130 recipes that redefine the way we think about flavour. Visually stunning and conceptually fresh, this is the cookbook of the season from Josef Centeno, the chef credited with capturing the myriad tastes of Los Angeles on the plate. Recipes span from simple to show stopping, exploring sauces, soups, mains, salads, and desserts, too. More than 130 vivid photographs convey the beauty and excitement of Chef Centeno’s extraordinary cooking. Josef Centeno is the chef and owner of Bâco Mercat, Bar Amá, Orsa & Winston, Ledlow, and P.Y.T. In Bäco, he draws on his multicultural heritage, formal training in top-notch restaurants such as Manresa and Daniel, a lifelong obsession with cookbooks, and his insatiable curiosity. Centeno’s cooking layers textures and explores how spices and sauces can be used to transform the most basic vegetables.
The following recipe is from Bäco by Josef Centeno and Betty Hallock, photographs by Dylan James Ho
Sautéed peaches and shishito peppers
with goat cheese, cashews, and saffron honey
Peaches and shishito peppers seem an unlikely combination. But the ripe, oral fruit and the mildly peppery Japanese chile both peak in summer and are oddly great together—a little sweet with a little spice. They also make for an interesting textural contrast: one yielding and juicy and the other slightly crunchy. It’s easy to get a lot of good charred browning on shishito peppers because they’re especially thin-skinned compared with other pepper varieties. The edges of the peaches get nicely caramelised. Creamy, tangy goat cheese goes with the sweetness of the peaches and the smokiness and heat of the shishito peppers. They’re mixed with crunchy cashews, and the dish is finished with lemon juice and musky- oral saffron honey.
- 1/4 cup [35 g] whole cashews
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 5 ripe peaches, pitted and cut into wedges
- 1 cup [70 g] shishito peppers
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/3 cup [5 g] fresh parsley leaves
- 1/3 cup [4 g] fresh chervil
- 1/3 cup [4 g] fresh tarragon leaves
- 3 Tbsp crumbled fresh goat cheese
- 1/2 Tbsp saffron honey (recipe follows)
Heat the oven to 350°F [180°C]. Spread the nuts in a single layer on a small baking dish and place on a middle rack in the oven. Roast, stirring the nuts once for even cooking, until toasty and fragrant, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven. When cool enough to handle, coarsely chop and set aside.
Heat the butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat. When the butter melts and begins to foam, add the peaches and shishito peppers and sear, turning once with a spatula, until the edges are well browned, 3 to 4 minutes.
Pour off the butter from the pan and transfer the peaches and shishito peppers to a bowl. Toss with a pinch of salt and half of the lemon juice. Transfer half of the peaches and shishito peppers to a platter and sprinkle with half of each of the parsley, chervil, tarragon, cashews, and goat cheese.
Top with the remaining peaches and shishito peppers and sprinkle the remaining parsley, chervil, tarragon, cashews, and goat cheese on top. Drizzle with the remaining lemon juice and saffron honey. Serve immediately.
Infusing a savory element into honey makes it that much more versatile. In dishes where honey might otherwise be just a little too cloying, it is instead
a little more nuanced. Use fennel seeds, fresh thyme or rosemary, saffron threads, long pepper, cubeb pepper, Sichuan pepper, lemon zest, mint, ginger, or dried chiles—these all add another layer of flavor to oral honeys. I use saffron, fennel, or cubeb pepper honey mixed into yogurt or drizzled on fried dishes such as ricotta fritters or crispy battered boquerones (marinated anchovy fillets).
MAKES 1⁄2 CUP [150 G]
1/2 cup [150 g] honey 2 tsp water
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
Put the honey, water, and fennel seeds in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Simmer for 30 seconds, then immediately remove from the heat. Strain into a small lidded jar and discard the seeds. Store at room temperature for several weeks.
Cubeb honey, saffron honey, and fennel pollen honey: Substitute 1/2 tsp cubeb pepper or 1/2 tsp saffron threads (mixed with 2 tsp water). Or substitute a pinch of fennel pollen; stir in the pollen during the last few seconds of heating (do not strain).
Bäco by Josef Centeno and Betty Hallock, photographs by Dylan James Ho is out now – find out more here.