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Govind Armstrong's New Year's Eve Goodies

Chef Govind Armstrong's signature style is packing a lot of flavor into "small bites." Fancy finger food is his specialty, which makes him the perfect chef to develop a New Year's Eve party menu. And here's some good news: you don't have to spend a lot of money to serve very sophisticated flavors.

About the chef: When Armstrong's "Table 8" opened in L.A. in late 2003, Bon Appetit magazine wrote: "It is hard to find a restaurant where the scene is hot, the chef is hotter, and the food is actually worth the hype. Table 8 is just such a place, thanks to the talents of executive chef and co-owner Govind Armstrong."

There is now a "Table 8" in Miami too, and one set to open this winter in New York.

Chef Armstrong began his career at 13, when he convinced Wolfgang Puck to let him work in the Spago kitchen in West Hollywood. He went on to work at several well-known L.A. restaurants. He attended college in San Francisco and then moved to Europe to hone his skills. After putting in a few more years in L.A. kitchens, he opened his own restaurant, "Table 8," named after the table where he met with investors to discuss the new place. Last year, Armstrong published his first cookbook called "Small Bites, Big Nights," which features his signature style of small plates and "lounge" dining.

The menu:
Fried Olives Stuffed with Lamb Sausage
Grilled Shrimp with Black Eyed Peas
Shooter of Sunchoke and Pear Soup with Blue Cheese Crouton
Grilled Cheese with Pulled Short Rib and Red Onion Marmalade
Warm Winter Greens with Sweet Gorgonzola and Quince
Prosecco & Pomegranate Cocktail

RECIPES

Grilled Shrimp with Black Eye Peas and Shaved Radish Salad
Serves 8

Shrimp
1/2 pound cleaned Gulf shrimp
2 Tablespoon olive oil
3 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
Zest of one-half of a lemon

Black Eyed Peas
1/2 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves (thinly sliced)
1 dried chile pod
1 small branch rosemary
1 sage sprig
1 cup cooked black eyed peas
One-quarter cup water
Juice of one-half of a lemon

Radish Salad
1 bunch French breakfast radishes thinly sliced on a mandolin and julienne
1 Tablespoon parsley chiffonade
2 teaspoon chopped chive
2 Minced Shallot
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 Crusty baguette sliced one-quarter inch thick brushed with olive oil and toasted.

For the shrimp, marinate with the listed items for 30 minutes. Heat a grill pan over a medium high heat. Cook the shrimp for one minute on each side and allow to cool. Split the shrimp lengthwise and set aside.

To cook the peas, heat a medium sauce pan over a medium heat, add the olive oil and toast the garlic until golden. Add the chili pod and herbs with caution as they may splatter, cook for 10 seconds, just enough time to season the oil. Stir in the beans, cook for 5 minutes then add the water cook for another 5 minutes then reduce the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes. Once the peas begin to break down and are completely soft and creamy, turn off the heat, lightly mash with a potato masher. Season with salt, pepper, the lemon juice and set aside.

Toss all the ingredients for the radish salad in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and keep chilled.

Smear a toast point with the black eyed peas, add a grilled shrimp garnish with a pinch of radish and serve.

More recipes on Page 2

Fried Olives Stuffed with Spicy Lamb Sausage
Serves 8

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 onion, finely diced
1/4 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/8 cup sherry vinegar
Salt
1 pound ground lamb
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon hot paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of ground fennel seed
Pepper to taste

Canola oil, for frying
16 Giant cocktail olives, pimentos removed
1 cup All-purpose flour
1 large egg, beaten with 1 Tablespoon water
1 cup Panko Dustin Mix

In a saucepan over high heat, melt the butter. Add the onions and caramelize for about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until golden brown, making sure it doesn't burn. Deglaze with the sherry vinegar, stirring constantly and working very quickly. You want the vinegar to evaporate but you don't want the pan to be bone dry. Remove the mixture from the heat and allow it to cool.

Fill a large bowl with ice, and sprinkle salt on the ice to keep the temperature cool. Place another bowl on top and add the ground lamb, the cooled onion mixture, the cayenne, paprika, cumin and fennel. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, and mix well with a spoon.

Heat a small saucepot with 2 inches of canola oil to 350 F.

Split the olives almost all the way lengthwise, and stuff with the spicy lamb sausage. Place the olives quickly in the refrigerator to allow them to set.

Place the flour, egg wash, and panko mix in three small bowls. Roll the olives in the flour, then dip in the egg wash, and finally give them a nice roll in the panko mix. Place the breaded olives in the hot oil and fry about 4 minutes, or until crisp and golden. Drain well on paper towels and serve immediately.

Grilled Cheese with Pulled Short Ribs and Pickled Red Onions
Serves 8

1 Tablespoon grapeseed or canola oil
2 pounds boneless beef short ribs
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 carrot, cut into large dice
1/2 celery stalk, cut into large dice
½ onion, cut into large dice
6 medium cloves garlic, cracked
1 cup red wine (such as Cabernet Sauvignon)
3 cups beef broth
2-pound loaf sourdough bread, cut into 16 slices
12 ounces Bel Paese cheese, sliced thin
2 tablespoons, plus 2 teaspoons pickled red onions
4 teaspoons unsalted butter, room temperature
4 teaspoons grapeseed oil

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Beginning with a large saucepan or braising pan with a lid, heat the tablespoon of grapeseed oil over medium-high heat. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper. Sear the short ribs on either side until caramelized and golden brown, about five minutes. Remove the meat from the pan.

Add the carrot and celery to the pan and cook for five minutes over the same heat. Add the onion and garlic. Cook together until caramelized, about five minutes, stirring occasionally as needed.

Add the short ribs back to the pan and deglaze with the red wine. Stir from time to time, allow the wine to reduce until almost evaporated, about six minutes. Pour in the beef broth and bring the braise up to a boil. Put the lid on and place in the oven for two hours. Stir occasionally.

After the first two hours of cooking time, remove the lid. For the next hour, baste the short ribs every 15 minutes, leaving the lid off. Cook for an additional hour, until very tender, for a total of 4 hours of cooking time.

Pull the short ribs from the oven and allow them to cool in the braising juices for at least a few hours. Carefully transfer the meat to a plate and strain the juices through a fine sieve, then allow the fat to rise. Remove the fat. Using a dinner fork in each hand, lightly shred the meat along the natural grains in a pulling motion from the center outward, and set aside.

To prepare each sandwich, begin by preheating the oven to 350 degrees.

Take two slices of bread. On the bottom slice, place a layer of cheese (you'll want approximately 1 1/2 ounces for each sandwich, just enough to cover the bread to the edges), then top with 1 teaspoon of pickled red onion, spread to the sides. Place one-quarter cup of the pulled short ribs on top, add another layer of cheese, and top with the second slice of bread. Brush each completed sandwich on top and bottom with 1/2 teaspoon butter.

In a cast-iron pan over medium-high heat, add 1 teaspoon of the grapeseed oil and allow it to get nice and hot. Place two sandwiches in at a time and flip so they will absorb the oil on both sides. Weight them down with a small sauté pan. After one minute, flip the sandwiches, return the weight, and place directly in the oven. After two minutes, remove the weight. Flip the sandwich one final time, and cook for one final minute. Pull from the oven, slice diagonally, and serve immediately. Repeat with the remaining sandwiches.

More recipes on Page 3

Roasted Sunchoke Soup with Blue Cheese Croutons and Pear
Serves 8

2 pounds sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes)
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
2 cups heavy cream
4 sprigs plus one-half teaspoon chopped thyme
6Whole black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
Pinch of crushed red chili
1 baguette, sliced on the diagonal into 8 pieces
Walnut oil, to brush
2 small onions, sliced
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 cup dry white wine
1 bouquet garni
4 cups vegetable stock or water
3 Bosc pears, cut into small dice
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon Poire William or brandy
1/4 cup Point Reyes Blue cheese, room temperature (Substitute: Cambozola for the Point Reyes Blue Cheese)

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

To prepare the roasted sunchokes, split them in half and place them into a large bowl. Toss with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and a pinch of the salt and pepper, and roast in a covered pan in the oven until very tender, about 45 minutes. Once cooked, reserve a few pieces for garnish.

In a medium sauce pot, add the cream and the 4 sprigs of thyme, the peppercorns, bay leaves, and crushed red chili. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 30 minutes. Strain and reserve the seasoned cream, discarding the herbs.

For the croutons, brush the baguette slices with walnut oil, then season with cracked black pepper and the chopped thyme. Bake in the oven (while the sunchokes are roasting) until crisp and golden, about 10 minutes.

To prepare the soup, cook the onions in a medium sauce pot over medium heat in the remaining tablespoon of olive oil until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 5 minutes, then add the white wine and the bouquet garni and reduce until all the wine has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the roasted sunchokes, then the vegetable stock. Turn the heat to medium low and cook for 30 minutes.

Add all but one-quarter cup of the diced pears and all of the seasoned cream and cook for an additional 20 minutes, or until the cream coats the back of a spoon. Puree the soup, strain through a fine mesh strainer and adjusted the seasoning with salt and pepper.

In a small sauce pan over medium heat, sauté the remaining pear in the butter for 2 minutes. With confidence, flame with the Poire William, and place the pears in the bottom of each bowl with the remaining sunchokes. Spread the blue cheese on the croutons and set aside. Pour the soup into the bowls, and then top with the croutons.

Warm Winter Greens with Sweet Gorgonzola and Quince Vinaigrette
Serves 8

4 ounces quince paste (membrillo), cut into small pieces
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup plus 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and cracked black pepper
2 Belgian endive, cored and sliced crosswise
1 head escarole, inner leaves torn into bite-size pieces and outer leaves discarded
2 small heads frisee, torn into bite-size pieces
1 small head radicchio, torn into bite-size pieces
4 medium cloves garlic, smashed
4 ounces Gorgonzola, crumbled

In a food processor or blender at a low setting, puree the quince paste with one-quarter cup of the balsamic vinegar. Slowly drizzle in one-half cup of the olive oil and process until fully emulsified.

Put the endive, escarole, frisee, and radicchio in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Divide into 4 batches for sautéing. Heat 1 teaspoon of the olive oil n a large sauté pan. Add 1 of the garlic cloves ad over medium-high heat, cook until the garlic is brown, or about 4 minutes. Discard the garlic. Add one-quarter of the greens to the oil and sauté for about 1 minute, allowing the greens to get a bit of color. Add 1 tablespoon of the balsamic vinegar, season with salt and pepper, and remove from the pan. Repeat this process three additional times.

Arrange the greens on a platter or in a large bowl. Drizzle the vinaigrette around the warm greens, crumble the Gorgonzola dolce on top, and serve while still warm.

Prosecco Pomegranate Cocktail
Serves 1

3 ounces Prosecco
1 ounces gin
1/4 ounce lemon juice
1/4 ounce POM pomegranate juice
1/4 ounce simple syrup

Optional garnish: pomegranate seeds and/or pomegranate molasses.

Pour all ingredients into a martini shaker with ice and shake vigorously for 25 seconds.

Lightly rim a chilled martini glass with the molasses and strain the cocktail into glass and garnish with fresh pomegranate seeds.

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