Marinated White Asparagus With Parma Ham
2 pounds white asparagus, peeled
1 tablespoon salt
small pinch sugar
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar or rice vinegar
1 tablespoon hazelnut oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons asparagus stock (left over from cooking asparagus)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh herbs (combination of cilantro, parsley and chives)
16 slices very thin Parma ham or imported prosciutto
ground pepper to taste
Simmer peeled asparagus for 8 to 10 minutes in 2 quarts of boiling water that has been seasoned with the salt and sugar. Remove and drain dry. Prepare marinade by combining vinegar, oil, mustard, asparagus stock and herbs; pour over asparagus. Refrigerate 2 to 3 hours. To serve, place asparagus on plate, cover with ham (leave tips exposed), season with fresh ground pepper to taste.
Serves about 4
4 potatoes (optional)
1 can of tuna in olive oil
4 to 6 stalks white asparagus
1 head Romaine lettuce
12 artichoke hearts
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper
Boil potatoes, if using, in salted water. Peel and dice. Hard-boil eggs. Drain tuna fish. Cut tomatoes and eggs into halves. Cook asparagus in salted water. (Preserved white asparagus may be used if fresh stalks are not available.) Wash and dry lettuce. Put potatoes, tuna, lettuce, artichoke hearts and olives in a salad bowl. Make a dressing with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Sprinkle dressing on the salad. Then garnish with eggs, tomatoes and asparagus.
Spicy Sausage, Barley and Mushroom Stew
Preparation time 15 minutes; cooking time 95 minutes
Makes 6 servings
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced onion
8 ounces spicy turkey Italian sausage
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup sliced carrots
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
5 cups thinly sliced shiitake mushroom caps (about 1/2 pound mushrooms)
1 1/2 cups chopped portobello mushrooms
1/2 cup uncooked pearl barley
three 15.75-ounce cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons brandy
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion; cook 5 minutes or until slightly soft. Remove casings from sausage. Add sausage to pan; cook 8 minutes or until sausage is browned, stirring to crumble. Add celery, carrots, garlic and bay leaf; cook 10 minutes or until onions are golden-brown, stirring frequently. Stir in the mushrooms; cook 10 minutes or so until mushrooms release moisture.
Stir in barley, chicken broth, brandy, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour or until barley is tender. Discard bay leaf. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately.
Per 1-cup serving: 215 calories; 7.2 grams fat (2 grams saturated fat); 13.3 grams protein; 23.4 grams carbohydrate; 4.7 grams fiber; 27 milligrams cholesterol; 527 milligrams sodium
Makes 8 servings
1 loaf French or Italian bread
1/4 cup olive oil
2 pounds yellow Finn or Yukon gold potatoes
1 bunch curly kale (chicory)
3 medium onions
1/3 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic
8 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper, to taste
For the croutons, using a bread knife, cut off the bread crust. Cut the bread into 1/2 -inch cubes. In a large, heavy skillet, heat the 1/4 cup olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the bread cubes to the hot oil. Turn the cubes occasionally so they brown evenly. (Keep an eye on them lest they burn.)
Remove the croutons from the oil when they are evenly browned. Drain well on several layers of paper towels. Set aside or store, covered, at room temperature overnight.
For the soup, peel the potatoes. Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise. Slice into 1/4 -inch slices (half moons). Cover the slices with cold water until ready to use (for no more than 1 hour). Drain well just before using.
Remove and discard any outer kale leaves that are bruised, discolored, tough or wilted. To clean, cut off the bottom core. Separate the leaves. Then wash the leaves, one at a time, under cold running water.
Place the rinsed leaves on several layers of paper towels or on a clean kitchen towel. Gently pat dry. Using kitchen scissors or a knife, remove the center rib from the kale by cutting down both sides of the rib. Tear leaves into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
Peel and slice the onions. In a large saucepan, heat the 1/3 cup olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 5 to 6 minutes or until tender and slightly browned. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the potatoes.
Cook for 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the kale. Cook for 15 minutes more or until the kale and potatoes are soft and tender. Adjust seasoning.
Serve the soup in individual soup bowls. Garnish with croutons.
Tester Laura Reiley's comments: "Buttery yellow Yukon gold potatoes begin to fall apart in this soup, giving it a thick, hearty texture and a gorgeous, silky taste. The swirls of kale add good flavor (be sure to wash the raw curly kale really well, as it could retain lots of sand, ruining your finished soup), and a sprinkling of croutons on top lends a nice little crunch.
"This filling soup is a meal in itself, and the leftovers reheat nicely the next day. If the potatoes really fall apart and thicken the soup, be sure to stir while heating to avoid burning the bottom of the pan."
Quick Coq au Vin
Makes 6 servings
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
six 4-ounce skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 cups quartered cremini mushrooms
2 cups sliced ( 1/4 -inch thick) carrots
1/3 cup sliced ( 1/4 -inch thick) Canadian bacon
1 cup dry red wine
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Combine flour, thyme and salt in a zip-top plastic bag; add chicken. Seal and shake to coat. Remove chicken from bag, shaking off excess flour.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 8 minutes or until browned, turning frequently. Remove chicken from pan.
Add mushrooms, carrots and bacon to pan; saute 2 minutes. Stir in wine, broth and tomato paste; cook 9 minutes. Return chicken to pan; cook 8 minutes or until chicken is done.
Per 1 1/4 -cup serving: 230 calories; 7.8 grams fat (1.7 grams saturated fat); 27.3 grams protein; 12.5 grams carbohydrate; 2.4 grams fiber; 99 milligrams cholesterol; 527 milligrams sodium
Chiao-Tzu Northern Dumplings
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
3/4 cup boiling water
8 ounces Chinese cabbage
1 pound lean ground pork
1 teaspoon freshly minced ginger root
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon rice wine or pale dry sherry
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
Place the flour in a bowl. Add the boiling water gradually and mix and knead until a smooth dough forms. Cover the dough with a moist cloth and let stand for 30 minutes.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 3 minutes. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes to become softer and more pliable.
Rinse the cabbage under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Discard the wilted leaves and root end. Slice and chop the cabbage very finely and set aside. Combined the ground pork, ginger root, garlic, wine, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, salt and sesame oil in a bowl and mix well. Add the chopped cabbage.
Blend the 1/4 cup soy sauce and rice vinegar in a small bowl. Set aside to be used as dipping sauce for finished dumplings.
Divide the dough into two portions and shape each into a log about 1 inch in diameter. Cut each log into 12 equal portions using a cleaver. Flatten each portion in the palm of your hand to a circle 1/4 -inch thick and then roll on a lightly floured surface into a 3-inch circle only 1/8 -inch thick.
Place 1 tablespoon of the pork filling in the center of each circle and bring the dough up to enclose the filling, pinching the top edges together and pleating the edges to shape into a small pouch.
Place the shaped dumplings on a platter and cover with a moist cloth to prevent drying while shaping the remaining dumplings.
Bring 2 quarts of water or more to a bubbling boil in a deep saucepan. Add the dumplings one at a time to the boiling water and turn over gently with a strainer to prevent the dumplings from sticking together.
Cover the pan and cook over high heat just until the water returns to the boil. Add 1 cup cold water, cover the saucepan and return to the boil.
Remove the dumplings from the water with a bamboo strainer, arrange on a platter and serve immediately with the prepared dipping sauce.
Note: The dumplings can also be cooked in a steamer for 25 minutes. The cooked dumplings can be fried with 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and a little water to make pan-fried dumplings or pot stickers.
--From "The Art of the Chinese Cookery" by Joan Shih (available by calling 301-236-5311 or by e-mail at ChineseCookery@aol.com)
Falafel Burgers in Pitas
Makes 4 sandwiches
1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs
15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose white flour
milk (soy or rice milk also works)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large pita bread rounds, halved crosswise
1/2 small cucumber, thinly sliced
1 small tomato, thinly sliced
1/4 cup cucumber ranch or creamy cucumber salad dressing (Dijon mustard or soy mayonnaise also are good)
Place the bread crumbs in a shallow bowl and set aside. In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, onion, garlic and cumin. Cover and process until coarsely ground. Stir in the parsley and flour.
Shape the bean mixture into four patties roughly 3 inches in diameter. Carefully brush the patties with milk, then set each patty, one side at a time, in the bowl of bread crumbs to coat.
Heat oil in a large skillet over a medium-high flame. Cook each patty 4 or 5 minutes per side, or until lightly browned. Add oil between patties as needed.
To serve, place a patty in each pita half and add cucumber and tomato. Drizzle with salad dressing. If using mustard or soy mayonnaise, brush it into the pita before adding the patty.
Per sandwich (with dressing): 337 calories; 10 grams protein; 13 grams fat (2 grams saturated fat); 45 grams carbohydrate; 746 milligrams sodium; 0 milligrams cholesterol
--"Vegetarian Cooking" (Meredith Books, 2002, $16.95)