Monday, August 10, 2009

A SUMMER DINNER PARTY

Spinach Salad with Black Grapes, Mixed Olives, and Lemon Zest Vinaigrette

Pistachio-encrusted Halibut with Spicy Yogurt

Moroccan Chickpea Stew

White Wine-poached Pears with Creme Patisserie

MAKE AHEAD:

Lemon Zest Vinaigrette
Pistachio Crust
Spicy Yogurt
Moroccan Chickpea Stew
White Wine-Poached Pears
Creme Patisserie

THE DAY OF:

Set up spinach salad
Warm stew
Warm pears
Coat and pan-fry halibut


Spinach Salad:

1 clamshell baby spinach
1 1/2 cups mixed olives, pitted (find a mix with kalamata, nicoise, moroccan, and spanish green)
1 cup seedless black grapes
1 cup seedless champagne grapes

Lemon Zest Vinaigrette:

1 clove garlic, minced
1 t dijon mustard
1/4 c white wine vinegar
1/4 c fresh lemon juice
1 T very fine lemon zest (I use my microplane grater for this)
1 t honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar
1/2 t sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 c extra-virgin olive oil

Whisk together all ingredients, except for olive oil. Drizzle oil in slowly while constantly whisking. Taste for salt, sweetener, and oil. Adjust seasoning.

Toss spinach with about 1/2 of dressing. Add grapes and olives to salad bowl or sprinkle generously on individual salad plates. Serve.

Pistachio-encrusted Halibut with Spicy Yogurt
Spicy Yogurt:

1 c Greek yogurt
1/2 cucumber, diced very small
2 T fresh dill, chopped
1/4 c onion, finely chopped
1 T fresh lemon juice
2 t hot paprika or cayenne pepper
1/2 t ground cumin
1 t sea salt
dash of paprika for garnish

Whisk ingredients together and taste for salt and lemon. Adjust, cover, and chill, if you are making it ahead of time.

For Halibut:
4 6-8 oz pieces halibut
1 c milk

2/3 c shelled pistachios
6 T yellow cornmeal
1/2 t sea salt
1/2 t black pepper
1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil

In a food processor, blend nuts, cornmeal, salt, and pepper. Set aside. Heat olive oil in frying pan over medium heat. Dip fish fillets in milk, then dredge through nut mixture. Pan in 1/4 cup olive oil-- fry 5-7 minutes on each side on medium heat, until cooked through the middle. Top with spicy yogurt and serve. (If the nuts start getting really dark before fish is done, transfer to a baking dish, and finish in a hot oven (375 degrees or so?)

Moroccan Chickpea Stew

1 onion, diced
2 cloves minced garlic
1 zucchini, cut into half moons
1 lg green pepper, seeded and diced
2 lg vine tomatoes, diced
2 cups crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 c diced carrot
1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil

2 T paprika
2 T ground cumin
2 T garam masala
1 t ground cardamom
1/2 t saffron threads
1 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground cloves
1/2 t ground allspice

1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 14 oz cans chickpeas, drained

sea salt and black pepper

Prep veggies and put them all in a large soup/stock pot with olive oil. Cook 10-15 minutes on medium until veggies begin to soften. Stir frequently.

Add spices, canned tomatoes, and chickpeas. Bring to almost a boil, lower heat, and simmer 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. When mixture has thickened a bit and flavors have become uniform, taste, and adjust salt, pepper and spices.

This lasts in the fridge for a few days or freezes well. I like it on it's own as stew or it's a good accompaniment to the halibut. I usually ladle one cup to the center of a plate, place the halibut in the center and garnish with spicy yogurt.

White Wine-Poached Pears with Creme Patisserie

White Wine-Poached Pears
from frenchfood.about.com

2 cups moscato wine (or other sweet white wine)
3 1/2 cups water
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean
1 lg piece lemon zest
1 T fresh lemon juice
4 ripe pears, carefully peeled with stems intact
2 c sugar

Stir together the white wine, water, cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a large saucepan. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat and add the prepared pears. Poach the pears, uncovered, for 7 to 9 minutes, until they turn tender, but not mushy.

Use a large slotted spoon to transfer the pears onto a serving plate. Return the poaching liquid to a simmer, add the sugar, and allow the mixture to reduce by half in volume, about 6 to 8 minutes. The syrup is ready when it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove the cinnamon stick and vanilla bean from the syrup.

Arrange the pears on individual serving plates and drizzle with the wine syrup.

This poached pears in white wine recipe makes 4 servings.

Creme Patisserie

from cooksrecipes.com

3 cups milk
Seeds scraped from one vanilla bean (*or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
8 egg yolks
3/4 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

  1. In a 3 quart saucepan combine the milk and vanilla bean seeds. Heat just below the boiling point (scalding).
  2. Using an electric mixer (with whisk attachment if available) beat the egg yolks and sugar in a large mixing bowl until they lighten in color. Stir in the cornstarch.
  3. Pour about 1/3 of the hot milk into the egg mixture (this is called tempering), whisking continuously to incorporate. Whisk the tempered egg mixture back into the remaining hot milk, and place the saucepan back on the heat. Cook on medium, stirring constantly with the whisk, until the mixture comes to the boil. Reduce heat and boil for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and gently whisk in the butter.
  4. Strain the pastry cream into a bowl, place plastic wrap directly on the surface, and chill completely. Can be made up to 3 days ahead.

Makes about 3 1/2 cups.


To serve: place one pear on each serving plate. Spoon reduction syrup over pear, and spoon or pipe 2-3 T creme patisserie next to the pear. Top with a raspberry, if you like, and serve.



2 comments:

Dan said...

FIRST!

Yes I'm a troll. Didn't you know?

Anonymous said...

Pardee Cat sez: I can haz spinnej?