Make Something Special

Treat your guests to a delicious holiday. Try these luscious recipes for Pacific Halibut and a decadent chocolate Panna Cotta.

Milk Chocolate Panna Cotta

by Michael Mina

½ pound milk chocolate
½ cup whole milk
½ teaspoon gelatin powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups cream
Fleur de sel, for garnish (optional)

Serves 4


> Gently melt the milk chocolate in a large bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water; the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water.
> Pour the milk into a pot and sprinkle the gelatin over the cold milk. Cook on low heat for 5 minutes.
> Add the salt and pour the mixture over the melted chocolate in the bowl. Mix with a silicone spatula until smooth.
> Add the cold cream and mix until completely incorporated.
> Fill four 6-ounce glasses two-thirds full with the panna cotta mixture.
> Refrigerate until set, about 4 hours.
> Just before serving, top with a little fleur de sel.

Day-Boat Pacific Halibut
with Onions Cooked with
Dry Vermouth, Tomatoes and Basil

by Michael Cimarusti

4 halibut fillets (about 5 ounces each)
Salt and espelette or cayenne pepper for seasoning
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 large Idaho potato, cut into ¼-inch-thick slices
1 clove garlic
Bouquet garni of 1 bay leaf and 3 stems of thyme
2 medium onions cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices
1 cup dry vermouth
2 vine-ripened tomatoes, peeled, halved, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
½ cup rich chicken stock
Basil leaves
Freshly ground pepper
1 lemon, peeled and segmented, juice reserved for sauce
Tiny purple basil leaves for garnish (optional)

Serves 4


> Preheat the oven to 200°F.
> Season the fillets on both sides with salt and espelette pepper.
> Place 4 potato slices in a shallow baking dish with the fillets resting on top. Add ¼ cup of water to the dish and drizzle the fish liberally with extra-virgin olive oil. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and place in the preheated oven. (Using a potato under the fish insulates the fish from excessive heat and stops it from burning on the bottom. Discard the potato when the fish is cooked.) Due to the low temperature, the fish may take up to 30 minutes to cook. Check for doneness after 10 minutes and every 5 minutes thereafter. (A cake tester is the best way to test for doneness. When the fish is properly cooked, the cake tester will pass through the fillet with very little resistance.) When the fish is done, turn off the oven and hold it there with the door ajar until the garnish is ready.

> Meanwhile, heat a straight-sided nonreactive saucepan over medium heat. Add ¼ cup of the olive oil to pan and then add the garlic, the bouquet garni and the onions. Cook for several minutes, stirring. Add the vermouth and season with a pinch of salt. Cover the pan and cook over low heat for 15 minutes.

> Add the tomatoes, another pinch of salt and the chicken stock. Do not stir the pot, so as not to break up the tomatoes. Place the lid on the pan, leaving a gap for steam to escape; cook until the tomatoes are warmed thoroughly. The juices will reduce to a near glaze. Remove the bouquet garni and clove of garlic. Add the remaining ¼ cup of olive oil to the pan and increase the temperature to a rapid boil to emulsify the olive oil and create a light sauce. Cut the large basil leaves into chiffonade and add to the pan. Adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper and lemon juice and divide the onion-tomato mixture among four warmed dinner plates.

> Place a knife halfway across the fillet and sprinkle breadcrumbs on top of fish; when you remove the knife, the edge of the blade will have acted as a stencil for a perfect straight line of bread crumbs. Garnish with lemon segments and tiny purple and green basil leaves. Serve immediately.

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