Weekly Main Course Recipes:  March 1, 2013

One:  Scallop and Saffron Risotto                             Preparation and cooking time:   30 minutes
     The crème fraiche makes this a very creamy risotto; the saffron (optional) makes it a very pretty risotto. The secret to easy risotto is not to stir constantly, but to stir a bit vigorously after each addition of liquid. You can use either Bay or Sea scallops.

2/3 cup Arborio rice (or other rice specifically for risotto - Carnaroli or Vialone Nano)
1/3 cup (3oz, 90ml) dry, white wine
2 1/8 cups (17oz, 510ml) fish, seafood or chicken stock
1 shallot
1 tbs butter
1/2 cup (2oz, 60gr) Parmesan cheese - freshly grated

Heat stock and keep hot over low heat. 
Finely chop shallot.  In medium saucepan heat butter over medium-high heat.  Add shallot and sauté until transparent, then add rice and sauté, stirring, for 2 - 3 minutes until rice has white center.  Add white wine and stir. 
Start condimenti
When wine is almost absorbed add a 1/3 cup of stock, stir.  (No need to stir constantly but do stir from time to time.)  When stock is almost absorbed add another 1/3 cup and continue adding 1/3 cup at a time and stirring.  Before the last 1/3 cup taste a few kernels of rice.  They should be just 'al dente' - slightly resistant to the tooth but fully cooked.  If more stock is needed add it, a few tbs at a time, and waiting until almost completely absorbed. 
At this point risotto will be thick but not stiff - there will still be visible liquid and it will not hold it's shape on a plate. 
Add the Parmesan and the condimenti, stir well, pour into a bowl or risotto platter and serve immediately.  It will continue to absorb liquid and the leftovers (if any) will be quite stiff. 


8oz (240gr) scallops
2 shallots 
1 medium tomato, peeled  
1/3 cup (3oz, 90ml) dry, white wine
1/2 tsp saffron, crushed   use 1/4 tsp if powdered
1/3 cup (3oz, 90gr) crème fraiche
3 tsp olive oil

Peel tomato: blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds; rinse in cold water, peel.
Chop shallots and tomato.  Crush saffron, lightly, either using mortar and pestle or the back of a spoon on a plate.  You just want to break it down a bit.
While risotto is cooking:  Heat 2 tsp oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Add scallops and sauté quickly until just cooked through, turning once.  Remove and set aside.  Reduce heat to medium, add remaining 1 tsp oil and shallots.  Sauté until shallots are tender, about 5 minutes.  Add tomato, wine, saffron and simmer, reducing slightly.
Select 2 nice scallops for garnish and set aside. If using sea scallops cut the remainder in half or fourths, depending on size.  Add crème fraiche and scallops to skillet and heat through.  Remove from heat, cover and keep warm until needed for risotto.
To serve:  Divide risotto between 2 plates or soup plates, top with reserved scallops and serve.

Two:   Roast Chicken on a Bed of Onions               Preparation and cooking time:   90 minutes
  Roast chicken is always a favorite.  This sits on a layer of onions and is finished with the potatoes and carrots on the side. As always, a meat thermometer is invaluable.

1 whole roasting chicken
2 medium onions
2 medium potatoes
2 medium carrots
2 tsp rosemary
2 tsp thyme
2 tsp butter
1 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
1 tbs olive oil
1/4 tsp ground ginger
Basting sauce
1/2 cup (4oz, 120ml) chicken stock
1/2 cup (4oz, 120ml) white wine
1/2 - 1 cup chicken stock  depending on the amount of pan juices left
1 tbs cornstarch (maizena)

The Chicken:  Clean the chicken. Mix the rosemary, thyme and butter.  Put the butter/herbs inside the chicken.  Tie the legs together with kitchen string.  Twist the wing tips around so they are tucked under the back, supporting the chicken.  (If you don't do these last two it won't affect the recipe - only the appearance.) Slice the onions and put into the roasting pan, spreading out just enough to be under the chicken.  Lay the chicken on top, breast side up, insert thermometer if using. Mix the soy sauce, vinegar and ginger.  Brush over the chicken and roast, 375F (190C) for 40 minutes. 
The Vegetables:  Cut potatoes in 4ths the long way and then in thirds the short way.  Peel carrots then cut in thirds the short way, then each length in half.  Combine the chicken stock and white wine.  Remove the chicken, arrange the potatoes and carrots around the chicken, spoon 1/4 of the basting sauce over the chicken and return to oven.
Continue to roast for another 45 minutes, basting with 1/4 of the sauce every 15 minutes. Chicken is done when thigh temperature reaches 170F (77C) and the juices run clear.
The Finish:  Remove chicken to a platter, cover loosely with foil and let rest while you finish.  Remove vegetables and cover to keep warm.
Pour 1/2 cup chicken stock into the roasting pan if needed.  Scrape up any brown bits and pour it all into a small saucepan. Use more chicken stock if needed.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Dissolve 1 tbs cornstarch in 1/2 cup chicken stock.  Slowly pour into saucepan, stirring until clear and thickened to your liking.  Carve chicken and serve, gravy on the side.

Three:   Soupe À L'Oignon (French Onion Soup)  Preparation and cooking time: 60 minutes
     This recipe does not use any stock, but rather white wine with beef base.  This is different than regular old 'bouillon cubes.  You'll find it in jars in the soup section, normally and it's usually a paste.  I always have both chicken and beef on hand to use for stock.  This makes just 4 servings, very thick with onions... as it should be.

5 large onions
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs butter
5 tbs flour
4 cups (32oz, 960ml) white wine
1 cup water
5 tbs beef base , paste or powdered
2 thick slices country bread, or several smaller slices of French baguette, stale is okay
2/3 cup shredded Gruyère cheese, 3oz  (90gr)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, 2oz (60gr)

Cut onions in half and thinly slice.
Heat butter and oil in large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add onions and sauté until golden brown, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add flour and sauté briefly, stirring - about 1 minute.  Slowly add the water, stirring constantly until thickened.  Slowly add the wine, stirring constantly to avoid lumps.  Add the beef base, stir well, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. 
Shred and grate cheeses if necessary.  Slice bread 1" (2.5 cm) thick.  Trim to fit in oven proof soup bowls.  Pre-heat broiler (grill).  When hot, put bread on tray and toast 1 side under broiler, about 1 minute. 
Ladle about 1/4th of the onions into each of 2 bowls.   Place bread on top, toasted side down.  Ladle broth over the bread to fill bowl - leaving room for the cheese.  Top with both cheeses.  Put bowls on a tray and slide under broiler until cheese is melted and bubbly.  Serve.

Note:  Put the bowls on a baking sheet for easier handling.

Four:  Chicken or Turkey Tetrazzini                       Preparation and cooking time:  50 minutes
    A classic dish, very popular in the '60's, it can be made with turkey, chicken or tuna.  The sherry gives it the signature flavor.

3 cups cooked chicken or turkey  substitute 2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, or 12oz turkey cutlets
4oz (125gr) mushrooms
3 shallots
1/2 cup (2oz, 60gr) shredded cheese
2 tbs butter
2 tbs flour
3/4 cup (6oz, 180ml) milk
3/4 cup (6oz, 180ml) chicken stock
1/4 cup (2oz, 60ml) dry sherry
1/3 cup (3oz, 90gr) crème fraiche  whatever is left
2 tsp oil
4oz  (120gr) linguini, fettuccini, spaghetti... about 1" diameter (2.5cm)

Cook pasta according to package directions.  When done, drain.
While pasta cooks:  Trim and slice mushrooms.  Roughly chop shallots. Heat oil in large skillet.  Add mushrooms, shallots and sauté until tender and starting to brown.  Add chicken and heat through. 
Melt butter in a small saucepan. Add floor and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Slowly add milk, stirring constantly, until hot and thick. Add stock, sherry, and heat until just starting to bubble, stirring occasionally. Stir in crème fraiche and remove from heat.
To finish: Add 1/3rd sauce to drained pasta, mix well to coat and put in baking dish, making a bit of a 'well' in the center.  Add 1/3 sauce to chicken and mushrooms, mix well and spoon onto the pasta, leaving an inch (2.5cm) border around the edge.  Sprinkle the cheeses over the chicken and mushrooms, cover with foil and bake, (400F, 200C) for 15 minutes.  Uncover and bake 10 minutes longer. Reheat sauce and serve, remaining sauce on side.

Note:  If using raw meat, cut into small pieces and sauté in 2 tsp oil.  Remove to a plate. The proceed with recipe.

Five:  Hamburger Steak with Cheese, Fried Onions                     Time: 20 minutes
    Just a big burger topped with cheese and fried onions.  Nothing fancy, simple, 'diner' style cooking... These are Fried Onions, not Caramelized Onions....

12oz ground beef (mince - 350 gr)
2 medium onions
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 tsp olive oil
1oz (30gr) cheese, Colby or Cheddar, sliced 

Thickly slice onions.  Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onions and quickly fry until very brown and starting to crisp.  Add Worcestershire and stir well to combine.  Remove and set aside.
Return the skillet to medium-high heat. Divide the beef and make 2 loose patties, barely handling the meat.  (I just cut the package in half).  Add the beef and sauté, 2 - 5 minutes per side, depending on how you like it done.  When ready, lay the sliced cheese on the beef, top with onions and cover until cheese melts. 
Remove and serve.

Six:   Turkey with Peppers, Feta and Olives          Preparation and cooking time:  30 minutes
   The Mediterranean flavors of peppers, olives and feta make bland turkey special.  Serve over Pearl Couscous, Basmati Rice or Barley. Use more or less feta, according to taste.  

10oz (300gr) turkey cutlets or tenderloin
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 green pepper
1/2 red pepper
4oz (120gr) mushrooms
1/4 cup green olives (about 15)
3oz (90gr) feta
1 tbs tomato paste
2 tsp tbs olive oil
1/2 cup (4oz, 120ml) chicken stock
1 tbs sherry
2 tsp cornstarch (Maizena) dissolved in 2 tbs water

Thinly slice onion. Mince garlic. Cut the peppers into strips. Trim and slice the mushrooms. Slice the olives into thirds.  Cut the turkey into strips - bite-size. Cut feta into small cubes.
Heat olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, peppers to skillet and stir-fry for 4 minutes. Add garlic, mushrooms and stir-fry another 4 minutes.  Add turkey and stir-fry 3 - 5 minutes, until golden. Add chicken stock, sherry, tomato paste and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Dissolve cornstarch in water.  Add to skillet and stir until thickened. Add olives, feta and stir, just until the feta starts to melt.  Remove from heat and serve.

Suggested menus:

One:  Baked Tomatoes and Chevre
Scallop and Saffron Risotto
Simple Fresh Spinach Gratin
Two:  Scallops with Avocado and Beet Salad
Roast Chicken on a Bed of Onions
Three: Soupe À L'Oignon (French Onion Soup)
Baked Apples
Four:    Chicken Tetrazzini
Balsamic Glazed Beets (Beetroot)
Five:  Hamburger Steak / Cheese & Fried Onions
Potato Carrot Pancake
Six:  Turkey with Feta, Peppers and Olives
Pearl Couscous

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