By Cheryl Radkiewicz
Over 2,100 guests poured into Sands Casino in Bethlehem to attend the annual Lehigh Valley Food and Wine Festival. Foodies were delighted with samplings offered by area restaurants and wineries. Highlights included cooking demonstrations and wine seminars.
This year’s culinary demonstration featured Chef Chris Wilson, a Connecticut native and graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, who has spent over 20 years working for Chef Emeril Lagasse. Wilson now serves as Culinary Director of Emeril’s Homebase in New Orleans where he oversees culinary operations at Lagasse’s three restaurants in New Orleans–Emeril’s, NOLA, and Emeril’s Delmonico.
Wilson has been part of the festival each year where he delights audiences with his talent and sense of humor. Here are some of the dishes he prepared for us:
Pan-Seared Grouper with English Pea Puree, Chanterelles, Sunchokes, Rainbow Carrots and Minneola Burre Blanc
1/2 cup English Peas
Ice Water for chilling
1 tsp. Clarified Unsalted Butter
1 Tbsp. Diced Leeks (White only, optional)
1/2 tsp. Chopped Shallots
2 Tbsp. Mascarpone Cheese
Blanch peas in boiling salted water until bright green, then drain, shock in ice water, then drain again. Cook leeks and shallots in the clarified butter until translucent. Add peas until warmed. Put pea mixture in blender, add mascarpone and blend until smooth. (The amount of cheese could vary depending on desired consistency.) Chill puree until ready to serve.
2 Rainbow Carrots
Salt and Black Pepper
3 to 4 Sunchokes
Clarified Unsalted Butter, for sauteing
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat carrots with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast, covered, on a baking sheet until tender. Let cool and then dice. Peel sunchokes, placing them in water so they do not discolor. Slice, drain and saute’ over medium heat in clarified butter until tender and then chill.
Two 7 oz. Black Grouper Fillets, skin removed
Salt and Black Pepper
2 oz. Clarified Butter
1 tsp. Whole Unsalted Butter
1 clove Garlic
1 sprig Fresh Thyme
Turn oven temperature up to 400 degrees. Heat saute pan until hot, then add clarified butter and heat until hot. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper, then sear the non-skin side of the fish until begins to brown, then transfer to the oven for 7 to 9 minutes. Do not flip or move fish. Remove pan and add the whole butter, garlic and thyme.
1/4 cup Chablis
1 tsp. Chopped Shallots
Juice of 2 Minneola Oranges
1 sprig of Fresh Thyme
2 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter, diced, chilled
3-4 Chanterelle Mushrooms, cleaned, stems scraped, cut into uniform pieces and stored on paper towels
Clarified Unsalted Butter
Vegetable Stock, if needed
Combine wine, shallots, orange juice and thyme in a saucepan and cook until reduced by 95% (almost 1 Tbsp. liquid remaining). Remove from heat and whisk in chilled butter to combine. Strain through a fine mesh sieve.
To serve: Preheat a saute pan. Saute mushrooms in clarified butter. Add the other vegetables and warm, adding a small amount of stock if needed to prevent the vegetables from drying out. Baste fish with the melted butter and pan drippings. Arrange with beurre blanc on the bottom, then vegetables, then grouper and garnish with pea puree.
Roasted Baby Beet Salad with Warm Goat Cheese and Frisee
1 1/2 lbs. Assorted Red and Golden Baby Beets, washed
Extra-virgin Olive Oil for drizzling, plus 1/2 cup divided
1/4 cup Sherry Wine Vinegar, divided
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
3 Tbsp. Flour
1 large Egg, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp. Milk
1/3 cup Plain Bread Crumbs
1-6 oz. Goat Cheese Log, chilled and cut into 6 even slices
1/4 cup Extra-virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp. Dijon Mustard
2 tsp. Minced Shallots
2 tsp. Chopped Parsley Leaves
2 tsp. Chopped Chervil Leaves
1 tsp. Chopped Chives
3 cups Frisee Lettuce, roughly torn and washed
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spread aluminum foil onto work surface. Place beets on foil and drizzle olive oil generously over beets. Seal aluminum foil around the beets and place on a baking sheet. Roast beets for 45 minutes to one hour, or until tender. Remove from oven, unwrap beets and cool. When beets are cool enough to handle, peel and cut into wedges. Place beets in a small bowl. Sprinkle two tablespoons of sherry vinegar over the beets and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside to cool completely.
Place flour in a shallow dish or pan. Whisk together egg and milk in a second small dish. Place breadcrumbs in a separate shallow dish or pan. Season chilled goat cheese rounds with salt and pepper. Dredge rounds in flour, shaking off the excess, then in the egg wash, and finally in the breadcrumbs, pressing to coat well. Allow the breaded goat cheese rounds to chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Arrange roasted beet wedges on six salad plates. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining two tablespoons of vinegar, dijon, shallots, parsley, chervil and chives. Drizzle 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil into the vinegar mixture, whisking to combine. Place frisee in a bowl and drizzle a little of the vinaigrette over the greens. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Divide frisee evenly among the six plates in the center of the sliced beets.
Heat the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil in a small saute pan over medium-high heat. Carefully place the goat cheese rounds into the hot oil, being careful not to crowd the pan. Cook until lightly browned and softened, about one to two minutes each side. (Since the goat cheese gets very hot, it may be helpful to use a fish spatula to turn the goat cheese during cooking). Remove goat cheese from oil with a slotted spatula, and place on top of frisee. Drizzle any remaining vinaigrette on top of the sliced beets. Serve immediately. Serves six.