Weekly Main Course Recipes:  May 10, 2013

One:  Grilled Tuna with Lemon                              Preparation and cooking time: 30 minutes
If you get sushi-grade tuna you will definitely want to have this rare (it has to be graded to a higher standard so it is okay to eat raw).  Regular tuna we normally have medium.  Well done tends to make it rather dry.  This is a simple preparation, finish with a bit of sea salt.

2 tuna steaks, 6oz each (180gr each)
1/4 cup white wine
2 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs fresh tarragon, snipped   substitute 1 tsp dried
sea salt

Put tuna in a dish with deep sides.  Mix all ingredients for marinade, pour over fish and let marinate for 10 - 20 minutes, no longer.  Remove from marinade and cook on barbecue grill for 4 - 6 minutes per side (depending on thickness) for regular tuna, 2 - 3 minutes for ahi. - or until done to your liking. Remove and serve. 
Can also be cooked under broiler or sautéed in nonstick pan for roughly the same amount of time.

Note:  A grill basket, skillet or mat makes working with fish easier.

Two:   Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Ham, Spinach, Cheese         Time: 40 minutes
     These are easy to make: slice a pocket, fill and tie.  They're baked with a drizzle of olive oil to make a crunchy crust.  I snipped the string in a few places to make it easier to remove but left it on when serving: they looked nicer! Get breasts that are on the large side.

2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
1.5oz (45gr) Gruyère or other hard cheese, sliced
2 slices Prosciutto (about 2oz, 60gr)
6 - 8 small spinach leaves
1 egg
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
2 tbs Parmesan, grated
1 tsp plus 1 tbs olive oil
kitchen string

With a sharp knife make a long slit in the edge of the chicken breast - cutting horizontally and being careful not to cut through the other side.  Make the cut on the 'straight' edge of the breast.  You should have a pocket the shape of the breast with 1/3 inch of 'uncut' chicken around 3 sides.
Slice the Prosciutto and cheese to fit inside.  You will have 2 or 3 layers of Prosciutto, 1 or 2 of cheese, then the spinach on top of the cheese.  Wrap the entire breast with kitchen string to hold it together - and keep as much cheese inside as possible. 
Lightly whisk egg and put into a shallow bowl or deep plate.  Mix bread crumbs and Parmesan and put on to another plate.  Lightly oil the center of a baking sheet, a large enough place for both breasts with an inch or 2 in between.  Dip the tied breasts into the egg, coating all sides, then into the crumbs, coating all sides (use your fingers).  Lay on the oiled sheet.  Drizzle the tops with the rest of the oil and bake, 400F (200C) for 30 minutes, until the crust is golden and the chicken done.  Remove, snip the string in a few places, and serve.

Three:   Risotto with Asparagus, Veal and Peas                          Time: 30 minutes
   Spring risotto, with fresh asparagus, peas, and a bit of green garlic.  Enjoy the season!   

6oz (180gr) asparagus
1/2 cup (2.5oz, 75gr) peas, fresh or frozen, plain
2/3 cup Arborio rice (or other rice specifically for risotto - Carnaroli or Vialone Nano)
1/2 cup (4oz, 120ml) dry, white wine
2 1/4 cups (18oz, 540ml) chicken stock
4 green garlic  substitute 4 green onion
1 tbs butter
1/2 cup (2oz, 60gr) Parmesan cheese - freshly grated 

Heat chicken stock and keep hot over low heat. 
Prepare asparagus, cutting to 1 inch (2.5cm) lengths, reserving tips.  Trim and slice green garlic.  
In medium sauce pan heat butter; add green garlic, 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 and all of the asparagus, except tips, and 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 2 '1/3 cups', add the asparagus tips to the rice.  Add the peas to the stock to heat.
Before the last 1/3 cup is added 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 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. 
Pour off any remaining stock from the peas and add peas to risotto.  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.  The risottos that we have eaten in northern Italy have all been served in soup plates (flattish bowls) and eaten with a spoon - not a fork.


6oz (180gr) veal scallops
1oz (30gr) mangetout, snow peas, pea pods
2 tsp olive oil

Trim the mangetout and slice, diagonally, into strips.   Slice the veal scallops into bite-size strips. While risotto is cooking, heat oil in medium skillet.  Add veal and sauté until cooked through.  Add mangetout and sauté 2 - 3 minutes longer. Cover and keep warm until needed for risotto.

Four:  Marinated Chicken Breasts, Grilled         Preparation and cooking time:  30 minutes
   This is a simple marinade made with ingredients found in most pantries.  The chicken is great as is, but will also be good tossed with salads or pastas.  

2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
3 tbs red wine vinegar
3 tbs olive oil
1/3 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp oregano

In small bowl whisk together Worcestershire, vinegar, oil, garlic and oregano.  Pour over chicken and 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), basting with any leftover marinade before turning. 
sauté in nonstick skillet for 8 - 10 minutes a side until nicely browned and done, basting with marinade.  Slice if you like and serve.    

Five:  Giant Burger Stuffed with Mushrooms                              Time:    35 - 55 minutes
    You could make smaller burgers, but we like this big one.  Cut into wedges, with cheese oozing out of the center.... This one is filled with mushrooms, olives and Gruyère.

12oz (360gr) ground beef (mince)
2 slice prosciutto
1.5oz (45gr) mushrooms
10 black, olives, Greek or Kalamata
1oz (30gr) Gruyère
1 tsp olive oil
If cooking on the barbecue: wire grill-basket or a mesh grill pan
If cooking in the oven: baking sheet

Trim and chop mushrooms.  Chop olives.  Cut Prosciutto into thin strips.  Oil grill basket, mesh pan or baking sheet. 
Divide beef in half.  On plates or waxed paper pat each half into a thin patty, 8 or 9 inches (20 - 23cm) in diameter.
Spread mushrooms, olives and Prosciutto over 1 patty to within 1/2 inch of edge.  Lay cheese on top. Flatten the second patty a bit more and carefully put it on top and work the edges together with your fingers to seal. Slide or tip it on to the grill basket and close basket.  If you don't use a basket you'll need a plate or baking sheet to help turn it.  
If using the barbecue, grill for 8 - 10 minutes over medium-high heat, carefully turn and grill another 8 - 10 or until done.  If using oven, bake at 400F for 35 - 40 minutes or until done. 
Hint: When cheese starts oozing out of the edge I consider it done.
Remove to platter, cut into wedges and serve.

Six:   Warm Pasta Salad with Peppers, Sausage                               Time: 25 minutes
This is a bit of a cross between a hot 'winter' pasta dish and a cold 'summer' salad. Lightly dressed with Balsamic vinegar, it has the taste of a salad with very little oil.

1 1/4 cups bite-sized pasta   penne, rigatoni...
12oz (360gr) sausages, total weight   I used pork with herbs, you could use Italian, Brats, Turkey
1 yellow, orange or red bell pepper   
2.5oz (75gr) mushrooms   
1 onion  
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs red wine   substitute sherry
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 tbs red wine vinegar  
1 tbs whole grain mustard
1/3 cup (1.5oz, 45gr) shredded cheese
2 tbs fresh marjoram or oregano leaves    substitute 2 tsp dried

Cook pasta according to package directions.  When done, drain.
Slice pepper into long strips, then cut strips in half.  Slice onion.  Trim and slice mushrooms.  Heat 2 tbs oil in large, nonstick skillet.  Add onions, peppers and sauté for 5 minute.  Add mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes longer.
Cut sausages into 1" (2.5cm) lengths and add to skillet.  Sauté until cooked through.
In a small bowl whisk together the wine, Worcestershire, vinegar and mustard.  When sausages are cooked and pasta is done and drained, add the wine mix to the skillet.  Bring to a boil, stirring to combine, then remove from heat.  Add pasta and herbs, stir well.  Put into a large pasta or salad bowl, sprinkle with cheese and serve.

Suggested menus:

One:  Asparagus with Prosciutto and Chevre
Grilled Tuna with Lemon
Warm Barley Pilaf with Spring Vegetables
Two:  Asparagus Gratin
Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Ham, Spinach and Cheese
New Potato Oven Fries
Southwestern Lentils
Three:  Risotto with Asparagus, Veal and Peas
Strawberries with Yogurt and Mint
Four:     Grilled, Marinated Chicken Breast
Pasta with Spinach, Mushrooms and Chevre
Five:  Giant Burger Stuffed with Mushrooms
Sesame Brown Rice with Snow Peas (Mangetout)
Six:  Warm Pasta Salad / Sausage and Peppers

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