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Recipes from Spike & Jamie

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How to use these pages:  Below is a list of the recipes on this page.  You can either scroll down the page and look at all of the recipes, or look at the titles.  When you find one that seems interesting, use your web browsers FIND function to take you directly to that recipe (on my IE browser it's Edit/Find (on this page)   or Ctrl - F on your keyboard).





































































(Serves 4)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 loaf good, crusty bread, cut into thick slices about 1-1/2 inches wide

Gray salt and freshly ground black pepper or Kosher salt

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup water

1-1/2 pounds asparagus, ends trimmed and peeled

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/4 pound Cambozola cheese, broken into pieces

1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme

2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted


Preheat the oven to 375°F.

In an ovenproof skillet, melt the butter, add the bread, and toss to coat well. Season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and bake about 15 minutes, until browned and crisp outside but still soft inside. Drain on paper towels and keep warm.


In a large skillet, combine the olive oil and water, and add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil. Add the asparagus, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the cover, and boil off any remaining water. Sauté the asparagus in the remaining olive oil for about 5 minutes, or until cooked and light brown.


Meanwhile: In a saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the Cambozola in the cream. Add the thyme and season well with pepper.


Place 1 or more slices of bread on each of 4 plates. Arrange the asparagus on the bread and pour the sauce over the top. Sprinkle each serving with pine nuts.



By Carolyn Jung, Mercury News


Fill a drinking glass with ice water. Let it sit. Then empty it out, and pour boiling water into it. Chances are it will crack.


Now, consider that glass your body. The jarring results of that experiment are what happens when too many foods of one extreme or another end up in your body.


That's how Alexander Ong explains the importance of achieving balance -- proper yin and yang -- in food.


As former chef of Xanadu in Berkeley, which closed last year, Ong created an entire menu based on yin and yang. Now he plans to introduce some of those Asian dishes at Betelnut Pejiu Wu in San Francisco as executive chef.


His friend Jeffrey Powell, chef de cuisine at Plumpjack Squaw Valley, will do the same, offering his Mediterranean twist on yin-yang for a special spring menu.


``With balanced food, the flavors are just better, and it digests better,'' says Powell, who started studying yin and yang principles after his wife, Sal Powell, quit her job as a stockbroker and opened a feng shui consulting company.


Opposite forces


Dark yin and light yang are the oppositional balancing forces behind Chinese philosophy and feng shui, the art of arranging the environment to foster peace and happiness.


In Chinese medicine, people who are more yin tend to be easily cold and tired. People who are more yang tend to overheat and be full of nervous energy. For better health, yin people are advised to eat more yang foods -- generally hot, dry and spicy; while yang people should eat more yin foods -- generally cool, moist and salty.


Red meat, coffee, chocolate, ginger, butter, shrimp, most spices and red wine are considered yang. Eggs, cucumbers, chicken, mangoes, apples, oranges, ice cream, water and champagne are yin. And pork, sweet potatoes, chestnuts, rice, figs, carrots, honey and chardonnay are neutral.


Applying feng shui to food isn't simple. Each person is thought to possess a unique combination of five elements, with one dominant: fire (people who love excitement and success, and are often stressed), wood (physically active, quick and decisive), water (emotionally reserved and imaginative), metal (those who are organized and like to be in control), and earth (social people who enjoy good food and entertainment).


For the greatest health and success, experts say, it is important to eat a balance of foods associated with the five elements and with yin and yang.




That can get complicated. For instance, lamb, which is yang, is considered fire although beef, which also is yang, is considered earth. And while chicken is yin and wood, free-range chicken is yang and metal. If all this leaves you feeling a bit unbalanced, here are some easy feng shui tips from experts:


• Opt for fresh foods over processed foods, which contain chemicals believed to block energy.


• Avoid meat that's been frozen too long, vegetables past their prime and any food past its sell-by date because it has lost its energy and will leave you feeling sluggish.


• Avoid too many frozen foods, even if reheated, because they will weaken your energy.


• After using a food processor, mixer or blender, let food rest for several minutes to settle agitated energy.


• Most important, if you're in a bad mood, don't cook.


``Just go out to eat instead,'' Sal Powell says. ``Or else your bad energy will go into your food.''


Just be sure the chef at the restaurant is in a better mood.



2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 1/2 cups thinly sliced yellow onions

1 3/4 teaspoons salt

1 3/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1/2 head white cabbage (about 1 1/2 pounds) cleaned, cored, and thinly sliced

1 teaspoon sugar

3 tablespoons Creole or whole-grain mustard

2 teaspoons chopped garlic

1 cup water

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup olive oil

2 large baking potatoes (about 2 pounds), peeled and grated (squeeze the grated potatoes with your hands to remove excess water)

1 pound thinly sliced corned beef, shredded

8 large eggs

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves


Melt the butter in a large, heavy saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add 2 cups of the onions, 3/4 teaspoon of the salt, and 3/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Cook, stirring, until the onions are soft, about 4 minutes. Add the cabbage and the sugar, and stir until slightly wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the mustard and garlic and stir to mix. Add the water, stir, then cover. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the cream, stir to mix, and cook, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and keep warm.


In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups onions, the remaining teaspoon of salt, and remaining teaspoon of pepper. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the potatoes and spread evenly over the onions. Cook, flipping about every minute, gently mashing until golden brown, about 8 minutes.

Add the corned beef and cook, stirring and pressing the hash browns into it, for 2 minutes. Drop the whole cracked eggs over the mixture, about 1/4 inch apart, reduce heat to low, cover and cook until the eggs are poached, 7 to 8 minutes.


To serve, spread about 1/2 cup of the cabbage in the center of a serving plate and top with a wedge of corned beef hash with an egg. Sprinkle with the parsley.



3/4 pound yellow potatoes, washed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces (about 2 1/2 cups)

1/2 pound broccoli florets (about 2 cups)

2 teaspoons olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup snipped chives


Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium and simmer 10 minutes. Add the broccoli florets and continue to cook, covered, 5 minutes. Put in a bowl and toss with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with chives. Toss well. Makes 2 servings.




The thyme and basil highlight a light cream sauce that create a refreshing herbal flavor perfect for spring. The sauce also complements the rich flavors of poultry seasoned with OLD BAY(r), sautéed onions, shitake mushrooms and asparagus - a classic spring vegetable.

Makes 4 servings


1 teaspoon OLD BAY(r) Seasoning

4 (about 1 1/4 pounds) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1/2 medium onion, chopped in 1/2-inch pieces

1/4 pound shitake mushrooms, thinly slices with stems discarded

1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1 1/2-inch pieces

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 1/2 teaspoon McCormick(r) Thyme Leaves, lightly crushed

1/2 teaspoon McCormick(r) Basil Leaves, lightly crushed

3/4 cup chicken broth

2 tablespoons white wine

1/2 cup half-and-half

1. Sprinkle OLD BAY(r) over both sides of chicken. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and cook 5-7 minutes per side or until done. Remove chicken from skillet; cover with foil to keep warm.


2. Using same skillet, add remaining 1 tablespoon oil and sauté onion, mushrooms and asparagus for 5 minutes.


3. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch, thyme and basil. Stir in chicken broth and wine. Add to skillet and cook, stirring constantly, 2-3 minutes or until slightly thickened. Stir in half-and-half. Heat through. Top with chicken and serve.



Cheesecakes get a kick from coffee flavor


Makes 10 to 12 servings



1 cup finely ground chocolate wafer cookies

1 cup finely ground lightly toasted almonds (see note)

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


6 tablespoons finely ground espresso-roast coffee beans

Approximately 1/2 cup water (see note)

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

3 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted (1/2 cup)

11/4 cups sour cream

4 eggs, beaten



3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (1/2 cup)

1 cup well-chilled whipping cream

Powdered sugar


To make crust: Combine cookie crumbs, almonds and sugar in 9- or 10-inch springform pan. Gradually mix in butter, using fork. Pat mixture over bottom and halfway up sides of pan. Refrigerate while preparing filling.


To make filling: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brew coffee using the ground beans and 1/2 cup water. Add more water to brewed coffee if necessary to measure 1/3 cup.


Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese to soften. Gradually blend in sugar and beat until smooth. Blend in coffee, then melted chocolate mixing just until smooth. Beat in sour cream, then eggs.


Pour mixture into crust-lined pan. Bake 45 minutes. Turn off heat and let cake cool 1 hour in oven with door slightly ajar.


Chill at least 6 hours.


To make topping: Melt 3 ounces chocolate in top of double boiler over barely simmering water. Stir until smooth. Spread in 1/8- to 1 16 -inch-thick layer on baking sheet. Refrigerate until just firm, about 10 minutes. Cut into 8 to 10 decorative shapes. Refrigerate until very firm. Whip cream until peaks form. Transfer to pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe cream in decorative border around edge of cake. Garnish with chocolate shapes. Sprinkle center of cake with powdered sugar and serve.


Note: To toast nuts, heat in a dry skillet over medium heat until they start to brown. Stir occasionally. Be careful not to scorch them.


Note: Colleen Duncan said she used more than the 6 tablespoons of ground coffee beans called for to make an even stronger distillation of coffee. Then, for the resulting 1/3 cup brewed coffee called for, she used half of the strong coffee, half Kahlua.


Cinnamon-Thyme Poached Pears use thyme's minty-green flavor to accent the subtle sweetness of the maple, cinnamon and lemon zest sauce.

Makes 4 servings


4 large ripe firm pears(Bosc, Bartlett, D'Anjou)

1 cup pear nectar

1 cup water

3/4 cup maple syrup

2 McCormick(r) Cinnamon Sticks, slightly crushed

1 1/2 teaspoons McCormick(r) Thyme Leaves

4 strips lemon peel

1. Peel and core pears* from the bottom, leaving stems intact. Cut a thin slice off the bottom of each pear to provide a flat, even bottom. Set aside.


2. In a medium saucepan, add remaining ingredients. Bring mixture to a boil. Add pears and arrange standing with stems pointing up. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 20-30 minutes or until pears are tender.


3. Remove pears from saucepan. Continue to cook liquid until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 15 minutes. Serve pears drizzled with sauce.


*Tip: Use a melon baller to core pears; push the smaller end of melon baller into the bottom of the pear, and turn it to bore a hole and scoop out the seeds and fibrous core. This will leave the stem intact.


(Serves 6)

For the batter:

3 large eggs

1 egg yolk

1-1/2 cups milk

Pinch of gray salt or Kosher salt

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons Parmesan

Twist of freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons ricotta

1-1/2 tablespoons minced chives

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

For the corn:

1/2 cup oil packed oven-dried tomatoes

1 tablespoon butter

2 ears of corn, husked, kernels cut off the cobs (about 2 cups)

Gray salt and freshly ground black pepper (or Kosher Salt)


For the batter:

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolk, milk, and salt.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, Parmesan, and pepper.


Whisk 1/3 of the egg mixture into the flour mixture to form a paste. Gradually incorporate the remaining egg mixture. Fold in the ricotta, chives, and thyme.


For the corn:

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Set rack in the middle of the oven.


Drain the tomatoes, reserving 1 tablespoon of the oil. Dice the tomatoes and set aside. In a 10-inch ovenproof skillet, heat the reserved oil and the butter over medium high heat. Add the corn and sauté for 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper and continue to cook for about 3 minutes, or until corn is a golden brown. Add the tomatoes and toss.


To finish:

Remove the skillet from the heat and pour the batter over the corn and tomatoes. Place the pan into the oven and cook for about 15 -20 minutes, or until the edges of the clafoutis are puffed and browned and the center is set. Turn on the broiler and brown the top if desired.


Chef's note:

Note: If the clafoutis are to be served from individual gratins or pans, heat the pans in the oven for about 5 minutes or until quite hot, then, spread the cooked corn into each pan, top with the batter and bake. Your cooking time will vary depending on the size of the pans. If made ahead, the batter can be stored in the refrigerator for several hours.


Makes a dozen tortillas


2 cups masa harina

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup warm water


Place all ingredients in a large bowl. With a wooden spoon, stir together to form a smooth dough that is not too sticky but holds together in a firm shape. If dough is too dry, add a little more water, a tablespoon at a time. If dough is too wet, add a little more masa harina.


Make tortillas in a press or by hand. If making by hand, first dampen hands lightly with water. Pinch off a golf ball-sized round of dough and with palms, pat dough into a flat disk. Clap dough from one palm to another, rotating it about 90 degrees with each clap, until you have a 5-inch disk.


To cook, place formed dough on a hot skillet or flat cast iron pan. After about 30 seconds, or when edges of tortilla begin to dry, flip it over. Cook 1 minute. Then flip again and cook 30 seconds.


To keep cooked tortillas warm and moist, place them in a tortilla warmer or wrap in a kitchen towel until ready to serve. To reheat, place in microwave under a damp towel and heat for several seconds or wrap in foil and sprinkle with water before placing in an oven preheated to 400 degrees for about 5 minutes.




Taste thyme at its best as the signature flavor supported by rich layers of potatoes seasoned with savory cream cheese and garlic. The ground white pepper creates a background flavor, and a crunchy Parmesan bread crumb topping completes the dish.

Makes 6 servings

4 medium potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

1 1/2 teaspoons McCormick(r) Thyme Leaves

3/4 teaspoon McCormick(r) Garlic Salt

1/4 teaspoon McCormick(r) Ground White Pepper

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons bread crumbs

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. In a medium bowl, toss potatoes with melted butter, thyme, garlic salt and white pepper.


2. In a 1 1/2 quart oval casserole dish, layer 1/3 of potato mixture. Dot with 1/2 of the cream cheese. Repeat potato and cream cheese layers. Layer remaining potatoes on top. In a small bowl, combine Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs. Sprinkle bread crumb mixture over top. Slowly pour cream over bread crumb layer.


3. Cover and bake 40 minutes. Remove cover and bake an additional 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are soft and top is golden brown.



4 ounces steamed or fresh Chinese noodles (2 cups)

3 cups sliced bok choy

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon sesame oil


Bring a large saucepan three-fourths full of water to a boil. Add the noodles and bok choy and boil 2 minutes. Drain and add salt and pepper to taste. When the pork has been removed from the wok, add sesame oil to hot wok. When oil is smoking, add noodles and bok choy. Stir-fry 2 to 3 minutes or until noodles are crisp. Spoon onto 2 plates and add pork, spooning sauce on top. Makes 2 servings.


A touch of duck fat brings new depth of flavor to dishes

By Mark Sullivan with Katie Sullivan Morford, Special to the Mercury News


I've never been shy about using fat in cooking. Indeed, when my sister and I cook together, she cringes every time I lob a pat of butter into the pan, but she's the first to admit the taste is worth every calorie.


These days, my fat of choice is duck fat. When used to brown tender new potatoes or to braise dark leafy greens, duck fat is nothing short of sublime. That's not to say I don't have equal respect for a good European sweet butter or a fruity olive oil. While duck fat has a place in my food, I do use it with discrimination. You won't find it spread on my breakfast toast. The fact is, butter, vegetable oils and animal fats all have a place in my kitchen. I just use them in different ways.


It's strange, really, how fat alone tastes relatively mild, yet has such a profound impact on food. As a kid I remember what a simple knob of butter could do to a bowl of oatmeal -- it went from ordinary to unctuous. Fat makes food luscious, keeps it moist and improves its texture. From a practical standpoint, it's useful in keeping food from sticking to the pan. And apart from being just plain satisfying, it fills you up, perhaps because it takes longer to digest than protein or carbohydrates.


In her book ``The Food of France,'' Waverly Root devotes the first chapter to butter, oil and lard, and explains how certain fats dominate in certain areas depending on what is locally available. In the south, where the warm sun invites the growth of olive trees, olive oil-rich dishes reign. In villages with an abundance of sweet, creamy milk, you'll find all the buttery wonders you could hope for. And naturally, in duck country, chefs and home cooks reach for duck fat to grease the pan and flavor food.


Duck fat is a reliable preservative. That's one reason why in the days before refrigeration French classics such as confit and cassoulet were covered with a layer of duck fat to keep out bacteria. Homemakers would portion out what they'd need for a meal and store the rest for extended periods of time at cellar temperature.


Today, duck fat continues to be useful because it has a high smoke point, which means you can cook it to very hot temperatures without it smoking or adopting an off flavor. Unlike butter or olive oil, duck fat can be recycled. Best of all is its taste and richness, a fact well known to some pastry chefs who sneak it into their croissants and tart dough.


No question, we are talking decadence here. Duck fat is not for everyone, nor for every day. But it's certainly no worse for you than butter, which most of us use at least occasionally. Though butter has fewer calories than duck fat (100 calories per tablespoon of butter vs. 130 for duck fat), it's higher in artery-clogging saturated fat (7 grams per serving vs. 5 grams for duck fat).


The key with any fat is that a little can go a long way, a concept we apply at the Village Pub when we ``finish'' certain dishes with a bit of fat, such as drizzling olive oil over a steaming pot of cooked beans or stirring a cold pat of butter into a pureed soup just before it leaves the kitchen.


This potato recipe is a simple introduction to cooking with duck fat. At the Village Pub in Woodside, we brown farmer's market-fresh potatoes in a thin layer of fat and embellish the dish with garlic, thyme, shallots and parsley.


For this recipe, you'll need to buy rendered duck fat, which looks a little like butter cream frosting. You can find it at Draeger's for about $5 a pound. If you're not ready to add a tub of duck fat to your larder, you can just as easily make the dish with olive oil.


Store any leftover fat in the freezer and pull it out when you want to treat your taste buds. Use it to sauté mushrooms, braise cabbage or stir a spoonful right into steamed green beans.


Experiment. That's when your cooking will really take off.



Recipe from Tra Vigne Cookbook

(Serves 4)

12 jumbo prawns or shrimp, 1-2 pounds, shells on

1 tablespoon NapaStyle Fennel Spice Rub, or fennel seed (toasted and ground)

1 blood orange, or other orange

1/2 large grapefruit

2 navel or other large oranges

Gray salt and freshly ground black pepper or Kosher salt

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 large bunch watercress


Cut the prawns halfway through, slitting from the head down the back to the tail. De-vein the prawns, lay them on a baking sheet, and split open, flesh side up. Sprinkle the spice mix evenly over the prawns.

Cut the skin and pith from the fruits. Over a bowl, segment the fruits, catching both the segments and the juices. Squeeze the cores to extract any extra juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Toss well, taste for balance, and reserve.


Preheat the oven to 400°F.

In a large skillet with curved sides, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Lay the prawns, flesh down, against the curved sides of the pan, tails up and heads toward the center. Press them down with a spatula or rest a slightly smaller pan on top of the prawns to weight them, so they cook evenly and rapidly. This will give them a gently curled shape. Cook about 2 minutes longer, until they turn pink.


To serve, arrange the prawns on a platter, standing them tails up. Spoon the fruits in the middle of the arrangement, and place the watercress on top. Serve hot or at room temperature.


One spice delivers five vivid flavors

Noodles and bok choy complete pork stir-fry dinner


The exciting flavors of Chinese cuisine are captured in this five-spice stir-fried pork. Five-spice powder usually consists of ground cinnamon, cloves, fennel seed, star anise and Szechwan peppercorns. It gives a pungent flavor to this quick dish.


The pork is accompanied by noodles and greens made with bok choy, a mild vegetable with a crisp, white stalk and dark green leaves. It can be found in the produce section of most supermarkets and can be eaten cooked or raw.


The pork dish should be prepared in a wok. The secret is to make sure the wok is very hot -- the oil should be smoking. Add about half the meat and wait several seconds for the wok to regain its heat before adding the rest.


This meal contains 506 calories per serving with 25 percent of calories from fat.




• Chinese or Napa cabbage can be used instead of bok choy.


• White vinegar diluted with a little water can be used instead of rice vinegar.


• Dried Chinese noodles or angel hair pasta can be used instead of fresh Chinese noodles.


• Chinese five-spice powder can be found in the spice or Asian food section of most supermarkets.




• Place water for noodles on to boil.


• Prepare ingredients for both recipes.


• Boil noodles and bok choy.


• Stir-fry pork.


• Stir-fry noodles and bok choy.




• Fred Tasker's wine suggestion: The exotic white wine gewurztraminer has rich litchi flavors that would be dynamite with this.




• To buy: 3/4 pound pork tenderloin, 1 small bok choy, 1 package steamed or fresh Chinese noodles, 1 bottle Chinese rice vinegar, 1 jar Chinese five-spice powder, 1 bottle low-sodium soy sauce and 1 bottle sesame oil.


• Staples: Garlic, cornstarch, salt and black peppercorns.


Linda Gassenheimer's latest book is Low-Carb Meals in Minutes. Write to her at dinnerlin@aol.com




2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder

2 large garlic cloves, crushed

1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon sesame oil

3/4 pound pork tenderloin, cut into 1-inch pieces

Salt and freshly ground pepper


Mix vinegar, five-spice powder, garlic, soy sauce, water and cornstarch. Heat oil in a wok or skillet until smoking. Add the pork and let sit in the heat 1 minute. Toss to stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add sauce and stir-fry 2 minutes to thicken. Remove to a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve over Crispy Chinese Noodles and Greens. Makes 2 servings.





When it comes to spring, it's clear that thyme is of the essence. This herb exemplifies the fresh spirit of the new season. Thyme's flavor profile, characterized as minty and green, makes it an essential complement to the season's most popular foods such as seafood, asparagus, new potatoes, mushrooms, baby greens, and lemons. French Thyme is recognized as being the

world's highest quality, but only limited quantities are grown each year, so most thyme is imported from Spain. Thyme's origin dates back to Ancient Greece, where it symbolized courage. Roman soldiers bathed in water infused with thyme to gain vigor, courage, and strength. And in the Middle Ages, ladies embroidered a sprig of thyme on the scarves of knights for bravery. Today, almost 300,000 pounds of thyme are sold each year, and numbers are on the rise.



Makes 1 dozen


3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

2/3 cup lard or solid shortening, like Crisco

3/4 cup warm milk or water


Sift flour, salt and baking powder together into a bowl. By hand or with a pastry cutter or fork, cut in lard or shortening until mixture forms a coarse, crumbly meal. Stirring with a wooden spoon, gradually add enough milk or water to form a smooth dough that's not too sticky. (Note: Depending on weather and moisture content of flour, you may not need all the liquid.)


Knead dough briefly in bowl. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel and allow to rest for about 15 minutes before transferring dough to a floured surface for rolling. Wrap dough in wax paper and form a cylinder. Cut circles from either end. Flour work surface and rolling pin and roll tortillas out to a thickness of 1/8 to 1/4 inch.


To cook, place tortilla in a hot skillet or flat cast iron pan. After about 30 seconds, or when the edges of the tortilla begin to dry, flip it over. Cook 1 minute. Then flip again and cook 30 seconds.



Serves 6-8


For strawberries:

1/3 cup sugar

1 cup pinot noir wine

2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and halved

For flourless chocolate-walnut torte:

5 eggs, separated

1/2 cup plus 5 tablespoons sugar

1 cup (6 ounces) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

2 cups (8 ounces) walnuts, chopped

For whipped cream:

1 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons sugar


To make strawberries: In a medium bowl, combine sugar and wine. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Add strawberries and let sit 2-3 hours.


To make torte: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom of a 9- to 10-inch springform pan with a round of parchment paper. In a large bowl, beat egg yolks until pale. Gradually beat in 1/2 cup sugar; continue beating until mixture is thickened. In a large bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Gradually beat 5 tablespoons sugar into egg whites, 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue to beat until stiff, glossy peaks form.


Alternately fold chopped chocolate, walnuts and meringue into yolk mixture by thirds until well blended. Pour into prepared pan and bake until torte is firm to touch, does not jiggle when shaken, has risen to top of pan and turned golden brown, 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature on a wire rack.


To unmold, run a knife around edges of pan. Invert onto a plate and peel off parchment paper. Invert again onto a serving plate.


To make whipped cream: In a deep bowl, combine cream and sugar. Beat to soft peaks.


To serve: Cut torte into wedges and top with strawberries and whipped cream. Serve with pinot noir.


(Serves 4)

Peanut oil for fryer

5 Idaho potatoes, peeled, cut into fries, soaked in ice water, and dried well on paper towels

For Truffle and Parmesan Fries:

2 teaspoons white truffle oil

2-3 tablespoons grated or sliced parmesan (or to taste)

Gray salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste or Kosher salt


For Meyer Lemon Fries:

2 tablespoons Meyer lemon zest

1 tablespoon freshly chopped Italian parsley

2 tablespoons minced garlic

Gray salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste or Kosher salt


Heat the oil in a deep fryer to 325°F.

Lift a batch of the potatoes with a pair of tongs and gently place them into the hot oil. Cook for 1 minute or until the potatoes have softened but have not browned. Remove them from the oil to drain on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Continue to cook the remaining potatoes. This can be done up to 2 hours ahead.


Reheat the oil to 375°F. Fry the potatoes a second time for about 7 to 8 minutes or until they are browned and crisp. Drain on paper towels and place into a large bowl.


For Truffle and Parmesan Fries:

Drizzle the fries with the truffle oil and toss with Parmesan, salt, and pepper


For Meyer Lemon Fries:

Add lemon zest, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper. Toss well.


Olive Oil-Braised Potatoes



Serves 4


Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

4 thick pork chops

2 tablespoons virgin olive oil

8 to 10 large garlic cloves, cut into crosswise slices

2 cups sauvignon blanc or other dry white wine

2 tablespoons unsalted butter


Salt and pepper pork chops on each side. In a large sauté pan or skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté garlic until golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, transfer garlic to a small bowl and set aside.


Put pork chops in hot pan, cover, and cook over medium-high heat until golden brown, 10-15 minutes per side, adding a tablespoon or two of wine to pan if it starts to smoke. Transfer to a plate and cover loosely with foil.


Add wine to pan and stir to scrape up any browned bits. Cook to reduce liquid by half. Reduce heat to low and add butter, stirring until melted. Turn off heat.


Place pork chops on warmed plates. Garnish liberally with garlic and drizzle with pan sauce. Pass any remaining sauce at the table. Serve with sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, riesling or gewürztraminer.




6 Flounder Filets

1 bag of prewashed spinach

2-3 scallions

1 bunch fresh dill

1 pkg. of crumbled Feta cheese

1/4 cup unseasoned bread crumbs

4 tablespoons of butter OR: Olive Oil in pump spray bottle

Salt, pepper, parsley & sprinkle of paprika

1 medium lemon


Chop spinach, dill & mince scallions, sauté briefly in 1 teaspoon of oil- scallions first then add spinach. When somewhat limp remove from heat. Rinse Flounder fillets under cold water put on cutting board, squeeze a little lemon juice over each. Place some of the greens mixture on each & a teaspoon or two of the feta. Roll each fillet & place end side down in small baking pan. Continue with all filets until rolls are side by side in pan snugly. Sprinkle rolls with breadcrumbs seasoned with parsley, salt, pepper, & paprika. Either melt the butter & pour over the rolls or if watching calories spray surface of crumbs evenly with olive oil. Bake for 25 min. in oven preheated to 325 degrees. If additional color is required briefly place under broiler for more golden color.



1 cup Uncle Ben's Converted Rice (important as this particular type of rice enables you to prepare this dish ahead & no matter what it will not get starchy)

1 Cup of Chicken Broth

1 Cup of Water

1/4 tspn of dried basil, dried, oregano

1/2 tspn of coarse ground black pepper & salt

3 tablespoons of butter, margarine, or olive oil


Sauté the raw rice in melted butter or hot oil with spices until rice starts to turn golden brown (it should begin to smell like popcorn). Once the rice is a golden brown color add the water & broth & bring to a boil- cover & cook 20 min. *** This rice dish can be prepared earlier & reheated several times & just tastes better & better never lumping or sticking.


Serve Fish Filets & Pilaf with fresh asparagus or a garden salad & a white wine of your choice. From the kitchen of: Linda Manekas


Serves 2


1/2 cup long-grain white rice

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 cup diced green pepper

Salt and freshly ground pepper


Bring 2 to 3 quarts water to boil in a large pan. Add rice and boil, uncovered, about 10 minutes. Test a grain; rice should be cooked through but not soft.


Drain rice into a colander in sink. Return it to pan. Mix in oil and green pepper. Add salt and pepper to taste.


(Serves 6)

1 flank steak

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Gray salt and freshly ground black pepper or Kosher salt

3 tablespoons dried oregano

12 cups of greens, such as mustard, chard, or spinach, washed

1 tablespoon minced garlic

Red wine vinegar

Hot sauce (optional)


Prepare the grill and let it burn down to medium coals.

Pour 1 tablespoon of the olive oil on one side of the meat and rub in. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle half of the oregano on top and lightly press into meat. Flip and repeat process on other side.


Grill, turning once, for about 10 minutes, or until done to your taste. Let rest for a few minutes before serving.


Meanwhile: In a large sauté pan, heat the remaining oil until hot. Add the garlic and sauté about 1 minute, or until light brown. Add the greens and toss occasionally.


After about 3 minutes, the greens will have cooked down. Season with a large pinch of salt. Cook another 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool. Splash with vinegar to taste.


Cut the flank steak across the grain in 1/4-inch slices. Serve with the greens and finish with a drizzle of hot sauce (recipe is in this collection), as desired.


Nothing stacks up to fresh taste of homemade tortillas

By Jennifer Viegas, Special to the Mercury News


The warm, comforting smell of homemade tortillas, coupled with their wonderfully fresh taste, has always been soothing and satisfying. They were a mainstay of my childhood diet because I was one of those picky eaters. I remember hoarding the pats of wrapped butter at restaurants and saving them to spread on my tortillas at home. Today, I'm a more adventurous diner (though I still like to save restaurant butter pats), but my love for homemade tortillas remains.


Tortillas are just as enjoyable to make as they are to eat. Unlike some types of baking dough, where one mistaken measurement can mean disaster, tortilla dough is very forgiving. There are two basic types of dough: masa for corn tortillas and flour dough for flour tortillas.


Masa, meaning ``dough,'' has been around since well before the Aztec empire, and corn tortillas have fed and nourished countless generations since. Flour tortillas are a more recent invention, dating to the arrival in 1519 of the Spanish, who introduced the locals to wheat flour. That's one reason flour tortillas are most often used in Tex-Mex dishes such as fajitas, while corn tortillas are reserved for more traditional cuisine, like soft tacos.


Masa begins as nixtamal, large kernels of corn traditionally grown from heirloom varieties. The kernels are then soaked in a solution of water and lime (the mineral, alkali calcium hydroxide, not the fruit), which changes the texture of the corn. (Originally, the Aztecs used a solution of water and ashes.) The soaking process also makes the vitamins and minerals present within the corn more readily available to our metabolism. Once ground, nixtamal becomes masa.


Though masa is used to prepare many types of food, including tamales and corn cakes, it is most often made into corn tortillas. Fresh masa is available at Mexican groceries and many large supermarkets. It usually comes wrapped in plastic and formed into a large roll, like cookie dough.


I prefer fresh masa for making homemade tortillas because it usually has superior texture and flavor, but if you can't find it, look for masa harina, or flour, in the baking or Latin food section of your market. These days, even such chain stores as Wal-Mart carry masa harina. It needs only to be mixed with water.


Once you have your dough, you'll need to decide how to form your tortillas: by hand, with a press or by rolling out the dough, the method used for making flour tortillas.


If you've been to Mexico or gone behind the scenes at a good Mexican restaurant, you probably have observed -- or heard -- tortillas being made by hand.


First, dampen your hands lightly. Then, pinch off a golf ball-size round of dough. Pat the dough with your palms into a flat disk and then clap it from one palm to another, rotating the dough about 90 degrees with each clap, until you have a 5-inch disk. Though this method takes a bit of practice, you'll be able to move quickly once you get a rhythm going.


The second, and easiest, way to make corn tortillas is with a tortilla press. You can find them in gourmet shops, Latin groceries, online and at stores like Cost-Plus or Sur La Table, which sell specialty cooking equipment. Look for heavy, metal presses with sturdy hinges. To use, place one of two cut sheets of wax paper on the bottom of the open press. Put the dough on top and cover it with the other sheet of wax paper. Close the press, then open it and peel off the formed tortilla. I prefer wax paper to plastic wrap because it does not tear so easily.


The final method, also used for making flour tortillas, is to roll out the dough. Since it helps to begin with a circle shape, I like to first wrap the dough in wax paper and form a cylinder. That makes it easy to cut circles from either end. Be sure to dust your work surface and rolling pin with flour. The dough tends to stick less on unvarnished wood than other surfaces, but if you don't have such a surface in your kitchen, roll the dough out between two sheets of wax paper until it's about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick and 8 inches in diameter.


To cook corn or flour tortillas, place the formed tortilla on a hot, ungreased Mexican comal, on a skillet or a flat cast-iron pan. (It is better to use a well-seasoned cast-iron or metal surface than a non-stick pan because most non-stick coatings cannot withstand high temperatures for long periods of time.) When the edges of the tortilla begin to dry, flip it and cook for a minute. Flip once more and cook 30 seconds longer.


Homemade tortillas often puff up while cooking, but don't worry. They'll deflate back to their traditional shape. Besides, that puffing is the sign of a well-made tortilla.


The Honey-Vanilla glaze gives pork a rich appearance and a slightly sweet flavor that is highlighted by vanilla. Makes 8 servings

2 pork tenderloins (about 1 pound each)

1/4 cup honey

2 tablespoon vinegar

1 teaspoon McCormick(r) Pure Vanilla Extract

1/2 teaspoon McCormick(r) Paprika

1/4 teaspoon McCormick(r) Ground Mustard

1/8 teaspoon McCormick(r) Ground Black Pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt


1. Place pork tenderloin on rack in baking pan. Mix honey, vinegar, vanilla extract, paprika, mustard, pepper, and salt. Brush meat with glaze.


2. Roast in 375°F. oven for 45 minutes or until pork reaches 160°F, brushing with glaze every 10 - 15 minutes. Slice meat and serve.


(Yield: 2 quarts)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 jalapeño or other hot peppers, finely chopped

9 roasted bell peppers, peeled, seeded, and pureed (about 2 cups)

1-1/2 quarts puréed tomatoes

1 tablespoon Gray salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/3 cup red wine vinegar, if bottling


In a 4-quart pot, heat the olive oil. Add the peppers and sauté for 3 minutes, or until they are soft. Add the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 1 hour, or until it has thickened. Adjust seasoning if necessary.


If bottling, add the vinegar to the sauce to keep the acid up, before processing according to the manufacturer's instructions.


Chef's note:

Never buy canned tomato purée, it's made from the juice and doesn't have any taste. Purée your own from fresh tomatoes or whole canned tomatoes.

[] Spike always buys it. It is fine, in my opinion.[]



2 envelopes (each 1/4 ounce) dry yeast

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup warm milk (about 110 degrees F.) plus 5 tablespoons milk at room temperature

1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

5 large egg yolks, at room temperature

4 to 5 cups bleached all-purpose flour, as needed

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature

4 cups confectioners' sugar

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 plastic king cake baby or a pecan half

Purple, green, and gold tinted sugar sprinkles


Combine the yeast and the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the butter and the 1/2 cup warm milk. Beat at low speed for 1 minute. With the mixer running, add the eggs and beat for 1 minute at medium-low. Add the flour, salt, nutmeg, and zest, and beat at medium-low until all is incorporated. Then increase the speed to high and beat until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the bowl, forms a ball, and climbs up the dough hook.

Remove the dough from the bowl. Using your hands, form the dough into a smooth ball. Lightly oil a bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and turn it to oil all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draft-free place until it doubles in size, about 2 hours.

Meanwhile, make the filling. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese and 1 cup of the confectioners' sugar. Blend by hand or with an electric mixer on low. Set aside.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Turn the dough out on a lightly floured work surface. Using your fingers, pat it out into a rectangle about 30 inches long and 6 inches wide.

Spread the filling lengthwise on the bottom half of the dough, then flip the top half over the filling. Seal, pinching the dough together. Using your hands, shape the dough into a cylinder and place on the prepared pan seam side down. Shape the dough into a ring and pinch the ends together so there isn't a seam. Insert the king cake baby or pecan half into the ring from the bottom so that it is completely hidden by the dough.

Cover the ring with plastic wrap or a clean towel and place in a warm, draft-free place. Let the dough rise until it doubles in size, about 45 minutes. Brush the top of the cake with 2 tablespoons of the milk.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack.

For the icing, combine the remaining 3 tablespoons milk, the lemon juice, and the remaining 3 cups confectioners' sugar. Stir to blend well. With a rubber spatula, spread the icing evenly over the top of the cake. Sprinkle with the sugar crystals, alternating colors around the cake.

The cake is traditionally cut into 2-inch slices with all guests in attendance. The person who gets the slice with the baby or pecan is to host the next king cake party. Makes 1 cake to serve 20 to 22


2 pounds lamb shanks

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons bleached all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium-size yellow onions, peeled and quartered

3 ribs celery, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch slices

3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices

2 sprigs fresh thyme

4 bay leaves

2 tablespoons tomato paste

10 cups beef broth

10 small red potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled and halved

1 medium-size turnip (about 1/2 pound), peeled and cubed

2 parsnips (about 4 ounces), peeled and cubed

1/4 cup water


Season the lamb with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper and dust with 1 tablespoon of the flour. Heat the oil in a large, heavy deep pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the lamb and cook, turning to brown evenly, about 10 minutes.


Add the onions, celery, carrots, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and the remaining 1/2, teaspoon pepper, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the thyme, bay leaves, and the tomato paste, stirring to mix. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the broth and stir to mix. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, cover, and cook until the meat is very tender, about 1 1/2 hours.


Add the potatoes, turnip, and parsnips and cook, uncovered, until the vegetables are fork tender, about 30 minutes. Dissolve the remaining 2 tablespoons flour in the water and add to the stew, stirring to blend, and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat. Using a fork, remove the meat from the bones and discard the bones. Serve in deep bowls and accompany with Irish Soda Bread.





Lemon Cheesecake Squares blends vanilla and lemon extracts for an interesting flavor twist. Top with your favorite fruit in season for a light and refreshing dessert. Makes 18 servings

1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs

1/4 teaspoon McCormick(r) Ground Cinnamon

2 packages (8 ounces) Neufchátel or light cream cheese, softened

1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons McCormick(r) Pure Vanilla Extract

2 teaspoons McCormick(r) Lemon Extract

2 eggs plus 2 egg whites

Fresh fruit (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine cracker crumbs and cinnamon. Press evenly in bottom of a 13x9x2-inch baking pan, coated with cooking spray.


2. Beat together the next 5 ingredients with an electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs and egg whites, beating well after each addition. Carefully pour over crumb mixture.


3. Bake 20-25 minutes or until cheesecake is lightly browned on edges and almost set in center. Remove from oven and cool 30 minutes on wire rack. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Cut into 18 pieces. Top with fresh fruit if desired.


Seasoned green beans make a great side dish for almost any main course. Basil, oregano and lemon peel accent the fresh flavor. Makes 8 servings

1 1/2 pounds fresh green beans

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon McCormick(r) Basil Leaves

1/2 teaspoon McCormick(r) Oregano Leaves

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel

1. Rinse and trim green beans. Add beans to boiling salted water. Cook, uncovered, on medium-high heat 7 minutes. Drain.


2. Return beans to saucepan. Stir in remaining ingredients. Let stand 5 minutes.







This three-step creation makes a satisfying and sweet dessert. The buttery, thyme-speckled crust lays a perfect foundation for a smooth lemon filling.

Makes 36 (1 1/2 x 2 inch) bars


Butter Thyme Crust:

2 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup confectioners' sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons McCormick(r) Thyme Leaves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter or margarine


Ginger-Lemon Filling:

1 1/4 cups sugar

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon McCormick(r) Ground Ginger

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup lemon juice

3 eggs, beaten

2 teaspoons lemon zest


Lemon Glaze:

3/4 cup confectioners' sugar

3-4 teaspoons lemon juice


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, combine flour, confectioners' sugar, thyme and salt. Add the butter and mix with a pastry blender, fork or your fingers until well incorporated. The mixture should be coarse and lumpy. Set aside 1/3 of crumb mixture (about 1 cup). Pat remaining crumb mixture into a greased 13x9x2-inch pan. Bake 15-18 minutes or until crust is lightly browned. Remove from oven.

2. In a medium bowl, combine sugar, flour, ginger and baking powder. Add lemon juice, eggs and lemon zest; whisk until blended. Pour lemon filling over warm, baked crust. Sprinkle reserved crumb mixture over top of lemon filling. Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes or until filing is set and golden. Cool completely.


3. In a small bowl, stir confectioners' sugar and lemon juice until blended. Add 1-2 teaspoons additional water if necessary for desired drizzling consistency. Drizzle over top of cooled lemon bars.


(Yield: 3/4 cup spice rub and 2 slabs of ribs)

1/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

3 tablespoons paprika

2 tablespoons onion powder

1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

Two 1 to1-1/2 pound slabs baby back ribs

1 cup prepared barbecue sauce


In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar, paprika, onion powder, salt and pepper.

Press the mixture into the ribs. Place the ribs in a large sealed bag and refrigerate overnight, or let stand at room temperature for at least one hour. This will allow the flavors of the spices and herbs to permeate the meat. If you refrigerate the ribs, remove them about 45 minutes before cooking.


Preheat the oven to 300°F.


Remove the ribs from the bag. Slather the barbecue sauce on both sides of each rack of ribs. Lay the ribs, meat side up, on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet, and bake about 1-1/2 hours, or until meat is no longer pink and/or the internal temperature reads 165°F to 175°F on a meat thermometer.


Cut between the bones to separate the ribs. Transfer to a platter and serve.


Chef's Note:

Any extra dry rub can be tightly sealed and stored for several months.


Serves 2


3 tablespoons flour

Salt and freshly ground pepper

3/4 pound snapper fillets

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/2 cup chopped red onion

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1/2 cup orange juice

4 orange slices for garnish (optional)


Place flour on a plate and season with salt and pepper to taste. Rinse fish fillet and pat dry with a paper towel. Dip into seasoned flour, making sure both sides are coated. Shake off excess flour.


Heat olive oil in a medium-size non-stick skillet on medium high. Add fish, onion and garlic. Brown fish 2 minutes, turn and brown other side 2 minutes. (Timing is for a fish 1-inch thick. Add a few more minutes for a thicker piece.) Remove to a plate and season with salt and pepper. Add orange juice to skillet, stirring to scrape up brown bits. Lower heat to medium and return fish to skillet.


Cover and cook 5 minutes. Serve with rice.



· The only ingredient you need for a great meal is to care for the people you are cooking for. It's a recipe for success every time!


· Sauté in French means "to jump". So, remember if you want your food to jump, be sure your pan is good and hot.


· When braising, unlike sautéing, it needs to cook good and slowly; set your oven temperature at 250 degrees, for the most tender braised meats you could ever imagine.


· If you are trying to cut back on calories, don't cut back on flavor. Twice the flavor means twice the satisfaction.


· An easy tip for cooking seasonally is to look for the largest display in the product isle.



1 large natural chicken, preferably 4-5 pounds

1 onion, peeled and halved

1 carrot, peeled and left whole

2 whole ribs celery

1 tomato, peeled, seeded and very finely diced

1 bay leaf

Gray salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 pound (12 ounces) pastina

1/2 cup packed mustard greens, or other greens

Parmesan, for grating


Preheat the oven to 300°F.

Rinse the chicken well. Place in a deep ovenproof roasting pan with the onion, carrot, celery, tomato and bay leaf. Add enough cold water to come about two-thirds up the sides of the bird. Bring to a simmer, using two burners if necessary. Cover, place in the oven and braise for about 1-1/2 hours, until the chicken is completely cooked.


Remove from the oven and turn the chicken over in the broth to cool. Remove the cooled chicken from the broth. Shred the chicken and strain the broth into a stockpot. Reserve.


Meanwhile: Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add the pastina and cook for about 14 minutes, or until done. Drain and set aside.


To complete: Bring the reserved broth to a simmer, season with salt and pepper, and add the cooked pastina. Add the chicken and greens, to wilt the greens and heat the chicken.


Ladle into bowls. Grate Parmesan over the soup and finish with a twist of pepper.


Make a robust salsa that tantalizes grilled fish fillets with this quick and easy recipe. Makes 4 servings

1 medium tomato, finely chopped, (about 1 cup)

2 tablespoons oil

1 teaspoon McCormick(r) Grill Mates(r) Montreal Steak Seasoning

1/2 teaspoon McCormick(r) Thyme Leaves

1 pound orange roughy fillets

1. Combine tomato, oil, Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning and thyme.


2. Spread mixture over fish fillets. Place fillets on preheated grill. Grill 10 minutes (do not turn fish) or until fish flakes easily with a fork.


(Yield: 2-1/2 to 3 cups of sauce)

1-1/2 cups marinara sauce

1/4 cup clam juice (preferably unsalted)

2 teaspoons anchovies, chopped and smashed

2 teaspoons salted or canned capers, rinsed and chopped

1/2 cup each Kalamata and Picoline olives, pitted and quartered

1/2 cup peeled, seeded and diced tomatoes (if you don't have any tomatoes on hand, increase the marinara sauce to 2 cups)

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, finely chopped or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 tablespoons Italian parsley, finely chopped (optional)

1-1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1-1/2 teaspoons Peperoncino Piccante Chili "Paste", finely chopped

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


Whisk the marinara and clam juice together. Add the remaining ingredients. Check and adjust the seasoning.

Just before serving, warm the sauce and toss in a pan with some hot pasta. The sauce is also terrific over grilled fish or on a bruschetta.


Peppered Vegetable Medley is impressive to make for special occasions, not only for its flavor, but for its ease of preparation. Makes 6 servings

6 cups assorted vegetables*, cut in 1-inch pieces

3/4 cup chicken broth

1/2 teaspoon McCormick(r) Seasoned Pepper Blend

1/2 teaspoon McCormick(r) Basil Leaves

1/4 teaspoon McCormick(r) Garlic Powder

McCormick(r) Sesame Seeds, toasted (optional)

1. In a shallow baking dish, combine all ingredients except sesame seeds.


2. Cover and bake in 375°F oven for 30-35 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir vegetables halfway through cooking. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.


*(such as cauliflower, carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, bell peppers, yellow squash, zucchini)



1-1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into bite-size chunks

Gray salt or Citrus salt or Kosher salt

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons NapaStyle Fennel Spice Rub or 2 teaspoons fennel seeds (toasted

and ground)

2 tablespoons Cointreau

1 cup dry red wine

1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

6 cups chicken stock or canned low salt chicken broth

1 bay leaf

1-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter or extra virgin olive oil

3/4 pound potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes

12 pearl onions, peeled

2 cups shiitake mushrooms, quartered (stems removed)

12 baby carrots, stemmed

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

Gray salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 pound cooked wide, flat noodles

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley


Season the pork well with salt. Heat 4 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat until hot. (The generous amount of oil allows the meat to brown well. The excess will be drained off.) Add the pork, making sure not to crowd the pan. Let the pork brown on one side before turning, then sauté until well browned all over, about 10 minutes. Remove the meat by pouring contents of the pan into a sieve to drain the excess fat.

Return the pan to high heat and add the meat. Add the fennel spice, Cointreau, red wine, and orange juice. Stir and scrape the bottom and sides of the pan to loosen all the browned bits. Bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer until reduced by half.


Add the stock and bay leaf. Reduce the heat to low and simmer slowly, covered, for about 45 minutes, or until the meat is very tender.


In a large sauté pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil with the butter over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes, onions, mushrooms, and carrots. Sauté for about 15 minutes, or until all the vegetables are well-browned (Regulate the heat so the vegetables brown but do not burn, add additional oil if necessary). Add the garlic and rosemary and sauté briefly just to brown the garlic. Season with salt and pepper.


Scrape the contents of the sauté pan into the stew. Cook the stew for another 15 minutes.


While the stew finishes cooking, place the noodles in the sauté pan, add the butter, a little broth from the stew, and toss.


Just before serving, stir the orange zest and parsley into the stew. Taste for seasoning and serve over the noodles.


TV's Sara Moulton shares a quick menu


When asked what she serves her family for a quick meal, TV chef Sara Moulton answered instantly: ``Pork scaloppine with fresh sautéed tomatoes and garlic accompanied by roasted broccoli and sweet potatoes.''


Moulton is the executive chef for Gourmet magazine and host of the show Cooking Live (7 p.m. weeknights on the TV Food Network). Despite her busy schedule, she still finds time to sit down to dinner with her family.


The pork dish takes about 5 minutes to cook. The broccoli and sweet potatoes take about 20 minutes to roast, a process that intensifies the vegetables' flavor. Start them first and then prepare the rest of the meal. Or, for a quicker side dish, place them in a microwave-safe bowl, cover and microwave on high for 5 minutes.


This meal contains 603 calories per serving with 26 percent of calories from fat.




• Any type of potato and vegetable can be substituted.




• Preheat oven to 400 degrees.


• Start broccoli and potatoes.


• Make pork scaloppine.


• Finish vegetables.




• Fred Tasker's wine suggestion: I'd try a light, fruity beaujolais from France.




• To buy: 1/4 pound broccoli florets, 3/4 pound sweet potato, 2 medium tomatoes, 3/4 pound pork tenderloin.


• Staples: Flour, olive oil, garlic, salt, black peppercorns.


Linda Gassenheimer's latest book is Low-Carb Meals in Minutes. Write to her at dinnerlin@aol.com




3/4 pound pork tenderloin

2 tablespoons flour

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon olive oil

2 medium garlic cloves, crushed

2 medium tomatoes, cut into 2-inch pieces (2 cups)


Remove fat from pork and cut into 1-inch slices. Place slices between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and flatten with the bottom of a heavy pan or meat mallet. Place flour on a plate and season with salt and pepper to taste. Dip pork slices into flour, coating both sides. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium high. Brown pork 1 minute, turn and brown second side 1 minute. Salt and pepper the cooked sides. Remove to a plate. Add garlic and tomatoes to skillet and cook 3 minutes. Spoon tomatoes over pork and serve. Makes 2 servings.




Serves 6-8

1/8 cup olive oil

1 portobello mushroom, diced

1/2 medium onion, diced

3 medium russet potatoes

Salt and pepper


Heat skillet. Cover bottom of pan with oil and add diced mushroom and onion. Cook over medium-high heat for about 8 minutes to partially cook mushrooms.


Wash, peel and grate potatoes. In a large bowl, mix grated raw potatoes and cooked onions and mushrooms. Drop by large spoonfuls onto an oiled griddle or large skillet. Each potato patty should be about 3 inches in diameter. Brown on each side until golden. Drain on paper towel.


Place cooked patties covered in foil in a 150-degree oven to keep warm, while continuing to cook remaining patties. Serve immediately. This makes a nice side dish for dinner or a tasty brunch dish.



4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups chopped yellow onions

1 cup chopped celery

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons chopped garlic

8 cups chicken broth

2 large baking potatoes (about 2 pounds), peeled and diced

1/4 cup heavy cream


Melt the butter in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery, salt, and cayenne, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft and lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Add the bay leaf and garlic, and stir for 2 minutes. Add the stock and potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes are soft, about 30 minutes.


Remove the soup from the heat. Discard the bay leaf. Using a hand-held immersion blender or in a food processor or regular blender in batches, purée until smooth. Slowly add the cream and stir to blend.


To serve, ladle into soup bowls and serve warm.


Serves 4


1 1/2 pounds small, yellow flesh potatoes such as Yukon gold, yellow Finn or

ruby crescent, washed


6 cloves garlic, smashed, skins removed

8 sprigs fresh thyme, washed

2 to 3 tablespoons rendered duck fat (or olive oil)

4 tablespoons shallots, minced

4 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped

Freshly ground black pepper


Set potatoes in a medium size pot and cover with cold water so water is about 2 inches above potatoes. Liberally salt water so it tastes like the sea (1 tablespoon or so). Turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Continue cooking until potatoes are tender enough to eat but not so tender they'll fall apart. You should be able to pierce easily with a fork. Remove from heat, drain and when cool enough to handle, cut potatoes in half.


In a sauté pan large enough to comfortably fit all potatoes, melt duck fat over medium-high heat. There should be a thin layer of fat in the pan. When fat is hot, add potatoes, cut side down. Cook until light golden brown, 4 minutes or so. Add garlic and thyme, allowing flavors to soak into fat, and cook another minute.


Toss potatoes in pan to coat with oil. Finally, add shallots and parsley; stir another 30 seconds. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.


(Serves 4)

1-1/2 pounds creamer potatoes (Yukon Gold preferred, about 16)

2 tablespoons gray salt or Kosher salt

Peanut oil for frying

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup chopped garlic

2 teaspoons lemon zest

1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley


In a large pot, cover the potatoes with water, and bring to a boil. Cook for about 20-25 minutes, or until tender. The blade of a knife will go into the potato without resistance. Drain the potatoes, and spread on baking sheet to cool.


When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, place each one between your hands (as you would clap) and press hands together. The potato should smash to about 1/2-inch thick. The skin will split, but try to avoid major splits so the potato does not fall apart.


Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet. When the oil is hot, add a single layer of potatoes. Cook for about 4-5 minutes, or until the potatoes are crispy and well browned. Turn and continue to cook on the other side. Remove the potatoes from the oil and drain on paper towels. Place the potatoes on a rack set over a sheet pan and hold in the oven while you continue to cook the remaining potatoes, adding additional oil as necessary.


While the potatoes cook: Heat the olive oil in another skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and sauté for 30-60 seconds, or until the garlic is lightly browned. Remove to a large bowl and toss in the lemon zest and parsley. Toss with the finished potatoes.



1/2 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch squares

2 teaspoons olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Place potatoes and bell pepper in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a microwave-safe plate. Microwave on high 5 minutes. Let stand 1 minute. Remove cover and add olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Toss well. Makes 2 servings.



2 teaspoons olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

3/4 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces

1/4 pound broccoli florets


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and add olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Place potatoes and broccoli on sheet in one layer and toss in the seasoned oil. Roast 10 minutes; turn vegetables and roast 10 more minutes. Makes 2 servings.


Makes about 12 servings


24 new or small red potatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds), washed and halved

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl, toss the potatoes with the olive oil. In a small bowl, combine the flour and salt, and stir to mix. Sprinkle the potatoes with the mixture and toss to coat evenly. Arrange the potatoes on the prepared pan and roast for 1 hour. Serve hot.


Serves 4


3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup minced fresh rosemary

Juice of 2 lemons and 1 lime

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 pound dried linguine or other dried pasta


In a large bowl, combine olive oil, cheese, rosemary, lemon and lime juices. Add salt and pepper; blend.


Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain and shake dry. Add pasta to bowl of sauce, toss to coat, and serve at once -- with sauvignon blanc, viognier or a cool, steely chardonnay, roussane or marsanne.


(Serves 8 to 10)

1 sweet almond pastry crust (see below)

3 pints blackberries

1/2 cup flour

1-1/2 cups granulated sugar

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, small cubes

1 tablespoon finely chopped lemon zest

1 tablespoon brown sugar

For sweet almond pastry crust:

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup finely ground almonds

1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar

pinch of salt

1/2 pound unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

5-6 tablespoons ice water

bag of dried beans


For crust:

In large mixing bowl, mix the flour, ground almonds, brown sugar and salt together. Rub the butter pieces into the flour mixture. Add the ice water and rub in, until dough comes together. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate dough for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400°F.


Flour a surface and roll out the dough to a round shape. Place in a 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Fold any edges inside, forming a thicker crust. Line with parchment paper or foil. Pour in the beans, filling to the edges.


Bake about 20 minutes, or until bottom begins to look cooked. Let cool. Remove the beans and foil.


For tart:

Preheat oven to 375°F.


Toss the berries with the flour, sugar, butter, and lemon zest. Stir in the brown sugar.


Place the fruit in the baked crust and into the oven for about 40 minutes, or until the fruit bubbles and juice thickens.


Remove from oven and cool for 2 hours.


(Serves 6)

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, rinsed and patted dry

1 tablespoon gray salt (or Kosher salt)

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

1 lemon, juiced

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

10 cloves of garlic, chopped

1/2 cup freshly chopped Italian parsley

1/2 cup freshly chopped rosemary

1/2 cup lemon zest


Place the chicken breasts in a baking dish.

Cover with the remaining ingredients. Marinate, refrigerated, for at least 2 hours or overnight.


Preheat a grill or heat a grill pan.


Place the chicken breasts on the grill and cook for about 6 minutes on each side, or until cooked throughout. Serve hot or at room temperature.


(Makes about 5 cups)

3 pounds small Yukon Gold potatoes

Large pinch of gray salt

1 cup freshly chopped Italian parsley

1/2 cups whole-grain mustard

1 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon

1 teaspoon capers

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and boil about 10 minutes, or until cooked thoroughly. Drain the potatoes and let cool.

Cut the potatoes into halves or quarters, and place in a bowl. Gently fold in the remaining ingredients.


(aka "glop")

The single most addictive recipe from my series.

(Episode 1: Perfect Pantry)


(Yield: 2+ Cups)

8 ounces Parmesan cheese, broken into 1" chunks

8 ounces Asiago cheese, broken into 1" chunks

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped basil

2 tablespoons chopped scallions

1 tablespoon pepper flakes

1-1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil


Place all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse for about 10 seconds, to break the cheese into small granules. (Use a rubber spatula to scrape down and recombine between every couple of pulses.)


Transfer the salsa to a sealed container and refrigerate for up to a week. Bring to room temperature before serving. Serve with crackers or with bread at the beginning of a meal, or toss with pasta and create a new pasta favorite for your main course.


Chef's Note: This is addicting! Serve it as a topping for bread, toss with pasta, spoon over fresh sliced tomatoes, the possibilities are endless.



(Serves 4)

1-1/2 cups hoisin sauce

1/2 cup plum sauce

1/2 lime, juiced

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil

Sprinkle of Chinese 5-spice

Two 1 to 1-1/2 pound slabs baby back ribs


Preheat the oven to 300°F.

In a small bowl, whisk together the hoisin sauce, plum sauce, lime juice, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, and Chinese 5-spice powder.


Lay the ribs, meat side up, on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Slather the hoisin mixture on both sides of each slab. Bake about 1-1/2 hours, or until meat is no longer pink and/or the internal temperature reads 165°F to 175°F on a meat thermometer.


Cut between the bones to separate the ribs. Transfer to a platter and serve.


Chef's Note:

Remove the ribs from the refrigerator about 45 minutes before cooking.


My first recipe creation, and still a favorite (it's either that good or I haven't gotten any better!)

(Episode 7: I Dig Mushrooms)


(Serves 4)

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1-1/2 pounds whole small button mushrooms, cleaned

3 tablespoons butter

Gray salt

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1-1/2 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme leaves

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 cup white wine

1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley


In a large skillet, heat the oil over high heat. Add the mushrooms. Do not move the mushrooms until they have caramelized on the bottom. If you toss them too soon, they will release their liquid and begin to steam. When the bottoms are caramelized, toss them and continue to cook for about 5 minutes.


Add the butter and continue to cook and toss for 5 minutes, until beautifully browned.


Season with salt and pepper. Add the garlic. Sauté another 2 minutes, and add the thyme and lemon juice. Cook to evaporate the liquid.


Add the wine and reduce until the mushrooms are glazed with the sauce. Toss in the parsley and serve immediately.


Serves 4 or more


1 free-range chicken (2 to 3 pounds total)

1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves

1/4 cup fresh savory leaves

1 head garlic

2 tablespoons coarse gray sea salt OR 1 tablespoon fine sea salt

1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided use

2 lemons, divided use

3 medium artichokes

2 bulbs fennel

8 ounces kalamata olives

4 1/2 cups chicken broth, divided use

2 cups long grain rice


Cut chicken at joints, leaving skin on, and place in bowl. With mortar and pestle, grind thyme, savory and garlic to a fine paste. Add salt, pepper and 1/4 cup olive oil. (Or grind in a food processor, adding olive oil as machine runs.) Add herbs to chicken; mix and set aside, covered in refrigerator, to marinate at least 2 hours.


In another bowl, squeeze 1 lemon and fill bowl with cold water. Using a sharp knife, cut bottom inch off stem of 1 artichoke, remove outer leaves until you reach yellow leaves and cut off top points. With a vegetable peeler, start from bottom of artichoke and peel stem where you removed leaves. Cut artichoke in half lengthwise; remove choke (fuzzy part) with spoon or melon baller and cut in half again. Immediately put artichoke in lemon-water; repeat for remaining artichokes.


Cut tops off fennel, reserving some fronds for garnish. Cut off root ends. Remove outer layer and cut bulbs in half lengthwise on flat side. Cut remaining lemon into 8 pieces and remove seeds.


Heat a large braising pan with flat straight sides over high heat. Add remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and heat until it starts to smoke. Using tongs, add chicken pieces and sear, turning quickly to keep garlic from burning and to seal in juices. Let chicken cook 1-2 minutes, then add fennel. Add lemon pieces. Drain artichokes and add to pan with olives. Add 3 cups chicken broth and let boil. Reduce to low-medium heat; cover and cook about 1 hour.


When chicken is half done, rinse rice and place in large saucepan with 1 1/2 cups chicken broth and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil; cover and reduce to a simmer. Let cook 15 minutes or until liquid has been absorbed. Stir to fluff, remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Serve chicken mixture over rice.



Thyme stars in this delicious herbed marinade. Basil and mustard are supporting flavors for the salmon which can be either broiled or grilled.

Makes 8 servings


1/2 cup dry white wine

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons McCormick(r) Gourmet Collection(tm) Thyme Leaves

1 1/2 teaspoons McCormick(r) Gourmet Collection(tm) Ground Mustard

1 1/2 teaspoons McCormick(r) Gourmet Collection(tm) Garlic Salt

1 teaspoon McCormick(r) Gourmet Collection(tm) Basil Leaves

1 teaspoon McCormick(r) Gourmet Collection(tm) Minced Onion

1/2 teaspoon McCormick(r) Gourmet Collection(tm) Ground White Pepper

2 pounds salmon fillets

juice of 1/2 lemon

1. Combine white wine, olive oil, thyme, mustard, garlic salt, basil, onion, and pepper in a medium bowl or self-closing plastic bag. Add salmon and cover or seal. Refrigerate 30 minutes, turning occasionally.


2. Preheat broiler or grill. Place fish on broiler pan or grill and spoon enough marinade over fish to cover top. Broil or grill to desired doneness. Sprinkle with lemon juice just before serving.


(Serves 4)

2 cups Strawberries, stemmed and quartered

6 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup Superfine sugar

Pinch each Ground Gray Salt and fresh ground black pepper

Or use

1/2 cup NapaStyle Pazzo Marinade

6 Italian-style biscotti, about 6 inches long

4 oz. Mascarpone cheese or vanilla gelato


Combine vinegar, sugar, salt and black pepper. Mix well to incorporate. Let stand for 15 minutes. When ready, stir again to incorporate all the sugar then pour over sliced strawberries and gently toss until berries are fully coated. (If using Pazzo Marinade, pour over strawberries; toss until berries are fully coated.) Gently crush biscotti into 4 serving bowls. Spoon strawberries on top. Stir mascarpone cheese to a smooth consistency then top each serving with a dollop of mascarpone. Finish with any remaining syrup and serve immediately.

Optional serving suggestion: For an elegant presentation, place a single Italian-style biscotti finger upright in a martini glass. Spoon marinated berries into the glass and top with frozen yogurt or gelato.


Plums Pazzo

As an alternative, substitute sweet summer plums for the strawberries. Also try crumbling Ginger Snaps for the base and devonshire cream for the topping! Plums need not be completely ripe. In fact, plums that are slightly "crispy" work the best.


Makes 12 servings


12 lasagna noodles

1 broccoli stalk (about 1/2 pound)

1/4 head cauliflower (1/2 pound)

1 medium zucchini

2 medium carrots

3/4 cup whole garlic cloves (or less, to taste), minced (divided)

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon celery salt

11/2 teaspoons kosher salt

11/2 teaspoons black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large red onion, thinly sliced

21/2 cups sliced mushrooms

8 cups marinara sauce

1 pound shredded mozzarella cheese

8 ounces shredded parmesan cheese

6 ounces fresh spinach

16 ounces ricotta cheese

Cook the lasagna noodles in salted boiling water until tender, according to package directions. Lay the cooked noodles out on flat pans to cool.


Steam the broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini and carrots for about 4 minutes or until tender-crisp. Let cool. When the steamed vegetables are cool, roughly chop them and combine with 1/2 of the garlic, the Italian seasoning, celery salt, salt and pepper. Set aside.


In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the remaining garlic, mushrooms and red onion; sauté until the onions and mushrooms are tender. Set aside to cool.


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.


In a 9-by-13-inch lasagna pan (one with at least 3-inch sides), spread 1/2 cup marinara sauce. Layer 3 lasagna noodles over the marinara. Spread 1/2 of the steamed vegetable mixture over the lasagna noodles. Sprinkle 1/2 of the mozzarella cheese and 1/2 of the parmesan cheese over the vegetables. Top with 11/2 cups marinara sauce, spreading evenly. Layer 3 noodles over the marinara sauce and spread another 1 cup of marinara over the noodles. Spread 1/2 of the sautéed onion mixture over the marinara. Top with 1/2 of the spinach and 1/2 of the ricotta cheese. Top the ricotta with 1 cup of marinara sauce.


Repeat each layer one more time in the order above.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour or until the center of the lasagna reaches 140 degrees F on a meat thermometer.


Let stand 10 to 15 minutes before cutting and serving.


Hot and sweet: Sauce sautéed chicken with honey, red pepper


Hot pepper and honey make this a sweet and spicy chicken dinner. To speed cooking time, I flatten the chicken to about 1/2 inch thick.


Sweet potatoes cooked in a microwave oven with fresh red peppers makes an unusual and surprisingly quick side dish. The potatoes cook in a bowl covered with plastic wrap. Be careful when removing the cover; the steam that escapes is very hot.


This entire meal can be made in less than 20 minutes. It contains 570 calories per serving with 24 percent of calories from fat.


Fred Tasker's wine suggestion: Sweet and spicy chicken would go nicely with a sweet and spicy gewurztraminer.




• Crushed red pepper, also called hot pepper flakes, can be found in the spice section of the supermarket.


• Green or yellow bell peppers or canned pimentos can be used with the sweet potatoes. COUNTDOWN


• Prepare chicken and place in oven.


• Make potatoes and red peppers.




• To buy: 1/2 pound sweet potatoes; 1 medium red bell pepper; 3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast; 1 small jar crushed red pepper; 1 small jar honey; 1 small jar Dijon mustard.


• Staples: Flour, olive oil, salt, black peppercorns.


Linda Gassenheimer's latest book is Low-Carb Meals in Minutes. Write to her at dinnerlin@aol.com



3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast

2 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon olive oil

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard


Place chicken between 2 pieces of wax paper or foil. Flatten with a meat mallet or the bottom of a heavy skillet to about 1/2-inch thick. In a small bowl, mix flour, crushed red pepper, and salt and pepper to taste. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Dip chicken breasts in the flour mixture, coating all sides. Sauté chicken 3 minutes on each side.


While chicken cooks, mix honey and mustard together. Remove chicken to two dinner plates and spread mustard sauce on top. Makes 2 servings.


Makes 12 tarts

For the crust

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup milk

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups bleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

For the filling

3 cups milk

1 cup sugar

4 large egg yolks

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

12 ounces plus 3/4 cup frozen unsweetened flaked coconut, defrosted


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust: In a medium-size mixing bowl, cream together the sugar and shortening. In a small bowl, combine the milk, egg, and vanilla. Mix well. Add to the shortening and sugar mixture and blend. Combine the flour and baking powder in another mixing bowl. Then, add the liquid mixture, about 1/4 cup at a time, to the dry mixture, blending in between each addition. The dough should come away from the sides of the bowl. Form the dough into a smooth ball, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill it for 30 minutes.


Lightly dust a work surface. Divide the dough in half. Gently pat the dough out into a flattened circle. Roll it out into a large round, about 1/4-inch thick. Cut six 5-inch rounds and line six of the 4-inch round tart pans with a round of dough, pressing it on the bottom and sides with your fingers. Repeat the process with the remaining ball of dough. With the tines of a fork, randomly prick the dough.


Put the tart shells on a baking sheet and bake until lightly golden, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from the oven, and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.


For the filling: In a medium-size, nonreactive saucepan over medium heat, combine 2 1/2 cups of the milk and sugar, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a gentle boil. In a medium-size mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks, the cornstarch, and the remaining 1/2 cup milk. Whisk until smooth. Add 1 cup of the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture, whisking to blend. Pour the mixture into the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens, about 4 minutes.


Remove from heat and pour into a mixing bowl. Add the vanilla, butter, and 12 ounces of the coconut. Mix well. Press a piece of plastic wrap down over the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Let cool completely to room temperature.

Spoon an equal amount of the filling into the tart shells, cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.


Before serving, spread the remaining 3/4 cup of coconut on a baking sheet and bake until just golden, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove and cool slightly. Sprinkle on the tarts. Serve immediately.



Linda Gassenheimer, Dinner in Minutes


Salmon, potatoes and whiskey combine to star in a quick dinner that is perfect for St. Patrick's Day. ''Water of life,'' better known as whiskey, is believed to have been first distilled in Ireland. It is certainly very much a part of the Irish culture.


Salmon is sold in thick steaks with the bone in or in thin fillets. Poaching a steak in a court bouillon, or flavored liquid, takes only a few minutes and keeps the salmon moist and brings out its natural flavor. A court bouillon is simply water flavored with carrots, onion, bay leaf, parsley and a little white wine. All or any combination of the herbs can be used.


Broccoli and potatoes complete the meal. Add lots of fresh chives to give the potatoes a very green color.


This dinner has 511 calories with 23 percent of calories from fat.




• If you prefer not to use whiskey in the sauce, 2 tablespoons of tomato paste can be substituted.


• Use leftover white wine or dry vermouth for the court bouillon. The wine can be omitted.


• The quickest way to wash watercress is to place it leaves-first into a bowl of water. Leave for a minute, then lift out and shake dry.


• To chop chives quickly, cut them with scissors.




• Place potatoes on to boil.


• Prepare court bouillon for salmon.


• Make salmon sauce.


• Poach salmon.


• Add broccoli and finish potatoes.




• Fred Tasker's wine suggestion: Whiskey-laced salmon; wow! I'd try a soft but very rich red shiraz from Australia.




• To buy: 1 small bunch watercress, 1/2 pound broccoli florets, 1 small package fresh chives, 3/4 pound yellow potatoes, 2 (5-ounce) salmon steaks, 1 lemon and 1 small bottle of whiskey.


• Staples: Onion, carrot, white wine (optional), reduced-fat mayonnaise, olive oil, salt and black peppercorns.


Linda Gassenheimer's latest book is Low-Carb Meals in Minutes. Write to her at dinnerlin@aol.com.




2 slices onion

1 carrot, sliced

1/2 cup white wine

2 (5-ounce) salmon steaks

1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon whiskey

Several sprigs of watercress (optional)


Place onion, carrot, wine and 2 cups water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil 5 minutes to make court bouillon.


Rinse salmon. Place in court bouillon. Liquid should completely cover salmon. Add water if needed. Bring to a simmer and gently cook 5 minutes. Salmon will be opaque. Remove to individual plates. Whisk mayonnaise, lemon juice and whiskey together in a small bowl and spoon over salmon. Place several sprigs of watercress on the side. Makes 2 servings.





Serves 4


For crispy yams:

2 cups garnet yams (orange flesh), peeled and julienned

About 6 cups oil for frying

For beef:

2 cups beef tenderloin filet (about 8-10 ounces), cut into 3/4-inch cubes

1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns, ground

1 tablespoon galanga powder or fresh grated galangal (see Notes)

1/2 cup Shaoxing rice wine (see Notes)

1 tablespoon dark mushroom soy sauce

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic

1/2 teaspoon chopped ginger

1 red jalapeño, sliced OR Fresno chile pepper, sliced

1/2 cup garlic chives, cut to 2-inch lengths

1 teaspoon sesame oil

For watercress salad:

Juice of 1 lemon

Sugar to taste

2 bunches watercress, washed, tough stems removed


To make yams: Rinse yams with water to get rid of starch. Soak in water overnight in refrigerator. Drain very well before frying.


Heat oil in a deep pan to 290 degrees. Fry yams in batches until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. When cool, yams will store at least 2 days in an airtight container.


To make beef: Combine beef, peppercorns, galangal, wine and soy sauce in a bowl. Cover and let marinate 2 hours in the refrigerator.


Preheat a wok or non-stick pan to high heat. Strain beef; reserve marinade.


Add oil to pan and sear beef until all sides are browned. Add garlic, ginger, chile and chives. Toss well to mix. De-glaze pan with reserved marinade. Add sesame oil and remove pan from heat.


To serve: Add sugar to lemon juice. Mix until dissolved. Toss watercress with this dressing. Place salad on large platter, arrange beef to side or over top. Place crispy yams atop beef and serve.


Notes: Galangal, a rhizome with a hot, peppery flavor, can be found at specialty stores and Asian markets. If you prefer, you could substitute fresh ginger. Rice wine can also be found at specialty stores and Asian markets.



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