Restaurant-obsessed foodies welcomed the COVID-19 shutdown like lukewarm soup served by a rude waiter. But the times have at least one gastronomic silver lining (besides the creative takeout offerings restaurateurs dreamed up for hungry souls sheltering in place): Quarantine became a time for home cooks to hone their skills. Whether getting a sourdough starter to survive, perfecting the ultimate soufflé, or finally using that backyard smoker for a rack of sticky baby backs, many of us cooked up a storm. We asked six Coachella Valley chefs to share their favorite recipes to test your at-home culinary skills. From fish to chicken to vegan, try whipping one up and prove to your bubble-mates that you still have it when it comes to serving up a restaurant-worthy dish at the dining room table.
Steamed Yukon Potatoes with Brown Butter, Lemon, & Parsley
“I like this simple recipe because it can be done fairly quickly and without using too many dishes. It’s a user-friendly dish that is sure to please for the holiday season. The recipe is delicious on its own, but also serves as a base so you can make it your own by adding capers or celery or spice. Yukon potatoes are in prime season during the fall, making them widely available.”
5 pounds Yukon potatoes, washed thoroughly and quartered
1 pound unsalted butter, cubed
3 lemons, juiced and zested
1 bunch Italian parsley, chopped
Kosher salt to taste
Place the cubed butter in a small sauce pan over low heat. Keep an eye on the butter as it turns from a yellow color to an amber hue. Stir it a few times throughout the process to ensure the butter solids do not scorch at the bottom. Do not skim the butter as it browns. It is done when the butter has a caramel-like odor, about 20 to 35 minutes. Remove from heat and strain. Be careful during this process since it will be very hot! Set aside.
Meanwhile, set up a steamer pot and add the potatoes. Steam the potatoes until the edges are white and you can easily pierce through them with a knife. Remove the potatoes from the steamer pot and place them in a large bowl. I like to add the brown butter, lemon juice and zest, and salt in batches in order to get the right ratio of sweet, savory, sour, and saltiness. Use a kitchen spoon to mix the ingredients together. (The consistency should be like a smashed potato.) Fold in the parsley when the flavor you like is there.
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Savory Jeweled Couscous
Palm Springs-based chef, author, designer, fitness and food ambassador, Kathy Ireland Worldwide
“Couscous is a wonderful alternative to rice or potatoes. Prepared this way with additional spices and dried fruit, it will add a little Mideastern flavor to your meal. Or you could go Italian and add pesto instead. The fun and the flavor is up to you.”
1 8-ounce package Israeli couscous
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small sweet onion, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cumin
salt and fresh-ground pepper
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
8 dried apricot halves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small sweet onion, cut into slivers
1/4 cup golden raisins
salt and pepper
Add olive oil to a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until golden. Add couscous, cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, cloves, and salt and pepper to taste and stir often until couscous browns slightly, about five minutes.
Slowly add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, add dried apricots, cover, and simmer until liquid is absorbed and couscous is tender, approximately 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in raisins. Salt and pepper to taste.
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Asian Noodle Salad
Chef/owner, Chef Tanya’s Kitchen, Palm Springs
“After living in Japan and traveling Southeast Asia in my 20s, the thrill of the Asian flavor palate — sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and pungent — has only grown. This recipe was inspired by the classic Vietnamese bun. This salad is a great way to eat your daily vegetables and leaves you feeling full and light at the same time. (Bonus!) Adding shredded daikon radish and fresh shisho leaves makes it even more fun. You can also make just the tofu portion of the recipe and keep it on hand for a nice snack.”
4 quarts water
1 pound fresh rice noodles (available at Chef Tanya’s Kitchen, Whole Foods, and Asian markets)
8 cups lettuce, washed and dried
1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 English cucumber, cut into 1/8-inch julienne slices
1 cup mung bean sprouts (optional)
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup cilantro leaves
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1 /2 cup roasted peanuts, chopped
Bring 4 quarts of water to boil. Drop noodles in, remove quickly and place in colander. Run cool water over and let drain.
Seared Ginger Tofu
12 to 14 ounces firm tofu
2 tablespoons grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons mirin
1 to 2 teaspoons Sambal Oelek chili sauce
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 shallot, thinly sliced
Drain tofu and cut into approximate cubes approximately 1/4 inch by 1/2 inch. Mix the ginger, water, soy sauce, mirin, Sambal Oelek, and white pepper in a small bowl. Add tofu and toss. Let marinate for 20 minutes.
Heat oils together in skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallot for about 30 seconds until wilted and lightly browned. Then, add tofu and marinade. Simmer on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until nicely browned. Set aside.
Chili Lime Dressing
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon Sambal Oelek
Whisk all together.
Divide the lettuce into four bowls. Top with noodles. Arrange the seared tofu, carrots, cucumbers, and mung beans around the noodles. Top with the fresh herbs and chopped peanuts. Serve Chili Lime Sauce on side to pour over when serving.
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Roasted Seabass with Braised White Bean Ragout and White Truffle Cream
Executive chef/owner, Copley’s on Palm Canyon, Palm Springs
“I love Savoy cabbage. It reminds me of culinary school and my first chef job in London. This is a delicious, flavorful dish that is easy to make and sure to impress your friends or family.”
Braised White Bean Ragout
2 cups white beans, soaked for 12 hours or overnight
1 medium white onion, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 sprigs fresh thyme
pinch Kosher salt
1 small head Savoy cabbage (approximately one pound), sliced into 1⁄2-inch shreds
2 ears sweet corn, kernels cut off the stalk
2 large carrots, small dice
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
In a large sauce pan, combine the beans, onion, garlic, and thyme with enough water to cover the beans by about 2 inches, add a pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes, season with another pinch of salt, and simmer for another 20 minutes, until the beans are tender but still firm. Drain the beans and reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid for the truffle cream.
In a medium size pot of salted water over high heat bring to a boil, add the cabbage and cook for 3 minutes. Remove the cabbage (saving the water) and plunge into an ice bath Drain the cabbage from the ice water and use your hands squeeze out any excess water. In the same salted water, cook the corn kernels and the carrots for 3 minutes. Add the peas and cook for another 30 seconds. Drain and plunge into an ice bath. Drain and set aside with the cabbage.
1 cup water (reserved from cooked white beans)
2 teaspoons garlic puree
1⁄2 cup white wine
1⁄2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon cornstarch + 4 Tablespoon water, mixed
4 tablespoon butter, cut into pieces
1 to 2 teaspoons white truffle oil
Cracked black pepper
In a small sauce pan over medium heat, bring the reserved water from the beans to a boil, and add the garlic, wine, cream, and vinegar. Gently simmer for 3 minutes. Add corn starch mix and whisk until it thickens.
(You may not need all the mixture; it should coat the back of a spoon). Reduce the heat to low and stir in the butter piece by piece. Season to taste and add 1 teaspoon of truffle oil (or more if you want a rich truffle flavor). Return the truffle cream to a low simmer, add the beans, cabbage, corn, carrots, and peas for 30 seconds and remove from the heat. Set aside, cover, and keep warm.
4 6-ounce seabass fillets (can be replaced with fresh halibut or mahi mahi)
Kosher salt/cracked black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup white wine
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Pat the fish dry and season the fish on both sides. In a large sautée pan over medium heat, add the oil and butter, and sear the seabass for 30 seconds on each side. Add the wine and place in the oven for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Using a slotted spoon, spoon the white bean ragout to the center of the plate, sit the seabass on top, and spoon a little of the sauce from the ragout over the seabass.
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Lemon Brine Roasted Free-Range Chicken with Dijon Mustard and Herbs de Provence
Executive chef, Toscana Country Club, Indian Wells
“This is one of my favorite simple comfort food recipes. It’s something that you can easily do in your home and you can find all of the ingredients locally. Your house will smell beautifully after roasting a free-range chicken.”
1 dozen black peppercorns
1 sprig thyme
1 bay leaf
3 juniper berries
1/4 cup honey
1 cup Kosher salt
1 gallon water
Bring all the ingredients from the brine to a boil. Cool down.
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut in half
2 large turnips, peeled and cut into wedges
2 large rutabaga, peeled and cut into wedges
2 medium onions, peeled and cut in 3 horizontal sections
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
In a non-reactive bowl, combine all the vegetables with the extra virgin, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
1 2.5-to-3-pound free-range chicken
2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoon herbs de Provence
1/2 preserved lemon
Add the chicken to the brine and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 300ºF.
Remove chicken from the brine and pat dry. Put a preserved lemon into the cavity of the chicken. Season inside with salt and pepper. Brush with Dijon mustard and sprinkle with the herbs de Provence.
Tie up the chicken tightly and season with salt and pepper. In a roasting pan, add all the vegetables at the bottom.
Top with the chicken and roast in the oven for about 1 hour or until the thigh meat registers at 160ºF. Remove the chicken and the vegetables from the oven.
Remove 3/4 of the fat and add water to the pan (about 2 cups) and reduce until desired consistency.
Cut the chicken in two. Divide the vegetables and place them on the plate. Place the chicken on top and pour the juice around the plate.
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Carne Con Chile Roja
Executive chef, King’s Highway, Ace Hotel & Swim Club, Palm Springs
“This is a dish that is reminiscent of my childhood. My mom used to make it for us and it’s still is one of my favorites. She called it pork chops and chile, but, as I would find out in the culinary world, it’s referred to as chile colorado or carne con chile roja. This is a three-part recipe that one of my sous chefs and I worked on for a couple of days. It’s so good we’ve put it on the fall/winter menu at King’s Highway.”
2 bone-in pork chops
Salt and pepper
Flour tortillas (for serving)
“At King’s Highway, we sous vide our pork chops for two hours at 130°F, before grilling. If you’re not taking this step, just salt and pepper the pork chops before grilling. Preheat the grill to 500°F. (The hotter the grill is, the better the grill marks.) Grill to desired temperature. I recommend medium, but it depends on your personal taste.”
5 garlic cloves
2 Morita chiles (dried)
10 Ancho chiles (dried)
2 New Mexico chiles (dried)
1 yellow onion, halved
2 pounds tomatillos
1/2 cup lime juice
1 bunch cilantro (leaves only)
Salt and pepper to taste
Place all chiles in water and bring to a boil. Let them soak until they are plump and hydrated, around 12 minutes. Take them out of the water and reserve about one cup of the liquid. Next, place the onion, tomatillos, and hydrated chiles on the grill. Depending on how hot your grill is, cook them about 5 to 10 minutes on each side. Look for a nice deep char and avoid burning them. Once the chiles are grilled, place all ingredients in a blender and blend until you have a semi-smooth texture, but not completely smooth. You can use some of the reserved chile liquid to thin it out, if needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Note: Salsa recipe yields 1/2 quart (2 cups). Leftover sauce can be stored in the fridge for up to five days and the sauce is great with chicken and steak too.
Fresh Herb Salad
1 bunch cilantro (leaves only)
1 bunch parsley (leaves and some stems)
1/2 bulb fennel, thinly sliced
1/4 English cucumber, peeled and sliced
1 radish, thinly sliced
1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1 lime, juiced
Salt to taste
Place all ingredients in small mixing bowl and mix together with lime juice. Season to taste with salt. Do this no more than 15 minutes ahead of time to avoid compromising the structure of the vegetables.
To plate, cut the pork chop off the bone, and slice the chop into about eight pieces. Spoon the salsa on the plate first, then place the sliced pork on top and finish by spreading the fresh herb salad over the meat. Serve with tortillas.
Serves 2 to 4.