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Chilled Tomato Soup With Bacon Croutons

Serves 10

2 1/2 tablespoons best-quality olive oil, divided

1 small onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

Large pinch red chili flakes

Pinch fennel seeds

Leaves from 1 small bunch (about 3/4 ounce) basil

Leaves from 2 sprigs (about 1/4 ounce) tarragon

Leaves from 2 sprigs (about 1/4 ounce) dill 6 cups chopped ripe tomatoes,

about 2 pounds

2 cups good-quality chicken broth, or homemade light chicken stock

or vegetable stock

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

Croutons with Bacon-Blue

Cheese Crumble (recipe follows)

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, red chili flakes and fennel seeds and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the onion is softened slightly and the garlic is aromatic. Add the herbs and cook 30 seconds longer, until wilted. Cool slightly and place in a blender with the tomatoes, broth or stock, salt, a couple of grinds of pepper and the sherry vinegar. Blend on high speed for 1 minute, then strain through a fine-mesh strainer. Chill at least 2 hours before serving; adjust seasoning. To serve, ladle a generous 1/2 cup of soup into each of 10 bowls. Divide the croutons among the bowls and sprinkle with the bacon and blue cheese mixture. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and serve.

croutons with bacon-blue

cheese crumble

8 ounces sourdough bread

( 1/2 of a 1-pound loaf)

6 ounces bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice

2 shallots, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

3 tablespoons olive oil

Large pinch salt

Freshly ground black pepper

4 ounces blue cheese*

2 tablespoons chopped chives

2 tablespoons minced basil

Remove the crust from the bread, cut into 1/3-inch cubes and set aside. Place the bacon in a single layer in a medium sauté pan and slowly cook over medium-low heat until almost crisp, about 8 minutes. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Drain the bacon fat into another large sauté pan, add the olive oil to the bacon fat, and cook over medium heat. Add the cubed bread and sauté until it's golden brown on all sides. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper and set aside. Just before serving, add the crumbled blue cheese and herbs to the bacon and toss to combine.

*Stephanie Valentine recommends Point Reyes Blue.

Pounded Pork Tenderloin

Serves 10

4 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed of silverskin and excess fat and cut into 10 4-ounce portions

3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon best-quality olive oil, divided

4 teaspoons lemon juice, divided

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard, divided

1 3/4 teaspoons chopped thyme leaves

1 1/2 tablespoons chopped basil

2 shallots, minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Light the grill--you'll need a hot, even bed of coals when you're ready to cook. Or heat your gas grill to high 20 minutes before cooking.

Place a portion of pork between two sheets of plastic wrap. Pound with the flat side of a meat mallet until the tenderloin is a paillard about 1/4-inch thick and about 6 inches in diameter. Repeat for all portions.

Combine 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon mustard, the thyme, basil, shallots and garlic in a small bowl. Rub both sides of each tenderloin with this marinade and stack or layer the portions on a nonreactive platter; cover with plastic wrap. Hold at room temperature for up to 30 minutes, or refrigerate overnight (remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling).

Make a vinaigrette by combining the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, the red wine vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper in a small bowl. Loosely cover and set aside.

Season the paillards with pepper and the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt. Oil the grill and lay the paillards on it; do not overlap. Grill for about 1 minute until slightly charred, then flip the paillards and continue to cook for 1 minute more. Remove to a platter or onto individual plates.

Place a small serving of the market summer bean salad (recipe follows) next to the pork. Place a large pinch of the herb salad (recipe follows) on top and drizzle a bit of the reserved vinaigrette over all.

Summer Bean Salad

Serves 10

1 pound French green beans,

stem ends removed

1 pound young wax beans,

stem ends removed

1 pound Romano beans, stem

ends removed and cut on the bias into 2-inch lengths

1/2 cup loosely packed tarragon leaves

3 tablespoons best-quality olive oil

3 shallots, peeled and sliced 1/8-inch thick

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

3/4 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a full, rolling boil. Cook the French green beans until just tender, about 3 minutes; drain and cool. Repeat with the wax beans and the Romano beans, cooking till just tender. Add the tarragon; set aside. Warm 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a small sauté pan over low heat and add the shallots and garlic; cook until the garlic is pale golden. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining oil, vinegar, salt and a couple grinds of pepper; pour the mixture over the beans. Toss gently and set aside until ready to serve.

Market Herb Salad

Serves 10

1 small bunch tarragon (about 1 ounce)

1 small bunch mint

(about 1 ounce)

1 small bunch basil

(about 1 ounce)

1/4 bunch dill

(about 1 ounce)

1 small bunch chives

(about 2 ounces),

cut into 1 1/2 inch lengths

1 head frisée, pale inner leaves only, torn into bite-sized pieces

1 tablespoon best-quality olive oil

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Pick the leaves from stems of the tarragon, mint, basil and dill and toss them with the chives and frisée. Cover with a damp towel and chill. Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Just before serving toss with just enough of the dressing to dress lightly.

Almond Cake With Apricots and Ice Cream

Serves 10

for the almond cake:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup almond meal/flour

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus additional for buttering the cake pan

1 cup sugar, plus additional for

sugaring the cake pan

2 eggs

Heat the oven to 350 degrees; butter and sugar a 9-inch round cake pan. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together into a medium bowl. Whisk in the almond flour. In a separate large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light in color and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in one egg, then half the flour mixture, then the other egg, then the rest of the flour mixture, being careful not to overmix.

Gently spoon the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake 35 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and set in the center. Remove from the oven and let cool 5 minutes. Run a paring knife around the edges of the pan, then release the cake from the pan.

for the apricots:

2 pounds ripe apricots (about 12 large or 24 small)

1 cup sugar

Pinch salt

5 sprigs of thyme

1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

Cut small apricots in half (or large apricots in quarters) and discard the pits. Place them in a single layer in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Sprinkle the sugar on the apricots, add one cup of water and the salt; submerge the thyme and ginger in the pot. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, then remove from heat and allow the apricots to cool in the liquid.Sour Cream Ice Cream

The ice cream can be made up to a day before serving.1 cup milk

1/2 cup half-and-half

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 vanilla bean, split

6 tablespoons sugar, divided

4 egg yolks

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup sour cream

Place the milk, half-and-half and cream in a heavy 3-quart saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the pan, drop in the pod, and add the salt; stir to combine. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of the sugar over the top; do not stir. Bring the mixture just to a boil over medium-high heat.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the remaining sugar. When the milk mixture comes to a boil, temper the yolk mixture by whisking in about half of the milk mixture into the yolk mixture, pouring it into the yolks in a slow, steady stream. Pour the tempered mixture back into the remaining milk mixture, whisking, and set it over medium-low heat. Cook the custard, stirring it constantly with a wooden spoon, until it just starts to steam and thickens slightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Be careful not to overcook or the egg will curdle. Strain the mixture into a clean bowl set over an ice bath, stirring until it cools. Stir in the salt, lemon juice, vanilla extract and sour cream until thoroughly combined. Cool completely before freezing in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions.

To serve, place a slice of almond cake in the center of the plate. Place a scoop of ice cream on top and spoon some warm apricots with their juices over the top of the ice cream. *

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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