Family Meal

by Chef David Ferguson




Filtering by Category: Spring Recipes

Pan Roasted Halibut, with Patti Pan Squash, Fava Beans, Shaved Purple Asparagus, Micro Greens, and Chive Oil

Prep Time:  20 min.    Cook Time:  20 min.  Serves:  2

The great thing about fresh seafood is that it reflects the seasons and allows the perfect accompaniment to seasonal vegetables. Halibut s tender, flavorful, and a great partner for the squash and fava beans in this recipe.  Though it is a bit pricier than some of the other fish in the seafood case, it’s well worth it.  Halibut is served with the skin removed so if you are not comfortable enough removing the skin yourself make sure to ask your seafood provider to do it for you.  

If you have a hard time tracking down the squash and fava beans, check your local farm market.  Bishop’s in Guilford is currently carrying  both, as well as the beautiful micro greens for the salad in this recipe.  When cooking the squash, beans and asparagus, use a small amount of oil.  When the begin to soften and become tender, add a tbsp or so of water or stock and toss in a pat of butter.  This should provide a light sauce and help the ingredients come together a little more.  

Chive oil is a great simple dressing for salads and is a breeze to make.  Simply grab a handful of fresh chives and throw them in the blender with a cup of olive oil and blend on high.  The vibrant color is matched by the bright flavor.  Feel free to dress is up with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a pinch of salt as well.  


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  • Two 6 oz  halibut fillets; skin off
  • 1 cup patti pan squash; quartered
  • ½ cup fava beans; shelled
  • 3 stalks purple asparagus; shaved with vegetable peeler
  • 1 tbsp parsley; finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp basil; finely chopped
  • ⅓ cup mache greens; picked
  • ⅓ cup micro greens
  • ½ cup fresh chives
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic; minced
  • ½ shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp water or vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Season halibut liberally on both sides with salt and pepper and set aside.  Add your chives and olive oil along with fresh lemon juice and a pinch of salt to a blender and set to high until the chives are completely emulsified into the oil.  Set aside

Set a large pan over medium heat and add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil.  Add in your chopped shallot and garlic and saute until fragrant before adding your squash and fava beans to the pan.  Continue to cook, tossing occasionally, until the squash and beans have softened.  At this point, add in your asparagus along with the tbsp of stock and butter.  Toss everything together until a light sauce begins to form.  Add in the chopped parsley and basil and season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, set another pan over high heat and add the remaining tbsp of vegetable oil. Once the pan is very hot and smoke starts to lightly rise from the pan, carefully add in the fish.  Slowly lower each piece into the pan away from you so no hot oil splashes back.  Slightly lower the heat and cook the fish until you can see browning at the edges.  Gently look to see if a good sear has formed before flipping the fish over and cooking only briefly (30 seconds to a minute).  Remove the fish from the pan and allow to briefly drain on a paper towel.  Dress your greens in a small bowl with the reserved chive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper before serving over the fish.  

Grass Fed Burger with Aged Cheddar, Caramelized Onion, Spinach, Dijonaise, & Fried Egg on Toasted Brioche

Prep time:  10 mins    Cook Time:  30 min    Serves: 4

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After far too much rain, it’s time to get back outside and enjoy some nicer weather.  To that end, you can’t beat a great hamburger off the grill.  Like all recipes, a hamburger is a sum of it’s parts.   If you invest extra time and effort  in some basic technique and splurge on some more indulgent ingredients, you will be rewarded with a superior burger.  

Hamburgers are usually made from ground chuck with a certain blend of lean meat and fat.  This blend is represented in a proportion, usually printed on the package. The higher the fat percentage, the more flavor the hamburger is going to have. For this recipe, I would recommend an 80/20 blend of lean to fat.  This is the typical blend most restaurants use and it provides great flavor.  You could of course use a leaner blend like a 90/10, if you are attempting to get into beach shape

Picking a good cheese to compliment the rest of your ingredients is important, and here you will see the benefit of spending a little extra cash.  A sharp aged cheddar adds a nuttiness and a depth of flavor that will elevate everything else.  

Caramelized onions can’t be rushed, otherwise you are just searing them.  Low heat and time are the only way to go. Slice the onions about an ⅛ of an inch thick, this will help to keep them from burning after so much time on heat.  You should start the onions in a cold pan over low heat, stirring occasionally, and deglazing the pan with water, stock,  or even beer.  The onions will absorb any liquid you put into the pan and add even more flavor. The longer you cook the onions, the more the inherent sweetness will come out.  

A fried egg makes everything better.  Hamburger are no exception.  I would suggest a sunny side up or over easy egg, just make sure you have plenty of napkins.



  • 1 lb 80/20 grass fed ground beef; 4 ¼  lb patties
  • 8 oz aged extra sharp cheddar cheese; sliced
  • 1 large yellow onion; sliced ⅛” thick
  • 1 large beefsteak tomato; sliced
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • ¼ cup mayo
  • ⅓ cup dijon mustard
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 brioche buns
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp olive oil


Preheat grill on high heat.  Season hamburgers liberally with salt and pepper and set aside.  Put sliced onions in a large saute pan with vegetable oil and set over low to medium low heat.  Allow onions to cook and slowly pick up color.  When the onions begin to stick to the pan, deglaze with a tbsp or two of liquid (any liquid will work, water, stock, beer, etc…) and continue to let onions cook.  Cook onions until they are a very soft and a deep golden brown.

Whisk together mayo and Dijon mustard for Dijonaise in a mixing bowl, then set aside

Push a small dent into the middle of each patty.  While this may seem odd, it prevents the hamburgers from swelling in the middle as they cook.  Cook the hamburgers for 4-5 minutes before flipping.  Once flipped, dress the hamburger first with tomato, then the caramelized onions, then with the aged cheddar.  Melting the cheese over the tomato and onions will help keep them toppings in place. Grill burgers until the cheese has melted and allow to rest while you finish the rest of your preparations.

Melt butter in a large saute pan and toast the brioche buns over medium heat on both sides.  Set aside and then return the pan to medium-high heat with the 2 tbsp olive oil.  Once the pan is hot, fry your eggs one or two at a time, whatever you are comfortable working with.  Season the eggs with salt and pepper before assembling your burger.  

Dress the top and bottom bun with the Dijonaise before adding your burger, then topping with fried egg and spinach.

Balsamic Macerated Strawberry Shortcake, with Thai Basil

Prep time:  40 mins    Cook time:  20 mins    Serves:  8

Using both sweetened and raw strawberries gives this classic dessert great flavor without being too sweet.  Maceration is a technique to sweeten  and soften fruit, as well as add flavor, without using heat.  This preserves flavor, and allows for greater expression of the ingredients.  Traditionally this technique is done by just letting the fruit sit in sugar, but by adding a couple tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and some chopped Thai basil, other flavors can be introduced to the fruit.

When making the biscuits, work the dough by hand.  As any self respecting southerner will tell you, overworking biscuit batter will make them tougher.  The more you work the batter, the glutens will develop, and the worse off you’ll be.  Finish the batter on a cutting board and fold until the ingredients just come together.  

Thai basil has a slightly sweeter profile, which is why I chose it over traditional basil.  If you can’t find it, regular basil would suffice, as would mint.  I would also recommend whipping the cream by hand for improved texture.  If you aren't in the mood for the arm workout though, and electric mixer will do fine, just avoid the stuff in a can.  



  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
  • 6 tbsp (¾ stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend

Berries & Whipped Cream

  • 1 lb fresh strawberries; hulled and quartered
  • ½ lb fresh strawberries; rough chopped
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tbsp sugar; divided
  • ¼ cup thai basil; chopped and divided
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 400°.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk sugar, baking powder, salt, and two cups of flour.  Using your fingers, work in the butter until the the batter becomes the texture of coarse meal with a few small pieces of butter remaining. Add in the cream and mix until the dough just comes together.  At this point, the dough will be sticky.


Turn out your dough onto a lightly floured cutting board or surface and pat into a 12x4” rectangle about ¾” thick. Cut out rounds with a 2½” biscuit cutter, re-rolling the scraps as needed to make 8 rounds. Transfer rounds to a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until tops are golden brown and shortcakes are cooked through about 15–20 minutes.

While your shortcakes are cooking, take 1lb of  your strawberries and add to a mixing bowl with 2 tbsp of sugar and balsamic vinegar.  Toss strawberries,  vinegar,  and sugar together, then add in half of your chopped basil and let sit 20-30 minutes.  

Whisk heavy cream, reserved sugar and vanilla extract together in a mixing bowl by hand until peaks form.   Set whipped cream aside.

Peel layers of biscuits apart and layer macerated strawberries and whipped cream.  Top with more whipped cream and garnish with fresh rough chopped berries and reserved basil.


Grilled Plums, Burrata, Baby Arugula, Shaved Almonds, and Vanilla-Honey Vinaigrette with Reduced Balsamic

Prep Time:  10 mins    Cook Time:  25 mins    Serves:  2

For the uninitiated, burrata is a cream filled mozzarella cheese.  Burrata is a wonderful, fresh ingredient on it’s own, that is exceptional with just some bread and a drizzle of olive oil and salt.  In this salad though, it really stands out with it’s heavenly texture and indulgent creaminess.  To serve; slice each piece in half, exposing the filling. Gently turn each half inside out and plate.  Serving the cheese this way will enable you to cut it with a fork without chasing it all over the plate.

I make a version of this salad in mid to late summer with peaches.  Since it is still April though I used red plums, which are an excellent substitute.  Make sure to heat the grill for at least ten minutes before starting your plums and to clean the grill well with an oiled cloth.  This will ensure high heat and a clean surface so you get proper caramelization on the fruit.  

Reduced balsamic is possibly my favorite condiment.  It’s great on everything from salads to ice cream.  And it’s simple to make.  Simply simmer balsamic vinegar over medium-low heat until it achieves the consistency of a light syrup.  Use a small pot and stir often with a rubber spatula.  Remember the vinegar will thicken more once it cools so do not over reduce or you will get something more akin to molasses in consistency.  If this happens simply whisk in a teaspoon or so of cold water to thin the syrup back out.  


  • 2 red plums; halved and quartered
  • 16 oz fresh burrata; halved
  • 16 oz baby arugula
  • ⅓ cup fresh basil; chopped
  • ⅓ cup fresh mint; whole leaf
  • 2 tbsp fresh mint; chopped
  • ⅓ cup shaved almonds
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ cup + ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar; reduced
  • Salt to taste


Pour balsamic into a small sauce pot and set over medium low heat.  Simmer balsamic, stirring often, until reduced to a light syrup.  Remove  the pan from heat and let the reduced balsamic cool.  

Preheat your grill with burners on high.  Toss plums in ⅓ cup olive oil so they are well covered.  Place your plums on the grill evenly spaced.  Grill plums 3-4 mins on each side, looking for good grill marks on each side before flipping.  Let plums cool on a wire rack.

In a medium mixing bowl, add in lemon juice, honey, and vanilla extract.  Whisk ingredients until they are well mixed.  Gradually drizzle in olive oil while whisking, then add chopped mint and season lightly with salt to taste.  

In a large mixing bowl, toss together baby arugula, basil, mint, and almonds.  Dress salad before serving on top on plums and burrata, finishing with a drizzle of reduced balsamic.


A Better Chicken Dinner Part 2: Organic Chicken Breast, Celery Root Puree, Spring Vegetables, & Pickled Radish

Prep time:  30 mins.   Cook time:  30 mins.   Serves:  2

The carrots and asparagus are intentionally given minimal attention here , in order to bring out their freshness and true flavor.  Simply seasoning with salt and pepper and roasting will bring out natural sugars and give a clean, fresh palate to work with.  

Celery root is exactly what it sounds like, the tuber that celery stalks grow from.  It has the vegetative taste of celery with the earthiness of a russet potato.  Simmered until very tender and then pureed with buttermilk and butter gives it a mashed potato like texture while retaining most of the original flavor.  


  • 1 whole split chicken breast
  • 1 whole celery root; peeled and cubed
  • 1 large leek; sliced
  • 4 whole carrots; peeled
  • ½ lb asparagus
  • 1 radish; sliced very thin
  • ⅓ cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 tsp celery seeds
  • 3 tbsp butter; divided
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil; divided
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley; chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a small saucepan, add vinegar, tbsp salt, sugar, and celery seed.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat.   When vinegar mix is hot, pour over sliced radish.  Set aside and allow radish to pickle while you prepare the rest of your components.

Place a sauce pan over medium  and add cubed celery root and water.  Simmer celery root until very tender.  Strain celery root and add to a food processor.  Puree celery root, adding in 1 tbsp butter and buttermilk, until very smooth.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Place a saute pan over medium heat with remaining butter.  Add leeks and season well with salt.  Allow the leeks to gradually cook down and become tender, occasionally stirring and adding a tbsp of water to make a light sauce.  

While the leeks are cooking, place a large skillet or saute pan over high heat with 2 tbsp of vegetable oil.  When the pan is very hot, place your chicken breast skin side down in the pan.  Immediately place the pan in the oven and roast chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 160, about 15 minutes.  Flip the chicken over about halfway through the cooking time to ensure it cooks evenly.  

Meanwhile, add remaining vegetable oil to a saute pan and add carrots, seasoning with salt and pepper.  Place the pan in the oven and allow the carrots to roast until fork tender, about 10 mins.  Halfway through the cook time, add in the asparagus and roast both vegetables together.  Slice carrots in half to plate once they are finished.  


Asparagus Galette, with Bacon & Spring Onions

Prep time:  30 minutes    Cook Time:  30 minutes    Serves:  2-3

Perfect as an appetizer, a galette is a cross between a pie and a flat bread pizza.  Even though this recipe is easy to make, it can become even easier if you use a store bought pie crust.  Of course to some, combing the words “store bought” and “pie crust”  is a mortal sin.  Accordingly, I have included a recipe for a fool proof homemade pie crust as well.  To add another layer of indulgence and make your galette the perfect addition to your next brunch, add a fried egg or two on top.

Spring onions, or ramps, smell like garlic with a mild onion flavor.  If you are lucky enough, you can find them growing wild on a grassy hill in your yard.  Otherwise most local farmer’s markets will carry the sought after seasonal ingredient this time of year.  The leaves and the bulb are both edible, with the leaves being great tossed in a salad.  

The asparagus should be raw, peeled, then cut in half lengthwise before cutting again into thirds.  Be liberal with your toppings, especially the cheese. As a glaze, some people like to use egg wash on their pie crusts.  While this is a perfectly acceptable technique, I prefer brushing on some melted butter to give a deep golden color and add flavor.  Brush some butter on the edges right before you place the galette in the oven and then once again upon removing.  


Pie crust

  • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter; cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 6 tbsp (approx.) ice water


  • 1 cup asparagus; sliced in half and chopped into 3rds
  • ½ cup shaved parmesan
  • ½ cup crumbled feta
  • ½ cup shaved manchego
  • 1 shallot; finely sliced
  • ⅓ cup cooked bacon; chopped
  • ⅓ cup ramps; greens removed, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup parsley, finely chopped
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil


For the pie crust add the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor.  Add in the butter then pulse until a coarse meal forms. Gradually, blend in enough ice water so that moist clumps form. Gather  the dough into a  ball and divide it in half. Form the dough into two balls then flatten each into disks.  Wrap each disk in plastic and let chill for two hours at least.  If you are doing this ahead, the dough will hold for two days.

Preheat your oven to 400°.  Add  the bacon to a cold saute pan or baking tray and place in oven.  Cook the bacon until fully rendered, about 15 minutes, then place on a paper towel or wire rack to cool.  Coarsely chop your bacon and then set aside.

To assemble the galette, roll out your dough onto a well floured surface.   Form a circle about 12” and trim the edges.  Layer on your cheese then the asparagus, shallots, ramps, and bacon, leaving a one inch border.  Fold over the edge of the dough to form pleats.  Brush the edges of the galette with butter and drizzle the olive oil over the toppings.  Season lightly with salt and pepper and then place in the oven.  Bake 20-30 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and asparagus is tender.  Remove the galette and brush the crust with the remaining melted butter.  Let cool five to ten minutes before cutting.       

Lemon Panna Cotta, with Lemon Rosemary Marmalade, & Pistachio Crumble

Prep Time:  15 minutes    Cook Time:  30 minutes    Serves:  8

Panna Cotta is Italian for “cooked cream”,  and is a traditional northern Italian dessert that is sweetened and thickened with gelatin.  Panna cotta is an easy and approachable dessert for beginners, but can be a beautiful showcase for fresh ingredients and subtle flavors.

This recipe makes several servings and will hold for a couple of days in the fridge, so it’s great as a make-ahead dessert for a dinner party.  To remove the panna cotta from the ramekins and serve, run a knife along the edge of the ramekin.  Place a small plate over the top of the ramekin and flip, so the ramekin is on top of the plate and the panna cotta comes out.  Serve with the marmalade and crumble and fresh lemon zest.  



  • Peel from 3 lemons
  • ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup fresh rosemary; finely chopped
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¾ cup sugar

Panna Cotta

  • 1 cup whole milk; divided
  • 2 tsp unflavored gelatin
  • 2 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Peel from 1 lemon

Pistachio Crumble

  • ¼ cup pistachios; shelled
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • ½ cup flour
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt


Place a large saucepan of water over high heat and bring to a boil. Add lemon peel and boil for 5 minutes. Drain, then repeat another two times. Let the lemon peel cool then slice into a thin julienne; then once more in half.

Place a small heavy saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in sugar, lemon juice, and water until sugar dissolves. Add in lemon peel and bring to a simmer.  Cook until mixture is reduced to 2/3 cup and an instant-read thermometer reads 225°.  Cover and chill.

Pour a ½  cup milk into a medium bowl and sprinkle in gelatin. Let the milk and gelatin sit until gelatin softens, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine cream, sugar, vanilla, lemon peel, and remaining ½ cup milk in a large saucepan. Bring mixture to a simmer over medium heat, whisking until sugar dissolves. Remove mixture from heat, cover, and let steep for 10 minutes.

Bring cream mixture back to a simmer.  Add gelatin mixture and stir until completely dissolved, then strain. Divide mix among eight ¾  cup ramekins. Chill uncovered until panna cotta is set, at least 6 hours. Cover and keep chilled.

In a food processor, pulse the pistachios a few times until roughly chopped. Add the flour, sugar, salt, and pulse until the ingredients are just combined. Add the melted butter and pulse a few times until the mixture forms pea-sized crumbs.

Transfer the crumbs to a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake until crumble starts to brown at the edges, about 15 minutes. Remove pan from the oven and using a flat spatula, flip the crumble over, piece by piece, so that the browned side is now on the bottom. The pieces will break apart; this is O.K. Bake for another 8 to 10 minutes, or until the crumble is golden-brown and very crisp. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely before breaking apart into crumbs.