Fall Favorites

“Those are part of the scary vegetable family,” my daughter said to me recently, scrunching up her nose and lips as she eyed the kabocha squash sitting on the kitchen counter. I was forced to chuckle but understood her sentiments. Sweet and with hints of chestnut, the taste of the Japanese squash is delightful, but the look of it could stand for a makeover. The outer layer of the green skin is quite thick, hard, and knotted and it takes time and effort to break it down. Based on aesthetics, marina di chioga squash is no beauty either, but the flavor is one of my favorites. It is watery and sweet and perfect for raviolis. Another prizewinner in the taste category is the hubbard squash, which I will use at the restaurant this fall to concoct lobster stock. The hubbard squash helps thicken the consistency of the stock, complements the natural sweetness of the lobster, and provides a beautiful orange coloring.

This autumn, pink pearl apples will certainly not fall victim of any scary food family stereotype. Each time I work with the fall fruit I have to stare at it with amazement because once cut open, the contrast of the coloring is so electric, it’s hard to believe it is not fake. Recently I have been juicing them with my own homegrown fresh coriander seed, which delivers a nice cilantro flavor.

The bounty that this season has to offer is certain to bring mouthwatering delights not only to my own kitchen, but to your fall dining tables as well. Here are a couple of favorites that will be making an appearance at The Dining Room this fall, as well as an excellent wine, selected by Sommelier Stephane Lacroix.


The Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco
600 Stockton Street
San Francisco, CA 94108

Lamb Chops, Globe Squash Blossoms, Elephant Garlic Chips

Serves 4
• 2 French lamb racks
• 12 squash blossoms
• 1 head of elephant garlic
• 6 globe squash
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 cups vegetable oil
• 1 bunch basil
• 2 ounces Parmesan cheese
• 4 cloves regular garlic
• 2 large shallots
• 1 ounce unsalted butter
• Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425 F.
Mince the garlic and shallots together. Sweat in olive oil in sauté pan. Split globe squash in half, then in half-moons. Add to garlic and shallots. Tie the bunch of basil with string and add to squash. Cook until squash breaks down. Add butter and Parmesan cheese. Season to taste and remove from heat.
Stuff squash blossoms with prepared stuffing and set aside.
Split lamb racks into chops. Season with salt and pepper on both sides. Sear in hot pan with olive oil. Cook until desired temperature is reached. Set aside.
Slice elephant garlic on Japanese mandolin and place in pot of cold water. Bring to a boil and blanche. Remove and place on paper towels.
Heat 2 cups of vegetable oil to 325 degrees in large pot. Add chips and cook until lightly golden brown. Remove and season with salt.
Meanwhile, heat stuffed squash blossoms on sheet pan in hot oven. Serve each blossom with lamb chops. Place garlic chips on top of each chop and serve immediately.

Veal Cheeks With Pink Pearl Apple Reduction

Serves 4
Four 3-ounce pieces of veal cheek
• 24 green coriander seeds
• 1 cup pink pearl apple juice
• 1 cup mache
• 2 gravenstein apples
• 2 cloves garlic
• 2 cups chicken stock
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat over to 350 F.
Season veal cheeks lightly with salt and pepper on both sides. Put in hot pan with vegetable oil, sear on both sides for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Let cool.
Take 2 cloves of garlic, smash them with a knife and put in a pot with the 4 veal cheeks. Add chicken stock to cover. Bring to a boil. Cover with foil. Place in heated oven for approximately 3 to 4 hours. Once veal is tender, remove from oven, away from the braising liquid and set aside.
Meanwhile, reduce the pink apple juice over heat by half to three-quarters. Take the apples and slice into 4 thick “steaks.” Season with salt, pepper, and a little olive oil. On a grill or grill pan, grill the apple steaks until tender.
Add the grilled apple on a plate, scatter 6 green coriander seeds on each plate. Slice the veal cheeks, place on top of apples. Cover with mache and drizzle the pink pearl apple reduction on top and around the plate as desired.

Domaine Serene, Pinot Noir, Evenstad Reserve, Willamette Valley, 2005

As a perfect complement to the veal cheeks, Sommelier Stephane Lacroix has selected this 2005 Pinot Noir because of the sensual aromas of dark cherry, red raspberry, fresh pomegranate, and earth. The palate has been described as lithe in texture, ripe and smooth, expressing black currant, violet, and spice notes, with a persistent and seamless finish.