Longevity and New York restaurants are notoriously poor bedfellows. Surviving here requires daily attention to your food, your service, your atmosphere. Tribeca bistro Capsouto Frères is one place that’s beaten the odds by staying inspired, long enough to have a thirty-year anniversary in the offing. The eponymous Capsouto brothers are Egyptian born, of a Turkish Jewish family. The Suez Crisis in the fifties sent them packing for Lyon, France. Their sojourn there exposed them to classic French cooking, which can be found all across their menu. Legendary soufflés are bookended by soups and desserts, two of which Capsouto Frères was kind enough to pass along to us. Neither of these dishes requires special equipment or fancy kitchen skills, but serve them at a dinner party and your guests will think you’re fresh out of culinary school.
Butternut Squash Soup ¾ oz ginger root, minced 12 fluid oz white wine 1 fluid oz vegetable oil 6 oz onion, medium diced 1 celery head, sliced 1 tbs chopped garlic clove 2 lbs cooked butternut squash 2 quarts chicken stock 8 fluid oz heavy cream 1 tsp salt, to taste ½ tsp white pepper, to taste
In a large pot, heat ginger and wine until nearly to a boil. Remove from heat; steep until cooled to room temperature. Strain and reserve wine. In the pot, heat oil to medium; add onion, celery, and garlic, and cook until soft. Peel, seed, and dice the squash. Add the squash to the pot, along with reserved wine and chicken stock. Simmer for about an hour over low heat until the vegetables are tender. Purée and strain through a medium chinois, if desired. Add heavy cream, and return the soup to just below a simmer. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Yields 4 quarts, or about 16 servings.
Tarte Tatin 24 red delicious apples, medium size 8 oz butter (one-half pound), sliced 2 cups sugar 11” round of puff pastry (1/8” thick) or phyllo dough Whipped cream, ice cream, or crème fraiche (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350˚. Trim, peel, core, and cut in half the apples. In an 11” sauté pan (with ovenproof handles and 2” high sides), place butter to cover bottom of pan. Spread sugar evenly over butter. Place apples on their side in a circular pattern around edge of pan. Place more apples in reverse pattern as next inner concentric circle. Place one or two apples in center and remaining apples on top.
Put pan on stove over low heat. As the apples cook and shrink, insert the ones that are on top. Continue until all of the apples are inserted. Occasionally shake the pan to keep the apples from sticking. Raise the heat and continue cooking until liquid begins to reduce and brown.
Place the pan in oven until apples begin to brown and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 12 minutes. Cover with the pastry and poke holes to allow steam to escape. Continue cooking until pastry has browned, about 12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.
For best results in unmolding, let cool overnight in refrigerator. To unmold, place on top of stove over medium heat and run a blunt knife around the edge. Start shaking the pan and keep over heat until the whole tarte moves freely. If desired, warm the tarte in the oven. Top with whipped cream, ice cream, or crème fraiche. Serves 8-10.
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