Crystal Esquivel always wanted to go to culinary school.
She’d become enamored with restaurant life while watching “Great Chefs, Great Cities” on PBS as a teen, but her dad had a different plan.
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Ensalada de Jícama con Melon (Jícama-Melon Salad)
The jícama-melon salad at Fonda San Miguel is a brunch favorite. The crunch of the jícama complements the creaminess of the ripe cantaloupe, and it is all brought to life by the lime, chile and cilantro.
1 large jícama, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch wide strips
3 navel oranges, peeled and sectioned, with pulp and membrane removed
1 large cantaloupe or honeydew melon, peeled, seeded, and cut into bite-size chunks
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1 cup fresh lime juice
2 sprigs cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 tsp. chili powder (optional)
In a nonreactive bowl, combine jícama and fruit. Toss with lime juice, cilantro, and salt. Refrigerate about 1 hour to allow flavors to meld. Toss with chili powder, if desired, before serving. Serves 6.
— Chef Miguel Ravago, Fonda San Miguel
Vivaneau aux Raisins (Snapper with Grapes)
This elegant dish would be a great option for a small dinner party. The celery root puree serves as a creamy base for the crispy fish and grapes. Citrus zest brightens up the flavors.
For the celery root puree:
1 medium head celery root, peeled and diced
1/4 cup cream
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Pinch of ground white pepper
For the snapper:
2 (6-oz.) snapper fillets, trimmed and pin bones removed
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup halved white seedless grapes
1 Tbsp. pine nuts
Juice of 1 orange
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 tsp. orange zest
1/4 tsp. lemon zest
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
To prepare the celery root puree, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the celery root and boil until tender, about 4–6 minutes. Drain the celery root and reserve the cooking liquid.
Add the celery root, cream, butter, and white pepper to a food processor and puree; add a small amount of cooking liquid to achieve a very smooth, light consistency. Check the seasoning and add salt if needed. Push the mixture through a sieve; discard solids. Keep puree warm.
To prepare the snapper, score the skin of the fish in a crisscross pattern; pat dry with a paper towel. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat a heavy sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the snapper, skin side down. Lower the heat to medium; cook for 6–7 minutes, using a spoon to bathe the fish continuously with the hot oil, until the fish flakes easily. Remove the fish from the pan and place it on a plate lined with a paper towel, skin side up so that it remains crispy. Carefully pour off the oil from the pan.
In the same pan, add the butter and a pinch of salt. Add grapes and pine nuts; cook until the butter has browned slightly and grapes are lightly caramelized. Stir in citrus juices and zests and cook about 30 more seconds. Remove from heat and stir in the parsley.
To finish each serving, spoon about 1/2 cup of the warm celery root puree onto a warm plate. Arrange the fish on top, and spoon about half the sauce over the top. Serves 2.
— Chef Christopher Concannon, Chez Nous