Wolfgang Puck’s California-Style Cuisine

By Susan Hallett, Epoch Times Contributor

A few years ago I met Wolfgang Puck aboard a cruise ship on a Panama Canal transit. I attended his shipboard cooking classes and found his enthusiasm for cooking and lively, non-stop patter both entertaining and informative. This Austrian-born American celebrity chef has changed the way we eat.

Puck’s fame and that of the several Spago restaurants he helped create is far-flung, extending the reach of California cuisine to the four corners of the world. The following are some of the recipes he shared with me.

Wolfgang Puck’s Fettucine Alfredo

Makes 4 servings

• 500 g (1 lb) egg noodles
• 125 g (1/4 lb) cooked ham, cut in strips
• 125 g (1/4 lb) cooked chicken or turkey, cut in strips
• 60 g (2 oz) butter
• 4 egg yolks
• 250 ml (1/2 pint) half and half cream
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 120 g (4 oz) freshly grated cheese (Parmigiano or Romano)

Cook noodles in salted boiling water for 12 minutes. Drain and set aside. In a skillet, sauté the ham and chicken lightly in butter—just to brown it. Beat egg yolks into the cream and set aside. Add the noodles to the ham and chicken in the skillet and mix. Make sure the pan is not too hot. Add the cream and egg yolks. Mix lightly, then add the salt and freshly ground black pepper. Finish by sprinkling Parmigiano cheese on top. Mix and serve at once.

Wolfgang Puck’s Watercress Salad with Barbecued Chicken Breast

Makes 6 servings

• 6 chicken breasts (small)
• 15 blanched garlic cloves
• 50 ml (1/4 cup) fresh Italian parsley leaves
• Salt and freshly ground pepper
• 3 bunches of watercress or 4 heads of lettuce (raddichio or romaine)
• 250 g (1/2 lb) of wild mushrooms (or oyster mushrooms or chanterelles)
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
• 40 ml (3 tbsp) olive oil
• Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Slice the garlic and place with the Italian parsley underneath the chicken skin. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper, and brush with olive oil. Heat the barbecue. Put a bit of olive oil on each side of the chicken and place with skin side down on the grill. Cook for about 6 minutes on each side.

Wash and dry the watercress (remove large stems); if using romaine, cut it in slices. Put watercress or romaine in a salad bowl and add the vinaigrette.

Saute the mushrooms in a skillet with 15 ml (1 tbsp) olive oil (and a few shallots if you have them). Add salt and pepper. Mix the salad and place on individual plates; arrange the mushrooms around the salad. Slice each chicken breast into 6 slices and place on top of the salad.

Note: Salad should be cold and the chicken breast hot.

Mustard Vinaigrette

• 10 ml (2 tsp) Dijon mustard
• 10 ml (2 tsp) minced fresh tarragon (or whichever herb you prefer)
• 25 ml (2 tbsp) good-quality sherry wine vinegar or wine vinegar
• 2 egg yolks (or instead of eggs, use more vinegar)
• 1 ml (1/4 tsp) salt
• Large pinch of freshly ground black pepper
• 500 ml (2 cups) salad oil, such as almond or safflower

Using a wire whisk, combine all the ingredients except the oil. Slowly, in a steady stream, add the oil, continuing to whisk all the while.

Olive and walnut oils have very distinctive flavours; some people like them, others don’t. By using a neutral-tasting oil you will please everybody.

Susan Hallett is an award-winning writer and editor who has written for The Beaver, The Globe & Mail, Wine Tidings, and Doctor’s Review, among others. She is currently the European editor of Taste & Travel International. Email: hallett_susan@hotmail.com