Table d’Hôte


Like most things from the land of the Magyar, this Hungarian Apple Soup is hearty, has a kick and goes well with winter foods. Use Yukon Gold potatoes and Gala apples, with the skin on both, for an extra stockier version. Leftovers? Float some shrimp or crabmeat (or improvise with leftover ceviche ingredients) for a satisfying one-bowl meal tomorrow.

Serves 4, about 3 cups each

4 teaspoons canola oil
2 medium Gala apple, finely chopped (peels optional)
1½ cup diced Yukon Gold potatoes (peels optional)
? cup finely chopped yellow onion
½ cup thinly sliced celery
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dried sage
Pinch of paprika, preferably hot Hungarian
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
6 tablespoons sour cream (or plain yogurt)
Marjoram and plain Greek yogurt for garnish

Prep and cook time 35min

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add apple, potato, onion and celery. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in salt, sage, paprika and pepper and cook for 30 seconds. Pour in broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat, cover and gently simmer until the potato is tender when pierced with a fork (about 10-15 minutes). Transfer the soup to a large blender or food processor, add sour cream (or yogurt) and process until smooth. Use caution when puréeing hot liquids. Pour evenly into serving bowls and float plain Greek yogurt in the center sprinkled with marjoram for garnish.

Shown here with bread for dipping. For extensive bread recipes go to

Recipe source:


Ceviche is a South American staple that is fast, delicious and requires no cooking. Cut the fish into generous cubes and let the citrus juices do the rest. The taste is crisp, zesty and fresh, a perfect treat to reset the palate between courses.

Serves 4-8

Always serve ceviche the same day the fish is purchased.
2 lbs of red snapper, deboned
or firm-fleshed fish, squared into ½ inch cubes
½ cup of fresh squeezed lime juice
½ cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice
½ red onion, finely diced
1 cup of tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 Serrano chili, seeded and finely diced
2 teaspoons of salt
A dash of ground oregano
A light pinch of cayenne pepper
Avocado (optional)

Prep time 15min, chill time 3-4hrs

In a non-reactive casserole dish, either Pyrex or ceramic, place the fish, onion, tomatoes, chili, salt, cayenne and oregano. Cover with lime and lemon juices. Let sit covered in the refrigerator for an hour, then stir, making sure more of the fish gets exposed to the acidic juices. Let sit for several hours, giving time for the flavors to blend. During the marinating process the fish will change from pinkish grey and translucent, to whiter in color and opaque.

Serve with chopped cilantro and avocado in small dessert cups or martini glasses.

Recipe source:


Pheasant is the true old-school winter bird. The proof is in the original version of The Twelve Days of Christmas. Today, it’s considered a rare treat, a delicacy almost, and it’s making a comeback. Pheasant is best roasted whole, like a chicken, but cautiously. Like most game birds, it will dry out very quickly, especially if the brining is skipped (don’t skip the brining). Check your local Whole Foods or meat emporium to purchase a whole pheasant.

Serving: 4 normal eaters

2 whole pheasants
4 cups water
¼ cup kosher salt
5 bay leaves, crushed
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon juniper berries, crushed
2 tablespoons olive oil or butter, softened
½ onion and ½ apple for stuffing, diced
Fresh herbs for stuffing
Recommended: Dill and marjoram

Prep time 5hrs, cook time 60min

1 Brine the birds. Make brine by bringing 4 cups water, ¼ cup salt, 5 crushed bay leaves, 1 tablespoon of white sugar and a tablespoon of crushed juniper berries to a boil. Cover and let cool to room temperature. When they cool, submerge pheasants in the brine and keep them in the fridge for 4-8 hours. The longer you brine, the saltier the pheasants will become.

2 Bring the birds to room temperature. After the soak, take the pheas.ants out and dry them off. Let the birds rest, breast side up, uncovered in the fridge overnight. This is not a necessary step, but one that will help in crisping the skin. When you are ready to cook, take the pheasants out of the fridge and let them sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to an hour.

3 Heat the oven. Get it to 500 degrees if possible, but at least 400 degrees. Temperature is very important. Allow at least 15 minutes of preheating and up to a half hour. Oil the birds with either olive oil or by liberally smearing butter all over them.

4 Stuff and salt the birds. Salt the whole birds well, then gently stuff with diced onion and apple and fresh herbs. Do not pack the cavity!

5 Roast the pheasants for 15 minutes at high temperature. Take the pheasants out and lower the temperature to 325 degrees. Leave oven door open to speed the process. OPTIONAL: Baste the birds with a glaze of boiled-down butter and maple syrup or port.

6 Return the pheasants to the oven and roast for 30-45 minutes. When ready, the internal temperature of the birds should be about 150-155 degrees and the juices should run pretty clear. A little pink in the juice—and in the birds—is ideal.

7 Remove the pheasants, cover loosely with foil and let them rest for 10-15 minutes. This resting time is vital, as it lets the juices redistribute within the pheasants. It will also finish off the cooking process through carry-over heating.

Shown here with deconstructed vegetable lasagna and potato polenta.

Recipe source:

Deconstructed Vegetable Lasagna

Serving: 4

4 bell peppers
1 yellow squash
1 smallish eggplant
1 zucchini
½ pound portobello mushrooms
3 garlic cloves
½ red onion, finely chopped
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons flaked basil leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
Israeli salt
Ground pepper to taste

Prep time: 20min

Hollow bell peppers and set aside. Chop squash, eggplant, zucchini and mushrooms into ¼ to ½ inch cubes and gently mix together in a bowl. Heat olive oil in pan and sauté onion and garlic. Toss in cubed vegetables and cook 2-3 minutes until slightly browned. Return to bowl and let cool 4-5 minutes. Add cheese, basil leaves, Israeli salt and ground pepper to taste and gently mix. Scoop into bell peppers, cover and set aside. Serve warm.

Carciofi alla Giudia

Serving: One per person

4-6 Artichokes large, round and firm, 2-3 inch stems preferred
Olive oil for frying
Salt and pepper
Half a lemon and the juice of a second lemon for acidulating the water

Prep time: 5-7 min, 10-15 min to sauté

Trim leaves away from artichokes. Start at base, removing the tough, darker outer layer and leaving the tender inner part. Trim less of each ring as you work your way up. Remove the top ¼ inch or so of the artichoke—not the stem! Make a vertical incision into the top to remove any spines left in the heart of the flower. Trim away just the tip of the stem (which is probably black). You should see a ring in the middle of the cut part. Remove the tough outside of the stem and rub the artichoke gently with a partially squeezed lemon wedge. Rest the artichoke in water with lemon juice to keep from blackening while the rest are prepped.

Heat 3 inches of olive oil in a deep, 12 inch diameter pot. While oil heats, stand artichokes on paper to drain and prepare a bowl with fine sea salt and pepper. Dip artichokes in salt and pepper mixture. Place artichokes in hot oil and cook for about 10 min, turning to cook evenly. Remove and rest on absorbent paper. Reheat oil and return artichokes to oil, laying them horizontally. Sauté for another 3-4 minutes until stem is browned. Using tongs, upend the artichoke, stem side up, and press gently to stand the flower. Apply pressure until the artichoke opens. Continue to brown the artichokes in this position.
Line a plate with fresh absorbent paper. Remove blossoms from heat and arrange on paper to drain. Serve warm.

Source: La Cucina Romana e del Lazio on

Potato Polenta
Serving: 8

4 lbs Idaho potatoes
½ teaspoon salt
8 ounces bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 ounces Montasio cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup polenta (uncooked corn meal polenta flour)
4 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup onion, sliced

Prep time 20min, cook time 40 min

1. Prepare the mash. Peel the potatoes and in a heavy bottomed saucepan, cook them covered with water until soft. Drain most of the water, leaving about one cup with the potatoes. Mash the potatoes thoroughly in the remaining water. Add salt and corn meal mix and blend until smooth. Return to medium heat and cook for 20-30 minutes stirring often with a wooden spoon.

2. In the meantime, sauté the bacon and onion in the olive oil until rendered and the bacon is crisp.

3. When the polenta is cooked and begins to pull off the sides, remove from heat and toss in the cheese cubes as well as the onion and bacon sofritto. Mix well and serve.

Recipe source: based on the dish by the great Lidia Bastianich.


Dessert is a crucial step in completing the palate of a meal. Chocolate Mousse has never done anyone wrong and Sweet Potato Dessert Squares are a toothsome finale to the earthy theme of this menu. After everything you’ve been through to put this meal together, don’t give up with some store bought pie. Offer this twofer and end on a high note. (This Easy Chocolate Mousse can be prepared in less than 30 minutes. Recipe at

Sweet Potato Dessert Squares
Serving: 16 squares

1 package yellow cake mix (regular size), divided
½ cup butter, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten

3 cups cold, mashed sweet potatoes (without added milk or butter)
2/3 cup milk
½ cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

6 tablespoons cold butter
1 cup chopped pecans
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Whipped cream and pecan halves (optional)

Prep time 15min, bake time 1hr + cooling
Set aside 1 cup of the cake mix. Combine the remaining mix with butter and egg until crumbly. Spread into a greased 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Whisk filling ingredients until smooth and pour over crust. For topping, cut butter into reserved cake mix until crumbly. Stir in the pecans, sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over the filling. Bake at 350 degrees for 60-65 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool. Garnish with whipped cream and pecan halves if desired.

Recipe source:

Easy Chocolate Mousse
Servings: 8

1 envelope gelatin
¼ cup cold water
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1¼ cups milk
½ cup sugar
? cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups frozen whipped topping, thawed

Prep time under 30min

In small saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over cold water and let stand 1 minute. Stir over low heat until gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir in butter until melted. In blender or food processor, process milk, sugar, cocoa powder and vanilla until blended. While processing, gradually add gelatin mixture until all is blended. Pour into bowl and blend in whipped topping. Turn into dessert dishes, mini teacups or shot glasses and chill until firm. Garnish as desired with additional whipped topping and chocolate curls.

Recipe source: