Simple Art Of Cooking: Ring In the New Year in Gourmet Style

What’s on the menu on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day? Champagne, of course, would be my beverage of choice with either of the below celebratory recipes. Wishing a happy, healthy and safe New Year to all.

Gravlax with Honey-Mustard Dill Sauce

Classically, gravlax is created by weighing down a whole fillet of salmon for 2-3 days with a mixture of sugar, salt and a thick packing of herbs. This version is cured with curry powder, cilantro and tequila and served with a dollop of crème fraiche.

Yield: about 20 servings

1 side salmon filet, skin on, about 2 1/2 lbs. neatly trimmed

1/2 cup tequila, vodka or other clear liquor of choice

1/2 cup coarse (kosher) salt

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup curry powder

1 large bunch cilantro, washed, spin-dried and roughly chopped

1 to 2 packages Westphalian style thinly sliced pumpernickel

Crème fraiche

Caper berries for garnish (optional)

1. Remove bones from salmon with tweezers or tip of a small knife. Pat salmon dry with paper towels.

2. Combine salt, sugar and curry and sprinkle 2 to 3 teaspoons of spice mixture on the bottom of a Pyrex or shallow earthenware dish, large enough to hold the fish. Place salmon, skin side down in the dish and pour the tequila over it. Rub the spice mixture into the salmon flesh. Cover with plastic wrap and weight down with a heavy object, such as a filled coffee can. Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 days and up to 3 to 4 days. Turn the fish each day, basting with the liquid that develops.

3. When ready to serve, scrape the marinade from the fish and discard the cilantro and liquid. With a sharp, thin-bladed knife, cut salmon into paper-thin slices on the bias, as for smoked salmon. (The remaining skin may be grilled or sautéed in a hot non-stick skillet rolled up and cut into thin slices for an optional garnish.) Serve slices of gravlax on pumpernickel points. Dab with crème fraiche and add caper berries if desired.

Plaza Cafè’s Grilled Pizza with Prosciutto, Figs and Baby Arugula

Yield: One 10 to 12-inch pie

Balsamic vinaigrette*

1 shallot, finely chopped

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 1/2 cups washed and spin-dried baby arugula

1 ball basic pizza dough

Extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup shredded Italian Fontina cheese

1 large red onion, thinly sliced and caramelized*

4 to 5 fresh figs quartered

6 ounces prosciutto de Parma, sliced paper thin

For the balsamic glaze (optional)

Reduce 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar to 1/4 cup over medium heat

1. In a small bowl whisk together the shallots and balsamic vinegar. Slowly add the oil whisking it into the mixture: season to taste and toss with the arugula: set aside.

2. On a large, oiled, inverted baking sheet spread and flatten the pizza dough with your hands into a 10- to 12-inch circle, about 1/8 inch thick. Do not make a lip. You may end up with a rectangle rather than a circle; the shape is unimportant, but do take care to maintain an even thickness, rolling out a necessary.

3. Heat a gas or charcoal grill to two levels of heat, medium-high and medium-low. The fire is hot when you can hold your hand over the coals for 3 to 4 seconds at a distance of 5 inches. Use your fingertips to lift the dough gently by the two corners closest to you, and drape it onto the grill. Grill the flattened pizza crust on a clean, well-oiled grill, about 2 minutes over medium-high heat. When crust is slightly puffy and the undersides stiffen slightly, flip crust to the cooler part of the grill and brush with olive oil. Within a minute the dough will puff slightly, the underside will stiffen, and grill marks will appear.

4. Toss the caramelized onion and cheese over the crust and scatter the dressed arugula over the cheese. Arrange fig quarters over the arugula and drape the prosciutto slices over the figs. Drizzle over balsamic glaze. Slide onto a cutting board: let rest a few minutes then slice through with a chefs knife or pizza cutter.

*Note: Caramelize the thinly sliced onions in 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil for 10 to 12 minutes over low heat, stirring frequently. Prepare the balsamic vinaigrette ahead then dress the arugula before placing on the pizza. The balsamic glaze can also be reduced ahead and set aside until needed.

Visit savoringthehamptons.com for Silvia’s blogs and more recipes.

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