Chef Miller's $20 Menu

Recipes for sweet potato soup, heirloom tomato salad, braised lamb and chocolate foam

click to enlarge Miller's sweet potato soup gets zing from Tabasco sauce. - Brian Ries
Brian Ries
Miller's sweet potato soup gets zing from Tabasco sauce.

Sweet Potato Soup

1 1/2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

1 tbs butter

1/2 tsp cardamom

Salt and pepper

2 shakes Tabasco

1. Put cream and sweet potatoes in a pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil then reduce temperature to a simmer. Simmer until potatoes are tender, approximately 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat, add Tabasco, salt and pepper to taste. Let soup cool until close to room temperature.

2. Blend soup in a blender on high speed until smooth. Adjust seasonings.

3. Reheat soup on the stove (or in a microwave) and serve, using colored oils to decorate if you wish.

Poached Pear

2 pears, peeled and cored

Simmer pears in eggplant and sweet potato water (see part 3 of Lamb recipe) until tender, approx. 15 minutes. Garnish with chocolate shavings,

Heirloom Tomato Salad

2 heirloom tomatoes

Cider vinegar

Blue cheese

Fresh tarragon

Cut tomatoes into wedges put in bowl. Dress with cider vinegar, scatter with tarragon and season with salt and pepper. Let marinate for 25-30 minutes. Serve with crumbled blue cheese.

Braised Lamb in Peach Gastrique with Sweet Potato Scallops and Baby Eggplant

2 lamb shanks

1 sweet potato

6 baby eggplant

1 tbs oil

1 tbs butter

1 lemon

2 peaches, chopped

Fresh tarragon

Salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat oil in a pot over medium-high. Season lamb with salt and pepper and add to pan. Sear lamb, 2-3 minutes per side, to generate a brown crust. Remove lamb. Add 1 pint of water and 1/4 cup red wine to pot. Return lamb to pot, cover and braise in oven for approx. 3 hours.

2. Fill a saucepan with water and 1 tsp salt. Zest the lemon; put zest aside for peach gastrique. Juice the lemon into the pot and toss in both halves. Bring to a boil. Halve the eggplants lengthwise and slice two thick discs from the sweet potato, approx. 1 1/2-inches thick. Add veggies to pot and simmer for 15 minutes, or until eggplant is tender.

3. Remove eggplant and continue cooking the sweet potato until the discs are tender on edges but still firm in the center. (Save water for poached pears.) Remove and cool slightly. Use a biscuit cutter to cut the scallops into uniform circles (or don't bother if the shape is unimportant to you).

4. Season sweet potatoes with salt and pepper and topped with a few leaves of crushed tarragon. Melt butter in skillet and add sweet potatoes, tarragon side down, to pan. Cook in 450 degree oven for approx. 30 minutes, flipping sweet potatoes halfway through.

5. To a saucepan add peaches, cider vinegar, zest of one lemon, 2 stalks chopped tarragon, 3/4 cup brown sugar. Bring to a boil and cook at a fast simmer until reduced to a loose syrup.

6. Plating: Put scallops on plate. Lean 3 halved eggplants against sweet potato. Balance shank against the sweet potato. Drizzle gastrique across and around food. Garnish with fried tarragon leaves.

Chocolate Foam

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup chocolate chips

1. Put cream in metal bowl and chill. Melt chocolate (either in double boiler over low heat, or slowly in the microwave — just don't burn it). Cool chocolate to close to room temperature. Beat cream until soft peaks, add chocolate and beat until incorporated. The mixture will look a little like foam, flecked with both brown and white.

2. Feeling ambitious? Grab a piece of stiff plastic, they sell sheets of it at some kitchen supply places. Melt more chocolate chips. Schmear a thick layer of chocolate onto a strip of plastic, roll into a tube and refrigerate. When solid, peel off the plastic and fill with foam. Decorate with more shaved chocolate.