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CULINARY SOS

Bravo Bars

March 29, 2000|ROSE DOSTI

DEAR SOS: The Rio Carnival Buffet at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas serves the best almond bars you will ever have. I've searched my cookbooks for a similar recipe but could not find one. I am turning to you for help. I am sure your readers will enjoy them as much as I did.

J. LEW

Duarte

DEAR J. LEW: Brenda Hitchins, executive pastry chef at Rio Hotel and Casino, sent this recipe for these twice-baked cookies with a scrumptious almond filling. By the way, you can use any nuts you wish. The chef suggests also trying walnuts, pecans or pistachios.

Rio Casino Almond Bars

Active Work Time: 25 minutes * Total Preparation Time: 40 minutes plus 2 hour chilling

SUGAR DOUGH

1 cup (2 sticks) butter

1 cup powdered sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 1/2 cups cake flour, plus more for rolling

* Cream butter until pale and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add powdered sugar and blend until smooth but not airy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, and vanilla and blend well. Gradually add cake flour and mix until smooth. Flatten dough into rectangle, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator 2 hours.

* Roll out dough on floured board to 15x10-inch rectangle 1/8-inch thick. Wrap dough around rolling pin and transfer to jelly roll pan lined with waxed paper or parchment paper. Press dough into pan bottom, trimming edges to fit. Use any scraps to fill gaps in dough, pressing seams together. Prick all over with fork.

* Bake at 350 degrees until slightly browned, 12 to 14 minutes. Cool on rack.

ASSEMBLY

1 cup (2 sticks) butter

2/3 cup honey

1 cup granulated sugar

4 cups sliced almonds

* Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add honey and granulated sugar and bring to boil. Add nuts, return to boil then remove from heat. Let cool slightly.

* Pour warm filling into shell, spreading evenly. Do not overfill. Bake at 350 degrees until topping bubbles and turns golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool, then cut into bars.

48 (3x 1 1/2-inch) bars. Each bar: 176 calories; 43 mg sodium; 19 mg cholesterol; 10 grams fat; 19 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams protein; 0.29 gram fiber.

Florentine Masterpiece

DEAR SOS: Can you get the recipe for Tomato Florentine soup from the Getty Center? It's divine.

RHONDA NASH

Los Angeles

DEAR RHONDA: Gwen Kvavli Gulliksen, executive chef of Bon Appetit Management Co. at the Getty Center, sent this refreshing soup recipe for a cold or hot day.

Getty Tomato Florentine Soup

Active Work Time: 35 minutes * Total Preparation Time: 1 hour

This soup may also be served chilled.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 red onion, diced

1 carrot, diced

1 stalk celery, diced

1 teaspoon minced garlic

8 cups water

1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste

4 tomatoes, diced

1 (14-ounce) can tomato puree

1 bunch fresh basil, chopped

1 pound fresh spinach, chopped

Salt, pepper

* Heat oil in large soup pot over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic and saute until vegetables are soft, 10 minutes.

* Add water, tomato paste, tomatoes and tomato puree. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes. Puree in blender in several batches, if necessary.

* Return soup to pot and add basil and spinach leaves. Cook until tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

8 servings. Each serving: 69 calories; 297 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 2 grams fat; 12 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams protein; 1.29 gram fiber.

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