"Recipes from the Chef's Kitchen"

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Russell Cronkhite is an accomplished chef, pastry chef and baker.  Through his remarkable twelve year "tour of duty" and Blair House Chef, he served three presidents, four secretaries of state, and six chiefs of protocol.  His articles appear on a regular basis in the weekly Food section of the Washington Post.  He is currently working on two cookbooks.

Minted Spring Pea Soup with
Chive Crème Fraiche
(Serves 4)

For the Pea Soup
1)   4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2)   ½ cup diced sweet onion, such as
       Vidalia, Walla Walla, or Oso Sweets
3)   4 cups fresh peas, blanched,
       or thawed frozen peas
4)   2 tablespoons freshly chopped mint leaves
       plus additional leaves for garnish
5)   1 cup chicken stock or broth

1)   In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter.
2)   Add the onions and cook until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes.
3)   Add in the remaining butter and heat until melted.
4)   Add the peas and mint and cook, stirring frequently, until bright green.
5)   Add the stock or broth, increase the heat to medium high and bring the
       mixture to a simmer. Simmer until the peas are tender, 4 to 5 minutes.
6)   Remove the pan from the heat to cool slightly.
7)   Strain the soup, reserving the peas and the liquid.
8)   Transfer the peas to a food processor or blender and chop coarsely.
9)   Slowly add in the liquid and pulse until smooth and creamy.
10) Season with salt to taste.

For the Chive Crème Fraiche
1)   1 tablespoon snipped chives
2)   4 ounces crème fraiche

In a small bowl, gently fold the chives into the crème fraiche, cover and
 refrigerate until ready to serve.

To Serve the Soup
1)   Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with a generous dollop of chive crème
2)   Garnish with sprigs of mint and chive.

Alaskan Halibut with Warm Vegetable Salad
(Serves 4)

For the Halibut
1)   Four 6-ounce halibut fillets
2)   2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
3)   2 tablespoons Multi-colored peppercorns
4)   1 tablespoon mustard seeds
5)   1 teaspoon kosher salt
6)   2 tablespoons grape seed oil
7)   ½ cup sliced leeks, white part only
8)   ¼ cup white wine
9)   1 lemon, halved
10) 1 tablespoon Dijon style mustard
11) 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
12) ½ cup grape seed or vegetable oil
13) Pinch of sugar
14) Kosher salt to taste

1)   Use a mortar and pestle to crush the peppercorns and mustard seeds.
2)   Smear a little Dijon mustard on the top of each fillet, sprinkle with a little salt,
       and coat with the peppercorns and mustard seeds.
3)   In a heavy skillet, heat the oil, sear the halibut fillets for 2 to 3 minutes.
4)   Carefully turn the fillets over, add in the leeks, pour in the wine, squeeze the
       lemon over the fish and cover. Steam the fillets for about 4 to 5 minutes,
       until done.

For the Vegetable Salad
1)   1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut on the diagonal into 3-inch pieces
2)   1 cup yellow Patty Pan squash
3)   1 cup baby carrots, thinly sliced lengthwise
4)   1 bunch baby leeks or scallions, sliced long
5)   ½ cup julienne red bell pepper
6)   Assorted baby green for garnish

1)   In a small bowl whisk together the oil, mustard, vinegar, the sugar and salt.
2)   Transfer to a skillet and heat to a simmer.
3)   Add in the asparagus and toss to coat, cooking until they are bright green.
4)   Add in the squash and the carrots and cook for 30 seconds more.
5)   Remove the pan from the heat and add in the scallions or leeks.

To Serve
1)   Divide the vegetables between 4 plates, mounding them in the center of each
2)   Carefully place the halibut fillets on top of the vegetables and spoon over
       the vinaigrette.

Mixed Berry Charlotte
(Serves 8)

1)   16 slices dense white bread
2)   4 cups raspberries,
3)   2 cups blackberries
4)   2 cups blueberries
5)   1 to 1½ cups sugar
6)   ½ cup Framboise or raspberry flavored liqueur
7)   Fresh berries for garnish
8)   Whipped cream or vanilla custard

1)   Butter the inside of a 2-quart ceramic mold and sprinkle it with sugar.
2)   Trim the crust from the slices of bread, and cut each slice in half.
3)   Arrange the halves, slightly overlapping around the inside edge of the mold
       and cut slices to fit the bottom.
4)   In a saucepan, combine the berries with the sugar and the Framboise.
5)   Bring the mixture to a simmer over a medium heat, stirring, for 3 minutes
       until the berries are beginning to break apart and the sugar is desolved.
6)   Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool.
7)   Spoon the berry mixture into the mold, place a slice of bread on top, fill the
       mold with the remaining berries and top with another slice of bread.
8)   Cover the mold with a round of parchment or waxed paper, and press it down
       with a 2-pound weight.
9)   Chill overnight.
10) Serve garnished with berry sauce, fresh berries, and whipped cream or custard.

Good Eating!!!