This past week, I had the pleasure of photographing the September event hosted by Fresh Starts Chef Events, a project to support Homeward Bound of Marin, a homeless shelter in Marin County, California, providing food, shelter and job training for those in need. This month’s event featured Food and Jazz with Chef David Lawrence of 1300 on Fillmore in San Francisco. Chef David Lawrence is a favorite at Fresh Starts Chef Events and describes himself as English-born with Jamaican roots combined with French training and inspiration from the southern quarter of the US. He has worked at Le Gavroche in London and 231 Ellsworth in San Mateo before opening up his restaurant with his wife, Monetta, in 2007.
Chef Lawrence’s menu for the evening began with Grilled Red Stark Crimson Pears with House Cured Duck Pastrami, Sonoma Goat Cheese and Honey-Pomegranate Vinaigrette.
This starter was a favorite of mine, as I’m a big-time salad girl (my dish of choice to share whenever we have a get-together with family or friends — if you invite me, you’ll almost always get a salad to come with!) The duck pastrami was made with cured duck breasts, and the saltiness of the duck combined with the sweetness of the pear, the tang of the pomegranate vinaigrette and the bitterness of the greens was a knockout!
The main dish of the evening was Pan-Roasted Bronzino Bass, Roasted Celeriac, Anise-Cherry Tomato Broth and Butter Beans.
Chef Lawrence made a delicious tomato bean sauce to accompany the fish. I’d love to try that instead of rice or pasta with my proteins (trying to reduce my carb intake). He included roasted sunchokes, otherwise known as jerusalem artichokes, to the dish. I’m not sure if I’ve ever tried them before, but they added a nice texture to the soft beans. Chef Lawrence shared that he uses a cloth and salt to not only clean the sunchokes, but also to impart flavour.
The bronzino bass was pan-roasted until the skin became crisped to a light golden brown. Chef Lawrence provided insider chef and restaurant tips, like cutting slits into the fish so that the it doesn’t curl while cooking, and pressing down on the fish to encourage browning, as well as shaking the pan so that the delicate fish doesn’t stick.
Here is a peek at how it was prepared in the kitchen by the students. The beans are plated first…
…followed by the fish,
a sprinkle of micro greens,
and the addition of a few roasted sunchokes.
The plates are then skillfully carried out by the waiters to a hungry crowd.
Pictured below is Chef Lawrence’s finished dish, which he normally prepares to be shared — love that! What better way to eat than together with someone you love!
I was already stuffed, but of course I had a little room left for Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust!
Chef Lawrence said he usually makes this cheesecake at the restaurant with goat cheese instead of cream cheese — I’d love to try that! Look at that cream cheese — two whole pounds!
A water bath was prepared for the cheesecake, and a piece of parchment paper was pressed on top so that a skin would not form on the cheesecake.
This was reeeealllly good, and the gingersnap crust paired perfectly with the pumpkin! Chef Lawrence shared wonderful stories of how he and his brother used to experiment with Sara Lee boxed cheesecake as kids and eat two entire cheesecakes by themselves under the table every Saturday! I’d love to have been part of their family — yum!
Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust Recipe
Makes a 9-inch pie
For the crust:
About 40 gingersnap wafers (to yield 2 cups cookie crumbs)
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 1/2 ounces (5 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
2 lb. (four 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon table salt
4 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
One 15-ounce can pure solid-pack pumpkin
For the crust:
1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350F.
2. Pulse the cookies and brown sugar in a food processor until well combined, and crumbs are uniform.
3. Transfer to a medium bowl; add the melted butter. Combine thoroughly, first with a spoon and then with your fingers, until the mixture is evenly moist, crumbly and holds together whey you squeeze a handful.
4. Press the mixture evenly over bottom and partly up sides of 9-inch springform pan. Chill for 5 minutes, and then bake for 10 minutes. Let cool.
For the filling:
1. Heat a kettle of water.
2. Beat cream cheese until smooth.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg and salt.
4. Add this mixture to cream cheese. Beat until well blended, scraping down sides and bottom of bowl as needed.
5. Add the eggs and yolks one at a time, making sure each is thoroughly incorporated before adding the next, scraping down bowl after each. Blend in vanilla and pumpkin.
For the pie:
1. Scrape the batter into cooled crust. The batter will come up past the crust and will fill the pan to rim. Tap pan gently on counter to release air bubbles.
2. Set pan in larger baking dish and add enough hot water from kettle to come halfway up side of pan. Bake until top of cake looks deep golden and center is se t(barely begins to crack) about 1 hour 35 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes. Cake will jiggle a bit when tapped and top may rise a bit, but will settle as it cools.
3. Remove cheesecake from oven and run thin-bladed knife between crust and pan sides. Let cheesecake cool to room temperature in pan on wire rack.