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CULINARY SOS

Sea Bass Piccata, Pecan Tart With Caramel Sauce

July 08, 1993|ROSE DOSTI

DEAR SOS: I ordered a wonderful version of Sea Bass Piccata at L'Opera Bakery and Cafe in Los Angeles. Can you get the chef to share the recipe? --MINNIE

DEAR MINNIE: Chef Larry Canas was delighted. If you like, you can use beef, chicken, turkey or shellfish instead. Simply flour and season pieces of meat, shellfish or poultry and saute until done. Then serve as instructed for Sea Bass Piccata.

SEA BASS PICCATA 1/2 sweet red pepper, cut julienne 1/2 sweet yellow pepper, cut julienne 1 large carrot, cut julienne 1 zucchini, cut julienne 1 cup broccoli florets 1 cup snow peas 1/2 cup unsalted butter 2 tablespoons chopped shallots 2 tablespoons chopped capers 1 cup Chardonnay 1 cup whipping cream 1/2 cup lemon sections 1/2 cup Roma tomatoes, cubed and seeded Salt, pepper 2 pounds sea bass fillets 1 cup flour 1/4 cup chopped parsley

Separately blanche red and yellow peppers, carrot, zucchini, broccoli and snow peas. Combine and keep warm.

Melt 1/4 cup butter in medium skillet. Add shallots and capers and cook until shallots are lightly browned. Add wine. Cook over medium-high heat until liquid is syrupy. Add cream, lemon sections and tomatoes and cook, stirring until bubbly and reduced to slightly thickened sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Discard lemon sections. Add 2 tablespoons butter and let melt. Keep warm.

Cut sea bass into 4 large or 8 small portions. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Roll lightly in flour. Melt 2 tablespoons remaining butter in skillet. Add fish and sear 3 minutes on each side, covered. Place on platter along with blanched vegetables. Cover part of fish and vegetables with sauce. Garnish with chopped parsley. Makes 4 large or 8 small servings.

Each of 4 servings contains about: 783 calories; 340 mg sodium; 289 mg cholesterol; 50 grams fat; 36 grams carbohydrates; 40 grams protein; 1.87 grams fiber.

DEAR SOS: I have lost a portion of a recipe for Spago's Pecan Tart. Can you help? --L.W.

DEAR L.W.: With pleasure. The recipe is a great favorite of the Food Section and countless Culinary SOS readers. The recipe for the tart shell can be used for any filling. The caramel sauce can also be served over ice cream.

SPAGO'S PECAN TART 1 1/2 cups light corn syrup 3/4 cup granulated sugar 3/4 cup light-brown sugar, packed 4 eggs plus 2 egg yolks 3 tablespoons unsalted butter 6 to 8 Tart Shells 1 1/2 to 2 cups unbroken pecan halves Caramel Sauce

Combine corn syrup, granulated and brown sugars, eggs and egg yolks in medium-sized bowl. (Save egg whites for another use.) Stir until blended. Heat butter in small skillet over medium heat until butter is foamy and light-brown in color. Remove from heat and whisk into corn syrup mixture. Set aside.

Arrange pastry shells on large baking sheet. Place pecans in tart shells and pour filling over (alternately, pour in filling, then arrange pecans in symmetrical pattern over filling). Bake at 375 degrees 35 to 40 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool. Serve tarts at room temperature topped with Caramel Sauce. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Tart Shells 3 cups pastry flour 1 cup unsalted butter, very cold, cut into 1/2-inch pieces 3 tablespoons sugar Dash salt 2 egg yolks 1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream, very cold

Place flour, butter, sugar and salt in food processor. Process, using quick on-and-off motion, until mixture resembles coarse meal. Combine egg yolks (save egg whites for another use) and 1 tablespoon cream in small bowl. With processor motor running, add egg mixture. Process just until dough begins to form. Add enough remaining cream to form dough that holds together. Scrape dough onto piece of foil. Wrap airtight and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 1 hour.

Divide dough into 6 to 8 equal portions, depending upon whether pans are 3 or 4 inches.

Roll each portion out on lightly floured pastry cloth. Transfer pastry carefully to tart pans. Press against bottoms and sides of pans, then trim excess from rims. If pastry tears, patch with small bits of pastry trimmings. Reserve any remaining pastry, wrapped airtight, for another use. Makes 8 shells.

Each serving contains about: 1,076 calories; 86 mg sodium; 353 mg cholesterol; 58 grams fat; 133 grams carbohydrates; 10 grams protein; 0.42 gram fiber.

Caramel Sauce 1/2 cup sugar, preferably vanilla sugar 2/3 cup whipping cream, at room temperature 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

Heat sugar in small, heavy skillet or saucepan over medium heat until melted and medium amber in color. Carefully pour in cream all at once, being careful to avoid splatters. Stir in butter.

Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until caramel dissolves and sauce is smooth. Remove from heat. Store at room temperature if not using immediately (sauce will harden when refrigerated). Makes about 1 cup.

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