Roasted Snapper with Tomatoes
This elegant dish makes an excellent main course for dinner with good friends.
4 8-ounce fillets snapper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for rubbing
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 large tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 tablespoon white wine
1 teaspoon Spanish paprika
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
Preheat oven to 450˚F (220c).
Lay fish fillets on a large baking sheet and rub with a little olive oil. Sprinkle with black pepper and 1 teaspoon of salt, and cook for 12 minutes, until fish flakes easily with a fork.
In the meantime, heat a heavy skillet over high heat until the skillet is very hot. Add oil, garlic, and tomatoes all at once, and cook while stirring for 2 minutes. Add wine, remaining 1 teaspoon of salt, paprika, and white pepper, and cook for another 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and mix in parsley and coriander. Set aside until fish is ready.
To serve, arrange tomatoes on serving dish using a slotted spoon. Top each dish with a fish fillet, then pour sauce from tomatoes over top. Serve immediately.
Potato Salad with Olives
This light and zesty potato salad is excellent when served as an accompaniment to a light lunch or Sunday brunch.
2 pounds new potatoes, halved
¼ cup Green Olive Tapenade
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup pitted black olives
½ cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
Place the potatoes in a large pan filled with water so that the water covers all the potatoes. Cook for 30 minutes over medium heat until the potatoes are soft.
While the potatoes are cooking, place the tapenade in a bowl. Add the parsley, salt, pepper, and vinegar, and mix well.
Gradually add the olive oil while stirring. Mix until you achieve a thick sauce and set aside.Once the potatoes have cooked, drain the water from the pot. While the potatoes are still warm, transfer to a large bowl.
Add the olives, cherry tomatoes, and the sauce prepared earlier.
Mix the salad well and set aside for 30 minutes before serving. You may store the salad for up to 3 hours before serving.
Walnut Rye Bread
1½ cups cold water
2 teaspoons dried yeast
2 ½ cups bread flour
1 cup rye flour
1 tablespoon salt
½ cup walnuts
- Place the water, yeast, bread flour, and rye flour in a mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer with a kneading hook to knead on low speed for 3 minutes. Add the salt and walnuts and increase the speed to medium. Knead for 8 minutes.
- Transfer the dough to a floured bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Let stand to rise for 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in size.
- Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and roll into a ball.
- Place the ball of dough on a baking sheet lined with baking paper and let stand to rise in a warm place, until the dough doubles in size.
- Preheat the oven to 450 ºF.
- Bake for 35 minutes.
Grouper Carpaccio with Tomato Vinaigrette
For this dish to turn out just right, make sure the fish is very thinly sliced. I recommend asking your fishmonger to slice it for you.
3/4 pound fresh grouper fillet, skinless and very thinly sliced
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, for garnish
1. On a large serving dish, arrange fish slices so that they are close together, but not overlapping.
2. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
3. In the meantime, squeeze juice and seeds from the cherry tomatoes into a small bowl. Discard peels. Add oil, lemon juice, remaining 1 teaspoon of salt, and pepper, and whisk together.
4. Pour mixture evenly over fish, taking care that every piece is covered. Garnish with thyme, and serve immediately
Pralines and Truffles
Pistachio Cream Pralines
½ cup shelled pistachios
½ cup heavy cream
12 ounces quality bittersweet chocolate
9 ounces white chocolate
Food processor with rounded blade
Pastry bag with 1/3-inch round tip
- In the food processor, mix the pistachios and the cream. Process until smooth. Set aside.
- Melt the bittersweet chocolate in a double boiler.
- After the chocolate has melted, transfer to a bowl and whisk by hand in a well ventilated place, such as next to a window.
- Let the chocolate cool to room temperature. Monitor the temperature of the chocolate by measuring it every 5 minutes with the thermometer. Let the chocolate cool to 86ºF. Be patient because if the chocolate does not cool properly the pralines will be chalky and not glossy.
- While the chocolate is cooling, melt the white chocolate in a double boiler. When the white chocolate is completely melted, add the pistachio cream mixture to the double boiler. Mix well until the mixture is completely blended and is of uniform texture.
- When the bittersweet chocolate has cooled, whisk until the chocolate achieves a smooth glossy texture. Generously ladle the melted bittersweet chocolate into the praline moulds. Fill the moulds completely. Turn the mould over onto a bowl and drain the moulds of chocolate so that only a coating of chocolate remains in each mould. Freeze the pralines for 5 minutes.
- Place the white chocolate mixture in the pastry bag with the round tip. Remove the praline moulds from the freezer and pipe the white chocolate mixture into each praline until it is just below the edge of the mould. Freeze for 15 minutes.
- Remove the pralines from the freezer and ladle a layer of bittersweet chocolate over the pralines. Spread the chocolate evenly with a rubber spatula or a pastry knife so that it does not overflow from the individual moulds. Freeze for 30 minutes.
- Remove the pralines from the freezer, turn the moulds over, and hold them 2 inches above your work surface. Slap the bottom of the mould with your hand to free the pralines from their moulds.
- Serve immediately or transfer to an airtight container and store in a cool dark place for up to 2 weeks.
This is my own personal variation on the classic, inspired by a memorable quiche I enjoyed in a small village in southern France.
Makes 1 10-inch round quiche (serves 10)
1 recipe Savory Shortcrust Pastry
1 egg, beaten (for brushing)
½ cup pitted black olives in wine
½ cup thinly sliced sundried tomatoes
½ cup aged goat cheese cut into cubes
20 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
8 olive oil- packed anchovy fillets
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 recipe Quiche Filling
- Lightly flour a work surface and roll the dough out 1/8-inch thick using a rolling pin.
- Carefully transfer the dough to the pan and use your fingers to press the dough into place. Cut off any excess dough around the edges.
- Place the pan in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 375ºF.
- Cut out a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the quiche pan, place over the dough, and top with beans or commercial pie weights.
- Place the quiche in the oven and bake 20 minutes. Remove weights and paper, and brush the bottom and sides with the beaten egg. Bake an additional 3 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven and place on a work surface. Sprinkle olives, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and basil equally over the baked crust. Pour the prepared filling over the top. Return the pan to the oven and bake 20 minutes. Serve immediately or let cool to room temperature and reheat before serving. Best consumed same day.
Pure ambrosia, this is one of the most popular cakes in Paris. The flavors are complex, the frosting – pure heaven. To simplify matters, I often make this cake over the course of several days, by preparing a different mousse layer each day and freezing it.
1 recipe Lady Finger Mixture , with cocoa
3 cups whipping cream
15 ounces bittersweet chocolate
¼ cup water
¼ cup sugar
½ cup Marzipan
Royal Chocolate Frosting
1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. Prepare the Lady Finger mixture according to recipe directions, adding the 1 tablespoon cocoa. Transfer to a pastry bag with a 1/3 –inch round tip.
3. Working from the outside in, pipe an 11-inch disc of the mixture on the prepared baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.
4. When baked, transfer the parchment paper with the disc to a wire rack, and let cool for at least 30 minutes.
5. To make the Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse, bring 1 cup cream to a boil and remove from heat. Add 5 ounces chocolate, and whisk with a hand whisk till smooth. Set aside.
6. Make sugar syrup: In a small saucepan, bring water and sugar to a boil over low heat, stirring often, to dissolve sugar. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
7. Turn the disc over with the parchment paper side up, and very slowly and carefully peel off the paper. Place the disc on the tray with the side that touched the parchment paper facing up.
8. Use a 10-inch baking ring to cut the disc into a 10-inch circle.
9. Line a tray that can fit into your freezer with parchment paper. Place the 10-inch baking ring on the tray and line it with a cellophane cake collar. Put the disc inside, and gently push it to the bottom of the ring.
10. Pour the sugar syrup over the top equally, and cover with the genache. Use a rubber spatula to even out the top. Place the tray in the freezer for 20 minutes.
11. Prepare the Chocolate-Almond Mousse: Melt 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate and marzipan together in the top of a double boiler, or in a bowl placed over boiling water. In a medium bowl, whip 1 cup cream till almost stiff. Using a rubber spatula, blend the chocolate-marzipan mixture into the whipped cream till smooth.
12. Remove the cake from the freezer, pour the Chocolate-Almond Mousse over the top, and level with a rubber spatula. Return to the freezer for 20 minutes.
13. Make the Chocolate Mousse: Melt the remaining 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate in the top of a double boiler or in a bowl placed over boiling water. Whip 1 cup cream till almost stiff and blend the melted chocolate into the whipped cream till smooth.
14. Remove the cake from the freezer and pour the Chocolate Mousse on top. Use a large palette knife to level out this top layer, so it reaches the edges of the ring. Now return the cake to the freezer till it is frozen solid. (Unfrosted cake may be frozen up to 2 weeks.)
15. Pour a generous amount of Royal Frosting on top of the frozen cake, and use a palette knife to ice the top and then the sides. Work quickly, because the frosting tends to harden on contact with the cold cake. Place in the refrigerator and serve when defrosted. Will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Chocolate Hazelnut Brownies
Moist and delicious brownies with a delightful nutty crunch.
Makes approximately 20 brownies
1½ cups quality bittersweet chocolate
1 cup butter
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup hazelnuts, whole
½ cup flour
8 x 10-inch baking tin lined with baking paper
- Preheat the oven to 330°F.
- To melt the chocolate, place the chocolate and butter in a double boiler or in a large bowl set on top of a pan of boiling water.
- While the chocolate is melting, beat the eggs and sugar together with an electric mixer until they are frothy.
- When the chocolate and butter are completely melted, remove from the heat and stir in the hazelnuts with a rubber spatula.
- Fold the flour into the melted chocolate with a spatula. Fold the beaten eggs into the mixture.
- Pour the mixture into the baking tin and bake at 330°F for 8 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven and set to cool on a metal cooling rack for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, transfer to the refrigerator for at least two hours.
- After the brownies cool, remove from the refrigerator and set on a work surface. Cut the brownies into 2-inch squares with a sharp knife. Be sure to wipe the knife with a damp cloth between cuts to ensure clean lines.