Sylvia Pastor may live on Longboat Key, but she is exactly the opposite of the lore that ovens there are never used. Her eyes light up when the subject is food. Cooking and entertaining are her personal passions.
“I was born entertaining,” she says.
And the beneficiaries of her passion are family, friends and the non-profit organizations that she and her husband of 47 years and sous chef, Irwin Pastor, support.
Pastor likes recipes that can be prepared in advance, transported easily and served at room temperature. A favorite is her evolution of chicken marbella, a classic from New York City’s erstwhile Silver Palate shop. The zing of fresh lemon slices added at the end of the cooking lightens and contemporizes the dish. She serves the dish with chunks of crusty bread to sop up the abundant juices.
For appetizers, Pastor likes to serve cheese straws made from store-bought puff pastry, along with crudités and dip. She prefers side dishes to be uncomplicated: “a green salad with your favorite vinaigrette and a bit of Israeli couscous with toasted pine nuts and perhaps some chopped tomatoes or pimento for color.”
“This dish calls for a bright, tangy dessert such as lime mousse,” suggests Pastor.
The Pastor family owns the Tasti D’Lite stores in Sarasota, so another natural choice is the store’s Tart ’n’ Tasti frozen yogurt.
“Top it with chunks of cantaloupe or berries and optional chocolate chips or toasted coconut,” she says of serving the frozen yogurt.
She recommends homemade biscotti with either dessert, because they freeze well and defrost quickly.
Pastor recommends serving them on a platter with dried cranberries, figs and/or dates.
Chicken Marbellla Pastor
Yield: 16 quarter portions of chicken to serve 10 or more
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup pitted prunes
1/2 cup pitted green olives
1/2 cup capers drained but not dried
6 bay leaves
1 head garlic, peeled and pureed
1/4 cup dried oregano or generous 1/2 cup fresh, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
4 chickens, quartered (approximately 2 1/2 pounds each)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped (optional additional for garnish)
3 lemons, ends removed, sliced thin
• Combine first eight ingredients in a large bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add chicken pieces and stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
•Preheat over to 350 degrees. Arrange the chicken in a single layer in one or two large shallow baking pans and cover with marinade. Sprinkle the pieces with brown sugar and pour the white wine around them. Bake, basting frequently, for 30 minutes. Distribute lemon slices over chicken and bake until juice from the thigh pieces is clear yellow (not pink) when pricked with a fork, an additional 20 to 30 minutes.
•Using a slotted spoon, remove chicken pieces, prunes, olives, capers and lemon slices and pile on a serving platter, reserving lemon. Moisten with a few spoonfuls of the pan juices, adorn with lemon slices and chopped parsley. Garnish with additional parsley as shown, if desired, and serve hot or at room temperature. Pass extra pan juices in a sauceboat.
Yield: approximately 100 pieces
6 cups Flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 3/4 cup Vegetable oil (canola)
2 cups Sugar
2 tsp. Vanilla
1 1/2 cups Chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts or pecans)
1 1/2 cups Chocolate chips (regular size Nestlé Toll House)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine oil, eggs, sugar and vanilla in mixer. Whisk dry ingredients together in a bowl and add to wet ingredients, then add nuts and chocolate. Chill 20 to 30 minutes. Form into 10-inch to 12-inch long logs, approximately 2 inches in diameter. Place three on each parchment-covered cookie sheet. Cook 30 minutes until light brown. Cool five minutes, then slice crosswise, approximately 1/2-inch thick. Lay slices on sides, sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar and bake 10 minutes. Turn, sprinkle again with cinnamon/sugar and bake another 10 minutes until golden. Cool on racks. These freeze well and defrost quickly. Serve on a platter with dried cranberries, figs and dates.