Are you looking for a simple yet impressive menu for late summer? We’ve got four amazing recipes (and a cocktail too!) prepared by trendsetting chefs who participate in a big way at their industry’s "main event," the annual National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show. Get ready to entertain friends and family with these delicious dishes that not only look beautiful but are fun to prepare.
Blogger's Note: Scroll to the end of this article for full recipe(s) details.
Cocktail: Lemon-lime Sangria – fruity and refreshing.
Starter: Avocado-Mango Salad with Fresh (or Blue) Cheese, Bacon and Toasted Pumpkinseeds is the perfect late summertime salad by Chef Rick Bayless of Frontera Grill, Topolobampo and XOCO restaurants.
Main Course (option 2): Halibut with Celery and Coriander Relish by Chef Erick Williams of mk the restaurant features a winning combination of fresh cilantro, parsley and basil – a delightful complement to halibut.
Dessert: Hand Formed Pear Tarts with Almonds and Cinnamon by pastry chef Gale Gand – adults and children alike will delight in preparing this quick and easy dessert.
Stay tuned for news regarding which star chefs will be appearing at NRA Show 2010, May 22-25, at Chicago's McCormick Place.
Recipes in detail:
2 each lemons and limes
1/3 cup (75 mL) granulated sugar
1 oz (30 mL) each limoncello and vodka (or 2 oz/60 mL vodka)
1 bottle (750 mL) cava or other sparkling dry white wine
2 cups (500 mL) ice cubes
Quarter lemons and limes lengthwise; seed and thinly slice crosswise. In bowl, combine lemons, limes, sugar and salt. Let stand for 1 hour.
Pour fruit into serving pitcher. Add limoncello, vodka, Cava wine and ice; stir to blend.
Avocado-Mango Salad with Fresh (or Blue) Cheese, Bacon and Toasted Pumpkinseeds
Ensalada de Aguacate y Mango con Queso Fresco, Tocino y Pepitas Tostadas
From the Mexican mind-set, both buttery avocado and tropical mango derive beautiful benefit from chile, salt and lime. All three of which form a foundation for this avocado-mango salad’s dressing, along with sautéed garlic’s savory aroma and honey’s mellowness. Add the crunch of toasted pumpkinseeds, the tenderness of Boston lettuce and the savory saltiness of crisp bacon and fresh Mexican cheese, and you have a compelling salad. It’s the least substantial of my main course salads—perfect for hot-weather appetites. Also, feel free to scale down the size of the portions so you can use this delicia as the first course for a special dinner. Or serve the large portions with grilled chicken breasts for a more substantial meal.
4 slices bacon
½ cup hulled, untoasted pumpkinseeds
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/3 cup vegetable or olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled
Fresh hot green chile to taste (I like 1 large serrano or small jalapeño), stemmed (optional)
1 tablespoon honey
1 large head Boston/butterhead lettuce (or an equivalent amount of bibb lettuce), leaves separated
2 large ripe avocados
2 ripe mangos
A generous ¾ cup coarsely crumbled Mexican queso fresco or mild blue cheese (Gorgonzola is great)
Arrange the bacon slices between a double layer of paper towels on a microwavable plate. Microwave on high for 2 ½ to 3 ½ minutes, until crispy. Pour the pumpkinseeds into a small skillet and set over medium heat. When the first one pops, stir constantly until all have popped from flat to round, about 5 minutes. Scoop about 1/3 of them into a blender jar and add the lime juice. Pour the remainder into a small dish.
Return the skillet to medium heat and measure in the oil. Add the garlic and optional chile. Cook, stirring regularly, until the garlic is soft and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Scrape the oil and garlic into the blender or food processor. Add the honey and ½ teaspoon salt. Process until smooth. Taste and season with more salt if you think necessary. (Remember: it should be highly seasoned.)
Divide the lettuce between 4 dinner plates. Pit and peel the avocado, then cut it into slices. Peel the mango, then cut the flesh from the pit. Slice to match the avocado pieces. Arrange the avocado and mango in the center of the lettuce. Drizzle everything with the dressing, then sprinkle with the cheese and toasted pumpkinseeds. Crumble the bacon and strew it over the top, and the salad is ready.
Over-the-Top Crab-Avocado-Mango Salad: Sprinkle a generous portion of crab over the avocado and mango before drizzling with dressing.
A Few Simple Riffs: Bacon can be replaced with flaked hot-smoked salmon, eel, trout or other fish. Leave out the bacon to make the salad vegetarian, or replace it with pan-grilled onion slices. The pumpkinseeds can be replaced with pinenuts (they toast—and burn—much faster than the pumpkinseeds). The luscious texture of mango works well with avocado, but so would ripe peach or nectarine. The green chile could be replaced by hot ground red chile (like árbol)—sprinkle it over the salad rather than blending it with the dressing. Crumbled goat cheese is a good stand-in for Mexican queso fresco.
Summer Tomato Spaghetti
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 pound dried spaghetti
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons pine nuts
3 garlic cloves, sliced
2 Jamaican chilies, chopped with seeds and ribs removed
Juice of 2 lemons
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
Freshly ground pepper
1 cup miners lettuce or baby spinach
2 teaspoons salted capers, rinsed
1/2 pound yellow heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 pound red tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/3 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup fresh arugula
8 basil leaves, shredded
1. Preheat the oven to 250F.
2. Place the cherry tomatoes on a baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes.
3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Strain and toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
4. Heat the remaining olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts, garlic and chilies and sauté until golden, for 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice and sugar and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the miners lettuce, capers, cubed tomatoes and cooked spaghetti and heat through. Add the Parmesan, arugula, basil, and cherry tomatoes over the pasta. Serve immediately.
Halibut with Celery and Coriander Relish
4 halibut steaks (10 ounces each)
1/2 cup olive oil
6 celery stalks diced
1 teaspoon toasted coriander seed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ lemons juiced
1/8 cup fresh cilantro chopped
1/8 cup fresh picked parsley
1/8 cup fresh picked basil
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
Method for Relish:
1. Combine the ¼ cup olive oil, celery, half of the garlic, lemon juice, coriander and chopped cilantro.
1. Combine ¾ cup olive oil, garlic, parsley, basil, salt and pepper in a blender and puree.
3. Marinate halibut steaks (or halibut filets) in the puree and refrigerate for 1 hour
4. Preheat grill. The grill is ready when you can hold your hand over it no longer than 5 seconds.
5. Place halibut on hot grill.
6. Grill for 4 to 5 minutes per side. Fish is done when it flakes easily with a fork and is opaque all the way through.
7. Place each halibut steak on a plate. Spoon the celery and coriander relish over.
Hand Formed Pear Tarts with Almonds and Cinnamon
Makes 4 tarts
1 sheet frozen all butter puff pastry, thawed
2 tablespoons almond paste (canned)
4 teaspoons sour cream (optional)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 pears, peeled and cored and cut into 8 wedges
Place a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan. Divide the sheet of puff pastry into 4 squares. Take 1 1/2 teaspoons of almond paste and roll it into a ball then flatten it and place it in the center of the puff pastry. If using, place a teaspoon of sourcream on top of that. Combine the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle 1/8th of the cinnamon sugar over the sourcream. Place four pear wedges in the center of the puff pastry, two leaning away from the center one way and two leaning away from the center the other way. Sprinkle with another 1/8th of the cinnamon sugar. Repeat with other puff pastry squares. Using your hands gather the puff pastry up around the pear slices and press it onto the pears to bundle then snuggly in the dough. It won’t look so petty now but will look beautiful once it bakes up and puffs. Bake at 425 degrees till golden brown on the edges, about 25-30 minutes. Let cool before serving.
Lemon-lime Sangria photo by: Jodi Pudge