Celebrate! Holiday Starters
Photo by Robert Levin. Tableware courtesy of Party Rental, Ltd., Greenwich, and Marcia Selden Catering and Event Planning, Stamford; floral centerpiece courtesy of Hansen's Flower Shop; fabric wall covering courtesy of The Barn, Bridgeport.
Robin Selden, executive chef at Marcia Selden Catering and Event Planning in Stamford, designer of extraordinary events for 35 years and now exclusive caterer for Meadowlands in Darien, created these delectable palate-pleasers. While these starters are elegant, says Robin Selden, they’re simple enough to make at home.
2 1½ lb. lobsters, steamed, removed from shells and diced into ¼-inch pieces
1 jalapeño pepper, seeds removed
½ cup passion fruit purée
½ cup olive oil
2 scallions cut into thin rings
¼ cup chopped cilantro
1 small red pepper, diced
1 small yellow pepper, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt & pepper to taste
1. In a blender, add jalapeño pepper and passion fruit purée, turn blender on low and slowly drip in olive oil until smooth and creamy. Season with salt and pepper.
2. In a bowl, mix all other ingredients and dress with the passion fruit dressing.
3. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
4. Serve in porcelain spoons in serving dish as pictured. Yields 24 bite-sized portions.
1½ lbs. escarole, trimmed and chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 large clove garlic, minced
½ cup golden raisins
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 ficelle or baguette
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Slice ficelle or baguette into ¼-inch slices, spread on baking sheet and sprinkle with oil.
3. Bake till barely golden. Set aside.
4. Sauté garlic in oil till it begins to turn golden brown; toss in raisins and escarole and sauté till it just begins to wilt (don’t overcook—you want to keep the brilliant green color).
5. Season with salt and pepper. Serve on the bruschetta toasts. Yields 24 toasts.
(Fig marmalade with mascarpone and roasted beet with chèvre complete the trio pictured.)
Squash and Apple Soup
2 T. butter
1 large onion, chopped
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
4¼ lbs. butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
4¼ (or more) cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 Gala apple, peeled, cored and diced
½ cup apple juice
1. Melt butter in a large soup pot over medium-high heat.
2. Add onion and nutmeg; sauté until onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes.
3. Add squash, broth, apple and apple juice. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer uncovered until tender, about 30 minutes.
4. Working in batches, purée soup in blender until smooth.
5. Return soup to pot and season to taste with salt and pepper.
6. Bring soup to simmer, thinning with more broth if desired. Serves 8.