Appetizer: Bruschetta with crab

October 31, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Bruschetta with dungeness crab, rapini and anchovy. Co-owner and Executive Chef Nate Appleman of A-16 and SPQR in San Francisco shares his recipe for this easy appetizer with impressive results.

Bruschetta with dungeness crab, rapini and anchovy

  • kosher salt
  • 12 oz rapini
  • 1/4 Cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 1 salt-packed anchovy, filleted and soaked, then chopped
  • 1/4 tsp dried chile flakes
  • 1 lb fresh-cooked Dungeness crab meat, or the meat from about 2 large crabs
  • 6 slices good country bread

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the rapini and cook for about 3 minutes, or until soft. Drain well, squeeze out any excess water and chop coarsely.

In a saute pan, heat 1/4 cup olive oil and add garlic, anchovy and chile flakes, cooking until garlic is soft but not browned. Add rapini and braise for about 3 minutes, adding a little water as necessary to maintain moisture. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

Meanwhile, season crabmeat with salt, if necessary, and olive oil to taste.

Drizzle the bread slices with olive oil and grill or roast at high heat until beginning to burn on the edges. Remove from heat and divide warm rapini mixture between the 6 slices. Top with crabmeat and serve.

Red Tie Gala

The 2008 RED TIE GALA taking place Friday, November 7 at Neiman Marcus on Union Square. The event, which benefits Little Sisters of the Poor-St. Anne's Home on Lake Street features six floors of culinary delights and libations, an array of entertainment and live bands and more! Each floor will reflect a different storied club if the path including The Rainbow Room, Cotton Club, Viper Room and more!

The Little Sisters of the Poor have been caring for San Francisco's elderly poor since 1901. Eighty-two residents live in the Lake Street home. While the sisters rely on a time-honored tradition of begging to meet many of their financial needs, the Little Sisters depend on benefactors to meet 54 percent of their monthly expenses. Proceeds from the RED TIE GALA will help meet these expenses.

For more information, visit redtiegalasf.org

About Nate Appleman:
Within less than a year as Executive Chef of A16, twenty-seven year old Nate Appleman was named a Rising Star Chef 2007 by the San Francisco Chronicle and nominated for Rising Star Chef 2007 by the James Beard Foundation. He also received three and a half stars for food from Michael Bauer in the San Francisco Chronicle, an accolade repeated at A16's sister restaurant, the Roman osteria SPQR, which opened in September 2007. Both restaurants are known for their authenticity, respect for Italian culinary traditions and ingredients, and consistently delicious food.

A native of Greenville, Ohio, Nate Appleman grew up cooking. At seventeen, he enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park: "I never doubted for a moment that I wanted to be a chef." Appleman completed an internship at Cincinnati's Maisonette under Chef Jean Robert de Cavel and In 1999, relocated to Seattle to work at a French-Portuguese restaurant, Brasa ('live coals" in Portuguese), which featured a French-Portuguese menu composed mostly of items cooked in wood-burning ovens, including roast suckling pig.

With a growing affinity for butchery that began at the CIA, Appleman became interested in the process of curing meats. He moved to Florence, Italy for six months to further this interest. There he learned to forego flourishes like sugar, milk products or copious spices in favor of using only curing salts and an occasional handful of garlic or fennel, thus allowing the subtle and delicate variations in the meats to stand out.

Upon his return from Italy, Appleman moved to San Francisco in 2001 and oversaw the meat station at Campton Place under Laurent Manrique, During his year-and-a-half at Campton Place, Appleman greatly enjoyed the deep bond that grew among the kitchen staff and developed a close friendship with another young cook, Christophe Hille.

In 2003, Appleman and his wife, Clarisse, whom he met while both were at Campton Place, moved to the Napa Valley so she could attend pastry school. Appleman took a position as Executive Sous Chef at St. Helena's Tra Vigne for a year. Then, in December of 2003, he received a call from Christophe Hille requesting he join him and his two business partners -- Victoria Libin and Wine Director Shelley Lindgren -- as Executive Sous Chef at a new venture in San Francisco called A16.

During A16's first year, Appleman made weekly visits to farmers' markets where he forged important, lasting relationships with many purveyors of fine products, notably Mariquita Farm in Watsonville which now grows produce for both A16 and SPQR from seeds collected by Appleman and his partners during trips to Italy. He also earned certification by the Verace Pizza Napoletana Association, becoming one of the few certified pizzaiolos in the United States and in 2005 he was named A16's Chef de Cuisine and made a partner.

Appleman became A16's Executive Chef in April 2006 upon Hille's departure. Shortly thereafter, Michael Bauer, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle noted, "When Nate Appleman took over the kitchen last year, many wondered whether the food would continue to soar. Rest assured, it does."

In September, 2007 Appleman, and A16 partners Shelley Lindgren and Victoria Libin opened SPQR, a Roman osteria specializing in a dazzling array of seasonal antipasti and where all the pasta - fresh and dried -- is made in-house. Within months, SPQR had become one of San Francisco's hottest tables.

Appleman instills a contagious creative energy and enthusiasm in the kitchen. He travels to Italy twice a year on eating trips, usually with members of his staff, where he is fond of eating regional foods at small restaurants in the countryside.

His obsession with butchering continues, and he works with Michael Panza of Biaggio to obtain local, whole, naturally-raised animals for A16 and SPQR. He enjoys making salumi, and learning how to make new ones. One of his current favorites to make is Basilicata pork salame which he makes with senise dried red peppers that he imports from a farmer he met in Italy. He also enjoys making his own prosciutto for special occasions.

Nate Appleman and A16/SPQR Wine Director Shelley Lindgren's book, A16 Food and Wine will be published by Ten Speed Press in September, 2008.


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