Here is my Chinese New Year menu.

Cocktail: Lychee Martini
First Course: Grilled Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup
Main Course: Halibut with Cucumber Salad and Ginger Soup
Side Dish: Jasmine Rice with Garlic, Ginger, and Cilantro
Dessert: Banana and Mango Spring Rolls with Coconut-Chocolate Ganache
Wine: Chalk Hill 20o9 Chardonnay Musque

Lychee Martini

Heat 1/2 C sugar and 1/2 C water in a 1-qt saucepan over high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Pour into a heatproof bowl set in a large bowl of ice and cold water.  Let stand ~3 minutes.  Puree 2C canned lychees with the sugar syrup and 4T sweet and sour in a blender until smooth.  Force through a fine sieve into a bowl.  Fill cocktail shaker halfway with ice cubes and add lychee puree, 1 1/2 C vodka, and 6T Cointreau.  Shake 15 seconds and strain into Martini glasses.  Serves 4 oversized martinis.

Grilled Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup

Lightly brush 2lbs sweet potatoes (cut in ½” slices), 1 red onion (cut in ½” slices), and 1oz fresh ginger with olive oil.  Season with coarse salt and pepper, and grill over direct medium heat for 10 minutes, turning halfway through.  Finely chop the ginger.    Place all in a large saucepan.  Add 6C vegetable stock, ¼t allspice, and 1/8t cayenne.  Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 30 minutes.  Puree the soup in a blender in at least 2 batches.  Return to the pan.  Add ¼C half and half, 2T Italian parsley, and 1T frozen limeade.  Makes 7 cups.

Halibut with Cucumber Salad and Soy-Mustard Dressing

Puree 3T soy sauce, 3T rice vinegar, 1T mirin, 1T sake, 2t whole-grain mustard, and 1 garlic clove.  With the blender on, slowly pour in 6T vegetable oil and blend until smooth.  Thinly slice 1/2 of 1 cucumber, then finely julienne the other 1/2.  Julienne a 3” piece of carrot, peeled, and a 3” piece of Jicama, peeled.  Toss all the julienned vegetables together.  In a large skillet, heat 3T vegetable oil.  Add 1 shallot, sliced, and 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped, and cook over moderate heat until golden brown, ~3 minutes.  Remove and drain.

Add 4 6oz halibut filets to the skillet.  Cook over moderately high heat until browned on the bottom, ~4 minutes.  Turn and cook over moderate heat until just white throughout, ~2 minutes longer.

Spoon 1T of the soy-mustard dressing in the center of 4 plates.  Fold the cucumber slices and arrange them on the dressing.  Set the halibut filets on the cucumbers, browned sides up, and top with julienned vegetables.  Drizzle with remaining dressing.  Garnish with fried garlic and shallots, 1 long red fresh chile, toasted sesame seeds, cilantro leaves, and finely chopped chives.  Serves 4.

Jasmine Rice with Garlic, Ginger, and Cilantro

Place 1 1/2 C jasmine rice in large sieve and rinse under cold running water until water runs clear.  Drain.  Heat 2T vegetable oil in heavy saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add 1/6 C ginger, peeled and finely chopped, and 2 garlic cloves, minced.  Stir until fragrant, ~30 seconds.  Add rice and stir 3 minutes.  Add 2 C low-salt chicken broth and 1/4t salt.  Sprinkle 1/2 bunch cilantro, 2” of bottom stems trimmed and discarded, tops and remaining stems coarsely chopped.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low.  Cover and cook until rice is tender, ~18 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand covered for 10 minutes.  Fluff rice with fork.  Transfer to a bowl and serve.  Serves 4.

Banana and Mango Spring Rolls with Coconut-Chocolate Ganache

Combine 7 oz unsweetened coconut milk, 1/6 C packed brown sugar, and 3/4 t ground ginger in heavy medium saucepan.  Bring mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat.  Add 4oz semisweet chocolate, chopped, and whisk until mixture is melted and smooth.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place 1 of 4 thawed 8” square frozen spring roll pastry wrappers on work surface in diamond shape.  Place 1 banana piece (from 1 banana, peeled and halved lengthwise) across center of wrapper, then 1 mango strips (from 1/2 mango, peeled, pitted, and cut into 3” long, ½” wide strips).  Fold bottom pointed corner up over fruit, then fold in sides over fruit.  Brush unfolded part of spring roll with 1/8 portion of 1 egg, beaten.  Roll up wrapper, enclosing fruit completely.  Place on prepared baking sheet.  Repeat for the other 3.

Pour enough vegetable oil into a deep skillet to reach depth of 1 1/2”.  Heat oil to between 360 and 375º.  Add spring rolls to hot oil and cook until golden and crisp, turning often, ~3 minutes.  Using slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain.  Place 1 spring roll on each of 4 plates, along with fresh mint sprigs.  Drizzle with ganache.  Serves 4.

Bon Appétit.


Here is my Fall, 2015, menu. A multi-course meal that is sure to please the palate.

Cocktail: Margarita
First Course: Spinach Salad with Chutney Dressing
Main Course: Grilled Salmon with Brown Sugar Mustard
Side Dish: Balsamic Roasted Vegetables
Dessert: Boston Cream Pie
Wine: Gamba 2012 Zinfandel – Old Vine Starr Ranch Vineyard



¼ C frozen limeade
5/8 C cold bottled water
¼ C sweet and sour
3/8 C reposada or añejo tequila
1/8 C Grand Marnier
1/8 C Cointreau

Combine ¼ C frozen limeade, 5/8 C cold bottled water, ¼ C sweet and sour, 3/8 C reposada or añejo tequila, 1/8 C Grand Marnier, and 1/8 C Cointreau. Shake until frozen limeade is liquid. Poor over ice and serve with or without a salted rim. Serves 2.

Spinach Salad with Chutney Dressing

½C red wine vinegar
5T chutney
1 garlic clove
2T coarse-ground mustard
2t sugar
½C vegetable oil
1Lb fresh spinach
6 sliced mushrooms
6 slices of crisp bacon
½C shredded Swiss cheese
¼C thinly sliced red onion.

Combine ½C red wine vinegar, 5T chutney, 1 garlic clove, 2T coarse-ground mustard, 2t sugar, and ½C vegetable oil in a blender and blend until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve. In a large salad bowl insert 1Lb fresh spinach, trimmed of stems, washed and dried. Add 6 sliced mushrooms, 6 slices of crisp bacon, cooked and crumbled, ½C shredded Swiss cheese, and ¼C thinly sliced red onion. Serve with the dressing. Serves 4-6.


Grilled Salmon with Brown Sugar Mustard

1/3C brown sugar
3T Dijon mustard
2½ T soy sauce
2t rice vinegar
4 8-oz salmon filets

Combine 1/3C brown sugar, 3T Dijon mustard, and 2½ T soy sauce. Transfer 2T to a small bowl, mix in 2t rice vinegar, and set sauce aside to serve with the salmon. Brush the meat side of 4 8-oz salmon filets with the glaze and grill over indirect medium heat for 5 minutes. With a metal spatula, skim the skin off the salmon. Brush this side with the glaze, and turn the salmon over. Grill 4 minutes. Serve salmon with drizzled sauce. Serves 4.



Balsamic Roasted Vegetables

4T Balsamic Vinegar
2t Dijon mustard
1C Extra-virgin Olive Oi
6 Garlic Cloves
4t finely chopped fresh thyme
2t finely chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper

2 Large Red Onions
2 Yellow Bell Pepper (cut into ½ – inch wide strips)
2 Red Bell Pepper (cut into ½ – inch wide strips)
2 Orange Bell Pepper (cut into ½ – inch wide strips)
coarse salt and pepper

Whisk 4T Balsamic Vinegar and 2t Dijon mustard in medium bowl. Gradually whisk in 1C Extra-virgin Olive Oil. Stir in 6 Garlic Cloves, pressed, 4t finely chopped fresh thyme, and 2t finely chopped fresh basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 4500F. Toss 2 Large Red Onions, 2 Yellow Bell Pepper (cut into ½ – inch wide strips), 2 Red Bell Pepper (cut into ½ – inch wide strips), 2 Orange Bell Pepper (cut into ½ – inch wide strips) in large bowl; sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper. Add dressing; toss to coat. Place in 1 large rimmed baking sheet. Roast until vegetables are tender and slightly brown around edges, ~ 35 minutes. Serves 6.



Boston Cream Pie

12oz semisweet chocolate
1C whipping cream
2t corn syrup

1/2C sugar
2T flour
4t cornstarch
2 eggs
2C milk
6T unsalted butter
1/2t vanilla extract

4 egg whites
1/4C milk
3C cake flour
1 1/4C sugar
1 1/2T baking powder
1/2t salt
1 1/4C melted butter
1 vanilla bean
3/4C milk

Sift together 1/2C sugar, 2T flour, 4t cornstarch in mixing bowl. Add 2 eggs and beat until light. Bring 2C milk to a boil in saucepan. Stir half of the milk into egg mixture, then pour whole mixture back into saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking vigorously, until cream thickens and center bubbles. Cook and whisk another 30 seconds. Remove from heat and stir in 6T unsalted butter and 1/2t vanilla extract. Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, then cover and refrigerate for 6 hours.

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Combine 4 egg whites and 1/4C milk in a bowl. Sift 3C cake flour with 1 1/4C sugar, 1 1/2T baking powder, and 1/2t salt into mixer bowl. Add 1 1/4C melted butter, seeds from 1 vanilla bean, and 3/4C milk. Beat 3 minutes. Add reserved whites and milk and stir to combine. Pour into 10” greased cake pan and bake for 30-40 minutes when center tests done. Cool 4 hours.

Chop 12oz semisweet chocolate and place in top of double boiler with 1C whipping cream. Melt over hot water until smooth. Stir in 2t corn syrup. Cool to room temperature.

Turn cake upside down and cut into 2 layers. Fill with custard and frost with cooled glaze. Serves 12.