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Dulce de Leche Layer Cake
The version of Dominican cake that Scott Conant's friends introduced him to was a white cake layered with dulce de leche filling and frosted with a very sweet meringue. In his adaptation, Conant (along with his pastry chef Gerry Minos) lightens up on the sugar in the meringue and adds a nutty liqueur to the filling and frosting, giving it an Italian flavor.
Honey-and-Lemon-Glazed Roast Chicken
"I'm crazy for chicken," Piero Incisa della Rocchetta says. "I regularly eat a whole one by myself." Inspired by beautifully browned Peking duck, he brushes chickens with a mixture of soy sauce and honey from the beehives in his Patagonia vineyards.
Spaghetti with Bottarga and Almond Bread Crumbs
When Piero traveled to the Italian island of Pantelleria, he discovered pasta and capers topped with crushed toasted almonds and bread crumbs. "I thought the almond bread crumbs would be really cool to add to a bottarga dish," he says. Bottarga is cured roe from either mullet or tuna.
Crisp Asian Salmon with Bok Choy and Rice Noodles
Patrick Dunlea was booted off Top Chef Season 5's first episode because his salmon and bok choy were lackluster and his black-rice noodles were mushy. Gail Simmons amps up the broth with soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ginger and garlic and uses white-rice noodles instead of black (they're easier to find), cooked briefly to keep their texture firm.
Sizzling Shrimp Scampi
Scampi refers to shrimp that are split, brushed with garlicky butter and broiled. The recipe here calls for flavoring butter with lemon, garlic, parsley and thyme, then dotting it liberally on shrimp and roasting the shellfish until it sizzles.
Milk-Chocolate Pots de Crème
Pot de crème ("pot of cream") is a traditional French custard typically served in a pot-shaped cup. This milk-chocolate version from pastry chef Frank Urso is supersilky and dense.
The Breslin’s Ricotta Pancakes with Orange Syrup
Guests at Ace Hotel can order April Bloomfield's pancakes in their rooms or at her restaurant, The Breslin. While the pancakes are delicious on their own, they're exquisite with the soft ricotta topping, crunchy sliced almonds and ingeniously vibrant (and neon-bright) orange syrup.
Pecan-Praline Cheesecake with Caramel Sauce
You can use store-bought pralines to make the crust for this fluffy cheesecake, but Big Sugar's quick praline recipe is worth the extra effort, as is the buttery caramel sauce that gets pooled on top.
Chicken, Wild Mushroom and Roasted-Garlic Sauté
Marcia Kiesel, a self-described mushroom freak, uses porcini to make her delicious, earthy chicken thigh sauté with roasted garlic cloves. She finishes the dish with a sprinkle of chopped tarragon, which adds a light, herbal sweetness.
Andouille, Crab and Oyster Gumbo
"Deep in the Louisiana bayou, Cajuns still live off the land—trapping, shrimping, crabbing and hunting," says Andrew Zimmern. "Cooks make gumbo with nutria, a giant, water-dwelling rodent. It's a dish of need, not want. I learned my gumbo techniques from a trapper's wife, but I use oysters and crab; no rodent required."
Crispy Corn Tortillas with Chicken and Cheddar
For these flautas, tortillas are rolled around a savory filling and pan-fried until crisp.
Cornish Hen Stew with Lemongrass and Chiles
Served in the rustic northern-Thai style with the aromatics left in, this spicy, gingery stew makes a fantastic main course or starter. It's also believed to boost energy. For an even healthier version, remove the skin from the Cornish hens before searing.
Mussel and Chorizo Soup
At Steve Corry's Five Fifty-Five in Portland, Maine, mussels from nearby Bangs Island are almost always on the menu. "People freak out if they're not there," says Corry, who often steams the mollusks in white wine and lemon juice scented with pickled cherry peppers and garlic. For this Mediterranean-inspired soup, however, Corry serves the mussels in a brothy liquid with plenty of chorizo.
Grilled Gruyère and Sweet Onion Sandwiches
F&W's Grace Parisi reinvents the classic grilled cheese.
Fruity, pale-yellow güero peppers—just like Hungarian wax peppers—are a great source of vitamin C, folate and manganese. They're perfect for stuffing because "they have a little chile personality without being too hot," Deborah Schneider says.