Counter Intelligence

Favorite Five: Peter Smith of PS7’s

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on March 31, 2009

With baseball season around the corner, I’ve been craving ball park food: hot dogs, homemade condiments and supa-skinny shoestring fries.  During a recent PS7’s visit to see Gina Chersevani, I was reminded how terrific Peter Smith’s are at the bar.

Smith is such a fine cook though, I almost feel guilty going to PS7’s for a hot dog. So recently, I touched base with him to see what he’s up to and which spring ingredients are among his favorites. They are: pork (usually shoulder), yuzu lime, coriander, leeks and morels. Capital Spice, The Food Scribe and I were inspired to cook up a meal using them.

For the morels, leeks and pork: Ok, so I cheated first time around. I’ve been cooking with pork so much lately and craving greens, so I just used pork (pancetta) to render the fat. Once I had some in the pan, I added chopped leeks and sliced zucchini and sauteed.

I soaked morels in water for a half hour to bring them back to life. In the meantime, I followed Frank Stitt’s Bottega Favorita version of Spring Vegetable Lasagne.

1/2 lb lasagne noodles/olive oil/3 zucchini trimmed and sliced widthwise/1 T butter/2 Vidalia onions, sliced/1 leek, sliced/2 garlic cloves, chopped/1.5 c ricotta cheese/1 t lemon zest/1 t sliced chives/pinch of cayenne/2 c bechamel/1 lb fresh mozz/1/3 c fontina/1/3 c parm/1/3 c pecorino

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cook lasagna noodles in salty water. Brush zucchini with olive oil and roast for five minutes. Once they’re done, turn oven down to 350 degrees. Sautee garlic, onions and leeks for five minutes. (Here’s where I used bacon drippings.) In a separate pan, sautee morels in a T of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Combine ricotta, zest, chives and cayenne in a small bowl.

To assemble: spoon 1 and a third c bechamel over the bottom of a baking dish. Top with lasagne noodles.  Add 1/3 ricotta, 1/3 onion leeks and a third of zucchini.  Season and repeat with two more layers. Top with mozzarella, sprinkle with grated cheeses. Drizzle remaining bechamel over top (I go lean on the cheese and skip the last bechamel).  Bake for 45 minutes, or until cheese is melted and browned. Let lasagne rest for 30 minutes before serving.

Stitt’s recipe is simple and delicious, especially this time of year.

For the coriander and yuzu lime: I found a yuzu at H Mart and didn’t have quite the runaround as Capital Spice. A sorbet could have been passable if it were lime alone. I thought yuzu was more lime-y and less floral. It’s not.

I make sorbets all the time. I started with a simple syrup with coriander, then strained out the coriander and let it cool.  I juiced two limes and a yuzu lime, heated juice in a pan, added some simple syrup, then let it cool in the fridge for eight hours. After, I hooked up my ice cream attachment to my mixer and let it whirl. Lime alone would have been alright. With yuzu it was startlingly bad, which I sort of knew going in.

That said, I basically used two of five ingredients well. So I ended up going to April Fulton’s house Friday night for another whirl. Check out The Food Scribe today for her terrific recipes.

Thanks again to Chef Smith for the inspiration and to April, Mike and Elizabeth for playing.


One Response

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  1. houndstooth1 said, on March 31, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    Crap! I got your invite to partake in this challenge and totally forgot! If you do it again, count me in-I’m up for a mind-bending cooking experience!

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