Spike's & Jamie's Recipe Collection & a Whole Lot More!

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Recipes from Spike & Jamie

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Contents Disk 253

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).

ALMOND AND POLENTA CAKE

ALMOND JOY

ALMOND SHORTBREAD

BANANA PUDDING

BARBECUED TRI TIP WITH SANTA MARIA R

BASIC BAKED APPLE

BEEF AND RED CABBAGE ROLLS

BEET and GOAT CHEESE SALAD

BEETS WITH BASIL

BERRY COBBLER

BRAISED SPINACH

BROILED WILD MUSHROOMS WITH PROSCIUTO

CHINESE SPONGE CAKE

CHOCOLATE WALNUT TART

COLORFUL CABBAGE CHICKEN SALAD

COMPOTE OF LATE PEACHES

CURRIED EGGPLANT WITH RAITA

DILLED TUNA CUCUMBER SALAD

DRAGON SAUCE

EMERILS ORIGINAL ESSENCE

FALL ENTERTAINING

FETA LEMON and ARUGULA BRUSCHETTA

FINGERLING POTATOES SAUTÉED

FRESH CORN SHELL BEANS

FRESH FIG PUDDING

FRIED CHICKEN BALLS

GRILLED SALMON and SMOKED SALMON

GRILLED TOASTS WITH LOCAL CHEESES

HEALTHFUL MEALS IN FUN BOXES

HOT CANTALOUPE MORSELS

INSIDE OUT BARBECUED BEEF SHORT RIBS

KALE AND TOMATOES WITH PASTA SHELLS

KEY LIMEADE

LATE SUMMER VEGETABLE SALAD

LEBANESE and ISRAELI BABA GHANOUSH

LIGHT AND HEALTHY

MACARONI WITH YELLOW PEPPERS

MELANZANE CON RICOTTA

MIDDLE EASTERN SHRIMP

NO DOUBT VERY BAD FOR YOU BANANA PUD

OBAACHANS STEAMED EGGPLANT WITH SPIC

OVEN ROASTED STURGEON IN A TOASTED C

PAN ROASTED CHICKEN BREASTS

PERCIATELLI ALLE SARDE

RANCH STYLE PINQUITO BEANS

ROASTED ALMONDS

ROASTED RED PEPPER SOUP

SALAD OF WARM FIGS WITH ARUGULA

SAUERKRAUT CRUSTS

SAUTEED BELL PEPPERS

SIMMERED WINTER SQUASH

STEAK AND SCALLION ROLLS

STEAMED LAMB DUMPLINGS

STIR FRY FOR SMALL FRY

SWEET PEPPER CORN BREAD

TEXAS BARBECUED BEEF BRISKET

TOMATO AND FISH STEW

TUNA AND WHITE BEANS WITH BITTER GRE

TUSCAN TAILS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ALMOND AND POLENTA CAKE

 

2 sticks butter (8 ounces total)

Flour

1 cup super-fine sugar

2 cups ground almonds

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

3 free-range eggs, beaten

Grated zest of 2 oranges

Juice of 1 orange

1 cup polenta

1 teaspoon baking powder

Good pinch salt

Crème fraîche

Vin santo (sweet Italian dessert wine) or almond liqueur

 

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch spring form cake tin.

 

Beat the butter until it becomes pale and soft, then pour in the sugar and beat until light and creamy. Stir in the almonds and the vanilla. Add the eggs one at one time, beating thoroughly before you add the next one. Fold in the orange zest, orange juice, polenta, baking powder and salt.

 

Spoon into the buttered cake tin and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a deep golden brown and still a little wobbly. Serve with crème fraîche and vin santo or almond liqueur drizzled on top.

 

Oliver created this dish for the Almond Board of California.

 

ALMOND JOY

A tribute to local nuts

 

By MIKE DUNNE, THE SACRAMENTO BEE

 

Up and down the San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys, almond farmers are polishing the punch line to their favorite chestnut of a joke.

 

You know, the punch line that comes when a visitor to an almond orchard asks the grower whether the correct pronunciation of almond is "ALL-mund" or "AM-mend."

 

"Well, that depends," says the farmer, "on whether the nut is on the tree or on the ground. On the tree, it's 'ALL-mund.' On the ground, it's 'AM-mend.' You see, to harvest them, we have to shake the 'L' out of them."

 

Almond farmers could use a little levity these days. As they shake the nuts from their trees before vacuuming them up to be hulled, shelled and packed for market, they're looking at a record California crop of 850 million pounds of raw nut meats.

 

While record crops can delight consumers with lower prices, they don't necessarily enthrall farmers, who fret that their revenues will be affected adversely.

 

Almond-industry insiders say a grower needs to earn about $1 a pound to break even. Joe Campos, a San Joaquin Valley almond grower and processor, expects prices to fluctuate between 80 cents and $1 per pound this year, considerably less than the peak price of $2.47 a pound almond farmers got in 1995.

 

Consumers, meanwhile, can expect almond prices at supermarkets to dip between 10 percent and 20 percent, some farmers and processors predict. The drop could start any day, and is expected to continue at least through the year-end baking season, when almonds are a staple in holiday treats ranging from bits in brittle to thin slices on yuletide logs.

 

"Clearly, consumers will see more almonds in more forms and in more markets than in the past, and certainly prices will be more attractive," says Doug Youngdahl, chief executive officer for Blue Diamond Growers in Sacramento, the state's largest almond processor. "We expect to see at least a 10 percent reduction in price for consumers."

 

On the other hand, Rodger Wasson, president of the Almond Board of California in Modesto, says it's too early to forecast the impact of the record crop in the marketplace, though he wouldn't be surprised by "slightly lower" prices.

 

Both agree that the almond market is unusually complicated and volatile when compared with other California commodities.

 

For one, California produces 76 percent of the world's supply of almonds, and 71 percent of the state's annual harvest is exported, with Germany, Spain, Japan, India, France and China especially eager to grab the nuts, many of which eventually return to California as marzipan, almond-studded pastries and the like.

 

What's more, consumer demand for California almonds is on a tear, growing an average 4.3 percent annually for the past two decades.

 

Almonds turn up everywhere

 

Almond-industry officials attribute the popularity to prices already attractive compared with other nuts, an ever-expanding array of dishes and foods in which almonds are a key ingredient (ice creams, candy bars, cookies and the like), and the relative wholesomeness of almonds (they pack more calcium and dietary fiber than any other nut or seed, are relatively high in iron, riboflavin and vitamin E, and are lower in saturated fat than other nuts except chestnuts, hazelnuts, pecans and walnuts).

 

For home cooks, almonds aren't as frequently called for in recipes as onions, but they are versatile, and their soft yet distinctive flavor and crunch add interest to all sorts of dishes -- salads, soups, entrees, desserts.

 

Still, some 80 percent of California's almonds end up in candy bars, cereals, cookies and the like, with only 20 percent or less used in cooking.

 

The state's almond growers are working to persuade home cooks to take another look at the nut as they start to prepare dinner. Toward that end, the state's Almond Board this spring retained popular young celebrity chef Jamie Oliver -- author of "The Naked Chef" and star of a cooking show by the same name on the Food Network -- to provide the nuts with a bit more flair.

 

He's doing this largely through East Coast media appearances and recipes he has posted on the Almond Board Web site (www.almondsarein.com).

 

While consumers stand to benefit by the size of this year's crop, the almond outlook for next year and beyond is murky. Supplies and prices are apt to be affected by a bushel of uncertainties: Whether the dollar remains strong. Whether inventories carried over from one harvest to the next will continue to shrink. Whether plantings of new orchards will continue (acreage devoted to almonds in California surged 30 percent during the 1990s). Whether aging trees will be replaced with new plantings. Whether the costs that farmers face for everything from energy to bees will continue to rise.

 

Also note that almond trees characteristically yield a lighter crop following a year when the harvest is heavy, as it is this year. In other words, grab and enjoy them while you can.

 

ALMOND SHORTBREAD

 

Almond shortbread is simple to make, and an appealing treat for summer snacking. It's easy to pack for a picnic, but would also complement a cool glass of homemade lemonade sipped on the porch. Food importer Andre Prost Inc. provided this recipe.

 

7-ounce roll almond paste, chilled and grated

1 cup sugar

2 sticks butter, at room temperature

2 egg yolks

21/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

Melted semisweet chocolate, optional

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.

 

In a bowl, place grated almond paste, sugar and butter. Using an electric mixer on low speed, mix well until incorporated. Mix on high until light and fluffy.

 

Add egg yolks one at a time, beating until mixture is light and sugar is dissolved. Reduce speed to low and add the flour and baking powder. Mix only until all the ingredients are incorporated.

 

Spoon batter into the prepared pan. Press down gently so batter is the same level throughout, probably about 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch thick. Using the back of a knife, score very shallow lines into batter to mark the sizes and shapes you want for your shortbread pieces, to make cutting easier after baking.

 

Bake 22 to 26 minutes or until the shortbread is a light golden color. Cool pan on a wire rack. If desired, drizzle thin lines of melted chocolate across the shortbread. Cut along score lines. Store in airtight tins.

 

BANANA PUDDING

 

Contrary to what Mrs. Propes said, banana pudding does contain all four of the basic food groups -- fruit, protein, dairy and grain (if ketchup is a vegetable, then vanilla wafers are a grain).

 

1 cup granulated sugar (divided)

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1 12-ounce can evaporated milk

11/4 cups milk

4 eggs, separated

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 bananas, sliced in 1/4-inch rounds

Vanilla wafers

2 to 4 tablespoons granulated sugar (optional)

 

Mix 1/2 cup of the sugar with cornstarch. Add both milks and cook in a saucepan or double boiler until mixture begins to thicken.

 

Add remaining 1/2 cup sugar to egg yolks and beat. Add a little of the cooking mixture to the egg mixture, stirring constantly, then pour back into the saucepan and continue cooking for 2 or 3 minutes until it thickens.

 

Add salt and vanilla. Mix gently.

Beginning with a layer of wafers in a 11/2-quart casserole dish, layer the bananas and more cookies with a little of the pudding; continue layers, ending with pudding.

 

Decorate the top with a few cookies or make a protein-rich meringue: Whip the 4 egg whites until almost stiff, gradually adding 2 to 4 tablespoons granulated sugar. Dollop meringue on pudding.

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and brown pudding for 15 minutes. Refrigerate.

 

BARBECUED TRI TIP WITH SANTA MARIA RUB

Makes 8 to 10 servings

 

Santa Maria Rub:

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon dried parsley

11/2 teaspoons pepper

11/2 teaspoons garlic powder

2 beef tri-tip roasts (11/2 to 2 pounds each)

 

To make rub: Combine salt, dried parsley, pepper and garlic powder in a small bowl until blended.

 

To make tri-tips: Trim all fat from tri-tips. Spread rub on beef up to 5 hours in advance, or just before cooking.

 

Barbecue over medium-hot coals, turning occasionally, about 35 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads 135 degrees F for medium rare or 150 degrees for medium.

 

To serve, cut tri-tip across the grain into thin slices.

 

BASIC BAKED APPLE

Serves 4 adults

4 large baking apples (Rome, Cortland, Stayman or Winesap)

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup apple juice

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash apples and core from stem end to within 1/2 inch of bottom. Remove skin from top half of apples with vegetable peeler. Place apples, peeled end up, in 8-inch square baking dish with water and juice. Cover with aluminum foil, bake 30-50 minutes or until tender, basting occasionally with cooking juices. Remove from oven; baste one last time. Serve warm or chilled.

 

Variations: Before baking, fill apple cavity with one or more of the following: ripe banana; pureed sweet potato or carrot; whole blueberries or raspberries; sliced strawberries; peanut butter, honey and raisins; chocolate chips; ham and cheese; cooked couscous; cooked rice and vegetables.

 

BEEF AND RED CABBAGE ROLLS

WITH CURRY SAUCE

Makes 4 entree servings

 

1/2 pound top sirloin, trimmed of fat, sliced paper-thin

1 cup Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage (see note)

1 tablespoon dark sesame oil

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon prepared horseradish Curry Sauce (recipe follows)

 

To slice meat easily, freeze for about an hour, then using a very sharp knife, slice into eight 5-by-2-inch pieces or buy pre-sliced sukiyaki beef from a specialty meat market.

 

Lay beef slices on a flat surface. Divide the red cabbage evenly among the 8 slices of beef. Tightly roll the beef around the red cabbage and secure with a toothpick. Repeat with remaining cabbage and beef.

 

Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add meat rolls seam side down and cook for 1 minute. Turn rolls over and continue cooking until all sides are evenly browned. Reduce heat and add soy sauce, sugar, vinegar and horseradish. Cook a few more minutes.

 

Move meat rolls to a serving platter and drizzle any remaining juices over them. Serve with curry sauce.

 

Curry Sauce

2 tablespoons butter

11/4 cups minced onion

1/2 cup peeled minced apples

1 banana, mashed

3 tablespoons apricot preserves

2 teaspoons curry powder Cayenne pepper, to taste

1/2 cup water Salt, to taste

 

Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Add onions, apples, banana, preserves and curry powder. Season with cayenne pepper to taste. Add water and mix well. Adjust seasoning with salt. Sauce may be refrigerated up to a week.

 

Note: Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage can be found in many supermarkets, generally with the sauerkraut.

 

BEET and GOAT CHEESE SALAD

WITH ORANGE-SHERRY VINAIGRETTE

 

3 medium-size red or yellow beets

1/4 cup chopped purple basil

2/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1/4 cup sherry

1/2 teaspoon (scant) salt

1/2 teaspoon (scant) freshly ground pepper

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 to 4 ounces soft goat cheese

1 cup small whole basil leaves, a mix of green and purple

4 tablespoons chopped toasted almonds

3 tablespoons grated orange zest

 

Wash the beets and remove all but 1/2 inch of the stems. Put the beets in a saucepan and cover them with 2 inches of cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for about 1 hour, or until the beets are tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife.

 

Alternatively, rub the beets with a little olive oil, place in a baking dish and bake in a 350 degrees oven for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until tender.

 

When the beets are done, set them aside until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Slip the skins from the beets. Rinse and dry the beets then mince them. Place them in a bowl and add the chopped basil.

 

Combine the orange juice, sherry, salt and pepper in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat slightly, and cook until the liquid has reduced to about 1/2 cup. This will take about 10 minutes. Let cool for about 10 minutes, then mix in the olive oil and pour over the beets, turning to coat them well.

 

Divide the cheese into 4 portions and shape each into a patty on a sheet of aluminum foil.

 

Preheat the broiler.

 

Divide the whole basil leaves among salad plates, scattering some of them around the outside edges of the plates. Using a slotted spoon, divide the beets among the plates, placing them in a mound on the bed of basil. Drizzle with a little of the collected juices in the bowl.

 

Place the cheese about 6 inches under the broiler and broil for about 6 minutes, until warm all the way through.

 

Remove from the broiler. Using a spatula, slide a cheese round onto the top of each mound of beets. Garnish each salad with toasted almonds and grated orange zest Serve immediately. Serves 4.

 

BEETS WITH BASIL

Roast or steam beets in their skins until they are just tender. When cool enough to handle, peel and dice.

 

Sprinkle the beets with sugar and salt to taste, then add a few drops of vinegar (wine or balsamic would be good). Mix well and toss with olive oil.

 

Chop lots of fresh basil leaves and mix it with the beets.

 

BERRY COBBLER

Serves 4-6

4 tablespoons butter

3 cups mixed berries

3 to 4 tablespoons packed brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

6 tablespoons milk

Vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place butter in a 9-inch baking pan, place in oven for 5 minutes to melt. Remove pan and let butter cool.

 

If berries are fresh, wash in a colander and drain well. If frozen, put directly in big mixing bowl. Mix berries (children can use hands) with brown sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and cinnamon. Let sit.

 

Put flour, sugar and baking powder in a separate bowl; stir with fork to mix well. Add milk, and stir until smooth and batter looks like very thick cream. Pour batter directly on top of melted butter in baking pan. Don't stir. Spoon berries on top of the batter without stirring.

 

Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until golden brown. Cool, top each serving with a spoonful of ice cream or yogurt.

BRAISED SPINACH

Prepare the spinach just before serving so that it comes sizzling hot to the table.

 

2 bunches spinach (about 2 pounds, total), stemmed

Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 teaspoon salt

 

Wash the spinach leaves, but don't dry them. Put the dripping wet leaves into a saucepan. It will be a tight fit, but the spinach will wilt down. Put the spinach-filled pan over medium heat, cover and cook until the spinach is wilted, but still bright green. Drain well, leaving the spinach in the pan, and using the back of a large spoon to squeeze out extra liquid.

 

Return the spinach to the heat and add the lemon juice and salt. Cook, stirring, just long enough to heat through. Serves 4 to 6.

 

BROILED WILD MUSHROOMS WITH PROSCIUTTO

 

1 1/2 pounds assorted wild or cultivated mushrooms

1 tablespoon butter

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 ounces prosciutto, slivered

 

Cut large mushrooms into quarters, medium ones in half, and leave the small ones whole, trimming the stems as needed.

 

Combine the butter and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted, add the garlic and sauté a minute or two. Add the mushrooms, sprinkle them with half of the parsley, the salt and pepper. Stir and cook for a minute or two.

 

Transfer the mushrooms to a shallow baking dish, toss them with the prosciutto and put them under the broiler just long enough for them to start to turn golden, about 5 minutes. Before serving, sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon parsley. Serves 6.

 

CHINESE SPONGE CAKE

(Gai don goh)

6 eggs, separated

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place egg whites in large bowl and beat until foamy. Gradually add sugar and beat until stiff. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla. Carefully fold in dry ingredients. Pour into two 9-inch cake pans lined with wax paper. Bake 20 to 30 minutes. Watch carefully to keep from burning.

 

CHOCOLATE WALNUT TART

This tart has a shortcake-like crust and a creamy brownie filling. It is the perfect foil for the new crop of locally grown walnuts. Serve topped with rich vanilla ice cream.

 

Crust

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter

1 egg

 

Filling

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 cup light brown sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/2 cups walnut pieces, toasted

6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate

 

Adjust rack to lowest setting in oven; preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

 

To make the crust: Combine the flour and sugar in a bowl; stir until well blended. Add the butter and rub it together with your fingertips until the mixture becomes crumb-like. Add the egg and, using a fork, mix it into the dough. Using your hands, press the dough evenly into an 11-inch tart pan with a removable rim. Set aside.

 

To make the filling: Combine the melted butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla in a bowl; stir until well blended. Stir in the nuts. Place the chocolate in the upper portion of a double boiler over barely simmering water. As the chocolate begins to melt, which will be very quickly, stir it. Once melted, remove and set aside to cool slightly before adding it to the filling mixture.

 

Spoon the filling into the tart pan. Bake on the lowest rack of the oven for about 20 minutes, until the crust is lightly golden and the filling is puffed and firm to the touch. Be careful it does not burn.

 

Remove the pan to a rack to cool (until warm or room temperature).

To serve, remove pan rim and cut the tart into wedges. Serves 12.

 

COLORFUL CABBAGE CHICKEN SALAD

Makes 6 servings

 

Salad:

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1 cup crumbled blue cheese

3/4 cup chopped celery

1/4 cup chopped green onion

1/2 cup dried cranberries

2 cups chopped grilled chicken breast

4 cups Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage, drained (see note)

6 large red cabbage leaves

 

In a large bowl, mix the mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar and blue cheese until blended. Mix in the celery, green onion, cranberries and chicken until coated. Fold in drained cabbage. Refrigerate.

 

To serve, place one cabbage leaf on each dinner plate. Scoop equal amounts of chicken salad onto each leaf.

 

Note: Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage can be found in many supermarkets, generally with the sauerkraut.

 

COMPOTE OF LATE PEACHES

WITH CREME FRAICHE

 

1 1/2 cups white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Chenin Blanc

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

1 piece vanilla bean, about 6 inches long, slit open

6 peaches, peeled, halved and pitted

1/2 cup creme fraiche

 

Combine the wine, water, sugar and vanilla bean in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Boil for about 5 minutes, until a light syrup forms.

 

Reduce the heat and slip the peach halves into the pan. Poach the fruit for 5 minutes, then turn off the heat. Let stand for 1 hour before serving. Or, the peaches may be refrigerated and served cold. They'll keep in the refrigerator in their syrup for several days.

To serve, place 2 peach halves in a bowl along with a little syrup and a spoonful of creme fraiche. Serves 6.

 

CURRIED EGGPLANT WITH RAITA

Makes 6 servings

 

Raita:

11/2 pints (3 cups) nonfat, plain yogurt

11/2 cups finely diced cucumber

11/2 cups peeled, seeded and diced tomatoes (see note)

2 to 3 tablespoons grated onion

Salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

3 to 4 tablespoons chopped fresh mint or cilantro

2 tablespoons toasted cumin seeds (optional; see note)

 

Curried eggplant:

2 to 3 medium globe eggplants, each weighing about 1 pound

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups chopped yellow onions

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/4 cup grated fresh ginger

2 teaspoons ground coriander seeds

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

Lemon juice to taste

 

To make the raita: Line a colander with several layers of coffee filters or paper towels. Place the yogurt on the filter and set the colander over a bowl. Allow the yogurt to drain for 2 hours.

 

Transfer the yogurt to a bowl and stir in the cucumber, tomatoes, onion, salt, pepper, mint and cumin seeds. Cover and place in the refrigerator until ready to use. The raita makes about 4 cups.

 

To make the curried eggplant: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

 

Place the eggplants in a baking pan and prick them with a fork. Bake until tender, about 40 to 45 minutes. Set in a drainer.

 

When the eggplants are cool enough to handle, peel and remove any large seed pockets. Transfer the pulp to a strainer.

 

Coarsely chop the eggplants or pulse quickly in a food processor.

 

In a medium skillet pan, warm the olive oil over medium heat and cook the onions until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, coriander seeds, cumin, turmeric and cayenne pepper and cook for 5 minutes.

 

Add the eggplant. Heat through and then season with salt and pepper and lemon juice to taste.

 

Serve the curried eggplant with a bowl of raita.

 

Note: To peel tomatoes, plunge into boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove immediately and plunge into cold water. Skin should slip off easily.

 

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

 

DILLED TUNA CUCUMBER SALAD

Makes 2 servings

 

1 6-ounce can water-packed tuna, drained

1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, diced

2 small green onions, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

2 tablespoons nonfat yogurt

2 tablespoons reduced-calorie mayonnaise

1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Pepper

 

Combine tuna, cucumber, green onion, dill, yogurt, mayonnaise and mustard in small bowl. Mix well. Season generously with pepper. Serve salad chilled.

 

Cook's note: Serve on a bed of lettuce with dill sprigs and sliced ripe tomatoes, or pile onto whole wheat bread with crisp lettuce for a satisfying sandwich.

 

DRAGON SAUCE

Serves 4-6

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 anchovies

4 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and cut into strips

Small handful finely chopped Italian parsley

2 fresh red chili peppers, finely chopped, divided use

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 garlic clove, peeled and lightly crushed

1 pound imported spaghettini

Salt

 

In a large sauté pan, gently heat olive oil and anchovies. When anchovies blend into oil, add tomatoes, parsley, half the chopped chili peppers, black pepper, ginger and garlic. Cook over high heat for several minutes. Place remaining chili peppers in a large pot of water. Bring to a boil, add pasta, and cook until al dente. Drain pasta and chopped chili peppers. Remove garlic clove from sauce and toss sauce with hot pasta.

 

EMERIL'S ORIGINAL ESSENCE

(r)

On his Food Network TV show Emeril Lagasse mentions "Essence" almost as much as "Bam!" and "Kick it up a notch!" He claims to put his special spice blend on "everything but ice cream." He suggests using it all your meats, veggies and pasta, and combining it with oil to use as a marinade. If you can't get your hands on the real thing, here's how to whip up a quick clone at home.

 

4 teaspoons popcorn salt (fine salt)

2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon Schilling poultry seasoning

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

 

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Store in a covered container. (http://www.topsecretrecipes.com) Makes 3 tablespoons.

 

FALL ENTERTAINING

Gather family and friends for a leisurely Provencal-style midday meal.

Georgeanne Brennan, Special to The Chronicle, September 5, 2001

 

I never understood the rationale of a midday Sunday dinner, nor did my father or my brother. On the other hand, my mother had grown up in Fort Worth, with Southern tradition, and she believed in the importance of being reasonably dressed up and sitting down at noon to eat a hot meal of pot roast, mashed potatoes, carrots, condiments and a nice piece of pie or cake.

 

We thought this was silly. My father was a surfer and we lived just four blocks from the beach in Southern California. We thought he had the right idea when he said, "Look. It's a beautiful, sunny day and the surf's up. Can't we just have a sandwich or something? Take it to the beach with us?"

 

It wasn't until I lived in Provence that I discovered another version of midday Sunday dinner, and this one I immediately understood. It is one of the best reasons to be in France. On Sundays, family and friends gather at home or a restaurant for a leisurely meal and lots of conversation. The meal is preceded by aperitifs - a glass of pastis, Lillet, Port, vin d'orange or sweet vermouth for the adults; lemonade, flavored sodas or fruit juice for the children. For a half-hour everyone chats and sips and nibbles on nuts, olives, a little pate and crackers, then moves to the dinner table.

 

Whenever possible, the table is set outside, where everyone can benefit from the balmy Mediterranean climate. If the day is hot, the table is moved beneath a sheltering arbor, mulberry tree, umbrella or an awning; if it's cool,

 

we sit in a sunny spot. The scent of herbs and flowers drifts through on even the lightest breeze, and it is a pleasure to watch the light and shadows change as the meal progresses. Even my father would have delayed surfing for this version of Sunday dinner.

 

Provencal meals are always based on what is in season and on special local products.

 

In late summer and early fall, proud cooks offer wild mushrooms they've gathered themselves, several varieties of goat cheeses from neighboring villages and farms, local wines, and - either from their gardens or from a favorite vendor at the open markets - melons, tomatoes, sweet peppers, and greens. Of course, much of the cooking is done with local olive oil and the Provencal pantry provides locally-cured olives, fresh harvest walnuts and almonds, and anchovies.

 

Our climate and our food options are so like those of Provence that it is easy to replicate the Provencal style. It seems so logical to feast on what is local and in season - as in the three menus I've created for today's special Fall Entertaining issue.

 

After all, part of the problem with my mother's Southern roast and potatoes Sunday dinners was that the food didn't translate to sunny Southern California.

 

I think her Sunday midday dinners might have had more success with her recalcitrant family if she had served up chowder made from the abalones we pried off Bird Rock at low tide, corn and tomatoes from the old fruit stand on Highway 1, and berry pies made from the wild blackberries we gathered clambering around the canyons. I know I would have liked it better, especially if we could have eaten it outside on our big picnic table, listening to the surf in the distance and the birds chattering in the neighborhood palm trees. .

 

Georgeanne Brennan is a food and garden writer who divides her time between Yolo County and her cooking school in Provence. She is the author of "Savoring France" and "The Food and Flavors of Haute Provence," among other books. Visit her Web site at www.georgeannebrennan.com or e-mail her at food@sfchronicle. com.

 

FETA LEMON and ARUGULA BRUSCHETTA

 

1/2 baguette, sliced on the diagonal

3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 to 4 garlic cloves, chopped

6 ounces sheep's milk feta cheese (Greek, Bulgarian or Israeli)

Grated zest of 1 to 2 unwaxed lemons

Big handful of young arugula leaves

 

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

 

Brush the baguette slices with a small amount of the olive oil and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet.

 

Place in the oven and toast for about 15 minutes, until the bread is lightly toasted and golden.

 

Turn off the oven and leave the door open for a few minutes for the bread to dry out a little further.

 

Toss the toasts with the chopped garlic. Set aside until needed; do this ahead of time.

 

When ready to serve, place a slice or crumbling of feta on each garlic toast, sprinkle with lemon rind, drizzle with a little olive oil, then top with arugula.

 

FINGERLING POTATOES SAUTÉED

WITH SEA SALT & FRESH SAGE

1 1/2 pounds fingerling potatoes, unpeeled

3 1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

8 to 10 fresh sage sprigs or leaves

 

Put the potatoes in a saucepan and add water to cover by about 2 inches. Add 2 teaspoons of the sea salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes are just tender when pierced with a fork. Drain.

 

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the potatoes and turn them in the oil. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, the pepper and sage. Continue to cook, turning, until the skins are lightly golden and the sage is crisp, about 10 minutes.

 

Serve hot or at room temperature. Serves 4.

 

FRESH CORN SHELL BEANS

and ROASTED SWEET PEPPERS

 

1 pound fresh shell beans (black-eyed peas, flageolet or cranberry beans)

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

6 ears of fresh corn

4 large sweet peppers (bell or other type)

1/3 cup olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper, or to taste

1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano or marjoram

 

Shell the beans, discarding the pods. Put the beans in a saucepan and cover them with water. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and bring to a boil.

 

Reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the beans are tender.

 

The length of cooking may vary from 7 or 8 minutes to up to 20, depending upon the maturity of the beans. Drain and set aside.

 

Prepare a fire in a charcoal grill.

 

Rub the corn and peppers with about half of the olive oil.

 

Season the corn with about 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

 

When the coals are hot, put the corn and peppers on the grill.

 

Grill the corn for 8 to 10 minutes, until it has a tinge of gold, turning it often. Remove and set aside.

 

Cook the peppers for 10 to 15 minutes, until charred black all over. Transfer them to a plastic bag to sweat for from 5 to 30 minutes.

 

Remove the peppers from the bag and peel, seed and remove the ribs. Chop the flesh into small pieces and put into a mixing bowl.

 

Cut the kernels from each corn cob by running a sharp knife from the pointed end to the stem end.

 

Add the corn kernels and the cooked beans to the peppers.

 

Add the remaining olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper (or to taste), and the oregano. Toss gently to combine. Transfer to a serving dish. Serves 6.

 

FRESH FIG PUDDING

Figs are one of California's oldest crops, and the area abounds with fig trees of many different varieties. You can use all one type, such as Mission or Adriatic, or a combination.

 

3 1/2 tablespoons butter

4 cups milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

10 to 12 slices day-old country-style bread

1 pint fresh figs, stemmed and cut in half lengthwise

 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Use 1/2 tablespoon of the butter to grease a standard loaf pan or other 2-quart baking dish.

 

Pour the milk into a large bowl. Add the vanilla, eggs, all but 6 tablespoons of the sugar and the salt. Mix well. Add the bread and let stand until it is thoroughly softened, about 10 to 20 minutes, depending upon the dryness of the bread.

 

Arrange a layer of bread in the bottom of the prepared pan. Cover it with a layer of figs and then drizzle with some of the egg-milk mixture. Repeat twice,

 

pushing the layers down as you go and ending with a layer of figs, putting them cut-side down. Add the remaining egg-milk mixture. Sprinkle with the reserved 6 tablespoons sugar.

 

Cut the remaining 3 tablespoons butter into small pieces and scatter them over the top.

 

Bake for about 45 minutes, until the pudding puffs and turns golden, and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let stand for about 10 minutes before serving. Serves 6 to 8.

 

FRIED CHICKEN BALLS

Serves 4

1/2 medium onion, finely chopped

1 pound ground chicken

1 teaspoon grated ginger

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon mirin (sweet cooking wine)

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 egg

2 tablespoons salad oil

3 1/2 tablespoons water

1 1/2 tablespoons sake or sherry

 

Place onion in a small strainer and place strainer in a bowl of water for a few minutes. Squeeze out moisture. Combine chicken and onions with ginger, sugar, mirin, 1 tablespoon soy sauce and egg. Mix well. Roll into 1 1/2-inch balls, then flatten slightly.

 

Heat oil in a non-stick pan; brown meatballs on all sides, about 5-7 minutes. Combine water, sake and remaining soy sauce; add to meat and cook until almost gone. Take care not to overcook.

 

GRILLED SALMON and SMOKED SALMON

ON MIXED GREENS

Locally caught salmon is a Bay Area specialty and we are still in full salmon season. Serve this simple double-salmon salad with cheese toasts. Ingredients:

 

6 salmon fillets, each 4 to 5 ounces

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 to 3 tablespoons champagne vinegar

2 tablespoons grated lemon zest

6 handfuls mixed baby greens

8 ounces smoked salmon, cut into thin slices

1 sweet yellow pepper, such as bell, stemmed, seeded, deribbed and cut into

thin slivers

2 yellow tomatoes, cored and sliced

6 sprigs purple basil

 

Build a wood or charcoal fire in a grill, or preheat a gas grill.

 

Rub the salmon on both sides with a tablespoon or so of the olive oil. Sprinkle both sides with a little of the salt and pepper.

 

Put the remaining olive oil, the vinegar, lemon zest, remaining salt and pepper in a salad bowl. Set aside.

 

When the grill is ready, rub the grill rack with olive oil and place the fresh salmon on it. Grill for about 4 minutes, until the flesh is opaque about halfway through. Turn the salmon and grill until the meat easily flakes with a fork.

 

Put the mixed greens in the bowl with the vinaigrette and toss. Divide the greens equally among serving plates. Top each with a salmon fillet and several pieces of smoked salmon. Garnish the plates with slivers of yellow pepper, yellow tomato slices and sprigs of purple basil.

 

Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 6.

 

GRILLED TOASTS WITH LOCAL CHEESES

 

12 ( 1/2-inch-thick) slices of country-style bread, such as pain au levain or

pugliese

3 tablespoons butter

6 to 8 ounces local cheese (such as Pt. Reyes blue, Teleme, Carmody,

Crescenza, fresh mozzarella), sliced

 

Preheat the broiler.

 

Butter one side of each piece of bread, then cover with slices of cheese. Place under the broiler and broil until the cheese begins to bubble slightly and the edges of the bread are browned. Serve immediately. Serves 6.

 

HEALTHFUL MEALS IN FUN BOXES

OFFER A CHANGE OF PACE

BY SHARON NOGUCHI, Mercury News

 

Appetite-wise, my older daughter is a Californian and my younger one, mysteriously, has taste buds from the Midwest. Where one delights in vegetables, fruit and nouvelle cuisine, the other builds her food pyramid with meat, starch, sugar, oil and salt.

 

It is a struggle to pack two appealing and good-for-you lunches.

 

If only I had the dedication and ingenuity of mothers in Japan, where lunch-making is high art. Many a schoolchild eagerly anticipates unwrapping her bento-bako (lunch box) to see what tasty combination, artistically arranged, Okaasan (Mom) has packed that day.

 

At our house, tuna is a favorite, while peanut butter or turkey sandwiches work occasionally, but not for both kids. What happens when we've run through those options? I've taken to packing rice, molded into balls or fancy shapes and sprinkled with a seaweed topping, along with sliced meat and vegetables on the side. It's my lazy approximation of a real Japanese box lunch.

 

In Japan, obento, boxed meals, have a long tradition. Usually, obento is rice, sometimes shaped into balls for easier handling, with any food that packs and keeps well.

 

Office workers, hikers, travelers and picnickers sometimes take elaborate meals, packed in separate or partitioned bento-bako made of plastic, wood or lacquer. Traditionally, the boxes were wrapped in a furoshiki, a large square cloth for carrying things. But today, schoolchildren wrap boxes in handkerchiefs or bandannas, and stuff them into book bags.

 

Bento-making is big business in Japan, where everything from fancy box lunches to simple seaweed-wrapped rice balls is available in markets and street stands.

 

In fact, one of the highlights of traveling in Japan is in sampling the food. Each region features a local specialty, available even to harried railway travelers in box lunches sold on station platforms. You know where you are by the menu: If it's unagi (eel), this must be Hamamatsu.

 

A typical obento meal includes meat or fish, with simmered vegetables and pickles. And, of course, rice. But there's a delightful variety, ranging from ham-and-cucumber sandwiches to pressed sushi.

 

In comparison, the United States offers a disappointingly narrow choice when it comes to fast and easy lunch-box food. That's odd, considering our eclectic mix of people and the fact that so many of us grew up with comfort food that wasn't hamburgers, spaghetti or the ubiquitous chicken nuggets.

 

If American popular menus are ripe for diversification, one Fairfield company hopes to be on the cusp of change.

 

NRE World Bento is planning to sell Americans Japanese-style box lunches by October, said its president, Jeffrey Schnack. The firm is negotiating with colleges and catering companies.

 

The 3-year-old firm already knows something about being on the cutting edge.

 

In July, the company began selling meals in Japan, hurdling the steep import barriers that U.S. business executives have complained about for decades.

 

NRE World Bento is making 15,000 box lunches daily at its Solano County plant. Three varieties -- salmon, beef sukiyaki and chicken-gobo (burdock root) -- are frozen, then shipped to Japan, where they're reheated in microwaves and sold at railway station kiosks.

 

The sale of foreign-made Japanese-style meals has created a stir in the press. The imported food challenges an unspoken but common belief: No one but Japanese can really make authentic Japanese food.

 

So how can an imported frozen meal compete with a domestic, fresh-made one?

 

First, these bento are inexpensive by local standards, at about $5, or slightly more than half that for a small size.

 

Second, the company is capitalizing on Japan's intense interest in natural foods. NRE World Bento uses organic Akita Komachi rice, grown by Lundberg Family Farms in the Sacramento Valley. It is similar to high-quality Japanese-grown rice and has been certified as organic under Japan's new agricultural standards law. That law was enacted in May to bring order to the chaos of growers and manufacturers claiming to sell organic and natural food.

 

Of course, it helps that the company's majority shareholder -- Nippon Restaurant Enterprise Co. Ltd., which makes and sells obento and runs 300 restaurants, dining cars, station kiosks and hotel dining services -- is nearly wholly owned by East Japan Railway Corp., a publicly traded, quasi-governmental corporation.

 

NRE World Bento officials spent the initial years courting Japan's hidebound bureaucracy to win permission to import and sell California-made lunches.

 

To skirt astronomical tariffs imposed on foreign rice, NRE argued that at least 20 percent animal protein is mixed into their rice in the form of meat-based sauce. A technicality, yes. But NRE box lunches don't fall into the ``rice'' category, and slipped into the Japanese market.

 

As for the U.S. market, Schnack believes Americans are ready for Japanese-style obento. Imagine: for travelers, for soccer moms, for weary lunch-packers, an alternative to double cheeseburgers, personal pepperoni pizzas and burritos. I can't wait.

 

HOT CANTALOUPE MORSELS

WRAPPED IN PROSCIUTTO

I recently ate this as a tapa in Spain and couldn't wait to try it out on my friends at home.

 

About 6 slices of prosciutto, or Spanish jamon, cut into pieces just the right size

to wrap around the melon

1 ripe but firm cantaloupe, peeled, seeded and cut into bite-size pieces

Canola oil

 

Wrap the prosciutto slices around the cantaloupe pieces. (You can skewer them all with toothpicks, if you like, for tidier nibbling.)

 

If made ahead, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

 

When ready to serve, heat a nonstick frying pan with just a smear of oil, then add the prosciutto-melon parcels.

 

Fry quickly, until just heated through. Transfer to a plate and serve.

 

INSIDE OUT BARBECUED BEEF SHORT RIBS

Makes 4 servings

 

2 12-ounce cans or bottles of beer 1

/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

4 pounds beef chuck short ribs

 

Barbecue Sauce:

1 8-ounce can tomato sauce

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

3 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Dash ground cloves

Dash black pepper

 

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, combine beer and brown sugar. Bring to a boil. Add ribs and return to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook, turning ribs occasionally, for 45 to 50 minutes, or until ribs are fork tender.

 

Preheat grill. Meanwhile, make Barbecue Sauce.

 

To make sauce: In a small saucepan, combine tomato sauce, onion, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, cinnamon, cloves and pepper. Bring to a boil.

 

Place ribs on grill. Brush ribs with sauce. Grill over low heat, brushing with sauce and turning occasionally, about 15 minutes. Bring any remaining sauce to a boil before serving with ribs.

 

KALE AND TOMATOES WITH PASTA SHELLS

Serves 6

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup red wine or more to taste

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved, or 2 large tomatoes, chopped, with liquid

1 bunch kale leaves, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons fresh basil, coarsely chopped

1 pound medium shells, farfalle or penne, cooked according to pkg directions

Grated Parmesan cheese

 

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add wine, bell pepper, salt and pepper to taste. Cook until bell pepper softens, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes; cook 2 minutes.

 

Add kale. Leaves will overflow, but try to mix as well as you can; kale will shrink. Cook until leaves are soft but not soggy, about 6 minutes. Add basil; cook 1 minute.

 

Toss kale-tomato mixture with pasta. Season with more salt and pepper if desired. Top with cheese.

 

KEY LIMEADE

WITH BLACKBERRIES & KAFFIR LIME

This pale pink limeade, which gets its fragrance and tanginess from two varieties of lime, is Ali's idea. If Key limes aren't available, any type of limes are good in this. Also, vodka is a very nice addition.

 

1/2 to 3/4 cup Key lime juice, preferably fresh though bottled is OK

1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar, to taste

4 Key limes, thinly sliced

4 kaffir lime leaves

4 cups water

1 cup blackberries

Crushed ice

Mint leaves for garnish

 

Stir together the lime juice and sugar, mixing well, then add the lime slices and kaffir lime leaves.

 

Let sit for about 15 minutes or a bit longer, if you like.

 

Stir in the water and blackberries.

 

Serve over crushed ice. Garnish with mint. Yields about 1 1/2 quarts.

 

 

LATE SUMMER VEGETABLE SALAD

Courtesy of Gordon's House of Fine Eats

(Yield 4 portions)

 

2 small zucchini

1/4 c. goat cheese or fromage blanc

1 c. arugula

1/4 c. whole almonds

vine ripe tomatoes

2 T. mint

1 1/2 T. lemon juice

1/2 c. canola oil

2 T. extra virgin olive oil

2 T. shallots

salt and pepper to taste

 

1) fine dice shallots, macerate in lemon juice for 45 min. with salt and pepper

2) add canola and virgin oils in a slow stream, whisking constantly, adjust seasoning, set aside

3) meanwhile, finely julienne washed zucchini and set aside

4) roughly chop arugula and toss into mixing bowl

5) toast almonds until golden brown, let cool

6) add all ingredients except tomatoes to mixing bowl and toss with vinaigrette

7) serve on top of sliced and seasoned tomatoes and serve!

 

LEBANESE and ISRAELI BABA GHANOUSH

This version of the Middle-Eastern smoky eggplant salad uses a tiny amount of mayonnaise instead of tahini. Though tahini is wonderful in eggplant salad, it's nice to have this zesty, light mixture as an alternative.

 

1 Globe eggplant

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin, or to taste

Salt and pepper, to taste

Hot red pepper flakes, to taste

1 tablespoon mayonnaise, or as desired

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, or as desired

Squeeze of lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, for garnish

 

If you have a gas stove, place the eggplant directly on the burner. Let it cook, turning from time to time, until the skin chars all the way around and the flesh is tender.

 

If you have an electric stove, cook the eggplant (halved lengthwise) in a nonstick frying pan until charred and tender.

Transfer the eggplant to a bowl, cover, and let cool to room temperature.

 

Peel the eggplant, then mash the flesh with a fork, including any smoky juices. Add the garlic, cumin, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes, mayonnaise, olive oil and lemon juice; mix well. Taste for seasoning and adjust as desired.

 

Refrigerate until ready to serve. Just before serving, sprinkle with cilantro.

Serves 4 to 6.

 

LIGHT AND HEALTHY

Make cooking fun to entice children to eat well, chefs say

BY JAN NIX

 

Bill Chow, Chris Kallenberg and Angelo Konidis are tenacious guys, bent on ensuring that their preschool children eat healthful food.

 

Never mind that they are trained chefs, able to turn out haute cuisine with speed. At home, these dads slow it down, keep it simple and turn their children into sous-chefs.

 

Training kids for a future culinary career is not their goal. Instead, they use teamwork to make sure their children eat five servings a day of fruits and vegetables and learn to enjoy a variety of foods.

 

Sure, sounds easy for a professional, you think. What about the nights when the rest of us are rushed and the family is clamoring for dinner? It takes energy and patience to involve preschoolers in cooking, and few parents have time to do it every day. But culinary teamwork is a great way to have fun and raise the odds that your children will want to eat food they've helped make.

 

Healthy cooking begins at the market.

 

``The easiest, healthiest, fast food is straight from the garden,'' said Alice Waters, chef-owner of Berkeley's Chez Panisse. ``Learning about food is as important as learning the ABCs.''

 

Start lessons at farmers markets and supermarkets. Their displays of ruffly greens, knobby vegetables and rainbow-colored fruits can help introduce preschoolers to a world beyond peas and carrots. Try things with unusual names -- or colors -- that may appeal to children: baseball bat squash, yard-long beans, broccoli trees, purple potatoes or star fruit.

 

If you have more time, a trip to a ``you pick it'' farm can teach children that apples come from a tree and berries come from a bush or cane -- not green plastic baskets or white foam trays.

 

To make the connection between surf and table, visit Santa Cruz or Half Moon Bay or stop by an Asian supermarket such as 99 Ranch to see rockfish, whiskered catfish, crabs and lobsters swimming in tanks and salmon, squids and oysters resting on ice.

 

Once preschoolers are old enough to stand on a stool and reach the kitchen counter, they're old enough to help.

 

Washing salad greens or leafy vegetables is a great way to start. Kids think of it as water play. Set a very large bowl in the sink, fill it with cold water and drop greens in a few at a time for children to swish clean before you spin them dry. Give children a brush to scrub more sturdy vegetables, like potatoes, carrots, and summer squash.

 

Or teach them to wash rice, something Chow says his not-quite 3-year-old daughter enjoys. Konidis, a chef at the Santa Clara Hilton's La Fontana restaurant, lets his 3-year-old son stir cupcake batter with his hands. A spoon doesn't work, Konidis said, because it just gets lost in batter.

 

But don't expect perfection. Kids are learning, and they frequently lose interest midstream.

 

When it comes time to eat, there is no reason to prepare a different meal unless your child has a food allergy. Dietary guidelines for adults and children over the age of 2 are identical.

 

Chow, who lives in Foster City and was head chef for Martin Yan's ``Yan Can Cook'' television productions last year, says his preschool daughter likes stir-fried vegetables (one kind at a time) and rice, especially rice cooked in chicken broth rather than water. Konidis' son likes his dad's child-size pizza on French bread topped with soy pepperoni and Alpine lace cheese. And Kallenberg, a retired chef and full-time San Francisco dad, makes alphabet soup laced with vegetables for his 2- and 4-year-old daughters.

 

``Don't make servings too large,'' advises Kallenberg. ``This is an appetite turnoff.''

 

Kallenberg believes that children, like adults, enjoy food more when it is beautifully presented. When serving fruit, for instance, he fans slices of pear, banana, apple, kiwi, mango and pineapple on a blue plate to show off the colors of the fruit, and adds a sprig of mint. At the table, he and his wife often take turns telling a story involving one of the foods they are eating, working in information about where and when it is grown.

 

But Kallenberg wants his children to experience more than taste. He wants them to exercise their sense of smell, too. As a game, he lines up jars of spices such as sassafras, star anise, cloves, cinnamon sticks, basil and cumin and teaches them to identify the smells. After one session, the girls painted watercolors. While the paint was still wet, Kallenberg sprinkled the art with ground cinnamon, shaking off the excess outside. The dried pictures were hung by each girl's bed.

 

You can team up with your children in the kitchen even if cooking isn't your strong suit. As food authority Marion Cunningham told me, ``Young children have no expectations. For them taking something raw and cooking it is magic. Kids learn so easily and quickly they don't know they are learning. What they see is just the way things are done.''

 

MACARONI WITH YELLOW PEPPERS

Serves 4-6

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed

2 slices pancetta, cut 1/4 inch thick, chopped

1/2 teaspoon crushed dried red chili pepper

4 large yellow bell peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded and cut into strips

1 28-ounce can imported Italian tomatoes, drained, seeded and coarsely chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 pound imported tubetti or elbow macaroni

Small handful fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped

Freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

 

Combine olive oil, garlic, pancetta and chili pepper in a large sauté pan. Over low heat, cook until garlic is golden and pancetta has rendered some of its fat. Add yellow peppers to pan. Raise heat to medium, and sauté peppers in flavored oil for a few minutes. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper, and cook until juices thicken. Meanwhile, cook pasta in abundant boiling salted water. When al dente, drain well, place in a serving dish, and toss with sauce. Sprinkle with chopped mint and some Pecorino Romano cheese. Toss again and serve with additional grated cheese on the side.

 

MELANZANE CON RICOTTA

 

1 medium to large eggplant, thinly sliced lengthwise

3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

6 to 8 ounces ricotta cheese

5 garlic cloves, chopped

6 ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced

4 to 6 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese

About 1/4 cup thinly sliced basil leaves

 

Brown the eggplant slices quickly in the olive oil, or brush the slices with olive oil and broil on both sides until flecked with golden brown spots and tender.

 

Arrange the eggplant slices in a baking dish and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.

 

Top each with a layer of ricotta, a sprinkling of garlic, a slice or two of tomato, more garlic, and a generous sprinkling of grated cheese.

 

Broil until the cheese turns a light golden brown. Garnish with basil. Serves 4.

 

MIDDLE EASTERN SHRIMP

Makes 6 servings

 

2 14 1/2-ounce cans stewed tomatoes

1/2 cup frozen chopped onions, thawed

3 tablespoons pine nuts

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons bottled chopped garlic

3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

11/3 cups water

1 cup couscous, uncooked

3/4 teaspoon dried mint

2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 5 ounces; divided)

1 pound peeled, deveined medium shrimp

Fresh mint leaves for garnish (optional)

 

In a medium saucepan, stir together tomatoes with their liquid, onions, pine nuts, oil, vinegar, garlic, cumin, allspice, black pepper, salt and cayenne; break up tomatoes with a wooden spoon.

 

Cook, covered, over medium heat 10 to 12 minutes or until mixture is slightly thickened.

 

Meanwhile, bring water to boiling in a small saucepan. Combine couscous and dried mint in a small bowl. Add to boiling water; stir. Cover saucepan; remove from heat. Let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Uncover; fluff with fork. Stir in 1/3 cup feta cheese. Cover saucepan again.

 

Add shrimp to tomato mixture; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes, or until shrimp are cooked through.

To serve, spoon couscous onto a large platter; top with shrimp mixture and sprinkle with remaining 1/3 cup feta. Garnish with mint leaves if desired.

 

NO DOUBT VERY BAD FOR YOU BANANA PUDDING

 

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick)

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 8-ounce package cream cheese

1 cup powdered sugar

1 9-ounce container whipped topping

Bananas (2 or 3, or to taste)

2 4-serving-size packages vanilla instant pudding

3 cups milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

 

Mix flour, butter and chopped pecans and press into the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish.

 

Bake 20 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool completely.

 

Beat together cream cheese and powdered sugar and fold in whipped topping. Spread over cooled crust. Slice 2 or 3 bananas over cream cheese mixture. Beat pudding mix, milk and vanilla until thickened. Pour over bananas. Chill in refrigerator.

 

OBAACHANS STEAMED EGGPLANT WITH SPICY SAUCE

Serves 5

5 Japanese eggplants

2 tablespoons vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons sesame seed oil

1 teaspoon Japanese or Chinese chili oil (La Yu)

Pinch of bonito flakes ( katsuobushi)

 

Without cutting off tops, wash and partially peel eggplant and slice into thirds vertically. Soak in cold water 1 hour. In large pot, steam eggplant until soft, about 15 minutes. Drain. Place on a platter. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over eggplant.

 

 

 

OVEN ROASTED STURGEON IN A TOASTED CRUMB CRUST

Sturgeon is a firm, meaty fish with a rich flavor that lends itself to roasting. This simple preparation shows off the quality of the fish. Sturgeon is farmed in the Sacramento River and is caught wild in San Francisco Bay, the Delta and the Sacramento River

 

2/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1 cup milk

1 1/3 pounds fillet of sturgeon, about 1-inch thick, cut into 4 pieces

1/2 tablespoon butter for baking sheet

2 tablespoons melted butter

2 lemons, cut in half

 

Preheat oven to 550 degrees.

 

Put the breadcrumbs into a dry skillet. Toast over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the breadcrumbs turn golden. Remove from heat and stir in the salt, pepper and thyme. Spread the breadcrumbs on a plate.

 

Put the milk in a shallow baking dish and dip the fish into it, and then into the breadcrumb mixture, coating the fish thoroughly.

 

Grease a baking sheet with the 1/2 tablespoon butter. Place the fish on the baking sheet, then drizzle with the melted butter.

 

Roast for 8 to 9 minutes, until the fish is opaque and flakes easily when prodded with the tip of a knife.

 

Remove from the oven and squeeze a half lemon over each fillet. Serves 4.

 

PAN ROASTED CHICKEN BREASTS

STUFFED WITH SMASHED ALMONDS, MASCARPONE AND LEMON

 

1/2 cup of roasted almonds with coriander, chili and olive oil (recipe follows)

6 large heaped tablespoons of mascarpone cheese

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

4 large boneless chicken breasts (free range, skin on)

2 bulbs of fennel

Olive oil

Sea salt and ground black pepper

1/2 cup chardonnay

1/4 cup chicken stock

1 pound fresh spinach

 

Preheat oven at 425 degrees.

 

Blend in a food processor (or with a pestle and mortar) the roasted almonds until roughly smashed. Then add the tablespoons of mascarpone, lemon zest and juice. Blend and season.

 

Working from one side of each chicken breast, slip your fingers between the skin and the flesh, being careful not to completely remove the skin. Push one good spoonful of the almond-mascarpone paste in the gap of each breast, then press the skin firmly back, saving any leftover paste.

 

Using a hot nonstick pan, drizzle it with a little olive oil and place the breasts skin side down. After a minute, when they are lightly golden, turn them to seal the other side. (If you don't have a pan with a metal handle, transfer to a roasting tray at this point.) Place in the pre-heated oven for around 10 minutes, until cooked.

 

Meanwhile, cut the fennel in half lengthwise, then into thin slices. Throw into a medium hot pan with a little olive oil and seasoning, stir in a couple of tablespoons of water. Cover and leave to cook slowly -- about 5 to 10 minutes.

Note: The cook time for the fennel overlaps the cook time for the sauce.

 

When the chicken is cooked, remove to a warm plate and rest for 5 minutes, while you move the pan or tray back on the heat and add the glass of wine and stock. Allow to cook down to almost nothing, not forgetting to scrape the pan bottom for all its goodness.

 

Finish the sauce by stirring in the rest of the mascarpone and any remaining paste, keep on the heat so it continues to simmer until it coats the back of a spoon. Season to taste.

 

By this point the fennel should be just cooked. Season and chuck in the spinach, leave to wilt down. Serve the chicken with the fennel and spinach, drizzle the sauce over and around the chicken. Try with a nice glass of chardonnay.

 

 

PERCIATELLI ALLE SARDE

Serves 4-6

2 cans boneless sardines packed in olive oil, drained

2 bulbs fennel, cut into thin julienne (see Note)

1/4 cup minced wild fennel tops or reserved feathery tops from bulb fennel

2 anchovy fillets, minced

1 tablespoon chives, minced

2 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted

2 tablespoons golden raisins, plumped in hot water

Juice of 1 lemon

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt to taste

Pinch of red chili pepper flakes

Pinch of saffron threads, soaked in 2 tablespoons warm water

1 pound imported perciatelli (or substitute bucatini, linguine or spaghetti), broken

into 3-inch lengths

 

Combine all ingredients except pasta in medium mixing bowl. Let marinate, preferably at room temperature, for at least 4 hours. If refrigeration is necessary, remove from refrigerator and bring back to room temperature at least 1 hour before serving. Cook pasta in abundant boiling salted water until it is al dente. Quickly drain and place in shallow serving bowl. Toss with sardine-fennel mixture. Serve pasta hot or at room temperature.

 

Note: Look for the very round female fennel bulbs. They are much sweeter than the flat male bulbs.

 

RANCH STYLE PINQUITO BEANS

Makes 10 cups

 

1 pound dried pinquito beans (or small red beans)

2 14 1/2-ounce cans beef broth (not condensed)

41/2 cups water

1 pound ground beef

2 onions, chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

4 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1 7-ounce can diced green chilies

1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro leaves

3 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon dried oregano leaves

1 teaspoon salt

 

Place beans, beef broth and water in 8-quart Dutch oven; cover. Heat to boiling; reduce heat and simmer 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

 

In large skillet, sauté ground beef, onions and garlic; drain. Add beef mixture to beans along with tomatoes, chilies, cilantro, chili powder, oregano and salt. Simmer covered for 1 hour.

 

If a thinner consistency is desired, add more beef broth.

 

Serve with Barbecued Tri-Tip.

 

ROASTED ALMONDS

WITH CORIANDER, CHILI AND OLIVE OIL

 

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cups blanched almonds

1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed

1 to 3 small dried red chili peppers

2 generous pinches of sea salt

 

Add the olive oil and almonds to a hot sauté pan. Sauté and lightly toast the almonds until golden brown, shaking the pan regularly to color them evenly and accentuate their nutty flavor.

 

Crumble in the coriander and chili to taste and add the sea salt. Toss over and serve hot on a large plate.

 

ROASTED RED PEPPER SOUP

WITH HOMEMADE CROUTONS

Fall is the time when peppers are at their sweetest, and this delicately creamed soup highlights them.

 

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

6-inch length of baguette, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

5 large red bell peppers, or other sweet red peppers

1 large ripe red tomato

1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 bay leaf

1/4 cup minced fresh basil

6 ounces heavy cream

Basil sprigs, for garnish

 

Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a skillet. When the oil is hot, add the bread cubes. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Fry the cubes on all sides until golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to several layers of paper towels to drain.

 

Prepare a fire in a charcoal grill. Rub the peppers and the tomato with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.

 

Place the peppers and tomato on the grill. Grill the tomato until the skin is slightly charred and has begun to split. Remove to a plate.

 

Continue to grill the peppers until charred black all over, about 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the peppers to a plastic bag and let sweat for 5 minutes, or up to half an hour. Slip the blackened skins from the peppers, seed them and remove the ribs. Cut into slices, then into 1/2-inch pieces. Slip the skin from the tomato, cut the tomato into quarters, then seed by squeezing each quarter. Cut the pulp into 1/2-inch pieces.

 

Put the broth into a saucepan. Add the peppers and tomato, the bay leaf, half of the basil and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the color is a rich red and the tomato is thoroughly cooked. Remove the bay leaf.

 

Process the soup in batches in a food processor or blender. It should be nearly pureed, but not quite, with some small bits left to give texture.

 

Return the soup to the saucepan and stir in the cream. Simmer for about 10 minutes over low heat.

 

Stir in the remaining basil, then ladle the soup into bowls, garnishing each with a few croutons and a sprig of basil. Serves 4 to 6.

 

SALAD OF WARM FIGS WITH ARUGULA

& ST. GEORGE CHEESE

Arugula, figs and cheese make a wonderful combination. You can substitute other fruit that is in season, such as pears, grapes or persimmons. St. George,

a firm, yet creamy cheese locally made in Santa Rosa, blends well with a wide variety of fruit, but another local cheese could be used as well.

 

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

8 ripe figs, still slightly firm

3 cups baby arugula

1 cup bite-size romaine lettuce leaves

2 ounces St. George cheese, crumbled

 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

 

Combine 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, the vinegars, salt and pepper in a salad bowl; mix gently. Set aside.

 

Put the figs in a baking dish and drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over them, turning them to coat.

 

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the figs are shiny and the skins have just begun to crack. Remove from the oven and cut each fig in half.

Put the arugula and romaine leaves in the salad bowl and toss with the vinaigrette. Add the cheese and toss again.

 

Divide the salad among plates and garnish with the warm figs. Serves 4.

 

SAUERKRAUT CRUSTS

Makes approximately 20 crackers

 

2 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

12 ounces sauerkraut, drained and squeezed dry

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

 

Sift together flour and salt. Cut in shortening until mixture looks like coarse meal. Drain and squeeze the sauerkraut, then work into the flour mixture. You may need to add more flour to obtain the right consistency; however, like pie crust, be careful not to overwork the dough, which should be lumpy. Roll thin onto a cookie sheet.

 

Bake until golden brown, approximately 20 minutes. Sauerkraut will be slightly darker than the dough.

 

Cool and break apart. This makes a nice accompaniment to a dinner salad or with cheese as an appetizer.

 

Note: Flavorful additions to this recipe might include cracked black pepper, kosher salt, chives or dry aged cheese.

 

SAUTEED BELL PEPPERS

and SUMMER SQUASH WITH BLACK OLIVES

 

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 onions, thinly sliced

4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

1 red bell pepper, stemmed, deribbed and thinly sliced

1 green bell pepper, stemmed, deribbed and thinly sliced

2 zucchini, trimmed and diced

2 yellow summer squash, trimmed and diced

1/2 to 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

3 tablespoons tomato puree

Pinch of sugar, if needed

15 black Mediterranean-type olives, such as oil cured Italian ones

Salt and pepper, to taste

 

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté for 9 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are golden and soft. Add the garlic and bell peppers and sauté until they, too, have softened. Push the pepper mixture to the side of the pan. Add the green and yellow squash; sauté until almost tender, then incorporate the pepper mixture.

 

Add the thyme, tomato puree and sugar. Cook for a minute or two, then add the olives and heat through. Season with salt and pepper (olives are salty so you might not need any salt at all). Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 5

 

SIMMERED WINTER SQUASH

Serves 4 or 5

1 1/2 pound kabocha (Japanese pumpkin) or acorn squash

1 1/2 cup dashi (see Note)

3 tablespoons mirin (sweet cooking wine)

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 tablespoon soy sauce

 

Wash kabocha. With a heavy knife, cut it in half. You may have to hammer on the knife. Remove seeds and cut squash into 1 1/2-by-2-inch chunks. Place kabocha in a pot with thicker pieces at bottom. Pour in enough dashi to come up to 2/3 the height of kabocha. Add half the mirin, sugar, salt and soy. Cover with a drop-lid or baking paper and boil. Lower heat to medium-low; simmer 15-20 minutes. Taste and add more seasonings. Continue cooking until kabocha is tender and about 1/3 the liquid is left. Turn off heat and let kabocha absorb liquid for about 10-15 minutes.

 

Note: To make dashi, wipe a 1 1/2-inch-square piece of kombu (kelp) with a wet cloth; bring it just to a boil in 2 cups of water. Remove kombu.

 

STEAK AND SCALLION ROLLS

Serves 4

1/4 pound sirloin or flank steak

2 scallions, including 3 inches of green stems, cut in half lengthwise, then cut

into 4-inch pieces

1/4 cup teriyaki sauce

 

Place steak between sheets of wax paper and, with a meat pounder or the side of a cleaver, pound to 1/8-inch thickness, 8 inches long. Cut in half crosswise. Arrange a strip of scallions down the length of each piece of meat. Starting with wide sides of meat, roll pieces into tight cylinders. Secure seams with a toothpick.

 

Preheat broiler (or barbecue). With chopsticks or tongs, dip rolls in teriyaki sauce, then broil 3 inches from heat for about 3 minutes. Dip into sauce again, broil other side 1 minute. Remove toothpicks. Trim ends of rolls neatly with a sharp knife and cut rolls into 1-inch pieces. Stand each piece on end, to expose scallions.

 

STEAMED LAMB DUMPLINGS

WITH NORTH AFRICAN FLAVORS & TOMATO-GINGER SAUCE

 

The Dumplings

1 pound lean ground lamb

4 to 5 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, or as desired

1/2 onion, grated

Large pinch paprika

Large pinch cinnamon

Pinch ground cardamom

1 tablespoon (or so) salsa or other spicy condiment

Juice of 1/4 lemon

Salt and pepper, to taste

3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

16 gyoza or wonton wrappers

Oil for steamer

Spinach leaves

 

The Sauce

4 tablespoons butter

8 tomatoes, cored, peeled and diced

1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger

Salt, to taste

Pinch cayenne

Sugar, to taste

3 green onions, thinly sliced

 

Instructions: Combine the lamb with the garlic, cumin, onion, paprika, cinnamon, cardamom, salsa, lemon juice, salt and pepper and cilantro. Mix well.

 

To form the dumplings: Place a gyoza wrapper in the palm of your left hand (or right hand if left-handed). Into center of wrapper, place about 1 tablespoon of the filling, then bring edges of noodle up around sides of meat. It should fold and make creases, and stick to the meat. Continue making dumplings until filling is used up. Freeze any leftover wrappers.

 

Oil the bottom of a steamer basket (or baskets in a multi-layered steamer), then line with a layer of spinach leaves. Arrange the dumplings over the spinach.

 

Bring the water in the bottom of a steamer or in a wok to a boil over high heat. Place the filled basket(s) on top, cover, and steam the dumplings for about 7 minutes, or until the meat is cooked through. Take care that the water in the bottom of the steamer does not evaporate.

 

To make the sauce: Heat the butter, tomatoes and ginger together in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Season with salt, cayenne and sugar. Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to break down and are completely heated through. Remove from heat.

 

Arrange the dumplings and cooked spinach leaves on a serving plate and pour the tomato-ginger sauce all around. Garnish with green onions. Serves 4.

 

STIR FRY FOR SMALL FRY

Makes 4 adult servings

2 scallions, thinly sliced

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger root

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

2 tablespoons water

1/4 teaspoon light sesame oil

3 tablespoons peanut oil, divided use

3/4 pound (1 large) skinless boneless chicken breast, cut into 1/4-inch strips

4 cups steamed vegetables (carrots, broccoli, zucchini, celery, snow peas, etc.)

1/2 medium red bell pepper, cut into thin strips

 

Combine scallions, garlic, ginger, soy and hoisin sauces, water and sesame oil in a small bowl.

 

Separately, heat 2 tablespoons of peanut oil in a large non-stick frying pan or wok over high heat for 2 minutes. Add chicken, taking care not to crowd pan. Cook in 2 batches if necessary.

 

Cook about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Do not overcook, or chicken will get dry. Remove chicken from pan and keep warm. Add last tablespoon of peanut oil to pan, then add steamed vegetables and pepper strips. Cook over medium heat 2 minutes, stirring constantly, just to heat vegetables through. Return chicken to pan and add reserved scallions, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, water and sesame oil. Toss to blend flavors and reheat chicken. Remove ingredients with a slotted spoon or tongs to a serving platter. Cook juices remaining in pan for 1 minute until slightly reduced, stirring gently. Pour sauce over stir fry; serve immediately with rice or pasta.

 

 

SWEET PEPPER CORN BREAD

Makes 12 servings

 

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup cornmeal

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

1 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup butter, melted

1 to 2 fresh jalapeno chilies, seeded and minced (see note)

1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper

1 cup fresh or frozen corn, thawed

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

 

Grease a 9-inch square pan; set aside.

 

In a medium bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt.

 

In another medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs, then stir in the buttermilk and melted butter.

 

Form a well in center of the dry ingredients, add milk mixture all at once and stir just enough to combine. Stir in jalapeno chilies, bell pepper and corn.

 

Spoon batter into greased pan.

 

Bake 20 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

 

Place pan on a wire rack. Cool 10 minutes, then cut into squares and remove from pan.

 

Note: Wear gloves when handling fresh chilies; the oils can cause a burning sensation on your skin.

 

TEXAS BARBECUED BEEF BRISKET

Makes 15 to 18 servings

 

Brisket Seasoning:

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 tablespoons salt

1 tablespoon granulated garlic

1 tablespoon granulated onion

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

11/2 teaspoons dry mustard

1 bay leaf, crumbled

 

Basic Beer Mop:

1 12-ounce can or bottle of beer

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 medium onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon Brisket Seasoning

 

Texas Barbecue Sauce:

1 cup strong black coffee

1 cup Worcestershire sauce

1 cup ketchup

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

3 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons salt

2 cups chopped onions

1/4 cup minced hot chilies (see note)

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 beef brisket, 10 to 12 pounds (leave fat on; will be trimmed later)

 

To make seasoning: In a small bowl, combine chili powder, salt, granulated garlic, granulated onion, black pepper, sugar, dry mustard and bay leaf. Reserve 1 tablespoon for Basic Beer Mop.

 

To make mop: Combine beer, vinegar, water, oil, onion, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon Brisket Seasoning; set aside.

 

To make sauce: Combine coffee, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, chili powder, salt, onions, chilies and garlic in a saucepan and simmer 25 minutes. Strain or puree in a blender or food processor. Makes 5 cups. Refrigerate between uses.

 

To make brisket: Rub brisket thoroughly with Brisket Seasoning.

 

Place brisket on preheated gas or charcoal grill or water smoker. Cook with indirect heat, making sure that brisket is not above any part of the fire or heat source. Close grill cover.

 

Cook until internal temperature is 165 degrees and meat is fork-tender, applying Basic Beef Mop to meat periodically with barbecue mop or brush during cooking. Allow approximately 1 hour per pound of brisket. The exterior of the meat will be very black.

 

Remove from the grill, trim off excess fat and slice very thinly across the grain. Serve with Texas Barbecue Sauce, if desired.

 

Note: Wear gloves when handling fresh chilies; the oils can cause a burning sensation on your skin.

 

TOMATO AND FISH STEW

 

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into thin slices (about 21/2 cups)

1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth

1/2 cup water

11/2 pounds snapper, sea bass or other firm white fish fillets, cut in 2-inch cubes

2 medium, fully ripened fresh tomatoes, cut in wedges (about 23/4 cups)

1/2 teaspoon salt

Pepper to taste

8 slices Italian bread, toasted or grilled

Chopped fresh parsley for garnish (optional)

Microwave directions: In an 11-by-7-inch microwavable dish, combine oil, onion and garlic. Partially cover; microwave on high for 4 minutes; stir in zucchini, wine and 1/2 cup water.

 

Microwave, partially covered, for 4 minutes. Stir in fish, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Microwave, partially covered, until the tomatoes soften and release some of their juices and the fish is just cooked, about 7 minutes (gently stirring halfway through cooking).

 

Place a toasted bread slice in each of 4 shallow soup bowls; spoon stew over bread. Serve with a second slice of bread. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

 

Stove-top directions: In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook and stir until tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and zucchini; cook and stir until tender, about 5 minutes. Add wine, water, fish, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, covered, until fish is cooked and tomatoes soften and release some of their juices, about 10 minutes. Serve over and with toasted Italian bread slices.

 

 

TUNA AND WHITE BEANS WITH BITTER GREENS

 

1 bunch arugula

1 small head curly endive (8 to 10 ounces)

1 head radicchio (about 6 ounces)

2 15-ounce cans cannellini or other white beans

4 ounces red onion or sweet onion such as Walla Walla or Vidalia (1/2 medium)

8 sprigs parsley, preferably flat-leaf

1/4 cup capers, drained

2 6-ounce cans albacore tuna packed in water

11/2 lemons

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salt

Freshly ground pepper

Fill the sink with cold water while you remove any withered or yellowed leaves from the greens.

 

Cut the arugula crosswise into 3/4-inch-wide strips, discarding the stems. Cut the endive crosswise into 3/4-inch-wide strips, discarding the bottom 1 inch. Cut off and discard the bottom 1/2 inch from the radicchio. Halve the remainder lengthwise and, with the flat side down, cut each half lengthwise into 1/2-inch-wide strips.

 

Wash the salad greens briefly but vigorously in the sink to remove grit. Spin dry in a salad spinner. Remove any excess moisture with paper towels.

 

While the greens dry, open the cans of beans into a colander. Rinse and let drain. Cut off a thin slice from the top and bottom of the onion, halve lengthwise, peel each half, and cut crosswise into thin half-moon slices. Chop the parsley leaves. Put the beans, onion, parsley and capers in a large mixing bowl along with salad greens.

 

Open the cans of tuna into the colander over a small bowl to catch the drained liquid. Flake the tuna and add to the mixing bowl.

 

Juice the lemons. Add the lemon juice to the drained tuna liquid along with the olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and pour over the ingredients in the salad bowl. Toss well and serve.

 

TUSCAN TAILS

Makes 6 servings

 

2 tablespoons capers, drained

6 cloves garlic (divided)

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (2 lemons)

1 teaspoon lemon peel (yellow part only)

1 tablespoon olive oil

36 extra-large shrimp (divided)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter (divided)

2 tablespoons minced shallots

2 teaspoons anchovy paste

1/2 cup dry white wine

5 tablespoons whipping cream

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley

 

Couscous:

11/2 cups seafood or chicken stock or broth

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

11/2 cups instant couscous, uncooked

 

Mince capers. With back of knife, smash 4 cloves of the garlic with salt to form paste. Transfer into glass bowl along with the lemon juice, lemon peel and oil.

 

Peel shrimp and butterfly by slicing 3/4 of the way through rounded side. Open shrimp and spread with mixture. Let stand 30 minutes.

 

Meanwhile, soak 12 wooden skewers in water. Prepare grill to medium-high heat.

 

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Mince remaining 2 cloves of garlic. Sauté garlic with shallots for 2 minutes. Add the anchovy paste and the wine. Boil for 1 minute, then whisk in the whipping cream, parsley and remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Keep sauce warm.

 

Thread shrimp on skewers. Grill shrimp 3 minutes per side. Serve 2 skewers of shrimp on each plate, drizzle with sauce and serve with prepared couscous.

 

To make couscous: Bring stock or broth to a boil in a medium saucepan along with the oil and garlic. Add the couscous, remove from heat, and cover with lid. Set aside 5 minutes, fluff with fork.

 

SHALOM FROM SPIKE & JAMIE



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