SAMPLE MENUS

CHIC AND SCRUMPTIOUS “PREPARE-AHEAD” ITALIAN

This chic dinner menu can virtually all be assembled in advance.

Who doesn’t love a perfectly balanced baked pasta? Here the combination of penne, radicchio, mushrooms and four cheeses is just that. Assemble it the night before your dinner, and then pop into the oven 45 minutes or so before you plan to serve it. You can even make and freeze extras to defrost and bake when you need to pull a great meal out of your “hat” last minute. In this menu, the pasta serves as the first course, but it also is a great vegetarian main course for lunch or a simple supper.

The rolled turkey breast is elegant, deliciously unusual and one of my all-time favorites. Flavorful and delicious, it too can be assembled a day ahead and baked to order. Or bake it earlier in the day and then just serve at room temperature. Even more special when, accompanied by the gorgeous and super flavorful green herb mayonnaise.

Cauliflower and watercress salad is an unexpected combination and the perfect salad to complement the turkey, while the hazel-nutty chocolate cake with a rich ganache frosting is sublime—a recipe you’ll make again and again once you’ve tasted it. And like all chocolate cakes, it is even better when made a day or two ahead.

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Baked Penne with Mushrooms and Radicchio

Rolled Turkey Breast with Fig-Olive Anchoiade and Green Herb Mayo

Watercress and Cauliflower Salad

Chocolatissimo Chocolate-hazelnut Cake with Ganache Filling and Chocolate Glaze

ELEGANT DINNER PARTY–PREPARE AHEAD AND FESTIVE

This versatile menu is equally effective as a romantic dinner for two, an intimate meal for four or six, or multiplied accordingly for a crowd. Equally important, everything—other than the quick-cooking of the salmon–can be readied earlier in the day or even a day in advance. In addition, each of these recipes is excellent in its own right; you’ll definitely want to mix and match them with recipes already in your repertoire.

The bread pudding recipe was chosen by the Wall Street Journal for inclusion in my December 3 article on Nursery Desserts and is fabulous, cozy, and comforting in chilly fall and winter. On the other hand, this version–elevated several notches by the addition of dried fruit generously soaked in Cognac–is so good, you may actually end up serving it cold or at room temperature in July. I’ve done just that more than once.

A friend taught me to make the artichoke dipping sauce when I was visiting him in Berlin last May, and since then, I’ve often found myself gobbling it down by the spoonful. It enhances many foods in addition to artichokes—great served alongside grilled meat, chicken, and fish; the perfect dressing for a variety of salads–especially tasty with tomatoes alone or even better with tomatoes and mozzarella on toast. On and on.

The sides are unbeatable also. For me, the crispy beans are a healthy alternative to French fries– easy and delicious hot, warm or at room temperature. Ditto the unusual smash–essentially mashed potatoes, but with the unexpected addition of mushrooms, Parmesan, and the always welcome hint of truffles.

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Artichokes with Perfect Curry-Shallot-Caper Dipping Sauce

Pan Roast of Salmon with Aioli Brulee

Crispy-roasted Haricots Verts, Sliced Onions and Garlic

Truffled Potato Smash with Sauteed Mushrooms, Parmesan and Fresh Parsley

Classic Bread Pudding with Brandy-soaked Prunes and Apricots

Brandy Crème Anglaise

MOROCCAN MEDITERRANEAN BUFFET

Redolent of Morocco and also Italy’s southern tip, this meal for simple entertaining is one of my favorites for the transit from winter to early spring. I created the tomato soup for a cookbook I wrote in the 1990s, and it’s been a freezer staple ever since–wildly good for you and absolutely delicious.

Because they are quite thin, the chicken paillards pick up a huge amount of flavor from the marinade, a mixture of crushed and toasted seeds and spices plus garlic, onion, olive oil and honey. They are tasty and easy as are the mixed potatoes and the broccoli rabe–sautéed with giant yellow raisins as well as with pine nuts and garlic.

A sprinkling of fleur de sel adds a very special something to the chocolate tart which is adapted from Joel Robuchon and was quite divine even without it. I’ve rejiggered the recipe yet again to make it even simpler to prepare and possibly even more delicious to eat.

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Moroccan-spice-crusted Grilled Chicken Paillards

Pan Roast of Mixed Potatoes with Fennel, Rosemary and Lavender

Broccoli Rabe Saute with Pignoli, Garlic and Giant Yellow Raisins

French Dark Chocolate Tart with Fleur de Sel and a Dollop of Whipped Cream

PARISIAN SUPPER

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Individual Spinach Souffles

Pan-roasted Duck Magret with Raspberry-Port Sauce

Mixed Mushroom Risotto

Apple Galette with Homemade Rum Raisin Ice Cream

FRENCH BISTRO DINNER

Chez Allard was a Michelin-starred, family-run bistro in Paris that closed in the ‘80s after being around for decades. If you like lentils and bacon, this chicken dish is for you. Intensely flavorful and perfect for fall and winter.

The fig salad is a wonderful pairing of opposites–soft and crunchy, sharp and sweet, fresh and aged. And figs should be taken advantage of during their not-long-enough season. And Baked Alaska is a classic though I use coffee ice cream instead of vanilla as it is so perfect with the vanilla meringue. Hot on the outside, cold within–another case where the end result is greater than the sum of the (opposing) parts.

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Fresh Fig, Arugula, Chevre, Pine Nuts, and Fennel with Balsamic Shallot Vinaigrette

Chez Allard’s Roast Chicken with Lentils and Bacon

Baked Alaska with Coffee Ice Cream

GOURMET COMFORT FOOD

It was suggested I do gourmet comfort foods class, and this is what I came up with. All the recipes are updated versions of the classics and DELICIOUS. The names of the dishes essentially are self-explanatory. Though these are great versions of each one.

The biscuits are by far the best I’ve ever eaten. And who can resist Caesar Salad, Fried Chicken, fancy Mac and Cheese or Devil’s Food Cake?

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The Best Caesar Salad

Gourmet Herbed-Fried Chicken

Frenchified Macaroni and Cheese from Lucas Carton

Oversized Bacon, Chive and Cheddar Biscuits

Devil’s Food Cake with Fudgy Frosting a la mode

ROAST FISH AND CITRUS FOR JANUARY

This roast fish is a perfectly suited to January; it’s fresh and light after holiday excess and accented with seasonal citrus—blood and navel oranges, lemons and limes–which creates a dual purpose sauce/salad, ideal to accompany this succulent fish. The sunrise colors of the citrus are beautiful on the plate as is the pomegranate and green pea-studded pilaf.

Because both these dishes are light, the meal begins with a hearty and super delicious gratin of cabbage, pancetta and a mixture of cheeses and ends with a favorite—but not dietetic–dessert. Meringue is airy and fat-free but the chocolate is rich, full-flavored and intense–and well, whipped cream is whipped cream.

The gratin is a great recipe to have in your fall and winter repertoire and the dessert is good all times of year. If, in your own kitchen, you have resolved to cook for health in January, then replace the gratin with a salad and the dessert with sorbet and cookies with pears and a bit of cheese. The meal will still be a delight and you’ll have the gratin and the chocolate pie to look forward to when you are ready to indulge.

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Savoy Cabbage, Mixed Cheese and Pancetta Gratin

Pan Roasted Cod or Halibut with Mixed Citrus Vierge

Rice Pilaf with Pomegranate, Peas and Fresh Mint

Chocolate and Meringue Angel “Pie”

ELEGANT ITALIAN SUMMER SUPPER

In their marvelous award-winning FIZDALE AND GOLD COOKBOOK, Robert Fizdale and Arthur Gold (of the world-famous piano duo Fizdale and Gold) describe “the Great Turkey Breakthrough,” their visit to a fancy Milan restaurant where when they complimented the chef on his exquisite veal while complaining that there was nothing to compare in the United State. He leaned forward to make sure no one was within earshot and whispered, “Signori, I have a dark confession to make. I will tell you my secret. I make my veal out of turkey!” I’ve adapted this turkey scallopini recipe below. The turkey is delicious, good for you, virtually undistinguishable from the veal, and wildly less expensive. It is EASY and elegant and fits into many menus. A recipe well-worth having.

I’ve paired the scallopini with a deliciously rich artichoke flan, saucing both with tomato couli and anchovy oil (for those of you who don’t like anchovies, the sauce is on the side, but you should try it. It’s great). The plate is garnished with a julienne of crispy fried artichokes.

The first course salad—shrimp, fennel, citrus and capers–is light, flavorful, delicious, cool, and perfect in the heat.

And dessert, a simple almond cake, is very almondy–one of my favorite cakes and appropriate year round—in winter, slices toasted or not, with caramelized apples or pears and in summer with lots of fresh berries or sliced stone fruits with or without a berry-flavored ice cream.

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Shrimp, Fennel, Orange, Endive, and Arugula Salad with Citrus-caper Vinaigrette

Artichoke Flan with Mozzarella, Tomato Couli and Crispy fried Leeks

Turkey Scallopini

Almond Cake with a Melange of Fresh Berries

PREPARE-AHEAD, FESTIVE DINNER PARTY MENU

This versatile menu is equally effective as a romantic dinner for two, an intimate meal for four or six, or multiplied accordingly for a crowd. Equally important, everything—other than the quick-cooking of the salmon–can be readied earlier in the day or the day before. In addition, each of these recipes is excellent in its own right; you’ll definitely want to work them into menus you already make.

The bread pudding recipe was chosen by the Wall Street Journal for inclusion in my article on Nursery Desserts and is fabulous AND cozy and comforting in chilly fall and winter. On the other hand, this version–elevated several notches by the addition of dried fruit generously soaked in Cognac–is so good I often serve it cold or at room temperature in July.The Baked Alaska is a real show stopper and literally takes only 15 minutes or so to throw together. EASY and wildly IMPRESSIVE and of course, delicious. I demonstrated it on ABC’s THE CHEW and teach it often.

A friend taught me to make the artichoke dipping sauce when I was visiting him in Berlin last May and I often gobble it down by the spoonful. It enhances many foods in addition to the artichokes—great served alongside grilled meat, chicken, and fish; ideal for dressing many types of salad; a perfect complement to  tomatoes alone or even better with tomatoes and mozzarella on toast. On and on.

The sides too are unbeatable. The crispy beans are a healthy alternative to French fries— easy and delicious hot, warm or at room temperature. Ditto the unusual smash –essentially mashed potatoes, but with the unexpected addition of Parmesan and the always welcome hint of truffles.

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Artichokes with Perfect Curry-Shallot Dipping Sauce

Pan Roast of Salmon with Aioli Brulee

Crispy-roasted Haricots Verts, Sliced Onions and Whole Garlic

Truffled Potato Smash with Parmesan and Fresh Parsley

Baked Alaska, Bread Pudding with Dried Fruits and Brandied Creme Anglaise, or Individual Chocolate Souffles with Melty Ice Cream Sauce

OTTOLENGHI BEST EVER SPRING BUFFET (for VEGETARIAN, replace the Baked Shrimp with the Roast Vegetable Tart)

For those of you who don’t know him, Yotam Ottolenghi is an Israeli-born chef, cookery writer, and restaurant-owner now based in London. He writes a weekly food column for The Guardian and has written three ground-breaking cookbooks.

I adore this menu adapted from Ottolenghi recipes. It’s green and springy and just right for now, with lots of fresh herbs, peas, and beautiful asparagus.

And the warm pasta salad—which can be a first course or part of the buffet– is unusual and unusually light with its green pea, basil and yogurt-based sauce. And it’s gorgeous to boot. But then the entire menu is. I think you’ll love it.

The easy seafood recipe– the unexpected pairing with feta has made it a priority dish on Ottolenghi’s London catering menu for over ten years–can be put together and then baked last minute. It’s savory and saucy is delicious and a great combo with the flavorful cousous. You can also make the recipe with other varieties of mixed seafood or even using chicken.

Whole wheat couscous is my new favorite side. It’s so much more flavorful than the more traditional version and so much better for you. AND in contrast to most pasta and rice dishes, it cooks in only five minutes and can then sit around for hours.

I love a traditional asparagus “mismosa” –sprinkled with an abundance of grated eggs and capers.  Ottolenghi includes tarragon, not “authentic” but fabulous, its “surprise” element as welcome an addition as its taste. My own tweak is grilling the asparagus, also not traditional to the dish but hugely successful.

Also spring-and-summery is dessert,  a light, large, crunchy meringue base topped with homemade vanilla bean ice cream, lots of fresh berries and a cooling raspberry coulis. The perfect dessert to take you all the way from now through Labor Day. The meringues last for months and months: If you make several at once—making them in different sizes to serve different numbers of people is often handy—and wrap them well in foil, you can pull one off the shelf last minute and have a marvelous dessert on hand in minutes. The coulis keeps for several weeks in the fridge and indefinitely in the freezer. And well, we all know about ice cream.

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Pasta Shells with Green Peas, Pignoli, Basil, and Greek Yogurt

Ottolenghi Baked Shrimp with Mussels. Feta and Tomatoes

Grilled Asparagus Mimosa (sieved hard boiled eggs, fresh tarragon, and capers)

Whole Wheat Couscous with Fresh Mixed Herbs, Scallions and Black Pepper

Mixed Berry Pavlova, Seasonal Fruit Freeform Tart or Frozen Lemon Meringue Bombe

A la mode when appropriate

ALL SOUFFLES… PLUS A DIVINE WATERCRESS AND WALNUT SALAD

I’ve taught this class a number of times, and people love the magic of so many souffles at once—also a great learning opportunity to really get the technique down pat.

Everyone loves soufflés; and with a few tips and suggestions taken into account, they are a snap to make and fairly foolproof. The soufflé base can be prepared up to three days in advance so when ready to eat, all you have to do is whip up the whites, fold them together with the base and bake for about 15 minutes. Souffles cook more quickly and evenly when made as individual portions so I usually make small ones. Everyone is thrilled to dig into a special soufflé made just for them. We’ll do two savory and two dessert versions—Garlic-Cheese, Spinach, Chocolate, and Coffee.

And I’ll provide a couple of extra recipes as once you get the hang of making one flavor, you will be able—and want to—make them all. In addition, we’ll make a fresh, bright watercress salad with a few walnuts and a walnut lemon juice vinaigrette. Just to break things up and clean the palate. It’s a great recipe to have on hand as it is easy and special and enhances so many different menus.

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Individual Garlic, Mixed Cheeses, and Fresh Herb Souffle and/or Individual Spinach Souffles

Fresh Watercress Salad with  Walnuts and Walnut-Lemon Juice Vinaigrette

Chocolate Souffles

Coffee Souffles

Both with Homemade Ice Cream Sauce

CASUAL CHIC: A GRILLED LAMB BUFFET (lamb can also be broiled)

A simple and elegant dinner with a decadent, knock-your-socks-off, rich and gooey old time dessert to die for,  this is one of my favorite go-to menus for both spring and summer. If you come to class and check it out,  I think you’ll feel the same. I’ll lay it out buffet-style, but more typically you can pull out the divine risotto (light and springy with lots of green peas and asparagus and well able to stand up on its own) and to serve as a first course. It is a great starter for many other warm weather menus as well.

The flavorful lamb, first heavily marinated, then grilled (or broiled) and accented by mint-enhanced homemade mayo served alongside is hard to resist, especially when complemented by a mélange of crispy garden favorites tossed with toasted hazelnuts and a hazelnut vinaigrette.

And no one can resist rich, moist devil’s food cake topped as well as layered with homemade “marshmallow fluff” and lots of dark chocolate shavings. Warm Chocolate sauce gilds the lily and is great with the mixed Ice creams a al mode which in turn are pretty great with all that icing.

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Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Garlic and Rosemary

Fresh Mint Mayonnaise

Spring Lemon Risotto with Asparagus and Green Peas

Watercress, Arugula, Radicchio, Endive, & Walnut Salad with Walnut Vinaigrette

Devils’ Food Cake with Marshmallow Icing, Chocolate Espresso Tarte, OR Seasonal Fruit Crostata a la Mode

ELEGANT ITALIAN

A menu of transition. Raspberries, blueberries, figs, ice cream and Limoncello herald the fact that a bit of summer is still with us while root vegetables, wilted spinach and bacon inform us that cooler months are around the corner.

The tomato and chevre crostata is ideal when late season tomatoes are at their best but good all year if you substitute cherry tomatoes.  And the chicken—with an intense reduction sauce and unusual juxtaposition of raspberries and mellow garlic—goes particularly well with the rustic vegetable puree and is great all year around.

Wilted spinach salad was popular in California when I was growing up. I loved it then and still do. The natural winner is enhanced further by luscious ripe figs, crisp bacon, and the sweet-and-salty richness provided by the bacon-balsamic dressing. Add shredded chicken or duck, and the dish easily becomes a “ladies lunch” main course.

I’ve loved risotto gelato ever since I ate it in Florence as a child. I’ve never found an exceptional one to purchase here and have therefore learned to make it myself.  I include lemon peel and cinnamon along with Arborio rice with a result somewhere between the best sweet risotto ever and rice pudding. But frozen of course! The already scrumptious dish is improved further by a sprinkling of crumbled Amaretti.

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Tomato-chevre Crostata with Rosemary and Olives

Crispy Chicken with Raspberry Reduction and Caramelized Garlic

Potato and Root Vegetable Smash

Wilted Spinach and Fig Salad with Crispy Bacon and Bacon-Balsamic Vinaigrette

The Best Ever Risotto Ice Cream with Crumbled Amaretti, Individual Molten Center Chocolate Cakes, Sachertorte a la Mode, OR Creme Caramel

SHANGHAI NIGHTS: A CULINARY EAST MEETS WEST

This menu is an updated version of one from my self-proclaimed “Hall of Fame.” To keep life interesting and for inclusion in my upcoming book about kitchen timing, I’ve replaced pork ribs with short ribs of beef (hard to imagine but even more succulent), and have a new side dish, a divine Ottolenghi-inspired red rice and cabbage slaw. If you’ve never tasted red rice from the Camargue, you’re in for a treat. And dessert is one of the tastiest and easiest pear desserts I know. I’ve added ginger to the basic recipe to complement this menu.

The bisque was left as is as there was no way I could think of to improve on it.

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Shanghai Shrimp Bisque with a Confetti of Stir-fried Vegetables

Short Ribs of Beef with Lemongrass, Chilies and Soy

Sweet ‘n Spicy Red Rice and Cabbage Slaw

Ginger-caramelized Pears with Vanilla Crème Fraiche, Individual Chocolate Souffles with Melty Ice Cream Sauce, OR Frozen Lemon Meringue Bombe

BY LAND OR BY SEA SURF AND TURF

This meal revolves around late summer’s bounty though it can be prepared all year long. Included here—and some of my favorite foods—are fresh corn, tomatoes, plums and figs. The first course is my personal take on an interesting seafood-and-salad combo I ate last summer while vacationing in Aspen. Smoky, a bit charred, and slightly crispy, warm shrimp and calamari are perfectly balanced by the cool gardeny arugula and lush tomatoes while nicely offset by the more complex and spicy chorizo (its taste further enhanced by frying). This dish—finished with a lemon-basil vinaigrette drizzle—is divine.

The main course is a current go-to favorite with cod. The meaty white fish—already delicious—is improved further by a hot oven. Paired with sweetly caramelized fennel and rich figs, it’s hard to beat. And tasty corn pudding is an ideal, yummy, and seasonally appropriate side.

I created this plum galette last fall while working on a Wall Street Journal article. Late season plums—long-cooked to perfection—combine with crunchy sugar-glazed puff pastry and rich home-made vanilla bean ice cream providing the absolute right finale to this harvest bonanza.

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Char-grilled Shrimp and Calamari with Fresh Tomato, Arugula and Fried Chorizo

Pan-roasted Cod with Caramelized Fennel and Fresh Figs

Fresh Corn Pudding with Mixed Garden Herbs

Caramelized Plum Galette with Home-made Vanilla Ice Cream, Frozen Lemon Bombe, Chocolate Meringue Pavlova, OR Almond Marzipan Pound Cake with Mixed Berries and Cream

ROAST PORK AND FRESH FIGS

This pork roast class is a bit fusiony, with touches of Italy, Spain and France as well. The casual-but-elegant menu is a snappy way to solve entertaining conundrums all year ’round. The green bean starter is  a wonderfully complex mélange of flavors highlighting haricots verts but made dramatically more compelling by toasted Marcona almonds, sherry vinegar, and Serrano ham add-ins and lots of fresh herbs.

The pork is succulent, juicy and quite special, memorable even when simply seasoned and stuck in the oven, but marinated and embellished with fresh figs and caramelized fennel, it’s out of this world.

The chevre and onion tart is certainly lily gilding, but I couldn’t resist. Accompanying the pork, it makes for a rich menu indeed, but well worth it!! And its versatility makes it a great recipe to have in your repertoire; serve it as a starter or even alongside a green salad (or the green bean salad in this menu)—even without the pork—as the main event.

And the dessert  is spectacular. Having made my share of frozen sweets over the years, I am currently sold on semifreddo. The secret to the creamy treat—traditional and ubiquitous in Italy—is cooking the egg whites to stabilize them. This small step creates a miracle, rich and luscious yet ethereally light as well. Like ice cream, but fluffier and slower to melt, it maintains its soft, velvety texture, and is easy to cut even straight from the freezer. No special equipment is required so you can to throw a batch together–even without an ice cream maker–whenever a bit of self-indulgence (or indulging someone else) is in order.

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Warm Haricots Verts Salad with Serrano Ham, Toasted Marcona Almonds, Fresh Herbs, and Sherry Vinegar Vinaigrette

Roast Pork Loin with Honey-ed Figs and Caramelized Fennel

Chevre and Caramelized Onion Tart

Orange-Grand Marnier Semifreddo with Bitter Cocoa and Chocolate Drizzle, Easy Streusel Crust Raspberry Nectarine Tart, OR Coffee Meringue Bombe with Hazelnuts and Chocolate Drizzle

THE SAUCE IS THE THING, ESPECIALLY IN SUMMER

Spring and Summer Buffet Highlighting 3 Easy Sauces, 2 Asian Salads with a Boozy Bananas Foster thrown in for good measure

The basic idea of this class is the three great, easy summer sauces that go with and enhance almost anything.  Each is different from the next and each stands up well on its own. However, we’ll make all three in class so you can taste them and have them to play with all summer long. Try any one of them with grilled bone-in chicken pieces as well as the paillards, grilled and roast salmon, cod, and swordfish as well as steaks, and lamb and pork chops. They are fab at a clambake and  I even dress up hotdogs and hamburgers with the green mayo and the anchoiade.  All three brilliantly turn the utterly ordinary into extraordinary and make the extraordinary out of this world.

As “grilling” is synonymous with “summer,” we’ll prepare crispy-grilled polenta and grilled chicken paillards to showcase our sauces. Paillards cook quickly—3 or 4 minutes max —and thus are ideal for class but are also pretty great for a quick meal during the week or for easy entertaining. 

And what’s a summer buffet without salads?  These are both Asian and super flavorful, the two that I tend to make over and over all summer long. Black rice is unusual, really good for you, and beautiful in the bowl –with bits of orange mango, green cilantro, scallions, red peppers, and purple onions providing a rainbow of highlights. And best of all, a wide range of tastes and textures make it mouth-wateringly irresistible.   And –maybe because summer food makes me crave a good rum drink—I’m once again in the mood for Bananas Foster, an OTT rummy dessert if there ever was one. At least as important as the booze, however, is the abundance of dark, gooey, caramelly bananas which are generously spooned over home-made vanilla bean ice cream. Heaven.

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Herb-grilled Chicken Paillards and Crispy Polenta

with 3 Sauces:         

Dried Fig Anchoiade         

Green Herb & Garlic Mayonnaise  (Aioli)

Mixed Citrus, Caper, Fresh Fennel and Red Onion Salsa

Black Rice Salad with Mango and Peanuts

Tess’ Asian Salad with Kale, Cucumber, Daikon and Lime-Sesame Dressing

Boozy Bananas Foster with Vanilla Ice Cream, Summer Fruit Crostata a la Mode OR Individual Raspberry Souffles

OTTOLENGHI VEGETARIAN BUFFET

Every time I think we should have a break from Ottolenghi, there is another set of recipes I fall in love with. I taught this VEGETARIAN menu this past weekend for a private bridal shower class and everyone adored it. The only recipe that is a repeat from a previous menu is the Brownie Pie…which is actually David Chang rather than Ottolenghi, but divine and worth the detour/lack of menu purity. It’s the richest, most chocolatey dessert I’ve had in ages. I froze the leftovers from the class and have been eating them, sliver by sliver– at least as good as an unbelievably over-the-top frozen concoction as it was just baked.

The rest of the menu is equally delicious. The tart is jam-packed with every roasted vegetable under the sun– pre-roasting the veggies gives them lots of extra flavor– as well as lusciously sweet caramelized onions. As if that weren’t enough, the lily is gilded with feta and fresh ricotta cheeses as well as cherry tomatoes and a rich cream and egg custard. Truly an out of this world experience.

The slaw includes shredded red and savoy cabbages as well as mango, papaya, red onion, spiced and caramelized cashews and much else. The dressing is a heavenly mixture of citrus, maple syrup, dark sesame oil and lemongrass. Unusual and unusually addictive.

And finally the chickpea sauté. The woman hosting the bridal shower insisted on this recipe. I had my doubts but it was MY error. Chickpeas, arugula, spinach, garlic, carrots, caraway seeds sautéed and topped with a Greek yogurt and olive oil dressing. It may not sound spectacular but it was. I’ve already made it again and it’s only been three days since the class.

And best of all (or at least a great bonus), all these dishes are equally good at room temperature and thus perfect for a PREPARE AHEAD meal. And they will be great to serve all summer long.

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Very full tart

Sweet Mixed Cabbage slaw

Chickpea saute with greek yogurt

Haricots verts, snow peas, sugar snaps, green peas with hazelnut and orange

Momofuku Chocolate Brownie Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream a la Mode, Sachertorte a la Mode, OR Seasonal Fruit Galette a la Mode

SPRING-SUMMER EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN

This Eastern Mediterranean menu is custom-made for warm weather. It begins and ends with cooling you off in mind, while sandwiched in between, the main course dishes showcase dates, capers, green olives, preserved lemon, anchovies, molasses and fresh herbs, all of which are synonymous with gutsy, robust flavor.

Deceptively rich in taste but low in calories, the cold soup starter weightlessly satisfies and refreshes. A cold nonfat Greek yogurt- fresh dill combination is generously garnished with feta, scallions, cucumber and toasted coriander. I consume it by the quart to get cooler by the minute.

Ottolenghi’s tasty roast chicken retains the olives and capers of classic Chicken Marbella, but the Israeli master has changed the herbs and seasonings, added molasses and substituted dates for prunes with a divine, old-is-new-again result. And the dish pairs brilliantly with preserved lemon and cilantro-enhanced couscous. Raw kale salad is the rage at my table as well as everywhere else lately… Sometimes, though, I prefer to forego some of that chewing and briefly sauté the hearty greens as in the dish below. Anchovies provide the salt, and in this case enigmatically flavor the dish leaving no telltale fishy taste in their wake.

And the dessert is a summer spectacular. Having made my share of frozen sweets over the years, I am currently sold on semifreddo. The secret to this creamy treat—traditional and ubiquitous in Italy—is stabilizing the egg whites by cooking them. This small step creates an ethereally light and luscious product.

Like ice cream, but fluffier and slower to melt, it maintains a soft, velvety texture, and is easy to cut even straight from the freezer. And because you don’t need any special equipment to make it, you can to throw a batch together– even without an ice cream maker–whenever you crave cooling off, calming down, or cheering up.

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Cold Yogurt and Fresh Dill Soup with Scallions, Cucumber, Feta and Roasted Coriander

Ottolenghi’s Pan-roast of Chicken with Dates, Capers, Green Olives and Molasses

Whole Wheat Couscous with Cracked Pepper, Cilantro, and Preserved Lemon

Chopped Kale Saute with Anchovy and Garlic

Orange-Grand Marnier Semifreddo with bitter cocoa and Whipped Cream, Individual Molten Chocolate Cakes, OR Sachertorte a la mode

© Copyright - Gail Monaghan