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Easter Dinner On A Shoestring

We welcomed back Jody Adams as The Saturday Early Show's Chef On A Shoestring to cook an Easter dinner for six on our special holiday budget of $60.

Adams is the author of "In The Hands Of A Chef" and the executive chef/owner of one of the Boston area's most popular restaurants, Rialto. The restaurant won a four-star review from the Boston Globe in 1994, just four months after it opened. Last year, Adams opened a new restaurant called Red Clay.

Adams says her cookbook teaches readers about "artisanal" cooking, or good food hand-made from scratch. She says it doesn't try to compress cooking time, but in fact encourages more time spent in the kitchen. Adams says the cookbook doesn't overwhelm people with fancy restaurant recipes.

For our Chef on a Shoestring holiday challenge, Adams created a delicious Easter meal for six for under $60. Her menu: an appetizer of Pea Soup with Basil Cream and Easter Egg Radishes; an entrée of Herbed Salmon Spiral with Lemon Vinaigrette and Spring Vegetable Ragout; and for dessert, Mint Strawberries with Greek Yogurt.

Terminology:

Ragout: A thick, rich, well-seasoned stew of meat, poultry, fish, or sometimes vegetables. On the show, Adams created a ragout of spring vegetables.

Easter Egg Radishes: A colorful, tasty mixture of firm and crips red, purple and white globe-type radishes. Easter Egg radishes are actually grown from a blended seed mix of three different types of radishes.

Greek Yogurt: Yogurt made from a mixture of ewe's or cow's milk, cream and bacterial cultures. It has a thicker, creamier taste compared with other yogurts. Although it has more fat than many other types of yogurt it is still a healthy alternative to cream.

Recipes:

Pea Soup with Basil Cream and Easter Egg Radishes
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
kosher salt
5 cups frozen peas
1 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large white onion, finely diced
freshly ground black pepper
7 to 8 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup washed and dried basil leaves
3/4 cup heavy cream
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 or 3 small Easter Egg radishes

Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. While the water is coming to a boil, fill a bowl with ice water. Add the peas to the boiling water and cook until just tender (about 1 minute). Plunge them into an ice bath to cool. Drain and set aside.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat in a small sauté pan. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper and cook until tender, about 7 minutes. Add the peas and chicken stock and simmer for 2 minutes. Puree the mixture in a food processor or blender. Strain and set aside.

Bring a small saucepan of salted water to a boil. While the water is coming to a boil, fill a bowl with ice water. Add the basil leaves to the boiling water and cook until just wilted, about 15 seconds. Plunge into an ice bath to cool. Drain, squeeze dry and set aside.

Combine the basil with 1/4 cup cream in a blender. Puree until to a puree.

Whip the remaining cream until it holds soft peaks. Add the basil puree and whisk until the peaks are firm, but not dry. Season the cream with salt and pepper.

Cut the radishes crosswise into thin slices. Cut the slices into thin sticks.

Ladle the pea soup into warm bowls. Add a spoonful of basil cream and a sprinkle of radishes and serve immediately.


Herbed Salmon Spiral with Lemon Vinaigrette and Spring Vegetable Ragout
Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed
6 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs, can include, parsley, chives, tarragon, mint and basil.
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 1/2 pounds center-cut salmon filet in one piece, skin removed
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 pound small red bliss potatoes, thinly sliced (about 1/8th-inch thick)
1/4 pound sugar snap peas, strings and stems removed
1/2 pound trimmed and peeled asparagus, cut on the diagonal into 1/2 inch slices
1/4 pound green beans, trimmed and cut on the diagonal into 1/2 inch slices
6 scallions, sliced 1/4 inch on the diagonal
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 fresh herb sprigs, can include, parsley, chives, tarragon, mint and basil

Chop the capers and mix in a bowl with the chopped herbs and lemon zest.

Lay the salmon on a cutting board, skin side down, vertically to you and with the with the tapered edge, (belly side) to your right, if you are right handed, or left if you are left handed. Using a sharp chef's knife, make a long parallel cut through the thicker center part of the fish, but not all the way through the other side, forming a flap that can be opened to create a larger surface area. Basically, you are butterflying the fillet.

Season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper. Spread the herb mixture evenly over the fish. Starting at then narrower long edge, roll the salmon jelly-roll style into a spiral.

Brush a piece of aluminum foil 4 times the width of the spiral, with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Roll the salmon tightly in the foil. Refrigerate until ready to cook.

To make the vinaigrette, whisk the lemon juices, Dijon mustard and the sugar together in a bowl. Slowly add 1cup olive oil in a steady stream. Season with salt and pepper.

Combine the potatoes in a large deep-sided sauté with 1 cup cold water. Season with salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the green vegetables, except the scallions, and 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pan, toss well, season with salt and pepper and cook, tossing occasionally until the vegetables are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the scallions for the last 3 minutes. The mixture should be a little soupy, but not brothy.

While the vegetables are cooking, cook the fish. Heat the vegetable oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. With the fish in the foil, add it to the pan and cook on all sides, a total of 10 minutes. Allow the fish to rest 10 minutes and then slice it crosswise into 4 even pieces. Remove the foil. It should be rare in the center of the spiral.

To serve, put a spoonful of the vegetable ragout in the middle of 6 warm dinner plates. Set a fish spiral, cut side up, on top of the vegetables. Drizzled with vinaigrette and garnish with herb sprigs.


Minted Strawberries with Greek Yogurt, Honey and Pistachios
Serves 6

Ingredients:
1 1/2 pints fresh strawberries
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
3 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 cups full fat Greek yogurt
2 tablespoon chopped pistachios

Wash, hull and slice the strawberries, thickly.

Toss gently in a bowl with the mint and sugar.

To serve, distribute the yogurt evenly between 6 bowls. Drizzle with honey. Top with the pistachios and then strawberries.