Lunchbreak: Chef Beni Velasquez makes grilled chicken and pear sandwich

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Chef Beni Velasquez

Las Vegas, Nevada

Acorn Pumpkin Soup with Frangelico Cream
Serves 8

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon spanish olive oil
1 ounce chopped garlic
2 ounces chopped shallots
1 pound acorn squash, peeled, 1/4″ dice
1 pound pumpkin, peeled, 1/4″ dice
1/2 pound green apples, peeled, small dice
1/4 cup apple brandy (or regular brandy will work)
6 cups vegetable stock
3 sprigs fresh thyme
salt and white pepper to taste

For Cream
1/2 cup Frangelico
1/4 cup heavy cream
fresh herbs, for garnish (thyme, parley, sage)
8 each acorn squash, tops cut, cleaned and roasted

In a 6-quart pan, over medium high heat, add butter, oil, garlic, shallots, acorn, pumpkin and apples and cook, stirring often, until squashes and apples turn golden in color. (Careful not to burn the garlic and shallots). Add brandy and reduce by half then add stock and fresh thyme. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until squashes are tender when pierced. Remove from heat and transfer to a blender. Do not fill the blender more than half way, doing it in batches if you have to. Cover the blender and then hold a kitchen towel over the top of the blender. Be very careful when blending hot liquids as the mixture can spurt out of the blender. Pulse the blender to start it and then puree until smooth. Return to the pan and add cream, stir over high heat until hot. Add salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into cooked acorn squash bowls and place in a 350-degree oven for about 15 minutes to serve. Add frangelico cream on top and garnish with herbs and sreve.

Grilled Chicken Pear Sandwich

1 6 oz chicken breast (marinated in olive oil, salt, pepper and smoked paprika)
2 slices sourdough bread
1 teaspoon roasted garlic (roast whole garlic halved seasoned with salt, pepper and olive oil)
2 oz mayonnaise
1 leaf fresh sage, finely chopped (add to garlic mayo)
2 slices sharp white cheddar cheese
1/4 pear, thin sliced
1/4 cup watercress

Marinade chicken with olive oil, salt, pepper and smoked paprika and hold for 30 minutes or more. To make mayo, cut whole garlic in hallf the season with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in a 350-degree over until golden brown and soft to the touch. While still warm squeeze out the garlic and save for the mayo and sage mixture. Grill chicken until done to 165 degrees internal temperature. Spread garlic mayo mixture on both slices of sourdough bread. In a bowl place the watercress along with olive oil, salt pepper to taste (careful not make to wet, just enough to coat). Place watercress on top of sliced bread then grilled chicken, cheese then pears on top of that. Place the second piece of bread then cut in half to serve. Garnish with a pickle and chips.

Pumpkin Banana Pancakes with Warm Maple Syrup and Whipped Cream
Makes 16 each

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin, puree
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (keep a few Tablespoons for cooking)
maple syrup
whipped cream for garnish

Add all ingredients in a mixing bowl and blend all well. It should have a few lumps in the batter. Place a non-stick pan on med high heat, add the melted buter and pure 2oz of the batter in the hot pan then place the diced banana on top then flip pancake to cook about 2 min on each side.
Serve with warm maple syrup and whipped cream.

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