I first met John Besh at an event in Austin where he was announcing plans for his new restaurant in San Antonio, Lüke on the Riverwalk. Chef Shawn Cirkiel, chef/owner of the popular Parkside restaurant on 6th Street threw the party to welcome John to Texas.
Besh, a James Beard award-winning chef, is now unveiling his latest cookbook Cooking from the Heart and asked if I’d be willing to prepare a recipe out of the book.
As a fan of Chef Besh’s soulful cuisine, I readily agreed. After all, this is a chef who has cooked in Provence and Germany and is native to one of the best food cities in the world — New Orleans.
A quick glance through the fabulous recipes in the book, and I was intrigued…curious to know which recipe I’d be preparing. After all, with choices like Artichokes Barigoule, braised artichokes stuffed with leeks, mushroom and ham, or Ragout of Lamb Shoulder with Cavatelli, this was going to be a delicious adventure.
I was asked to choose a recipe from Chapter 4. Eagerly, I flipped over to Chapter 4 and discovered my topic was potatoes. Hmmm, I like potatoes but have never really thought of them as a standout dish, a fabulous side perhaps, but that’s all.
I may have been a bit hasty to judge. In all of the chapters in Cooking from the Heart, Chef Besh shares personal stories, experiences about where he learned to prepare the recipes in the chapter and his adventures in the kitchens where he worked.. Plus, he also offers lessons in each chapter on how to prepare many of the items.
For instance, the recipe I chose to prepare, Potato-Leek Mezzalune, is made from gnocchi dough. I had never made gnocchi before but must admit the directions in the book made it very easy to follow along. So, with wine glass in hand, I began.
The challenge to the gnocchi dough, like most doughs, is getting the texture right…controlling the flour.
Once you’ve cut the ravioli rounds, the little gnocchi raviolis are filled with sautéed leeks–quite delicious!
My dough probably should have been rolled out a bit thinner, but the finished product, sautéed in butter, turned out to be delicious. I invited our neighbors over for dinner, and we gobbled up every last one!
If you too enjoy classic recipes with creative twists along the way, check out Cooking from the Heart. You can get more information at chefjohnbesh.com.