Friday, November 20, 2015

La Famille Panisse

Ever have a moment that just puts everything into perspective?   When I had my first meal at Chez Panisse many years ago, it turned into a revelation- I want to become a chef! I want to cook at Chez Panisse!  
Working at Chez Panisse
It feels like yesterday, when I nervously walked into this world-renowned restaurant to meet with Alice Waters and interview for a coveted position in her kitchen.  In spite of the fact that my heart was pounding out of my chest, I was hired and spent 5 years working with the most incredible team of dedicated cooks.  
With my mentor and friend, Alice Waters
Last night, I was honored to host a book-signing party for my new book, Kitchen Gypsyat none-other-than my old stomping grounds-- Chez Panisse!   I’m still dancing on cloud 9!   Alice greeted me with the warmest hug and I felt like I was back home, la famille Panisse

Guests were treated to house-marinated olives, Anchovy Toasts, Hermit Cookies (straight out of my book and perfectly baked by Mary Jo and the rest of the team!!) and drank a scrumptious rosé wine.  
Carmen from Books, Inc. down the street had copies of my book available and I loved signing them for guests.  

After the reception, friends and I proceeded to enjoy a delicious menu, full of dishes inspired by Kitchen Gypsy... Pinch me!  

A million thanks to Alice and everyone at Chez Panisse for a deliciously memorable night!

Cannard Farm chicories with Fuyu persimmons, walnuts, mint and Pecorino
Fish and shellfish stew cooked in the fireplace with saffron, fennel, garlic toast and aioli
Grilled Stemple Creek Ranch sirloin with chanterelle mushrooms, thyme butter, and rocket salad
Pink Lady apple and sour cherry galette with vanilla ice cream
Feeling inspired?  Try my recipe for Provincetown Seafood Stew, from Kitchen Gypsy:


3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 ½ cups peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned
3 tablespoons tomato paste
10 cups light flavored fish stock or water
¾ cup dry white wine,- Sauvignon blanc
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
Pinch of dry thyme
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Two 1 ¼ pound boiled lobsters
1 pound littleneck clams, scrubbed
1 pound super fresh mussels, scrubbed and beards removed 
1 pound firm white fish like cod, sea bass, halibut
½ pound sea scallops
½ pound extra large shrimp in the shell, deveined
1 ¼ pounds small new Yukon Gold or red potatoes, halved, boiled until tender
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Warm the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 8 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, fish stock or water, white wine, crushed red pepper flakes, thyme, saffron and bay leaf.  Season with salt and pepper.  Simmer 30 minutes.

In the meantime, remove the claws and tail from the lobster. Cut the tails across into ¾ to 1-inch pieces.  Crack the claws.  Scrub the clams and mussels to clean them well and remove the beards from the mussels.  Set the clams and mussels aside separately from the lobster.  Cut the fish into 2-inch pieces and place in a bowl.  Remove the muscle from the side of the scallop and add to the fish along with the shrimp.

After the tomato broth has simmered for 30 minutes, add the clams and cook until they begin to open, about 2 more minutes.  Add the mussels and cook until they begin to open, about 2 minutes. Add the lobsters, fish, scallops and shrimp and cook until the fish can be easily flaked with a fork, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the potatoes and stir gently together. Simmer until the potatoes are hot, 2 to 3 minutes.      

Ladle into bowls and garnish with parsley.

Serves 8