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Fire-Roasted Lamb and Lentil Stew
ingredients: lamb, lentils, carrots, celery, onions, cumin seed, ground cumin, fennel seed, anise seed, rosemary, thyme, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper, lamb stock, and flour and butter roux. Amounts and preparation at the discretion of the chef. Additionally flavored with olive oil, honey, and wine according to taste. Topped with watercress.
Garbanzo and Olive Spread
ingredients: 1 can (12 oz.) garbanzo beans, drained, juice reserved; 2 tablespoons minced garlic; juice of 2 lemons; 1/4 cup sesame tahini; 1/2 cup olive oil; salt and pepper to taste; 1/4 cup minced Kalamata olives.
preparation: In a food processor, using the metal blade, puree garbanzo beans with garlic. In a slow, steady stream, add lemon juice, tahini, and oil to form a smooth paste. Slowly add small amounts of reserved bean liquid, as desired, until texture is smooth and the color changes to one shade lighter. (Adding liquid is optional, but the chef prefers the fuller body and mouth feel of the spread with the addition.) Transfer spread to bowl; stir in salt, pepper, and olives. Makes about two cups.
Turkish Mezze Salad Plate
ingredients: arugula; asparagus, cooked and chilled; cucumber, julienned; goat cheese, olives, fresh figs, vinaigrette (1 12-oz. can Bing cherries; 4 oz. salad oil [olive oil or other]; 4 oz. white vinegar).
preparation: Assemble arugula leaves, asparagus stalks, sliced cucumber, goat cheese, olives, and figs on each salad plate. For the vinaigrette: reserve liquid from the can of Bing cherries. Process the cherries in a blender until they liquefy. Add the reserved cherry juice and then whisk in the white vinegar and salad oil.
Dried Apricots with Nutty Sheepsmilk Cheese
ingredients: dried apricots; sheepmilk cheese; walnuts or pistachios, minced.
preparation: Spread the dried apricots cut-side down on a plate. With your fingers put a small amount of sheepsmilk cheese (available at any good cheese shop) on top of each. It's best to soften the cheese by letting it come to room temperature first. Top the cheese with chopped walnuts or pistachios.
Carmelized Fennel Tarts
ingredients: 1 cup all-purpose flour; 1/4 teaspoon salt; 1/2 teaspoon sugar; 5 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes, chilled; 1/2 egg, beaten; 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice; 1 tablespoon ice water; 2 heads fennel, core and fronds removed; 2/3 cup honey; 2/3 cup light brown sugar; 4 tablespoons pekmez (a raisin honey sauce base, available at Middle Eastern speciality stores); pomegranate jus (see recipe).
preparation: In bowl, mix flour, salt, sugar, and butter. Cut with 2 knives or a pastry cutter, to a coarse meal texture. In small bowl, mix egg, lemon juice, and water; add slowly to flour mixture while stirring with a fork. The mixture should come together in a rough mass, moist but not wet. If crumbly, add a bit more water. On floured surface, knead dough lightly to form a disk. Wrap dough in plastic wrap; chill for 2 hours.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Divide dough into four equal portions. On floured surface, roll and shape each piece into a circle about 1/4-inch thick and 4 to 5 inches wide, tucking edges under to raise the rim. Place crusts on baking sheet and prick with a fork. Cover with parchment or wax paper, weighted with dry beans or pellets. Bake 20 to 30 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. Let cool before removing weights.
For the carmelized fennel topping, cut fennel into rough, large dice and blanch 3 minutes in boiling water. Drain; set aside. In large saute pan on medium-high, stir honey and sugar continuously, until the mixture bubbles and begins to change color. when it is a deep golden brown, add the fennel and continue to stir until almost all of the sugar mix is absorbed by the fennel. Remove fennel from pan to a dish or lined baking sheet to cool. To assemble tart, divide fennel evenly on baked pastry crusts. Decorate serving plates, around tarts, with dabs and drizzles of pekmez and pomegranate jus. Makes four 4-inch tarts.
ingredients: 1 cup pomegranate juice (available at Caviar Assouline stores); 2 teaspoons cornstarch; 2 teaspoons water.
preparation: In saucepan, bring juice to a boil. Mix cornstarch with water. Slowly whisk cornstarch slurry into boiling pomegranate juice. Continue to boil for 1 minute or until juice thickens. Let cool. Makes about one cup.
King Midas Golden Elixir
ingredients: yellow muscat grapes, lightly toasted 2-row barley malt, thyme honey, saffron. Fermented on a dry mead yeast to 7.5% alcohol by volume. It has a brilliant golden hue, with reddish highlights, as if touched by Midas himself!
ingredients: 2 cups Japanese sticky rice, raw; 1/2 cup cooked chicken, fine dice; 1/2 cup currants; 1 jar (8 oz.) grape leaves.
preparation: Cook rice as directed on package. Let cool. Add chicken and currants. Place 5 or 6 grape leaves, slightly overlapping, for 10 to 12 inches down the center of each 6 or 7 (12- to 14-inch) lengths of plastic wrap. Spoon rice mixture down the center of the grape leaves. Press to flatten evenly. Roll leaves around filling, cigar-style. Roll plastic around each, tying a knot at each end. (They should look like long Tootsie Rolls.) Bring water to a low boil in a flat pan on the stove. Gently submerge the dolmades. (If necessary, put a rack or light weight on top to hold them down.) Cover loosely; simmer 20 to 25 minutes to set. Let cool. Cut wrap at both ends and remove. Cut strips on bias in 1-inch pieces. Makes about 70 pieces.
Midas-Touched White Chocolate Truffle
ingredients: 1 1/2 pounds white chocolate; 1 cup heavy cream, scalded; edible gold leaf (available at Caviar Assouline stores).
preparation: In bowl, chop 1 poundof white chocolate into small bits. Pour hot cream over chocolate, stirring until melted and smooth. Pour into baking dish; refrigerate overnight. Using a 1-ounce scoop, form balls and roll by hand to smooth seams; chill.
Melt remaining 1/2 pound white chocolate. Place a small amount in the palm of one hand. With the other hand, gently roll a cold truffle ball in white chocolate to coat. Place on a lined tray; chill. Repeat to use all of melted chocolate. When finished, decorate each truffle with dabs of edible gold leaf. Makes 24 truffles.
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