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Vegetable Napoleon

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Straightforward flavors and traditional techniques are culinary keynotes for Michael Smith and Debbie Gold, the husband and wife chef team at Kansas City, MO's The American Restaurant. Cottonseed oil is used in many of their dishes to fine-tune flavors and to fry in a medium that doesn't over-saturate.

As a leading example of America's regional cuisine movement, The American Restaurant in Kansas City, MO, is once again in the flattering glare of the gastronomic spotlight, this time for a slate of stylish sustenance that recognizes few regional or even national boundaries. Credit for this culinary renaissance is largely due to a husband and wife chef team, Michael Smith and Debbie Gold.

Although they prefer not to give a name to their culinary style, which has been variously described as "American nouveau," "world cuisine" and "classic contemporary," Smith and Gold credit their devotion to classical French technique and taste sensibilities plus their open-mindedness with the rest of the world's food traditions as their creative base. While they are passionate about authenticity in their presentations, they praise simplicity as the most important aspect. Cottonseed oil is extremely useful, claim the chefs, because it doesn't add unwanted dimensions to the recipes.

"Simple things work better than tortured creativity," maintains Smith. "We want flavors to be pronounced and clean. Cottonseed oil is a big help in that regard."

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Vegetable Napoleon
Yeild: 1 serving
  • 24 long, thin slices of potatoes
  • Cottonseed oil, for frying, + 1 Tbsp.
  • 1 cup fresh peas
  • 6 plum tomatoes, sliced lengthwise
  • 5 artichoke hearts, sliced, leaves trimmed, chokes removed
  • 2 bunches spinach
  • 1/2 cup assorted fresh herbs
  • 2 cups Mushroom Broth*
  1. Season all vegetables. Fry potatoes in cottonseed oil until crisp; cook the peas; grill the tomatoes; sauté the artichokes and the spinach in 1 Tbsp. cottonseed oil.
  2. Layer vegetables and potatoes until all are used. There will be 3 layers of 2 potatoes side by side and 2 layers of assorted vegetables.
  3. Garnish with assorted herbs and serve with mushroom broth as sauce.
*Mushroom Broth: Combine 2 cups chopped field mushrooms, 1/2 cup diced Spanish onion, 1 clove chopped garlic, 1 prig fresh thyme, and 1 tsp. black peppercorns in a heavy saucepan and sweat vegetables until trunslucent. Add 1/4 cup white wine and simmer until evaporated. Add 5 cups water; continue to simmer for 30 minutes. Press broth through a strainer; discard the vegetables.

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