Tidewater Kitchen - June 2007

New Fast Food

by

Pamela Meredith Doyle

     A lot of us live our lives on the fast track. Here are some of my favorite recipes that take as little as 10 minutes, or as much as 30 minutes, to make into a meal. These recipes are designed to create great dishes using fresh and interesting ingredients in next to no time. With busy people like myself in mind, I am always working hard on the daily “What’s for dinner?” dilemma.
      Enjoy these recipes and hopefully, even in those busiest moments, you’ll never be left wondering what to make for a fast, easy dinner. Remember, keeping your pantry stocked is always a great way to keep yourself prepared and ready for a quick and easy dinner.

CHUNKY GUACAMOLE RECIPE
4 ripe avocados, pitted and peeled
2 T. fresh lime juice
2 ripe plum tomatoes, seeded and cut into ¼-inch dice
1/3 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
2 T. chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
Hot sauce, optional

     Mash the avocados with a fork until chunky. Stir in the lime juice, tomatoes, onion, cilantro and hot sauce. Season to taste with salt and ground pepper. Serve at room temperature. Yield 2 cups.

BEEF TENDERLOIN
with FLAVORED BUTTERS

4-pound beef fillet
¼ cup Dijon mustard
1 t. kosher salt
1 T. freshly ground black pepper
1 T. fresh thyme leaves
1 T. vegetable oil

     Remove the fillet from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before roasting to bring it to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 500° and position a rack in the center.
      Spread the mustard evenly on all sides of the fillet. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and thyme. Heat the oil in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet over high heat; the oil should shimmer but not smoke.
      Brown the fillet on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Place the fillet in the oven and reduce temperature to 425°. Roast about 25 minutes for rare or until a meat thermometer reads 130° when inserted in the center.
      Remove the fillet from oven and allow to rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.
      This recipe makes 36 hors d’oeuvres, 8 to 10 buffet servings or 6 servings for a sit-down dinner.

HORSERADISH BUTTER
8 T. (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 T. prepared horseradish
¼ t. kosher salt

     Place the butter in a small bowl. Add the horseradish and salt. Mash with a wooden spoon to combine. Chill the butter until needed, but allow it to come back to room temperature before spreading.

ROASTED GARLIC BUTTER
4 cloves garlic, skins left on
1 T. olive oil
½ t. kosher salt
8 T. (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature

     Preheat oven to 350°. Place the garlic on a small sheet of foil and pull up the foil’s edges to form a pouch. Pour the oil over the garlic and sprinkle with about ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Roast for 35 minutes.
      Allow the garlic to cool slightly. Place the butter in a small bowl. Squeeze the garlic out of its skin onto the butter. Add the remaining salt and mash with a wooden spoon to combine. Chill the butter until needed, but allow it to come back to room temperature before using.

PARSLEY BUTTER
8 T. (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
¼ t. kosher salt

     Place the butter in a small bowl. Add the parsley and salt and mash with a wooden spoon until combined. Chill the butter until needed, but let it come back to room temperature before using.

BLUE CHEESE BUTTER
8 T. (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
¼ T. Dijon mustard
¼ cup crumbled good-quality blue cheese

     Place the butter in a small bowl. Add the mustard and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Mash in the blue cheese. Chill the butter until needed, but allow it to come back to room temperature before using.

MEATLESS EMPANADAS
2 T. olive oil
1 pkg. refrigerated pizza dough (about 1 pound)
Flour for the work surface
1 16-ounce can refried beans
1 1-pint container fresh salsa
1 8-ounce pkg. shredded cheddar cheese
Sour cream - optional

     Preheat oven to 400°. Spread 1 teaspoon of oil on a baking sheet.
      Divide the dough into 6 equal portions. Roll each into an 8-inch round on a lightly floured surface.
      On half of each round, spread some of the beans and then top with 1½ tablespoons of the salsa and 2 tablespoons of the cheese. Fold the dough to cover the filling and press the curved edge with your thumb to seal.
      Lightly brush the tops of the empanadas with the remaining oil and transfer them to the baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden.   Serve with a dollop of sour cream.

GOAT CHEESE BRUSCHETTA
2 T. balsamic vinegar
2 T. chopped fresh herbs such as dill, parsley or basil
Toasted country or other bread
Goat cheese

     Add the balsamic vinegar and herbs to some basic vinaigrette. Drizzle over the slices of toasted country bread and spread with goat cheese. Finish with another drizzle of vinaigrette.

BASIC VINAIGRETTE
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (2 lemons)
1 t. honey
1 small shallot, minced
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ t. kosher salt
¼ t. freshly ground black pepper

     Whisk together the lemon juice, honey and shallot in a small bowl. Slowly add the oil in a thin stream, whisking constantly, until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.

ANTIPASTO SALAD
½ pound rotini, fusili or other short pasta
1 pound green beans, trimmed
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T. Dijon mustard
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
½ pound mozzarella, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 15- to 19-ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
3½ ounces sliced hard salami, cut into strips
1 9-ounce box frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
1 6-ounce jar roasted red peppers cut into strips
8-ounce jar pepperoncini (hot Tuscan peppers), drained
½ t. dried hot red pepper flakes
1 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, minced

     Cook the pasta according to the package directions until al dente. Remove from the cooking water with a slotted spoon, rinse under cold water and drain well. Add the green beans to the boiling water and cook until tender-crisp. Remove the green beans, rinse, and drain with the pasta.
In a large bowl, using a wire whisk, blend the garlic, mustard and vinegars. Slowly whisk in the oil and add salt to taste.
      In a very large bowl, toss the pasta with the dressing and stir in the mozzarella cheese, garbanzos, salami, artichoke hearts, roasted peppers, pepperoncini, red pepper flakes and parsley. Cover and chill for 1 hour.
      This salad may be made up to 2 days in advance.

PORK with CARAMELIZED
SWEET POTATOES

2 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed and thinly sliced
2 T. olive oil
2 T. fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
2 pork tenderloins, halved (1½ to 2 pounds total)
½ t. kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 T. Dijon mustard
3 T. sugar
Juice from 1 orange

     Preheat oven to 450°. Lightly coat two baking pans with vegetable cooking spray. In a bowl, toss the sweet potato slices with the oil. Arrange in a single layer in one of the baking pans; sprinkle with half the rosemary. Place in the oven and cook until tender, about 30 minutes.
      Meanwhile, season each side of the meat with the salt and a few grinds of pepper. Spread them with the mustard, then sprinkle with the sugar and the remaining rosemary. Arrange them on the second baking pan. Place them in the oven to roast for about 20 minutes.
      Check the potatoes for tenderness. When done, arrange the potatoes on four plates and top with slices of the meat. Cover the plates to keep them warm.
      Place the baking pan used for the pork over medium heat on top of the stove. Add the orange juice and cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Pour over the meat and season with salt and pepper.

LAST-MINUTE LASAGNA
24- or 26-ounce jar pasta sauce
1 18- to 24-ounce refrigerated large cheese ravioli
1 10-ounce box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 8-ounce bag shredded mozzarella
½ cup (2 ounces) grated Parmesan cheese

     Spoon a thin layer of sauce over the bottom of a 9-by-9-inch or 11-by-7-inch 2-quart baking dish. Cover with a single layer of ravioli. Top with half the spinach, half the mozzarella and a third of the sauce. Repeat with another layer of ravioli and the remaining spinach, mozzarella and the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake until bubbly, 5 to 10 minutes more.

TORTILLA SOUP with a KICK
1 9-ounce pkg. soft corn tortillas
2 32-ounce boxes or cans low-sodium chicken broth
Bones and meat from half a grilled or roasted 4-pound chicken
1 lg. red onion, coarsely chopped
2 large tomatoes, diced
2 medium jalapenos, sliced
Juice of 1 lime
2 ears grilled corn
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 ripe avocado, peeled and cubed
8 ounces crumbled Feta cheese, queso blanco or other fresh white cheese

     Preheat oven to 350°. Cut tortillas in ½-inch strips. Arrange on a baking sheet and bake 8 to 10 minutes or until crispy.
      In a large saucepan, simmer the chicken broth, bones and meat for 20 minutes. Strain the broth through a colander into another saucepan. When the bones are cool enough to handle, pick off any meat and add it to the broth. Stir in the red onion, tomatoes, jalapenos and lime juice. Heat about 5 minutes.
      Cut the corn from the cobs and add it to the soup. Divide the tortilla strips among 4 bowls. Ladle in the soup and top with cilantro, avocado and cheese.

BLACKENED SALMON with RICE
4 salmon fillets
2 cups instant rice (such as Minute Rice)
2½ T. paprika
¾ t. cayenne pepper
1 t. dried thyme
½ t. garlic powder
1½ t. kosher salt
3½ T. unsalted butter
Juice of 1 lemon
1 11-ounce can corn kernels, drained
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 lemon, cut into wedges

     Heat oven to 400.
      Cook the rice according to the package directions.
      Meanwhile, in a shallow bowl, combine the paprika, cayenne, thyme, garlic powder and ½ teaspoon of salt.
      In a saucepan, over medium heat, melt 2½ T. of the butter and add the lemon juice.
      Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Working with 1 salmon fillet at a time, dip the top and bottom, first in the lemon butter, then in the spices. Cook the salmon until blackened, 2 minutes per side. Transfer to oven for 8 minutes.
      Stir the corn, parsley and the remaining salt and butter into the rice. Transfer the salmon and rice to individual plates and serve with the lemon wedges.

ENCHILADA PIE
1 10-ounce can green or red enchilada sauce
¼ cup heavy cream
4 8-inch tortillas
2 cups (8 ounces) grated Monterey Jack, plus ¼ cup for the top
1 3½- to 4-pound rotisserie chicken, shredded
½ small red onion, finely chopped
1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 cup salsa
1 avocado, diced
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves

      Heat oven to 400.
      In a small bowl, combine the enchilada sauce and cream. Spoon ¼ cup of the sauce mixture into the bottom of a shallow 2-quart casserole or 9-inch springform pan. Top with 1 tortilla and a third each of the cheese, chicken, onion and zucchini. Repeat twice to form a total of 3 layers. Top with the remaining tortilla, sauce mixture and cheese. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 minutes more. Slice into wedges and serve with the salsa, avocado and cilantro.
      Tip: For a vegetarian version, replace the chicken with 2 cups fresh or frozen (thawed) corn.

CHOWDER BAKE
6 strips bacon, diced
2 leeks (white and light green parts), chopped
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into a ½-inch dice
1½ cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1/3 cup dry white wine
1¼ cups heavy cream
1 t. kosher salt
½ t. black pepper
1 pound cod, skin removed and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 cups oyster crackers

     Heat oven to 400.
      In a large saucepan, over medium-high heat, fry the bacon until almost crisp. Spoon off and discard all but 1 tablespoon of the drippings. Add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the potatoes, corn, wine, cream, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Transfer to an 8-by-11-inch baking dish or shallow 2-quart casserole. Nestle the cod pieces into the chowder mixture. Top with the crackers and cover loosely with foil. Bake until the fish is cooked through, about 20 minutes.

STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE
1 box yellow cake mix
3 large eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
½ cup sugar, plus 3 T.
3 pints strawberries, stemmed and sliced
3 cups heavy cream

     Heat oven to 350. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, eggs and oil, along with the amount of water called for by the package directions. Beat until well combined. Divide the batter between the pans. Place in oven and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let the cakes cool for at least 10 minutes before removing them from the pans. Cool completely before assembling the shortcake.
      Meanwhile, sprinkle ½ cup of the sugar over the strawberries. Set aside at room temperature until the berries release their juices, about 30 minutes. About 15 minutes before serving, combine the cream and the remaining sugar in a medium bowl and whip by hand or with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Place one of the cake layers on a serving platter. Pile on half the strawberries and half the whipped cream. Top with the remaining layer, the rest of the whipped cream and the remaining strawberries. Serve immediately.