Make it special

Incorporate sparkling wine in the dishes you cook for the last night of 2014.

Sashimi with winter vegetables and cava vinaigrette (photo credit: BOAZ LAVI)
Sashimi with winter vegetables and cava vinaigrette
(photo credit: BOAZ LAVI)
If you are going to pop a bottle of bubbly for New Year’s Eve, how about using some of it in your cooking? Chef Ofir Vidavsky plans to serve a special menu for the last evening of 2014 at his Branja restaurant, located in the new Sarona Compound in Tel Aviv. His suggestion for the meal is serving festive dishes cooked with sparkling wine, as well as bubbly cocktails and other delicacies. We asked him for a few romantic suggestions, which can also be made with non-sparkling wines if you prefer.
He also recommended the wine to be paired with each dish.
Makes 2 starters
✔ 100 gr. fillet of white sea fish, sliced into 0.5-cm. slices.
✔ 1 medium fennel, very thinly sliced
✔ 1 small red onion, sliced into very thin rings
✔ 2 green onions, green part only, sliced
✔ 4 radishes, very thinly sliced
✔ ½ green chili, seeds removed, very thinly sliced
✔ ½ raw beetroot, peeled and very thinly sliced
✔ ½ avocado, peeled and pitted, sliced into medium slices
✔ Juice of 1 lemon
✔ 4 Tbsp. olive oil
For the vinaigrette
✔ ¼ cup cava
✔ Juice of 2 oranges, strained
✔ Juice of ½ lemon
✔ 2 cloves garlic, minced
✔ ¼ cup canola oil
✔ 5 Tbsp. olive oil
✔ ½ red chili, seeds removed
✔ 2 Tbsp. honey
Place all the vinaigrette ingredients, except the oils, in a blender. Turn the motor blender on, then gradually drizzle the oils into the blender while the motor is running. Continue until the dressing is smooth. Chill for at least 30 minutes. If you have leftover dressing, keep refrigerated in a jar.
Place all the sliced vegetables in a bowl, season with a little olive oil, salt, lemon juice and pepper and toss.
In a separate bowl, season the fish with salt and a few drops of oil.
To serve: Spread a little of the vinaigrette on each plate, arrange the vegetables nicely, and top with the fish. Garnish with a few leaves of cilantro or parsley.
Recommended wine: Brut champagne or very dry cava.
Serves 4
✔ 3 medium beets
✔ 2 endives
✔ 100 gr. blue cheese (Gorgonzola or other good blue cheese)
✔ Handful arugula leaves, washed
✔ Handful roasted hazelnuts
✔ Handful sliced almonds, lightly roasted
For the dressing
✔ ¼ cup red Lambrusco (or other red semidry bubbly)
✔ 5 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
✔ 3 Tbsp. honey
✔ 2 Tbsp. sherry or red wine vinegar
✔ 3 Tbsp. olive oil
Heat oven to 200°.
Wash beets and place in a deep baking dish. Fill the dish with water to half the height of the beets, season with salt, cover with parchment paper and then with aluminum foil. Place in the preheated oven and roast for at least 1 hour. Check to see if beets are soft. If not, continue baking until soft but not mushy. Remove from the oven, let cool and peel the beets. Slice them roughly.
To prepare dressing: In a small pan, reduce the balsamic vinegar, sherry vinegar and Lambrusco to half the original volume. Let cool and mix with honey and oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Place the beets in a bowl, pour the dressing over them.
Separate the endives into leaves. Place in a bowl with the arugula and toss with a little oil, salt and pepper. Arrange the greens on each plate, place beets on top and crumble the cheese on each plate. Garnish with roasted nuts and serve.
Recommended wine: Serve with red semi-dry Lambrusco or other red semidry bubbly.
Makes 1 large or 2 small servings (multiply ingredients according to number of diners)
✔ 220 gr. fillet of fish, skin on
✔ 2 artichokes, thorns removed, and quartered
✔ Bunch spinach leaves, washed thoroughly
✔ 2 cloves garlic, sliced
✔ 5 Tbsp. olive oil
✔ Juice of 1 lemon
✔ 1 cup cava
✔ 50 gr. butter
✔ 1 sprig fresh tarragon, leaves only
In a wide pot, place 3 Tbsp. olive oil, add garlic and sauté lightly. Add the artichokes and sear. Add the spinach and sauté 2 minutes. Pour in ½ of the cava, juice of ½ a lemon and season with salt and pepper.
In another pan, heat olive oil, salt the fish and sear, skin side down. Cover the pan with a lid and cook for 6 to 7 minutes.
Transfer the fish to a plate and add to the pan the rest of the cava, the rest of the lemon juice and the butter. Season with salt and pepper and add the tarragon leaves.
Cook a little more, mixing until sauce is thick and buttery.
Place the artichoke stew on the serving plate, place the fish on the stew and finish with the sauce.
Recommended wine: Serve with rose champagne or rose cava.
Makes 4
For the tuile
✔ 50 gr. butter
✔ 100 gr. honey
✔ 100 gr. sugar
✔ 50 gr. flour
✔ 50 gr. ground coconut
For the pears
✔ 2 pears, peeled and cored, halved
✔ 1 cup semi-sweet bubbly
✔ 1 anise star
✔ 80 gr. sugar
For the mascarpone cream
✔ 250 gr. mascarpone
✔ 300 ml. cream
✔ 100 gr. powdered sugar ✔ 1 vanilla pod
In a small pot, heat sugar and honey to a gentle simmer. Remove from heat and add flour. Mix well and add coconut. Cool and refrigerate overnight.
Heat oven to 180°. Remove the coconut mixture from the refrigerator. Using a kitchen scale, measure 20-gr. balls.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, place the balls on the sheet and, using a spatula, flatten the balls into discs.
Bake for 8 minutes. Carefully remove the discs from the baking sheet. When slightly cooled but still warm, roll into a cone and let cool.
To prepare pears: Place all the pear ingredients in a small pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat and cook until pears are soft but not too mushy. Let cool.
To prepare cream: Place the mascarpone in a mixer bowl. Using the mixing arm on slow speed, soften the cheese. Change to the whipping arm and beat the cheese at medium speed. Add cream and powdered sugar while mixer is working, until smooth and light. Fill the cones with the cream.
To serve: Place a spoonful of cream on each plate, add pear and two cannoli and drizzle syrup on top.
Recommended wine: Serve with semisweet champagne, cava or Lambrusco.
Recipes and photos courtesy of Ofir Vidavsky and the Branja restaurant. The Branja will be serving special New Year’s Eve meals with more cocktails and festive dishes that will be added to the restaurant’s regular Spanish-inf luenced menu.
There will also be a party on the top f loor.
First seating until 9:40 p.m. Second seating starts at 10 p.m.
Make your reservations in advance. The restaurant is not kosher. 15 David Elazar Street, Sarona, Tel Aviv, (03) 656-2626