Executive Chef James Carpenter knows how to please discerning palettes. Before creating the Scandinavian-themed menu at the Maidstone’s The Living Room, he lent his finely tuned skills to Hampton’s celebrity favorites Della Femina and The American Hotel..
Chef Carpenter is a firm believer in cooking with the bounty of the seasons. He is a pioneer of the slow food movement and passionate about using fresh local ingredients. He recently shared some home cooking advice, his gravlax recipe and why Wild Alaskan Salmon is the perfect secret ingredient on “Iron Chef.”.
Karen Jones: What secrets can you share for preparing a 4-star meal at home?
James Carpenter: Home cooks tend to think complicated techniques are necessary for a tasty meal but the less you do the better. Go to your local farmers market and once you get everything you need, do not do too much with your fresh ingredients. Also people have a misconception that certain items, like gravlax (cured salmon) are too difficult to make at home. Not so. Curing is just adding sugar and salt to your fish and letting it sit for a day.
Here’s my simple recipe for gravlax.
- Mix together 2 cups of salt, 2 1/2 cups of sugar, some sprigs of fresh dill and 1/4 cup of lemon pepper.
- Pack this mixture all over 1 side of a very fresh 3 lb salmon.
- Cover with plastic wrap and weight it down with another pan on top. Let it sit for 36 hours, rinse it off and you are good to go.
KJ: What’s your signature dish for 2012?
JC: Our Swedish Smorgasbord with homemade gravlax, herring, shrimp skagen, gubbrora and grain mustard. It’s our version of the Swedish PuPu platter and people really enjoy it. It is not an item you will find anywhere else in the Hamptons.
KJ: If you were stranded on a desert island what three ingredients would you want with you?
JC: Good olive oil is a must–it will help anything you cook on the island. Next is Vasterbotten, a pasteurized Swedish cheese which is a cross between aged cheddar and parmesan. Last, a good case of California chardonnay. Who has cheese without wine? I might as well enjoy myself on the island!
KJ: If you were doing battle in Kitchen Stadium (Iron Chef) what would be your secret ingredient of choice?
JC: Wild Alaskan Salmon because it is so versatile. You can eat it raw as tartare, cure it for gravlax, smoke it, sear it or process for a salmon mousse-and the list goes on and on.
For more information on Chef James Carpenter and The Living Room visit www.careofhotels.com