Tidewater Kitchen - February 2009

Perfect Recipes for Guests

by

Pamela Meredith-Doyle

   Having your friends over is no big deal when you have the perfect recipe – one that’s not only foolproof, but also simple. Here are some recipes that fit the bill. They are easy, can be varied and can be made ahead.
    Always stock your pantry and be prepared for any extra friends or extra-hungry eaters.
    I like to buy lots of veggies and wash and chop them a day or so ahead. I also like to make dips, but you can get some really good ones right in the refrigerated section of your market. Sliced bread baguettes with good olive oil and balsamic is always enjoyed by guests.
    I am a big hummus fan with veggies, toasted pita chips or bagel chips. Don’t forget blue tortilla chips with your favorite salsa or dip.
    I am always making cookie dough ahead so I can bake as needed. I often double recipes for desserts and store the extra for those last-minute dinner parties or people dropping by.
    Presentation is something I have learned from the very best! Dress up your food with fresh herbs. Desserts are something special when served in fun wine or martini glasses.

ENCHILADA DIP
1 T. olive oil, divided
1 lb. lean ground beef or turkey
½ t. kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup enchilada sauce
2 T. salsa
1 15-oz. can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
4 oz. cream cheese
4 oz. grated cheddar cheese

In a large sauté pan heat half the oil over medium-high heat and add beef or turkey and salt. Brown for about 10 minutes, stirring to break up clumps. If the meat has given off a lot of fat, drain it off. Otherwise simply push the meat to the side and add the remaining oil and garlic. Cook briefly over medium-low heat. Stir in the sauce and salsa and bring to a simmer. Add the beans and cream cheese. Stir gently until the cream cheese melts, then turn heat to low and add the cheddar. Stir until everything is hot and bubbly. Pour into a bowl and serve with your favorite tortilla chips. I love the blue ones.

DILL and SOUR CREAM DIP
½ cup light sour cream
3 T. nonfat cream cheese at room temperature
2 T. fresh dill
1 T. lemon juice
1 t. lemon zest
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
¼ t. salt

Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl. Serve or cover and refrigerate until serving time. I love to serve this with fresh veggies.

CHICKEN ARTICHOKE CASSEROLE
Here is a delicious chicken entrée that is perfect for buffet dining. It serves 6.

¼ cup butter
6 whole chicken breasts
1 cup chopped onion
1 clove minced garlic
4 T. all-purpose flour
¼ t. salt
1¼ cups Chablis or dry white wine
1 cup chicken broth
1 3-oz. pkg. cream cheese
1 14-oz. pkg. frozen or canned artichoke hearts
½ cup sliced almonds, toasted

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for 5 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove the chicken from the skillet, reserving the pan drippings, and place the chicken in a 2-quart casserole dish. Set aside.
Sauté the onion and garlic in the reserved pan drippings until tender. Add flour and salt, stirring until smooth. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add wine and broth; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture is thick and bubbly. Add the cream cheese, stirring until cheese melts. Remove from heat and set aside.
Arrange halved artichoke hearts over the chicken. Spoon cream cheese mixture over the chicken and artichokes. Cool.
To store; cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
To serve; bake uncovered at 350° for 45 to 50 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with almonds and serve.

BOW TIE CHICKEN PASTA
2 chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
2 t. Cajun seasoning
1 T. butter
1 green pepper, sliced
5-6 sliced mushrooms
1 green onion
1 T. cornstarch
2 cups half and half
¼ t. dried basil
¼ t. lemon pepper
¼ t. salt
2 cloves chopped garlic
pepper to taste
8 oz. bow tie pasta, cooked and drained
grated fresh Parmesan cheese
fresh parsley

Place chicken and Cajun seasoning in a resealable plastic bag. Toss and shake to coat the chicken. Sauté the chicken in butter until tender in a large skillet over medium heat, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the peppers, mushrooms and onion. Cook and stir for 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat. Mix cornstarch with a little half and half and add along with the remainder of the half and half and seasoning. Heat through. Add the cooked pasta and toss; heat through. Transfer mixture to a serving dish and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and parsley.

MACADAMIA-MANGO CHICKEN
½ cup soy sauce
2 garlic cloves
1 T. brown sugar
1 T. olive oil
1 t. fresh ginger
6 skinned and boned chicken breast halves
Mustard sauce
3 T. Macadamia nuts, chopped
Mango salsa

Combine the first five ingredients in a shallow dish or heavy-duty zip-lock bag. Add the chicken, cover or seal and chill for 1 hour, turning once.
Remove the chicken from the marinade, discarding marinade.
Grill the chicken, covered with a lid, over medium-high heat for 6 minutes on each side or until done. Drizzle with mustard sauce and sprinkle evenly with nuts. Serve with mango salsa.

MUSTARD SAUCE
½ cup Dijon mustard
2 T. light brown sugar
2 T. pineapple juice
¼ t. ground red pepper

Stir together all ingredients and chill for 2 hours.

MANGO SALSA
2 ripe mangos, peeled and diced
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
3 T. chopped fresh cilantro
2 T. honey
1 T. fresh lime juice
¼ t. ground red pepper
¼ t. salt

Stir together all ingredients and chill for 2 hours.

MAHOGANY BEEF STEW with RED WINE and  HOISIN SAUCE
4 T. olive oil
3½ lbs. boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 2½-inch pieces
3½ cups chopped onions
2 cups Cabernet Sauvignon
1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes with Italian herbs, undrained
½ cup hoisin sauce
2 bay leaves
1 lb. slender carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into 1-inch lengths
1 T. cornstarch mixed with 1 T. water
2 T. chopped fresh parsley

Heat 2 T. oil in a large heavy pot over high heat. A Dutch oven is perfect. Sprinkle meat with salt and pepper. Add meat to the pot; sauté until brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Push meat to the side of the pot. Reduce heat to medium and add 2 T. of oil. Add onions and sauté until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Mix meat and onions together. Add 1 cup of wine, tomatoes with juices, hoisin sauce and bay leaves. Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low, cover pot and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add carrots and 1 cup wine. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and increase heat to high. Boil the sauce, stirring occasionally, for another 15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add cornstarch mixture. Simmer until the sauce thickens, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes more. Discard the bay leaves. Season the stew with salt and pepper. Transfer the stew to a large bowl, sprinkle with parsley and serve.
This serves 6 and I like to serve it with horseradish mashed potatoes. This can also be made a day ahead. Just chill uncovered until room temperature, then cover and keep refrigerated. Bring to a simmer before serving.

HORSERADISH MASHED POTATOES
2 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes
11/3 cups whole milk
¼ cup prepared white horseradish
5 T. unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Cook potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and return to pot.
Meanwhile, bring 11/3 cups of milk to a simmer to heat the milk in a large saucepan. Add milk mixture and horseradish to potatoes. Using potato masher, mash until smooth. Add butter; stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper.
Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Stir over medium heat until heated through, adding more milk to thin if necessary.

SHRIMP PAD THAI
½ lb. Thai flat rice noodles (bahn pho) or rice sticks
Oil for deep frying
½ lb. fresh firm bean curd, cut into tiny cubes
¼ cup peanut oil
½ T. garlic, chopped
½ lb. shrimp, peeled and cut in half the long way
2 eggs, beaten
1 T. dried shrimp powder
¼ t. ground black pepper
3 T. finely chopped dry-roasted salted peanuts
2 T. lime juice, freshly squeezed
1 T. sugar
6 T. Thai fish sauce
¼ cup Tamarind sauce (below)
2 t. red chili paste with garlic
2 cups fresh bean sprouts
Garnish:
2 limes, quartered
1/3 cup fresh cilantro
3 chopped scallions
4 T. finely chopped dry-roasted peanuts
Tamarind Sauce:
1 oz. dried tamarind
10 T. hot water
Juice of 1 lime
1 t. salt
¼ cup sugar
6 T. rice wine vinegar

Start the dish by preparing the tamarind sauce. Soak the tamarind in about 5 T. of hot tap water. Stir until you have a paste. Strain the lime juice from the pulp, squeezing the pulp in a small strainer. Discard the pulp. Place another 5 T. water in a small saucepan. Add 2 T. of the tamarind juice along with the remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, stirring often. The color should look like a light brown syrup. You should have ¾ cup liquid. If not, add additional water and heat again for just a moment. Store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.
Have all ingredients ready before you start. Otherwise you will overcook the noodles.
Soak the noodles in ample warm water until supple, about 15 minutes, drain and set aside. Place the noodles in boiling water and cook just until the water returns to a boil. Drain again. Heat the oil for deep-frying to 375° and deep-fry the bean curd. Be sure to pat the bean curd dry on a paper towel first so it will not spatter fat on you. Drain the bean curd and set aside.
Heat a large wok and add the peanut oil and garlic. Stir-fry for a few minutes and then add the shrimp, drained noodles, beaten eggs, and deep-fried bean curd. Toss well and stir-fry for 3 to 4 minutes over medium-high heat.
Add the remaining ingredients, except the garnishes, and stir for a few minutes until the noodles are hot and tender. Place on a serving platter with the garnishes.

ASPARAGUS RISOTTO
1½ lbs. asparagus
5 cups canned low-salt broth
1 cup water
1 T. butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups Arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
½ cup dry white wine
2 t. chopped fresh rosemary
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup whipping cream
Fresh rosemary sprigs (optional)

Trim and discard the tough ends from the asparagus. Cut off the asparagus tips and reserve. Cut the remaining stalks into ¾-inch-long pieces. Place 2/3 of stalk pieces in a blender with 1 cup of broth and 1 cup of water. Purée until smooth. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until tender, about 8 minutes. Add rice and stir for 1 minute. Add wine and cook until absorbed, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Add ½ cup broth and chopped rosemary. Simmer until the liquid is absorbed, stirring often, about 4 minutes.
Continue to cook for 15 minutes, adding more broth by ½ cupfuls and allowing liquid to absorb before adding another, stirring often.
Add the remaining stalk pieces and reserved asparagus tips and continue cooking until rice is just tender and mixture is creamy. Add asparagus puree and stir until absorbed, about 3 minutes. Stir in ½ cup Parmesan cheese and cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer risotto to a serving bowl and garnish with rosemary sprigs.

MEXICAN WEDDING CAKE
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 t. baking soda
20 oz. can crushed pineapple
2 cups walnut pieces
Frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
¼ cup margarine or butter
4 t. vanilla

Mix flour, sugar, baking soda, pineapple and walnut pieces together. Pour batter into 2 greased 9-inch cake pans. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.
Cream icing ingredients together. Spread on and between cooled layers. Refrigerate and serve. This is so yummy and moist!

CHOCOLATE CAKE
2 sticks butter, softened
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
2 t. vanilla
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa
1 T. baking soda
½ t. salt
3 cups flour
1 1/3 cups sour cream
1 2/3 cups boiling water

Frosting:
1½ sticks butter, softened
1½ cups unsweetened cocoa
2 t. vanilla
5½ cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350°. Cream butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla, cocoa, soda and salt. Blend. Alternately add flour and sour cream, then water. Batter will be stiff.
Coat three 9-inch cake pans with non-stick vegetable spray. Dust with flour and shake out any excess. Divide batter among the three pans and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on wire racks.
For frosting cream the butter in a mixer. Add cocoa and mix well. Add vanilla. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating well. Add additional milk if necessary to achieve spreading consistency. Spread between cooled cake layers and cover entire cake. Some frosting will be left over.
Layers may be wrapped in wax paper after cooling and put into zip-lock bags and frozen. Defrost completely before frosting.

PECAN and CHOCOLATE TARTS
6 T. butter, softened
1 T. melted butter
5 oz. light cream cheese
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 T. confectioner’s sugar
¼ t. salt
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2/3 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
1 large egg
1 t. vanilla
2/3 cup chopped pecans

Mix softened butter and cream cheese in a bowl until smooth. Blend in flour, a bit at a time, confectioner’s sugar and ? t. salt. Form dough into a disk. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
Heat oven to 350°. Divide dough into 24 balls and press into 2 12-cup mini muffin tins, pushing dough up over edges. Refrigerate.
Mix brown sugar, chocolate chips, egg, melted butter, vanilla and remaining ? t. salt in a bowl until combined. Divide half the pecans among muffin cups, top with brown sugar mixture and sprinkle remaining pecans on top. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until dough is lightly golden brown around the edges.
Let sit for 5 minutes. Run the tip of your knife around cup edges to loosen. Remove when cool enough to handle, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

APPLE and PEAR CRUMBLE
Canola oil cooking spray
1 cup Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut into slices
1 cup fresh pears, peeled and cut into slices
4 t. fresh orange juice
½ t. vanilla
3 T. whole wheat flour
3 T. rolled oats
2 T. brown sugar
4 t. canola oil
2 t. honey
1 t. cinnamon
? t. nutmeg

Heat oven to 350°. Coat four 4-oz. ramekins with cooking spray. Combine apples, pears, juice and vanilla in a bowl and mix well. In a separate bowl combine the remaining ingredients with hands until moist and crumbly. Spoon fruit mixture into ramekins. Scatter crumb mixture evenly over the top of each. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until fruit bubbles and top is golden brown.