Hearty dishes from the Palm


Fans of the Palm restaurants will enjoy The Palm Restaurant Cookbook (Running Press, 2003, $29.95) for the stories it provides about the famous establishment. Try a few of the recipes, and you'll have new respect for what goes on inside the Palm's kitchens.

Author Brigit Legere Binns provides more than 130 recipes that are organized like a Palm menu, beginning with "Classic Palm Cocktails" and moving through appetizers, salads, soups, entrees and desserts. The portions noted in the recipes seemed large, which made us thankful for Chapter 8 -"Dishes Made With Leftovers."

Two Italian immigrants, John Ganzi and Pio Bozzi, opened the first Palm restaurant in 1926 on Second Avenue in Manhattan. They wanted to call it "Parma" after their hometown, but a city official could not make sense of their accents and issued a license for the "Palm" instead. Today, Palm restaurants in 24 cities count among their fans a slew of celebrities, and the restaurant closest to Baltimore, in Washington, is a grazing ground for the politically connected.

The Palm is known for surf and turf - so we prepared the New York strip steak and the Jumbo Shrimp Saute for some friends. Everyone adored the jumbo sauted shrimp, which was relatively easy to make. The steak tasted a little bland.

The bearnaise sauce helped, though preparation was a little tricky. Instructions said: "Remove the pan from the heat if it looks as if the yolks may scramble," but left the cook guessing as to when this point may be.

The Palm's approach to steak is an hour-long affair. If a grill is not available, the chefs recommend an initial pan searing, followed by a 30- to 60-minute rest, and a finish in the oven. The book is stern on the searing: "Do not move or press down on them," it says, "once they're in, you're not moving them until you are ready to turn."

You can almost hear a master chef standing over you. "The correct way to cook this steak is under a super-hot restaurant grill," the book warns. "But of course, most homes don't have that."

Also many homes may not have the specific brands or gourmet items some of the recipes call for.

After taking a look at the recipes, you may decide it's easier to pick up the phone and make a reservation to let the professionals do the work. But maybe that was the idea all along.

David Kestenbaum contributed to this review.

Jumbo Shrimp Saute

Serves 4

28 jumbo (U-12) shrimp, peeled, deveined and butterflied, with tails left on

fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus 4 small sprigs for garnish

1/2 cup olive oil

7 cloves garlic, crushed with the side of a large, heavy knife

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup chicken stock

4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

1/4 cup loosely packed julienne of basil (about 10 large leaves)

1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges, for serving

Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Season the shrimp generously with salt and pepper. Sprinkle each one with a tiny pinch of the flour, and scatter a little of the parsley on each. Add half the olive oil to the hot pan; when the oil is hot, add half the garlic, half the shrimp and half the red pepper flakes. Saute about 3 minutes.

With a slotted spoon, transfer shrimp and garlic to a plate. Add remaining oil to pan; when it is hot, saute remaining shrimp, garlic and pepper flakes. Return first batch of shrimp and garlic to pan, add the wine and stir over high heat to deglaze pan for 1 minute.

Add the chicken stock, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and simmer rapidly until the liquid is reduced slightly, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, and add the butter and the basil. Shake the pan vigorously to emulsify the sauce. Remove and discard the garlic.

Place 7 shrimp on each plate, and drizzle with the sauce. Sprinkle each plate with the remaining chopped parsley, and garnish with a parsley sprig. Place 2 lemon wedges on the side, and serve at once.

Per serving: 403 calories; 9 grams protein; 39 grams fat; 11 grams saturated fat; 5 grams carbohydrate; 0 grams fiber; 105 milligrams cholesterol; 139 milligrams sodium

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