Spring / Summer 2012


Spring Fling

A Love Affair with Seasonal Ingredients

By Jacquelynn D. Powers

Spring is here—and with it comes a bounty of tender, fresh produce. Think peas, asparagus, squash blossoms, yellow peppers, morel mushrooms, ruby-red grapefruit and luscious strawberries. Las Vegas’ celebrated chefs are using this treasure trove of seasonal crops in creative dishes; and with the freshest ingredients, the flavors literally burst off the plate. This is the tastiest time of the year to dine.

Chef François Payard / Payard Pâtisserie & Bistro

Caesars Palace

The Dish: Strawberry Cheesecake Napoleon

“Strawberries are one of our most popular items to use in spring, as well as summer, because that is when they are at their best,” says Payard. “The strawberry cheesecake napoleon is a great combination of a seasonal fruit with a smooth cheesecake and flaky layers of puff pastry.”

 


Photo courtesy of Chef Wolfgang Puck/Spago

Chef Wolfgang Puck / Spago

The Forum Shops at Caesars

The Dish: Asparagus with Brown Butter Breadcrumbs

“My favorite vegetable is asparagus—both the large green variety and the white ones, which we import from Austria,” says Puck. “They’re so versatile for soups and salads, or just simply to serve warm or cold. Nothing says spring quite like the first harvest of asparagus, and I love this classic Austrian-style dish because it’s so easy to make. I blanch the asparagus for a few minutes in boiling water, then immediately transfer the spears to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. This is a great technique for bringing out the bright colors of any vegetable and bringing both the taste and texture close to the peak before the final few moments of cooking.”

 


Chef Mathieu Chartron / Restaurant
Guy Savoy

Caesars Palace

The Dish: Peas All Around

“This dish is a perfect start to the meal. It’s light and you can taste the peas under many different textures,” explains Chartron. “It’s a refreshing dish for springtime. With the coming of spring, it’s time to use green vegetables. I like using morels and asparagus for the spring season. And it’s best to keep dishes light and simple.”

 


Photo courtesy of Chef Paul Del Favero/Mesa Grill

Chef Paul Del Favero / Mesa Grill

Caesars Palace

The Dish: Fried Squash Blossoms with Ricotta, Roasted Corn, and Sweet and Hot Yellow Pepper Sauce

“When squash blossoms are in season, this dish is a must-make because the squash blossom is a sign of spring,” says Del Favero. “Pretty simple but completely impressive, it’s a play on an Italian classic. The roasted corn and the yellow-pepper sauce give the blossoms a Southwestern kick. We keep the batter thin—you want it translucent so that you can see the veins of the delicate squash blossoms.”

 


Photo courtesy of Chef Michael Wolf/Serendipity 3

Chef Michael Wolf / Serendipity 3

Caesars Palace

The Dish: Crab-Cake Salad

“Our crab-cake salad shows off the quality of the crab itself. There is no filler and hardly any binder, just luscious lump crab,” Wolf says. “The jumbo lump crab literally comes apart on your fork with each bite. The salad shows off the lush red color of Texas ruby-red grapefruit at its seasonal peak. The classic herb vinaigrette is made with the spring season’s freshest herbs. All together, the sweetness of the crab and early season yellow corn combined with the tanginess of freshly harvested frisée and mâche make this the perfect spring salad.”