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Weekly Main Course Recipes:  Oct. 18, 2013

One:  Scallops Provençal                                            Preparation and cooking time:  40 minutes
Tender scallops, quickly sautéed and finished with a tomato, white wine and tarragon sauce.  You can use either the small (bay) scallops or the larger (sea) scallops in this dish.  Just remember to cook them quickly to retain their tenderness.  Large scallops can be cut in half.  Baking and serving from individual casseroles makes a lovely presentation.

7oz (210gr) scallops - out of the shell, thawed if frozen
3oz (90gr) shrimp (prawns) - peeled  or all scallops
4 tsp olive oil
2 shallots
4oz (120gr) mushrooms
1 clove garlic
15oz (450gr) whole tomatoes
1/4 cup (2oz, 60ml) white wine
2 tbs tomato paste
1 tsp dried tarragon
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tbs balsamic vinegar

Finely chop the shallot and garlic.  Open and drain tomatoes, reserving sauce for another use. Roughly chop tomatoes.  Clean and slice mushrooms
Heat 2 tsp oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add scallops and sauté until light brown and opaque, being careful not to crowd.  They sometimes have a lot of water in them and you want them sautéed, not steamed.  As they brown remove them and put them into 2 individual, shallow casseroles or one larger one.  In same pan sauté shrimp until they start to curl and turn opaque.  Put into casseroles with scallops.  Add remaining 2 tsp oil to pan along with the shallot, garlic and mushrooms.  Sauté until shallots are tender and starting to brown.  Add tomatoes, wine, tomato paste and herbs.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes.  Add vinegar to sauce and stir.  Spoon sauce over scallops and shrimp.  Bake at 400F (200C) for 10 minutes, until heated through.  Serve directly from casseroles.  If using individual casseroles place them on a baking sheet for easy handling. 

Two:  Roast Chicken with Lemon            Preparation time: 10 minutes - cooking 80 minutes
This is the easiest chicken recipe I have ever seen; and also one of the best.  The skin puffs up, away from the chicken which is rather interesting. The chicken  is moist, tender and lightly flavored with lemon.  The gravy is excellent!

1 whole roasting chicken
2 small lemons, preferably thin-skinned and juicy
     for a thicker sauce:
1 cup (8oz, 240ml) chicken stock
1 - 2 tbs cornstarch (maizena)

Clean the chicken.  Roll the lemons on the counter with your hand a few times, pressing lightly.  With a toothpick prick the lemons all over, 20 - 25 times.  Put the lemons inside the chicken.  With kitchen string (or whatever) tie the legs together.  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.)  Do not salt, butter, oil or anything else. 
Put breast side down in a roasting pan and roast at 350F for 30 minutes. 
Turn the chicken over and roast for 30 minutes. 
Turn the oven to 400F and roast for 20 - 25 more minutes.  Skin should be golden brown and puffy.  Remove, let rest for 5 - 10 minutes, then carve and serve with pan juices. 
For a thicker sauce/gravy:  Pour 1/2 cup chicken stock into the roasting pan.  Scrape up any brown bits and pour it all into a small saucepan.  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.  Serve with chicken.

Three:  Pasta with Beef and Peppers              Preparation and cooking time: 25 minutes
An Italian stir-fry!  The beef and peppers will cook in less time than the pasta. This is not meant to have a 'sauce' in the traditional manner, but a light coating of flavors on the pasta and chunky beef and peppers on top.

10oz (300gr) flank steak or other beef / meat suitable for stir frying or quick cooking
1 medium onion
2 garlic cloves
1 green bell pepper
15oz (450gr) whole tomatoes
1/3 cup olives
1/2 tsp chili powder
4 tsp olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 1/4 cups pasta - penne, rigatoni, rotelle

Cook pasta according to package directions. 
Peel and vertically slice (cut it in half first) the onion.  Peel and finely chop the garlic.  Pit the olives if necessary and cut in half.  Trim pepper and slice into strips.  Slice the beef on an angle across the grain, then cut the slices into large, bite-size pieces.
Heat 2 tsp oil in large non-stick skillet.  Add chili powder and sauté briefly.  Add onions, garlic, peppers and sauté until tender, 7 - 8 minutes.  Remove to a plate.   Heat remaining 2 tsp oil in same skillet.  Add beef and sauté until starting to brown, 3 - 4 minutes.  Open and drain the tomatoes, discarding or saving juices for another use.  Roughly chop the tomatoes.  Add the tomatoes to the beef and sauté 5 minutes.  Return peppers & onions to the pan and add olives and herbs.  Cover and simmer 5 minutes, until everything is heated through.  When pasta is done, drain and put into large pasta bowl.  Add beef and peppers and toss to combine.  Serve.

Four:  Pork Tenderloin with Mustard, White Wine Sauce                Time: 35 minutes
     Pork and mustard go well together. It makes a lovely, quick, mid-week dinner, yet 'gourmet' enough for unexpected guests! If the tenderloin has a lot of ‘silver’, trim it with a sharp knife before slicing.

1 pork tenderloin, 14oz (420gr)
1 small or 1/2 medium onion
1 clove garlic
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp thyme
2 tbs Dijon-style mustard
1/2 cup (4oz, 120ml) chicken broth
1/2 cup (4oz, 120ml) white wine
2 tbs cornstarch (maizena) dissolved in 3 tbs chicken stock

Thinly slice the onion and finely chop the garlic.   Sauté onion and garlic in oil in non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Slice the tenderloin into 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick slices.  Brush mustard on one side.  When onion starts to brown, move it to the sides of the pan and sauté pork medallions mustard-side down for 5 minutes. Brush remaining mustard on top and turn.  Sauté for 5 minutes.  Add thyme, stock and white wine to pan, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 15 minutes. 
Dissolve cornstarch in chicken stock. Uncover, increase heat, add cornstarch and stir until sauce is thickened.   Remove pork to small platter, spoon sauce over and serve. 

 Five:  Spicy Ham, Red Beans on Brown Rice     Preparation, cooking time: 30 minutes
    You can add jalapeños or other hotter peppers if you like; or finish it with Tabasco or other hot sauce.  

1 onion
4 cloves garlic
1 rib celery
1/2 green pepper 
1 tbs olive oil
15oz (450gr) whole or crushed tomatoes
8oz (240gr) ham  either type, a thick slice
15oz, 450gr red kidney beans
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
4oz (120gr) chopped green chilies
1 tbs chili powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
anything else you would like to add to make it hotter - jalapeños, red pepper flakes?
Brown Rice
1/2 cup quick-cooking brown rice
1 cup (8oz, 240ml) beef stock or whatever your rice calls for
1/2 tsp dried oregano

Chop onions, celery and pepper.  Finely chop garlic.  Heat oil in large, nonstick skillet over medium heat.   Add chili powder and sauté 1 minute.  Add onions, celery, pepper, garlic and sauté 7 - 8 minutes. Trim ham and cut into bite-size pieces.  Add ham and sauté briefly.  Drain and rinse the beans.   Drain the tomatoes then roughly chop.  Add beans, tomatoes, juices, Worcestershire, and herbs.  Cover and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.  Add green chilies and simmer 5 minutes more.  Taste and add anything you like to make it hotter.
Rice:  Cook rice according to package instructions adding the herbs with the stock. Fluff when done
To serve: Spoon Ham and Beans over rice.  

Six:   Cashew Chicken and Vegetables               Preparation and cooking time:  25 minutes
    A simple stir-fry of chicken and vegetables made special with the addition of a handful of cashews sprinkled on top.

2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
2 ribs celery
1/2 red or green pepper
2 carrots
1 onion
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup cashews  (or more)
1/2 cup (4oz, 120ml) chicken stock
2 tbs sherry  (or white wine)
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs sesame oil
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs cornstarch (maizena, corn flour)
Basmati Rice:
1/2 cup Basmati rice
1 cup (8oz, 240ml) chicken stock or whatever your rice calls for

Cut chicken into bite size pieces.  Cut the onion in half, then in half the other way and slice - so you have 'quarter circle' slices.  Cut celery into 1/4 inch slices.  Cut the pepper and the carrots into sticks 1/4 inch by 2 inch.  Mince the garlic.  Dissolve the cornstarch in the soy sauce and set aside.  Now you are ready to cook. 
In large skillet or wok heat half of both oils over medium-high heat.  Add celery, onion, pepper, carrot and stir fry 3 minutes. Add garlic and stir-fry 1 minute more.  Transfer vegetables to a plate.  Add the rest of the oils to the skillet along with the chicken.  Stir fry 3 minutes.  Return the vegetables to the pan and add the chicken stock and sherry.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 3 - 5 minutes longer, until the vegetables are just tender - but not over done. Give the cornstarch/soy sauce a stir to recombine and add it to the pan, stirring constantly until thickened. 
Rice: Cook rice according to package instructions. Fluff.
To serve: Mound the rice onto a platter. Spoon chicken and vegetables on top. Sprinkle with cashews and serve.

Suggested menus:

One:   White Bean Soup with Red Pepper Coulis
Scallops Provençal
Quinoa with Sautéed Shallots
Roast Chicken with Lemon
Potatoes Lyonaise
Cauliflower with Butter and Herbs
Three:  Pasta with Beef and Peppers
Apple Crisp
Four:   Pork Tenderloin with Mustard and White Wine
Hot Potato Cauliflower Salad
Five:  Spicy Ham and Red Beans
Brown Rice
Six:  Cashew Chicken and Vegetables  

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