Mango-Banana-Pistachio Strudel with Raspberry Sauce and Dried Mango Chips

From A Taste of Excellence Cookbook, Rudi Sodamin

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Chase away the wintertime blues with this exciting combination of creamy tropical fruit in crisp phyllo.  You can make the mango chips and raspberry sauce up to two days in advance.


YIELD: 6 SERVINGS

Ingredients:

Strudel

  • ½ cup shelled pistachio nuts
  • 4 sheets phyllo dough (18 inches X 14 inches)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ cup yellow or white cake crumbs
  • 3 ripe bananas, peeled, and split lengthwise
  • 1 large mango, peeled, pitted, and chopped into ¼-inch dice
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for sprinkling

Mango Chips

  • 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 mango, unpeeled and well washed

Raspberry Sauce

  • 2 (12-ounce) packages frozen unsweetened raspberries, thawed
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 table spoon kirsch or framboise liqueur (optional)

Cooking Instructions:

For the Strudel

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread pistachios on a baking sheet and bake for 5 to 7 minutes.  Let cool, chop, and set aside.  Increase oven temperature to 375°F.  Lightly coat baking sheet with butter.

Lay 1 sheet of phyllo on a work surface (keep remaining phyllo covered with a damp kitchen towel and plastic wrap).  With a pastry brush, brush phyllo sheet lightly with some melted butter.  Sprinkle with one-fourth of sugar and one-fourth of cake crumbs.  Lay another sheet of phyllo on top.  Lightly brush with more butter and sprinkle with more sugar and cake crumbs.  Repeat with remaining 2 sheets of phyllo.

Arrange some sliced bananas and diced mango along 1 long edge of phyllo so that bananas cover an 18-inch x 3-inch area.  Sprinkle fruit with some pistachios.  Top fruit with remaining bananas, mango, and pistachios.

Starting from the fruit-lined edge, roll up phyllo into a cylinder.  Place strudel on prepared baking sheet and brush with melted butter.  Bake for 10 minutes, or until pastry is golden crisp on the outside and warm on the inside.

For the Mango Chips

Preheat oven to 200°F.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, nonstick foil, or a nonstick baking pad.  Sift 1½ tablespoons confectioners’ sugar evenly onto lined baking sheet.  Use your palm to hold down a whole mango as you make slices around the pit with a mandolin or other manual slicer.  Keep fingers clear.  Arrange a single layer of the best-looking slices on the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle evenly with remaining 1½ tablespoons confectioners’ sugar.  Bake slices in middle of oven until beginning to crisp, about 2 hours.  Immediately peel chips off parchment and cool on a rack.

For the Raspberry Sauce

In a heavy medium saucepan, stir berries, sugar, and water over medium heat until mixture just comes to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Transfer mixture to food processor and puree.  Scrape into a wire mesh strainer set over bowl; press on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids in strainer.  Mix liqueur into sauce, if desired.  Thin with water if necessary.


To Serve

Transfer strudel to a cutting board and slice into 6 diagonal slices.  Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and transfer to plates.  Garnish with fruit sauce and mango chips.

 

Bon Appétit!

Poached Lemon Infused Chicken Breast with Orange Orzo and Sliced Squash

From A Taste of Excellence Cookbook, Rudi Sodamin

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The chicken in the light and refreshing preparation is poached to allow the various citrus flavors to shine through.


YIELD: 4 SERVINGS

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken breasts (see Note)
  • 2 cups chicken stock, canned or homemade
  • 1 cup white wine (preferably Chardonay)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 stalk lemon grass, split and crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 10 white peppercorns
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots
  • 1 cup orzo pasta
  • 2 oranges, peel removed and very thinly sliced, fresh segmented, and peel, segments, and juice separately reserved
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 small green zucchini, sliced diagonally
  • 1 small yellow summer squash, sliced diagonally
  • 1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, plus 4 whole leaves for garnish

Cooking Instructions:

Remove skin and trip wing bone from chicken breasts; reserve.  In a stockpot, combine stock, wine, lemon juice, lemon grass, bay leaf, and peppercorns.  Bring to a light simmer. Season chicken with salt and pepper and place in the simmering stock.  Return to a simmer and poach until cooked through, about 10 minutes.  Removed chicken, place on a platter, and tent with foil to keep warm.  Reserve poaching liquid at a slow simmer.

In a 2-quart saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add shallots and cook until softened.  Add orzo, stirring to coat with the oil, and then add 2 cups reserved poaching liquid, orange juice, and half the orange zest.  Bring to a simmer and cook orzo, stirring occasionally, until liquid is absorbed, about 12 minutes.  Keep warm.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat butter over medium heat.  Add sugar and cook until golden brown.  Add half of the orange segments, stir once, and remove pan from heat to allow segments to soften in syrup.

Add water to remaining simmering stock to equal 2 cups; season with salt.  Add zucchini and squash and cook, covered, until tender.  Remove with a slotted spoon to a warm bowl and ladle a little poaching liquid over them to keep them warm.

To serve, return chicken breasts to simmering poaching liquid just long enough to reheat.  Stir parsley, chopped basil, and the remaining orange segments into the orzo and divide it among the plates.  Place a breast on each pile of orzo.  With a slotted spoon, transfer squash slices to plates.  Garnish plates with caramelized orange segments, remaining reserved orange peel, and whole thyme leaves.  Serve immediately.

 

NOTE

For this recipe, seek out chicken with the best flavor and texture, which may mean free-range, organic, or corn-fed

Bon Appétit!

Italian Fish Soup

From Culinary Signature Collection Appetizers, Rudi Sodamin

ItalianFishSoup

We serve this soup at our Canaletto restaurant on board the ms Eurodam, where it’s called Zuppa di Pesci.  Its fresh seafood flavors and aromatic broth have made it one of the most popular dishes on that menu.


YIELD: 6 SERVINGS

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • ½ lb. carrots (about 3 medium), peeled and cut into thin strips
  • ½ lb. leeks (about 2 medium), white and light green parts only, washed and cut into thin strips
  • 2 medium onions, minced
  • 1 ½ tbsp. minced garlic
  • ¼ tbsp. saffron threads
  • 1/8 tbsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1 lb. tomatoes, cored, peeled, and finely diced
  • 3 tbsp. tomato paste
  • ½ cup dry white wine (Sauvignon blanc or pinot blanc)
  • 8 cups white fish stock
  • Sea salt
  • 1 lb. striped bass, Alaskan rockfish, or red snapper with skin on, cut into 6 pieces
  • 4 ounces salmon, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 4 ounces medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 4 ounces bay scallops
  • 4 ounces squid, cut into rings
  • 6 sprigs fresh fennel or flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
  • Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

Steps:

  1. In a heavy 6- or 8-quart soup pot of enamel-lined casserole, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat. Add the carrot and leek strips and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are just beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. With tongs, transfer about half of the carrots and leeks to a bowl and set aside for the garnish. Add the onions and garlic to the remaining vegetables in the pan and cook, stirring, until the onions are softened, about 5 minutes (reduce the heat if the vegetables begin to take on color)
  2. Add the saffron and crushed red pepper; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 4 minutes. Add the wine and simmer, uncover, until the liquid is reduced by about half.
  3. Stir in the fish stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Carefully pour the soup through a fine sieve into another soup pot; discard the solids in the sieve.
  4. Season the strained soup with salt. Add the striped bass, salmon, shrimp, scallops, and squid; bring the soup to a simmer (by the time it simmers, the fish should be cooked through). Adjust the seasoning.
  5. Meanwhile, in a sauté pan, reheat the reserved carrot and leeks strips in the remaining 1-tablespoon oil until the carrots are cooked through but still slightly firm to the bite.  Season with salt. To serve, divide the snapper pieces and soup among warmed bowls. Top with the carrot and leek strips. Garnish with the sprigs of fennel and serve immediately, passing a pepper mill (if using)

Bon Appétit!

Black Bean Soup with Mango Relish

From A Taste of Excellence Cookbook, Rudi Sodamin

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This Cuban-style soup is also delicious served with rice: Unmold a ramekin of cooked rice into a shallow soup bowl, pour the soup around, and top the rice with the mango relish.


YIELD: 6 SERVINGS

Ingredients:

FOR THE MANGO RELISH

  • 1 mango, peeled and finely diced
  • ½ red bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ bunch scallions, white and tender green portions only, thinly sliced
  • ½ bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped cilantro
  • Juice of 1 lime

FOR THE BLACK BEAN SOUP

  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • ½ Spanish onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cup black beans, soaked overnight
  • 10 ½ cups vegetable stock, canned or homemade, plus extra for thinning soup
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cooking Instructions:

FOR THE MANGO RELISH

In a small nonreactive bowl, combine all ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate until needed.

 

FOR THE BLACK BEAN SOUP

In a heavy 4-quart saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add bacon, onion, and garlic; sauté until onion is translucent, about 3 minutes.  Stir in cumin and cook a few seconds more.

Add dried beans, stock, vinegar, and salt.  Bring to a simmer and cook until beans are tender, about 40 minutes.  Let cool slightly.  With a slotted spoon, remove some black beans and reserve for garnish.  Transfer remaining contents of saucepan in batches to a blender.  Puree until smooth, adding additional stock if soup is too thick.  Reheat and adjust seasoning, adding black pepper.  Spoon into soup bowls and garnish with mango relish and reserved whole cooked black beans.

 

TIP

A blender works better than a food processor or a food mill for pureeing soups.  Food processors tend to leak around the motor shaft when filled more than halfway with hot soup, and food mills have a hard time breaking down fibrous ingredients.  To avoid burns, always remember to let your soup cool down a bit before pureeing it.  – Dennis Starch, executive chef

Bon Appétit!