A Food Fanatic’s Handbook

On a trip to Iron Horse Vineyard in California’s Sonoma County with Mansion executive chef Dean Fearing to research a wine and food dinner, I began to understand the nature of Fearing’s dedication to his calling. His enthusiasm was obvious-and exhausting. After staying up till all hours sampling Iron Horse’s varied vinous wonders (one of which, the ’84 brut sparkling wine, is now being produced as the Mansion on Turtle Creek Cuvée for the restaurant’s exclusive use), the next morning, Dean would be up and at ’em, while I was crying for mercy. Our tour of Sonoma’s natural resources included visits with mushroom cultivator Malcolm Clark, cheese maker Laura Chenel, Wine Country Cuisine proprietors Greg Nilson and Carol Klesow, and steelhead salmon farmer Roy Gordon.

It was, in fact, while standing around in the subarctic winds that whipped around the salmon farm that I realized I was in the presence of a mad genius. Because of the cold, I had lost all facial sensation. I was also in the wild-animal phase of hunger (it was two gnawing hours past lunchtime). The salmon were very nice, but I was ready to get the hell out of Dodge and to seek out a seat in a warm restaurant.

We had already been given the grand tour of the operation, and we had been outside for something like an hour. Dean, however, couldn’t stop asking questions about the salmon: how they lived, how they died, how they tasted, how they might best be prepared. I was ready to kill him, but I have no doubt that as a result of that freezing interlude, he is now an expert in farm-raised salmon preparation.

Now there is a cookbook to transmit Fear-ing’s feverish obsession. The Mansion on Turtle Creek Cookbook (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, $24.95) is currently available at Neiman-Marcus and will be in bookstores on December 1. The book will serve as a keep-sake for anyone who has ever partaken of the Mansion’s gastronomic splendors, and an inspiration to those of us who are less possessed by the art and science of the kitchen than Dean Fearing.


Serves 8 to 10

3 tablespoons corn oil

4 corn tortillas, coarsely chopped

6 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh epazote (or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro)

1cup fresh onion puree

2 cups fresh tomato puree

1 tablespoon cumin powder

2 teaspoons chili powder

2 bay leaves

4 tablespoons canned tomato purée

2 quarts chicken stock

Salt to taste

Cayenne pepper to taste

1 cooked chicken breast, cut into strips

1 avocado, peeled, seeded, and cubed

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

3 corn tortillas, cut into thin strips and fried crisp

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté tortillas with garlic and epazote over medium heat until tortillas are soft. Add onion and fresh tomato puree and bring to a boil. Add cumin, chili powder, bay leaves, canned tomato punrée, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil again; reduce heat to simmer. Add salt and cayenne pepper to taste and cook, stirring frequently, for thirty minutes. Skim fiat from surface, if necessary.

Strain and pour into warm soup bowls. Garnish each bowl with an equal portion of chicken breast, avocado, shredded cheese, and crisp tortilla strips. Serve immediately.


Serves 6

6 extra-large egg yolks

1 1/4 cups sugar

3 cups heavy cream

1 vanilla bean, split

1 cup raspberries

Puff Pastry

Raspberry Sauce

Combine egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar in the top half of a double boiler over very hot water. Whisk (or beat with a hand mixer) until lemon-colored and the consistency of mousse. Remove from heat and set aside.

Place cream and vanilla bean in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Strain through a fine sieve. Slowly pour into egg yolks, whisking rapidly as you pour.

Return double boiler to heat and cook, stirring constantly, for about ten minutes or until mixture is quite thick. Remove top half of double boiler and place in a bowl of ice. Stir occasionally until mixture reaches the consistency of a very thick custard.

Spread a single layer of fresh raspberries over the bottom of six baked Puff Pastry shells. Pour cooled créme over raspberries to top of shells. Refrigerate for at least three hours. When chilled, sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar over each filled shell and place about 6 inches away from broiler flame for about 3 minutes or until sugar caramelizes. Do not overcook or créme will melt!

Immediately remove from heat. Pour Raspberry Sauce over the bottom of each of six dessert plates. Place a Créme Brulée in the center and serve immediately.


Makes about 1 pound puff pastry

2 cups all-purpose flour

Pinch of salt

1 cup unsalted butter

1/2 cup ice water, approximately

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Combine flour, salt, and 3 tablespoons butter. Cut butter into flour using a pastry cutter or food processor.

Combine water and lemon juice. Add to flour, mixing to form a pliable dough. Knead by hand for two to three minutes or process in a food processor until dough forms a ball.

Roll dough on a ligltly floured, chilled surface, preferably a marble slab. Surface must be chilled. Roll dough to an 8- by 12-inch rectangle, Place pastry with short side facing you. Remaining butter should be cool but malleable. Place butter in center of rectangle and fold the near third of pastry toward the center. Repeat with the far third of pastry to form three layers. Press edges of pastry lightly with a rolling pin to seal. Give pastry a quarter turn and roll again into a rectangle; fold and seal as before. Be careful that butter does not break through during rolling. If it does, immediately dust lightly with flour and roll again. Wrap and chill at least fifteen minutes.

Repeat rolling, folding, and chilling five more times, chilling thirty minutes each time. Chill one hour after final rolling.

Preheat oven to 350°.

When pastry is well chilled, roll out as thin as possible on a lightly floured, chilled surface. Cut out six 6-inch rounds. Line the ungreased cups of a Texas-size muffin pan (3 1/2 inches by 1 1/2 inches) with the rounds, pressing pastry evenly into cups and trimming edges. Line with a! small coffee filter or parchment paper and fill to the top with dried beans (or commercial pastry weights).

Place in preheated 350 oven and bake for twenty to thirty minutes or until pastry is crisp and golden. Remove beans (or weights) and filter (or paper) and allow shells to cool to room temperature.


I cup fresh raspberries

1/4 cup simple syrup

Purée raspberries in a blender or food processor. When smooth, strain through an extra-fine sieve to remove all seeds. Stir simple syrup into raspberry puree until well blended.


Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup water

Combine sugar and water in a small,heavy saucepan over hign heat. Bring to aboil and boil, stirring constantly, for aboutthree minutes or until sugar is dissolved.Remove from heat and cool.


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