Frisée aux Lardons

This beautiful salad pairs perfectly with the Thai Red Curry Mussels recipe. Use frisée if you can find it. It wasn't available yesterday when I was searching, so I used escarole which was delicious. You could also substitute arugula, radicchio, or a combination of any slightly bitter green. Top with a poached egg — slightly runny yolk so it mixes with the dressed salad greens, croutons and chopped bacon. Yummmmmm!

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Recipe

1 large head frisée lettuce (or escarole, radicchio, arugula), washed, dried and cut into 3-inch pieces
8 slices thick cut bacon, cut into 2-inch pieces
Baguette - cut up enough to make about 40 small squares for croutons
4 large eggs

Mustard-Garlic Dressing:
1-1/2 tsp. chopped garlic
1-1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 T. sherry vinegar
1/4 c. olive oil

In a bowl large enough to hold the salad, use a whisk to combine all of the mustard-garlic dressing ingredients. Set aside.

Sauté the bacon until crisp, transfer to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings in the pan and add the baguette croutons and cook over medium-high heat, stirring and turning over so they brown on all sides. Set aside.

Poach the eggs. I cheat and use an egg poacher, but if you're comfortable doing it in a nonstick skillet with 1-1/2 inches of water and 1 T. red wine vinegar, go for it!

To assemble, add the washed and dried greens to the bowl with the dressing in it; toss well. Divide the salad among four dinner plates, top with the poached egg and sprinkle the bacon bits and croutons over the top. Serve immediately.

— Jacques Pépin, "More Fast Food My Way"

Thai Red Curry Mussels

After a delightful day of wine tasting, the perfect accompaniment to a great bottle of Oregon Pinot Noir is this tasty recipe for fresh mussels. The broth has the perfect amount of spice, not too hot and lots of nuanced flavor. For the second course, consider Jacques Pépin's Frisée aux Lardons, followed by a cheese course with crackers and fruit.

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Recipe

2 T. peanut oil
1 stalk lemongrass, bottom 2/3 of inner bulb smashed and cut into 3 pieces
3 T. Thai red curry paste
1/2 c. white wine
(1) 15-oz. can unsweetened coconut milk
2 T. fish sauce (nam pla)
juice of 2 limes
2-1/2 lbs. mussels, cleaned
4 T. basil leaves, chopped
2 T. chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Rustic Italian bread, or a baguette, sliced, for dipping

In a saucepan, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the lemongrass, curry paste, wine, coconut milk, fish sauce and lime juice. Bring to a simmer, stirring. Add the mussels, cover the pot and let steam until opened — about 8 minutes. During the last minute of cooking, add the chopped basil and cilantro. Remove the lemongrass before serving.

Transfer the mussels to 4 bowls, discarding any that didn't open. Pour the sauce over the mussels, and serve with plenty of bread for dipping.

— Bobby Flay, Food Network

Thai Butternut Squash & Pineapple Curry

I must admit that I have never cooked with Thai red curry paste, so I thought I'd give it a go ... and I'm glad I did! Delicious. I was a bit cautious and added just one tablespoon, but I think I could have safely added 1-1/2 or 2 tablespoons. You could also add some chicken, or experiment with additional veggies (spinach, red pepper, etc.). As you can see below, I had just baked some yummy pumpkin cake donuts, but that story is for another time!

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Recipe

1 T. coconut oil
1 onion, chopped
1-2 T. Thai red curry paste
1 clove garlic, smashed and chopped
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes
1 can coconut milk (I used Trader Joe coconut cream)
3/4 c. vegetable stock
2 c. green beans, trimmed and cut in thirds
8-ounce can pineapple, drained, cut in chunks
1/4 c. chopped coriander + some for garnish (or Italian parsley if cilantro's not your thing)

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and fry the onion for about 5 minutes until softened.  Stir in the red curry paste and garlic to coat the onions and cook for a minute. Add the butternut squash and beans, stir well, then add the coconut milk and stock, stirring to combine. Bring to a bubbling simmer, then turn heat down to a low simmer and cook for 20 minutes until the squash is tender and the sauce has reduced a bit and thickened.

Stir in the pineapple and cilantro and cook for another 5 minutes until the pineapple is warmed through. Serve over rice and sprinkle with some more chopped cilantro. Serves 4. 

Prosciutto Wrapped Halibut with Brussels Sprouts and Kale Couscous

I rarely get the chance to have fresh Alaskan halibut, but tonight was the night! What a great pairing - prosciutto and halibut, seared in a hot pan and finished off in the oven over a bed of perfectly seasoned veg. The zest of a whole lemon is added to the pan just before the brussels sprouts and kale and it makes all the difference, lending a tart depth of flavor along with the garlic and chile flakes. Enjoy!

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Recipe

(4) 4- to 6-oz. halibut fillets
Salt & Pepper
8 slices prosciutto
2 T. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
Zest of 1 lemon
pinch of chile flakes
3 c. shredded brussels sprouts
2 c. shredded kale
1 c. couscous
1-3/4 c. hot chicken stock
1/3 c. dried currants

Preheat oven to 375-degrees. Sprinkle the halibut with salt and pepper. Lay 2 slices of prosciutto on a flat surface, slightly overlapping. Place a halibut fillet at the end of the slices and roll up. Repeat with remaining fillets.

Heat the oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the halibut to brown the prosciutto for about 1 minute per side - your pan should be nice and hot. Remove to a plate while you cook the veggies. Quickly stir the garlic, lemon zest and chile flakes into the pan and saute until tender, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the couscous, hot stock and currants. Place the fish on top of the mixture and transfer to the oven. Bake for 18-20 minutes until couscous is cooked. Remove fish from the skillet, fluff the couscous with a fork and serve.

– Katie Lee, Food Network's "The Kitchen"

Fig, Yogurt & Almond Cake

You can tell Fall has begun in the Northwest - fig trees are loaded with delicious fruit - and what better way to celebrate these little gems than in a cake! Another fabulous recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi doesn't disappoint. This moist, dense and sweet cake is perfect for afternoon tea.

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Recipe

13 T. butter
1/2 c. sugar
3 eggs
3/4 c. ground almonds
1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
Scraped seeds of 1/2 vanilla pod
1 tsp ground star anise
1/2 c. Greek yogurt
9 figs

Heat oven to 400-degrees. Butter and flour a 9" springform pan.

Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer until light and pale. Beat the eggs lightly and add gradually to the butter/sugar mixture, mixing well after each addition. In another bowl mix together the almonds, flour, salt, vanilla and anise and fold into the batter. Mix until smooth, then stir in the yogurt.

Pour batter into the springform pan and level with a palette knife or spoon. Cut each fig vertically into four wedges and arrange on top of the batter, skin side down, pressing lightly. Put in the oven with a baking tray underneath to catch any drips and bake for 15 minutes; then reduce the heat to 350-degrees and bake another 30-35 minutes.

Yotam Ottolenghi

Polenta Square with Sage Pesto

The perfect hors d'oeuvre for a cocktail party - squares of polenta mixed with chives and mascarpone, topped with a pungent sage pesto and a colorful, fresh cherry tomato half. These little beauties will go fast, so make a double batch if you need more than 30. They're perfect with my favorite cocktail - a Negroni (equal parts Aria gin, Campari and Red Vermouth over ice).

Recipe

1 c. polenta
1 T. butter
2 T. mascarpone or sour cream
1/4 c. chives, chopped
cherry tomatoes, cut in half (half a tomato per polenta square)
3/4 c. fresh sage leaves, firmly packed
1/2 c. Italian parsley, roughly chopped
1/2 c. pine nuts, toasted
1/3 c. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
juice of half a lemon

FOR THE POLENTA: Bring 3 c. water, 1 T. butter and 1 tsp. salt to a rolling boil. Slowly sprinkle in the polenta while whisking. Lower heat and simmer, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, for 30 minutes. If it gets much too thick, add up to about another 1/4 c. water. Take off the heat, add the chives and 2 T. mascarpone or sour cream and stir well. Work quickly as it's quite thick. Pour into a 7"x11" sheet pan that has been sprayed with cooking oil to make it easier to remove the polenta later; smooth the top so it's level (an offset spatula works great). Let it cool for about 15 minutes, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

FOR THE SAGE PESTO: Combine the pine nuts, sage, parsley, olive oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, and lemon juice in a food processor and process until smooth.

TO ASSEMBLE: Cut the polenta into small squares, top with a dollop of pesto, and put half a cherry tomato on top. Serve.

*For your vegan guests, leave out the butter and use vegan sour cream.