Trio of Small Bites

Sometimes I like to start the first course of the tasting menu with a trio of small bites.

Here we have an east coast oyster (I don’t remember the name) with a hibiscus mignonette, a deviled egg, and a chicken croquette with hot paprika aïoli.

Chicken Croquetas with Hot Paprika Aïoli

My first chef made these when I first started at Degustation and when my current chef went on vacation for two weeks, I decided to bring these Chicken Croquetas back, served with a Hot Paprika Aïoli.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, puréed or ground chicken or putty?? That whitish grey goop you see when you watch those behind the scene videos at meat factories… WELL, these are not like that. I boil the chicken and hand shred the meat and fold that into the béchamel.

Inside the béchamel, there is also celery, jalapeño, and red onion brunoise.

Duo of Asparagus

Spring! The best season for chefs because the farmer’s market is blooming with fresh produce from spring garlic to real market strawberries to a million different edible flowers to fresh chickpeas and fava beans… The Union Square Greenmarket is truly a sight to see if you’re in NYC during the spring season. Albeit, I generally loathe going there because there’s just so many people – taking pictures. It’s like, I’m trying to BUY stuff!!!!

Here is a Duo of Asparagus, White from Holland and Green from the Market, with Saffron Aïoli, Parmesan Croqueta, Pumpernickel Soil, Dragon Mizuna Greens, and Pansies.

Roasted Beet & Red Endive Salad

Remember that red beet and endive salad from Valentine’s Day? Well, it was so well received that I put it as the “salad” on the a la carte menu, with a few minor changes. It stayed on the a la carte menu for three months. Now, it’s May 31, and a new salad just replaced it… fitting with the current weather and season!

This was a Roasted Beet and Red Endive Salad, with Saffron Aïoli, Pumpernickel “Soil”, Sunflower Seeds, and Pea Tendrils.

Recipe: Saffron Aïoli

Traditionally, aïoli is an emulsion of oil and garlic. When I use the term “aïoli”, it is an emulsified sauce containing oils, egg yolks, water, and flavorings, such as saffron or paprika.

Creates 1 pint.

  • Pinch of saffron
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 pint neutral oil, such as grapeseed
  • Salt
  • Iced water, as needed

In a small bowl or container, infuse the saffron threads with the lemon juice. In a food processor/Robot Coupe, add the yolks and the lemon-saffron mixture, pulse until combined. Add the oil very slowly, in a steady stream, drop by drop until an emulsified base has formed. *Add a tiny splash of iced water (1 tsp). Once the yolks and oil have formed a stable base, you can pour the rest of the oil in. Season with salt and taste/adjust.

*Adding iced water to aïoli prevents it from breaking and also it thins out the aïoli, if you don’t want your aïoli to be too thick.

Sample dishes:

Red Endive & Roasted Red Beets

Don’t they look like little sailboats?

I created this vegetarian salad for our special Valentine’s Day tasting menu. Since then, this salad has been on our a la carte menu with a few adjustments.

This is a Red Endive Salad with Roasted Red Beets, Saffron Aïoli, Pumpernickel “Soil”, Sunflower Seeds, and Micro Bull’s Blood Beet Greens.