These go-to recipes from renowned area chefs are relatively simple (many can be made ahead), and guaranteed to please a variety of palates. Whether you’re having a formal soiree or a more casual gathering, offer easy spring entrees, appetizers and desserts that will have guests asking for the recipe (and leftovers).
Asparagus Ricotta Toast
Chef Tim Labant, Schoolhouse at Cannondale
6 slices day-old bread
9 baby or pearl onions, halved
24 large asparagus spears, trimmed
9 breakfast radishes, halved
1 bunch dandelion greens
2 cups fresh whole milk ricotta, seasoned to taste with salt and olive oil
3 thin slices of coppa or other charcuterie, cut into thin strips
3 tablespoons honey
1. In a hot pan, add a little olive oil and throw in the pearl onions for 2 minutes; next, add the asparagus and radishes. Once the asparagus is tender, remove all the vegetables from the pan and place on another plate to cool.
2. Fry the toast in a similar fashion as the vegetables.
3. Next assemble the toast: Spread the ricotta on the toast and layer the dande- lion greens, asparagus, radishes, onions, coppa and honey. Voila—easy chef food you can eat with your hands!
Scotch Eggs with Dill Crema and Citrus
Chef Forrest Pasternack, Bailey’s Backyard
SERVES 6 TO 8
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 pound of fresh sweet Italian sausage (casings removed)
2 cups panko bread crumbs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons dill, chopped
2 quarts canola oil, for frying
Kosher salt and ground black pepper Baby greens
1. Bring 1 quart of water to a boil and add vinegar. Set timer for 7 minutes and 30 seconds. Place 7 eggs gently into boiling water and vinegar. Make sure eggs are submerged. While eggs are cooking, place ice into water for an ice bath. When timer is done, remove eggs and shock in ice water.
2. Take plastic wrap and cover a 1 1⁄2-foot square area on countertop. Place the sausage into the middle and cover the sausage with another sheet of plastic wrap. Place a rolling pin in the middle of the sausage and roll it out like a pie dough, around to inch high. Peel eggs, coat in flour and wrap them each egg in sausage, pinching closed exposed areas with your fingers.
3. Whisk the remaining egg with a fork and set aside. Dip each sausage coated egg into the flour then whisked egg and then panko breadcrumbs. Place onto a plate and refrigerate for 10 to 15 minutes.
4. Mix sour cream with dill and season with salt and pepper. Place oil into large pan and heat to 325 ̊F. Cook until golden brown and sausage is no longer pink (interior of egg will be runny). Cut in half using a serrated knife for plating. Garnish with baby greens.
Chef Nancy Roper, Truck
SERVES 10 TO 12
1 head cabbage, cored and finely chopped
head red cabbage, cored and finely chopped
medium sliced red onion, finely chopped
2 cups curly or flat-leaf parsley, chopped 8 carrots, grated or julienned
3 scallions, finely chopped
2 lemons, juiced and zested
Maldon salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 to 1 cups of mayonnaise (to taste)
Place above ingredients in a large bowl and gently toss with hands or rubber spatula.
Ricotta Gnocchi with Summer Corn and Peas
Chef Debra Ponzek, Aux Délices
Greenwich, Darien, Riverside and
15 ounces whole-milk ricotta cheese 2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoons salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese Fresh ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups fresh corn kernels,
(about 3 to 4 ears of corn)
1 cup fresh or frozen peas, blanched 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped Salt and fresh black pepper
To make the gnocchi:
1. Mix together ricotta, egg yolks and salt. Stir in flour and Parmesan until mixture forms a sticky dough. Turn out onto well-floured surface; knead until smooth. Divide into four pieces.
2. Sprinkle more flour on the work surface and roll each piece into -inch-thick ropes and cut into -inch pieces. Set them on a dry baking sheet. Bring a large pot of water to boil over medium-high heat.
3. Sprinkle water generously with salt and add some gnocchi without crowding pot. Stir gently as the gnocchi boil for about 1 to 1 minutes. The gnocchi are done when they rise to top. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a lightly oiled baking pan and sprinkle with olive oil. Cook rest of gnocchi.
To cook corn and peas:
1. Melt butter over medium heat in large sauté pan. When bubbly, add corn and sauté for 5 minutes or until tender.
2. Stir in peas, thyme and gnocchi, season to taste with salt and pepper, toss gently and heat through. Serve immediately.
Creamy White Asparagus Pasta
Chef David White, Vespa
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sliced garlic
Pinch of chili flakes
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup white wine (chardonnay)
cup white asparagus, sliced on an angle or into coins
cup green asparagus, sliced on an angle or into coins
3⁄4 cup heavy cream
8 ounces fresh pasta
1 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated 2 teaspoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil, for finishing cup baby arugula
1⁄4 cup toasted pine nuts
1. Heat oil, garlic, butter and chili flakes in large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add white wine and cook, stirring often. Add asparagus, cook for 2 to 3 minutes and season with salt. Add cream and cup water. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, about 3 to 5 minutes.
2. Cook pasta in large pot of salted boiling water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 2 cups of cooking liquid.
3. Add pasta, Parmesan cheese and 1 cup of cooking liquid to sauce and stir to coat. Increase heat to medium and continue stirring, adding more liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta. Finish with olive oil, parsley, pine nuts and baby arugula.
Halibut in Croute over Sautéed Spinach, Asparagus and Pea Shoots
Renato Donzelli, Basso Cafe Restaurant & Bar
5 asparagus spears, cut diagonally 6 strips bacon, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil Freshly ground black pepper, to taste 8 ounces pea shoots
8 ounces halibut fish filet
1 loaf Italian bread
1 egg whisked with 1 tablespoon water
1. Preheat oven to 475 ̊F. Slice the crust away from one long side of the loaf. If you like, carve the plank (using a knife or kitchen scissors) into fish shape.
2. Brush one side of each bread plank lightly with the egg wash, pressing lightly to adhere bread to fish.
3. Set a wide skillet over medium heat. Pour in canola oil to coat the skillet. When hot, set the fish-topped plank, bread side down, in the oil. Crisp to a golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
4. Drop the butter into the skillet. Turn the plank fish-side down and sizzle until crisp and cooked through, 3 minutes. Finish cooking another 5 minutes in the oven.
5. Put bacon into a sauté pan over medium- high heat and cook, stirring often, until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a paper towel- lined plate.
6. Add garlic, shallots and asparagus to pot with bacon fat and cook until just softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add spinach, whisk in olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Continue whisking until heated through, about 30 seconds. Add pea shoots and remove immediately from fire. Toss to combine.
7. To serve, transfer pea shoots and spinach with asparagus mixture to a serving bowl. Then, using a spatula, set fish on top of mixture bread-side up.
Decadent Chocolate Mousse
Chef Samantha Eichenberg, The Dessertist Croton-on-Hudson, NY
1 pint heavy whipping cream, plus 11⁄4 cups powdered sugar
1 cup dark or milk chocolate chips 1 tablespoon unsalted butter Fruit for garnish
1. Put chocolate chips and butter in a medium bowl. In a medium saucepan at medium-high heat, warm up the heavy whipping cream. Stir with whisk until heavy cream is steaming and lightly bubbling. Immediately add heavy cream to chocolate and butter. Quickly mix together with whisk to create the ganache. Set aside and let it reach room temperature.
2. Once ganache has cooled but is still liquefied, begin to mix the heavy whipping cream, by adding to your stand mixer and using whip attachment. On slow speed, incorporate the powdered sugar into the heavy cream. In stages, keep increasing the speed of the mixer until heavy cream begins to thicken. Mix until cream stands at stiff peaks.
3. Transfer whipped cream to larger bowl and, with a rubber spatula, slowly fold in the ganache until well mixed and streaks are not present.
4. Chill and serve in your desired bowls or cups. Garnish or decorate with fresh fruits of your choice.
Chef Christian Petroni, Fortina
Rye and Armonk, NY, and Stamford, CT
15 eggs, separated
1 dash port wine or good quality marsala
1 cup sugar
1 pint each raspberries, blackberries and strawberries
1. Add dash of wine to egg yolks, then combine with sugar in a large mixing bowl.
2. Whisk over a pot of simmering water until the mixture is pale yellow and forms a thin ribbon when whisk is lifted.
3. Put fresh mixed berries in serving bowls and put a dollop of the zabaglione on each.