Last week my family (my two young sons, my father and I) spent a full day in a “Farm to Table” cooking class in Park City, Utah with Chef Clement Gelas – who is currently the head Chef for all of the Talisker-owned properties in Park City. Clement, a young French chef who came to Utah to ski a decade ago and never left, is a perfect host for an all-day cooking class. He’s exuberant, enthusiastic, friendly, warm, and preternaturally patient. He survived no end of commentary and suggestions from my talkative, idea-ridden children and lived to tell.
We headed out to The Canyons, a massive ski resort on the outskirts of Park City, and home to a weekly farmer’s market that runs from the spring into the fall. It’s a good sized market with vendors selling produce, fruit, herbs, flowers, locally raised beef and lamb, artisanal cheeses, locally produced olive oil, fresh baked bread and goodies, as well as a surfeit of jewelry, hats, and hand made craft items no one would ever want to live without.
We wandered the market with Chef Clement musing about what we might make. Most of us, particularly hyper organized ME, tend to arrive at the market with a list in hand and a predetermined notion of what we’re going to cook. Following a “Farm to Table” strategy requires the opposite approach. One heads to the farmer’s market with no written list, no set menu and then one allows the market to drive what one decides to cook. It can be very liberating, particularly for those of us addicted to lists.
Last week what jumped out at us in Northern Utah were fresh red currants (salad dressing), patty pan squash (soup), local lamb (a light summer stew), apricots (grilled in the salad), white corn (salad) and lots of fresh herbs. We were in the market for all of about 20 minutes. We soon had our purchases and were headed back to Chef Clement’s outdoor kitchen to produce our meal.
I’m going to share one of the recipes in this post and then write-up up and post the others over the next week or so. I highly recommend searching out a “Farm to Table” cooking class in your neck of the woods, or high tailing it out to Park City to try a class with Chef Clement Gelas.
Fresh Red Currant Salad Dressing
- 2 shallots, coarsely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 cup raspberry vinegar
- 2 small baskets fresh red currants (approx. 2 cups of fruit)
- 2 teaspoons finely ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons salt
- ½ cup honey
- 2 ½ cups 80/20 oil (a blend of 80% olive oil with 20% canola)
- ½ cup water
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Place the shallots, garlic, red currants and raspberry vinegar in a saucepan and allow to simmer until the liquid has reduced by half. This took twenty minutes in Park City, Utah at 8,000 feet. I have no idea how long it will take at sea level! Once the vinegar is reduced by half put it in a blender along with the spices, honey and the mustard. Process until smooth. With the blender running, gradually add the oil and the water. This will allow the dressing to emulsify. The dressing is a fabulous pink color. I highly recommend using it with arugula. Grate some gruyere over the top, add some pine nuts, and even some grilled apricots or peaches, and you’ve got something really special. The dressing will last for a number of weeks in the fridge.
More Chef Clement recipes are coming up. Keep checking back.