Eleven Madison Park has been in the news lately regarding the–some would say–radical changes to the menu, the presentation, the atmosphere, the prices. But last weekend I was able to sample some of Daniel Humm’s food in a simpler setting. At Chefs & Champagne, the James Beard Award-winning chef, served a sample from his “On the Road Menu” created for Mercedes Benz, which is a sponsor of Beard Foundation. (Lately, the car manufacturer has been making the rounds of food and drink festivals in the region, finding some kinship between its drivers and people who dig good food. In fact, the company also makes Sprinter vans, the favored vehicle of many food and drink artisans.)
OK, I wasn’t the only one Humm was cooking for. The first course, a strawberry gazpacho, was delicious, not sweet–you have to think twice to realize it’s made from strawberries. It’s also something that’s pretty much possible to make at home, especially during strawberry season. The rest of the recipes, intended to inspire food gathering and cooking experiences to pair with your road tripping, are here on Mercedes’ Facebook page.
Strawberry Gazpacho with Basil, Black Pepper, Olive Oil, and Guanciale
1 tablespoon plus ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed but kept whole
1 ½ cups whole grain bread, crusts removed, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 sprigs thyme
6 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered
2 ¼ cups English cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 ¼ cups diced red bell pepper
¾ cup diced green bell pepper
6 tablespoons tomato juice
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
Heat a small sauté pan over medium-high heat. Coat the bottom with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and add 1 clove of garlic. When the garlic begins to sizzle, add the bread cubes. Toss occasionally until the bread begins to color, being careful not to burn. Add the thyme and continue to toss until the bread is golden brown. Transfer the bread into a large bowl. Discard the garlic and thyme. Add the strawberries, cucumber, peppers, remaining garlic clove, remaining ½ cup of olive oil, tomato juice, vinegar, and salt to the bowl. Toss to combine and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Marinate at room temperature for 3 to 6 hours. Puree the ingredients and their juices in small batches in a blender on high speed until very smooth. Strain through a chinois and chill in the refrigerator until very cold. Taste and season, if necessary, with Tabasco sauce and additional salt and red wine vinegar.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed but kept whole
2 cups diced (1/4 inch) whole grain bread, crusts removed
3 sprigs thyme
½ teaspoon salt
Heat a small sauté pan on medium-high heat. Coat the bottom with olive oil and add the garlic. When the garlic begins to sizzle, add the diced bread. Toss occasionally until the bread begins to color, being careful not to burn. Add the thyme and continue to toss until the bread is golden brown. Quickly transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Discard the garlic and thyme and season with the salt. Once cool and dry, store in an airtight container lined with paper towels for up to 1 day.
16 small strawberries, hulled and halved lengthwise
1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for storing
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
Preheat the oven to 195°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a silicone baking mat. Toss the halved strawberries in the olive oil to coat them lightly. Place them cut side down on the silicone mat and dust with the confectioners’ sugar. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Flip the strawberries and bake them for an additional 30 minutes. The strawberries should be deep maroon and tender but still hold their shape. Cool then on the silicone mat before storing in a flat, airtight container that has been coated with olive oil to keep them hydrated. The confit can be made 3 days ahead and stored in the refrigerator.
Fleur de sel
Basil (bush, opal, and flowering varieties)
1/4 pound guanciale, thinly sliced
Extra-virgin olive oil
Pour the cold gazpacho into 8 chilled bowls. Season with a single grind of pepper. Arrange the strawberry confit and croutons on the gazpacho. Season with fleur de sel. Garnish with basil and a slice of guanciale and finish with olive oil.