Dining In

May 29, 2009 Updated: June 21, 2009

During these difficult times, we want our readers to still have access to good food and dining. This experience can be had at a fabulous restaurant or from a delicious meal made at home. Here, we feature recipes that we think you will appreciate.


The first course comes from former chef Paul Wilson-Young.

Pear and Endive Salad with Walnut Vinaigrette


1 ripe but firm Anjou pear, cored and chopped
1/4 pound dried figs
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup walnut oil


Place pear, brown sugar, water and 1/4 cup of the vinegar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. When pears and figs are tender, remove from heat and allow mixture to cool.

When cooled, place in a blender with the remaining vinegar. Process until smooth. Then slowly drizzle the walnut oil into the mixture until all the oil is incorporated.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.


12 ounces baby arugula
4 halves sun-dried pears sliced
4 ounces Gorgonzola cheese (or another type of blue cheese such as Cabrales)

Candied Walnuts:


1 cup walnut
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
pinch cayenne pepper


Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix all the ingredients together and place on a sheet pan in oven. Bake until nuts are a deep golden brown, stirring to break up clumps.

Remove when done (about 18 minutes) and allow to cool completely on sheet pan.

Store in an airtight container. May be prepared days ahead of time.

Beautiful, sumptuous sea bass (Courtesy of Knife+Fork)
Beautiful, sumptuous sea bass (Courtesy of Knife+Fork)

Main Course

Next comes the main course from chef Damien Brassel of the rustic and intimate, Knife+Fork Restaurant in the East Village, 108 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003.
Phone: (212) 228-4885.
Web site: knife-fork-nyc.com

Chef Brassel is one of the most creative chefs I have ever met. Every night, Brassel puts out an outstanding and a totally new five-course meal. The following recipe is one of Brassel’s creations for you to enjoy at home with those special friends you have been thinking of inviting.

Pan Seared Sea Bass on Cauliflower and Raisin Puree With Vegetables and Seafood Bouillabaisse

By Chef Damien Brassel



2 tablespoons olive oil
1 one half tablespoons fennel trimmings (feathery tips and roots)
6 shallots, peeled and chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 sprigs of rosemary
Pinch of saffron
Pinch of cayenne
Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
4 oz prawn shells, about 5-8 medium shells
2 tablespoons cognac
2 tablespoons Pernod liqueur
4 plums, halved and seeded
2 tablespoons tomato puree
2 and one half cups fish stock


Heat the olive oil in a medium size saucepan and sauté the fennel, shallots, garlic, herbs and spices until the fennel and shallots are soft. Season with salt and pepper.

Add prawn shells; pour the cognac and Pernod into a ladle and heat the ladle over a gentle flame. Gently tip the ladle forward so the alcohol lights, and pour into the saucepan immediately; let the flame go out. (Or remove the pan from heat and add cognac and Pernod, then return to the flame and allow the alcohol to cook off).

Add plums and tomato puree; then slowly add the fish stock.

Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, skimming any fat or impurities from the surface using a metal spoon; cook to reduce the liquid by half.

Remove from heat and pass through sieve.

Check seasoning, to taste. Reserve.

Serves four 

Sea Bass


1 tablespoon olive oil
4 6-ounce sea bass fillets, skin on
4 sprigs of rosemary
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup fish stock


Heat olive oil in pan. Once hot, place each fillet skin side down. When skin becomes crisp, add the rosemary and butter. Deglaze pan with white wine. Add fish stock. Baste the fish with the cooking liquid, until fish is just cooked through, about 4-5 minutes. Remove the fish from heat. Allow to rest.

Raisin Puree


6 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup raisins
3 ounces peeled ginger (about 1–2 teaspoons)
juice and zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup chicken stock
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste


Heat olive oil in pan. Add raisins and sauté until they have no color. Add ginger. Then add orange juice and zest, and chicken stock to pan. Reduce until raisins are soft. Puree mixture in a blender and then pass through a sieve. Season to taste.

Cauliflower Puree


1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 stick butter
15 ounces cauliflower, peeled and diced, about 3–4 cups
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 cup vegetable stock
1/2 cup heavy cream


Heat olive oil and butter in medium size saucepan. Once butter has melted, add cauliflower. Turn up the heat to high. Add the vegetable stock. As the stock reduces, gradually add the cream.

Cook until the mixture is very soft, about 5 minutes. Process in a blender or food processor until smooth. You may need to add more vegetable stock to process the puree, as the heated mixture will evaporate a bit.

Season, adding salt and pepper to taste. Puree can be reheated as necessary with some butter over gentle heat.



1/4 cup vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/8 cup lemon juice
2 whole beets, cut into quarters
1 carrot, diced
1/2 cauliflower, broken into florets
1 tablespoon butter
2 tomatoes, skin and seeds removed, diced
salt and ground black pepper, to taste


Place vinegar, sugar, water, and lemon juice in a pot and bring to a boil. Add beets and simmer for five minutes. Add the carrots and cauliflower to the reserved bouillabaisse. Add the butter, tomatoes, salt and pepper.

To plate, place the fish, skin side up. Pour the bouillabaisse with vegetables on top. Add the raisin and cauliflower purees around the fish. Serve.

Tart, Tangy, Tarte Tatin (Courtesy of Capsuoto Freres)
Tart, Tangy, Tarte Tatin (Courtesy of Capsuoto Freres)


The following dessert is full of history and tradition. Making this dessert is very therapeutic. The time it takes, the preparation, and the placing of each slice of apple are both artistic and relaxing. Tarte Tatin can be served with afternoon tea, coffee, or simply as dessert.

It is presented to you compliments of the French Bistro Capsouto Frerers, another favorite of mine, located at 451 Washington Street, New York, NY 10013.Telephone: (212) 966-4900. Web site: capsoutofreres.com

This delightful, zesty, and very flavorful apple Tarte Tatin, was passed down from grandmother, to mother, and to your table at the traditional French Brasserie, Capsouto Freres. They were kind enough to share the secret of this recipe with us. This is a wonderful way to end your meal.

Tarte Tatin


24 red delicious apples, medium size sliced 1/2 inch thick
8 ounces butter, diced
2 cups sugar
11 inch round of puff pastry (1/8 inch thick), or phyllo dough
whipped cream, ice cream, or crème fraiche (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Trim, peel, core, and cut in half the apples. In a 10-inch sauté pan (with ovenproof handles and 2-inch high sides), place butter to cover bottom of pan. Spread sugar evenly over butter.

Place the apples on their sides in a circular pattern around edge of pan. Place more apples in reverse pattern as next inner concentric circle. Place one or two apples in center and remaining apples on top.

Put pan on stove over low heat. As the apples cook and shrink, insert the ones that are on top. Continue until all of the apples are inserted. Occasionally shake the pan to keep the apples from sticking.

Raise the heat and continue cooking until liquid begins to reduce and brown. Place the pan in oven until apples begin to brown and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 12 minutes.

Cover with the pastry and poke holes to allow steam to escape. Continue cooking until pastry has browned, about 12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.

For best results in unmolding, let cool overnight in refrigerator. To unmold, place on top of stove over medium heat and run a blunt knife around the edge. Start shaking the pan and keep over heat until the whole tarte moves freely. If desired, warm the tarte in the oven.

Serve with whipped cream, ice cream, or crème fraiche.

Serves 8–10