New book brings top chefs’ food to any table
Prairie Grass Chef Sarah Stegner slices some Tall Grass tenderloin. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Tallgrass Beef Tenderloin with Local Asparagus, Spring Onions and Horseradish Cream
From Sarah Stegner and
(Serves 6 people)
1 small (approximately 24 ounces) Tallgrass Beef tenderloin, trimmed and cleaned Kosher salt, to taste Fresh ground black pepper, to taste 2 tablespoons clarified butter or olive oil 2 pounds spring asparagus 1 pound spring onions, tops removed 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 teaspoons freshly grated or jarred horseradish ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard 1 tablespoon fresh chives, finely chopped 2 teaspoons lemon juice White pepper, to taste ½ cup heavy whipping cream
Kosher salt, to taste
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons clarified butter or olive oil
2 pounds spring asparagus
1 pound spring onions, tops removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons freshly grated or jarred horseradish
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh chives, finely chopped
2 teaspoons lemon juice
White pepper, to taste
½ cup heavy whipping cream
Transfer to baking sheet and roast in oven at 375 degrees until medium rare (130 degrees). Remove from oven, and allow to rest 10 minutes before slicing.
Cook the asparagus: Wash and peel asparagus, and cook in boiling, salted water until tender. Shock in bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
Cook the spring onions: Peel and quarter spring onions, and season with salt and pepper. Sauté in 2 tablespoons olive oil until nicely browned and onions are tender.
Make the horseradish cream: Mix horseradish, Dijon mustard, lemon juice and dash of white pepper in a small mixing bowl. Add heavy cream and whip until soft peaks form. Fold in chives, and season with salt.
Assembly: Slice beef into ½-inch slices, and layer three slices on each plate. Lightly sprinkle asparagus with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Add 5-6 stalks (1/3 pound) to each plate. Add onions and dollop of horseradish sauce.
Updated: May 23, 2012 1:00PM
Plenty of folks would shy away from coaxing even just one recipe out of their favorite restaurant chef, but Chicago food writer Amelia Levin collected 59 such recipes for her first cookbook, Chicago Chef’s Table (Lyon’s Press, 2012).
“I started by reaching out to as many chefs as I could, assuming that not everyone would be able or would want to contribute. But actually, most did,” Levin explained.
In her kitchen in Chicago, the Highland Park native edited each recipe, ensuring the order of ingredients matched the instructions. In some cases, measurements had to be changed. “Restaurants use a lot more oil than we do at home,” she said.
Then, contributing chefs helped her test recipes according to the edits. Her project, which started in August 2010, took six months to complete. The book was released this April.
Levin said she was particularly drawn to restaurants “with strong chef personalities,” evidenced by star-studded entries from chefs like Top Chef Stephanie Izard.
The Evanston-born chef submitted her recipe for Mussels with Mighty Goat Sausage, Cilantro Butter and Bagna Cauda Aioli. The recipe even explains how to make goat sausage. “We wanted to do something with goat because, well, we love goat,” Izard said. “I love putting fish and meat together. The mussels are great on their own, but the addition of goat sausage just makes them a little different.”
As Levin’s cookbook title hints, most of the recipes are from Chicago chefs. But suburban restaurants are also represented, including Michelin-starred Vie in Western Springs, Convito Café in Wilmette and Prairie Grass Café in Northbrook.
“Horseradish and beef are a natural together,” said Sarah Stegner, Prairie Grass Café co-chef and co-owner. “I like to serve a spicy whipped cream with Dijon mustard with asparagus.”
Stegner buys asparagus from Mick Klug Farm in St. Joseph, Mich. (www.MickKlugFarm.com). “He picks them at the perfect time and they are tender and the flavor is incredible,” she said.
Buy only fresh
By the “right” time, Stegner means when asparagus stalks are crisp, not limp. She warned against buying stalks with tips broken off, and suggested choosing larger stalks. “To me, they are extra juicy,” she said.
Convito Café in Wilmette was a natural inclusion in Levin’s cookbook. She worked in the restaurant’s market as a teen.
Convito Café partner and general manager Candace Barocci-Warner submitted the restaurant’s recipe for Country Cannelloni, a mainstay there. “It was an easy choice,” Barocci-Warner said. “It’s one of our original recipes, and it’s not too complicated for the home cook to make.”
Levin, who continues freelancing as a food reporter, (she has developed and tested recipes for Oxmoor House’s Cooking Light cookbooks and the American Heart Association) is considering collaborating with a Chicago chef for her next cookbook. Who will the chef be? To find out, you may have to beg.
For updates about events related to Chicago Chef’s Table, including an upcoming Kitchen Chat podcast featuring Levin at 7 p.m. on June 11 at the Barrington Area Library, visit: www.