MAY 7, 2012

MEET THE SOUS CHEF

LAUREN HERMAN, CHEF DE CUISINE, A.O.C.

Lauren Herman, chef de cuisine at A.O.C. in Los Angeles, California, comes by her love of the farmers’ market honestly. As a born-and-raised Angeleno who has spent the last four years working for A.O.C.’s chef-owner, Suzanne Goin, weekly trips to the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market are a way of life.

 When she shops the farmers’ market for the restaurant, she also buys ingredients for herself and her partner, Christina Olufson, who is the pastry chef at A.O.C. and its sister restaurants, Lucques and Tavern. When asked about her pantry staples, Herman does not list mainstays like peanut butter or fancy olive oil, but instead rattles off a laundry list of fruits and vegetables.

 Herman makes a concerted effort to cook at home on her nights off, preparing rustic, seasonal dishes. For our Sous Chef Series, she prepared a peerless variation of the now-classic beet-and-goat-cheese salad.

 

TRACK THIS CHEF

Lauren Herman's:

DAY IN THE LIFE

TIPS & TECHNIQUES

On Time Off

"The idea of taking a vacation to Hawaii and lying on the beach does not appeal to me at all," admits Herman. "I can't sit still!" She spends her days off outdoors whenever the weather permits--which in Los Angeles is fairly often.

Her Best Meals

"Last year I was in New York City for vacation. And I had one of the best meals of my life at Le Bernardin," she says. Back home in Los Angeles, she favors A.O.C.’s sister restaurant, Lucques; Osteria Mozza; and the no-name sushi joint near her house in West Hollywood.

MAKE THE
Beet and Arugula Salad with La Tur Cheese, Squash Blossoms and Honey

YIELD

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

Yield: 4 servings

Salad

9 small beets (preferably a mix of red, pink and golden), trimmed

⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2¼ teaspoons kosher salt

¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

9 sprigs fresh thyme

¼ cup pine nuts

1 small fennel bulb, quartered and thinly sliced lengthwise through the core into thin, fanned pieces

4 cups arugula

4 squash blossoms, roughly torn and stamens discarded (optional)

1 medium shallot, halved and thinly sliced

1 wheel La Tur cheese (or Robiola), cut into 16 ¼-inch wedges

Abbamele or honey, for drizzling

Dressing

½ medium shallot, finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)

Juice of 1 lemon

Juice of ½ orange

1½ teaspoons whole coriander seeds

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

1. Roast the beets: Preheat the oven to 400°. In a large baking dish, toss the beets with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Add the thyme and cover the baking dish with aluminum foil, crimping it around the edges to form a tight seal. Roast in the oven until a paring knife easily slips into the center of one of the larger beets, 40 to 50 minutes. Uncover and set aside to cool slightly. Once the beets are cool enough to handle, peel them (wearing gloves to protect your hands from staining) and slice into 1-inch wedges. Set aside.

2. Reduce the oven temperature to 350° and toast the pine nuts on a rimmed baking sheet until golden-brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

3. Make the dressing: In a small bowl, combine the chopped shallot with the lemon and orange juices and set aside for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, toast the coriander seeds over medium heat, shaking the pan often, until the seeds are golden and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the seeds to a spice grinder and pulse until roughly ground (or crush the seeds using a mortar and pestle). Add the coriander to the shallot mixture and whisk in the olive oil, salt and pepper. Set aside.

4. Place the fennel in a large bowl and add the arugula, squash blossoms, sliced shallot and roasted beet wedges. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Arrange on 4 plates and tuck 4 pieces of cheese into each salad. Sprinkle each serving with the toasted pine nuts and drizzle with abbamele. Serve.

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