May 15

Black-Eyed Susan

Serves 2

1 ounce vodka

1 ounce Mount Gay rum

1/2 ounce Cointreau

6 ounces orange juice

3 ounces pineapple juice

garnish: pineapple wedge, orange slice or cherry

Mix together and serve over crushed ice. Garnish with a wedge of pineapple, an orange slice or a cherry.

Spring Frittata

Makes 4 servings

2 teaspoons olive oil or pan spray

6 large eggs, lightly beaten in medium-sized bowl

1/3 cup ricotta (skim or whole milk)

1/3 cup cream or milk

1 cup (about 3 ounces) shredded cheeses (2 or 3 kinds: fontinella, smoked mozzarella, Asiago or Romano)

1 teaspoon chopped fresh herb such as tarragon, dill or basil

1 to 2 shallots, peeled and sliced

8 to 10 asparagus spears, 2 inches trimmed off bottoms, and cut in half, lengthwise

pinch of fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 to 3 ounces smoked salmon, cut into strips (optional)

1 ripe small Roma tomato, very thinly sliced

Heat broiler or oven to 400 degrees. Coat bottom and sides of a 9-inch or 10-inch skillet or omelet pan with olive oil or use pan spray. If using a nonstick-surface pan, wipe with paper towel coated with oil or sprayed lightly. Have all ingredients measured and ready.

Using a fork, in bowl with the eggs, beat in the ricotta and cream or milk, then add the cheeses and the fresh herbs. Set aside.

Heat pan to a medium heat. Saute shallots and prepared asparagus. Add a little salt and pepper. When asparagus cooks to a bright green, remove 8 halves with tongs and set aside. Adjust the heat to medium-low and pour the egg-and-cheese mixture in the pan over the remaining asparagus and shallots. Keep temperature high enough to set the eggs, but do not burn the bottom.

Cook for about 5 to 7 minutes or longer until the bottom is setting and lightly browning (use a spatula and gently lift to check under). When bottom and sides are firming, and center is still runny, add the smoked salmon (if using), then arrange the remaining asparagus spears on the top in a sun-burst design with tips pointing outward. Place slices of tomato in between asparagus.

Carefully lift the pan and set it under the broiler or in the oven. Finish cooking for 3 to 5 minutes about 4 inches from the broiler or 5 to 7 minutes in the oven or until the top is set and lightly browned.

Do not over bake. (Note: It will take a little longer in the oven than under a broiler.)

Using a dry potholder or kitchen towel, remove hot pan. With a spatula, carefully lift under frittata and slide from pan onto plate.

Divide into quarters. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Spiced Beef Pockets

Makes 6 servings

Preparation and cooking time: about 45 minutes

2 pounds boned beef sirloin steak, fat trimmed

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon pepper

12 Roma tomatoes (2 pounds total)

6 pocket breads (6 to 7 inches wide), cut in half crosswise

salt

1/2 cup thinly slivered red onion

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1 cup diced dill pickles or cucumber

1 cup Sesame-Yogurt Sauce (recipe follows)

Rinse beef and pat dry; slice crosswise into 1/8 -inch-thick strips 2 1/2 inches long. In a bowl, mix beef, lemon juice, allspice and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; let stand 10 minutes.

Rinse and core tomatoes; cut each in half lengthwise. Set halves, skin up, in a 10-inch by 15-inch baking pan. Broil about 4 inches from heat until browned, 6 to 9 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 200 degrees. Stack pocket breads and wrap in foil. Warm in oven with tomatoes until ready to serve, 5 to 10 minutes. Set a 10-inch to 12-inch nonstick frying pan over high heat. When hot, add beef mixture; stir until meat is no longer pink. Transfer beef to a wide bowl or platter. Boil juices until reduced to 1/4 cup; pour over meat. Stir in salt to taste.

Arrange tomatoes beside beef. Sprinkle onions and parsley over meat. Serve pocket breads, pickles and Sesame-Yogurt Sauce alongside. To eat, spoon beef mixture, tomatoes, onion and pickles into pocket bread halves. Add yogurt sauce to taste.

Per serving: 438 calories; 42 grams protein; 8.8 grams total fat (2.7 grams saturated fat); 47 grams carbohydrate; 788 milligrams sodium; 93 milligrams cholesterol

Sesame-Yogurt Sauce

Makes about 1 cup

Preparation and cooking time: about 5 minutes

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

1 cup plain nonfat yogurt

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

salt and pepper

In a 6-inch to 8-inch frying pan over medium heat, stir sesame seeds until golden, 2 to 3 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix yogurt, garlic and toasted sesame seeds. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Per 1-tablespoon serving: 11 calories; 0.9 gram protein; 0.3 gram fat (0.1 gram saturated fat); 1.3 grams carbohydrate; 11 milligrams sodium; 0.3 milligram cholesterol

Old-fashioned Chess Pie

If you're going to spend this much on your butter, you might as well bake something that showcases it. I had good luck with this family recipe for chess pie, which has very few ingredients to detract from the flavor of the premium butter.

Serves 8

1/2 cup premium butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 extra-large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

one 9-inch pie crust (see below)

Melt the butter and sugar and let cool. Beat the eggs with a mixer until light and frothy. Continue beating while adding spoonfuls of the sugar-and-butter mixture. Add the vanilla. Bake in the pie shell for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Pie Crust

1/2 cup premium butter (or part butter, part white vegetable shortening)

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

3 to 5 tablespoons ice water

Using a pastry cutter or 2 knives, cut the chilled butter into the flour until pea-size lumps form. Add just enough ice water to combine. Press together to form the dough. Wrap in wax paper and chill for 1 hour or overnight. Roll out and fit into 9-inch pie pan without stretching.

Sauerkraut Balls

Makes about 20 balls

one 14-ounce can sauerkraut, drained

1 can corned beef, shredded

1 small onion, grated

1/4 cup margarine

1/4 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon horseradish

3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup bread crumbs, plus extra bread crumbs, for rolling

flour, for rolling

2 eggs, beaten slightly

Mix sauerkraut, beef and onion in a medium bowl. Melt margarine, add flour, mustard and horseradish to make a roux. Slowly stir in milk and cook until the mixture is thick. Add to the meat mixture; add 1/2 cup bread crumbs. Chill. Form into balls the diameter of a quarter, roll in flour, dip in eggs and roll in more bread crumbs. Fry in batches in deep fat, about 3 to 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels; serve warm. Can freeze and refry when ready to serve them.

Tester Laura Reiley's comments: "The horseradish and the sauerkraut give these crisp little balls a kick. A fun party hors d'oeuvre, serve them with toothpicks. They would be especially good with a dipping sauce of sour cream mixed with more horseradish. While they could be baked, the deep frying makes the exteriors very crisp and the inside soft and moist."

Wild Irish Stew

Serves 6

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small yellow onion, chopped

1 celery stalk, cut into 1/4 -inch slices

5 small waxy white potatoes, quartered

1 pound baby carrots

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 cups vegetable stock or water

1/4 cup dry red wine (optional)

2 bay leaves

1/4 cup soy sauce

8 ounces white button mushrooms, quartered

1 cup chopped kale

1 teaspoon dried thyme

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons water

1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas or cannellini beans

fresh minced parsley for garnish

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and celery, cover and cook about 5 minutes until softened (stirring several times). Add potatoes, carrots, garlic, stock, wine and bay leaves. Bring to a boil uncovered. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add soy sauce, mushrooms, kale, thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.

Stir in the cornstarch mixture, bring to a boil, stir and cook for 1 minute until stew thickens. Add the beans, reduce heat and simmer until heated throughout, about 10 minutes. Remove bay leaves. Serve sprinkled with parsley.

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