Recipe: Tapioca with strawberry gelée and fresh strawberries

Total time: 1 hour, 25 minutes, plus 4 hours soaking time

Servings: 4

Note: From Uyen Nguyen, pastry chef at Restaurant Guy Savoy in Las Vegas. Small tapioca pearls are available at Le Sanctuaire in Santa Monica; gelatin sheets are available at Surfas.

Strawberry gelée 1 pint fresh strawberries

Juice from 1 lemon (2 1/2 tablespoons)

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 sheets gelatin

1. Remove the stems from the strawberries and cut them in quarters if they are large, in half if they are small.

2. Fill a medium pot halfway with water and bring it to a boil. Place the strawberries, lemon juice and sugar in a large stainless steel bowl, cover it tightly with plastic wrap, and place it on top of the pot.

3. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the strawberries for 1 hour, until they render their juices. Let them cool, off heat for 15 minutes. Strain the liquid into a bowl, pressing on the solids to release flavor.

4. Soak the gelatin in 1 cup of cold water for 5 minutes. Squeeze out and discard the excess water and stir the gelatin into the warm strawberry consommé. Divide the strawberry consommé among four parfait or wine glasses. Chill at least 2 hours, or until set.

Tapioca pudding and assembly 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon small tapioca pearls

1 2/3 cups whole milk

1 vanilla bean, split in half and scraped

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 pint fresh strawberries

1 recipe strawberry gelée

1. Soak the tapioca for 4 hours in 1 1/2 cups of cold water. Drain the tapioca, place it in a colander and rinse under cold water. Drain well.

2. In a 1 1/2-quart saucepan, bring the milk and vanilla bean and seeds to a boil. Add the tapioca and turn the heat to low. Let the pearls cook, without boiling or simmering (to avoid burning), for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the pearls are cooked through. The tapioca should be tender and translucent, with no visible whiteness. Add sugar during the last 5 minutes of cooking. Remove the vanilla bean and discard.

3. Put the tapioca in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap (placing the wrap directly on the surface of the pudding). Let cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

4. Remove the stems from the strawberries and cut them into quarters if they are large, or in half if they are small. Divide the tapioca into glasses on top of the strawberry gelée and chill 30 minutes. Top with strawberries and serve.

Each serving: 267 calories; 6 grams protein; 54 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 4 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 10 mg. cholesterol; 47 mg. sodium.

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