Chef Colby Garrelts named finalist for Best Chef: Midwest by the James Beard Foundation

Chef Colby Garrelts is a finalist for the James Beard Foundation's Best Chef: Midwest for 2013. Garrelts is the owner and chef of two Kansas City area restaurants, Bluestem and Rye. Garrelts will attend the awards ceremony in New York City on May 6.

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Fava bean, asparagus, whipped chèvre and blis elixir

2 cups fava beans
8 asparagus stalks, trimmed, peeled, sliced into ¼-inch pieces (about the same size as the fava beans)
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon Champagne Vinaigrette*
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 ounces chèvre
1 teaspoon Blis Elixir or you can also use saba or reduced balsamic vinegar
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarsely ground black pepper, for serving

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a rolling boil. While the water is heating, prepare an ice bath. Blanch the fava beans in the boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain. Blanch the asparagus in the boiling water for 1 minute (see the User Manual, page xxiv). Drain. Hull the fava beans by popping the "cap" off the bean by either pinching or pushing it back with your thumbnail (you will see a dark mark on one end of the bean). Gently, with the tips of your forefinger and thumb, squeeze the bean from the other end. The silky halves of the bean should slip out of the hull. If the bean does not come out separated, gently split it with your fingers.
In a small bowl, toss together the fava beans, asparagus, and vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper to taste. The mixture can be made 1 day ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and chèvre on medium speed, scraping down the bowl once, until the cheeses become light and fluffy. Scrape the bowl once more and season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix for an additional 30 seconds to incorporate the seasoning. Transfer the cheese to a bowl, cover, and keep chilled until you are ready to use. The cheese mixture can be made 1 day ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.

To serve, divide the whipped chèvre equally among 4 plates by spooning it into a neat, circular mound in the center of each plate. Using the back of the spoon, dent the middle of the mound to form a crater deep enough to hold at least 1½ teaspoons of liquid. Pour ¼ teaspoon of the Blis Elixir into the crater, followed by 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Divide and arrange the dressed favas and asparagus around the cheese mixture, banking them against the cheese in a ring. Season the plate with coarsely ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

Champagne Vinaigrette

1 cup Champagne vinegar
¹∕3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
¹∕3 cup honey

Combine all of the ingredients in a nonreactive bowl, adding the honey last to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the bowl. Whisk vigorously until combined. Tightly sealed, the vinaigrette will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. Before using the vinaigrette in a recipe, bring the vinaigrette back to room temperature and rewhisk to combine.

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