The Ma Cuisine Cooking School Cookbook by Linda Lloyd, Toni Mindling Schulman, Patrick Terrail and Helene Siegel (Random House: $22.50, 248 pages)
This book is quintessentially Californian, a summation of fresh Western tastes in recipes supplied by chefs and restaurateurs who have brought luster to the food scene here.
Such star names as Michel Blanchet, Bruce Marder, John Sedlar, Michael McCarty, Celestino Drago, Michael Roberts and Evan Kleiman are scattered liberally through the pages. The link is that all have taught at the Ma Cuisine Cooking School, which was founded by restaurateur Patrick Terrail and chef Wolfgang Puck in the mid-1970s as an offshoot of Terrail’s stylish Melrose Avenue eating place, Ma Maison.
The restaurant exists no more, but the school continues in a new location, the Atrium Court at Fashion Island, Newport Beach. Authors Linda Lloyd, Toni Mindling Schulman and Terrail are partners in Ma Cuisine, which still features appearances by noted chefs (Jacques Pepin is scheduled for two classes Friday) along with general cooking classes and a professional chef’s training program. For additional information, call the school at (714) 759-6818.
In the book, grilled foods, warm salads, pasta, pizza and dishes with Asian, Mexican and Southwestern influences share space with classics from France and Italy. Thus kick-ass chili (from Leonard Schwartz of 72 Market Street) appears in the same chapter as a French stuffed saddle of rabbit with mustard sauce (Michel Blanchet of L’Ermitage), Sichuan eggplant (Michael Kojima, formerly of Mon Kee) and Milanese osso buco (Antonio Orlando, who was associated with Valentino when he taught at Ma Cuisine).
Other recipes reflect the contemporary demand for easy cooking. Jean-Francois Meteigner of L’Orangerie contributes a bouillabaisse that takes only 30 minutes to prepare, provided the required two cups of fish stock have been made in advance. Sliced beef fillet with fresh tomato and basil sauce, from Celestino Drago of Celestino’s, goes together in five or six minutes. And Cecilia De Castro, who conducts Ma Cuisine’s training program for chefs, shortens the preparation of the apple dessert, tarte tatin, by simplifying the manner in which the apples are cooked.
The organization of the recipes reflects their cooking school origin. The preparation of each dish is presented in numbered steps, and related cooking tips appear in the margin. Introductory paragraphs cover such matters as the background of the dish, cooking advice and suitable accompaniments. And a chapter of basics tells how to make various stocks, pastry doughs and other essentials.
Many of the recipes will appeal to the current desire for light and healthful foods. But the dessert chapter casts such concerns aside with some calorific treats. Among them are double chocolate brownies (Michael McCarty of Michael’s), death by chocolate, a devastingly rich cake that was served by Patrick Jamon at the now-defunct Les Anges, and Antonio Orlando’s version of the popular Italian Tiramisu. This heady concoction consists of ladyfingers soaked in coffee liqueur and espresso and layered with a creamy mixture of mascarpone cheese flavored with Marsala wine.
The following menu for the holidays is based on recipes from the book. The dinner starts with curried butternut squash soup, a recipe from Ma Cuisine instructor Renee Carisio. Then comes De Castro’s Honey and Cranberry Glazed Duck, which is accompanied by a relish made of the glaze combined with raisins and walnuts. Orlando’s Tiramisu is the dessert.
CURRIED SQUASH SOUP
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 leeks, white part only, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and sliced
4 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup whipping cream or coconut milk
Freshly grated nutmeg
Melt butter in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add leeks and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add curry powder and cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add squash and stock. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer and cook, covered, until squash is tender, about 35 minutes.
Puree mixture in blender or food processor until smooth. Return to pot, add cream and cook over medium-low heat about 5 minutes to rewarm. Season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
HONEY AND CRANBERRY GLAZED DUCK
2 (4- to 5-pound) ducks
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 stalks celery, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 medium tart apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Juice of 1/2 orange
1/4 cup water
Remove neck, liver and giblets from duck cavities. Trim excess fat and wing tips. Sprinkle inside and out with rosemary, salt and pepper. Combine celery, onion, apple, parsley and orange juice in mixing bowl. Toss to combine. Loosely stuff half of mixture into each duck cavity. Pierce duck skin all over with fork.
Place ducks in shallow roasting pan breast side up. Add water to pan to prevent spattering. Roast at 450 degrees 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and roast 1 hour 15 minutes. Drain water from roasting pan. Brush duck breasts and legs with Honey-Cranberry Glaze. Return to oven for 10 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before carving.
To serve, arrange on platter with steamed vegetables and fresh greens. Accompany with bowl of Cranberry Relish. Makes 6 servings.
1 cup water
Juice of 1/2 orange
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup orange honey
1 pound fresh or frozen cranberries
Zest of 1 orange
Combine water, juice, sugar and honey in medium saucepan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Add cranberries and cook until skins pop, about 5 minutes. Divide mixture in half, reserving 1 part for relish.
Transfer remaining mixture to blender or food processor and puree. Turn puree into saucepan. Add orange zest and cook over low heat, stirring constantly to avoid scorching, until mixture is reduced to syrupy consistency, about 5 minutes.
Reserved Honey-Cranberry Glaze
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Combine glaze, raisins and walnuts in saucepan. Cook over medium heat until mixture is as thick as relish.
6 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup Marsala wine
1 1/2 pounds mascarpone or cream cheese, softened
2 cups warm espresso
1 cup coffee liqueur
2 (3-ounce) boxes ladyfingers
With electric mixer, whip egg yolks, sugar and Marsala together until mixture is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Cut cheese into 1-inch squares and gradually add to egg mixture, beating continuously, until mixture is thick and smooth, about 10 minutes.
In another bowl, mix espresso and coffee liqueur. Dip ladyfingers one at time in coffee mixture. Line bottom of serving bowl with layer of dipped ladyfingers. Spoon half of cheese mixture on top of ladyfingers. Follow with another layer of dipped ladyfingers and top with remaining cheese mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Makes 8 to 10 servings.