July 9, 2008

A Plate of Banquet Food Needn’t Be Bland

By Kathy Stephenson, The Salt Lake Tribune

Jul. 9--When you think of banquet food, rubber chicken and overly salted gravy is the first thing that comes to mind.

But with recipes like "pan-seared sea bass with orzo pasta and pomegranate beurre blanc" Enrique Yescas, the executive chef at the Davis Conference Center in Layton, is changing the way people eat at conferences, meetings and wedding receptions.

Yescas, who previously worked at The Grand America Hotel and The Yarrow Resort in Park City, was happy to share his gourmet recipe, a request of Nancy Hardman.


Jessica Sims is looking for hot fudge sauce and caramel sauce for ice cream similar to what is available at Leatherby's Family Creamery. Recipes from the restaurant are proprietary and can't be shared.

Diane Anderson would like a recipe for a mild-flavored ginger cookie similar to what is served at Mrs. Backer's Pastry Shop. Owners of the Salt Lake City bakery won't divulge their recipe, other than to say it includes Utah-made honey.

Sofia Jones wants a recipe for cream sauce served over walnut shrimp. The chef and owner at Asian Star, where Jones likes to eat the dish, do not want to share the recipe.

Send requests or responses to Cuisine Quest, c/o The Salt Lake Tribune, 90 S. 400 West, Suite 700, Salt Lake City, UT 84101, or e-mail [email protected]


4 (6-ounce) sea bass fillets--

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Sea salt

1 tablespoon fresh dill

1 pinch of granulated garlic

1/2 cup all-purpose flour


1 pound orzo

1/2 cup olive oil, divided

3 cloves garlic, sliced

1 tablespoon diced shallots

1/2 tablespoon dried oregano

1/2 tablespoon dried thyme

1 bunch spinach, stemmed and roughly chopped

1 cup grape tomatoes, rinsed

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

Pomegranate beurre blanc

1/2 cup white wine

3 tablespoons minced shallots

1/2 cup pomegranate syrup

2 cups unsalted butter

1 teaspoon lime zest

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon granulated garlic

1 dash cayenne pepper

For fish, heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and butter. Season sea bass with salt, granulated garlic and dill. Dust with flour, shaking off excess. As butter starts to brown, gently place each fillet into pan, skin side down. Cook until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn and cook another 3 to 4 minutes or until fish is golden and cooked through.

Meanwhile, for pasta, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add in 1/4 cup oil. Add orzo and stir gently. Cook 4 to 7 minutes, or until pasta is firm but cooked through. Strain orzo, shaking off excess water. Immediately spread hot pasta onto a shallow tray to cool slightly and release steam. Set aside.

In a large saute pan, heat remaining 1/4 cup oil. Add garlic, shallots and dry spices. Saute 1 to 2 minutes over medium heat until shallots are translucent. Add spinach and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add grape tomatoes and Parmesan. Toss mixture with orzo.

For beurre blanc, combine white wine, minced shallots and pomegranate syrup in a saucepot. Cook over medium heat until reduced by half. Reduce heat to low and slowly whisk in butter until blended. Add lime zest, salt, granulated garlic and cayenne pepper. Whisk until blended thoroughly. Keep warm.

To serve, place a portion of the orzo/spinach mixture on each of 4 plates. Top with a piece of sea bass. Drizzle with pomegranate sauce. Serve with seasonal vegetables.

Makes 4 servings.

--Halibut can be used in place of sea bass.

Source: Enrique Yescas, executive chef, Davis Conference Center


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