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February menus.

Chocolate and Valentine's Day--a winning team, but for breakfast? The opulent touch of chocolate works if you want to pamper someone very special on this February Sunday with an easily prepared breakfast in bed. Although the menu is a lavish way to start the day, you can meet your nutritional goals with lighter meals for lunch and dinner. Well suited are both of the menus that follow--a low-fat soup supper based on turkey sausages, and a satisfying vegetable casserole suitable for guests.

VALENTINE BREAKFAST

Chocolate is the dominant flavor of this indulgent breakfast. Muffins, with almond paste and cocoa, are equally good baked the day before if you don't want their aroma to give away your morning surprise.

On individual breakfast trays, arrange 1 or 2 muffins, a big cup filled with hot strong coffee and frothed hot milk flavored with more chocolate. Accompany with a chocolate-coated spoon for stirring mocha au lait, or a little cup of chocolate curls to stir into the cup.

For less chocolate, serve coffee with hot frothed milk and offer unusual sweeteners like unrefined sugar cubes, crystalline lumps of brown sugar, or rock candy swizzle sticks (sold in candy and liquor stores).

Segmented grapefruit are luxurious. but if time is precious, simply serve the fruit in halves along with several fresh strawberries, if available, on individual plates.

Chocolate Macaroon Muffins
 About 1/4 cup (1/8 lb.) butter or margarine
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
 Macaroon filling (recipe follows)


In a large bowl, beat to blend 1/4 cup butter, sugar, and vanilla until fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until blended.

In another bowl, combine flour, cocoa, and baking powder; stir into butter mixture until well mixed.

Equally divide 1/2 the batter among 8 buttered or paper-lined muffin cups (2- to 2 1/2 -in. diameter). To each cup, add an equal portion of 1/2 of the macaroon filling. Next, add equal portions of remaining chocolate batter, then top equally with the remaining macaroon filling.

Bake in a 350|degrees~ oven until muffins spring back when gently pressed and macaroon filling is lightly browned, about 25 minutes. Let muffins cool in pan 10 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool. Serve warm or cool. If making ahead, let cool, package airtight, and hold at room temperature up to 1 day, or freeze to store longer. Makes 8.

Per muffin: 345 cal. (39 percent from fat); 7.2 g protein; 15 g fat (5.7 g sat.); 48 g carbo.; 112 mg sodium; 69 mg chol.

Macaroon filling. In a food processor or bowl, whirl or beat 3/4 cup (7 oz.) almond paste and 1/2 cup sugar until mixture forms coarse crumbs. Add 2 large egg whites. l at a time; whirl or beat until smooth. Stir in 1/4 cup sweetened flaked dried coconut.

Mocha au Lait
1 1/2 cups nonfat, extra-light (1 percent), or light (2
percent) milk
2 tablespoons sweetened ground chocolate
1 1/2 cups hot espresso or hot strong coffee
 Chocolate spoons or curls (directions follow)


Pour milk and chocolate into a 1- to 1 1/2-quart pan; stir to mix well. Place on medium heat and stir until liquid is steaming. To froth, whip in pan on heat with a mixer at high speed, or pour into a blender and whirl.

Pour hot espresso equally into 2 large cups or mugs (each at least 1 1/2 cups), then add milk and foam. Offer with chocolate spoons to stir mocha, or spoon chocolate curls, to taste, into cups and mix with plain spoons. Serves 2.

Per serving without chocolate spoons or curls: 122 cal. (30 percent from fat); 6.8 g protein; 4 g fat (2.4 g sat.); 16 g carbo.; 101 mg sodium; 3.7 mg chol.

Chocolate spoons. In the top of a double boiler over hot (not boiling) water, melt 3 ounces (about 1/2 cup) semi-sweet chocolate baking chips; stir often until smooth.

Dip bowls of 2 soup-spoons, 1 at a time, into chocolate, thickly coating cupped and back sides of spoon and about 1/2 inch of the handle. Lift spoon from chocolate; let it drip briefly, then set on a sheet of waxed paper or foil. Chill until firm, at least 15 minutes. Repeat to make a thicker coating, if desired. If making ahead, package spoons airtight and chill up to 1 week.

Chocolate curls. Use semis-weet, bittersweet, milk, and white chocolate, or just 1 kind of chocolate; you need the equivalent of 1 plain chocolate bar (3 to 4 oz.) at least 1/4 inch thick.

Working with 1 bar at a time, unwrap chocolate and place, smooth side up, on a square of cooking parchment or waxed paper.

Warm in a microwave oven at full power (100 percent) for 5-second intervals (or warm in a 150|degress~ oven for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes) until bar gives faintly when gently pressed. If chocolate gets too soft, let cool a few minutes.

Pull a vegetable peeler toward you over top of the softened chocolate, using firm and even pressure to cut curls. If chocolate splays out instead of curling, gently neaten and curl with fingers. Transfer curls to a flat surface to firm. Serve curls, or store in an airtight container up to 1 week. Save chocolate scraps for another use. A 3-ounce bar makes 1 1/2 to 2 cups curls (1 3/4 to 2 3/4 oz.), or 2 servings.

Per ounce semisweet chocolate: 135 cal. (56 percent from fat); 1.2 g protein,' 8. 4 g fat (5 g sat.); 18 g carbo.; 3.1 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.

HEARTY SOUP SUPPER

Sausage-Barley Soup with Swiss Chard

Soft Pretzels

Crisp Vegetables

Baked Apples

Vanilla Frozen Yogurt

Dark Beer

Chilled Apple Cider

The soup cooks in about an hour, but it can be started a day ahead. Refreshingly lean, it helps bring balance to a day when you've had rich lunch or breakfast, such as the Valentine's Day treat, preceding. Chewy pretzels and crisp raw vegetables, such as radishes and cucumber sticks, are also low in fat.

Bake apples as the soup simmers; serve the fruit, hot or cool, and top portions, if you like, with scoops of low-fat vanilla frozen yogurt.

Sausage-Barley Soup with Swiss Chard
1 pound turkey kielbasa sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 large (about 1/2 lb.) onion, chopped
2 large (about 1/2 lb. total) carrots, thinly sliced
10 cups regular-strength beef broth
1 cup pearl barley
1 tablespoon minced fresh or 1 teaspoon crumbled dried
oregano leaves
1/2 pound Swiss chard, rinsed and drained


Prepared horseradish and Dijon mustard

In a 5- to 6-quart pan over medium heat, combine sausage, onion, and carrots. Stir often until sausage and vegetables are lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Discard any fat in pan.

To pan, add broth, barley, and oregano. Bring to a boil over high heat; cover and simmer until barley is tender to bite, about 30 minutes. If making ahead, cool, cover, and chill up to 1 day. Reheat to continue.

Trim and discard discolored stem ends of chard. Coarsely chop leaves and stems; stir into soup. Simmer, uncovered, until leaves are limp, about 10 minutes. Ladle into wide bowls. Add horseradish and/or mustard to taste. Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 283 cal. (21 percent from fat); 19 g protein; 6.7 g fat (2. I g sat.),' 39 g carbo.; 776 mg sodium; 52 mg chol.

CASUAL COMPANY DINNER

While the cheese-topped vegetable casserole (ideal for friends who eschew meat) bakes, make a green salad, warm the rolls, and peel and slice oranges for dessert. To enhance the oranges, dust with cinnamon sugar and, for adults, sprinkle with a little orange-flavor liqueur.

Pepper, Rice, and Cheese Casserole
4 large (about 2 lb. total) red, yellow, or green bell
peppers
1 large (about 1/2 lb.) onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 cup regular-strength chicken broth
4 cups cooked rice (any kind)
4 large eggs
 About 2 cups (15-oz. container) part-skim ricotta cheese
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese


Rinse, stem, seed, and slice or chop peppers. In a 5- to 6-quart pan over high heat, combine peppers, onion, garlic, and 1/4 cup of the broth.

Stir often until broth evaporates and browned bits stick to pan. Add 1/4 cup broth, and stir to scrape bits free.

Stir rice into vegetables. Spread mixture level in a deep 3-quart casserole about 8 inches wide.

In a bowl, beat to blend remaining broth, eggs, ricotta, and 1/2 the parmesan; spread over vegetable mixture. Sprinkle with remaining parmesan.

Bake in a 375|degress~ oven until the cheese mixture is golden brown on top, about 45 minutes. Serves 6.

Per serving: 424 cal. (28 percent from fat); 22 g protein; 13 g fat (6.6 g sat.); 54 g carbo.; 332 mg sodium; 172 mg chol.

To use our nutrition information

Sunset recipes contain nutrition information based on the most current data available from the USDA for calorie count; grams of protein, total fat (including saturated fat), and carbohydrate; and milligrams of sodium and cholesterol.

This analysis is usually given for a single serving, based on the largest number of servings listed for the recipe. Or it's for a specific amount, such as per tablespoon.

The nutrition analysis does not include optional ingredients or those for which no specific amount is stated (salt added to taste, for example). If an ingredient is listed with an alternative, the figures are calculated using the first 'choice or a comparable food. Likewise, if a range is given for the amount of an ingredient (such as 1/2 to 1 cup butter), values are figured on the first, lower amount.

Recipes using regular-strength chicken broth are based on the sodium content of salt-free homemade or canned broth. If you use canned salted chicken broth, the sodium content will be higher.
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Title Annotation:Food and Entertaining; recipes
Author:Weber, Christine B.
Publication:Sunset
Date:Feb 1, 1993
Words:1690
Previous Article:Display on one side, storage on the other.
Next Article:Quick soup: the secret is steeping.
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