Chef Tom Valenti cooks up a delicious meal with our new $40 budget. It's been three years since our last increase. Tom cooks up a great end-of-summer meal. He co-founded "Windows of Hope," a charity that aids families of all World Trade Center food and beverage workers.
He and other chefs felt that the immediate needs for these families, many immigrant families, needed money since many food service employees do not have insurance or 401(k)s. He and other chefs hope the charity will be able to provide for these families' long-term needs. They are currently working on several events that will hopefully help reach that goal.
If you want to make an individual donation, you can mail a check to:
Windows of Hope Family Relief Fund
c/o Bloomberg LP
499 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10022
Checks should be made payable to: Windows of Hope Family Relief Fund.
Striped sea bass has a succulent, snowy flesh and is perfect for roasting whole, grilling, steaming, or baking. If you can't find sea bass or striped sea bass you may use red snapper instead.
For the first two courses, Valenti suggests pairing a fume blanc. You may also use the fume blanc for the fish recipe. The dessert is granita, also referred to as ice.
Tom Valenti was trained in classic French and Italian cuisine. He has earned high praise for his bold approach to traditional foods. He was the executive chef at the acclaimed "Butterfield 81" restaurant. Last year, he opened his own restaurant, "Ouest," which has become a foodie hot spot in New York.
All recipes serve four
Sweet Corn Volute
7 ears of sweet corn, washed
1 pint of milk
Salt and pepper to taste
- Cut corn from cob and, using the back of your knife, scrape the cob to get the "milk" out.
- Puree corn kernels in food processor. Strain, using a fine sieve. Pour pureed, strained corn into a sauce pot. Add half of the milk. Then, using a low heat, cook for about 12 minutes. Stir frequently. Depending on how thick you would like the soup, you can add more milk and cook for another 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve warm.
4 fillets with skin on (6 ounces each) sea bass, snapper or stripped bass filets
2 cloves garlic, peeled and very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1 lemon, peeled and separated into four segments
2 cups assorted olives, such as Nicoise, Kalamata or Picholine, pitted
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup bottled clam juice
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 325 f.
- To keep the fish from curling while cooking, score the skin diagonally at 1-inch intervals using a razor blade or very sharp, very thin bladed knife.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Scatter the garlic, tarragon, lemon segments, olives and chives over the foil. Drizzle with the olive oil, wine, and the clam juice.
- Season the fish fillets on both sides with salt and pepper and arrange, skin side up, in the pan without crowding.
- Cover with another sheet of aluminum foil and crimp the sheets of foil around the edges to seal the contents, pressing gently on the top to release any excess air.
- Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake until the fish is very firm to the touch and opaque in the center, about 20 minutes. (To check, open the foil carefully at one edge and break a fillet open gently using a spatula. If the fish isn't done, reseal the foil and return to the oven for another few minutes.)
- To serve, remove the pan from the oven and carefully transfer 1 fish fillet to the center of a warm plate. Spoon some of the pan juices, olives and lemon segments over and around the fish.
4 cups of fresh melon (Cantaloupe, Watermelon or Honeydew all work well individually or combined with one another)
1 cup water
sugar, to taste
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Puree the melon using a food processor or a blender until smooth. Then transfer pureed melons to metal 1 lb. loaf pan, stir in water and lemon juice. Add the sugar one tablespoon at a time to taste.
- Cover loaf pan with plastic wrap. Place in the freezer. Freeze mixture until partially set, about one hour.
- Stir or scrape mixture with a fork every 20 minutes until all liquid has been turned into icy flakes.
- Scoop and serve into frozen martini glasses and garnish with mint.