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    Dinner with José Andrés

    So, one Sunday night I was sitting around at home when I got an email from my friend, the magnificent chef, José Andrés he was in London and in the mood to cook. After I scraped myself off of the floor and screamed "YES", José came over and we were witness to (and assistants to) one of the best meals ever. So freaking awesome.

    Love,
    gp

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    It's not every day that José Andrés shows up to make dinner...here's what happened:

    José shows up with a carload of fresh vegetables and specialty ingredients from Harrod’s Food Hall (aka: heaven on earth with the price tag to match).

    Carrots, onions, zucchini, thyme, leeks, chicken, artichokes, green beans and snap peas for the Paella, plus mushrooms, burrata, good quality olive oil and vinegar, oysters, dragon fruit, clementines, caviar, etc, etc, for the many tapas we made all together that night.

    We discuss the menu for the evening... Clearly I’m psyched about what’s going to go down in my kitchen.

    We took copious notes...

    Paella takes the longest so José gets started with the chicken and vegetable prep. He cuts a whole chicken into large pieces and sautés it along with the vegetables.

    While that’s cooking José puts us all to work on appetizers. We use the boiled potatoes in the picture above, and cover them in crème fraiche and caviar (what luxury!).

    We delicately grill a variety of mushrooms (setas a la plancha as they’re called in Spanish) and also make a seta cream sauce to go with the burrata.

    The final product is this dish: burrata topped with crema de setas and setas a la plancha.

    Meanwhile, José demonstrates his dragon fruit and tomato appetizer. He cut cubes out of a dragon fruit and tops them with what he calls the "caviar" of the tomato, which he achieves by cutting the top and side layers off in a square, leaving just the seeds.

    We prepare a scallop ceviche with clementine juice and clementine zest, maldon sea salt and really good olive oil.

    We serve it on halved kumquats placed on top of an ice tray, for kitsch and cool.

    There’s also grilled cheese sandwiches: mozzarella and preserved black truffles on brioche…

    and thick slices of smoked salmon topped with a passion fruit vinaigrette.

    We put all of our appetizers on the dining room table...

    And then José serves up his chicken paella on top of a sundried tomato pureé with a side of friseé lettuce tossed with sherry vinegar and olive oil.

    Music to Cook to:

    Grítenme Piedras del Campo
    by Cuadro Gitano Famenco, El Pescadilla, Lola Flores & Paco Aguilera

    Marieta
    by Buena Vista Social Club Presents Ibrahim Ferrer

    De Usuahia a la Quiaca
    by Gustavo Santolia from The Motorcyle Diaries Soundtrack

    Recipes from José Andrés
    Dragon Fruit with Tomato "Caviar"

    • 1 dragon fruit, skin removed and cut into 2-inch cubes
    • 4 plum tomatoes
    • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (from about ½ lemon)
    • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
    • 4 tablespoons Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
    • Sea salt to taste
    • Fresh mint or dill

    1.Using a sharp knife, slice off the top and bottom of each plum tomato. Locate the fleshy dividing wall of one segment inside the tomato. Slice alongside the dividing wall and open up the flesh of the tomato to expose the seeds. Remove the seeds and their pulp by slicing around the core of the tomato. Set the seed sacs aside. Your aim is to keep the seeds and their surrounding gel intact to create tomato seed "fillets" or "caviar" that are separate from the firmer tomato flesh. You should have about 8 fillets. Reserve remaining tomato flesh for another use.

    2.Place one set of tomato-seed fillets on top of each cube of dragon fruit.

    3.In a small bowl, mix the lemon juice, half the lemon zest, the oil, and vinegar to make the dressing. Drizzle on top of the tomato "caviar". Sprinkle with sea salt, the remaining lemon zest, and the mint [or dill?]. Serve immediately.

    You may also use a skewer to hold him place to create a pincho.

    José’s tips: Ideally, you should use a microplane for removing the zest of the lemon. If you don’t have a microplane, try a very fine grater. Also, if you want to save time, you can use cherry tomatoes instead of the tomato seeds.

    Paella de pollo y verduras / Chicken and vegetable paella

    Served at Jaleo by José Andrés, Washington DC and Las Vegas

    • ¼ cup Spanish olive oil
    • 3 cups diced seasonal vegetables such as green beans, zucchini, baby squash, cauliflower
    • 1 cup seasonal mushrooms
    • 2 pounds organic chicken legs and thighs, cut up
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic
    • 1 cup grated fresh tomato
    • a pinch of saffron
    • 4 cups mineral water
    • ½ cup dry white wine
    • 1 teaspoon pimenton (Spanish smoked paprika)
    • 2 cups Spanish bomba or calasparra rice

    1.Heat the olive oil in a 15-inch paella pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, sear the vegetables until they get a nice brown color. Remove vegetables from the pan and reserve. Add the chicken in small batches to the pan and sear until skin is golden and crisp. Remove the chicken and reserve. Add the chopped garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the grated tomato and cook for 1 minute making sure to scrape up all the browned bits from the chicken. Pour in the wine and let it reduce by half, about 2 minutes.

    2.Return the vegetables and chicken to the pan and pour in the mineral water. Allow the mixture to boil for 2 minutes to flavor the water. Then stir in the rice. Season to taste with salt and boil for 10 minutes. Do not stir the rice again, as this can cause the rice to cook unevenly.

    3.Crumble the saffron across the top of the paella and sprinkle the pimenton evenly. Do not stir the rice. Cook for another 5 minutes. Remove the paella from the heat, cover with a clean kitchen towel and let the paella rest for 5 minutes before serving.

    Grilled Butter Oysters

    Served at the America Eats Tavern, Washington D.C.

    • 12 oysters
    • 6 tablespoons butter
    • ¾ teaspoon mace, freshly ground
    • ¾ teaspoon Black peppercorn, freshly ground

    1.Melt the butter in a small pan.

    2.Place the whole, raw oysters on a rack on the grill. Allow the oysters to begin opening. Once they begin to open, immediately remove the flat half of the shell. Place the oysters back on the rack. Top the oysters with butter and allow the grill to flame up - this will add more flavor to the oysters. Sprinkle the oysters with fresh ground pepper and mace. Serve immediately.

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