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What's Up Magazine

Annapolis Chef’s Challenge Recipes

Aug 03, 2011 07:22PM ● By Anonymous


As Maryland residents, we know there’s nothing like our homegrown, delicious ingredients from local farms, markets, and produce stands. During the summer season, we gobble up vine-ripened tomatoes, chow down on sweet corn, and pick blue crabs for hours on end. That’s why this year, we made the annual Chefs’ Challenge all about local ingredients. The 2011 best chefs, Karen Williams of Back Porch Café/Ken’s Creative Kitchen and David Hayes of Harbour Lights at St. Michaels Harbour Inn, were tasked with creating a delicious four-course meal, each course featuring a different local ingredient: zucchini, watermelon, bison, and a local seafood item of the chefs’ choice. As always, we were amazed by the creative, mouthwatering meals that came out of their kitchens. Read on to learn how the chefs created these dishes and what they love most about Maryland ingredients.

Chef Karen Williams
Back Porch Café/Ken’s Creative Kitchen

Last year’s chefs’ challenge featured Chef Ken Upton, but this year, readers tapped Executive Chef Karen Williams as Annapolis’ best chef, and Upton couldn’t be happier. “I can’t think of anyone that even comes close to her,” he raves. “She excites people. Everyone respects her.”

Williams, an Annapolis native, hasn’t always made a career out of cooking, but coming from an Italian family who loves to cook, it’s always been in her blood. After spending time working for NSA, she began working part-time at Ken’s Creative Kitchen. “I learned by doing, by reading, by watching,” she says. “I just worked every party next to Ken. He’s really got a great eye for food, and I just learned from him.”

Years later, Williams is now Upton’s executive chef and creating beautiful, delicious dishes for both the Back Porch Café in Annapolis, as well as the catering business. Her secret? “I buy the best ingredients,” she says. “And just use them to the best of my ability. Keep flavors simple and people love it.”

Ingredient: Local Seafood
Dish: Seared and roasted rockfish filet topped with jumbo lump crab and a citrus butter sauce, served with a raft of spring asparagus and lemon-spinach risotto, and garnished with chervil.
Karen says: “Rockfish is the Chesapeake Bay, so it seemed like a natural choice.”

Ingredient: Zucchini
Dish: Chilled zucchini-watercress soup with zucchini/cucumber salsa, basil oil, and a parsley garnish; Zucchini carpaccio made with thinly sliced zucchini, leek, fresh herbs, goat cheese, extra virgin olive oil, and burgundy amaranth.
Karen says: “Very versatile, you can use it in a million different ways.”
Clearly, she couldn’t decide on just one dish!

Ingredient: Bison
Dish: Pepper-encrusted bison tenderloin filets, deepfried sweet potatoes, and a red wine reduction, served with wild mushrooms and pearl onions, haricots verts tied with a leek ribbon, and petite dauphinoise.
Karen says: “We did a rustic approach. Make sure you cook the bison rare or you have a tough piece of meat.”

Ingredient: Watermelon
Dish: Watermelon and summer berry compote with a minted melon syrup, served with sugar cookies.
Karen says: “It’s simple and has a beautiful watermelon syrup. I love to bake. If I could, I would open a bakery.”



Highlighted Recipe: Rockfish Filet
Topped with jumbo lump crab and a citrus butter sauce, served with lemon-spinach risotto

1 4-ounce rockfish filet, skin off
2 ounces jumbo lump crabmeat
1 tablespoon mayo

Season rockfish with salt and pepper. Mix crab with mayonnaise, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Sear the rockfish until golden brown. Place crab on top of rockfish. Bake in 350 degree oven until firm, or about 5 to10 minutes.

Lemon-Spinach Risotto
1 cup Arborio Rice
4 cups chicken broth, warmed
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 diced onion
Splash of white wine

2/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1 handful of fresh baby
Spinach, chopped
Lemon Juice, to taste
Zest of 1 Lemon

Sauté the onion in olive oil until softened. Add rice and cook for one minute. Add wine. Begin adding broth, two-thirds of a cup at a time, stirring constantly until risotto is creamy and al dente. Season with salt and pepper, and add spinach, lemon juice, zest, and parmesan cheese to taste.

Citrus Butter Sauce
2 cups dry white wine
1/2 cup shallots, chopped
12 cloves garlic, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 cups heavy cream

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3 tablespoons lemon juice

Boil white wine, shallots, garlic, bay leaves, and peppercorns in large saucepan until reduced. Add heavy cream and boil until reduced. Strain. Place over low heat and whisk in unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Remove from heat, whisk in lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

To present: Spoon the risotto onto middle of plate. Place a nice handful of trimmed blanched asparagus atop risotto. Place fish on top of asparagus. Ladle citrus butter sauce over all. Garnish with fresh chervil.

Chilled Zucchini Watercress Soup with Zucchini Salsa
4 zucchini, quartered and sliced
4 cups chicken broth
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic
1 bunch watercress
16 oz cream cheese
4 oz sour cream

Combine first 6 ingredients in saucepan and cook over medium heat 20 minutes. Add watercress and cream cheese. Process in blender until Smooth. Season if needed. Stir in sour cream. Cover and chill. Serve with Zucchini salsa.

Zucchini Salsa
½ cup peeled and diced seedless cucumber
½ cup diced zucchini
1 tomato, peeled, seeded and diced
2 T diced purple onion
1 T olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp salt

Stir together all ingredients. Chill.

Zucchini Carpaccio
2 zucchini, very thinly sliced
1 Leek, white part-- very thinly sliced
Sea Salt and Cracked Black Pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Lemon Juice
Fresh Herbs: Chervil , dill, chives, tarragon
Goat Cheese

Overlap zucchini slices on plate. Sprinkle leeks on top of zucchini. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle olive oil and lemon juice over all and sprinkle with herbs. Finish with goat cheese and burgundy amaranth.

Pepper Encrusted Bison Tenderloin Filets
1 bison tenderloin
Olive oil
Cracked Black Pepper Blend
Mediterranean Sea Salt

Rub tenderloin liberally with olive oil. Season with pepper, salt and garlic. Set oven at 500. Once preheated, place tenderloin in oven and turned down to 400. Roast until internal Temperature reaches 125 for medium rare. Let rest for 15 minutes, then slice.

Red Wine Reduction
2-3 shallots, diced
1 T garlic
2 oz thyme
2 cups red wine
1 ½ tsp beef base
32 oz glace de veau
Cornstarch or roux

Bring shallots, garlic, thyme, wine to boil. Reduce by half. Add water, beef base and veal glace. Bring to boil. Thicken with cornstarch slurry or roux (preferred). Strain and cool.

Watermelon and Summer Berry Compote with a Minted Melon Syrup
Watermelon Balls, large and small
Watermelon pieces, 2 cups
1 cup Sugar

Place watermelon balls and berries in compote. Set aside.

To make melon syrup, combine watermelon pieces, mint and sugar in saucepan. Bring to boil. Strain off solids. Return to pan and cook until thickened. Spoon over fresh fruit. Garnish with mint.

Sugar Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
3 c flour
1 tsp vanilla
¼ tsp salt

Cream butter and sugar together. Add egg and vanilla. Mix in flour and salt. Roll out on floured surface. Cut into desired shapes Sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake in 350 oven until golden.