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From Episode 94: Holly's Menu

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Homemade Crostini Served with Semi Dried Tomatoes and a Fromage Blanc

Serves 4

Ingredients:

16 thin baguette slices
2 tablespoons/30 ml extra virgin olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 small heirloom tomatoes (about 2 pounds/900 g total), quartered and cored
1 cup/250 g fromage blanc (preferably Beecher's "Honey Blank Slate" fromage blanc)*
 cup/15 g fresh arugula leaves, stems trimmed
1 tablespoon/15 ml balsamic vinegar

Method:

To prepare the crostini:

Preheat the oven to 350F/180C. Arrange the bread slices on a heavy, large baking sheet. Drizzle 1 tablespoon/15 ml of olive oil over the bread slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes or until the crostini are pale golden and crisp.

Meanwhile, to prepare the semi-dried tomatoes:

Preheat the broiler to low. Place the tomatoes cut side up on a baking sheet. Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon/15 ml of olive oil over the tomatoes. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

Broil the tomatoes for about 15 minutes or until the tomatoes become tender and lose some of their moisture, and the tops are slightly charred. As the tomatoes cook, rearrange them on the baking sheet, if necessary, to ensure they cook evenly. If the broiler has only one temperature setting of high heat, set the pan of tomatoes on a lower rack so that they do not overcook or brown too much.

Alternatively, the tomatoes may be dried by the sun when the temperature outside is at least 100F/38C. To do so, cover the baking sheet of tomatoes with cheesecloth, raised so it does not touch the tomatoes, and place the baking sheet directly in the hot sun for about 8 hours.

To assemble and serve:

Spoon 1 tablespoon/15 g of the fromage blanc over each crostino. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Top with the semi-dried tomatoes.  Broil for 1 to 2 minutes or just until the fromage blanc is hot.

Roasted Halibut Cheeks Wrapped in Pancetta with Cider and Brown Butter

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups/300 ml apple cider
12 halibut cheeks (about 1 1/2 pounds/700 g total)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 slices of pancetta
2 teaspoons/10 ml plus 2 tablespoons/30 ml extra virgin olive oil, divided
7 tablespoons/100 g butter
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and finely diced
1 pound red Swiss chard, stems trimmed, leaves cut in half lengthwise

Method:

For the halibut and sauce:

Place the apple cider in a heavy, small saucepan and simmer over a moderate high heat for 12 minutes or until the cider reduces to 1/2 cup/120 ml. Remove the pan from the heat, then cover the pan and set the apple cider reduction aside.

Meanwhile, sprinkle the halibut cheeks with salt and pepper. Wrap 1 slice of pancetta around the center of each halibut cheek, allowing the pancetta to overlap just slightly. Trim away any excess pancetta, if necessary.

Place a large, heavy based saut pan over a moderate to high heat. Once the pan is hot, drizzle 2 teaspoons/10 ml of olive oil over the pan. Place half of the pancetta-wrapped halibut cheeks in the hot pan, being careful not to overcrowd the pan.

Cook the halibut cheeks for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on each side or until they are golden brown on the outside and the fish is just cooked through but still moist and tender. Transfer the cheeks to a warm plate and tent with foil to keep them warm.

Pour off the excess oil from the pan. Return the pan to the heat. Add the butter to the pan and cook for about 2 minutes or until it turns light golden brown, stirring as needed.

Remove the pan from the heat and slowly whisk in the apple cider reduction, being cautious since the mixture will simmer vigorously at first. Add the diced apples and simmer for 2 minutes or just until the apples are heated through. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, for the Swiss chard:

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons/30 ml of olive oil in a large frying pan over moderate heat.  Add the Swiss chard and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. The pan will be full, but the chard will cook down considerably. Saut for approximately 8 minutes or until the chard wilts and becomes tender.

To plate and serve:

Mound the chard in the center of 4 serving plates, dividing equally. Place 3 halibut cheeks per plate around the chard. Spoon the cider sauce and apples over the halibut cheeks and drizzle the excess sauce around the halibut cheeks. Serve immediately.

Loukoumades (Greek Doughnuts)

Makes about 30

Ingredients:

4 teaspoons/15 g active dry yeast
2 cups/450 ml lukewarm water (about 110F/43C)
4 cups/510 g all purpose flour
1 teaspoon/about 5 g salt
Canola oil, for deep frying
1/3 cup/65 g granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon/about 2 g ground cinnamon
1/3 cup/110 g honey
1/3 cup/45 g hazelnuts, toasted, husked and finely crushed

Method:

Whisk the yeast and 1/2 cup/110 ml of lukewarm water in a medium bowl to blend. Set aside for 5 minutes or until the yeast dissolves. Whisk the remaining water into the yeast mixture. Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl.

Pour the yeast mixture over the flour mixture, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until you have a well mixed batter. The batter will be thick and sticky. Cover the bowl of batter with a clean dish cloth and set aside in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours or until the batter has risen and doubled in size and small bubbles form.

Add enough oil to a large, deep frying pan to come halfway up the sides of the pan. Heat the oil over a medium heat to 375F/190C. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in another large bowl and set aside. Stir the batter to deflate it.

Working in batches and using a tablespoon, spoon the batter one spoonful at a time into the hot oil (you can cook about 8 doughnuts at a time). The batter will still be thick and sticky so the tablespoon will not fill neatly but will help as a guide to ensure the proportions are similar in size.

Fry for about 5 to 8 minutes or until the doughnuts puff and become golden brown, turning them occasionally to ensure they brown evenly. While frying, the batter will form round, puffy, irregularly shaped doughnuts.

Remove the doughnuts with a meshed or slotted spoon once they are golden and place them on a baking sheet lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil.  Immediately toss the hot doughnuts in the cinnamon-sugar to coat.

Transfer the coated doughnuts to a warm platter. Meanwhile, heat the honey in a small saucepan over medium heat until it is hot. Drizzle the hot honey over the doughnuts. Sprinkle with the crushed hazelnuts and serve immediately.
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Page last modified on April 23, 2008, at 02:08 AM