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A Hearty Meal From Oprah's Chef

Cookbook author Art Smith cooks a three-course meal from his new book, "Back to the Table: A Reunion of Food and Family."

Smith grew up in the small farming town of Jasper, Fla. While attending Florida State University, he completed two pretigious internships with The Greenbrier resort and also was selected for the Walt Disney Magic Kingdom college program.


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At the age of 24, he was hired by then-Florida Gov. Bob Graham (now a U.S. senator) and his wife, Adele, as executive chef at the Florida governor's mansion. Then, he spent time traveling the world as a family chef aboard several trans-Atlantic motor yachts.

Since the spring of 1997, he has been the personal chef to Oprah Winfrey and Stedman Graham. He is a contributing editor to "O" magazine and writes for the food page of Oprah.com.

Menu:
Bibb Lettuce Salad with Toasted Pecans, Blue Cheese, and Pears
Tropical Pork Roast with Black Beans
Banana Pudding

BIBB LETTUCE SALAD WITH PECANS, BLUE CHEESE AND PEARS
(Serves 6)

Ingredients:
1 cup pecan halves
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
4 tablespoons honey
4 small heads Bibb lettuce, washed, dried and torn into bite-size pieces
6 tablespoons Late Harvest Riesling Dressing
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 ounces blue cheese, such as Maytag, crumbled
2 ripe Anjou pears, peeled, cored, and cut into matchstick-size pieces

Method:

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spread the pecans on a sheet pan and bake until heated, about 5 minutes. Stir together the corn syrup and honey in a small bowl. Pour the syrup over the nuts and toss to coat evenly. Bake until the nuts have absorbed most of the syrup and are glazed, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Separate the pecans that are sticking together and cool completely.
  3. Toss the lettuce with the dressing in a large bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide among 6 plates. Sprinkle equal amounts of the cheese, pears, and nuts over the top of each salad. Serve immediately.
LATE HARVEST RIESLING DRESSING
(Makes 1 1/2 cups)

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon of mayonnaise
2 tablespoons of Laurent de Clos Walnut Mustard or Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup Cuisine Perel Late Harvest Reisling Vinegar
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Put the mayonnaise, mustard and garlic in a blender and process until smooth. Add the vinegar and process to combine.
  2. With the blender running, slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream until the dressing thickens.
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (The dressing can be prepared up to 3 days ahead, covered and refrigerated.)
TROPICAL PORK ROAST WITH BLACK BEANS
(Makes 6 servings)

Ingredients for marinade:
1 orange, preferably sour orange, sliced into thick rounds
2 teaspoons crushed cumin seed
2 teaspoons dried oregano
5 garlic cloves, crushed under a knife
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup fresh lime juice

Ingredients for roast:
One 3-pound boneless pork butt roast
Ingredients for black beans:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
3 Roma or plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped into 1/2-inch dice
Three 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. To make the marinade, place the orange slices, cumin, oregano and garlic in a large bowl and crush the orange slices into the spices with a large spoon. Stir in the orange and lime juices. Add the pork and turn to coat on all sides. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  2. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F.
  3. Transfer the meat and marinade to a plastic oven bag, cover tightly, and bake until the pork is fork tender, about 3 hours.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the black beans. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the cumin, oregano, and garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the black beans and cook until the flavors are combined, about 10 minutes more. Season to taste with salt-and-pepper. Keep warm.
  5. Transfer the pork to a serving platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. Strain the cooking liquid into a bowl, pressing hard on the solids. Let stand for 5 minutes. Skim any fat from the surface. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour into sauceboat.
  6. Slice the pork and serve with the sauce and black beans.
BANANA PUDDING
(Makes 8 servings)

Ingredients:
3 cups milk
2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
Pinch of salt
6 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut up
12 ounces vanilla wafers
5 ripe bananas, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

Method:

  1. Bring the milk and vanilla beans to a simmer in a medium saucepan over low heat. Using tongs, remove the beans from the milk. Using the tip of a small sharp knife, scrape the tiny seeds from each bean back into the milk.
  2. Whisk the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the egg yolks and whisk well. Gradually whisk in about half of the hot milk, then pour over the yolk mixture into the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the pudding comes to a full boil. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter until melted. Transfer to a medium bowl. Cover the pudding with a piece of plastic wrap pressed directly onto the surface and pierce a few holes I nthe wrap with the tip of a knife. Let stand until tepid, about 30 minutes.
  3. Spoon about 1 cup of the pudding into a 2 to 2 1/2 quart glass bowl. Layer the cookies, bananas and pudding in the bowl, ending with the pudding. Cover tightly and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight.
  4. Whip the cream and confectioners' sugar in a chilled medium bowl until stiff. Spread the whipped cream over the pudding. Serve chilled, spooned into bowls.
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