Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Behind the Scenes of "Private Chefs of Beverly Hills:" Chef Sasha's Baklava and Grilled Watermelon and Halloumi Cheese Recipes

Tonight's episode of Private Chefs of Beverly Hills holds a special place in my heart for two very important reasons.

Reason Number One: the day we filming it, I discovered why our outstanding art department smokeshow, Trent, looked so familar to me. That's right, ya'll, he's Trent Ford of "How to Deal" fame.

You remember "How to Deal," don't you? It's from Mandy Moore's prime "Walk to Remember"-"Candy" days and it co-starred Tropical Trent. See! That's him on the DVD cover.

Reason Number Two: We filmed the episode the day before my birthday.

At the end of the shoot, totally oblivious to what they had in store, the producers and crew surprised me with a birthday cake that was a replica of the Tahitian Vanilla Cake from last season, probably the most contraversial item ever featured on the show (and, yes, I am still proud of it).

Carried out by Chef Stuart, who led everyone in a Happy Birthday serenade, I was so shocked and deeply touched, I turned fuschia and burst out laughing, which quickly moved to tears.

It was a moment I will never forget. I know I'm a loud, gregarious, roaring Leo, but the truth is, I'm tough like a cream puff and stuff like that means the world to me.

Grilled Watermelon and Halloumi Cheese “Croutons” with Herbs, Feta and Arugula

makes four servings
4 slices sweet seedless watermelon, with rind
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese, preferably sheep’s milk
1/2 cup baby arugula
1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
2 tablespoons cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons Italian parsley leaves
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Zest of one lime
1/4 cup Halloumi cheese, cubed
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Heat a grill pan over high heat until very hot.

Sprinkle each slice of watermelon with salt and a pinch of sugar and grill quickly on each side, just until grill marks show and the fruit is lightly caramelized, about 1 minute per side. Arrange on serving plates and sprinkle with crumbled feta, salt and pepper. In a small bowl, toss fresh herbs and arugula with olive oil, vinegar, lime zest, salt and pepper. Place small mounds on top of grilled watermelon and feta. Just before serving, heat a small skillet over medium-high heat and quickly sauté Halloumi until golden and crispy. Garnish each plate with Halloumi cheese croutons and serve immediately.

Rose Water and Orange Blossom Baklava
makes 16 servings

1 pound walnuts, lightly toasted and roughly ground in a food processor or blender
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 package phyllo pastry
1 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cup honey
Zest of one lemon
1 teaspoon Rose Water
1 teaspoon Orange Blossom Water

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine walnuts, cinnamon and sugar and set aside. In the bottom of a greased 9 by 13 pan, place one layer of phyllo and brush liberally with butter. Repeat six more times, buttering each delicate layer, until you have 7 layers of phyllo. Spoon 1/3 nut mixture over phyllo and top with 5 more individually buttered sheets of phyllo. Repeat the process two more times and finish with 7 layers of phyllo. Brush final layer with butter and bake for 50 minutes, until golden brown.

While baklava is baking, make syrup by boiling all ingredients together for 10 minutes.

Remove baklava from oven and pour syrup over it. Cut into squares or diamonds and serve.

No comments:

Post a Comment