Tom Douglas' 'Big' Feast

Tom's Big Dinners : Big-Time Home Cooking for Family and Friends by Tom Douglas (Author)
Morrow Cookbooks
Tom Douglas is Seattle's biggest name in food. The award-winning chef and restaurant owner is also well known for hosting huge dinner parties in his hometown.

He's put his favorite menus into a new cookbook, "Tom's Big Dinners" and he's brought some of those recipes to The Early Show.

Douglas is the owner/chef of some of Seattle's most popular restaurants: Dahlia's Lounge, Palace Kitchen, Etta's Seafood, and Dahlia Bakery. He has a line of spices available in most high-end food shops. "Tom's Big Dinners" features recipes from his 13 favorite feasts and makes wine suggestions for each course - many featuring wines from small Washington state vineyards.

The following are the recipes he shared:

Wilted Escarole and Garlic Fried Garbanzo Beans
Makes 6 servings

Typically, escarole is available year round. The heads look a lot like butter or Bibb lettuce. There is a certain bitterness to escarole, but braising mellows out the flavor.

Use pure olive oil for frying, not extra virgin, because it has a higher smoke point. If you don't feel like frying the garlic and garbanzo beans, the wilted escarole makes an appealing side dish all by itself.

2 cups cooked garbanzo beans
8 cloves garlic, peeled and very thinly sliced, about 1/8-inch thick, (1/4 cup sliced garlic)
Pure olive oil, as needed for frying
2 heads of escarole (about 2 1/2 pounds), washed, cored, and roughly chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lemon
Lemon wedges, for garnish

  1. Preheat the oven to 200° F.
    To fry the garlic, fill a heavy saucepan with oil to a depth of about 1-inch. Heat the oil to 325°F, checking the temperature on a deep-frying thermometer. Add the sliced garlic to the oil and scoop it out with a skimmer or slotted spoon as soon as it starts to turn golden, about 10 seconds. Drain the garlic on paper towels and leave at room temperature. Season the garlic with salt and pepper.
  2. Start adding the garbanzos to the oil, a small handful at a time, and fry until golden and crusty, about 2 or 3 minutes. (If you add too many garbanzos at once they lower the temperature of the oil and don't fry properly.) As you are frying, keep checking the temperature of the oil with a deep-frying thermometer and adjust the heat as necessary to keep it between 325° and 350°F. Using a skimmer or slotted spoon, scoop the garbanzos out as they are done and drain on paper towels. Season the fried garbanzos with salt and pepper, transfer them to a baking sheet, and keep them warm in the oven.
  3. Remove the pan of oil from the heat and set it aside.
  4. To wilt the escarole, put about 3 tablespoons of the reserved frying oil (discard the remaining oil when cool) in a large deep sided frying pan, or Dutch oven, over medium high heat. Add as much escarole as will comfortably fit in your pan and toss with tongs until wilted. Then start adding the remaining escarole a handful at a time and keep tossing until all the escarole is wilted. Reduce the heat to medium, cover the pan, and cook a few minutes more, until the escarole is tender, about 8 to 10 minutes total cooking time. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

On the Plate
Arrange the escarole on a platter and squeeze the ½ lemon over it. Scatter the fried garbanzos over the surface of the escarole and scatter the fried garlic on top. Garnish the platter with lemon wedges.

A Step Ahead
You can fry the garbanzos and the garlic early in the day and keep them at room temperature. When you are ready to serve, heat the garbanzos in a 400° F oven until hot, about 5 minutes. The garlic can be served at room temperature.

Note: You can cook dried garbanzo beans for this recipe, or you can use canned beans, drained well and patted dry with paper towels. To cook dried garbanzos, cover them with cold water and soak overnight. Drain the soaked beans, cover them with plenty of cold water, cook an hour or more until tender, and drain well. A cup of raw garbanzos yields a little more than 2 cups of cooked beans.

Nebbiolo Poached Figs with Sweet Gorgonzola and Moscato "Glass"
Makes 6 servings

Warm figs and melted sweet, or dolce Gorgonzola drizzled with a lustrous wine syrup functions both as a cheese and a dessert course. As a tribute to Dale, we surround the figs with a Moscato gelatin, cut up to resemble shards of glass.

Moscato d'Asti is a sweet sparkling Italian wine. The Moscato gelatin, which tastes just like a glass of Moscato, would be a nice little dessert by itself, cut into cubes and piled into a pretty glass with some fresh berries. On the other hand, you could simplify this dessert by serving the figs and Gorgonzola without the "glass."

For the Moscato glass
1/3 cup cold water
4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin (less than 2 full envelopes)
2 1/3 cups Moscato d'Asti wine

12 ripe fresh figs, such as black mission figs
2 cups Nebbiolo, Dolcetto or Barbera wine, or other dry red wine
2/3 cup honey
2 4-inch sprigs fresh rosemary
pinch freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, cut into 12 small chunks about 1-inch by 1/2-inch

  1. To make the "glass," smoothly line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking dish with a piece of plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap directly against the sides of the pan. Set aside. Put the cold water in a large bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over it, and allow to stand 5 minutes to soften. Put 1 cup of the Moscato in a saucepan over high heat and bring it to a boil, then pour it over the gelatin. Stir well until the gelatin is dissolved. Add the rest of the Moscato, stirring to combine, then pour the mixture into the prepared pan. (Don't worry about bubbles; most will dissipate as the gelatin chills.) Cover the pan with a piece of plastic wrap (not directly touching the surface of the gelatin) and refrigerate until firm, about 6 hours or overnight.
  2. Cut the stems off the figs and cut the figs open by cutting an X through the stem end, making each cut about 1 inch long, or about halfway down the fig.
  3. Put the Nebbiolo wine, honey, rosemary, and black pepper in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the honey. Add the figs, reduce the heat slightly, and poach until the figs are soft and infused with wine, but are not falling apart, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and use a spoon to carefully transfer the figs to a plate. Reserve 1/2 cup of the poaching liquid and discard the rest or reserve for another use. Pour the reserved poaching liquid into a small saucepan and reduce over high heat until syrupy. You should have 1/4 cup of syrup. Set aside.
  4. Remove the pan of Moscato "glass" from the refrigerator and remove the plastic from the top of the pan. Place a cutting board over the baking dish and invert the gelatin onto the board. Carefully peel off the plastic wrap. Cut the gelatin into 1½ inch cubes, or other decorative shapes.
  5. Preheat the broiler.
  6. Insert a chunk of cheese into each fig, pressing the cut edges of the fig over the cheese to enclose it as much as possible. Set each fig, stem end up, in a small broiler-proof, non-reactive pan. Ideally, use a pan small enough so the figs sit shoulder to shoulder and hold each other up, such as a small sauté pan with a heat-proof handle.
  7. Broil the figs 3 inches from the heat just until the cheese is melted, about 2 to 3 minutes, then remove from the broiler.

On the Plate
Use a spoon to transfer each fig to a platter. Drizzle the reserved syrup over and around the figs, then decorate the platter with the chunks of "glass."

A Step Ahead
You can make the "glass" a day ahead and store it covered in the refrigerator, but the delicate flavor of the wine deteriorates if stored longer. You can cut the gelatin into chunks several hours ahead and put the chunks in a plastic lined pan, covered with a sheet of plastic.

You can poach the figs early in the day, remove them from the poaching liquid, and cover and refrigerate them. Make the syrup and store it in the refrigerator as well. About an hour before you are ready to serve, bring the figs to room temperature, stuff them with the cheese, and heat them under the broiler. Also, bring the syrup to room temperature, over a bowl of hot water if desired.

Pine Nut Marzipan Tart
Makes 1 9-inch tart (Serves 8 to 12)

A thin wedge of this sweet, buttery, double-crusted tart is the perfect accompaniment to the wine poached figs, and any leftovers are delicious with coffee the next morning.
Instead of the figs, you could serve the tart with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or with a glass of Vin Santo.

For the Tart Dough
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 large egg plus 1 large yolk, lightly beaten together

For the Pine Nut Marzipan
1 cup (about 4 ounces) pine nuts, toasted (see "How to Toast Seeds and Nuts,")
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

To finish the tart
1 large yolk
1 tablespoon heavy cream
about 2 teaspoons sugar, as needed for sprinkling

To make the tart dough

  1. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together. Gradually beat in the eggs. It's OK if the mixture looks broken.
  2. Add the dry ingredients to the butter-egg mixture, and mix just until the dough comes together. (If you don't have a mixer, you can cream the butter and sugar by hand using a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon, then beat in the eggs using a whisk and mix in the dry ingredients using a rubber spatula.) Scrape the dough out onto a work surface and divide into 1/3 and 2/3 portions, forming each portion into a flattened round. Wrap the rounds in plastic and chill at least 1 hour.

To make the pine nut marzipan
  1. Combine the pine nuts and the sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add the egg and process until smooth. Gradually add the butter, a small bit at a time, pulsing until each bit of butter is completely incorporated. When all the butter is incorporated, scrape the marzipan into a bowl.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  3. Unwrap the larger round of dough and place it on a lightly floured work surface. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to an 11or 12-inch round, about 1/8-inch thick. Use flour as needed to roll the dough and lift the dough occasionally with a board scraper as you are working to check that it's not sticking.
  4. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch removable bottom tart pan. It's easiest to do this by folding the dough into quarters. Pick up the folded dough and place it in the pan, with the pointed tip of the dough in the center of the pan, then gently unfold.
  5. Ease the dough gently into the pan, patting it up against the sides. Trim the overhanging dough to about 3/4-inch. The dough is a bit fragile. If it tears while you are lining the pan, use the dough trimmings to patch any holes.
  6. Using a rubber spatula or an angled icing spatula, spread the marzipan evenly over the bottom of the tart. Unwrap the smaller round of dough and roll it out to a 9-inch round. Transfer the round of dough to cover the marzipan. (Again, it's easiest to fold the dough into quarters to transfer it.) Use a small knife to trim the dough to fit inside the top of the tart.
  7. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolk lightly with the heavy cream. Brush the 1/2 inch of overhanging dough with some of the egg wash, then fold the overhang up over the top of the tart, pressing gently with the tines of a fork to seal.
  8. Brush the entire top of the tart lightly with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Cut a few 1-inch slashes in the top of the tart for steam to escape. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake until golden, about 30 minutes.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow the tart to cool on a rack for 15 minutes before removing the rim of the pan. Allow the tart to cool at least 15 minutes more before serving.

On the plate
Cut into thin wedges and serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

A Step Ahead
You can make the tart dough a few days ahead and keep it wrapped and refrigerated. Or you can freeze it even longer.
You can make and bake the tart early in the day and leave at room temperature. Leftovers can be wrapped in plastic and left at room temperature for another day or so.

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio with Broiled Lobster and Crusty Bread Crumbs
Makes 6 servings

If you're in the mood to fire up the grill for this recipe, these lobsters will be even more delicious charcoal-grilled. Prepare them in exactly the same way and it will take about the same time to grill them over a direct, hot fire, instead of broiling.

If you can't find whole live lobsters, you can substitute frozen and thawed lobster tails, which are readily available in many supermarkets. Or you could omit the lobster and just serve the aglio e olio with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, to taste
1 tablespoon anchovy paste
3 whole lobsters, 1 to 1 1/4 pounds each, or substitute 3 frozen, thawed lobster tails, 6 to 8 ounces each
3/4 pound dried spaghetti
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1/2 lemon

  1. To toast the breadcrumbs, heat 1 tablespoon of the extra virgin olive oil in a sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the crumbs and stir a few minutes until browned and crunchy. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.
  3. Put 4 tablespoons of the oil and the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. When the butter melts, add the garlic and red pepper flakes and gently heat for a few minutes until aromatic and the garlic is just starting to turn golden. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the anchovy paste, and set aside.
  4. Shell sides up and starting at the heads, quickly split the lobsters in half with a large sharp knife. Drizzle each lobster, on both sides, with about 1 tablespoon of oil and season with salt and pepper. Remove the bands from the lobster claws. (If using lobster tails, split them in half lengthwise, through the shell, then drizzle them on both sides with oil and season with salt and pepper.) Turn the broiler on to high and place the lobsters, meat side up, on a broiler pan. Broil, about 3 inches from the heat, rotating the pan occasionally, and turning them over halfway, until the lobsters are done, about 10 minutes total time for whole lobsters. (Lobster tails may take a few minutes less time.) The shells should be bright red. Remove the lobsters from the broiler and use the side of a heavy knife to crack the claws.
  5. While the lobsters are broiling, cook the spaghetti until al dente in the boiling water. Drain. Add the spaghetti to the sauté pan. Add the parsley and toss. Season with salt and pepper, but taste first because the anchovy paste is salty.

Note: If you're making the whole menu, preheat the oven to 400ºF and pan sear the olive-stuffed flank steaks right before your guests arrive. Leave the seared steaks at room temperature and start heating your pot of water for the pasta. When you are ready to serve the pasta course, turn the broiler on, broil the lobsters, make the spaghetti aglio e olio, and serve. Meanwhile, heat the oven back to 400ºF and roast the steaks while you are eating the pasta course.

On the Plate
Divide the pasta among large plates and top each portion with ½ lobster, or 1/2 lobster tail. Squeeze some lemon juice over the top and sprinkle both the lobster and the pasta with bread crumbs.

A Step Ahead
You could toast the breadcrumbs several hours ahead and leave them at room temperature.

Olive Stuffed Flank Steak
Makes 6 to 8 servings

My Grandma Fogarty was a "diner," and what I mean by that is she made a real dinner every night, from scratch. When it came time to serve the meal, she would pop off her apron, looking pretty as a picture, fix a highball, light a candle, and pull one tasty treat after another out of the kitchen. Her meals were well thought out, wines were paired with the main course, and there was always a homemade dessert to finish, from apple brown betty to butterscotch meringue pie.

This flank steak and her boeuf bourguignonne were my favorites of her beef dishes. Grandma Louise used bread in her flank steak stuffing, but I've lightened it up a little bit, keeping all the ingredients but the bread.

This is a great company dish because it's easy to make, but looks fancy and complicated due to the spiral of filling inside each slice.

2 tablespoons olive oil (plus about 2 more tablespoons for cooking the steaks)
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup pitted and chopped kalamata olives
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts (see "How to Toast Seeds and Nuts")
1/4 cup currants
2 flank steaks (about 11/4 to1 1/2 pounds each)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cherry Tomato Confit

  1. To make the stuffing, heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and caramelized, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until aromatic, a few minutes more. Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl. Stir in the olives, herbs, pine nuts, and raisins. Set aside to cool.
  2. To prepare the flank steaks for stuffing, place one of the steaks on a work surface, cover it loosely with a piece of plastic wrap, and use a meat pounder to pound the steak bout 1/3 inch thick. The surface area of the steak should increase by only about 25 per cent. Then, use your knife to score the steak in a crisscross pattern, making 3 or 4 shallow cuts in each direction, not cutting all the way through.
  3. Turn the steak over to the unscored side and spread half the stuffing evenly over the surface of the steak, then roll it up the long way like a jelly roll. Using kitchen string, tightly tie the steak in 5 or 6 places to keep it securely rolled up. Season the outside of the steak with salt and pepper. Repeat with the other steak and the other half of the stuffing.
  4. To pan-sear and roast the steaks, preheat the oven to 400°F. Pour about 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a roasting pan and straddle the pan over two burners on medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, put the steaks in the pan and sear them well on all sides, turning with a tongs, until nicely browned, about 6 to 8 minutes.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and remove the steaks to a plate. Discard any fat in the pan and scrape out and discard any burned bits that may have escaped from the stuffing. Put the steaks back in the roasting pan, put the pan in the oven, and roast, uncovered, turning the steaks over halfway through the cooking time (after about 7 to 8 minutes).
  6. When the internal temperature of the steaks reads between 120°F and 130°F on an instant-reading meat thermometer, after about 15 minutes total roasting time, remove the pan from the oven. Allow the steaks to rest about 5 to 8 minutes, then cut and remove the kitchen string.

On the Plate
Transfer the steaks to a cutting board and use a sharp knife (a serrated knife works well) to cut them into slices 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick. Arrange the slices on a platter and pour any pan juices that may have collected over the top. Serve the steak with the cherry tomato confit.

A Step ahead
You could make the olive-stuffing a day or two ahead and store it, covered and refrigerated. You could stuff and tie the steaks early in the day and store them, covered, in the refrigerator. Bring the steaks to room temperature about 1/2 hour before cooking.

Cherry Tomato Confit
Makes 2 1/2 cups
Classically, a confit is a duck cooked slowly in its own fat, but the word has taken on the meaning of almost any food cooked slowly in fat or oil. The tomatoes need to roast in a low oven for a long time, but otherwise this recipe is easy to make and can be made well ahead.

These tomatoes, drained of most of the oil, would also be delicious tossed into a pasta with chunks of fresh goat cheese. Save the oil that you drain from the tomatoes and use it to make vinaigrettes, or drizzle over roasted or grilled vegetables or fish.

11/2 pounds (3 half-pint baskets) cherry tomatoes, such as Sweet 100, stems removed
1 cup olive oil
3 3-inch rosemary sprigs
6 thyme sprigs
6 peeled garlic cloves
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

  1. Preheat the oven to 225°F.
  2. Put the tomatoes in a baking pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Pour the oil over the tomatoes, add the herb sprigs and garlic cloves, and season generously with salt and pepper. Roast, uncovered, until the tomatoes are swollen and the skins are wrinkled, about 3 hours.
    Remove the tomatoes from the oven, allow to cool, then pour into a small bowl. For the best flavor, cover and refrigerate overnight, bringing the confit back to room temperature when you are ready to serve.
  3. When you are ready to serve, pour the tomatoes into a sieve set over a bowl, reserving both the tomatoes and the oil. Place the drained tomatoes in a small bowl, discarding the herb sprigs and the garlic cloves. Add the vinegar, chopped thyme, and 1 tablespoon of the reserved oil (reserving the remaining oil for another use.) Gently mix, being careful not to break up the tomatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

A Step Ahead
You can make the confit up to 5 days ahead and store, with the oil, covered and refrigerated. The flavor improves significantly after 1 day. When you are ready to serve the confit, bring it back to room temperature, drain off the oil and season as described above.