If Olympic figure skating hopefuls begin training as toddlers, at what age do future chefs first experiment with their peanut butter sandwich filling-to-bread ratios? For this week's Chef Family Recipes, Squid Ink spoke with Jessica Goin, sister of Suzanne Goin, who is among the semifinalists in the just-announced James Beard Award's Outstanding Chef category.

You may know Jessica Goin as the smiling brunette who for years was Lucques' front-of-house manager (she is now the catering director), but she also played a pivotal role in the chef's formative years. She was the first customer at Suzanne's back yard crêperie, a savvy business partner for mother's and father's day brunches, and a dutiful gofer during the restaurant's early days. After a few too many weeknights running around town picking up leeks one night, office furniture the next, Suzanne convinced her sister to quit her corporate job and work at Lucques full time.

For more childhood memories, and a recipe for Suzanne Goin's Meyer lemon tart, turn the page.

Jessica says one of her favorite food memories of Suzanne was when her sister, then in the 4th grade, opened a backyard French crêperie one weekend when Jessica was having a sleepover. “Suzanne had this electric skillet, plugged it into the laundry room and got four extensions cords, then set up this little crepe station in the dirt,” recalls Jessica, who says the buttery chocolate crepes sprinkled with sugar were her favorite. “No one in my family made crepes, she must have found a recipe in a cookbook somewhere. That was how she wanted to spend the afternoon, just playing chef for me and my friends.”

The Crepe Maker Today; Credit: Carlos Serrao

The Crepe Maker Today; Credit: Carlos Serrao

On Mother's and Father's Days, the sisters created an elaborate brunch for their parents. “Suzanne would make this huge menu with construction paper and curlicues, making up all of these crazy dishes like frog leg ratatouille,” says Jessica. “We'd hang up a curtain to separate the living room from the kitchen, and I'd be the waitress and dishwasher, my parents would 'order' the two or three real things on the menu like eggs that Suzanne could make.”

By the time the sisters were teenagers, many of those dream menu items were starting to appear in the Goin kitchen. “She was coming home from Ma Maison making tuilles over wine bottles,” says Jessica of Suzanne's month-long high school pastry apprenticeship at the now-closed Ma Maison, the now-closed restaurant that functioned as the local chef training ground in the 70s and 80s. Jessica, who was “really into chocolate” as a teenager, begged her sister to add a thin layer of chocolate to a Meyer lemon tart she had learned to make at the restaurant. Twenty years later, the recipe ended up in Suzanne's James Beard award-winning cookbook, Sunday Supper at Lucques. “It's my one contribution to the word of food.”

Jessica's Favorite Meyer Lemon Tart with a Layer of Chocolate

From: Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin.

Note: This makes enough pâte sucrée for two tarts. You can freeze the second dough round for later.

Credit: Shimon and Tammar

Credit: Shimon and Tammar

For the pâte sucrée

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 extra-large egg yolks

2 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 pound unsalted butter

1. Whisk the cream and egg yolks together in a small bowl.

2. In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and butter on medium speed until you have a coarse meal. Gradually add the cream and yolks and mix until just combined. Do not overwork the dough.

3. Transfer the dough to a large work surface and bring it together with your hands to incorporate completely. Divide the dough in half, shape into 1-inch-thick discs, and wrap one of them to freeze and use later.

4. If the dough is too soft, put in the refrigerator for 5 to 10 minutes to firm up a little. If the dough is manageable, place it on a lightly floured work surface, sprinkle a little flour over the dough, and roll it out into a 1-inch-thick circle, flouring as necessary. Starting at one side, roll and wrap the dough around the rolling pin to pick it up. Unroll the dough over a 10-inch tart pan. Gently fit the dough loosely into the pan, lifting the edges and pressing the dough into the corners with your fingers. To remove the excess dough, roll the rolling pin lightly over the top of the tart pan for a nice clean edge, or work your way around the edge pinching off any excess dough with your fingers. Chill for 1 hour.

For the Meyer lemon tart

1 recipe pâte sucrée

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate

4 extra-large eggs

3 extra-large egg yolks

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 cup Meyer lemon juice

10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Pinch of kosher salt

1 cup heavy cream

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Prick the bottom of the pâte sucrée with a fork and line it with a few opened and fanned-out coffee filters or a piece of parchment paper. Fill the lined tart shell with beans or pie weights and bake 15 minutes, until set. Take the tart out of the oven and carefully lift out the paper and beans. Return the tart to the oven and bake another 10 to 15 minutes, until the crust is an even golden brown. Set aside on a rack to cool completely.

2. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over medium-low heat. Spread the chocolate evenly on the crust and chill in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes, until the chocolate has solidified completely.

3. While the crust is chilling, make the curd. Whisk the eggs, yolks, sugar, and lemon juice together in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring continuously, alternating between a whisk and rubber spatula (see note above), until the lemon curd has thickened to the consistency of pastry cream and coats the back of the spatula.

4. Remove the lemon curd from the heat. Add the butter a little at a time, stirring to incorporate completely. Season with the salt. Let the curd cool about 8 minutes, and then strain it into the prepared tart shell. Chill the tart in the refrigerator for at least one hour before serving.

5. Just before serving, whip the cream in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or by hand) until it holds soft peaks. Cut the tart into six wedges, plate them, and serve with dollops of whipped cream.

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