Weekly Main Course Recipes:  February 1, 2013

One:  Baked Salmon with Creamed Onions       Preparation and cooking time:   30 minutes  
    Salmon is a rich fish, full of heart healthy fats.  The slightly sweet, slightly tart flavors of the creamed onions balances the rich taste of the fish.

2 salmon fillets or steaks, 12oz total weight (350gr total)
2 tsp Herbes de Provence
1 tbs plus 1 tsp olive oil
1 1/2 medium onions
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup chicken stock
3 tbs Greek Yogurt

For the salmon:  Brush salmon with 1 tsp olive oil.  Sprinkle with herbs.  Put salmon on a baking sheet and bake in 400F (200C) oven for 15 - 17 minutes, depending on thickness.  Salmon will be done when it flakes easily, slightly pink in the center is fine. 
The onions: Peel onions, cut in half and slice. Heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until very tender and about half are well-browned, 12 - 18 minutes.  Add white wine, chicken stock and scrape up any browned bits from the skillet.  Simmer, uncovered, until only 2 tbs of liquid remains in the skillet.  Remove from heat, stir in yogurt.
To finish: Remove salmon from skin if needed and place on plates. Spoon Creamed Onions on the side and serve.

Two:   Braised Lamb, Potatoes and Onions         Preparation and cooking time: 75 minutes
     Casseroles and slow-cooked dishes are very popular in Spain.  Usually made using pork or lamb, with potatoes and onions slowly simmered with the meat, they are served from the cazuela or baking dish.

14oz (400gr) boneless lamb, shoulder or leg
1/4 cup flour
1 tbs paprika
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 tsp rosemary
1 tbs olive oil
2 medium potatoes

In plastic food bag mix flour and paprika.  Cut lamb into 1 1/2" (4cm) pieces and trim excess fat.  Add lamb to flour and mix to coat well.  Heat oil in a heavy pot or Dutch oven with tight-fitting lid.  Add lamb (reserve any remaining flour) and brown on all sides.  Slice onion; mince garlic.  Remove lamb and sauté the onion and garlic until tender and starting to brown, about 7 minutes.  Sprinkle with any remaining flour/paprika and stir well.  Return the lamb to the pot, add herbs and stock.  Cover, turn heat to low and braise for 30 minutes.  Cut potatoes into 1" (2.5cm) chunks.  Add to the pot, stir well and continue to simmer 30 minutes longer, until potatoes are done.  If it starts to dry out add a bit more chicken stock or water.  When potatoes are done, remove bay leaves and serve.

Three:   Beef and Broccoli Lasagne                      Preparation and cooking time:   60 minutes
    This is a hearty lasagne with a vegetable Béchamel sauce, filled with carrots, onions, mushrooms and broccoli and layered with fresh mozzarella cheese.

The vegetables:
2 carrots
1 small head broccoli, about 4oz (125gr)
1 onion
6oz (175gr) mushrooms, trimmed
1 tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil
2 tbs flour
1 1/4 cups (10oz, 300ml) milk
The beef:
2 cloves garlic
12oz (350gr) ground beef (mince)
2 cups (15oz, 450gr) tomatoes
1 cup (8oz, 240ml) tomato sauce
1 tbs paste
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tbs olive oil
The rest:
8oz (250gr) package fresh mozzarella (4oz, 125gr net weight)
1/4 cup (1oz, 30gr) shredded cheese
1/2 cup (2oz, 60gr) shredded Parmesan
12 - 15 sheets 'no-cook' lasagna noodles

The vegetables:  Roughly chop the broccoli.  Peel and chop the carrot and onion.  Trim and chop the mushrooms.  Heat butter and oil in a large skillet.  Add vegetables and sauté until tender, 12 - 15 minutes. Add flour and stir well.  Slowly add milk, stirring constantly as it thickens, until it is all added.  Continue stirring until it just starts to simmer.  Remove from heat. 
The tomato sauce: Mince garlic.  Heat oil a large nonstick skillet.  Add garlic and sauté briefly.  Add beef and brown well, breaking it up.  Open tomatoes and roughly chop, reserving juices. Add tomatoes, juices, sauce, paste and herbs to beef.  Bring to a simmer and let cook, uncovered 5 minutes.
The rest:  Slice the mozzarella as thinly as possible.  Shred the cheeses.

Now you are ready to assemble:  in a 10" (25cm) square (or 11 x 9) baking dish, or so... make the following layers:

1/3 of the meat / tomato sauce
3 noodles,  you may have to break another one up to get good coverage 

1/2 of the vegetable / Béchamel sauce
1/2 of the mozzarella
3 noodles, breaking another as needed

1/3 of the meat / tomato sauce
3 noodles, breaking another as needed

1/2 of the vegetable / Béchamel sauce
1/2 of the mozzarella
3 noodles, breaking another as needed

1/3 of the meat / tomato sauce
1/4 cup shredded cheese

Cover and bake 425F (215C) for 25 minutes, or until noodles are done.  Test in center with a sharp knife.  Uncover, sprinkle with Parmesan and bake 5 minutes longer to brown cheese.  Remove and let rest for 5 minutes.  Cut into squares (or oblongs) and serve.

Four:  Chicken Breasts Balsamic                               Preparation and cooking time:   25 minutes
    The little bit of brown sugar tempers the vinegar nicely.  If you don't have Balsamic you can use sherry or red wine vinegar - but increase the sugar to 2 tsp.  I cut the chicken breasts in half for a nicer serving portion.

2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
1/2 onion
1 clove garlic
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tbs cornstarch (maizena) dissolved in 1 tbs chicken stock or water.

Finely chop onion and mince garlic.  Heat oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chicken breasts and brown on both sides, about 10 minutes.  Add onion, garlic and sauté 5 minutes longer.  Add stock, vinegar and sugar, cover, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.  Thicken sauce with cornstarch mixture (you may not need all of it) and serve.

Five:  Pork Chops with Mushroom Pan Sauce     Preparation and cooking time:  35 minutes
     Braised pork chops, with a simple pan sauce of mushrooms, onions and chili powder. 

2 - 4 pork chops, depending on size, 12oz (350gr) total weight if boneless
4oz (120gr) mushrooms
1 small red onion
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp chili powder
1 tbs Balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup (4oz, 125ml) beef stock
1 tbs tomato paste

Clean mushrooms, slice thickly.  Roughly chop onion. 
Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Add pork chops and brown, about 5 minutes per side.  Remove. 
Reduce heat to medium.  Add chili powder and sauté briefly, about 30 seconds.  Add onions and sauté 3 minutes.  Add mushrooms and sauté 5 minutes longer.  Add stock and deglaze pan, stirring up any browned bits.  Add vinegar, tomato paste and stir well.  Return chops to pan, cover, reduce heat and simmer until chops are cooked through and tender, about 15 minutes longer. Uncover and simmer until sauce is slightly thickened.  Serve.

Six:   Chicken Paprikas over Pasta                             Preparation and cooking time:   35 minutes
     A classic Hungarian dish, modified for a quick, mid-week dinner: fragrant with lots of sweet paprika, tomatoes and peppers and using quick-cooking chicken breasts rather than a whole chicken.  You can add a few hotter peppers if for more bite.... Or use hot paprika.

2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
1 green or red bell pepper
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tbs paprika
1 tsp chili powder
1 tbs olive oil
15oz (450GR) whole tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup yogurt, crème fraiche or sour cream
1 tbs cornstarch (maizena) dissolved in 2 tbs water
1 1/4 cups pasta - farfalle, rigatoni, penne - or, to be more traditional, egg noodles.

Cook according to package directions. Drain.
Open and drain tomatoes, reserving sauce for another use.  Clean pepper.  Roughly chop pepper, onion and tomatoes.  Finely chop the garlic.  Cut the chicken breasts into 1 inch (2.5 cm) squares. 
In medium saucepan heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the paprika, chili powder, and sauté for 1 - 2 minutes.  Add the pepper, onion and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes.  Add the chicken and sauté for 5 minutes.  Add the stock and tomatoes, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.  Add cornstarch mixture and stir until thickened.  Stir in yogurt.  Spoon over pasta and serve.

Suggested menus:

One:  Roman Egg Soup
Baked Salmon with Creamed, Browned Onions
Basmati Rice Pilaf
Broccoli with Mustard Sauce
  Warm Endive Salad
Braised Lamb and Potatoes
Lentils with Chickpeas
Three:  Beef and Broccoli Lasagne
Fresh Fruit
Four:    Chicken Breasts Balsamic
Sautéed Potatoes, Onions and Mushrooms
Lentils with Chickpeas, leftover
Five:   Pork Chops with Mushrooms
Barley with Red Onions and Olives
Sautéed Sunchokes
Six:  Chicken Paprikas over Pasta

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