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Xmas Dinner With Chef Palmer

Chef Charlie Palmer, owner of New York City's restaurants, Aureole, Lenox Room and Alva shared on The Early Show a special menu for the holidays.

WARM OYSTERS WITH LEEKS AND CAVIAR
Serves 6

Ingredients:

36 fresh oysters in the shell
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup (about 2 large) minced leeks, white part only
1-1/4 cups champagne
1 cup heavy cream
Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
2 ounces osetra caviar
3 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

Preparation:

1. Preheat the oven to its lowest setting.

2. Shuck the oysters, separately reserving their liquor and their shells (or have a fishmonger do this). Scrub the shells clean and place them on a cookie sheet in the preheated oven to warm.

3. Heat the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and sauté for about 4 minutes or until the leeks are soft and translucent.

Add the champagne and the reserved oyster liquid and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat if necessary and boil gently for about 15 minutes or until the liquid is reduced by one-half. Add the cream and continue to cook for an additional 15 minutes or until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Add the oysters to the sauce and cook for about 2 minutes or just until the edges begin to curl. Using a slotted spoon, one at a time, transfer the oysters to the empty shells. Spoon a bit of the sauce over the top of each oyster and place a dollop of caviar on top. Sprinkle a few chives over each oyster and serve.

ACORN SQUASH SOUP WITH TOASTED ALMOND CRISPS
Serves 6

Ingredients:

4 large acorn squash
2 tablespoons Canola oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup chopped shallots
Approximately ¾ cup honey
2 tablespoons minced fresh savory
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
4-1/2 cups chicken stock or broth
6 Toasted Almond Crisps
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preparation

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Cut the squash in half, lengthwise, and remove the seeds. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the squash with the squash with the oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place the squash, cut side down, on a baking sheet with sides (or a roasting pan) and bake for about 1 hour or until the flesh is very soft when pierced with a fork. Remove from the oven and allow to set until cool enough to handle.

3. Heat the butter in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté for about 4 minutes or until the shallots are soft. Remove from the heat and set aside.

4. When the squash is cool enough to handle, using a tablespoon, scrape the flesh from the skin. Place the flesh along with the reserved shallots in the bow of a food processor fitted with the metal blade.

Add about one-half of the honey, the savory, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and cardamom and begin processing. With the motor running, pour in the stock (or broth) and process until very smooth. This may have to be done in batches.

5. As it is pureed, pour the soup into a large saucepan. When all of the soup has been pureed, taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper and, if necessary all or part of the remaining honey. (The amount of honey required will vary, dependant upon the sweetness of the squash.)

6. Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes or until the soup is very hot and the flavors are nicely blended. Serve hot , garnished with a Toasted Almond Crisp and sprinkled with some chopped parsley. Serve additional crisps on the side, if desired.

TOASTED ALMOND CRISPS
Makes 18

Ingredients:

I sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
3 tablespoons milk
1 cup finely chopped toasted almonds

Preparation:

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

2. Roll the puff pastry out on a lightly floured clean, flat surface. Using a 2-inch round biscuit cutter (or other decorative shape), cut 18 circles (or shapes) of puff pastry.

Place the pastry pieces on a cookie sheet. Using a pastry brush lightly coat the top of each piece of pastry with milk (try not to let the milk drip over the edges as this might keep the pastry from rising up). Sprinkle the tops with toasted almonds and, using your fingertips, lightly push the nuts into the pastry.

3. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes. Lower the heat to 350°F and bake for an additional 5 minutes or until golden-brown and flaky. Serve warm.

CARAMELIZED LOIN OF VEAL WITH CHESTNUT AND WILD MUSHROOM STUFFING
Serves 6

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons minced shallots
2 tablespoons minced celery
1 cup chopped wild mushrooms (such as shiitake, porcini, oyster)
1 cup chopped roasted chestnuts
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
¾ cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 large egg
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
One 4-pound boneless loin of veal, with flap left on
1 tablespoon canola oil

Preparation:

1. Heat the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and celery and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking for about 4 minutes or until the mushrooms have exuded most of their liquid.

Add the chestnuts, parsley and thyme and cook for an additional minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the breadcrumbs and egg. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

2. Lift back the flap from the veal and place the stuffing against the loin, packing it in neatly. Lift the flap up and over the stuffing and, using kitchen twine, tie the flap up against the loin. Rub the loin with the oil ad season to taste with salt and pepper.
Place the roast in a large nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat and sear all sides until the meat is nicely caramelized. This should take about 10 minutes.

3. Transfer the meat to a roasting pan and place in the preheated oven. Roast for about 45 minutes to 1 hour or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest point reads 155°. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving, crosswise, into ¼-inch thick slices.


POTATO-TURNIP GRATIN
Serves 6

Ingredients:

¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon softened butter
2 tablespoons roasted garlic
1 cup hot heavy cream
1 pound white turnips
1-1/2 pounds Idaho potatoes
½ cup Emmenthaler cheese
Freshly ground nutmeg to taste
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
¼ cup fresh breadcrumbs

Preparation:

1. Using 1 tablespoon of the butter, lightly coat a 10-inch by 2-inch gratin dish. Set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 425°F.

3. Whisk the garlic into the hot cream, whisking until well-blended. Set aside.

4. Peel and trim the turnips. Cut them, crosswise, into 1/8-inch thick slices. Using a clean kitchen towel, pat the slices dry. Place the turnips in a mixing bowl.

5. Peel and trim the potatoes. Cut them, crosswise, into 1/8-inch thick slices. Using a clean kitchen towel, pat the slices very dry. Add the potatoes to the turnips and toss to combine well.

6. Place a layer of the turnip-potato mixture into the bottom of the prepared gratin dish. Sprinkle the top with half of the butter and cheese, a bit of nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Arrange the remaining turnip-potato mixture over the seasoned bottom layer and sprinkle with the remaining butter and cheese. Season the top layer with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Pour the reserved garlic-flavored cream over the top. Sprinkle the entire top with breadcrumbs.

7. Place the gratin dish in the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender, the cream has been absorbed and the top is bubbling and golden-brown. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before cutting.

GLAZED BABY VEGETABLES
Serves 6

Ingredients:

12 baby carrots, well-washed and trimmed, 1-inch of green left on
12 baby turnips, well-washed and trimmed, 1-inch of green left on
12 baby yellow beets, well-washed and trimmed, 1-inch of green left on
1 tablespoon water
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon brown sugar
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preparation:

1. Place the vegetables in boiling salted water and boil for about 4 minutes or just until the vegetables are beginning to be tender. Remove from the heat and drain well.

2. Heat the water in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the butter, vinegar and sugar and bring to a boil. Add the vegetables ancook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes or until the vegetables are nicely glazed. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.


RED AND BLACK CURRANT TRIFLE
Serves 6

Ingredients

Approximately 1-3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
Pinch salt
8 large egg yolks
3 cups milk
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups black currant puree
1 cup red currant puree
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
1 large plain cake, genoise cake or pound cake cut into 1-inch by 2-inch
pieces or about 36 lady fingers
About 1 cup sherry wine (or fresh fruit juice)
1 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1 cup heavy cream, well-chilled
3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

Preparation:

1. Place 1 cup of the sugar, cornstarch and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the egg yolks and beat, at high speed, until the mixture has increased in volume and is pale yellow and slightly thick.

2. Place the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to just a simmer. Immediately remove from the heat and, with the mixer running, slowly add about ½ cup of the hot milk into the egg mixture to temper it.

3. When well combined, whisking constantly, pour the egg mixture into the hot milk. Add 2 teaspoons of the vanilla and return to medium-low heat. Cook, whisking constantly, for about 5 minutes or until the mixture is of a pudding consistency. Remove from the heat and pour into a clean bowl. Cover the top with a piece of plastic film and set aside to cool.

4. Place each of the currant purees in a medium saucepan. Add about 1/3 cup of the sugar to the black and ¼ cup of the sugar to the red and ½ teaspoon of orange zest to both. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 3 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved. Taste and adjust the sweetness with additional sugar, if necessary. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

5. Arrange one-third of the cake or lady fingers into the bottom of a 2 to 3 quart serving bowl. (A beautiful glass serving bowl is the perfect container - make sure that the cake evenly comes to the sides and the layers are nicely formed.)

6. Sprinkle the cake with sherry.

7. Layer the cake with 1 cup of the black currant puree and top with one-third of the cooled pastry cream. Sprinkle one-third of the toasted almonds over the cream.

8. Make another layer of cake, sprinkle with some sherry, follow with a layer of red currant puree, one-half of the remaining pastry cream and then one-half of the remaining almonds.

9. Make a final layer of cake, sprinkle with some sherry, follow with the remaining black currant puree and top with the remaining pastry cream and almonds.

10. Place the heavy cream in a bowl along with the confectioners' sugar and remaining vanilla. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream until stiff peaks form. Spread the whipped cream over the top of the trifle. Cover with plastic fim and refrigerate for about 3 hours or until the cake has absorbed some of the moisture from the puree and pastry cream.

11. When ready to serve, if desired, decorate the top with toasted almonds, fresh berries or decorative sugar crystals.

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