Eye Swoon

marcos mainMarco’s in Brooklyn holds a special place in my heart. Not only because it was the original Franny’s, the restaurant that ignited my love of cooking more than any other, but also because the food and flavors continue to refine my own culinary journey – I ALWAYS leave inspired, educated & eager to create! Yes, I admit…I do take notes as i’m eating : )

Danny Amend is the executive chef at Marco’s, and was the chef at Franny’s when I first frequented it eight years ago. He was recently named best new chef of 2014 by Food & Wine magazine—quite the honor and greatly deserved. Danny’s culinary pedigree is a perfect mélange of his West coast upbringing, where at a young age he picked veggies from his family’s garden, with his now-East-coast, Brooklyn style of creating unfussy homespun Italian dishes with local ingredients. And he makes masterful, super-delicious dishes appear oh-so-easy to create.

So it was a a great privilege for me to step inside the kitchen with Danny recently, the same kitchen I have snooped into on countless occasions to peek at what the master was creating.

Marco’s menu is at once elegant and rustic. The flavors are fresh, vibrant, modern, refined and classic—and somehow Danny’s approach to cooking and building flavors remains simple. There is certainly a play on some classic Italian dishes, but updated with Danny’s unique palette. This is a man who knows exactly the flavors and final result he wishes to achieve. To that end, he often works backwards, envisioning an exact final taste and building back from that point—particularly with salting his meals in a progression to reach that final stage. And I’d say, he nails it, every time. His food is fantastic and unmanipulated. More than anything, the ingredients are the star—Danny just makes them appear brighter!

Danny and I created a salad of octopus and fresh summer veggies over crunchy bread, all made on “THE PLANCHA” (really a fancy word for a super hot griddle, heehee). I will admit I had no idea what that meant when he shared the dish with me, but that that’s exactly how I like it. I want to learn and expand my understanding and techniques in the food space—and this day, I got to do just that, in the kitchen & garden with a chef I have the utmost respect and regard for—so lets get cookin’!

Photography by Chloe Crespi

shopswoon

Olio Verde EVOO

Olio Verde EVOO

Mango Wood Platter

Mango Wood Platter

Korin Glestain Petty

Korin Glestain Petty

Glenna Serveware

Glenna Serveware

JF Stop It Right Now Choker

JF Stop It Right Now Choker

Squid & Spring Vegetables a la Plancha

by Chef Danny Amend

  • Ingredients

    • 1 cleaned squid

      1 medium sized cucumber, cut in half lengthwise

      6 pcs scallions

      6 pcs red radishes, cut in half

      1 cup fiddlehead ferns

      ½ cup picked parsley, coarsely chopped

      ½ cup picked basil, coarsely chopped

      ¼ cup picked mint, coarsely chopped

      1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (for squid)

      ¼ cup canola oil (for the plancha)

      2T lemon juice

      salt and pepper to taste

      2 slices bread, lightly oiled with evoo

  • The Prep

    • Turn on your plancha, or heat a very large sauté pan over med/high heat.
      The plancha is ready when a little oil placed on the surface just barely smokes.
      Before you cook on the placha, moisten a towel with a little canola oil and wipe the surface of the plancha.

      Make sure to re-wipe the surface clean of any more oil. This oil helps to season the plancha. Let the plancha re-heat for 1 minute.

      Add the ¼ cup of canola oil to the surface of the plancha and spread it out evenly with a heat resistant spatula. When the oil just begins to get wisps of smoke, add the bread, cucumbers, radishes, scallions, fiddlehead ferns, and finally the squid to the plancha. Do not move or touch for 2 minutes.

      After 2 minutes, start to flip all of you items on the plancha and season lightly with some salt over the carmelized side. Let the items except for the squid tentacles cook for another 90 seconds. Let the tentacles cook 1 minute longer. Remove all of the items to a plate and let sit for 1 minutes while you prepare your dressing.

      In a large bowl, add the lemon, olive oil and herbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Begin to cut your cooked plancha ingredients. Cut the squid bodies into ¼” thick rings and cut the heads into 4pcs each. Cut all the other vegetables into bite sized pieces and add the squid and vegetables to the dressing bowl. Cut the bread in half and reserve.

      Toss all of the ingredients in the herbed dressing and season as necessary. Place the bread halves on 4 plates and divide up the squid salad evenly over the bread.

      Drizzle with some fresh olive oil and a crack of pepper.

      Enjoy!

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