Johnny Vinczencz is a Broward star these days. His Johnny V and Smith and Jones restaurants (respectively established 2003 and 2008) both dish the chefs' robust American cuisine from behind glossy storefronts on E. Las Olas Boulevard. But it was in 1995, at the Astor Place hotel on Miami Beach, that Mr. V first burst onto the scene with innovative takes on familiar comfort foods. Thankfully the old goat hasn't lost a step -- speaking of which, try to use a good quality goat cheese when preparing this unbeatable beet salad.
Pepitas Crusted Goat Cheese Cake with Roasted Beets, Baby Greens, Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette & Caramelized Shallot Relish
Executive chef/owner: Johnny Vinczencz
- 1 medium red beet
- 1 medium yellow beet
- 4 oz. shelled green pumpkin seeds
- 3 shallots
- 5 oz. goat cheese
- 3 oz. fig or high quality basalmic
- 3 oz. Mesclun mix or assorted baby greens
- 7 oz. vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 5 oz. half and half
- 1 bunch rosemary
- 1 bunch thyme
- 1 bunch basil
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 oz. vinegar
- Salt and pepper
Clean and finely chop the rosemary basil and thyme. Wash the beets and coat with 3 oz. of the vegetable oil. Place in a roasting pan, cover with tin foil and in a 350 degree oven until soft to the touch. Cool to room temperature. Peel beets and slice as thin as possible while still maintaining round shape. Place red and yellow beets in separate bowls, add 1 ounce vegetable oil and ounce of vinegar, a teaspoon of chopped herbs, salt and pepper to each bowl. Allow to marinate until service.
Whip eggs and add half and half to make an egg wash. Add salt pepper and 2 tsp. of the chopped herbs to goat cheese. Shape into two round discs and chill. Rough chop pumpkin seeds in a cusinart and set aside. Coat the goat cheese cakes first in flour then into egg wash and finally coating completely in chopped pumpkin seeds, making sure to cover evenly and completely. In a sauté pan, bring vegetable oil to high heat and brown goat cheese cakes on both sides evenly. Set aside.
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Dice shallots as small as possible. In a heavy bottom pan bring about 2 ounces vegetable oil to high heat, add shallots and stir, allowing to cook until caramelized. Add 1 tsp. chopped herbs and 1 ounce balsamic, salt and pepper. Remove from heat and chill for assembly.
Place greens in a steel bowl. In a separate bowl, add remaining 1 ounce of vinegar, 1 ounce vegetable oil, salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons chopped herbs. Wisk together. Add baby greens and toss. Alternate beets in a circular fashion in the middle of a plate; repeat. Place greens in a mound in the center of the beets. Warm the goat cheese cake in a 350 oven for 5 minutes then place on top of lettuce. Top with the caramelized shallot relish and garnish with herbs and crackers or crostini of your choice.