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At home with chef Jeff Rose

Judith Harris Solomon
Special to The Detroit News

When Jeff Rose was 5 years old and living in New Jersey, his parents took him to visit a little café his cousin owned in Manhattan.

“He asked me to peel some potatoes and carrots for him and I was hooked,” Rose, the co-owner and executive chef of C.A.Y.A. Smokehouse in Wolverine Lake, says.

At the age of 14, Rose worked as a pot washer for a caterer in New Jersey. “And by my senior year in high school, I was doing weddings, all by myself, for that caterer,” the Ferndale resident says.

After receiving a business degree from Michigan State University’s hotel, restaurant and management school in 1994, Rose moved to San Antonio, Texas, where he was enrolled in a Hyatt hotel management training program. And a year-and-a-half later, he decided to return to Michigan. Then, nearly three years ago, after stints cooking at Sweet Lorraine’s, Tribute, the Iridescence Restaurant at the Motor City Casino, Big Rock Chophouse, Roast, and Toast, the chef opened C.A.Y.A.

Rose says his cooking style has been influenced by several renowned chefs.

“Takashi Yagihashi, who was the executive chef at Tribute when I worked there, taught me about basic flavors, proper techniques and how to find my own style of cooking,” Rose, 44, says. “Then when chef David Burke, the owner of several fine East Coast restaurants, came to Tribute to do a bunch of chef’s dinners, I learned a lot about flavor combinations from him. He did a dish that combined braised lamb loin with littleneck clams, peppers, onions and garlic. The lamb matched perfectly with the clams. I love what he does. And from Michael Symon at Roast I learned how to match acids such as vinegar, hot peppers or pickles with fatty meats.”

Rose says that his style of cooking is “very natural without a lot of extra ingredients that tend to hide the natural flavor of the main protein.”

For instance, lamb should taste like lamb, he says.

“It should not be covered with a thick overpowering sauce. And personally, I love braising anything. Anyone can grill a steak, but I think slow cooking like braising shows the chef’s talent and skill,” he says. “And also, when cooking, I use fresh everything. For example, I would never think of using pre-ground pepper. You need to use a pepper mill because fresh ground pepper is always the best. If you use pre-ground pepper, you don’t know how old it is and what you’re getting.”

The chef is also a proponent of Le Creuset cast iron and enamel-based cookware. “They cook evenly, sear great and stay warm forever,” he says.

His other kitchen essentials include a sharp knife, a good microplane and a Vita-Prep blender.

Rose says he likes this lamb shank recipe because it’s a very simple dish to make. “You can throw it in the oven and you don’t have to worry about it,” he says.

The Crudo Salad was selected because spring vegetables are just starting to come in season

“And I like my vegetables to be cut into small bite-sized pieces,” he says. “I always imagine my 99-year-old grandma eating it. If she can eat it, then it’s the right size.”

When it comes to dessert, Jeff says he is particularly fond of chocolate mousse. “My mother used to make it for me when I was a child,” he says. “It was always my birthday dessert.”

Crudo Salad

Dressing

2 lemons, zested and juiced

1/4 cup champagne vinegar

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

Wisk all ingredients together. Can be kept in the fridge for a week.

Salad

1 zucchini

1 yellow squash

1 carrot

1 red onion

5 asparagus stalks

1 cucumber

1 cup arugula

2 tablespoons sliced almonds

To prepare the salad

Julienne or slice all the vegetables. (Try not to use the seeds in the middle.)

Then combine all the vegetable,s plus the almonds, in a bowl. Toss with just enough lemon vinaigrette to lightly coat the veggies. Serve immediately. (You can add grilled chicken or salmon to make it a meal.)

Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 569 calories; 56 g fat (8 g saturated fat; 89 percent calories from fat); 17 g carbohydrates; 9 g sugar; 0 mg cholesterol; 171 mg sodium; 4 g protein; 4 g fiber.

Braised Lamb Shanks

2 lamb hind shanks

1 large onion, diced

2 celery stalks, cut 2 inches long

1 carrot, peeled and cut in 1-inch thick pieces

2 cups red wine (Zinfandel is what I use)

1 bay leaf

2 quarts lamb or chicken stock

1 orange, peel only

1 sprig rosemary

1 sprig thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons vegetable oil for cooking

Season the shanks with salt and pepper. Put a large pan on a burner at medium heat. When hot, add the oil. Add the shanks and sear on all sides. Remove from pan. Add the onion, celery, and carrot. Cook until lightly brown, but still crunchy. Remove from pot and reserve. Add the wine and cook down by half. Add the bay leaf and stock and reduce by half. Return the shanks and vegetables to the pot. Add all of the remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer. Cover and place in a 350 degree oven for 3 hours. (The lamb should be fork tender when it is done.) Let it rest, then serve accompanied by cooked spinach and polenta, if desired. Serves 2.

Per serving (per 1 shank): 847 calories; 48 g fat (14 g saturated fat; 51 percent calories from fat); 19 g carbohydrates; 9 g sugar; 260 mg cholesterol; 659 mg sodium; 73 g protein; 4 g fiber.

Chocolate Mousse

8 ounces half and half

4 ounces granulated sugar

4 egg yolks

12 ounces dark chocolate chips

12 ounces cream, whipped stiff

In a nonreactive sauce pot, bring half and half to a scald. Mix sugar and yolks together. Add 2 ounces of the hot half and half to the yolks. Wisk the egg mixture, then add it back into the pot and cook until thick. (It should coat the back of a spoon.) Pour through a mesh strainer over the dark chocolate. Mix until smooth and let cool to room temperature. Fold in the whipped cream, 1/3 at a time. Serves 4.

Per serving: 940 calories; 68 g fat (40 g saturated fat; 65 percent calories from fat); 88 g carbohydrates; 80 g sugar; 321 mg cholesterol; 73 mg sodium; 10 g protein; 5 g fiber.