[Recipe] Get Cracking on The Cypress Room’s Stone Crab Roulade

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Ocean Drive recently asked us to contribute to its story on healthy versions of comfort foods.  We really liked this spin chef Roel Alcudia had on The Cypress Room menu and wanted to offer you the full recipe here.  It is not only simple to make, but as a local, casts stone crabs in a whole new light, from pick and eat with the traditional mustard sauce to an ingredient as a component of a dish.  Stone crabs blow in with a torrent on October 15 each year and can’t come quick enough.  We source most of our claws from George Stone Crab and have been hot on them this  season especially with our new raw bar at Michael’s Genuine.  They were also a popular item on the menu at our Design Miami café last week.

IMG_2636_2“They’re South Florida’s comfort food. Georgia has peaches, Louisiana has crawfish, and we’ve got stone crabs,” George’s owner Roger Duarte says.  “Stone crabs are what you eat for your mother’s birthday, what you serve to friends when they visit from out of town, how you ring in the new year. They taste like South Florida – home! For a local, the arrival of the season is like looking forward to a holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas.”

A roulade is a dish common to most European cuisines and consisting of a slice of meat rolled around a filling, which could be cheese, vegetables, or other meats. The term originates from the French word “rouler”, meaning “to roll”. Roel’s recipe is a heathy take on this typically rich, braised preparation, but no less decadent or soulful.  And what’s more comforting than a taste of home?  We’ll let you be the judge! George Stone Crab is one of our suppliers in the unique position to sell direct to consumer, so you can place your order for delivery here.

Stone Crab Roulade with Kumquats and Shaved Vegetables

Serves 4

6 large Florida stone crabs, cracked and picked
1 tablespoon finely diced shallots
1 tablespoon minced chives
2 tablespoons yuzu juice, or 1 tablespoon each of lemon and lime juice
2 tablespoons brunoise celery
2 tablespoons brunoise Honeycrisp apples
2 tablespoons brunoise cucumbers
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons diced cornichons
2 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
1 watermelon radish, shaved
1 small zucchini, shaved into rounds
1 shishito pepper, sliced thin
4 kumquats, sliced thin
1 teaspoon Espelette pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
12 edible flowers

In a small bowl, combine the crab meat, shallots, chives, citrus juice, celery, apples, cucumbers into a uniform mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread a footlong sheet of plastic wrap horizontally on a clean work station. About 2 inches away from the edge closest to you, spoon the crab mixture to form a long baton 2-inches wide down the plastic wrap, leaving a couple of inches free on either end. Gently begin to roll and tuck the crab mixture into a compact dowel and twisting the edges to tighten securely. Refrigerate roulade for at least one hour. Make a remoulade by combining the mayonnaise, cornichons, capers, and champagne vinegar, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Remove chilled roulade from the refrigerator and using a sharp knife, slice 3-inch batons through the plastic wrap, carefully removing and discarding it to maintain each roulade’s shape. Serve immediately, placing each roulade on a plate surrounded by the shaved vegetables dotted with remoulade and slices of kumquat and a couple of pinches of Espellete pepper. Dress each lightly with the lemon juice and olive oil, and garnish with edible flowers.

Treat Yo’ Self & a Friend: BOGO Out Loud this Holiday!

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Treat yo’ self & a friend!  Buy one Baking Out Loud cookbook, get one free on the e-shop (michaelsgenuine.com/SHOP) until December 20, our express shipping deadline.  Executive pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith’s debut cookbook is $27.50 and can come signed or personalized. Click here to add one to your shopping cart, and we’ll match the first purchase per customer. BOGO or go home! Offer good for online purchases only.

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Genuine elves to the rescue! We can help with all your holiday gifting needs, especially The Genuine Hospitality Group Gift Card. Click the slow roasted short rib pizza above to purchase, and follow #TGHGGiftCard on our Instagram accounts @MGFD_MIA, @harryspizzeria, @thecypressroom, and @mghomebrew for a treasure hunt of more genuine treats it can buy!

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Welcoming more luxury, more neighborhood. Whether you’re out for a stroll to enjoy Palm Court’s Buckminster Fuller Dome or on a mission more than mere window shopping, Michael’s elegant American dining room is open for lunch and dinner in Miami’s Design District. Click here for our lunch prix fixe menu and book by calling 305.520.5197 or emailing reservations@thcypressroom.com.

Cooking the Line: Megan Hess

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Megan working the oven station at MGFD with TGHG executive chef Bradley Herron at Brunch this past Sunday during Art Basel. Click the photo for a Hyperlapse of the action on Instagram.

It was 3:00 p.m. and another Sunday Brunch shift had blown through Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink.  As Megan and I sat in the courtyard, she was still in her “Chef Yoga” pants but off her feet for the first time since 7:00 a.m.  “Is my hair in order?” she asked, taking off her cap.  Megan had prepared and cooked countless dishes from the wood oven station, made even more numerous due to Brunch’s special small plates format.  She was the only girl on the savory line that morning, yet the classic Megan smile as big and bright as you’ll ever see was out in full force, the same after the shift as it was before.

“I love it! There are a lot of jokes! I grew up with an older brother and his friends and I am used to it.”

Being a line cook isn’t easy.  It’s a rough and tumble job, both mentally and physically, and not for the faint of heart.  Even as a strong woman, it’s not difficult to see how the prestigious title of Chef has more often been awarded to men more than women.  In this battlefield of orders, cutlery and fire, one must shed the individual – the passion that put you there – and don the team.  One must trust and be trusted otherwise it just doesn’t work.  Our Genuine team consists of talented and passionate individuals, from the host to the wood oven, and from savory to pastry, who do just that. Everyday. And Megan, well, she’s a perfect example.

“I guess it all started back in Ohio,” Megan shares.  “I first learned how to make French toast when I was 5 years old with my great grandmother. By middle school I wanted to be a pastry chef.”

In fact, her heart was so set for the culinary world, that Megan attended a technical high school where she competed in culinary competitions junior and senior year; and she wooed judges at an early age. The experience made her fall in love with the food and beverage industry. At the recommendation of her advisor at North Miami’s Johnson & Wales University where she currently studies culinary arts and food service management, Megan applied for a part-time internship at Michael’s Genuine to put her techniques into practice.  She was hired as a full-time line cook shortly after.

“Megan’s a quick learner and she doesn’t complain. She just gets the job done,” explains Daniel Ramirez who at the time of Megan’s internship was a sous chef at Michael’s Genuine. He’s now Chef de Cuisine at Harry’s Pizzeria. “I think we [Chef de Cuisine Niven Patel, Executive Pastry Chef Hedy Goldsmith, and sous-chef Jason Arroyo] were astonished that her passion and talent went hand in hand with solid execution and professionalism.  It’s a hard combination to come by especially in a young cook.”

Megan welcomed the additional responsibility. She worked hard and played hard. She was in short, genuine.  Continuing her studies full-time, she attends school from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on most weekdays, and then comes to work at 3:00 p.m. I asked, “When do you do your homework?” and she replied “Within those three hours of course.”  As a student myself juggling work, I was impressed.  “On my days off, I nap,” this 21 year old admits.

Megan is often assigned to work at the wood oven, a very challenging station, and her favorite. Why so? She shares that the challenge motivates her. She does not receive a ticket with a list of what she is to prepare. Rather, she must remember what the Chef at the expo line requested, on the fly! In addition, she can prepare the whole snapper and the whole “Poulet Rouge.” Yum!

“My favorite dish to make at MGFD is the pasta,” Megan says.  “I love the variety at the sauté station, since it changes daily, and that we make it in house, fresh.  I also enjoy working at the grill due to the tempo. Well, I can have fun at pretty much any station!”

Megan dreams of success and a family, but also to be like Niven one day. Who says you can’t have it all? In addition, she hopes  to motivate and teach students at technical schools, as she once was, to encourage them to pursue their goals. We say that girls like Megan truly make the dream team happen.

Chef at Home: Roel Alcudia’s Familia Filipino

IMG_2157“I feel like all my training and time working in professional kitchens has brought me back to where I began. It’s like I’m finally ready to be able to cook the food my great grandmother would make me.”

So if our chef de cuisine at The Cypress Room Roel Alcudia has come home at last, his is a fitting first post for our new blog series exploring the formative influences outside our restaurant kitchens that make our chefs who they are today.

Alcudia was born in 1979 in Iloilo, the heart of the Visayas region of The Philippines where milkfish from the ponds outside the city center find a place at the dinner table. Visayas forms the geographical heart of this archipelago of the South Pacific, and if it sounds Spanish you’re right on.  Settled and colonized by Spain after Ferdinand Magellan’s arrival in 1521, The Philippines today has a population of about 100 million people and is the seventh-most populated country in Asia — the 12th most populated country in the world. An additional 12 million Filipinos live overseas, comprising one of the world’s largest diasporas. So why as a cuisine does its identity so often go misunderstood – or not known period in our global dining consciousness?

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“The Filipino people are excellent chameleons,” explains Alcudia.  “It’s a culture that has existed in a firmly rooted identity crisis since colonization.  We know how to assimilate. Maybe too well.”

Alcudia grew up in a family of farmers, raising cattle, pigs and chickens and growing indigenous fruits and vegetables. The kitchen was his great grandmother Enicita Segovia’s.  She cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday for the house and the workers at the farm with whatever she could forage in the fields and whatever they might have on hand. Alcudia now credits this early experience with teaching him the importance and appreciation of the delicate balance of where our food comes from.  “We ate what we had and not what we wanted,” he reflects.

It was a lesson easily forgotten when his immediate family moved to NYC in the winter of 1992, with consumer culture at a fever pitch.  Like most middle class immigrants, achieving the American dream in the States was the end game, and it was done humbly and with hard work.  Alcudia’s dad Roque was a commercial fisherman in the Pacific Northwest and commuted to see the kids in mom Eleanor’s care as often as he could, about 4 to 6 times a year in 2 to 4 week increments.  Alcudia soon focused his attention on fine art, from rogue beginnings in graffiti.  He studied classical realism and oil painting at Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute. It wasn’t until age 21, late in the chef game, that he decided cooking was his calling.  He enrolled in the French Culinary Institute in 2002, which would set him on a path to become the chef he is today.

Alcudia’s pedigree is very New York and very classic, by the book.  Per se… Craft… Veritas… Barbuto… He found his way as a young chef in a rich layer cake of high-end restaurants, training with only the best chefs right out of the gate.  Colicchio… Jean Georges…  You’ll recognize the names of his peers from that journey, too; they form today’s supernova of culinary stars-in-the-making leading kitchens from New York City (Justin Smillie, Upland) to Los Angeles (Matt Molina, Mozza.). In May 2005 an intimate 65 seat restaurant called Veritas is where Alcudia found his first real home with chef/partner Scott Bryan as his mentor.

“Through him I learned the virtues of humility and integrity while practicing and honing the flawless technique that he implemented and demanded from his staff,” Alcudia reflects.  And when he was ready to leave, it was Bryan who led him to Jonathan Waxman and the simple, stripped down approach that would provide a necessary counterpoint to all that structure, a balance to his culinary point of view.  It’s where we ultimately found him, three plus years in as chef de cuisine, with a perfectly cooked 20 pound striped bass for Michael’s Lemon: NYC table to show for himself.  He didn’t bleep it up, as Chef likes to say.  An offer to chef The Cypress Room soon followed.  Timing was right, we had the Waxman seal of approval, and Alcudia packed up his life and moved to Miami.

“I’m starting to feel comfortable as a chef,” Alcudia explains.  “My approach is unique. I don’t really have a point of reference. It’s kind of how I feel on a given day. The food can kind of switch from French to Italian to Spanish in like a second.”

On my visit, it was all about home, and Alcudia chose three dishes to make reflective of his native culture and food he’d eat at as a young boy. Each dish is simple enough for the home cook to make at home without an exact recipe. We shopped on 163rd street at the Asian Market conveniently positioned on Chinatown row across from King Palace BBQ, a Cantonese style haunt he frequents for the best kind of day or night off comfort food with sous chef Mike Beltran.  You can shop there too and maybe stop in next door for some post-marketing lotus root with king mushroom (a personal favorite!)  Practice will make the dishes below perfect, or, even better, will make them your own.

Lumpia: Crispy spring rolls made with shrimp and pork, wrapped in wonton sheets, fried until golden and served with sweet chili sauce which he prefers store bought (“It’s just like making your own ketchup. It always ends up tasting like BBQ sauce…”)  You want a 2 : 1 shrimp : pork ratio.  This is aggressively minced with carrot, onion and garlic and seasoned with salt and pepper.  Working with one sheet at a time, separate a wonton wrapper from its stack and lay on a clean work surface.  Paint the two edges meeting at a right angle away from you and form a long baton of filling about two inches from you. Don’t overfill your wonton wrappers. Begin rolling and folding in the edges like a tiny burrito. Roll to seal and set aside one by one on a plate.  Heat vegetable oil for frying – you’ll know it’s ready when bubbles form around the handle of a wooden spoon – and work in batches of four until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels and serve each sliced in two pieces diagonally.  If you are entertaining, make it pretty with a garnish of cilantro and scallion cut on the bias.

Carne Frita: Marinated boneless beef chuck often served over rice (Alcudia prefers an heirloom variety of Japanese style rice called Kokuho Rose) and eaten for breakfast.  Slice the beef and 2 medium white onions as directed below and marinate for at least 2 hours with 2 cloves of roughly chopped garlic, the juice of 1 orange, 2 lemons and 1 lime, and 1/2 cup of soy sauce.  Stir fry over medium high heat with some oil in a cast iron skillet or dutch oven.

Grilled Chicken Soup: This is decadence exemplified and my favorite dish of the bunch.  But you might ask, why grill a chicken just to put it into soup? Alcudia’s dad, credited with this dish born perhaps from a drunken stupor, might respond why not?  Soup is a special dish and the grilling of the bird before stewing is a way to build flavor without hours of cooking.  All you need is one 2-3 pound chicken (Alcudia likes the young organic one from Publix’s Greenwise line,) 2 medium white onions, halved, 4 Roma (plum) tomatoes, and a small handful of serrano chilies.  Cook over properly stoked and preheated charcoal grill until done, pulling off the tomatoes and peppers first, followed by the onions and then the chicken. Not cooking the chicken through until done will result in a stringy final product in the soup.

Once the grilling is complete, take a couple of cloves of garlic, a thumb of ginger and a stalk or two of lemongrass, mince them and then grind with a mortar and pestle. In a dutch oven over medium high heat, add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and the aromatics. Roughly chop your grilled ingredients and add them to the pot. Add 2 cans of coconut milk and 1 can of water.  Simmer uncovered for 1 hour, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.  I can picture the little ragamuffin now, the wild child of the family kicking up storm clouds in his path as he raced down the dirt road home from school to eat piping hot bowls of Dad’s fragrant soup. We prefer to savor with some ice cold San Miguel or even a Michelita with spicy salt rim… if you’re not the one responsible for cooking!  Think of it as the Margarita’s answer to the Michelada (Mexican beer with Clamato, lime and chili-spiced rim.)  Home at last!