely no green- she would just be insulted!), so to use eggs for grating she adds another minute. Nancy even educated Tom on getting the best finely chopped minced onion- she uses an un-petal technique where she cuts each large layer of onion (after quartering it) individually for smaller pieces!
- Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad
Nancy called Tom into service into shaving the 4 pounds of brussels sprouts with the mandolin. Then she advised us to massage our winter greens to bring out more flavor. She also told us to use fingers to distribute her dressing created from 1 cup of fresh mint leaves, 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, juice of 2 lemons, and then season with salt and more lemon juice as desired. Nancy is a big fan of carefully balancing each bite of the salad to have a good combination of ALL the salad ingredients, which you get by mixing by hands. She also adores microplane; she used one for grating the egg earlier with the burrata, and with a coarse microplane she grated a thin layer of pecorino romano (the recipe calls for 6 ounces) over the plate and then divided the Brussels sprouts salad into mounds on top of that cheese. She pointed out that there is something improved about the mouthfeel by compacting the salad into easy mouthfuls as she gently flattened the mound to make an even circle, grated more cheese, and topped the plate with toasted chopped almonds (1 cup worth for this 4 serving recipe). Then she finished the salad with a drizzle of olive oil, squeeze of lemon, and coarse cracked black pepper.
Courtesy of Tom Douglas
- Mom’s Crab Dip on Russet Potato Chips, from Toms Big Dinners (HarperCollins Publishers, 11/1/2003)
There was a charming moment as Tom shook the Martha Stewart spatula at the audience, telling us it is up to each one of us to carry forward our family recipes. Then he began sharing his mom’s Crab Dip on Russet Potato Chips. He also unabashedly admitted these homemade potato chips we were enjoying were an upgrade- he usually serves them at home just with Ritz Crackers, so any chip or cracker of our liking will do. He also noted that it is important to add that expensive ingredient of crab last and prepare all the rest of the sauce separately, and keep the crabmeat cold as long as you can.
- Fennel Rubbed Steamed Salmon (link to image with recipe)
Tom imparted his wisdom about sustainably sourcing fish, and gave tips on how to purchase fish to make sure it is fresh. Although he only shared one recipe in writing, he demo’d two ways of cooking the salmon, one steamed with the rub as you see below, and the other was more of a saute with a fennel sauce and topping. He strongly advocated for the use of an instant read digital thermometer for the fish in order to make sure you don’t dry it out- all you need is for it to get to 125 degrees F and you’re looking at a perfectly cooked fish. He also notes that heat rises, so it’s ok to turn off the heat as the salmon will be still cooking. Did you know Tom also has on his staff a chief vegetable officer?
- Chocolate Truffle Cookies with Crackly Crust, from The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook (HarperCollins Publishers, 10/23/2012)
Time ran out for the demo of these cookies, but the recipe was shared, and we still got to sample it, giving us a very sweet end
Thanks to Food in Bloom Catering, who helped produce samples of each of the recipes from Nancy and Tom, everyone in the audience was able to try a sample of all 6 dishes. I was quite impressed by the level of service in taking the care to plate each individual sample beautifully, and for plates they used the stylishly sustainable VerTerra Dinnerware and were quick yet thorough in passing out samples, retrieving the garbage, and making sure we all had napkins and if we wished, refills on the Columbia Crest Pinot Gris.
To learn more about the Macy’s Culinary Council and upcoming events, check out macys.com/culinarycouncil, or follow them on Twitter @culinarycouncil For some example recipe shared by the Council, check out their Pinterest Page, Macy’s Culinary Council
Hand comparisons of Nancy Silverton and Tom Douglas, Culinary Council members at Macy’s Washington Square Dec 14 – important point in always checking knife feel in your hand and the weighting when knife shopping