Sassafras Bitters

I love how certain smells instantly transport you to a distant time. Your olfactory glands are like magical teleportation devices. The smell of sassafras takes me back to the time when I was younger running around in Georgetown Delaware, playing in the woods of with my younger brothers in the spring and summer. A tree would snap and the air would be perfumed with the woody root beer smell. I loved it! I would try to find as much of the red hued wood and roots as possible to carve and make tea.

My good friend Nathan Tanner is now digging the roots for me, with his kids. I was looking for a way to utilize the fragrant, bitter, sweet quality of it. I knew would pair perfectly with bourbon, so I created this powerful elixir.

Sassafras bitters in the making.

Sassafras bitters in the making.

SASSAFRAS BITTERS

Ingredients

750 ml. bottle of neutral grain spirit (I used a white corn whiskey)

2 vanilla Beans split

2 star anise pods

1 t. fennel seeds

4 clove

2 black cardamon

2 t. wormwood

1 pound sassafras root

1 t. shredded oak

1 t. dry caramel

.5 oz sassafras root extract. (not needed, but really Boost flavor!)

Method

Toast all spices until fragrant. Combine all ingredients in a jar. Let macerate for 2 weeks, agitating once per week.  Strain and enjoy!

A spring cocktail made with bourbon and sassafras bitters!

A spring cocktail made with bourbon and sassafras bitters!

 

one plate at a time.

I am honored to report that I have recently been nominated for a James Beard Rising Star Chef Of The Year Award. I am one of twenty eight semifinalists. On March 18th they will announce the finalist. I am excited to find out the outcome! I want to thank the person or people who submitted my name to the James Beard Foundation. I was truly in shock when I read my name on their website. I am proud of our accomplishments at restaurant a(MUSE.). This nomination may have my name on it, but it is a tribute to the hard work of all our dedicated staff.

When I was a young cook, I once told my mentor at the time, Kevin Reading, that I aspired to one day be a regionally great chef. He was very encouraging and stated that anything was possible through hard work. To me, regionally great meant a chef who was known in the mid atlantic for creating an excellent product and developing a style of cuisine that guests would come from surrounding areas and beyond to enjoy. At this point I feel that I am on my way.

With cooking I have never been in competition with anyone but myself. It would be great to be a James Beard Finalist. No matter what happens I will still keep cooking, doing my best  to cook a high level of cuisine one plate at a time.

A look at recent plates at at restaurant a(MUSE.)

Photo was taken by Courtney Swift.

Photo was taken by Courtney Swift.

foie gras

Hudson Valley foie gras with carrots and pine (CS Photo)

jKrMV3i47MuJvqz8FdszfI501emf55-5d4DvXQ7hGGY

In the kitchen (CS Photo)


Nantucket Bay scallops - trout Roe - lardo - potato - fennel

Nantucket Bay scallops – trout Roe – lardo – potato – fennel (CS Photo)

flatiron steak - onion - turnip - hedgehog mushrooms

flatiron steak – onion – turnip – hedgehog mushrooms (CS Photo)

house cured coppa - Cheseapeake gold oyster - oyster mushroom - cedar - sunchoke. a broth of mushroom, cedar, ham, and oysters poured table side.

house cured coppa – Cheseapeake gold oyster – oyster mushroom – cedar – sunchoke. a broth of mushroom, cedar, ham, and oysters poured table side. (instagram picture)

oak creme brûlée -orange curd - bourbon -molasses - shattered caramelized honey gummy - smoked almond

oak creme brûlée -orange curd – bourbon -molasses – shattered caramelized honey gummy – smoked almond (instagram picture)

razor clam - foraged sumac - wintered acorn - spice bush gel

razor clam – foraged sumac – wintered acorn – spice bush gel (instagram)

beach bonfire our version of smores

beach bonfire our version of smores (instagram)

Lobster - beets - horseradish - rose hip vinaigrette

Lobster – beets – horseradish – rose hip vinaigrette. A plate created for a tasting menu. (instagram)

Thanks again for everybody’s love and support.


A BLACK AND WHITE VIEW OF a(MUSE.)

front dining room

The dining room.

Joy of cooking book self

The Joy of cooking book self.

World record rock fish made out of recycled material. glass eye from Luckie Glass

World record rock fish made out of recycled material. Glass eye blow by Luckie Glass.

Clifton Cochran of Heavy Design was in charge of all construction and decor at Restaurant a(MUSE.)

Clifton Cochran of Heavy Design was in charge of all decor at Restaurant a(MUSE.) The wall paper is made from pages of The Joy OF Cooking.

print by C.LEROI

The print by C.LEROI.

BALL JAR LIGHTS

THE BALL JAR LIGHTS.

The wall behind the bar.

My Father Stephen Cameron did this piece in the seventies.

My Father Stephen Cameron did this piece in the seventies.

horseshoe crab sink

The Front bathroom horseshoe crab sink.

nautilus sink

The back bathrooms nautilus sink.

bourbon

A bourbon gift from a friend.

duck for scrapple!

Duck scrapple in the making.

The beginning and the end.photo courtesy of Jamie Knapp

The beginning and the end.
photo courtesy of Jamie Knapp

WARM DAYS & COOL NIGHTS IN REHOBOTH

Fall is here and the weather is beautiful here at the beach. There are less people in town but were still bringing the love. I have been posting a lot of picture on instagram and here are some of my favorite ones. Plus a picture of my arm!

I have been a bad blogger lately in pursuit of being the best chef/restaurateur that I can be. Now that the pace has changed I will post more often. Thanks for your continued support! Tell a friend about The Comb & Wattle. I will be posting more photos, recipes and featuring farmers and foragers in future post. If you want me to cover a story I am very open to suggestions. Cheers! Enjoy!

Pistachio financier – duck prosciutto – butternut squash – pistachio praline. A dish presented at the Celebrity Chefs Beach Brunch to benefit Meals on Wheels Delaware.

Our fall soup at a(MUSE.)
Acorn soup – house cured berkshire pork lardo – beech mushroom – acorn squash – lemon balm

Roasted figs – preserved lemon – parsnip

Meatless Monday

my arm

Raw squash with puffed grains – foraged prickly pear – sheep sorrel –  and sea bean.

Fresh & New

few hour mozzarella – rhubarb – citrus – vanilla

Last night we added a new dessert of fresh mozzarella made with vanilla, rose compressed rhubarb, whey foam, wild sorrel, orange, lemon emulsion.

With two weeks under our belts here at a(MUSE.) things are really coming together. We know that we have a lot of growing to do as any new business does but we have a lot of people that care about the product that we are producing and the seamless guest experience that we are trying to create. We understand that this style of progressive mid-atlantic cuisine where small tasting plates are the focus is not for everybody. I have created a menu that I want to share with the guest with the goal 100% being the smiles of many different customers face. We hope to inspire and a(MUSE.)

Tonights Tasting Menu

Every friday I compose a tasting menu of five courses for fifty-nine dollars. Cooking tasting menus gives me a true opportunity for expression. Enjoy!

Celery root custard, Lemon Curd (Thanks Aki For the link to the recipe), toast, celery, vanilla vinaigrette

Crispy chicken liver, braised bacon, frisee, potato, pickled shallot, whole grain mustard

Sweet potato, oyster mushroom, oyster root, pickled mustard seeds

Smoked pork consomme

Seared Scallop, winter truffle grits, hen o' woods mushroom, shaved asparagus, brown butter. (We add toasted milk solids to the brown butter)

Pomegranate, panna cotta, gram crumb, white chocolate

Blue Prawns with smoked paprika and mustard seed

Hawaiian Blue Prawns Overnighted to us From Honolulu Fish Company

I am allergic to shrimp. With that being said, I eat them from time to time when I know that if I don’t that I am going to be missing something great. These prawns are that good! I wear a pair of gloves when cleaning them so my hands don’t itch. You can cook them many ways but in this preparation I gently sear them on the plancha grill.

                             

In my last post I stated that I was going to try to share some more recipes in the new year. Some of the recipes that I give will be hard to replicate without a restaurant full of ingredients or equipment. The two that I have given in this post can be easily duplicated and used to complement a variety of dishes. If you have any questions feel free to start a dialog in the comments section. The internet is a great tool for sourcing ingredients. I think that ratio’s are the keys to making a recipe work. Use the highest quality ingredients that you can find or you can afford.

Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette

150 g. Sherry vinegar

75 g. honey

4.27 g. xanthan gum (0.85%)

150 g. extra virgin olive oil

25 g. spanish smoked paprika

100 g. orange juice

2.5 g. salt (.5%)

Toast smoked paprika lightly in a saute pan over medium until it becomes more fragrant. Put sherry vinegar, orange juice, and honey into a high-speed blender. Blend to incorporate. Add salt, paprika and slowly add xanthan to shear into mixture. Blend for 30 seconds. While blender is running slowly add olive oil to emulsify mixture.

A traditional vinaigrette has a ratio of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil. This recipe uses less oil. The sherry vinegar is balanced with the honey and orange juice. The xanthan gum keeps this mixture together and gives the sauce body.

Poached Black Mustard Seeds

2 c. black mustard seed

2 oz. ginger

3 Toasted Black cardamom pods

4 oz. Maple syrup

1 t. cayenne

2 lemons juice (1/2 cup)

water to cover

salt to taste

Add all ingredients and simmer for 20 minuets. discard ginger and cardamom.

These seeds add texture and flavor

Put prawns on plate and garnish with smoked paprika vinaigrette, pickled mustard seeds, sliced kumquat, and pickled red onion.