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An Elegant Trout Dinner

by Lou Seibert Pappas

For a spring dinner, white or pink salmon trout makes a delightful entree accented with browned butter and toasted almonds. This menu plan was inspired by a recent trip to Turkey, and a delicious lunch stop at a trout farm.

Quickly cooked couscous and fresh asparagus spears complement the fish. You might commence the meal with a bright red tomato soup and finish off with wine sabayon with berries and toasty macadamia biscotti. This menu goes together swiftly if the soup and cookies are prepared in advance.

For a wine, consider an elegant French 1996 Chateau Maligny Chardonnay, a 1996 Beringer Napa Valley Appellation Sauvignon Blanc, or 1997 Handley Sauvignon Blanc.

French Tomato Soup
Makes 6 servings

1 large onion, chopped
2 teaspoons butter
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
1 quart chicken stock
1 large tomato, peeled
1 tart Granny Smith apple, peeled and sliced
Salt and white pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
Garnish: plain yogurt and minced chives or basil

Using a large saucepot, sauté the onion in butter until glazed and barely golden. Puree in the blender with the tomato paste, 1 cup chicken stock, tomato, and apple. Return to the saucepan with the remaining chicken stock. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and nutmeg. Serve in bowls and garnish with yogurt and chives or basil.

Trout Amandine
Makes 6 servings

6 cleaned trout or salmon trout (about 8 ounces each)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup sliced almonds
Lemon wedges dipped in finely chopped parsley

Season the trout with salt and pepper, dip in milk, and then in flour. Using a large frying pan, sauté in 1 1/2 tablespoons butter until golden brown on both sides. Transfer to a heated platter. Add the remaining butter to the pan and the almonds and heat, stirring, until golden brown. Spoon over the fish and garnish with lemon wedges.

Minted Couscous
Makes 6 servings

1 1/2 cups couscous
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups boiling water
2 tablespoons fruity olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced fresh mint or basil

Place couscous in a bowl with the lemon zest, allspice, and salt, and pour over the boiling water. Cover and let stand 5 minutes to plump. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, and mint or basil and mix lightly with a fork to separate the grains. Line the plates with greens. Spoon into mounds on plates.

Asparagus with Sieved Egg
Makes 6 servings

1 1/2 pounds asparagus
Boiling salt water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
2 hard-cooked eggs
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Trim the ends from the asparagus and steam or cook in boiling salted water for 5 to 7 minutes, or until tender. Drain and toss in olive oil. Arrange on a serving platter and dust with nutmeg. Separate the yolks from the whites of the egg; use a grater to grate each separately. Sprinkle the egg and parsley over.

Field Greens Salad with Goat Cheese
Makes 6 servings

1 1/2 quarts field greens or 2 heads butter lettuce, washed and chilled
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 shallots, finely chopped
Freshly ground pepper
4 ounces soft mild goat cheese

Tear the greens into bite-size pieces. Place directly in the salad bowl the oil, vinegar, salt, mustard, and shallots. Mix the dressing to blend. Add the greens and mix, coating thoroughly. Grind the pepper overall. Top with slices of goat cheese.

Wine Sabayon with Strawberries and Raspberries
Makes 6 servings

6 egg yolks
1//4 cup sugar
2/3 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons kirsch or brandy
2 cups strawberries, hulled and halved
1 cup raspberries

In the top of a double boiler beat the egg yolks and sugar until blended. Beat in the wine. Beat over simmering water using a wire whisk or an electric beater until the sauce is thick and custard-like. Remove from heat and stir in the kirsch or brandy. Spoon the berries into desert bowls and pour the wine custard over them.

Macadamia Ginger Toasts
Makes about 4 dozen long slender cookies

This crispy cookie, akin to biscotti, is a specialty of Australia. It is popular in south Australia at wine tastings. At the Red Ochre Grill in Adelaide, they served their 10-inch-long cookies to complement honey and eucalyptus ice cream. Fresh ginger lends a delightful flavor to this "down under" sweet.

4 egg whites
Dash salt
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups macadamia nuts, whole almonds, or hazelnuts (7 ounces)

Preheat the oven to 300°F. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites and salt until frothy, gradually add the sugar and beat until a stiff meringue forms. Mix in the ground and fresh ginger, almond extract, and vanilla. Fold in the flour and nuts. Spread in a buttered, floured, 9-inch square pan. Bake in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn out of the pan onto a rack; let cool 15 minutes. Slice as thinly as possible, about 3/16 inch thick, making long slender slices. Lay flat on 2 baking sheets and return to a 150°F oven for 30 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the cookies dry in the oven 1 hour longer.

Lou Seibert Pappas is a former food editor of the Palo Alto Times Tribune and a home economist with Sunset Magazine. She currently writes food, home, and travel-related articles for national magazines and newspapers and is the author of more than 30 books.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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