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Literati II Polenta Cake with Roasted Cherries

Today’s 5 star secret recipe comes from Literati II in Santa Monica.  Pastry chef Kimberly Sklar makes a delicious polenta cake with roasted cherries.  She roasts the cherries in a vanilla, brandy and sugar slurry, then she serves them with an almondy polenta cake. The flavors are a spectacular combination.

Enjoy!

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Literati II Polenta Cake with Roasted Cherries

Polenta cake:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature, plus 1 tablespoon for pan
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fine to medium grind cornmeal plus 2 teaspoons for dusting pan
1/2 cup brown sugar, not packed
2 eggs, room temperature
3 egg yolks, room temperature
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons granulated sugar for dusting

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Use 1 tablespoon butter to grease a 9-inch removable bottom tart pan; dust with 2 teaspoons cornmeal.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar until light in color and fluffy, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl and add the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Stir in the almond extract.

Sift the flour, remaining corn meal, baking powder and salt together and fold into the mixture.

Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the sugar evenly on top. Bake for 20 to 24 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Roasted cherries and assembly:

4 cups or 1 1/2 pounds Bing cherries
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, sliced lengthwise and seeds scraped and reserved
1/4 cup brandy
1 tablespoon cornstarch (mixed with 1 tablespoon water)
Polenta cake
1 cup whipped cream

Wash, stem and pit the cherries; set aside. When the cake is removed from the oven, increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees.

In a bowl, combine the brown sugar, sugar, vanilla bean, brandy and the cornstarch slurry. Whisk until combined.

Fold in the cherries and place in an 11-by-7-inch glass baking dish. Bake until the cherries are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir after baking 5 minutes.

To serve, slice the cake and place on a dessert plate. Spoon cherries and sauce on top of the cake. Add a spoonful of whipped cream and serve.

Serves 6

Source: LA Times

Until Next Time… Be Well!

Kind Regards,

Ron

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The Sweet Life Cafe’s White Gazpacho

Today’s 5 star secret recipe comes from the Sweet Life Cafe on Massachusetts Martha’s Vineyard.  This upscale spot in a tranquil space with seasonal, area-sourced New American fare.  They serve a delightful bowl of white gazpacho with pureed cucumbers, steamed clams, grapes, almonds and smoked paprika oil.

To make smoked paprika oil, warm 1/3 cup olive oil with 2 tablespoons smoked paprika in a small saucepan, then strain through cheesecloth and cool before using. The restaurant also suggests garnishing the soup with clams steamed in white wine.

Enjoy!

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The Sweet Life Cafe’s White Gazpacho

2 hothouse cucumbers, peeled and chopped (seeds can be removed)
1/2 bunch green grapes (about 2 cups)
3 cloves garlic
1 cup yogurt, preferably Greek style
1/2 cup sour cream or creme fraiche
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon salt, or to taste
Tabasco, or similar hot sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar, or as desired
Toasted almonds, for garnish
Sliced red grapes, for garnish
Smoked paprika oil, for garnish

Puree the cucumbers in a blender. Push the cucumbers through a sieve into a medium bowl. Blend the grapes and garlic in the blender, then push through a sieve and stir into the cucumbers.

Whisk in the yogurt, sour cream and lemon juice, and season with the salt, sugar and vinegar. Add the Tabasco to taste. This makes about 1 1/2 quarts of soup. Chill the soup, then divide among chilled bowls and garnish with the almonds, grapes and paprika oil before serving.

Serves 4-6

Source: LA Times

Until Next Time… Be Well!

Kind Regards,

Ron

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El Cholo’s Chiles Rellenos

Today’s 5 star secret recipe comes from El Cholo, a local Mexican chain in California.  They have been serving up classic dishes and margaritas since the 1920’s.  El Cholo has a huge following for their chiles rellenos.  These are the fluffiest chiles rellenos you’ll ever have.

Enjoy!

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El Cholo’s Chiles Rellenos

Relleno sauce

1 tablespoon oil
3 garlic cloves, diced
1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1/2 onion, chopped
2 teaspoons vinegar
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
2 whole canned green chiles, diced
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 bay leaves
Salt

In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the oil. Stir in the garlic, oregano, onion, vinegar, bell pepper, tomatoes (and their juice), chiles and broth. Increase the heat and bring to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes, then stir in the black pepper, bay leaves and salt to taste.

Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables have softened and the tomatoes start to break apart, about 25 minutes.

Remove from heat, discard the bay leaves, and mash the tomatoes with a potato masher or whisk until you have a coarse sauce. Season again to taste. Set aside in a warm place.

Chiles rellenos:

3/4 pound grated cheddar cheese
6 whole canned green chiles
6 eggs, separated
Vegetable oil
Relleno sauce

Divide the cheese into 6 mounds and roll each mound into a football-shaped ball with your hands. Slit each chile lengthwise halfway and gently stuff a ball of cheese into each. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, 4 to 6 minutes. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks until frothy. Gently fold the yolks into the whites to complete your egg batter.

In a large skillet or frying pan, add enough oil to come up the sides by one-half inch. Heat the oil until a thermometer inserted reads 350 degrees.

Gently spoon a little egg batter into the pan, spreading it so it is roughly the dimensions of one side of a stuffed chile. As soon as the batter begins to set, 1 to 2 minutes, lay a chile over the top, then spread an equivalent amount of batter over the chile.

Turn over the chile relleno and fry an additional 1 to 2 minutes until golden on all sides. Remove the chile relleno with a slotted spatula or spoon, and place on a warm plate. Repeat until you have 6 chiles rellenos.

Spoon one-half cup sauce over each chile relleno and serve immediately.

Serves 6

Source: LA Times

Until Next Time… Be Well!

Kind Regards,

Ron

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Zynodoa Restaurant’s Brûléed Cast Iron Cornbread

Today’s 5 star secret recipe comes from Zynodoa Restaurant in Staunton, Virginia.  This modern farm-to-table Southern eatery features upscale urban decor in a historic building.

Lightly sweet and with a delicate crumb, the cornbread at Zynodoa is served piping hot in a cast iron skillet, the mounded bread topped with melted butter and a thin crust of caramelized sugar. The restaurant serves the bread with whipped honey butter and local Concord grape jam, but it could just as easily be served with a scoop of ice cream for dessert, or a side of bacon if you’re thinking breakfast.

Enjoy!

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Zynodoa Restaurant’s Brûléed Cast Iron Cornbread

2 heaping cups (9 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups (11 ounces) cornmeal
1 cup sugar, plus extra for brûléeing
2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
2 eggs
3 cups whole milk (approximately), divided
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted, divided

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, 1 cup sugar, baking powder and salt.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with 1 cup of the milk. Slowly whisk the liquids in with the dry ingredients.

3. Continue adding more milk, slowly whisking it in, until the batter is thick but pourable. You may not use all of the milk.

4. Whisk in ½ cup melted butter. This makes about 5 cups batter. Set the batter aside to rest for up to an hour. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

5. Lightly oil a 10-inch cast-iron skillet and heat it in the oven for 10 minutes.

6. Pour the batter into the heated skillet and bake until golden around the edges and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

7. Brush the reserved melted butter across the top of the cornbread and sprinkle over a light coating of sugar. Place the bread under the broiler or use a torch to brûlée the sugar until it caramelizes. Serve warm.

Serves 8-12

Source: LA Times

Until Next Time… Be Well!

Kind Regards,

Ron

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