For a restaurant committed to seasonality, winter can be tough.
"You go to the Greenmarket, and it's just decimated," said David Standridge, executive chef of the produce-forward Market Table located in the West Village. "You need to be a lot more creative in the kitchen."
As a result, the restaurant is using a lot of root vegetables right now, as well as hominy, or dried corn kernels, which helps bring a touch of summer to a wintry menu. But it's important that desserts change with the seasons, too.
"We definitely sell a lot more dessert in the winter," he said. "People want to be comforted when it's cold outside."
"Still, though, you want to keep that variety," he said, adding that he likes to think beyond the usual warm cakes and heavy puddings that often appear on winter menus.
To that end, Standridge has introduced three new seasonally-appropriate desserts to the menu: an orange blossom French toast topped with ricotta gelato from nearby Il Laboratorio del Gelato; a light Indian cornmeal pudding flavored with warming spices and topped with vanilla cream and kumquat confit; and a pear and almond galette, filled with almonds and butter-roasted Bosc pears and topped with a vivid red pinwheel of wine-poached pears.
Prior to coming to Market Table in August of last year, Standridge cooked at L'Atelier De Joël Robuchon for six years (the restaurant closed last June.) When he started at Market Table, he wanted to bring a touch of French-style sophistication to the hearty, rustic fare on the menu. His meticulousness is on display in his desserts, which combine familiar, comforting flavors with elevated technique and unexpected flourishes such as a melting layer of almond butter atop French toast or a sprinkling of crunchy caramel corn with a rich, ganache-like slab of chocolate terrine. Accents such as wild huckleberry sauce and tart sour cream gelato keep the desserts firmly on the not-too-sweet side of the spectrum.
About the author: Lauren Rothman is former a Serious Eats intern, a freelance catering chef, and an obsessive chronicler of all things culinary. Try the original recipes on her blog, For the Love of Food, and follow her on Twitter @Lochina186.