Chef Jeremy Sewall has deep roots in New England, and he's right at home in the kitchen of Island Creek Oyster Bar in Kenmore Square, one of his three restaurants in the Boston area.
On a recent morning, he was sautéing an earthy mixture of chanterelle, matsutake and lobster mushrooms in plenty of butter.
"These are true wild mushrooms," he said. "Meaning that somebody went out in the forest and foraged these and there's something really unique and kind of special about something that's wild, that kind of grows out there and the flavor of the mushrooms with the butter and the potato, I just think it's one of my favorite combinations."
Sewall was cooking up a plate of hand-rolled potato gnocchi with chestnut puree and foraged mushrooms. To him, the earthy flavors of the dish just scream autumn in New England.
"Chestnuts are kind of one of the first things you start to see in the fall," said Sewall. "It's just something that feels good to cook this time of year."
The recipe is one of many in Jeremy Sewall's first cookbook, "The New England Kitchen: Fresh Takes on Seasonal Recipes."
It's a beautiful book that takes you through the bounty of four seasons: how to cook with spring vegetables; summer seafood, tomatoes and peaches; rich roasts of lamb in the fall and much more.
Sewall says his new cookbook reflects his lifelong connection to New England.
- "My heart belongs to the Northeast. It’s the region that has defined my cooking since I first learned to crack a lobster. My parents were born and raised in southern Maine, which means I spent almost every summer and holiday I can remember along the coastline there."
Hand-Rolled Potato Gnocchi With Roasted Chestnut Puree & Wild Mushrooms
Makes: 4 servings
Gnocchi take time and patience to master. They may not come out perfectly the first time you attempt to make them. The size of the potato, moisture content and temperature of the dough have an impact on the results. If you can’t find fresh chestnuts, frozen ones will work for the puree.
5 large Idaho potatoes
1 to 2 cups kosher salt (if baking the potatoes, otherwise salt to taste)
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large egg yolks
1 whole large egg
freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 to 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 cups wild mushrooms, cleaned and patted dry, cut the same size as the gnocchi
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
chestnut Puree (recipe follows), warm
3 tablespoons grated pecorino cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
1. If using a food mill: Preheat the oven to 350°F. With a paring knife, carefully stab the outside of each potato about 20 times. Place the potatoes on a bed of kosher salt on a baking sheet and bake for 1 1/2 hours. The potato skin should be a little crisp, and the flesh in the middle cooked through. Remove the potatoes from the oven and cut them in half; let cool for a few minutes, then scoop out the flesh of the potato and put through a food mill into a mixing bowl. The milled potato should be fluffy and dry in appearance.
2. If using a grater: Peel the potatoes and cut them into quarters. Put them in a pot filled with cold salted water and bring to a boil; let simmer until they are just tender, but not mushy, about 15 minutes. Drain, let cool slightly, then grate the potatoes with a box grater or Microplane Zester.
3. Discard any large pieces of potato mixed in with the grated pieces. The
smaller and more uniform the potato, the smoother the resulting gnocchi dough. Spread the grated potato out on a baking sheet and bake for 5 to 10 minutes, until the potato is dry and fluffy.
4. In a small saute pan over medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter until it becomes frothy, browned, and fragrant, about 4 minutes. Let cool slightly.
5. Place the milled or grated potato in a large bowl and, using a spatula, stir in the brown butter, egg yolks, and whole egg.
6. Season with salt and pepper, then start adding the flour 1⁄4 cup at a time, incorporating each addition thoroughly before adding more. Add enough flour to make the dough dry enough to handle. Place on a work surface and fold in the remaining flour by hand until the dough is moist but not sticky; how much flour you use will depend on how wet your dough is. Do not overwork the dough.
7. Cut the dough into four equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long, rope-like shape; cut into 1-inch pillow-shaped pieces.
8. Place on a floured baking sheet and refrigerate. The gnocchi may be stored in the refrigerator covered with plastic wrap for 1 day, or in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.
9. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil and carefully drop in the gnocchi. Keep the water at a simmer and cook until the gnocchi float to the top. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl of ice water until chilled.
10. In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat and add the mushrooms. Cook until they begin to color, 3 to 4 minutes, then add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and the cooled gnocchi. Saute until the gnocchi begin to brown lightly, coating them in the butter, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain off the excess fat from the pan. Season with salt, pepper, and vinegar.
11. Spread a few tablespoons of the warm chestnut puree on a large, shallow serving platter or four individual serving bowls.
12. Spoon the gnocchi and mushroom mixture over the puree; top with pecorino cheese and chives and serve at once.
Makes: 2 cups
12 large fresh chestnuts
3 tablespoons unsalted
1 large shallot, sliced
2 cups heavy cream
2 large fresh sage leaves
1 cup vegetable stock
kosher salt and freshly
ground black pepper
1 tablespoon freshly
squeezed lemon juice
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Score the outside of the chestnut shells with a paring knife and roast for 2 minutes. The shell will begin to pull back from where it was scored. Let rest until cool enough to handle but still warm. (The cooler they get, the harder they are to peel.) Peel, then slice each chestnut into 3 or 4 pieces.
3. In a large saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat until it begins to brown, about 4 minutes. 4. Add the chestnuts and cook until they start to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the shallot and cook for 30 seconds. Add the cream and sage and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
5. Puree the chestnut mixture in a blender until smooth, using the stock to thin as needed (you may not need to use the whole cup). Pour through a fine-mesh sieve and season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Keep warm in a bowl covered with plastic wrap until ready to use. The puree will thicken as it cools, and so add a little more stock before serving.
Seared Sea Scallops with Creamy Turnip Puree & Crisp Shiitake Mushrooms
Makes: 4 servings
This dish combines a range of textures: the meaty bite of scallops, the smooth puree and the crunch of crisp mushrooms. Use sea scallops, which are much larger than bay scallops and are usually sold by size, with codes like U10 or 20/30, which refer to the number of scallops per pound (U10 would be about 10 pieces per pound, and so on.) Make sure you are buying dry (phosphate-free) scallops from a trusted source. Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel to give them a better sear and don’t season them until just before you put them into the pan.
16 large shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons canola oil
12 large sea scallops, about 1 1/2 pounds
kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
creamy Turnip Puree (recipe follows)
1 tablespoon thinly sliced chives
1. With a sharp knife, very thinly slice the mushrooms. In a medium saute pan, heat 1⁄4 cup of the oil over medium-high heat and saute the mushrooms until crisp, about 8 minutes, shaking and stirring constantly so they don’t burn. Remove the mushrooms to a paper towel to drain.
2. There should be about 2 tablespoons of oil left in the pan. Warm the remaining oil over medium-high heat until it starts to smoke lightly. Season half of the scallops with salt and white pepper. Place the seasoned half in the oil (make sure the pan isn't crowded). When the scallops are golden brown and release easily from the pan, about 1 to 2 minutes, flip them over and remove the pan from the heat. Let the scallops sit in the pan off the heat for 1 minute. Transfer the scallops to a serving plate and drizzle with lemon juice. Wipe out the pan and add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Season and cook the second batch of scallops the same way.
3. Spoon 1⁄4 cup of the turnip puree on each of four individual plates. Top with the scallops and garnish with chives and the crisp shiitakes, and the reserved turnips from the puree.
Creamy Turnip Puree
Makes: 1 cup
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 shallot, sliced
1/4 cup white wine
2 scarlet or regular turnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup vegetable stock
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat, add the shallot, and saute until it begins to color lightly, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until the liquid is almost completely reduced. Add the turnips and cream and simmer until the turnips are tender but not falling apart, about 8 to 10 minutes.
2. Remove from the heat and let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Set aside 1⁄4 cup turnips for use as garnish. Transfer to a blender, along with the stock, and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Makes: 1 gallon
Vegetable stock is easy to make; use it for cooking soups and vegetable dishes.
1 small onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 stalk celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 Granny Smith apple, cored
1/2 cup chopped fennel bulb
1 small orange wedge
3 cremini mushrooms, chopped
2 sprigs fresh thyme
3 pieces fresh parsley stem
2 bay leaves
5 whole black peppercorns
1. In a large stockpot, combine all the ingredients with 5 quarts cold water and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat; cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
2. Let cool for 30 minutes; strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 1 month.
This segment aired on September 30, 2014.