Chef’s Table

Posted on Jun 26 by SEASONS Magazine

Our new food series highlights seasonal recipes selected by head chefs at selected Santa Barbara County restaurants. We hope you will try them out in your own kitchen—bon appetit!
Chef John Downey’s Lobster & Angelhair Salad, Downey’s. Courtesy photo.

Chef John Downey’s Lobster & Angelhair Salad, Downey’s. Courtesy photo.

When John Downey opened his namesake restaurant in 1982, the concept was simple: Serve the very best food possible, and serve it in a comfortable, welcoming setting where it would be easy to drop in for an exquisite dinner. The concept continues to work well today.

High ratings and awards have been abundant throughout Downey’s history, consistently garnering Santa Barbara’s top Zagat Restaurant Survey accolades for both food and service.

Chef John changes his menu constantly with the availability of fresh fish, game and meat as well as local organic produce. The intimate dining room, steps from the historic Arlington Theatre, has just 16 tables, offering a quiet, cozy ambience. Adorning the walls are plein air paintings of local scenes by co-owner Liz Downey, who also acts as maître ‘d. Reservations: 805/966-5006; 1305 State St.

Lobster & Angelhair Salad

Serves 4 as part of a light lunch.

“Summertime always has me reminiscing my years spent on the East Coast,” says Chef John Downey. “Lobster feasts around a beach fire were good times and the summer catch was readily available. You can order live Maine lobsters from the Santa Barbara Fish Market down by the harbor as I do for our signature appetizer. And this is how to prepare it…”

Lobster & Angelhair Salad

8 oz. angelhair noodles
2 Live Maine Lobsters (about 1 ¼ pounds each)
12 pieces fresh asparagus
4 oz. sundried tomatoes, sliced.
2 oz. pitted Kalamata Olives, sliced.
2 heads Belgian Endive
1 small head radicchio
1 bunch fresh basil, shredded.
¾  cup vinaigrette

Fresh Herb Vinaigrette

½  cup cider vinegar
1 teaspoon diced onion
1 tablespoon capers
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Lea & Perrins Sauce
white pepper
1 cup corn oil
1 cup olive oil
½  cup chopped fresh herbs (“soft-leaf” e.g. basil, tarragon, marjoram, mint, parsley, chives)

COOK THE LOBSTERS by plunging them into a large pot of boiling water to which a little salt and a splash of vinegar have been added.  1 ¼ pound lobsters should take about 12 minutes to cook. Larger lobsters will need a little longer. When cooked, drain and cool the lobsters under cold running water. When cool, split the lobsters and crack the claws. Remove the meat, cut into small chunks and set aside.

Cook the pasta “al dente” as instructed on the package. When cooked rinse under cold running water until noodles are cool. Drain well then toss with a little olive oil.

Cut the bottoms from the asparagus and peel the lower stems to remove the stringy skin. Cook in boiling salted water for about two minutes. Remove and cool the asparagus under cold running water.

Arrange the Belgian endive, radicchio and asparagus around four plates. In a large bowl toss the noodles with the lobster, tomatoes, olives, basil and some of the vinaigrette. Mound in center of the four salad plates and drizzle a little extra dressing around.
You may substitute cooked shrimps for the lobster.

FOR THE VINAIGRETTE, combine vinegar, onion, capers, mustard, Lea & Perrins, salt and pepper in a bowl.

Whisk in the oils. Add chopped herbs.

Let stand for 15 minutes, taste and correct the seasoning. Makes about 3 cups.

May be kept in refrigerator for 1 week.

Chef Johan Denizot’s Roasted California Cod, Belmond El Encanto. Courtesy photo.

Chef Johan Denizot’s Roasted California Cod, Belmond El Encanto. Courtesy photo.

As Santa Barbara’s only Forbes Five Star resort (for the third consecutive year), Belmond El Encanto recently appointed French-born, raised and trained Johan Denizot as Executive Chef.

Beginning his U.S. career at Annabelle’s Bar & Bistro in San Francisco, Denizot brings with him a wealth of European and American culinary and hospitality experience to this luxurious and historic property.

Chef Denizot spearheaded the creation of the resort’s seasonal menus, rotating them every few months and highlighting the freshest local ingredients available, along with revamping the “Bellini Brunch” menu served on The Terrace each Sunday. Chef Denizot recently debuted his menu features, which included Roasted California Black Cod and the resort’s signature Enchanted Floating Island. Reservations: 805/845-5800; 800 Alvarado Pl.

Roasted California Black Cod

Serves 4.

Belmond El Encanto’s Roasted California Black Cod with passion fruit and yam, Lacinato Kale and kelp hash.

Roasted California Black Cod

4 portions of 6 oz. filet of Monterey Black Cod (with skin)
1 small yam
3 ripe passion fruits
2 Ojai Pixie Tangerines
1 small red beet
1 lime
2 lemons
2 bunches Lacinto Kale
1 teaspoon kelp ashes
1 tablespoon minced chives
1 minced shallot
1 teaspoon butter
extra virgin
olive oil
sea salt & black pepper to taste

PASSION FRUIT & YAM: Peel the yam and steam until fork tender and mash. Next, cut the passion fruits in half and scoop out the seeds with the flesh. Take the passion fruit seeds and flesh and pass it through a sieve. Mix the passion fruit with the mashed yam and add the juice of 1 whole lime and zest of 1 whole lime. Season with salt, pepper and drizzle extra virgin olive oil.

KALE AND KELP HASH: Blanch the kale in salted water for 1 minute and strain. Then place strained kale into ice cold water to “shock.” Sautée minced shallot with olive oil for 2 minutes, then add the blanched kale and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on medium heat. Finish with a teaspoon of butter, squeeze of lemon juice and fresh chives.

BEET CAPELLINI: Peel the red beet with a vegetable peeler. With a mandolin, slide beet carefully and using the comb blade, make the beet “capellini.” Soak the beet capellini strands in ice cold water for 10 minutes. Drain and pat dry then toss with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt.

ROASTED CALIFORNIA BLACK COD: Heat grape seed oil in a sautée pan. Sear the black cod skin side down first over medium heat. While booking, use a spoon to baste the cod with the pan dripping, set aside.

OJAI PIXIE TANGERINE:  Wrap the tangerine in foil with a squeeze of extra virgin olive oil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and remove from foil. Place tangerine (with skin) and olive oil from the foil and purée in a food processor (while the tangerine is still warm). Add extra virgin olive oil until it’s smooth. Cool down purée over ice and add minced chives, minced shallots, lemon juice, sea salt, fresh ground black pepper and extra virgin olive oil.

TO PLATE: Spoon the yam passion fruit purée on plate and spoon the kale hash next to it. Next, place the black cod on top of the purée. Place the beet capellini on top of the black cod. Smear the tangerine purée on the plate next to the black cod.

This story was originally published in the Summer 2016 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.


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