Weekly Main Course Recipes:  August 30, 2013

One:  Pasta with Shrimp (Prawns), Avocado Sauce                              Time: 25 minutes
   This is loosely based on a recipe from a Williams-Sonoma book. The avocado makes a wonderful, creamy sauce for the pasta with only the 'good' fat. You can use heavy cream in place of the milk if you crave that richness, but I don't.  It really doesn't need it!  Grilling the shrimp adds another dimension to the dish, but you could just poach them quickly in a skillet in a 1/2 inch of water with a bit of lemon and pepper or use pre-cooked .

12oz (360gr) large shrimp (prawns)
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs olive oil
pasta, 4oz (125gr) dry fettuccini,  OR 1 1/4 cups dry bite size, such as farfalle
3 tbs salad olive oil
4 tbs chicken stock
1 tbs tarragon white wine vinegar
1 avocado
4 tbs milk  - or cream if you like, milk is on the shopping list
2 tbs chopped fresh chives.

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and rinse lightly with cool water
Clean shrimp if necessary. If not, rinse and drain.  Mix chili powder, garlic, lemon and olive oil in a bowl.  Add shrimp and toss to coat. 
Cut avocado and remove pit (see techniques). Scoop it out of the shell and put it into your blender.  Add chicken stock, vinegar and purée until smooth.  Add oil and purée just until blended, then add milk and purée a few seconds more. 
Cook shrimp in a grill pan on the barbecue grill over medium heat for 3 - 4 minutes, until they start to curl and turn opaque.  You could also sauté in a skillet in another tablespoon of olive oil.  Either way, when done remove.  It's not necessary to have them hot for this dish. 
To finish: Put pasta into a large bowl and add avocado sauce, shrimp and chives.  Mix gently and serve.

Two:  Grilled Glazed Lamb Chops                        Preparation and cooking time: 30 minutes
   We don't normally marinate lamb chops, but this add a light flavor and a slightly caramelized crust to the finished chop.  If you are not ready for the barbecue grill, they can be broiled (grilled in the oven) or pan-fried.

4 - 6 center-cut lamb chops - depending on size, 16oz (480gr) total   substitute pork chops
3 tbs sherry
2 tbs sherry wine vinegar
1 tbs honey
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp dried rosemary

Mix all ingredients except chops in a small bowl.  Put chops in a dish large enough to hold them in a single layer.  Pour marinade over, turn chops a few times to coat well, and set aside.  Can marinate for several hours in the refrigerator or for 20 minute at room temperature. 
Cook on barbecue grill for 2 - 5 minutes per side depending on thickness and desired degree of doneness.  We do ours on a hot grill 2 minutes per side for medium rare.  When you think they might be close take one off, cut into center and peak.  You can always put them back on to cook more - you cannot undo...  When done to your liking remove from heat and serve. 
Or you can broil or sauté in non-stick skillet for about the same amount of time - until done.  Pork chops will take 6 - 8 minutes per side.

Three:   Ratatouille                                        Preparation and cooking time:   80 minutes
     There are as many recipes for Ratatouille as there are cooks who make it.  And as many methods.  Some call for cooking it all together in one pot for hours, some in separate pots for 30 minutes, some for sautéing first, others for roasting.  This is my way,  I think sautéing the vegetables first highlights their individual flavors.  The one universal is the list of vegetables (although not their ratio) and stirring in fresh basil at the end! Yes, there is a lot of olive oil - it's part of the recipe, not just a cooking medium.

1 small - medium aubergine (eggplant), about 8oz, 240gr
2 small - medium courgette (zucchini), about 14oz, 420gr, total
1 1/2 large bell peppers, I used 1/2 green and 1 yellow
2 medium onions 
4 cloves of garlic
5 medium tomatoes
5 laurel (bay) leaves
2 tbs chopped fresh thyme
big handful of fresh basil leaves
4 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper  optional

Roughly chop the onions and peppers. Mince the garlic.  Cube the aubergine.  Slice the courgette in half the long way, then in 1/4" slices.  Peel and roughly chop the tomato.
Heat 1 tbs oil in large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the onions and sauté until starting to brown.  Add garlic and sauté for a minute or two longer. Put onions and garlic (and cooking oil) into a large pot.
Put the pot (with the onions) on low heat.
Return the skillet to heat and add 1 tbs oil.  Add peppers and sauté until starting to brown and blister.  Put peppers and oil on top of onions.
Return the skillet to heat and add 1 tbs oil.  Add courgette and sauté until starting to brown and soften.  Put courgette on top of peppers.
Return the skillet to heat and add 1 tbs oil.  Add aubergine and sauté until starting to brown on all sides.  Put aubergine on top of courgette.
Put bay and thyme on top of aubergine.  Put tomatoes on top of herbs.
At this point you can add a bit of salt and pepper if you like.
Give it a gentle stir or two, cover and increase heat slightly until you hear it simmering.  Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes.  Stir it every once in awhile. When ready to serve, remove from heat, tear the basil leaves, stir in and serve.

Note: It took me about 35 minutes to do the chopping and sauteing; everything was tender and well done in 30 minutes but I let it simmer for 45.
Note 2:  Peel tomatoes by blanching in boiling water for 30 seconds first.  The peels slip off easily.

Four:  Grilled Chicken Breasts, Pimiento Sauce     Preparation, cooking time: 30 minutes
     Marinated, grilled chicken breasts with a drizzle of Pimiento Sauce..... Simple and delicious take on barbecue sauce. You can warm it slightly if you like.... I didn't. 

2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbs red wine vinegar
2 tbs ketchup
2 tbs olive oil
1/3 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp oregano
Pimiento Sauce:
2oz (60gr) pimientos
3 tbs ketchup
1 tbs Balsamic vinegar
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Tabasco or hot pepper sauce   optional

Chicken: In small bowl whisk together Worcestershire, vinegar, ketchup, oil, garlic and oregano for marinade.  Put chicken breasts in glass baking dish and pour marinade over.  Let marinate for 15 - 20 minutes or up to 2 hours.
Cook on barbecue grill for 8 - 12 minutes per side or until done (test - take a peak).
OR sauté in nonstick skillet for 8 - 10 minutes a side until nicely browned and done.
Pimiento Sauce:  Put all ingredients for the sauce in a blender and purée.  Add Tabasco if you like it hot. 
To finish: When chicken is done, remove and slice into 1/2" (1.25cm) slices.  Arrange on small platter, drizzle with  Pimiento Sauce and serve. 

Five:  Grilled Dijon Burgers with Onions                  Preparation and cooking time:  30 minutes
  Made with hot, spicy Dijon-style mustard and served with grilled sweet onions, these are not your normal burgers! Use more or less mustard if you like... you could even add a drop or 2 of Tabasco...

12oz (360gr) ground beef (mince)
2 tbs dried breadcrumbs
1 1/2 tbs Dijon-style mustard
1 tbs red wine
1 tsp garlic powder
1 large red or sweet onion
Basting Sauce
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs Dijon mustard
2 tbs red wine
1 tbs Worcestershire Sauce

Burgers: Mix breadcrumbs, mustard, red wine and garlic powder.  Add beef and mix thoroughly - hands work best.  Shape into 3 or 4 patties.  Oil hinged basket.  Place patties in basket and cook on barbecue grill over direct heat for 4 - 5 minutes per side, basting each side with sauce. 
Or sauté in nonstick skillet for same amount of time, basting. 
Onions: Slice onion into 1/2" (1.25 cm) thick slices. Brush both sides of slices with basting sauce and put on a mesh grill pan (the idea is not to have the slices fall through the grate into the fire....) Cook over direct heat 4 - 5 minutes per side, turning once or until they have a nice color and are crisp-tender.
Or sauté in nonstick skillet for same amount of time, basting. 
Basting sauce: Put olive oil, mustard, red wine and Worcestershire in a small bowl, stir well to combine.

Six:   Chicken, Green Bean, Tomato Pasta, Peanut Dressing      Time:  30 minutes
    This is a stir-fried salad..... Serve warm, not hot, for best flavors

1 1/4 cups pasta
2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
3 medium shallots
2 cloves garlic
6oz (180gr) green beans
2 yellow or red tomatoes  
2 tbs fresh parsley
1 tbs Teriyaki sauce
1 tbs olive oil
Peanut Dressing:
2 tbs creamy peanut butter
2 tbs sherry vinegar
2 tbs Teriyaki sauce
2 tbs good olive oil

Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain.
Stir-Fry: Top and tail beans, cut into 1 1/2" (4cm) lengths.  Clean and slice shallots. Mince garlic. Cut chicken into bite-size pieces. 
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots, beans and stir-fry 3 minutes. Add garlic, stir-fry another minute.  Remove vegetables to a pasta bowl, add Teriyaki sauce and stir to combine. 
Return skillet to heat, add chicken and stir-fry until chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes.  Add to vegetables.
Peanut Dressing:  Put all ingredients into a medium bowl and whisk well to combine.
To finish: Snip parsley; cut tomatoes into large chunks and add both to bowl along with pasta. Add Peanut Dressing and stir to combine.

Suggested menus:

One:  Caramelized Shallot and Chevre Pastries
Pasta with Shrimp (Prawn) and Avocado Sauce
Warm Green Bean Salad
  Chickpea, Egg & Herb Salad / Parmesan Crisps
Grilled Glazed Lamb Chops
Potato Salad with Pimento Dressing
Three:  Grilled Dijon Burgers
Cucumber Salad
Four:   Grilled Chicken Breasts with Pimiento Sauce
Ratatouille on Couscous
Cucumber Salad
Five:  Grilled Sausages with Pepper and Onions
Summer Basmati Rice Pilaf
Cold Ratatouille Salad
Six:  Chicken, Green Bean and Tomato Pasta with Peanut Dressing

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