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A Gala Post-Holiday Meal

by Lou Seibert Pappas

Celebrate the end of the holiday season with a special, easy dinner menu. Pretty smoked salmon appetizers make an excellent starter. Veal chops aromatic with herbs and garlicky potatoes compose a welcome entree with broccoli florets. Finish off with a dramatic meringue filled with kiwi fruit. Pour a California sparkling wine to toast the year and to partner with the entree, follow with a Zinfandel, such as a Chateau Potelle, Franciscan, Ridge, or Storybook Mountain.

Smoked Salmon Bruschetta
Makes about 18 appetizers

1 baguette, thinly sliced, about 18 slices
Olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
3 ounces smoked salmon
6 moist-style sun-dried tomatoes, cut in strips
Chopped chives

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly brush the baguette slices with olive oil seasoned with garlic. Place on a baking pan and toast in the oven for 10 minutes or until crispy and dry. Cover each slice with a strip of salmon, top with tomatoes at one end, and sprinkle with chives.

Endive with Shrimp
Makes 8 appetizers
Little boats of endive leaves hold shrimp and sprightly ginger wafers for this appealing appetizer.

8 endive leaves (about 1 stalk)
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
3 tablespoons light-style cream cheese
8 small cooked shrimp
8 slivers pickled ginger
Fresh dill or Italian parsley sprigs for garnish

Separate endive leaves. Place curry powder in a small bowl and microwave on High for 30 seconds or until hot, to remove the raw taste. Let cool and mix into the cream cheese. Place a small spoonful on the stem end of each endive leaf. Top with shrimp and ginger and garnish with dill or parsley.

Veal Chops with Herbs
makes 6 servings

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons minced mixed herbs: tarragon, thyme, parsley, and chives
6 veal loin chops, about 6 ounces each
Arugula or watercress for garnish

Mix together the mustard, lemon juice, oil, garlic and herbs and spread over the chops. Let stand 30 minutes. Place on a broiler pan and broil 4 inches from the heat, turning to brown both sides and cooking until medium rare, about 8 to 10 minutes. Serve each chop on a bed of arugula or watercress.

Whipped Golden Garlic Potatoes
makes 6 servings

6 medium Yukon gold or russet potatoes, peeled and diced
6 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

In a saucepan, cook the potatoes and garlic in boiling salted water until fork tender; drain, reserving potato water. Mash with a potato masher and mix in lemon juice, oil, and enough water to whip them lightly. Season with salt and pepper.

Note: If desired, substitute 3 parsnips for 2 potatoes.

Broccoli Florets Balsamic
makes 6 servings

1 1/2 pounds broccoli florets
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
Lemon wedges
Salt and pepper to taste

In a steamer, place the broccoli and cook over simmering water for 10 minutes or until fork tender. Mix together the oil, lemon juice, and vinegar, and drizzle over; garnish with lemon wedges and season with salt and pepper.

Ginger and Kiwi Fruit Pavlova
makes 8 servings
Crystallized ginger is a delicious adjunct to this classic dessert, savored at an alfresco luncheon in the tropical garden of Alison Hight in Tauranga, New Zealand. Tropical flowers were abloom in the garden and kiwi fruit hung heavy on the orchard vines.

3 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon each white vinegar and vanilla
2 tablespoons warm water
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
Topping and garnish:
1 tablespoon each unsweetened cocoa and powdered sugar
Shredded chocolate curls (optional)
4 kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl, place the egg whites, sugar, cornstarch, vinegar, vanilla, and water. Beat with an electric beater until the mixture forms a thick, white, shiny meringue, about 10 minutes. Line a 10 by 15 inch baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil and butter lightly. Spread the meringue mixture evenly in the pan. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until a light golden color. Let cool on a rack 2 minutes; then turn out onto another sheet of baking paper or a towel which has been lightly dusted with powdered sugar, roll up from the long side, and let cool to room temperature. In a bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks and mix in the powdered sugar, vanilla, and the ground and crystallized ginger. Unroll the pavlova and spread with cream. Roll up and place on a serving platter.

For the topping, dust with the combined cocoa and powdered sugar, shaken through a sieve. Sprinkle with the chocolate curls, if desired. Garnish the dessert with kiwi fruit.

Lou Seibert Pappas is a former food editor of the Palo Alto Times Tribune and a home economist with Sunset Magazine. She currently writes food, home, and travel-related articles for national magazines and newspapers and is the author of more than 30 books.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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