I enjoy my job. I would be in trouble if I didn't. I cook daily for 300-700 people. I have a lot of help. Several times a year I cook for a special Israel mission. We will do cocktails first and then go to the rooftop overlooking the Western Wall for dinner. It's a fancy, top of the line affair. Here's the menu from the latest dinner.
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SOUP AND BREAD
- Assorted rolls with herbed margarine
- French lentil soup
- Red chili nuts
- Lamb meatballs with sun-dried tomato aioli OR
- Nut crusted salmon with ginger sauce
- Fillet of beef with five-spice rub
- Roast marinated Cornish hen (see Sukkot menu)
- Horseradish crusted perch (see Bar Mitzvah Party menu)
VEGETABLES AND SIDE DISHES
- Rice with garlic and cilantro
- Green beans with chipotle margarine
- Chocolate truffles
- Balsamic mango curry
- Lemon thyme
- Wine – white, red
- Iced tea
Bittersweet Chocolate Truffles
- 1 1/4 cups parve [non-dairy] whipping cream
- 9 ozs. bittersweet chocolate, chopped, divided
Bring cream to simmer in a heavy small saucepan. Remove from heat; cool to lukewarm, 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, stir 7 ozs. chocolate in a metal bowl over a saucepan of simmering water until smooth. Remove from heat. Add 2 ozs. chocolate; stir until smooth. Stir in parve cream. Chill truffle base until firm enough to roll, about 3 hours.
Line rimmed baking sheet with waxed paper. Roll 2 tsps. truffle base between fingertips into a ball. Transfer to a prepared sheet. Repeat with remaining truffle base. Chill until firm, about 1 hour.
- 8 ozs. bitter chocolate, chopped
- unsweetened cocoa powder (optional, for rolling)
Line another rimmed baking sheet with waxed paper. Stir chocolate in a metal bowl over a saucepan of simmering water just until melted. Remove from heat. Cool slightly.
Scoop some of the war (not hot) melted chocolate into the palm of your hand. Place 1 chilled truffle in your hand and roll in your palm to coat. Transfer to prepared sheet. Repeat with the remaining melted chocolate and truffles, rewarming the chocolate if necessary. Roll in cocoa powder if desired. Chill until firm, about 1 hour.
Makes about 30.
A Twist: Balsamic Truffles
Follow the recipe for Bittersweet Chocolate Truffles base, stirring 1 tbsp. Plus 1/4 tsp. aged balsamic vinegar into lukewarm parve cream. Mix in melted chocolate. Chill truffle base and form truffles. Drop each freshly coated truffle (or just-formed, uncoated truffle) into bowl of chopped toasted salted hazelnuts; turn to coat.
French Lentil Soup
- 3 tbsps. Oil
- 2 cups chopped onions
- 1 cup chopped celery stalks plus chopped celery leaves for garnish
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 4 cups (or more) vegetable broth
- 1 1/4 cups lentils, rinsed, drained
- 1 14 1/2 oz. Can diced tomatoes in juice
- balsamic vinegar (optional)
Heat oil in a heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery, carrots and garlic; sauté until vegetables begin to brown, about 15 minutes. Add 4 cups broth, lentils and tomatoes with juice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until lentils are tender, about 35 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and a splash of vinegar, if desired. Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with celery leaves.
Makes 6 servings.
Red Chili Nuts
It's great to have a nosh on the table to keep everyone happy.
- 3 tbsps. margarine
- 4 cups pecans or almonds
- 1 tsp. salt
Melt margarine in a large skillet over medium heat. Add nuts; stir until browned, about 6 minutes. Sprinkle with chili powder and salt; toss about 1 minute. Cool completely.
Makes 4 cups.
Lamb Meatballs with Sun-Dried Tomato Aioli
- 1 lb. ground lamb
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1/4 cup chopped raisins
- v1 large egg
- 1 tbsp. Paprika
- 1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh mint
- 1 1/2 tsps. ground cumin
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix all ingredients gently in a medium bowl just to blend. Form mixture into balls about the size of golf balls. Transfer to rimmed baking sheet. Bake until cooked through, about 35 minutes.
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup drained sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped fine
- 2 tbsps. fresh lemon juice
- 2 tbsps. chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 2 garlic cloves, halved, chopped fine
Place all ingredients in a processor and pure until smooth. Serve with meatballs.
Makes 8 appetizer servings.
Nut-Crusted Salmon with Ginger Sauce
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup chopped shallots (about 2)
- 6 black peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp. minced peeled fresh ginger
- 1/2 cup parve whipping cream
Boil the first 6 ingredients in a heavy medium saucepan until almost all the liquid evaporates, about 4 minute. Add parve cream; bring to a boil. Strain into a heavy small saucepan.
- 1/3 cup blanched slivered almonds
- 1/3 cup chopped macadamia nuts
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 1/2 tsps. (packed) brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tsps. honey
- 1 tsp. fresh lime juice
- 4 6- to 7-oz. Skinless salmon fillet
- 6 tbsps. (3/4 stick) chilled margarine cut into 1/2-in. cubes
Preheat oven to 350°F. Using on/off turns, puree the first 6 ingredient in a processor until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Heat large non-stick ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper. Cook salmon until browned on 1 side, about 1 1/2 minutes. Turn salmon over. Top with nut mixture, pressing to adhere. Bake until the salmon is opaque in the center, about 7 minutes (if nut mixture isn't browned enough, place under broiler briefly).
Meanwhile, bring sauce to simmer; remove from heat. Add margarine a few tbsps. at a time, whisking until melted and smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer fish to plate. Spoon sauce around fish and serve.
Makes 4 servings.
Fillet of Beef with Five-Spice Rub
- 2 tbsps. peppercorns
- 1 tbsp. anise seeds
- 4 tsps. coarse salt
- 1 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- 4-5 lbs. beef rib roast trimmed, tied
- 4 tbsps. vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 425°F. Toast peppercorns and anise seeds. In a dry skillet, stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Grind the mixture, stir in five-spice powder and ginger. Halve beef crosswise. Sprinkle with rub all over.
Heat 2 tbsps. oil in a skillet. Brown both pieces on all sides. Arrange beef in a roasting pan. Roast 35 minute. Let stand on rack 25 minutes. Slice beef and serve. Garnish with fresh chives.
Rice with Garlic, Ginger and Cilantro
- 3 cups rice
- 3 tbsps. vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 4 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 1 large bunch fresh cilantro, 2 in. of bottom stems trimmed and discarded, tops and remaining stems coarsely chopped
Heat oil in a heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add ginger and garlic; stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add rice and stir 3 minutes. Stir in broth and salt. Sprinkle cilantro over. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and cook until rice is tender, about 18 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand covered 10 minute. Fluff rice with fork. Transfer to bowl and serve.
Makes 8 servings.
Green Beans with Chipotle Margarine
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted margarine, room temperature
- 1 1/2 tps. chopped chili pepper
- 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 3 lbs. green beans, trimmed
Blend margarine, chili, vinegar, and salt in mini processor until smooth. Transfer to small bowl.
Cook beans in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes, drain and pat dry.
Melt chipotle spread in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add beans and toss until coated and heated through, about 3 minutes. Transfer to bowl.
Makes 10 servings.