First Course Recipes

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Savory Cheesecake with Baked Plantain Crust Recipe

We had guests over for lunch recently and one of them is gluten intolerant. There are many options available such as rice noodle soups or potato dishes. This time, I tried to think out of the box; I made individual savory cheesecakes for a more refined presentation. But instead of making a gluten-free crust (using gluten-free flour), I used ripe yellow plantains that I molded using mini cake pans. I caramelized them with palm sugar, which enhanced the flavor of the dish and paired wonderfully with the fromage blanc filling.

I served the plantain entrée with thinly sliced radishes and salad greens. It made a wonderfully light and flavorful lunch.


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Corn Chowder Recipe Recipe

Corn Chowder Recipe

08.22.09 by Jackie

Chowders, like many other Western soups, are thickened with a roux. A roux is a combination of flour, butter and milk. To make corn chowder, just add corn kernels and some diced potatoes for texture. It couldn't be simpler than that!

I think chowder comes from the French word chaudière, which is the name of the pot in which the soup is made. It seems though, that the dish first gained popularity in New England. Traditional chowder is prepared with seafood, but I only had some fresh ears of corn on hand. After making countless corn salads, grilled corn on the cob and desserts, it was time to make some good ol' comfort food for dinner.


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Carpaccio de Radis (Radish Salad with Herb-Infused Olive Oil) Recipe

I love red radishes. It's such an under-utilized and under-appreciated vegetable. The taste is clean, crisp, and mild. Unlike daikon or other kinds of radishes, they don't have a harsh mustardy flavor. Traditional carpaccio is thin slices of raw meat or fish, but I made a "carpaccio" out of the radishes by thinly slicing them with a mandoline.

In France, we would simply eat them with good quality butter, salt and pepper. Since the butter here in the US isn't as flavorful as the yellow butter produced by the grass-fed cows in France, I decided to liven up the dish with a truffle-Meyer lemon vinaigrette to make it more appealing. I drizzled Italian flat-leaf parsley-flavored oil for color. I chose flat-leaf parsley because it has a much milder flavor than cilantro. I wanted the radishes to be the focus of the dish and not be overpowered by other ingredients.


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Red Cabbage Salad with Poppy Seed and Caramelized Onion Vinaigrette Recipe

The crunch, the color; everything about this dish screams summer. Shredded red cabbage is a real eye grabber, and the vinaigrette helps brighten up the flavor of the dish. I flavored the vinaigrette with mustard, pickled garlic, sugar and a little sour cream for a velvety texture. I was inspired by my butter chicken recipe, where I fried onions, drained the oil, and mixed in sour cream. You don't have to add sour cream to the vinaigrette, but otherwise it's too healthy.


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Gorgonzola Cheese Souffle Recipe

Gorgonzola Cheese Souffle

04.04.09 by Jackie

A cheese soufflé is basically a roux folded with egg whites. A roux is a combination of cooked butter, flour and milk. It's the same preparation used for making a bechamel sauce in the Le Mac and cheese recipe. The addition of the gorgonzola cheese is a way for me to cover the "egg-y" smell for the vegetarians in my house.

Gorgonzola cheese soufflés are a perfect meal served with an arugula salad. It's a healthy way to have a light lunch and finish with a much heavier dessert. Fancy some tiramisu parfait afterwards?


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