Stephanie Izard took Bravo’s “Top Chef” by storm in 2008 when she became the first woman to win the show. She has worked at Jean-George Vongerichten’s Chicago outpost of Vong, at Spring under Shawn McClain and then helped cook up culinary masterpieces at La Tache with Dale Levitsky. In 2006, she branched out on her own with the Chicago restaurant Scylla, which was quickly named one of the 10 best restaurants in the country by Bon Appetit.
After winning the title of “Top Chef,” Stephanie assembled an amazing team comprised of Evin Boehm and Rob Katz of the BOKA restaurant group and the trio opened Girl & The Goat in Chicago’s west loop in the summer of 2010. The restaurant has received amazing local and national press, including four out of five stars from Time Out Chicago and three out of four from Chicago Tribune. It was also the subject of Saveur magazine’s first-ever restaurant review, which dubbed Girl & The Goat “America’s Best New Restaurant.” Girl & The Goat was also nominated for the 2011 James Beard Best New Restaurant award, right around the time Stephanie was named one of Food & Wine magazine’s “Best New Chefs.” She plans to open a diner/bar early in 2012 called Little Goat.
Stephanie’s new book, Girl in the Kitchen, was released Oct. 5. It includes mouth-watering recipes for dishes suchas Truffled White Asparagus Soup; Pan-Roasted New York Steaks with Sauteed Cucumbers and Salted Goat’s Milk Caramel; Shrimp, Corn and Green Tomato Salad; Manila Clam and Sausage Linguine with Horseradish Crème Fraîche; and Roasted Radishes with Blue Cheese, Peanuts, and Cilantro. With the holiday season upon us, genConnect reached out to Stephanie for some of her recipe ideas using a seasonal gem: pumpkin. Here’s one of her favorites from Girl in the Kitchen:
Pumpkin-Salt Cod Soup
When fall comes around, chefs go squash crazy. But one year, I decided I really wanted to take pumpkin in a different direction by bringing in a salty element to balance the pumpkin’s sweetness (and who’s not bored with plain old pumpkin soup by now?). Remember, when you’re cooking with pumpkin to select pie pumpkins as opposed to decorative pumpkins; they’re smaller and have tastier, meatier flesh. Concocting a soup with salt cod made me a little nervous at first but I tried it anyway. With a touch of heat from sambal and some good crunch from pepitas, it all came together. You never know until you try!
- 6 ounces deboned salt cod
- 1 pie pumpkin (about 2 pounds)
- 3 teaspoons butter
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups milk
- 3/4 cup diced onion
- 4 ounces Yukon Gold potato, peeled and diced
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon sambal paste
- 4 teaspoons roasted, salted pepitas
1. The night before you plan to make the soup, soak the salt cod in cold water, keeping it refrigerated overnight. This draws the hardened salt shell off from the fish.
2. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cut the pumpkin in half, and scoop out and discard the seeds and guts. Put 1 ½ teaspoons butter in each pumpkin half, season with salt and pepper, then set the pumpkin flesh-side down in a shallow baking dish. Bake until the skin starts to brown and the pumpkin is soft to the touch, about 1 hour.
3. While the pumpkin is baking, drain the salt cod. Combine it with the milk, 1 cup water, the onion, potato, and cream in a medium soup pot. Bring them to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook until the potatoes are fully tender and the salt cod is falling apart, 30 to 45 minutes.
4. Once the pumpkin has cooled enough to handle, scrape the flesh into the soup, and add the sambal. Working with a tabletop or immersion blender, puree the soup.
5. Divide the soup into four bowls and garnish each with the pepitas before serving.
Drink Tip: One of the easiest beer pairings out there is pumpkin with märzens. Also known as Oktoberfestbiers, these toasty, coppery-colored German beers were historically brewed in March (a.k.a. märzen), stored all spring and summer, then drunk in fall. And we all know nothing says October more than pumpkin, so the two are a perfect pair.
Ingredient Spotlight: Pepitas (Hulled Pumpkin Seeds)
Pepitas is the Spanish word for “small seeds,” and these dark-green hulled pumpkin seeds are used a lot in Mexican cooking. You might be tempted to save a pumpkin’s seeds and roast them for garnish (especially for a recipe like this), but I find that the hulls make them too chewy. You can salt those and roast them for snacking, but when it comes to garnishes, I recommend just buying pepitas, which give you texture and flavor without the outer layer of the seed. You should be able to find them in the Mexican food aisle of your local supermarket (most likely already roasted and salted, which is fine), and you’ll definitely find them at any Mexican grocer.
For more Food & Wine stories on genConnect:
- Laura Werlin’s Tasty Squash & Grilled Cheese Recipes
- 2011 Best New Chefs Spend ’2.5 Minutes’ With genConnect
- 3 Autumn Brew Picks From Master Beer Sommelier Marc Stroobandt
- Master Griller Tim Love on His Love for Grilling (VIDEO)
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