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Turkey Marsala with Wild Mushrooms

turkey marsala with wild mushrooms

turkey marsala with wild mushrooms

We love mushrooms and can think of a number of ways to use them, some standard and some atypical.  Tonight for dinner Chef Zach was inspired to make turkey Marsala, with wild mushrooms and cream enhancing the entree.  All that rich sauce could use a starch to help mop it up, so try this with cheesy polenta pancakes.  And don’t forget to balance your meal with vegetables, like sauteed rainbow chard.

Makes 2

2 turkey breast cutlets

1 box of low-sodium chicken broth

1 cup of flour

1/3 cup of Marsala wine

1 oz. each of alba clamshell, brown clamshell, forest nameko, and velvet pioppini mushrooms

1/4 cup of Straus cream

2 tbs. of extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp. of minced garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

Reduce the chicken broth in a sauce pan over medium heat.  You want to reduce it by half in order to concentrate the flavors.

Dredge the turkey cutlets in flour.  Heat the olive oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat.  Put the turkey in the pan, one cutlet at a time with about 20 seconds in between.  If you can fit two in the pan that’s awesome, but you want at least 1″ of space between the cutlets, and they shouldn’t touch the side of the pan, either.

Cook each side for about 3 minutes, then remove from the pan and transfer to a plate.  Cover with foil to keep warm.

Add the mushrooms and garlic to the pan and increase the heat to medium-high.  Saute for 2 minutes until softened.  Add the wine and chicken broth, and cook for about 1 minute.  Finally add the cream, and cook until reduced and thickened, reaching nappe (thick enough to coat the back of a spoon).

Put the turkey cutlets back in the pan for 1 minute to warm up the meat and coat with sauce.  Plate and serve.

Farm Fresh to Tempting Table with Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Vegas Uncork’d 2013

A long, lusciously decorated table was set for 120, ready for a four-course meal with wine pairing.  Chef Jean-Georges Vongericht presented Farm Fresh to Tempting Table, a gourmet spread with a focus on seasonal produce.  The concept is old, but seems to have been forgotten in these modern times of processed foods and international imports/exports.  Our bodies are not immune to our environment; since plants grow with different seasons, our diets should follow the lead.  Besides being healthier by consuming super fresh produce, eating what’s locally in season further lessens the impact on nature because costs (in labor, transportation, and environmental damage) are minimized.


Hosted at the Bellagio in the Grand Patio, we enjoyed a sumptuous final meal before returning home.  The table and settings were both rustic and elegant.  Before the first course was served, we sipped sweet cocktails named Angel’s Tear, with American Harvest vodka, St Germain elderflower liqueur, fresh white cranberry juice, and a rose petal.

zach saved his wine throughout the meal for a shot of the selection

zach saved his wine throughout the meal for a shot of the selection

Each course was paired with a particular wine, poured just before the plates arrived.  From left to right, and in order with the courses, we sipped Pascal Jolivet Sancerre, Loire Valley 2011; Trimbach Riesling “Cuvee Frederick Emile,” Alsace 2006 (from the Chef’s home town in France); Faust Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2010; and Joseph Phelps “Eisrebe,” Napa Valley 2010.

kale "caesar"

kale “caesar”

This was a caesar salad like no other.  Shredded kale was tossed in a robust and tart dressing of parmesan, lemon, mint, mustard, garlic, and serrano chili.  The parmesan balanced the tartness, the mint helped to tone down the strong raw kale flavor, and the serrano brought about a spicy bite to add extra depth in flavor.  This was a very zesty way to open up our palates to fresh, well prepared fare.

caramelized scallops

caramelized scallops

A dessert before the dessert course, we relished in these large and tender “marshmallows of the sea” with a nice sear, resulting in caramelization.  They rested atop a bed of vegetables.  A light and tart new onion vinaigrette sat at the bottom, to be dipped into with snap peas, morel mushrooms, artichoke hearts, asparagus, acorn squash, and spring fronds.  Some of the vegetables had light flavors, but the vinaigrette enhanced their natural taste.  The selection of vegetables provided contrasting textures and different kinds of green flavors, some sweet and some earthy.  A “moss” was created with five dehydrated and powdered herbs, spooned over the top and garnished with chive blossoms.  This dish was a very rich homage to the bounty of the land.

grilled beef tenderloin

grilled beef tenderloin

The prime regular tenderloin cut was buttery and lean, from the top 1% of Nebraska beef.  Normally August gets ribeye when offered a choice of steak, but this filet mignon was so good in texture and taste, she might be a convert.  This cut was an excellent representation of the meat used at Prime Steakhouse, so we will definitely make plans to visit the next time we’re in town.  Its hat was a spinach and gruyère crêpe, which was delicate and cheesy, but in texture more than flavor; it did not overwhelm the beef.  The cut’s pedestal was sauteed spinach, in an intense beef broth made with short ribs, red chili, and Japanese seaweed.  It had a mildly spicy kick with a deep beef flavor that melded well with the sauteed spinach.  The broth and spinach, Zach says, could easily have been a soup on its own.

rhubarb & lychee trifle

rhubarb & lychee trifle

To round out the meal, this layered trifle was divine.  A crisp, airy meringue disc sprinkled with dried, flaked rose petals melted when bit into.  It adorned a scoop of tangy rhubarb sorbet, which was surrounded by five fluffy marshmallows.  These were supported by thick whipped cream over bright raspberry preserves, on top of a moist and light genoise sponge cake and a smooth base of tropical lychee puree set with gelatin.  August was worried at first that this dish wouldn’t satisfy her because she is a devout chocolate lover and typically avoids fruit desserts, but she proclaimed, “I don’t need chocolate after this!”

Chef Vongericht informed, inspired, and indulged our taste buds.  It’s amazing what delights can be concocted when using a finite set of ingredients that are local and in season.

The Grand Tasting of Vegas Uncork’d 2013

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Vegas Uncork’d is a celebration of food, wine, and spirits, now in its seventh year.  Caesar’s Palace hosted the Grand Tasting last night, where roughly one hundred restaurants, wineries, breweries, and distilleries came to share their finest around the pools.  We had a wonderful time sampling as much food as we could – with only two and a half hours and over 2,000 guests, it’s mathematically impossible for any one person to sample from every stand.  In fact, we didn’t go to any of the alcohol stands, only food, and we barely got to try everything in time.  We did learn a very important lesson, though, and that is to always bring a spare camera battery, even on a short assignment.  Foolishly we left our spare in the hotel room and the one with us died, so we got pictures of about 3/4 of the food.  Despite being a few shots short of representing the entire evening, we still feel that we can give you a well-rounded and accurate glimpse.  Please click on the pictures to see fuller details.

Chef Mike Minor greeted us at Border Grill, the first stand we saw, and he personally prepared two items.  We really enjoyed tasting the steak salad with roasted vegetables and grits with shrimp and a spicy sauce.  An added bonus is that we got to meet Chef Mike, and we’ll see him again next weekend at the Cooking For Solutions convention; that will be a much smaller affair, so hopefully we’ll get to spend more time talking with the chefs.

So the sign that Red Square and Citizens used was a little tricky because it didn’t name either of the two collaborating restaurants.  However, it was still mildly appropriate to draw attention to the tacos with delicious lamb.

Aureole brought a large selection, mostly sweets.  There were wine-infused sorbets and hand-rolled truffles with varying ingredients and spices like horchata and salted licorice.  The one savory item, house-made spicy Italian sausage crostini, was divine.  It was the miniature fondu that was the most whimsical and thoughtfully presented.

We have eaten at Chef Michael Mina’s STRIPSTEAK, so we knew automatically that the smoked foie gras stuffed cherry atop an almond gazpacho, and a beef tongue “shepherd’s pie” with garlic potato puree, would be good. Each guest had to be given explicit instructions on how to eat the cherry and gazpacho, but it was fun – and obviously tasty!

We have covered the Burger Bar of San Francisco, and tonight we got to meet the mastermind Chef Hubert Keller, representing Burger Bar and Fleur.  The ceviche was artful, and the beer float was dainty and distinct.

Raku had the longest line, but it moved quickly enough.  That was because the grill was being utilized to make small batches of skewered meat, ensuring quality for each guest.  Back at the NorCal Cherry Blossom Festival we tried octopus meat balls but they weren’t even worth talking about; these here were amazing in comparison!

SHe by Morton’s is a brand new steak house, opened this year in February.  It is billed as “the sexiest steak house on the Strip,” and the bites sampled reflected that zestiness.  Zach loved the jalapeño bite placed on a spoon, and we both appreciated the sheer tenderness of the braised beef on a potato puree with a sweet potato puree piped on top.

Chef Stephen Hopcraft of STK was having a great time dancing behind the counter while preparing his samples.  We got to chat with him about his stunning raviolis with jalapeño sweet corn and short ribs, essentially combining three of the restaurant’s dishes.  We’re excited to plan our next Las Vegas excursion and dine at STK.

Tetsu, a teppan grill establishment, brought out wonderful skewers of beef and shrimp, grilled and sauced perfectly.

Javier’s presented us another take on ceviche, plus two kinds of gourmet, Mexican-inspired soups.

Chickpea flat bread supported dressed greens and pomegranate seeds, a refreshing and delightful sample from Vintner Grill.

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The Linq DJ spun throughout the night, mixing an excellent mashup of some of the day’s hottest hits plus classics of the not-so-distant pop and hip hop past.  Speakers were placed well all over the pool grounds, so we were never far from the beat nor was it ever too loud.

Flour & Barley, a tenant of Linq, is a brick oven pizzeria.  Tonight they brought out mini calzones in empanada pastry, a fabulous twist on classic flavors.

F.A.M.E. worked tirelessly to pump out “fob” bao sandwiches.  Maybe the name is a little insensitive, but the sandwich was delectable.

Andrea’s little plates of rice, kimchi, and crispy pork belly were tasty.

Greek and Mediterranean-inspired Estiatorio Milos had two meats, both super moist and savory.  The milokopi fish from Cephalonia was baked in salt crust with horta (boiled green vegetables), while the Greek roasted whole lamb was done on a spit.

SUSHISAMBA made yellowtail taquitos with shiso, avocado, roasted corn miso, and spicy aji panca – a flavorful representation of the restaurant’s Japanese, Peruvian, and Brazilian influences.

Jalapeño fried rice with seared scallops was the offering from TAO, served in tiny take-out boxes with chopsticks.

The homemade cavatelli from LAVO stood out.  It was served from a giant cheese wheel, and the pasta itself was deliciously tender with a rich sauce of porcini ragu.

Dos Caminos street foodery of New York now has a Las Vegas location.  They offered margaritas, guacamole, skewers of grilled meat and veggies, plus chips.  We did not get a copy of the cookbook, but you can find it here.

Martorano’s had mini Philly cheesesteaks and meatballs.  Steve Martorano’s food has that homemade Italian feel.

KGB, or Kerry’s Gourmet Burgers, surprised us all and brought nothing that had to do with burgers.  Instead we had artful Japanese rice mango pudding and ahi tuna poke style, both yummy.

From Strip House we had a great roasted bacon and heirloom tomato salad with black radish and smoky Russian dressing.

Carmine’s made gigantic meatballs!  Now that’s how nonna used to do it.

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P.J. Clarke’s oyster bar was a super hit.  No need for a plate when you have a shell.

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The Max Brenner stand had soft chocolate chip and walnut cookies, plus syringes of chocolate sauce.  We all looked funny sucking out of syringes, but hey, solidarity – we all looked funny together.

Sushi Roku made a delicate tuna salad, refreshing and perfect for springtime.

Il Mulino had intensely creamy and cheesy raviolis.

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We spoke with Eric Klein, executive chef of Wolfgang Puck’s Spago, who invited us to come back for tastings in his restaurant the next time we’re in town.  After trying the Moroccan-spiced grilled lamb with house-made harissa, couscous, mint, and apricot chutney, we can imagine that anything served in the restaurant will be well above par.

The Palm brought out sliced prime New York steak and lobster bisque.  August loved that the bisque had some chunks of meat, so with more than just lobster flavor, we could tell that really fresh lobster was used.

We had a thrilling time walking, talking, and eating amongst some of the finest chefs in the world.  We eagerly look forward to our next Las Vegas foray, when we will come back specifically for Spago and STK (and of course a few more).  And clearly, we will be back in one year for the eighth annual Vegas Uncork’d!