Publishers love to send us cookbooks here at Fork in the Road, and often those books come straight from the chefs at some of New York’s best restaurants. So we decided to share the love, and each week, we’ll feature a new book, a recipe, and a few thoughts on cooking from the authors. Check back every Tuesday for a new book.
Chelsea Market Cookbook
By Michael Phillips with Rick Rodgers, 223 pages, Stewart Tabori & Chang, $29.95
Few culinary destinations inspire such awe and ire as the Chelsea Market (75 Ninth Avenue), a labyrinthine web of shops and storefronts on the edge of one of New York’s most storied food neighborhoods. But in the 21st century, most of the meatpacking in its namesake district involves clubby bridge-and-tunnelers, sodden with drink, perhaps preceded by dinner at one of the area’s celebrity-cheffed mega food halls or an afternoon shopping high-end retail. The market, in all its overwhelming glory, offers a tasty respite from these tawdry temptations.
In the 1990s, food startups started trickling into the sprawling brick block between 14th and 16th Streets near the Hudson. Formerly home to the National Biscuit Company (later: Nabisco), the building offered food-friendly spaces and a place to commune over a shared sense of purpose–early tenants like Manhattan Fruit, Bowery Kitchen, and Amy’s Bread were at once making a living and building a modern food industry from the ashes of one bygone years before. In 2003, Jamestown Properties developed the remaining spaces into a full-fledged food-lovers’ paradise. Now, it’s an ideal stopover for a quick meal; a place to restock your kitchen with fresh-baked breads, fish, and fine meats; or a destination for wine and snacks for an evening passed al fresco on the High Line.
Fork chatted with Jamestown COO Michael Phillips on food-industry movers and shakers, dandelion greens, and Long Island Corn.
What is the oldest recipe in this book and where did it come from?
It’s hard to tell which recipe is the oldest, but our longest standing tenants include Sarabeth’s Bakery, Amy’s Bread, Chelsea Thai, The Green Table, and The Lobster Place, so definitely one of those. I personally love Mary Cleaver’s (The Green Table) butternut squash potato gratin, especially during the fall.
If you could give one piece of cooking advice to the world, what would it be and why?
It’s important to cook what you love to eat; let your palate guide your ingredients choice.
Doing so helps you gain confidence as a chef and enhance your skills.
What cook(s), living or dead, do you most admire and why?
Some of the cooks that I most admire are James Beard, Julia Child, and Jacques Pépin. They were part of a great generation of chefs that moved food forward in America.
What’s your go-to seasonal ingredient right now, and what do you love about it?
Late-season Long Island corn. I love how versatile it is and that you can grill it, steam it, add it to frittatas or even baked breads. Also, I love Maldon sea salt for all seasons. It’s the perfect way to finish almost any dish.
Name one unusual/unexpected/unique recipe from the book.
We have a lot of unique side dishes in this cookbook, and one of the most unusual is Orienne Cosentino’s dandelion sauté with onion and fennel. It’s a great seasonal dish that really can surprise guests, especially when you add some crisped pancetta.
Click to the next page for a favored fall recipe.
The Green Table’s Butternut Squash and Potato Gratin
This dish, the book proclaims, is “a gratin of epic proportions that could steal the show from a holiday turkey or roast pork.” Do you think so? Make it and see, then report back in the comments.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the baking dish
2 leeks, white and pale green parts coarsely chopped and rinsed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
2 cups heavy cream, as needed
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 butternut squash
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
¼ cup freshly grated hard cheese
1. Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 400 degrees. Generously butter a two-quart shallow baking dish that is about two inches deep.
2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the leaks, season them with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are tender but not browned, about eight minutes. Stir in the thyme. Remove them from heat.
3. Combine the cream, paprika, and nutmeg with one teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper in a medium saucepan. Bring them to a simmer over medium heat. Remove the saucepan from the heat and cover to keep warm.
4. Cut the top “neck” from the squash.Peel the squash and remove the seeds. You should have about one pound of squash.
5. Cut the squash and potatoes into eighth-inch slices. Mix the potatoes and squash together in a large bowl. Spread one third of the potato/squash mixture in the baking dish and top with one half of the leeks. Pour one third of the warm cream mixture evenly over the vegetables. Repeat with another third of the potato mixture, the remaining leeks, and another third for the cream mixture. Finish with the remaining potato mixture. Slowly pour the remaining cream mixture evenly over the vegetables, moving them with a fork to spread them into an even layer, until they are barely covered with the cream mixture. Add more cream if needed. Sprinkle the top with cheese. Loosely cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and put on a rimmed baking sheet.
6. Bake for about 45 minutes. Remove the foil. Reduce heat to 350 degrees. Continue until the gratin is golden brown and tender when pierced in the center with the tip of a small sharp knife and the cream has thickened, about 45 additional minutes. If the top becomes too brown before the vegetables are tender, tent the gratin with foil.
7. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.