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Archive for February, 2008

One of my favorite dishes is Chicken Marsala. I rarely order it in restaurants because I have had some pretty bad renditions. I only request it in restaurants that I trust to make it well. 

You can find a multitude of recipes for Chicken Marsala in cookbooks and online.  I use one for pork that is from Jane Brody. I don’t know if it was from one of her cookbooks, or from her newspaper column. The same recipe can be used for chicken breasts if they are boneless and pounded thinly enough.

PORK MARSALA 
1 lb. pork tenderloin, sliced 1/2″ thick, and pounded to 1/4″

1 t. olive oil

8 oz. button mushrooms, halved if large or sliced if desired

1 shallot, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 c. Marsala wine

1/2 c. red wine, dry

1 T. tomato paste

Chopped parsley, optional, for garnish 

 1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Brown the pork on both sides in the hot oil, in batches, and remove to a plate and keep warm covered with foil.

 2. Add the shallot to the oil in the pan, adding a little more if necessary. Cook, stirring, until translucent. Add the mushrooms and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring often.

3. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.

4. Stir in the Marsala, red wine and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 5-10 minutes to reduce. 

5. Return the pork to the pan to reheat for a minute or two. Garnish with parsley if desired and serve.

What to serve with this? I suppose you could serve potatoes, although it doesn’t seem quite proper somehow. I would probably serve risotto, if I had the time and inclination to stand and stir it for 20-20 minutes. However, it is always worth the trouble.

A plain spaghetti or linguine would be good, also, especially if you made a little extra sauce to dress the pasta.

Naturally, I would have a salad, and maybe some vegetable, like broccoli spears, or broccoli rabe. The color would be great for the relatively colorless meat and sauce.

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Being home for lunch has its benefits. I have my pick of what’s available in the frig or in the pantry. If I’m really lucky, I have a leftover dish that will be even tastier than it was first time around.

Today I am looking forward to the creamed chicken with biscuits that I prepared for dinner yesterday. I will warm up the chicken and put it over the slightly stale biscuit that I saved for today.  I am planning to make a meatloaf for dinner tonight. We will enjoy meatloaf sandwiches for the rest of the week at lunchtime. 

Sometimes a side dish from an evening’s meat can be turned into a lunchtime entree. I have a recipe for spinach with beans, canned tomatoes and a little cheese that becomes a delicious lunch with a slice of toasted bread. So it’s both a side dish and an entree. I would even serve it for dinner as the entree if I wanted to have a meatless meal.

SPINACH AND BEAN AU GRATIN  

1 T. butter or olive oil3 minced garlic cloves

1/2 c. chopped onion

1 can white beans, drained and rinsed

1 can chicken broth, low sodium preferred

14-16 oz. can diced tomatoes

1/2 t. dried basil, oregano, or rosemary, or a combination of them

10 oz. fresh spinach, washed and chopped

1/4 lb. mozzarella, shredded 

Salt and pepper to taste 

—-

1. Heat the butter in a large Dutch oven or skillet with high sides.

2. Saute the onion until translucent and add the garlic, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute.

3. Add the beans, broth, tomatoes and herbs. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low, and cook for about 15 minutes.

4. Add the spinach, one cup at a time, and stir until wilted.

5. Cook 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper as desired.

6. Transfer to an ovenproof dish or gratin dish, sprinkle with the cheese and broil a minute or two until the cheese is browned.  

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You can warm up the leftovers in the microwave, toast a slice of bread, and you’re ready for lunch. Nummmmmmmy.

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Often I will spend a great deal of time preparing the entree for a meal and leave little time or energy for a clever or classy side dish. At times like that it’s easy to pop a potato in the oven to bake.

Sometimes, however, a potato just won’t do the job, and if rice and noodles are out of the question, I sometimes think of sweet potatoes. There are always a few cans of sweet potatoes in the basement pantry. In the fall the supermarkets have special sales in anticipation of Thanksgiving Day and I usually buy a few cans then to stock up.

Here is a recipe I developed one evening when potatoes, rice, and noodles wouldn’t do. It’s easy, and you probably have everything you need right on hand. It’s sort of a mashed sweet potato dish with a little spice mixed in to keep it interesting.

SWEET POTATOES MORGANA

1 can natural sweet potatoes (no syrup)

1-2 T. melted butter

approximately 1/2 c. milk (or half and half or cream or a mixture)

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 t. allspice

brown sugar or maple syrup, optional

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Puree the sweet potatoes by putting then through a potato ricer, a food mill, a food processor, or just mash them up with a fork. (You can make them as smooth or chunky as you like. No rules here.)

2. Mix with the rest of the ingredients, adding as much or as little sugar as as needed to make it sweet if you want. I usually don’t add any sugar to this because I like the sweetness of the potatoes themselves.

3. Put in a shallow casserole, like a gratin dish, or even a pie plate. (If you want to dress it up a little, you can sprinkle a little allspice or cinnamon on top – not too much.)

4. Bake at 325 degrees for about 30-40 minutes.

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