Lifestyle

`Ah" he said, `food from the heart"

By Eileen Mintz

During my last visit to New York, I discovered that my hotel was located close to the exclusive ``21'' club, that posh and very elite classic restaurant. So what's a gal got to do? Walk in and check it out! I peeked in very sheepishly and suddenly bumped into Tony Curtis, the seasoned actor. He was just leaving with a woman who looks as if she never ate anything! Bet she didn't order one of the most popular dishes on the menu, Crisp Black Sea Bass with Whipped Potatoes and White Wine Sauce. I love it for a Valentine's menu because it's light enough that you can save room for a special dessert.

``What's on your menu for Valentine's Day dining?'' I asked Chef Peter Levine of Vivanda in the Pike Place Market. He sent over the recipe for an appetizer, Ahi Tuna Carpaccio. I sampled it with chive oil and an artichoke dressing, and it was delicious. His Valentine's Day menu features simple and exquisite dishes, artfully presented with the great flair and style befitting a creative northwest chef.

When it came to one of his menu entrées, Chef Peter designed Linguine with Dungeness Crab, Saffron and Tomatoes.

``The simplicity of the sauce makes this pasta dish very comforting,'' said Levine. ``But the combination is timeless and the variations endless. Use your imagination and create something special for your loved one, he told me.''

Now, on to desserts. Executive Chef Wayne Johnson of Andaluca, in the historic and romantic Mayflower Park Hotel, shared his recipe for Valentine Chocolate Raspberry Truffle. He plans to sweeten everyone's holiday with hand-crafted truffles given as a token of gratitude for loyal patronage.

Brian Gregory of KOMO Radio 1000 has a show called Brian's Bites. He shared this perfectly delicious Valentine's Day Volcano Cake and it didn't sound hard to make. Same goes for Chef Ethan Stowell of Union on 1st Avenue. He graciously gave me his recipe for Chocolate Pot de Créme. It is one of the best chocolate desserts!

Valentine's Day is especially busy for restaurants. But if you can't get a reservation, you can always cook! Often restaurants double book, so you might call last minute and still get a reservation. My plans? I will be shopping on the Island, so you can catch me in the grocery store!

VIVANDA'S AHI TUNA CARPACCIO

A prefect way to eat Ahi tuna.

2 pounds of center cut ahi tuna

4 Tbs. of chive oil

1/4 cup of artichoke & hazelnut dressing

flowers for garnish

chives for garnish

1/4 cup canola oil

kosher salt

fresh black pepper

Heat the canola oil in a skillet until just smoking. Season the tuna generously with salt and pepper and lightly sear on all sides in the very hot oil. Remove from the pan to the fridge to cool completely.

CHIVE OIL

1/4 pound of chives

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1 cup virgin oil

Blanch 1/4 pound of chives in boiling salted water (as salty as the ocean) for 20 seconds and immediately refresh in ice water. Squeeze out all excess water and chop a couple of times. Combine 1 cup of virgin oil with the chives and salt in the blender and liquefy for bout 5 minutes. Strain the oil through your finest strainer and reserve in a small bottle in the refrigerator until ready to use.

ARTICHOKE &

HAZELNUT DRESSING

1/2 cup fresh cooked or canned artichoke hearts

1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts

1/4 cup water

1 cup olive oil

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

Combine all ingredients in the blender and liquefy.

To plate: Arrange thin slices of tuna on a platter. Garnish with the dressing, the chives and olive oil.

SALAD DRESSING

EXTRAORDINAIRE

My friend Sharon Boorstin suggests in her book, ``Let us Eat Cake'' that this salad works well on a bed of tender baby lettuces.

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 Tbs. lemon juice

1 Tbs. sherry wine vinegar or a mixtureor a mixture of balsamic and red wine vinegar

1 Tbs. anchovy paste

Scant 1 Tbs. Dijon mustard

Scant 1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce

Dash of Tabasco sauce

1 or 2 cloves of garlic, minced

salt and ground pepper to taste

In a small bowl, whisk all the ingredients together. Dress the salads.

VIVANDA'S LINGUINE WITH DUNGENESS CRAB, SAFFRON & TOMATOES

Chef Peter Levine says that the actual cooking time on this dish is 5 minutes! Serves 4.

1 pound of fresh Dungeness crab meat

1 whole cooked Dungeness crab

1 pound of linguine pasta

2 Tbs. olive oil

2 cups chopped tomato

2 tsp. chopped garlic

1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley

1/4 cup chopped basil

1 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

30 threads of saffron

4 oz. of water or chicken stock

4 Tbs. sweet butter

Cook the pasta al dente and hold it on the side tossed with a little olive oil so it doesn't stick. Reserve a little cooking water to reheat it and the crab legs for service.

Crack the legs off the whole crab and save for garnish on each dish. In a skillet, heat the oil and lightly toast the garlic. Immediately add the tomatoes and the saffron. Add the water or stock and simmer for a couple of minutes. Add the butter and stir in to form the sauce. Add the basil, parsley, salt and pepper last. Toss with the pasta and the crab legs. Arrange on a plate or platter.

SUZY'S BEAUTY

PARLOR PUCKER-UP CHICKEN

Friend and author, Sharon Boorstin relates in her book, ``Let Us Eat Cake,'' that she obtained this recipe from her friend Suzy, who worked in a Parisian beauty parlor. It's wonderfully lemony, so I thought I would call it pucker-up chicken.

8 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, pounded between sheets of waxed paper to flatten

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup olive oil

4 or 5 cloves garlic minced

2 onions, finely chopped

juice and zest of 5 or 6 lemons

1/2 cup white wine

one 6-oz jar pitted Kalamata or green Italian olives

Sprinkle the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. In a heavy frying pan, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil and brown the chicken breasts over medium-high heat until they are cooked on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove the chicken breasts to a plate covered with paper towels to absorb the grease.

Scrape any remaining bits of chicken from the pan and discard. Add the remaining olive oil and sauté the garlic and onions, stirring frequently, until the onions are opaque, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the lemon juice and zest and white wine and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer uncovered, until the liquid reduces by half, about 20 minutes.

Add the chicken breasts and the olives to the pan and mix well. Simmer on low, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove the cover, turn over the chicken breasts, and cover with the sauce. Cook for 10 minutes more, uncovered.

You can prepare the dish up to the last cooking stage an hour or so ahead of time. When the pan has cooled, cover it and keep at room temperature. Reheat before serving.

CRISP BLACK SEA

BASS WITH WHIPPED

POTATOES & WHITE WINE SAUCE

This is a signature dish for the ``21'' club in New York. Even Leroy Neimann once strolled into the club ``21'' and ordered this dish. Serves 4.

FISH

4- 7 oz. filet of fish (Black Sea bass, snapper or your favorite fish)

2 oz. Rice Krispies

salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

4 Tbs. vegetable oil

Cut the filets into 2 pieces each and roll the filet into the crunched Rice Krispies. Season with salt and pepper. In a hot pan, add oil, and, when the oil starts to lightly smoke, add the fish. Cook until golden brown (about 2 minutes). Turn the fish and cook another 2 minutes. Remove and blot dry on a paper towel.

WHIPPED POTATOES

3 large Yukon gold potatoes

6 Tbs. sweet butter

1/2 cup warm heavy cream

salt and fresh ground pepper

2 Tbs. thinly sliced chives

Place the diced potatoes in a pot of water and cook until fork tender (about 15 minutes). Strain the potatoes and place in a mixing bowl. Add the butter and warm cream to the potatoes and mix until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.

SAUCE

1/2 cup white wine

1 Tbs. minced shallots

3 Tbs. heavy cream

8 Tbs. sweet butter

2 Tbs. chopped cilantro or chopped chives

salt and fresh ground white pepper to taste

sugar to taste

4 sprigs thyme

In a saucepan, add the wine, shallots and reduce until the wine has almost evaporated. Add the cream and bring to a boil. Whisk in the butter and continue to cook until the smooth. Add the cilantro or chives. Season with salt and white pepper and a pinch of sugar. Keep warm.

To plate: Place the potato puree on the center of the plate. Place the filets on top of the potato: drizzle the sauce around and serve immediately. Garnish with thyme sprigs.

VIVANDA'S APPLE SPICE CAKE

11/2 cups canola oil

2 cups granulated sugar

3 whole eggs

3 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

4 Braeburn apples

2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour the Bundt pan. Peel and core the apples and cut them into to 1/4 inch dice, reserving them for later.

Sift the dry ingredients together. Mix the oil and the sugar together by hand, beat in the eggs one at a time. Make sure your whisk stays in the same place for each egg, slowly incorporating more sugar, thus creating a thick yellow batter.

Add the dry ingredients and fold together with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Add the vanilla and then the apples. Continue to fold until the apples are evenly incorporated.

Evenly spread the mixture into the Bundt pan and bake for about 50 minutes. Check for doneness with a wooden toothpick. If it doesn't come out clean, bake for another 10 or 15 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan slightly before removing. Then pour on the glaze.

(Variations: nuts, other spices, rum or other fruits.)

Glaze:

8 oz. of sweet butter

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup heavy cream

Combine the ingredients in a small sauce pot. Slowly bring to a boil, whisk together. Pour the glaze over the cook after taking out of pan.

ANDALUCA'S CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY

``Love at first bite

TRUFFLE''

Chef Wayne Johnson of Andaluca thought this is prefect to sweeten a love life. He's right! Turns out Andaluca had been voted Seattle's most romantic restaurant by readers of Seattle Magazine.

9 oz. sweet butter, soft

71/2 oz. raspberry puree

1/4 cup Chambord

7 oz. bittersweet chocolate

51/2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate

5 oz. white chocolate

Coating

1 cup cocoa

2 Tbs. powdered sugar

Melt the bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate together in a double boiler, being careful not to overheat the chocolate. Pull it off the burner and stir in white chocolate. Whip butter and puree until light, add the Chambord. Slowly add warm chocolate to the butter puree mix and whip until smooth. Put into a piping bag and pipe small balls onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Put in a cool place for 10-15 minutes. Mix together cocoa and sugar, then roll each truffle to coat.

BRIAN GREGORY'S CHOCOLATE VOLCANO CAKE

6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

1 ounce unsweetened baking chocolate

1/2 cup butter

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup flour, plus

3 Tbs. flour

whipped cream for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 6 (1/2 cup) soufflé or custard cups.

Melt butter and chocolate in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook to lukewarm.

Whisk eggs, yolks and sugar in top of a double boiler set over simmering water (keep pot from touching water). Whisk for 2 -3 minutes or just until warm to touch. Remove top of double boiler.

Using an electric mixer, beat egg mixture until very thick and pale yellow (about five minutes). Fold chocolate mixture into egg mixture. Sift flour over batter and fold flour into batter until well mixed. Divide batter between the prepared dishes.

Bake for about 15 minutes. Edges of cake should be set, but a cake tester should come out with wet batter attached to it. Serve immediately with whipped cream.

UNION'S CHOCOLATE ESPRESSO POT de CR^miME

Chef Ethan Stowell of Union has this dish on his dessert menu.

6 servings or 12 demi- tasse cups

2 cups heavy cream

12 oz. bittersweet chocolate (Callebaut or Valrhona) chopped into chip size pieces

1/2 cup fresh brewed espresso

2 vanilla beans (split and scrapped portions)

6 egg yolks, individually beaten into mixture

1/3 cup sugar

whipping cream for garnish

Bring heavy cream, sugar, espresso and 2 vanilla beans to a boil. Be careful not to burn. Remove from heat and whisk in all the chocolate. Quickly add each egg yolk one at time and beat by hand quickly until smooth. Strain mixture through a fine sieve and put in serving cups or demi-tasse cups. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours. Serve with a dollop of cream.

Eileen Mintz can be reached by email at eileenmintz@comcast.net or by phone: 232-1984.

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