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2007 recipe runners-up

Roasted duck pot pie

Total time: About 5 1/2 hours, including roasting and baking time

Servings: 10

Note: From test kitchen director Donna Deane. Duck fat (if you would rather buy it than render it from the duck) is available at Bristol Farms stores, Surfas in Culver City and Monsieur Marcel in Los Angeles. This recipe calls for a 2-quart, 4-inch deep casserole.

1 (5-pound) duck

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Salt to taste

2 carrots, peeled, roughly chopped

1 medium onion, roughly chopped

1 celery stalk, roughly chopped

2 sprigs thyme

4 to 5 black peppercorns

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups torn kale (torn in bite-size pieces)

4 small carrots, peeled and sliced (1/4 inch on the

diagonal)

4 turnips peeled and cut in 3/4 -inch cubes

1 tablespoon butter

1/3 cup flour

1/4 cup duck fat

1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Rinse the cavity of the duck well under cold running water until the water runs clear. Set aside all giblets but the liver (discard the liver) for making stock. Pat the duck dry and rub about 1 tablespoon of the olive oil on the outside of the duck. Season with salt.

2. In a roasting pan, toss the carrots, onion, celery and thyme with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place the duck on top of the vegetables; roast for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue to roast an additional 1 hour to 1 hour, 20 minutes until a thermometer inserted in the thigh reaches 145 degrees. (The meat will be pink.) Remove the duck from the oven and let stand until cool enough to handle.

3. For the duck fat, strain the roasting juices from the pan and skim the fat from the juices (you should have two-thirds cup fat for the crust). Place it in the freezer until the fat completely solidifies, about 2 hours. Once the roasted duck has cooled, remove skin and fat. Tear the skin into pieces and place it in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over low heat to render the fat, about 1 1/2 hours. Strain fat and set aside. You'll need about a one-fourth cup fat for the roux for the filling. If you're short of fat, you can add butter.

4. Meanwhile, remove the duck meat from the carcass; set aside the carcass for stock. Shred the meat into bite-size pieces. Cover and set aside.

5. For the stock, scrape the roasted vegetables along with any drippings into a sauce pot. Add the reserved giblets along with the duck carcass from roasting the duck. Add 10 cups water, black peppercorns and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer about 1 1/2 hours. Skim off the excess fat as the stock cooks. Remove from the heat and strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer. Rinse the saucepot and pour the strained broth back into the pan. Bring to a boil and reduce until the stock measures about 4 cups.

6. Prepare the vegetables. In a clean pot, blanch the kale in boiling salted water about 1 minute, drain well and set aside. In a saute or frying pan, cook sliced carrots and turnips in 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat until just tender, 7 to 8 minutes.

7. For the roux, heat one-fourth cup duck fat in a small saucepan until hot. Stir or whisk in one-third cup flour and cook, stirring constantly, until smooth and bubbly. Simmer 2 to 3 minutes, then stir the roux into the hot stock. Heat and stir until the sauce is smooth. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer. Season to taste with salt. Cook until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes.

8. Stir the shredded duck along with sauteed vegetables and the kale into the sauce. Cover and keep warm.

Crust and assembly

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2/3 cup cold duck fat, packed

4 tablespoons ice water

Milk for brushing on pastry

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Stir together the flour, salt and black pepper. Quickly cut in the cold duck fat with a pastry cutter or by hand until the fat forms pieces the size of small peas. Add the ice water a tablespoon at a time, tossing with a fork until the dough is moistened and it forms a ball. Shape the dough into a flat disc. The dough will be soft and easy to roll out on a heavily floured surface. Flour the rolling pin as well. (The dough should not be chilled. It will become crumbly and difficult to roll if chilled.)

2. Lightly roll out the dough on a well-floured surface into an 11-inch circle. (The dough is easy to patch if necessary.) Using a 1-inch-round cutter, cut a hole in the center of the dough.

3. Spoon the hot duck filling into a casserole. Roll the rolled dough partly around a rolling pin and gently lift it onto the top of the dish. Use a fork to seal the crust to the rim of the dish and trim any excess. Brush the pastry with milk. Put the casserole on a foil-lined baking sheet to catch any drips. Bake about 45 minutes until it is golden brown.

Each serving: 432 calories; 17 grams protein; 27 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 28 grams fat; 9 grams saturated fat; 78 mg. cholesterol; 549 mg. sodium.

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Walnut cake

Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Note: From test kitchen director Donna Deane

Servings: 12

3/4 pound walnuts, about 3 cups

1 tablespoon flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

8 eggs, separated

1 cup sugar, divided

Zest of 1 orange

1 cup whipping cream, whipped to soft peaks

2 teaspoons oloroso sherry

1 teaspoon powdered sugar

1. Lightly butter a 10-inch springform pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and lightly butter the paper. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Grind the walnuts in a food processor until fine. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the nuts to sprinkle over the top of the cake. Combine the flour and baking powder and stir into the remaining walnuts until evenly mixed.

3. Beat the egg yolks until well-blended, then gradually beat in ½ cup of the sugar. Continue beating until the mixture is light and lemon-colored and the eggs form a ribbon when dropped from a spoon. Stir in the orange zest. Stir in the ground walnut mixture.

4. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining ½ cup sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold a large spoonful of the beaten egg whites into the walnut mixture to lighten it, then gently fold in the remaining egg whites.

5. Spoon the cake batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle the reserved 2 tablespoons walnuts over it. Bake 40 to 50 minutes, until puffed and golden. Remove to wire rack to cool to warm. As cake cools, it will settle.

6. Combine whipped cream and oloroso sherry. Sift the powdered sugar through a small strainer into the whipped cream and stir until blended.

7. Serve a slice of cake with a dollop of oloroso whipped cream.

Each serving: 372 calories; 9 grams protein; 22 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 29 grams fat; 7 grams saturated fat; 168 mg. cholesterol; 75 mg. sodium.

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Bread pudding with dandelion greens and bacon

Total time: 1 1/2 hours

Servings: 6 to 8

Note: From Amy Scattergood. Dandelion greens are available at well-stocked supermarkets and farmers markets. Use any high-quality wheat and country white bread, such as pain rustique. For the wheat and white breads, you will need the equivalent of about a 1-pound loaf.

Butter for buttering the pan

3 1/2 cups whole milk

1 large clove garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

6 ounces bacon, sliced crosswise into 1/2 -inch pieces

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 bunches dandelion greens, washed and dried, cut into 1/2 -inch pieces (about 9 cups)

2 shallots, minced

6 eggs

8 ounces fresh goat cheese

8 cups stale bread, half whole wheat, half country white, crust on, cut or torn into about 1/2 -inch pieces

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees and butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, garlic and black pepper. Heat over high heat until just before the milk reaches a simmer. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

2. Cook the bacon in a large skillet over low heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp. When the bacon is cooked, keep the pan on the heat and add the olive oil, dandelion greens and shallot. Stir until the greens are wilted, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the cooled milk and the goat cheese and whisk until combined. Stir in the bread, dandelion green mixture and lemon zest and mix until combined. Pour the mixture into the baking dish, pressing down to make sure the bread is submerged. Let the mixture sit for about 15 minutes so that the bread absorbs the liquid.

4. Bake for 35 minutes, until golden brown, rotating once for even cooking. Serve immediately.

Each of 8 servings: 431 calories; 23 grams protein; 41 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams fiber; 20 grams fat; 9 grams saturated fat; 190 mg. cholesterol; 734 mg. sodium.

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Free-form lasagna with slow-roasted tomatoes and pesto

Total time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Servings: 4

Note: From Russ Parsons. In season, this recipe is wonderful with heirloom tomatoes; otherwise use Roma tomatoes.

3/4 cup flour, plus more for dusting

1/2 cup plus 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided

1 egg

1 pound ripe tomatoes, peeled and cut into 8 lengthwise slices each

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese

2 cloves garlic, plus 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic, divided

1 tablespoon minced parsley

2 cups basil leaves

2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

1/4 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese

1. Make fresh pasta dough by pulsing the flour and 4 teaspoons olive oil in a food processor. Add the egg and pulse until the dough forms a ball that rides around on the top of the blade. Remove the dough from the food processor and knead until smooth and shiny; this should take only about a minute. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

2. Roll the pasta dough out very thin, about a 6 setting on most machines, flouring as necessary. The sheets should be at least 4 inches wide. Cut the pasta sheets into squares, dust lightly with flour and set aside until ready to use.

3. Cook four or five pasta sheets at a time in plenty of rapidly boiling salted water. The pasta will be done when sheets float to the surface, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the boiling water and drain on a tea towel if using immediately or transfer to a large bowl of water to store. Repeat, using all of the pasta.

4. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the tomato slices on a rack, drizzle with one-fourth cup olive oil, and season with one-fourth teaspoon salt and a couple grinds of black pepper. Roast the tomatoes for 40 minutes, until the surface is lightly caramelized and the tomatoes are softened. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.

5. While the tomatoes are cooking, beat together the ricotta, one-fourth teaspoon salt, minced garlic and parsley in a small bowl until thoroughly mixed. Set aside.

6. To make the pesto, drop the garlic cloves through the feed tube of a running food processor or blender and mince until fine. Turn the machine off and add the basil leaves. With the machine running again, slowly pour the remaining one-fourth cup olive oil through the food tube. Add the pine nuts and pecorino Romano and pulse to combine and season to taste with salt. (The dish can be prepared to this point several hours in advance. The tomatoes and the pesto can be held at room temperature or refrigerated; the ricotta should be refrigerated; and the cooked pasta sheets should be stored in a large bowl of water. Bring the pesto and ricotta to room temperature, warm the tomatoes in a skillet over low heat and drain the pasta sheets and pat dry on a tea towel before using.)

7. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place one square of the cooked pasta on a heat-proof plate and brush on enough of the pesto to thinly coat the sheet. Spoon one-fourth cup of ricotta in a low mound in the center. Arrange about three slices of roasted tomatoes on top of the ricotta. Brush one more pasta square with the pesto, and place this on top of the tomatoes. Repeat with three more plates.

8. Place the plates on a cookie sheet and place in the oven to heat through, about 8 minutes. Serve immediately.

Each serving: 578 calories; 16 grams protein; 26 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 47 grams fat; 12 grams saturated fat; 92 mg. cholesterol; 497 mg. sodium.

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Pomegranate-braised duck legs

Total time: 1 hour, 35 minutes, plus salting time

Servings: 2 to 4

Note: From Regina Schrambling. For pomegranate juice, break open pomegranates and carefully remove the seeds. Using either an immersion or regular blender, liquefy the seeds and strain the juice through a sieve. Or you can use bottled Pom juice.

4 duck legs (thighs attached)

2 teaspoons kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 teaspoons herbes de Provence

3 cups pomegranate juice (from 9 to 12 pomegranates)

1 teaspoon chipotle or other hot red pepper flakes

2 shallots, thinly sliced

Seeds from 1 small pomegranate

1 small head frisée or lolla rossa lettuce

1. Season the duck legs on both sides with salt and pepper along with the herbes de Provence. Arrange skin-side up on a rack on a baking sheet and let stand, uncovered, in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

2. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Transfer the duck legs to a shallow baking dish just large enough to hold all of them in one layer. Roast 1 hour.

3. Meanwhile, in a small pan, bring the pomegranate juice and chipotle flakes just to a simmer. Remove from the heat and set aside.

4. After the duck legs have roasted for 1 hour, carefully drain off the fat from the baking dish and pour the warm pomegranate juice over the legs. Arrange the shallots around the legs. Return to the oven and bake 30 minutes longer, until the meat is tender and the skin is crispy.

5. Carefully pour the pan juices through a sieve into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until reduced by two-thirds. Arrange the greens on a platter or individual serving plates and top with the duck legs. Spoon a little sauce around them and garnish with a good handful of pomegranate seeds.

Each serving: 343 calories; 26 grams protein; 36 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 11 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 105 mg. cholesterol; 686 mg. sodium.

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California paella

Total time: About 1 hour, 45 minutes

Servings: 6

Note: From Leslie Brenner. You may substitute three-quarters cup to 1 cup frozen peas or lima beans (defrosted) for the fava beans. See accompanying box for sources for Vialone Nano rice. Arborio rice may be substituted.

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2 -inch chunks

1 teaspoon sweet Spanish paprika, divided

Fine sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

6 garlic cloves, crushed through a garlic press, divided

5 cups chicken broth

1 generous pinch of saffron

1 1/2 pounds fava beans, shelled

2 large or 3 medium ripe tomatoes

1 lemon, cut in half

1 1/2 pounds baby artichokes

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1/2 pound Blue Lake green beans or Romano beans, cut into 1 1/2 inch lengths

1 roasted medium-size red pepper, peeled and cut into medium dice (about 1/4 cup)

1 branch rosemary

1 pinch of cayenne

1 3/4 cup Vialone Nano or Arborio rice

1. Place the chicken in a medium bowl and sprinkle with one-half teaspoon of paprika, one-half teaspoon salt, a few grindings of pepper and half the garlic. Toss the chicken to coat with the mixture, then set aside.

2. Bring the chicken broth to a simmer in a large saucepan and add the saffron, crushing it with your fingers as it goes in. Turn the heat to low and cover until ready to use.

3. Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil. Add the shelled fava beans, blanch for 2 minutes, then drain and shock in ice water. Peel the skin from each fava bean; discard the skins. Set aside.

4. Cut the tomatoes in half horizontally and grate them on a box grater into a large bowl, discarding the skins. Set aside.

5. Fill a medium bowl with cold water, squeeze the lemon halves into it, and drop in the squeezed lemons. To trim an artichoke, pull off all the outer leaves until only pale, tender leaves remain. Trim the bottom of the stem and peel the stem. Use a sharp knife to cut off the tips, then cut it in half vertically (if the artichoke is very small) or in quarters (if it's bigger). Drop the pieces into the lemon water. Trim the rest in the same manner. Leave them in the acidulated water until ready to use.

6. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a 16-inch paella pan over high heat until it's smoking. Add the chicken, and saute for about 3 minutes over high heat, until the pieces start to brown. While they're browning, drain the artichokes, pat them dry and add them to the chicken; continue sauteing for about 7 to 8 minutes until the artichokes are tender and beginning to caramelize (you may need to turn down the heat a bit). Add the string beans and continue sauteing for about 2 minutes. Add the red pepper and a good pinch of salt, and stir to combine. Push everything to the edges of the pan.

7. Add the remaining olive oil to the center of the pan. Lower the heat to medium, add the remaining garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the tomato puree to the center of the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are thickened, about 5 to 7 minutes. Push the chicken and vegetables into the tomato mixture, and stir to combine. Add the remaining paprika, the sprig of rosemary, the cayenne, and a good pinch of salt and stir. Add the rice and stir to combine.

8. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 425 degrees or light a grill with a lid. If using a grill, do not continue with the recipe until the grill is nearly ready, when the hot coals are coated with white ash.

9. Add 4 cups of chicken broth to the paella pan, and stir to combine. Shake the pan gently to distribute the rice evenly. Move the pan over two burners and continue to cook over medium heat until the cooking liquid is about level with the rice but the rice is still soupy, about 7 minutes. Periodically move and rotate the pan so that the liquid boils evenly. If the liquid is absorbed too quickly, sprinkle on some additional broth.

10. If using a grill, when the rice is almost done, distribute the coals evenly on the bottom grate. Transfer the pan to the grill and close the lid, or to the oven. Bake or grill for about 15 minutes, until the rice is tender, but a little al dente. Check on it a couple times as it cooks, and if seems too al dente, sprinkle on a little more broth.

11. Remove the paella from the oven or grill, cover the pan with foil and let it stand for 5 minutes. Uncover it and let it stand an additional 10 minutes. Serve from the pan.

Each serving: 565 calories; 37 grams protein; 67 grams carbohydrates; 7 grams fiber; 19 grams fat; 4 grams saturated fat; 74 mg. cholesterol; 659 mg. sodium.

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Berry Pavlova with vanilla whipped cream and pistachios

Total time: About 20 minutes, plus macerating time for the berries

Servings: 10 to 12

Note: From Amy Scattergood. Banyuls vinegar is available at Surfas in Culver City, Nicole's in Pasadena and the Cheese Store of Silver Lake. You can also use balsamic vinegar.

1/4 cup shelled pistachios

2 pints strawberries

1/2 pint blueberries

1/2 pint blackberries

1/2 pint raspberries

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon Banyuls vinegar

1 pint whipping cream, chilled

1 vanilla bean, split

1 Pavlova shell

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the pistachios on a baking sheet and toast until just lightly golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Set aside.

2. Carefully rinse the strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. Hull and halve the strawberries. Place berries into a bowl with the sugar and vinegar. Set aside to macerate for 30 minutes.

3. Pour the cold whipping cream into a large bowl (or the bowl of a standing mixer if using). Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the cream. Using a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, a hand-held mixer or a balloon whisk, whisk the cream until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Chill until ready for assembly.

4. When ready to assemble, place the cooled Pavlova shell onto a large platter. Mound the whipped cream in the center, then spoon the macerated berries over the cream. Crush the pistachios slightly (using a rolling pan or heavy pot); sprinkle the pistachios over top. Cut into slices at the table.

Each of 12 servings: 402 calories; 5 grams protein; 63 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 16 grams fat; 9 grams saturated fat; 54 mg. cholesterol; 65 mg. sodium.

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Pavlova shell

Total time: 25 minutes, plus

baking and cooling time

Servings: 10 to 12

Note: Adapted from a recipe by Jenni Barnett.

8 egg whites, at room

temperature

Pinch of salt

2 1/2 cups superfine sugar

4 tablespoons cornstarch

2 teaspoons white wine

vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Draw an 8-inch circle on a sheet of parchment paper and line a baking sheet with the parchment.

2. In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk or using a hand-held mixer, beat the egg whites and salt on medium-high speed until peaks form, about 3 minutes.

3. With the machine on medium speed, whisk in the sugar a little at a time, then turn the machine back to high to fully incorporate.

4. Add the cornstarch and whisk to blend, then add the vinegar and, when incorporated, whisk in the vanilla.

5. Pile the meringue onto the parchment paper, using a spatula to spread the meringue around the circle and piling the sides slightly higher than the middle. Put into the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 300 degrees.

6. Bake the meringue for 1 1/2 hours, then turn the oven off and prop open the door. Let the meringue cool down completely. It can be stored uncovered for several hours.

Each serving: 184 calories; 2 grams protein; 44 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 0 fat; 0 saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 49 mg. sodium.

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Duck tacos with chile-cherry compote

Total time: About 1 hour, plus 1 hour marinating time

Servings: 4

2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

1 1/2 pounds boneless duck breasts, skin on

10 dried chiles de arbol

6 ounces dried Bing cherries

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

5 cloves garlic, minced, divided

1/2 cup diced onion

6 tomatillos, husks removed, coarsely chopped

8 small corn tortillas

Finely chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

1. Rub 1 teaspoon of the salt into the duck breasts, place them in a large sealable plastic bag and refrigerate for 1 hour while you make the sauce.

2. Soak the chiles de arbol and dried cherries in 2 cups of boiling water for about 30 minutes. Drain, reserving the liquid. In a food processor, combine the drained chiles and cherries with one-fourth cup olive oil, one-half teaspoon salt and 2 cloves of the minced garlic. Process to a thick paste, adding a little of the reserved liquid to help combine and adjust consistency. Set aside. This makes about 1 cup compote.

3. In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, place the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the onions and the remaining 3 cloves of minced garlic. Saute until the onions are just starting to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatillos and remaining one-half teaspoon salt. Cover and continue to cook about 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatillos are tender. Remove and cool slightly for a few minutes.

4. In a food processor, combine the tomatillo mixture with one-fourth cup of the chile-cherry paste. Set aside. This makes about 1 1/2 cups sauce.

5. Place the duck breasts, skin side down, into a cold, cast-iron skillet. Turn the heat to medium-high and cook the duck about 10 minutes, or until the skin is golden-brown and crispy and the fat has rendered off. (Turn the heat down to medium after a few minutes and watch to make sure the duck doesn't burn. Adjust the heat if necessary so that it cooks evenly.) Turn the duck over and cook for 1 minute to cook the meat to medium-rare; otherwise, continue cooking until desired doneness is achieved. Remove the breasts to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice very thinly on the diagonal.

6. Heat a skillet over medium heat and warm the tortillas. Place two to a plate and divide the sliced duck among the tortillas. Spoon a tablespoon or so of the tomatillo sauce over the duck and add a half-teaspoon of chile-cherry compote on top, or to taste. Sprinkle the top with fresh chopped cilantro. Serve immediately.

Each serving: 565 calories; 37 grams protein; 42 grams carbohydrates; 6 grams fiber; 27 grams fat; 6 grams saturated fat; 174 mg. cholesterol; 464 mg. sodium.

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Butterscotch budino with caramel sauce

Total time: About 45 minutes

Servings: 10

Note: Adapted from Nancy Silverton and pastry chef Dahlia Narvaez of Pizzeria Mozza. (For the recipe for the cookies shown, go to latimes.com/food.)

Butterscotch budino

3 cups heavy cream

1 1/2 cups milk

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 egg

3 egg yolks

5 tablespoons cornstarch

5 tablespoons butter

1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum

1. In a large bowl, combine the cream and milk and set aside.

2. In a large heavy-bottomed pot, combine the brown sugar, one-half cup water and salt over medium-high heat. Cook to a smoking, dark caramel, about 10 to 12 minutes. Sugar will smell caramelized and nutty and turn a deep brown.

3. Immediately whisk the cream mixture carefully into the caramel to stop the cooking (the mixture will steam and the sugar will seize). Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce the heat to medium.

4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolks and cornstarch. Temper the hot caramel cream into the egg mixture by adding a cupful of caramel at a time, whisking constantly, until half is incorporated. Pour the egg mixture back into remaining caramel, stirring constantly with a whisk until the custard is very thick and the corn starch is cooked out, about 2 minutes.

5. Remove the custard from the heat and whisk in the butter and rum.

6. Pass the custard through a fine mesh strainer to remove any lumps and divide among 10 (6-ounce) ramekins leaving one-half inch at the top. Cover with plastic wrap and chill several hours or up to three days.

Caramel sauce and assembly

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/8 vanilla bean, scraped

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons corn syrup

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/4 teaspoons fleur de sel

1/4 cup whipping cream

3/4 cup creme fraiche

1. In a medium saucepan, heat the cream and vanilla over medium heat, until simmering, about three minutes. Add the butter, turn off the heat and set aside.

2. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the corn syrup and sugar. Add enough water to make a wet sandy texture, about one-fourth cup. Cook over medium-high heat, swirling the pan just slightly to gauge the caramelization, until the sugar becomes a medium amber color, about 10 minutes.

3. Remove the caramel from heat, carefully whisk the cream mixture into the caramel (be very careful -- it will steam and bubble). Whisk to combine. Place the pan in a large bowl of ice water to cool.

4. In a chilled bowl with a wire whisk, beat the whipping cream until it begins to thicken. Add the creme fraiche; whip until thick and fluffy.

5. Before serving, warm the sauce over medium heat. Spoon one tablespoon on each budino, sprinkle with one-eighth teaspoon fleur de sel and add a dollop of cream topping.

Each serving with 1 tablespoon cream topping: 549 calories; 4 grams protein; 42 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 41 grams fat; 25 grams saturated fat; 209 mg. cholesterol; 510 mg. sodium.

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Winter caprese

Total time: 30 minutes, plus 4 hours roasting time

Servings: 4

Note: Adapted from Nancy Silverton and chef de cuisine Matt Molina of Pizzeria Mozza. Save extra pesto for another use. Serve with crusty bread to sop up the wonderful juices. Baby Roma tomatoes are available at Trader Joe's stores; you can also use Sweet 100s, available at Pavilions, Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. Burrata is available at Bristol Farms and Whole Foods stores and Bay Cities Italian Deli in Santa Monica.

Pesto sauce

3 tablespoons pine nuts

2 to 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon)

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup good-quality olive oil

1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or to taste

1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Spread pine nuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Let cool.

2. Using a mortar and pestle, pulverize the pine nuts, garlic, basil, parsley and salt into a smooth paste. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and add the Parmigiano-Reggiano, mixing well to incorporate. Just before serving, season with lemon juice and additional salt to taste. Makes three-fourths cup.

Winter caprese

1 pound baby Roma tomatoes, on the vine

1 tablespoon good-quality olive oil, plus extra for garnish

1/2 teaspoon salt

A couple of fresh grindings of black pepper

1 pound burrata or mozzarella di bufala bocconcini

4 tablespoons pesto sauce

4 large basil leaves

1. Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Place the tomatoes with vines intact on a wire rack set on a baking sheet. Brush with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast 4 to 4 1/2 hours, until the skins begin to shrivel like a raisin but the tomatoes remain plump. (Sweet 100s will take considerably less time.) Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature.

2. Divide the cheese evenly and place it cut side up onto four small plates. Season the cheese lightly with sea salt (skip this step if using mozzarella di bufala). Spoon 1 tablespoon of pesto sauce over each portion. Using scissors, snip a basil leaf over each portion. Top with tomatoes, divided evenly among each plate, leaving the vine intact (use scissors to cut the vine for each serving).

3. Drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil (about one-half teaspoon per serving) and serve immediately.

Each serving: 497 calories; 22 grams protein; 8 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 41 grams fat; 19 grams saturated fat; 90 mg. cholesterol; 401 mg. sodium.

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Soft-shell crab with succotash and sauce gribiche

Total time: About 1 hour, 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Note: Adapted from Quinn Hatfield of Hatfield's restaurant. You will have some gribiche sauce left over; this can be used for spooning over asparagus, poached eggs, chicken or steak. Fresh garbanzo beans for the succotash are available at farmers markets or you can omit them and double the amount of peas in the recipe.

Sauce gribiche

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 cup rice bran oil or vegetable oil

2 hard-cooked eggs, chopped

1 teaspoon capers, chopped

1/2 teaspoon chopped anchovies

1/2 teaspoon chopped parsley

1/2 teaspoon chopped tarragon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Place the egg yolk in a medium-sized bowl, then whisk in the mustard and vinegar. Slowly whisk in the oil, in a thin stream, forming an emulsion. Stir in the hard-cooked eggs, capers, anchovies, parsley, tarragon and salt. Adjust with water if too thick. Set aside. This makes 1 1/2 cups sauce.

Soft-shell crabs and assembly

1/2 cup shelled English peas

1/2 cup shelled fresh garbanzo beans

1/3 cup shelled fava beans

8 small soft-shell crabs (trimmed and gilled)

Salt to taste

Cayenne pepper to taste

1/3 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup instant Cream of Wheat

1/4 cup canola oil, divided

1/2 cup butter

Freshly ground black pepper

Sauce gribiche

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the peas to the boiling water and blanch until the peas are just tender, about 1 minute. Using a long-handled strainer or slotted spoon, remove the peas from the boiling water and immediately place them in an ice bath, then drain them and set aside. Using the same pot of boiling water, repeat for the garbanzo beans; cook until just tender, about 1 to 2 minutes. Place them in an ice bath, drain and set aside. Then place the fava beans in the boiling water and cook 30 seconds to 1 minute. Put them in an ice bath and drain. Break the outer skin of each bean and squeeze the bean out of its skin. Set aside.

2. Clean the corn of all husk and silk. Cook the corn (on the cob) in simmering salted water for about 10 minutes, or until tender but crisp. Remove the cooked corn and allow to cool to room temperature, about 10 minutes. Cut the kernels from the cob and set aside.

3. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Rinse the crabs under cold, running water and pat dry with a paper towel. Season the crabs with salt and cayenne pepper (about 1/8 teaspoon salt and a small pinch of cayenne per crab). Brush the top side of the crab with buttermilk. Then lay the brushed side in the Cream of Wheat. Crust only the top side.

4. To cook the crabs, work in two batches or with two 10-inch heavy-bottomed saute pans or skillets (you don't want to crowd the pan). Heat 2 tablespoons of the canola oil for each batch over high heat until it starts to smoke. Add half of the crabs, crust side down, to each pan. Immediately place the pan in the oven. Cook for about 4 minutes until the crust is golden brown, then flip the crabs and cook for an additional 3 minutes or until done.

5. While the crabs cook, warm the vegetables. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the corn, peas, garbanzo beans and fava beans and warm through. Don't allow the butter to brown. Season with salt and pepper.

6. Divide the succotash between four plates. Place two cooked crabs on top of each. Top each crab with a tablespoon of the sauce gribiche.

Each serving: 933 calories; 46 grams protein; 52 grams carbohydrates; 7 grams fiber; 62 grams fat; 20 grams saturated fat; 284 mg. cholesterol; 585 mg. sodium.

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Crispy abalone with artichoke foam and barigoule

Total time: About 1 hour, 45 minutes

Servings: 4

Note: Adapted from Jason Tuley of Square One. Live abalone is available at Korean markets, select Japanese markets and 99 Ranch stores. To get to the heart of the artichoke, peel off the outer leaves and spoon out the center "choke." Use a vegetable peeler and/or paring knife to trim and remove the woody, outer skin of the artichoke, but keep as much of the stem as possible. Reserve leftover artichoke foam for another use.

Artichoke foam and barigoule

1/2 carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice

2 shallots, cut into 1/4-inch dice

2 medium celery stalks, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1 small leek, white portion only, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1 lemon, halved

1 bouquet garni (bay leaf, 2 parsley stems, 2 sprigs thyme)

1/2 cup olive oil, divided

1 1/2 cups dry white wine

2 cups chicken stock

3 large artichokes, hearts only

2 small cloves garlic

3/4 cup heavy cream

1 sheet gelatin

Salt and pepper to taste

1 egg white, whipped to stiff peaks

1. Place the diced carrot, shallots, celery, leek, lemon, bouquet garni and one-fourth cup olive oil in a heavy-bottom stock pot. Sauté over medium heat for 2 minutes until fragrant. Deglaze the pot with the white wine, chicken stock and 1 1/2 cups water. Add the artichoke hearts and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain the mixture, reserving the liquid. Set aside the vegetables (discard the lemon and bouquet garni) and liquid separately.

2. To make the barigoule, place the liquid in a large saucepan over medium heat and reduce by half. Dice two of the artichokes into one-fourth-inch pieces. Add artichokes and other vegetables to the reduced liquid. Remove from heat and let cool.

3. To make the artichoke foam, place the garlic with the remaining olive oil in a small sauté pan over low heat. Slowly cook until tender, careful not to let it burn, 5 to 7 minutes.

4. Place the reserved artichoke, the cream, garlic and one-fourth teaspoon salt and pepper in a medium saucepan. Simmer over medium heat for 4 minutes. Meanwhile, soften the gelatin sheet in a small bowl of cool water.

5. Remove the cream-artichoke mixture from the heat and purée in a blender or food processor until smooth. Pass the purée through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Whisk the softened gelatin into the mixture until it is dissolved, and then gently fold in the whipped egg white. Place in the refrigerator, covered, for 2 to 3 hours until fairly stiff.

Abalone and assembly

8 whole red abalone

1/2 cup kosher salt

1 cup flour

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup panko bread crumbs, lightly ground in a food processor

Artichoke barigoule

1 teaspoon unsalted butter

Sea salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon clarified butter

Artichoke foam, chilled

1. Sprinkle the abalone meat with the salt and let stand for 5 minutes. Using a large spoon and starting at the shallow end of the abalone, gently pry the meat from the shell. Clean the abalone: Using a kitchen towel, rub the salt into the abalone and scrape off the black sediment, then rinse with cold water. Using a sharp fillet knife, trim the hard "lip" at the edge of the abalone and carefully remove the "foot" (the tough portion that connects the abalone to its shell). Using the same knife, with a gentle sawing motion, carefully slice each abalone in half horizontally. Using the studded side of a tenderizing mallet, pound each slice on both sides until the flesh relaxes and is softened -- 1 to 2 good blows per side. Be careful not to over-pound and destroy the flesh.

2. Place the flour, eggs and bread crumbs into separate medium bowls. Bread each pounded abalone by first dredging it in flour, then egg, then the bread crumbs. Place the abalone on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

3. Place the saucepan with the artichoke barigoule over medium-low heat to warm. Stir in the butter and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat but keep in a warm place.

4. Heat a cast iron or heavy-bottomed medium sauté pan over high heat. Add the clarified butter, swirling it to evenly coat the bottom of the pan, and heat until it is shimmering. Reduce the heat to medium and quickly add the breaded abalone, four fillets at a time. Fry the pieces until golden-brown and crisp on both sides, barely 20 seconds per side. Remove to a paper towel and season each piece with a light sprinkling of sea salt and pepper. Repeat until all of the abalone is fried.

5. To plate, place a spoonful of artichoke foam in the center of each of four plates. Place four pieces of abalone around the foam and spoon the barigoule around the abalone. Serve immediately.

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Lamb shank tagine with fruit and nuts

Total time: 5 hours

Servings: 4 to 6

Note: Adapted from Farid Zadi. You may want to prepare the ras el hanout, harissa and the sweet tomato sauce the day before, then finish on the day of serving. Serve with harissa. (Harissa and ras el hanout also are available at Middle Eastern stores; harissa is available at Surfas in Culver City, Joan's on Third in West Hollywood and Nicole's in Pasadena.)

Sweet tomato sauce

2 pounds tomatoes

1 small onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

Sugar, optional

Place the tomatoes, onion, garlic and 1 1/2 cups of water in a saucepan and cook over medium-low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Then puree the mixture in a blender or food processor or with an immersion blender. Pour the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve to remove tomato seeds and skin. Taste and add up to 2 teaspoons sugar as needed (fully ripe tomatoes should not need it). You should have 2 cups of tomato sauce. If you have more, return it to the saucepan and reduce to 2 cups, stirring occasionally.

Lamb shank tagine

4 to 6 lamb shanks (3 to 4 1/2 pounds)

3 teaspoons ras el hanout, divided (see recipe)

Freshly ground black

pepper

Salt

6 tablespoons olive oil,

divided

1 onion, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 cups sweet tomato sauce

1/2 cup pine nuts, finely ground

1/2 cup almonds, finely ground

2 tablespoons peanuts,

optional

1 cup peeled, seeded

and diced pumpkin or

kabocha squash

1 cup peeled and diced

turnips (about 2 turnips)

3/4 cup dried apricots, finely chopped

1/4 cup golden raisins, finely chopped

3 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon saffron, optional

1 tablespoon harissa (see recipe)

1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro or

flat-leaf parsley

1. Trim the lamb shanks of excess fat. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the ras el hanout, one-half teaspoon of ground black pepper, a teaspoon of salt and 2 tablespoons olive oil on the lamb shanks. Rub to coat evenly.

2. In a large, heavy casserole or skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over high heat until it begins to smoke. Add the lamb shanks and cook until browned, 5 minutes on each side. Remove the shanks from the casserole and reserve. Discard the cooking oil.

3. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the casserole or skillet and reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1 teaspoon of the ras el hanout and cook 2 to 3 minutes longer.

4. Add the tomato sauce, the lamb shanks, the remaining 1 teaspoon of ras el hanout and enough water to cover the lamb shanks by three-fourths. Turn the shanks to coat with the sauce. When the sauce begins to bubble, reduce the heat to very low, cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours, stirring the sauce and turning the lamb shanks every 15 to 20 minutes. If you find that even at the lowest stove top temperature the sauce is bubbling too vigorously or scorching, place the lid slightly ajar. Add water as needed if the sauce thickens too quickly or too much.

5. Add the pine nuts, almonds, optional peanuts and one-half teaspoon salt. Cover and cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the pumpkin or squash and turnips and cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add the dried apricots and raisins, honey, optional saffron and harissa, and cover and cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the lamb to a platter and keep warm. If the vegetables are not cooked completely, continue cooking just until fork tender. Add additional water to the pot as necessary.

6. Before serving, taste and add salt and pepper as needed, and sprinkle the chopped cilantro or parsley on top.

Each of 6 servings: 702 calories; 49 grams protein; 42 grams carbohydrates; 7 grams fiber; 40 grams fat; 7 grams saturated fat; 125 mg. cholesterol; 128 mg. sodium.

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Kamut and cheese muffins

Total time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Servings: 10 muffins

Note: Adapted from Kim Boyce. Cotswold cheese, which is studded with bits of chives and onion, is available at Gelson's, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and the Cheese Store of Silverlake. You can substitute 1 1/2 cups cheddar and 2 teaspoon minced chives. Kamut flour is available at Whole Foods and health-food stores.

Vegetable oil spray for coating the tins

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 bunch red chard, washed, drained and middle vein removed

1/2 plus 1/8 teaspoon salt,

divided

1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper,

divided

1 cup flour

1 cup kamut flour

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons wheat germ

3/4 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup light sour cream

2 tablespoons melted butter

1 egg

1 1/2 cups grated Cotswold cheese (about 1/3 pound)

3/4 cup Parmesan, finely grated

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a muffin pan with vegetable oil.

2. In a large saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute the chard, seasoning it with one-eighth teaspoon each salt and pepper, for 3 to 5 minutes until wilted and softened. Remove from heat and cool the chard on paper towels. Blot if any liquid remains. Roughly chop the chard and set aside.

3. Into a medium mixing bowl, sift the flour, kamut flour, sugar, baking powder, the remaining salt, the remaining black pepper and the cayenne pepper into medium mixing bowl, then stir in the wheat germ.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk the buttermilk, sour cream, the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, melted butter and egg; stir in the cheeses and chopped chard. Gently fold in the dry ingredients until combined.

5. Using an ice cream scoop (about one-half cup capacity), scoop the mixture into prepared muffin tins, about one scoop per muffin. Bake for about 45 minutes. You can use a small offset spatula or knife to carefully lift a muffin from the tin and check to see that the bottom is dark golden brown. As soon as muffins come out of the oven run a knife around the edges for easy removal.

Each muffin: 289 calories; 12 grams protein; 24 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 16 grams fat; 8 grams saturated fat; 55 mg. cholesterol; 564 mg. sodium.

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Prosecco gelee

Total time: 20 minutes, plus overnight setting time

Servings: Makes about 44 ( 1/2 -ounce) cocktails.

Note: Adapted from Craft pastry chef Catherine Schimenti. This recipe requires gelatin sheets, which are available at restaurant and baking supply stores such as Surfas in Culver City.

1 (6-inch) length of a vanilla bean

3/4 cup sugar

9 gelatin sheets

12 ounces Prosecco

1. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the sugar and, using your fingers, thoroughly mix the seeds into the sugar so that there are no clumps of seeds. Place the sugar and three-fourths cup water into a medium saucepan and heat over high heat until the sugar dissolves and the simple syrup almost comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and set aside.

2. Soften the gelatin sheets in a bowl of cold water, 1 to 2 minutes. Squeeze all of the water out of the gelatin sheets and immediately place them into the warm simple syrup. Stir constantly until the gelatin is dissolved.

3. Carefully pour the Prosecco into the saucepan, and stir gently but quickly to combine. Pour the gelee mixture into molds or an 8-by-8-inch square cake pan lined with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until completely set, preferably overnight. To serve, carefully remove the gelee from the molds (use the tip of a knife to loosen each shot) or, if using a cake pan, cut the gelee into 1-inch squares.

Each serving: 20 calories; 0 protein; 4 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 0 fat; 0 cholesterol; 1 mg. sodium.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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