Weekly Main Course Recipes:  February 8, 2013

One:  Stir-fried Shrimp with Peppers and Peas   Preparation and cooking time: 30 minutes
Colorful, flavorful, simple. Add red pepper flakes or bottled hot sauce if you like it hot.

12oz (350gr) cleaned shrimp
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 green bell pepper
1 cup peas
1/2 cup sliced celery
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tbs minced fresh ginger
2 tsp sesame or walnut oil
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup (4oz, 120ml) chicken stock
2 tbs dry sherry
1 tbs tomato paste
1 tbs cornstarch (Maizena, corn flour) dissolved in
1 tbs soy sauce plus 1 tbs water
red pepper flakes, optional
Basmati Rice

To Prep: Peel and clean shrimp if needed. Slice peppers into strips and cut in half.  Cut onion in half and thickly slice.  Cut celery at an angle into thin slices. Mince garlic and ginger (peel it first). Dissolve cornstarch in soy sauce and water. Rinse peas in hot water to thaw (if frozen).
To Cook: Heat oils in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add red pepper flakes and sauté briefly.  Add onion, peppers and celery to skillet and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, shrimp, stir-fry 1 minute, until shrimp start to curl and turn opaque. Add peas and stir-fry 1 - 2 minutes. Add chicken stock, tomato paste and sherry, cover and simmer 2 minutes. Uncover, add cornstarch mixture, stirring until cleared and thickened. 
To Serve: Arrange Basmati on a large platter. Spoon Shrimp and Vegetables on top and serve.

Basmati Rice
1/2 cup Basmati rice
1 tsp butter
1/2 tsp sesame or walnut oil
1 cup chicken stock

Heat butter and oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add rice and sauté, stirring for 1 - 2 minutes. Add stock or water. Cover and cook rice for length of time on package. When done fluff with fork and serve. 

Two:   Chicken with Mascarpone and Shallots       Preparation and cooking time:  45 minutes
     I occasionally find a chicken recipe that leans more toward the decadent than the healthy and reserve it for a Saturday dinner (rather than a Monday).  This is loosely based on a recipe I saw years ago in Cooking Light magazine. I cut the chicken breasts in half, but you can leave them whole if you prefer.

2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
3 tbs Dijon-style mustard
2 tbs white Balsamic vinegar
2 tbs white wine
1 tsp dried thyme
2 slices Prosciutto (1.5 oz, 45gr)
4 shallots
4 cloves garlic
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp dried parsley
2 bay leaves (laurel)
3/4 cup (6oz, 180ml) chicken broth
1/2 cup mascarpone
2 tsp cornstarch (maizena, corn flour) dissolved in 1 tbs water

Mix mustard, vinegar, wine and thyme.  Cut chicken breasts in half, the short way, and put in a small dish or larger zip-lock bag.  Add mustard mixture and allow to marinade for at least 10 minutes, but up to an hour. Peel shallots and garlic, leave whole.  Slice the Prosciutto. 
Heat oil in nonstick skillet.  Add Prosciutto, shallots and garlic.  Sauté over medium heat until all is slightly browned, about 10 minutes.  Remove chicken from marinade and add to skillet.  Reserve marinade.  Sauté the chicken 5 minutes per side.  (They won't really brown, but it starts them cooking.)  Add the reserved marinade, parsley, bay and chicken stock.  Stir to combine, cover, reduce heat slightly and simmer for 20 minutes.
To finish:   Remove chicken, shallots and garlic to a small platter and keep warm. Remove and discard bay leaves.  Dissolve cornstarch in water.  Stir cornstarch into stock to thicken.  When hot and bubbling again, turn off heat and add mascarpone, stirring well.  Spoon sauce over chicken and shallots, serve.

Three:   Potato, Ham and Broccoli Gratin                  Preparation and cooking time: 70 minutes
    A bit of cutting and slicing, add flour and cover with milk and cheese.  What could be easier?  An hour later a dinner, piping hot and creamy, pops out of the oven, ready to serve.

2 medium potatoes
1/2 medium head broccoli
1 onion
8oz (250gr) baked ham   a slice about 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) thick
1/3 cup flour
1 cup (8oz, 240ml) milk
1 tbs Dijon mustard
3/4 cup (3oz, 90gr) shredded cheese

Cut broccoli into small florets, including stems.  Cut the onion in quarters then slice thinly.  Slice the potatoes 1/8 inch (.3cm) thick.  Cut ham into 1 inch (2.5 cm) squares.  Put the broccoli, potatoes, onions and ham into a large bowl.  Sprinkle with flour and toss to coat as evenly as possible.  Put the whole lot into a large glass baking dish.  Whisk the milk and mustard together and pour carefully over the vegetables.  Sprinkle with the cheese. Cover and bake at 400F (200C) for an hour or until the potatoes are done. Uncover for the last 10 minutes to brown the cheese.  Serve.

Note:  You could bake it in a slower oven for longer: 350F (175C) for 90 minutes, if that suits your schedule.

Four:  Turkey Cutlets Piccata                                         Preparation and cooking time: 25 minutes
    Thinly sliced turkey cutlets cook quickly and are a great substitute for the veal cutlets normally used in this dish.  If you can't get them get a turkey tenderloin and either slice it into thin cutlets yourself or ask your butcher. You could also use boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

2 - 4 turkey cutlets, 12oz, (350gr)
1/2 onion 
2 tbs capers
1 lemon
1/2 cup (4oz, 120ml) chicken stock (broth)
1/2 cup (4oz, 120ml) white wine
1 tbs cornstarch (maizena, corn flower) dissolved in 1 tbs water
1 tbs olive oil

Chop the onion.  Slice the lemon and pick the seeds out of the slices.  In medium nonstick skillet sauté the onion until tender.  Move onions to sides of pan and sauté turkey cutlets until lightly brown on both sides.  Add the chicken stock, wine and capers.  Place the lemon slices on top of the turkey cutlets, cover, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.  Remove turkey cutlets (with lemon slices on top) to a platter and keep warm.  Stir in the cornstarch mixture and heat, stirring until thick. Serve cutlets with sauce on the side - sprinkle on more capers if you like.

Five:  Yorkshire Pudding Pie                                           Preparation and cooking time: 45 minutes
Filled with peppers, onions and spinach, this is a savory pie for a one-dish dinner.  I use a bit of sausage in this but you could easily use cooked chicken, beef or ham; just not too much or it won't 'puff' properly.  Any leftovers are great for breakfast!

6oz (180gr) bulk sausage, or link, removed from casings
1/2 medium onion
1/2 green pepper
1 rib celery
2 cloves garlic
8oz (250gr) frozen, chopped spinach
1 tsp dried basil
2 tomatoes
1/2 cup shredded cheese,  (2oz, 60gr)
2 eggs
1 cup (8oz, 240ml) milk
1 cup flour
pinch nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
4 tsp olive oil

Peel and chop onion, garlic.  Chop pepper, celery.  Heat 2 tsp olive oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion, pepper, celery, garlic and sauté until tender.  Add sausage and brown, breaking it up as it cooks.  When done remove from heat.  Thaw spinach and squeeze dry.  Add to meat mixture along with basil and mix thoroughly. 
Slice tomatoes thinly: 5 - 7 slices per tomato. 
In medium bowl lightly beat eggs with wire whisk.  Add milk, flour, salt and nutmeg.  Beat lightly to just combine; a few lumps are okay - over-beating is not.  Put remaining 2 tsp olive oil in 10-inch glass baking dish and run it around to coat the bottom.  Pour in the batter mixture.  Spoon meat/spinach mixture over top to within 1 inch of sides of dish.  Layer tomatoes on top of meat and sprinkle with cheese.  Bake at 425F (215C) for 30 minutes or until edges puff up and are golden brown. Cut into wedges and serve.

Six:   Sweet and Sour Pork                                         Preparation and cooking time:   20 minutes
    This is not the kind made with canned pineapple, which I think is horrid, but an actual real Chinese recipe.  In the interest of health and simplicity I did not batter and deep-fry the pork first.  I used to. This way is just as good and I don't have to haul 3 cups of hot, smoking oil out to the back garden to toss.

The pork:
12 - 16 oz (300 - 450gr) lean pork  I used pork tenderloin
1 tbs oil
1 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs chicken stock
The sauce:
1 tbs oil
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp minced fresh ginger (2 - 3 thin slices, 1" (2.5cm) wide)
1/2 large red bell pepper 
1/2 head broccoli
1 medium carrot
1/2 cup (4oz, 120ml) chicken stock
2 tbs brown sugar
2 tbs white sugar
4 tbs red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
1 tbs cornstarch (maizena, corn flour) dissolved in
2 tbs chicken stock
2 tsp soy sauce

Cut the pork into 1" (2.5cm) cubes.  Heat oil and soy sauce in nonstick skillet.  Add pork and stir-fry 5 minutes.  Add chicken stock, reduce heat to low. cover and simmer 10 minutes or until done.  
Mince garlic.  Peel a small section of ginger,  cut into thin slices, then mince.  Slice pepper and carrot into matchsticks.  (see Techniques)  Cut broccoli into small florets.  Dissolve cornstarch in chicken stock, soy sauce and set aside. 
In large nonstick skillet heat remaining 1 tbs oil over medium-high heat.  Add garlic, ginger and stir-fry 30 seconds.  Add carrot, broccoli, pepper and stir-fry 2 - 3 minutes.  Add stock, sugars, vinegar and soy sauce and bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Give cornstarch a stir to recombine and add to sauce, stirring until thickened.   Remove pork from pan juices and add to sauce.  Stir well, heat through and serve.

Sesame Brown Rice            Preparation and cooking time: 20 minutes or whatever your package says
    I use 'Uncle Ben's' which is all I can get and it is quick cooking.  It looks like brown Basmati and cooks in 15 minutes.

1/2 cup quick-cooking brown rice   substitute Basmati
1 cup chicken stock   or whatever your rice calls for
1/2 tsp sesame or walnut oil
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Cook rice according to package instructions stirring in the sesame oil, soy sauce and seeds when rice is almost done.  Fluff and serve.

Note: You can toast regular sesame seeds in a small, dry, skillet over medium heat for 5 - 7 minutes, until light brown.

Suggested menus:

One:  Avocado Cocktail
Stir-Fried Shrimp with Peppers and Peas
Two:  Mini White Pizza
Chicken with Mascarpone and Shallots
Cauliflower Paprika
Three:  Potato, Ham and Broccoli Gratin
Four:    Turkey Cutlets Piccata
Sliced Sautéed Potatoes
Cauliflower Gratin
Five:  Yorkshire Pudding Pie
Six:  Velvet Corn Soup
Sweet and Sour Pork
Sesame Brown Rice
Apple Tarts

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