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Summer Food: Race Courses

Speed needn't kill sophistication, as this elegant menu by 71 Clinton's Wylie Dufresne proves.

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What can you cook in an hour? That's cook . . . not order in. Not defrost. Not much? Ye of little faith and discriminating taste are in for a delectable surprise: Wylie Dufresne, longtime disciple of Jean-Georges Vongerichten and chef of the six-month-old, jam-packed 71 Clinton Fresh Food, proves that summer entertaining can be instantly gratifying -- or just about. (To be honest, we had our doubts when we got to the basil oil; it has to be strained through cheesecloth.) His trick? Highlight fresh summer ingredients that need only minimal cooking, and replace complicated sauces with quick vinaigrettes. And, above all, multitask -- kitchen parlance for making your equipment work for you. Preheat the oven and boil a pot of water, and use them to cook all the components of your meal almost simultaneously. Lively tomato-and-onion tarts visit the oven for five minutes before they're drizzled with goat-cheese sauce, so they taste sun-warmed, not sun-dried. Bread-crumbed, mustard-brushed poussins are pan-seared before they're roasted to ensure a crispy skin and juicy meat. A sesame-dressed salad of blanched beans and sliced radishes provides the perfect crunchy counterpoint. And while you're prepping dinner, dessert, a hazelnut-enriched summer-berry crumble, is minding its own business in the oven. To make things even easier, we've prevailed upon Dufresne's father, Dewey, to pick the wines, just as he does at the restaurant. Ready, set, cook.

MENU FOR SIX
With wine recommendations from Dewey Dufresne

Warm Red-and-Yellow-Tomato Tart With Goat-Cheese Sauce Mittnacht-Klack Tokay Pinot Gris Clos St. Ulrich 1998
Roasted Poussins With Three-Bean Salad
Tasca d'Almerita Regaleali Rosato 1998
Summer-Berry-and-Hazelnut Crumble
Rosenblum Cellars Sonoma County Late-Harvest Zinfandel 1995

The recipes
Warm Red-and-Yellow-Tomato Tart With Goat-Cheese Sauce

Tart:

3 large Spanish onions, sliced very thin

Salt and freshly ground white pepper

2 tablespoons butter

Pinch of sugar

1 pound puff pastry (if frozen is used,
2 sheets, partially defrosted)

3 large yellow and 3 large red beefsteak tomatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons basil chiffonade

Goat-cheese sauce:

8 ounces fresh goat cheese

1 cup milk

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 sprig rosemary

Salt and cayenne

Basil oil:

3 cups packed basil leaves

3/4 cup grape-seed oil

1 teaspoon salt

Tart: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Toss the sliced onions with salt and pepper. Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, covered, for about 15 minutes. Remove the lid and add a pinch of sugar. Increase the heat and cook until the onions are nicely caramelized, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Remove onions from pan, and set aside on a plate to cool.

Place puff pastry on a cutting board and, using a 4-inch ring, cut out 6 disks. Prick pastry with a fork and place on a baking tray lined with parchment. Place another sheet of parchment on pastry and an additional baking tray on top to keep pastry from rising too high. Bake until pastry turns golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove top tray and parchment and allow tart shells to cool.

Blanch tomatoes in 4 quarts of boiling water for 15 seconds each, and immediately move them to a large bowl of ice water. Peel, seed, and remove the interior ribs from each tomato. Cut tomatoes into 1/4-inch dice.

Goat-cheese sauce: Crumble goat cheese into mixing bowl. Place milk, garlic, and rosemary in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to sit, covered, for 15 minutes. Reboil mixture and strain milk onto crumbled cheese, whisking until completely smooth. Use additional milk or hot water to thin sauce if desired. Season with salt and cayenne.

Basil oil: Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Use about 1/4 cup salt per quart of hot water. Drop basil into boiling water for 15 to 20 seconds, and immediately plunge basil into ice water to chill. Drain, and squeeze out as much water as possible. Cut basil into small pieces and place in a blender with oil and salt. Blend on high speed for 2 minutes. Allow to sit for 10 minutes. Strain purée through a sieve lined with cheesecloth . Discard the cheesecloth, and reserve purée that remains (it can be added to mayonnaise, pasta, or mashed potatoes).

Spread the caramelized onions on top of pastry shells. Mix the red and yellow diced tomatoes together in a bowl, and mound on top of the onions. Season with salt and pepper, then drizzle with olive oil. Bake tarts for 5 minutes or until they are warmed through. Place on six serving plates and garnish with basil chiffonade. Drizzle warm goat-cheese sauce and basil oil around tarts and serve.

Roasted Poussins
With Three-Bean Salad

Poussin:

6 whole poussins, about 1 and 1/4 pounds each, butterflied by the butcher, all bones removed except first joint of leg and wing

Salt and freshly ground white pepper

1/4 cup grape-seed oil

1/2 cup French Dijon mustard

1 and 1/;2 cups Japanese (panko) bread crumbs

Salad:

12 ounces yellow wax beans

12 ounces haricots verts

4 cups shelled fava beans or peas

4 cups radishes, sliced thin

2 tablespoons snipped chives

Juice and zest of 2 lemons

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil

3 tablespoons mint chiffonade

Poussin: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Season the birds on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat the grape-seed oil in two large ovenproof sauté pans, and sear poussins, skin-side-down, over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes. Place poussins in the center of the oven for about 6 minutes, until skin is crisp and brown. (If you don't have two big sauté pans, sear the birds in a skillet, then transfer them to a heavy cookie sheet preheated in the oven.) Flip birds over, cook for 2 to 3 more minutes or until juices run clear, and remove from oven.

Preheat the broiler. Brush the skin with Dijon mustard, and sprinkle the bread crumbs over the mustard. Broil for about 30 seconds or until poussins are golden brown, taking care as they have a tendency to burn in patches.

Salad: Trim the wax beans and haricots verts. Cook each of the 3 kinds of beans separately in boiling, salted water for about 5 minutes, or until just tender. Drain and refresh in ice water. Drain again. Put the beans in a large bowl, and add the radishes and chives. In a small bowl, mix together the lemon juice, oils, and salt and pepper. Pour over vegetables, toss, and serve immediately.

Arrange the bean salad on six plates, and sprinkle mint and lemon zest on top. Place warm poussin on beans, and serve.

Summer-Berry-and-Hazelnut Crumble

2 pounds mixed blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries, cleaned and picked over

1/2 cup butter, diced and chilled, plus extra for coating the baking dish

1 cup sugar

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 cup flour

1 cup hazelnuts

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Butter a 1 and 1/2-quart shallow baking dish. Add the berries, 1/2 cup of the sugar, and lemon zest and juice, and toss together.

Place the flour, remaining sugar, nuts, and spices in a food processor. Blend until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Add the diced butter, and pulse until mixture forms large crumbs; do not overprocess. Scatter the topping over the fruit, pressing it in lightly.

Bake until the crumble is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Cool briefly. Serve with crème fraîche flavored with hazelnut oil, or with hazelnut ice cream.

Order of Work
To make this menu in one hour:

Preheat oven/Put water on to boil.

Caramelize the onions.

Assemble crumble and bake.

Simmer milk for goat-cheese sauce.

Bake puff-pastry disks.

Blanch beans, basil, and tomatoes
(all in the same pot, individually, in this order).

Slice radishes and dice tomatoes.

Make basil oil.

Increase oven temperature; prepare birds and put in oven.

Make goat-cheese sauce.

Assemble tarts.

Assemble three-bean salad.

Serve.


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