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ROASTED BEET NAPOLEON
This stacked salad has become a standard at Spago. Rounds of brilliant red beets layered with slices of white goat cheese make up one of the most striking and elegant appetizers we serve. The earthy beets and pungent cheese ask for just a drizzle of House Dressing and a sprinkling of toasted nuts. Add some greens for more color, or serve it without. Easy to make, this is the appetizer for impressing your friends.
Try to purchase beets that are all about the same size. To save time, roast and chill the beets beforehand.
1 1/2 pounds large yellow or red bets, washed and trimmed
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 recipe Herbed Goat Cheese (see page 26), cut into eight round slices
1 to 1 1/2 cups mixed baby lettuces, washed and dried
1/2 cup Spago House Dressing (see page 18)
1/4 cup Citrus Hazelnut Vinaigrette (see page 50)
1 ounce toasted hazelnuts (see page 10), coarsely chopped
1. Roast beets: Preheat oven to 400¤F. Place the beets in a small roasting pan and pour in enough cold water to reach about one quarter of the way up the sides of the beets. Cover the pan with foil, and roast the beets until they are tender, 2 hours to
2 hours and 15 minutes. To check for doneness, gently insert a bamboo skewer into a beet. The skewer should slide through easily. Remove the beets from the pan, allow to cool, and then peel.
2. Cut each beet into 1ž4-inch-thick round slices. Cut each slice with a 3-inch round cookie cutter. (You will need ten rounds.) Cut trimmings into 1ž4-inch dice and reserve 1ž2 cup for garnish.
*Rice wine vinegar is available at Asian markets and gourmet specialty stores.
3. In a sauté pan, bring vinegar and sugar to a boil. Lower to a simmer and poach beets one minute on each side. With a slotted spatula, remove and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
4. When ready to assemble, heat the olive oil in a small sauté pan. Arrange the slices of Herbed Goat Cheese in the pan and warm slightly, turning them with a small spatula just to warm both sides. This has to be done quickly or the cheese will melt.
5. To assemble the napoleons: Place one of the beet rounds on a firm, flat surface and begin to layer. Top with a slice of goat cheese, then another beet round, a second slice of cheese, another beet round, a third slice of cheese and a beet round. (Continue until you have five layers of beets and four layers of cheese.) Carefully cut through layers, dividing into three wedges. Repeat with the remaining beets and cheese.
6. To serve: Arrange three of the wedges, pointed ends facing out, in a circle in the center of each plate. Toss the baby lettuces with the Spago House Dressing and mound half of the lettuces on top of each arranged napoleon. Drizzle one half of the Citrus Hazelnut Vinaigrette around each mound. Sprinkle toasted nuts and reserved diced beets on top of drizzled vinaigrette. Serve immediately.
TO PREPARE AHEAD: Through step 3, up to one day ahead.
SMOKED SALMON PIZZA
When I first opened the original Spago restaurant, this became the signature pizza. Now we don’t usually have it on the menu, but all the regular customers know they can always get it at Spago. A glass of champagne is its perfect partner. If you feel decadent you can top the pizza with Sevruga caviar!
MAKES ONE 8-INCH PIZZA
6 ounces Pizza Dough (see page 73)
1 tablespoon Chili and Garlic Oil (see page 20)
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 tablespoons Dill Cream (see page 35)
2 1/2 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon
1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon Sevruga caviar, optional
1. Place a pizza stone on the middle rack of the oven and preheat the oven to 500¤F.
2. On a lightly floured surface, stretch or roll out the dough into an 8-inch circle, with the outer edge a little thicker than the inner circle. Brush the dough with the oil and arrange the onions over the pizza. Bake until the crust is golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes.
3. Carefully remove the pizza from the oven and set on a firm surface. Spread the Dill Cream over the inner circle and arrange the slices of salmon so that they cover the entire pizza, slightly overlapping the inner border. Sprinkle the chopped chives around the top. Using a pizza cutter or a large sharp knife, cut into 4 or 6 slices, and, if you like, spoon a little caviar in the center of each slice. Serve immediately.
TO PREPARE AHEAD: In step 2, bake the pizza for about 5 minutes. At serving time, reheat until browned and continue with the recipe.
MY GRANDMA'S RAVIOLI
1 pound baking potatoes (about 2 large), scrubbed thoroughly
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 teaspoon minced garlic
8 ounces farmer cheese
5 ounces goat cheese
2 ounces mascarpone cheese
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons minced fresh chervil leaves
1 egg, lightly beaten Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 recipe Basic Pasta Dough (see page 113)
Semolina or all-purpose flour, for dusting
1 egg lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water, for egg wash
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper Minced fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1. Make the filling: Bake the potatoes in a preheated 350 degrees oven until fork tender, about 30 to 40 minutes. Peel, and while still warm, pass through a food mill. In a small sauté pan, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic, and cook until soft. In a medium bowl, combine all the cheeses, the herbs, and the beaten egg. Add the cooked shallots and garlic and the warm potato. Stir until blended (being careful not to overmix, or the mixture will get pasty). Season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until needed. Then, with lightly moistened hands, roll into 1/2 ounce balls, about the size of golf balls.
2. Cut the pasta dough into 4 portions and work with 1 portion at a time, keeping the remaining dough covered with plastic rap. Lightly dust the work surface with flour. With a pasta machine or a rolling pin, roll out the dough about 20 inches long and 4 inches wide. Brush the dough with egg wash and arrange 9 to 10 balls of filling on the lower third of the length of the dough, about 1 to 1 1/2 inches apart. Fold the top half over the cover the balls. Press the dough around each ball to seal, making sure that you do not have any air pockets. With a 2-inch round cookie cutter, cut the ravioli. Dust a tray with flour and arrange the ravioli on the tray, dusting with more flour. Repeat with the remaining dough, egg wash and filling. Refrigerate, covered, until needed.
3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the ravioli until ad dente, about 3 to 4 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, over high heat, cook the butter until it begins to brown. Drain the ravioli and toss into the browned butter, turning to coat both sides. Add the cheese and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.
SPAGO HOUSE DRESSING
Every restaurant and every household should have its very own house dressing. Choose your favorite oil and vinegar and feel free to add a variety of herbs and spices. Always keep a batch mixed up in the refrigerator to dress a salad, drizzle over fresh tomatoes, or brush over the Cheeseless Pizza (page 99).
MAKES ABOUT 1 CUP
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon sherry wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1ž2 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 small shallot, minced
1ž2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1ž3 cup walnut oil (or part walnut and part hazelnut oil)
1ž4 teaspoon kosher salt
1ž8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the balsamic and sherry wine vinegars, the Dijon mustard, minced thyme, and the minced shallot. Slowly whisk in the oils and when emulsified, season with the salt and pepper. Refrigerate in a covered container.
2. When ready to use, whisk again.
TO PREPARE AHEAD: Through step 1, the dressing will keep 3 to 4 weeks.
CITRUS HAZELNUT VINAIGRETTE
MAKES 1 1ž3 CUPS
11ž2 cups fresh orange juice
1 shallot, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1ž2 teaspoon orange zest
1ž3 cup hazelnut oil
1ž3 cup extra-virgin olive oil Kosher salt Freshly ground black pepper
1. In a medium saucepan, bring orange juice to a boil. Lower to a simmer and reduce until only 1ž3 cup remains. Cool to room temperature.
2. In a medium bowl, combine orange juice, shallots, thyme, vinegar, and orange zest.
3. Slowly whisk in both oils until thick and emulsified. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until needed.
TO PREPARE AHEAD: The vinaigrette will keep up to 1 week, refrigerated, in a covered container.
You can make four pizzas, as described below, or you can divide the dough in half and make two large 12-inch pizzas. The baking time will be the same.
Chopped fresh basil, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, or a sprinkling of crushed red pepper flakes can be added to the dough with the flour, if desired, for additional flavor. Be creative with your pizzas! For the best results, see "Pizza Tips" on page 75.
1. Once you have rolled the piece of dough into a ball, work it with your hands on a smooth surface by pulling down the sides and tucking under the bottom of the ball. Repeat 4 to 5 times. Roll the ball under the palm of your hand until the top of the dough is smooth and firm, about 1 minute.
2. On a lightly floured surface, stretch the dough into a small circle and begin to knead it by pressing down in the center, leaving the outer edge thicker than the inner circle.
3. Pulling and stretching it with both hands, elongate the dough into an oval.
MAKES FOUR 8-INCH PIZZAS
(makes about 24 ounces of dough)
1 package active dry or fresh yeast
1 teaspoon honey
1 cup warm water (105¤F. to 115¤F.)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or Chili and Garlic Oil (see page 20),
plus more for brushing Topping of your choice
1. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and honey in 1ž4 cup of the warm water.
2. In a mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour and the salt. Add the oil, your mixture, and the remaining 3ž4 cup of water and mix on low speed until the dough comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl and clusters around the dough hook, about 5 minutes. (The pizza dough can also be made in a food processor. Dissolve the yeast as above. Combine the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse once or twice, add the remaining ingredients, and process until the dough begins to form a ball.)
3. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead by hand 2 or 3 minutes longer. The dough should be smooth and firm. Cover the dough with a clean, damp towel and let it rise in a warm spot for about 30 minutes. (When ready, the dough will stretch as it is lightly pulled.)
4. Divide the dough into 4 balls, about 6 ounces each. Work each ball by pulling down the sides and tucking under the bottom of the ball. Repeat 4 or 5 times. Then on a smooth, unfloured surface, roll the ball under the palm of your hand until the top of the dough is smooth and firm, about 1 minute. Cover the dough with a damp towel and let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes. At this point, the balls can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 days.
5. Place a pizza stone on the middle rack of the oven and preheat the oven to 500¤F.
6. To prepare each pizza, dip the ball of dough into flour, shake off the excess flour, place the dough on a clean, lightly floured surface, and start to stretch the dough. Press down on the center, spreading the dough into an 8-inch circle, with the outer border a little thicker than the inner circle. If you find this difficult to do, use a small rolling pin to roll out the dough. Lightly brush the inner circle of the dough with oil and arrange the topping of your choice over the inner circle.
7. Using a lightly floured baker's peel or a rimless flat baking tray, slide the pizza onto the baking stone and bake until the pizza crust is nicely browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Remember that the oven is very hot and be careful as you place the pizza into and out of the oven. Transfer the pizza to a firm surface and cut into slices with a pizza cutter or very sharp knife. Serve immediately.
TO PREPARE AHEAD: Through step 4. When ready to serve, remove the balls of dough from the refrigerator and let them rest at room temperature for about 15 minutes, then continue with the recipe. Through step 7, bake 5 or 6 minutes, until the cheese melts and the pizza dough is lightly golden brown. (At this point, the pizza can be cooled, wrapped well, and frozen for up to 1 month.) When needed, remove from the freezer, unwrap, and bake in a preheated oven until the crust has browned and the topping is heated through.
1. In step 4, if you wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate, make certain that you wrap each ball of dough loosely but completely. Since you are working with a yeast dough, the dough will expand as it stays in the refrigerator. If it is not wrapped well, the dough will ooze out of its wrapping and harden. You may want to enclose the dough in a resealable plastic bag.
2. Make certain that you stretch or roll out the dough on a floured surface, preferably on a baker's peel, a rimless flat baking tray, or a very wide spatula that you are using to transfer the pizza to the oven.
3. Have all the ingredients ready so that you can arrange them on the pizza dough at serving time. At the restaurants we place the ingredients in separate bowls so that they are easily available when we need them.
4. In order to make the very best pizza possible, you'll need to have a mixer with dough hook (or food processor), a pizza stone, a baker's peel, a rimless baking tray or very wide spatula, and a pizza cutter or large sharp knife.
5. Make certain that the ingredients that have been sautéed are not hot when you arrange them on the pizza. This will soften the dough, and if the dough gets too soft it will be difficult to release it from the peel to the oven. Put the toppings on the pizza dough just before transferring it to the oven.
6. My recipes recommend an oven temperature of 500¤F. If your oven thermostat does not reach 500¤F., preheat it to the highest possible temperature.
7. Check the pizza after 10 minutes, since every oven bakes differently, and if it is not browned enough, continue to bake 1 or 2 minutes longer.