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First, Second, Third | Great Performances


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First, Second, Third
CPS Events at The Plaza
by Rob Arango & Ali Papalia

Welcome to our new column, featuring our top three dishes for the month at The Plaza. We have taken our recipes for 400 and scaled them down for a party of six, complete with techniques and methods which are home cook-friendly. Thank you to  Ali and Rob from CPS Events, who were our test chefs of the month. Enjoy, and remember the Great Performances mantra: "Life happens around food.”

First Course - English Pea Soup


            Coarse salt

3 cups  Frozen sweet peas

1 Tbsp  Extra-virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp  Unsalted butter

6           Spring onions, white parts only, thinly sliced

2           Shallots, minced

4 cups   Vegetable stock, sodium free

12          Sprigs fresh mint, leaves only

3 Tbsp   Plain greek yogurt

               White pepper, freshly ground

               Cheddar rye croutons

Pinch      Crushed red pepper flakes


In a large put, bring vegetable stock to a boil; add a generous amount of salt. Add peas and cook for 5 minutes.

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, shallots and butter. Cook, stirring frequently, until tender and translucent, but not brown - about 5 minutes. Stir in crushed red pepper flakes and add mixture to stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.

Remove from heat. Add half of the Greek yogurt and half of the mint, and purée the soup with an emulsion blender. Pass through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean saucepan.

Place saucepan over medium heat until hot. Taste and adjust for seasoning. The soup may be cooled completely at this point and stored refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days or frozen for up to one month. Bring soup to a boil before serving.

To make the cheddar croutons, just take a few slices of rye bread and cube. Coat with olive oil and shredded cheddar and bake for 5 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

Ladle soup into warm bowls and serve with croutons, a dollop of yogurt, and fresh mint.

Second Course - Orecchiette with Porcini Mushrooms & Sweet Peas


1 pound Orecchiette

1  Tbsp   Butter

12 oz      Porcini mushrooms,  pre-sliced 

1 cup       Frozen peas

1/2 cup    Vidalia onion, chopped

1/3 cup    Shallots, finely chopped

1 Tbsp     Garlic, minced

1 1/2 tsp   Salt, divided

1/4 tsp      Black Pepper, freshly ground 

1/4 cup     Sherry wine

2/3 cup     Whipping cream

1/2 cup     Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated

2 Tbsp      Parsley, fresh, chopped 


Cook pasta according to package directions.

Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, peas, onion, shallots, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper.  Cook 12 minutes or until liquid evaporates and mushrooms are tender, stirring occasionally.

Add sherry; cook 2 minutes or until liquid evaporates, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Add the cooked pasta, whipping cream, cheese, and 2 tablespoons parsley, tossing gently to coat.

Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Garnish with minced fresh parsley, if desired. Serve immediately.

Third Course - S'Mores


1 pt    Double Chocolate Talenti Gelato

5 oz   Mini marshmallows

1.55 oz Belgian chocolate bar

             Graham cracker crumble, for garnish


Scoop gelato into individual portions; place on a cookie sheet and freeze for 1 hour.

In the meantime, melt the marshmallow in the microwave for 30 seconds, stopping every 10 seconds to stir. Microwave at 10 second intervals until melted. 

Drizzle warm marshmallow over the frozen gelato. Using a crème brûlée torch, caramelize the marshmallow. 

Shave dark chocolate on top and around the bowl.

Generously sprinkle with crushed graham cracker as garnish.

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