A Meal For Four

James and Nancy Laird
"Serenade" Restaurant
Chatham, New Jersey

Mussels Steamed In Wine
Plate-cooked cod and Toasted Orzo with Basil
Quick Baked Alaska with Strawberry Ice Cream

Mussels Steamed In Wine
Serves 4

4 lbs. cleaned mussels
1 large shallot, minced
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 cups dry white wine
1/4 tsp. dry red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
1 tbs. unsalted butter
2 tbs. olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

1. Wash mussels and remove "beards." Discard any mussels with open shells.
2. Heat large saucepan, add olive oil. When warm, add shallots and quickly saute until soft.
3. Add garlic and saute until aroma. Add wine, pepper flakes, bay leaf, and a good grind of pepper. Bring to boil. Lower, simmer, and reduce by half.
4. Add mussels to pot, raise heat and cover. Steam for five minutes or until all shells are open. Discard any mussels that have not opened.
5. Divide mussels evenly among four warm soup bowls.
6. In meantime, bring broth/wine mixture to boil and reduce slightly. Lower heat and whisk in butter. Pour evenly over bowls of mussels.

Plate-Cooked Cod with Black Olive and Tomato Tapenade
Serves 4

1 lb. fresh cod filet, sliced in 8 very thin slices
2 tbs. olive oil
4 dinner plates that can go into oven
3/4 lb. black olives
3/4 lb. fresh plum tomatoes

1. Preheat oven to 375
2. Pit and chop olives
3. Skin and seed tomatoes and dice.
4. Mix olives and tomatoes with 1 tbs olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. Place plates in oven until warm. Divide remaining olive oil among plates and place 2 slices of cod on each plate.
6. Place all in oven for approximately 5 minutes or until cod is just cooked.
7. Remove immediately. Divide olive mixture into four portions and spoon over orzo.

Toasted Orzo with Basil
Serves 4

8 oz. dried orzo
1 tbs. olive oil
3 tbs. butter
1 bunch fresh basil, leaves only, chiffonade
2 quarts boiling salted water

1. Heat large saute pan. Add in oil and 1 tbs. butter and heat until butter is melted and all is hot but not smoking.
2. Add orzo and stir to coat with oil. Toast until golden brown on medium heat.
3. Add enough water to cover orzo. Stir while cooking. Repeat this three times or until orzo is tender and there is a little liquid left. Add in 2 tbs. butter and stir until fully incorporated.
4. Remove from heat and add basil and salt and pepper to taste.
5. Divide evenly on top of cod.

Quick Baked Alaska
Serves 4

3 egg whites
5 oz. sugar
1 quart strawberry ice cream

1. Allow ice cream to soften at room temperature until easy to work with.
2. Divide ice cream evenly among four 4 oz. souffle cups. Smooth tops. Place cups in freezer to harden.
3. Beat egg whites in very clean bowl until soft peaks. Add sugar and beat until stiff peaks.
4. Preheat broiler or have blowtorch ready.
5. Remove ice cream from freezer and mound on egg white on each cup.
6. Place under hot broiler or use blowtorch to brown egg white.
7. Serve immediately.