Thursday, August 27, 2009

Executive Chef Josh K. Watkins: Cooking Demo

Here is Executive Chef Josh K. Watkins in his restaurant, The Carillon at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center located on the University of Texas campus in downtown Austin.

I was fortunate to attend a demo dinner at the hotel restaurant where Chef Watkins prepared and served five courses paired with wine.

First course: Salmon Tartar. Oh yeah, he did the entire demo for us...beginning with a huge Salmon.

Salmon was served with a crispy fried oyster, creme fraiche and american caviar.

Here he is carefully and artfully stacking the ingredients on the plate.

Divya! She's wonderful, and the reason I got a seat at this chef demo. Luv ya chica! This first course was served with a glass of 06 Tamari Torrontes from Mendoza, Argentina. My notes say the wine was a very sweet light white wine with flavors of melon and honey. It was easy to drink and found at Central Market or Whole Foods for $10-15 a bottle.

Salmon Tatar with Crispy Oysters, Creme Fraiche and American Caviar
Recipe serves 4

1/2 lb fresh salmon
2 large shallots, diced
3 cloves of garlic, diced
1 T capers, chopped
1 t dijon mustard
1 t worcestershire
12 fresh oysters2 C panko breadcrumbs
1 C all purpose flour
1 T black sesame seeds
1 T white sesame seeds
4 C canola oil
4 oz creme fraiche
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 oz ameican caviar
1 t chives, chopped

For the Tartar:
Remove skin and de-bone salmon if necessary. Be sue to remove all of the bloodline and cartilage. Dice salmon to 1/8 inch pieces or smaller. Combine salmon, shallots, garlic, capers, dijon, and worcestershire. Salt to taste.

For the Oysters:
In a medium pot bring canola oil to 350 F. In a large mixing bowl combine panko, flour, and sesame seeds. Dust oysters in breading, remove and fry until golden brown. Salt when removed from oil.

For the Creme Fraiche:
Combine Ceme Fraiche and lemon. Salt to taste. On a side note, Chef talked to us about making his own Creme Fraiche by using a quart of heavy cream plus acid plus a teaspoon of existing yogurt and then left a room temperature overnight. I may have to do more research before I attempt this.

Shape tartare into 4 ring molds. Place a teaspoon of caviar on each, followed by 3 crispy oysters and a spoon of creme fraiche. Garnish with chives.

Second course was a White Caesar Salad served with spanish anchovies, garlic chips, white asparagus and arugula pistou.

Serves 4:
4 heads romain hearts, chopped
2 whole egg yolks
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 lb manchego cheese. Note, he uses 12 months aged, essentially a "spanish parmesan."
2 C canola oil
1 lemon, juiced
1 t worcestershire
1 t digon mustard
1 can spanish anchovies. Note, these are not in a salt brine, but in vinegar.
1 bunch white asparagus, cut and blanched
1 lb baby arugula
1/4 C olive oil

Here Chef Watkins makes the Caesar Dressing:
In a small pot bring 1 cup canola oil to 250 F. Wrap manchego in cheese cloth, tie and submerge in oil for 15 minutes. Remove cheese, discard and place oil in refrigerator to cool. In a blender combine egg yolks, 2 cloves garlic, worcestershire, dijon and lemon juice. While blending slowly (SLOWLY) add cold oil. Add a small amount of cold water if too thick. Salt to taste.

The wine served with this course was the 07 Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand. I noted that it was grassy and herby and could be found for $10-15 at places where wine is served since it is a common wine.

For the Asparagus bundles:
Cut Manchego into 12 small batons. (Save scraps for Arugula Pistou) On a clean surface, lay out 8 anchovies skin side up. Place cheese and asparagus on anchovies and roll into tight bundles.

For the Arugula Pistou:
In a blender combine arugula, cheese scraps, 2 cloves garlic and olive oil. Blend until smooth. Salt to taste.

For the Garlic Chips:
In small saute pan bring 1 cup canola oil to 300 F. Slice remaining garlic cloves as thin as possible. (Preferably on Mandolin) Submerge in oil and fry until golden brown. Salt when removed.

Just before serving toss chopped lettuce with dressing and plate. Place asparagus bundles around and garnish top with pistou and garlic chips.

Our third course was Tomato-Fennel Soup with fennel confit, vodka gelle and olive oil crema.

I don't know what he is doing here. There was a very "interesting" vodka jello that he made for this course. He could possibly be doing something with that jello here.

Serves 4:
2 bulbs fennel, julienne. Notes: Pick fennel that is not bruised.
8 cloves garlic, diced
8 sprigs thyme
2 C canola oil
1 C vodka
3 sheets gelatin
1 C heavy whipping cream
5 T extra virgin olive oil
16 ripe roma tomatoes
4 large shallots, julienne
1 C white wine

For the Fennel Confit:
In medium saucepot combine fennel, 4 cloves garlic and 4 sprigs of thyme. Bring to boil, reduce heat and let simmer 30 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat and strain. Remove thyme and discard.

For the Vodka Gelle:
In a small mixing bowl bloom gelatin in cold water. In a small pot combine gelatin and vodka. Warm just enough to dissolve gelatin. Chill on sheet pan with parchment under refrigeration. Cut to desired portions. You will need 10-12 sheets of gelatin per quart of liquid.

For the Olive Oil Crema:
In a mixing bowl combine heavy cream and 1 t olive oil. Mix to desired consistency and salt to taste.

For the Soup:
In large saucepot saute shallots, fennel, and 4 cloves garlic in olive oil. Deglaze with white wine. Add thyme and tomatoes. Let simmer 30 minutes. Remove thyme puree and strain. Salt to taste.

Garnish bowl with Fennel, Gelle and Crema. Pour soup into bowl tableside.

For our entree, the fourth course was Brioche Crusted Rack of Lamb served with asparagus ragout, oven roasted tomatoes and bacon gastrique.

Serves 4:
1 bunch green asparagus, peeled and cut
1/2 C english pees (shucked)
1/2 C grape tomatoes (halves)
2 large shallots, diced
1/2 C red pearl onions
4 roma tomatoes (halved)
4 cloves garlic, diced
4 sprigs thyme, picked
1/2 C olive oil
1 C water
1 C white wine vinegar
1 C sugar
1/4 lb bacon, diced. Notes: Chef used applewood smoked bacon.
2 whole lamb racks, frenched
2 C brioche bread crumbs
2 t dijon mustard

For the ragout:
In large saute pan cook asparagus, peas, shallots, grape tomatoes and pearl onions until tender. Salt to taste. Add butter.

For the Bacon Gastrique:
In a small saucepot combine water, vinegar and sugar. Simmer on medium heat until reduced by 1/2. Cool liquid when syrup consistency is reached. In a small saucepan render bacon until crispy, drain and discard fat. Combine with reduction to complete Gastrique.

For the lamb:
Season liberally with salt and pepper. Sear on high until golden brown on both sides. Apply a thin coating of mustard and submerge in breadcrumbs. Finish in a 400 F oven until desired temperature is reached. The lamb should be 135 degrees on the inside.

Plate ragout and tomatoes. Cut lamb into chops, plate and garnish with Gastrique around.

This course was served with a glass of 05 Flora Springs Merlot from Napa Valley, California. The wine smelled heavenly and paired excellently with the lamb. It was a big wine, and smooth with a wonderful finish that had a little bit of spice.

The finale was Goat Cheese Cheesecake served with lemon verbena caramel and raspberry confit.

This recipe makes one 10-inch cake:
For the Graham Cracker Mix:
8 T melted butter
28 graham crackers, crushed
1/4 C granulated sugar

Measure 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs. In a mixing bowl combine crumbs with sugar and butter. Stir or blend with hands.

For the cheesecake:
1 lb goat cheese
1 lb cream cheese
4 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
12 oz granulated sugar
1 T vanilla bean paste
3/4 C heavy cream

Line the cake pan with parchment paper and the graham cracker mix. Bake the crust for 10 minutes at 325 F.

Reduce oven temp to 300 F. Place both cheeses in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on medium speed with the paddle attachment.

When the cheeses are combined, add the sugar and vanilla bean paste. Continue mixing for 2 minutes until completely smooth. Scrape bowl at least once in the middle of mixing.

Add eggs one at a time, scraping the sides after each addition. Add heavy cream and continue mixing until homogenized. Pour over the crust, knock the pan on the counter top to get bubbles out. Bake in oven in a water bath. (place cake pan in a half sheet pan, add enough water to come half way up the cookie sheet)

Bake until set. Smooth surface forms on top and jiggles like Jell-O not water. Take care to not brown the cheesecake. Add more water as needed. Baking time is typically 45-50 minutes. Chill overnight.

For the Caramel:
1 oz lemon verbena
1 C granulated sugar
1 t corn syrup
3/4 C heavy cream
1 T butter
1 t lemon juice or lemoncello (optional)

Steep lemon verbena in scalded cream for at least 30 minutes. Strain and cool. In a medim saute pan put 1/4 cup water. Pour sugar directly in middle of water. Add corn syrup and caramelize to desired amber color. Pour in steeped cream and butter and whisk until smooth. Add lemon to taste.

For the Raspberry Confit:
1 C water
1 C granulated sugar
1 pint raspberries

In a small pot bring water and sugar to boil. When sugar is dissolved, place raspberries in mixing bowl and pour hot liquid over them. Mix and chill.

Dessert was served with the 06 Flat Creek Muscat from Blanco Texas Hill Country. It was bight and sweet with apple flavors.


  1. That looks like so much fun!!!

  2. This post is so far beyond my very UN sophisticated palate it is not even funny. But it was neat to read about!!!

    Great blog!



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