Adding beauty and flair to the table


February 14, 2007|By Laura Vozzella | Laura Vozzella,Sun reporter

Working the Plate: The Art of Food Presentation

By Christopher Styler

Puff Pastry Perfection

By Camilla V. Saulsbury

Cumberland House / 2006 / $16.95

Want to make your guests think you fussed, when you really took the easy way out? This book is for you. All 175 recipes call for a secret, corner-cutting ingredient: store-bought puff pastry.

Making "the royalty of pastries" takes a lot of work, but Camilla V. Saulsbury says the store-bought frozen stuff is good enough to pass for homemade.

Saulsbury turns it into appetizers like Goat Cheese and Thyme Puffs, entrees like Salmon Wellington and desserts like Apricot, Honey and Goat-Cheese Tarts. I made the tarts using Dufour brand pastry, which is made with butter, rather than the trans-fatty Pepperidge Farm brand favored by Saulsbury. The tarts were simple to make, elegant-looking -- and quickly devoured.

Lobster, Corn and Red-Pepper Chowder

Serves 6 to 8

1 or 2 lobsters (2 1/2 to 3 pounds total)

3 ears fresh corn, husked

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 large or two small leeks (white and tender green parts), halved, well-washed and finely minced

1 medium red-bell pepper, finely chopped

2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

4 cups chicken broth

1 1/2 cups whole milk

3/4 cup heavy cream

freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives, for garnish

Bring an 8-quart pot three-quarters full of salted water to a vigorous boil. Plunge the lobsters headfirst into the water, cover and cook 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the lobsters with tongs and drain. When cool enough to handle, remove lobster meat from the shells and pick over. Cut the meat into chunks and set aside. Scrape the kernels from the corncobs using a sharp knife, reserving the kernels and juices.

Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and saute 3 minutes. Add the red pepper and saute 3 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Stir in the broth, milk and cream. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the soup simmers and thickens slightly.

Add the lobster, corn and black pepper to taste and simmer, stirring often, 3 minutes. Ladle into soup bowls. Garnish with parsley and chives. Serve immediately.

From "Welcome to the Table"

Per serving (based on 8 servings): 233 calories, 14 grams protein, 14 grams fat, 8 grams saturated fat, 14 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 69 milligrams cholesterol, 560 milligrams sodium

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