Cooking 101

October 29, 2013

French, Arabic, Indian and Greek elements combine in one meal

Getting together with friends for a fall lunch? Wow them with this sophisticated international menu created by Johnson County Community College student chef Ben Miracle.

Getting together with friends for a fall lunch? Wow them with this sophisticated international menu created by Johnson County Community College student chef Ben Miracle.

He has combined French, Arabic, Indian and Greek elements, inspired by what he’s learning in classes at JCCC: a fusion of cuisines and course work, if you will.

He learned about pappadams in his American regional cuisine class and about the cold salmon preparation in his garde manger class. Garde manger is the class where students learn cold food production including pates, rillettes and confits.

Pappadam is an Indian flatbread made of lentil flour that can be purchased at most Indian or Pakistani markets. The bread looks a bit like a tortilla. It puffs when fried, but Miracle chose to grill it for this recipe to give it a smoky taste. Pappadam can be purchased in a variety of flavors: black pepper was used for the photo. Be careful because versions of pappadams can be quite spicy.

If it seems like the rillettes use a lot of butter, they do. But not much of it will make its way to your hips. The butter in the liquid used to cook the salmon is poured out before the liquid is reduced and added to the salmon mixture.

Miracle demonstrated the technique for pouring: Put the mixture into a tall measuring cup and allow the butter to rise to the top, then carefully pour it out. Or you could use a fat separator, a measuring cup with the spout on the lower outside that allows you to pour the liquid and leaves the butter behind.

The clarified butter poured atop the ramekins seals the cold salmon dish while it’s refrigerated. Thrifty cooks might want to save the clarified butter “lids” and use the butter later for sauteing vegetables to be served with a future fish dish.

The rillettes mixture is formed into a quenelle, which is shaped something like a football, using two spoons. Use one spoon to scoop the mixture and the other to push it off the first spoon.

Fattoush is a salad that’s commonly served in the Middle East and mixes chopped salad ingredients with bread, often pita. You can toss the salad ingredients as directed in the recipe and simply serve the mixture on the plate, or you could compose each element separately on the plate, as Miracle did for the photo.

The final international touch is the Greek tzatziki. The yogurt-based sauce, with its dill, garlic and cucumber flavors, can be used in a multitude of ways in the kitchen. Try it with gyros or other sandwiches or as a dip.


Makes 10 servings

2 medium cucumbers, seeded and diced 1 clove garlic, chopped Juice from one lemon Pepper to taste 1 bunch dill, finely chopped 3 cups Greek yogurt Salt to taste

Combine cucumbers, garlic, lemon juice and a few grinds of black pepper in a food processor. Pulse until well incorporated. Add dill.

Stir mixture into yogurt, add salt to taste. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

Per serving: 53 calories (19 percent from fat), 1 gram total fat (1 gram saturated), 4 milligrams cholesterol, 7 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams protein, 53 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber. Fattoush Salad

Makes 10 servings

2 hearts of romaine, roughly chopped 5 ounces Kalamata olives, roughly chopped 1 bunch parsley, roughly chopped 2 cups ripe cherry tomatoes, halved 3-4 scallions, chopped in rounds 1 cup mint leaves Juice from 1 lemon 3 tablespoons olive oil Salt and pepper to taste

Mix romaine, olives, parsley, cherry tomatoes, scallions and mint leaves in a large bowl, refrigerate. Shortly before serving, mix lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper; add to salad and toss gently.

Per serving: 74 calories (70 percent from fat), 6 grams total fat (1 gram saturated), no cholesterol, 4 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram protein, 134 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber. Salmon Rillettes

Makes 10 servings

9 ounces white wine 1 cup butter, melted 2-1/4 pounds salmon fillet, skin removed 2 tablespoons salt 2 tablespoons sugar Zest and juice of one lemon 5 sprigs tarragon, chopped 5 sprigs parsley, chopped 2 cups clarified butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place wine and melted butter in a 9-by-13 baking dish. Add salmon, salt and sugar. Cover with foil and bake in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Cool; strain and reserve cooking liquid; place salmon in large mixing bowl. Gently flake the salmon.

Separate butter from cooking liquid, then place liquid in small saucepan. Heat to boiling; continue to boil until liquid is reduced by two-thirds.

Add lemon zest, lemon juice, tarragon and parsley to salmon. Gently mix by hand until just flaky; do not over mix or the mixture will become pasty. Add reduced cooking liquid; adjust seasonings. Spoon into five 6-ounce ramekins, gently stirring the mixture remaining in the mixing bowl after each addition. Leave 1/4 inch of space at the top of each ramekin. Pour melted clarified butter over each ramekin to cover. Refrigerate overnight.

When ready to serve, remove clarified butter “lid” from ramekin. Using half of the ramekin’s contents for each serving, form salmon into quenelle and place on plate. Mound Fattoush Salad (see recipe) in center of plate, and add pieces of broken pappadams (see recipe). Serve Tzatziki (see recipe) on the side, or spoon over all.

Per serving: 669 calories (85 percent from fat), 63 grams total fat (37 grams saturated), 208 milligrams cholesterol, 3 grams carbohydrates, 21 grams protein, 1,537 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber. Grilled Pappadams 8 pappadams

Heat pappadams in dry skillet just until brown, remove immediately and cool, then break into pieces.

Per serving: 185 calories (10 percent from fat), 2 grams total fat (trace saturated fat), 2 milligrams cholesterol, 30 grams carbohydrates, 13 grams protein, 872 milligrams sodium, 9 grams dietary fiber.

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