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December menus.

DECEMBER MENUS

It's that busy time of year when celebrating begins to fill your calendar. Keeping in mind that time is minimal, we've devised three satisfying yet simple-to-prepare menus.

After trimming the tree, reward your family with crusty calzone. Our last two menus, a quick-to-fix holiday breakfast and a dinner suited for company, depend on the oven to do most of the work.

Fireside supper

These serving-size calzone are easy to eat out of hand at a casual feast by the fire.

Mushroom and Prosciutto Calzone

Spinach Salad

Amaretti Cookies Red Seedless Grapes

Chianti Milk

To speed preparation, make the calzone filling a day ahead. Get dough started at least 2 hours before serving. Rinse spinach, discarding stems and coarse leaves; drain well, then assemble the salad while the calzone bakes.

Mushroom and Prosciutto Calzone

1 package active dry yeast

1 cup warm water (110|)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour About 1/2 cup cornmeal

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil Mushroom filling (recipe follows)

In a small bowl, soften yeast in water, about 5 minutes. In a large bowl, mix flour, 1/2 cup cornmeal, sugar, and salt. Add yeast mixture and 2 tablespoons oil. Stir with a fork until evenly moistened and dough holds together. Scrape dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead until a smooth, compact ball, about 15 turns. Place dough in a greased bowl; turn over to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

When dough has risen, punch down and divide into 6 equal pieces. Roll out each on a lightly floured board to make an 8-inch round. Spoon 1/6 of the filling over half of each dough circle to within 1/2 inch of edge. Fold other half over the filling, pressing edges firmly together; seal and crimp edges.

With a wide spatula, transfer calzone to greased and cornmeal-dusted 12- by 15-inch baking sheets. With a fork, prick tops of turnovers and brush lightly with remaining oil. Bake in a 425| oven until richly browned, 18 to 20 minutes. Serve hot. Serves 6.

Mushroom filling. In a 10- to 12-inch frying pan, combine 2 tablespoons oil from dried tomatoes packed in oil or olive oil; 1 clove garlic, pressed or minced; 1 large onion, sliced; 1 pound mushrooms, sliced; and 2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped. Stir often over medium-high heat until onion is golden and mushrooms are brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Remove from heat; cool briefly. Add 2 tablespoons dried tomatoes packed in oil (optional), drained and cut into thin slivers; 2 tablespoons minced parsley; 1/2 pound jack cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes; and 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese. If made ahead, cool, cover, and chill until the next day.

Christmas breakfast starter

On a December weekend, enjoy cranberry scones with honey and orange-flavored cream cheese.

Cranberry-Walnut Scones

Whipped Honey-Orange Cream Cheese

Oven-fried Bacon

Sparkling Compote

Hot Cocoa

You can bake the scones and bacon together in the same oven.

Use orange peel to flavor the scones and the whipped cream cheese. Orange segments go into a sparkling fruit compote. Cut segments free from membranes and mix with peeled, sliced kiwi fruit and canned sliced pears in their own juice; to serve 4 to 6, you'll need 4 medium-size oranges, 2 medium-size kiwi fruit, and 1 can (1 lb.) sliced pears. Spoon into champagne flutes and fill with sparkling apple cider or with sparkling wine.

Cranberry-Walnut Scones

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon each baking soda and salt

3/4 cup (3/8 lb.) butter or margarine, cut into small pieces

1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel

1 cup buttermilk About 1 tablespoon whipping cream or milk

1 tablespoon sugar mixed with 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

In a large bowl, stir together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut or rub butter into flour mixture until coarse crumbs form; stir in cranberries, walnuts, and orange peel. Add buttermilk and mix with a fork just until dough is evenly moistened.

Gather dough into a ball and place on a floured board. Roll or pat into a 3/4-inch-thick circle. Using a 2 1/2-inch-diameter cutter, cut into rounds. Place on a greased 12- by 15-inch baking sheet, spacing 1 1/2 inches apart. Reroll and cut scraps. Brush tops of scones with cream; sprinkle with sugar-spice mixture.

Bake on a lower rack in a 400| oven until tops are lightly browned, 14 to 16 minutes. Serve warm. Makes 1 dozen, 4 to 6 servings.

Whipped Honey-Orange Cream Cheese

In a small bowl, beat 1 large package (8 oz.) cream cheese (at room temperature), 2 tablespoons honey, and 1 tablespoon grated orange peel until light and fluffy. Serve, or cover and chill up to 2 days. Makes about 1 1/4 cups, 4 to 6 servings.

Oven-fried Bacon

Line a 10- by 15-inch rimmed baking pan with foil; place a wire rack over pan. Lay 12 to 14 strips (about 1 lb.) bacon, slightly overlapping, on rack. Bake on upper rack in a 400| oven until brown and crisp, 14 to 16 minutes. Serves 4 to 6.

Impromptu company dinner

About an hour is all you need to prepare this dinner for last-minute entertaining. Here, a mustard dressing works two ways. Drizzle on salads and spread over pork chops before baking. Buy apple turnovers at the bakery, or bake frozen ones.

Artichoke, Endive, and Shrimp Salad

Baked Pork Chops Dijon

Best-ever Crispy Potatoes

Steamed Broccoli

Apple Turnovers

Merlot Mineral Water

Start potatoes first. Make dressing and crisp greens. About 20 minutes before potatoes are done, place chops in same oven. Then cook broccoli and dress salad.

Artichoke, Endive, and Shrimp Salad

2 heads Belgian endive (about 4 oz. each), leaves separated

2 cups watercress sprigs, washed and crisped

1 can (8 1/2 oz.) artichoke hearts packed in water, drained and cut into quarters

1/2 pound tiny cooked shelled shrimp

Mustard dressing (recipe follows)

Arrange equal portions of Belgian endive, watercress, and artichoke hearts in rows on each of 6 salad plates; scatter shrimp over vegetables. Drizzle about 2 tablespoons mustard dressing over each salad. Makes 6 first-course servings.

Mustard dressing. In a bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup olive or salad oil, 1/2 cup red wine vinegar, 1/4 cup Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons minced chives, 2 teaspoons dry tarragon, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper. Makes 1 1/2 cups.

Baked Pork Chops Dijon

6 loin pork chops (about 2 1/2 lb.), cut 3/4 inch thick

3/4 cup mustard dressing (recipe precedes)

Arrange chops in a foil-lined 10- by 15-inch rimmed baking pan. Spread 1 tablespoon of dressing over top of each chop.

Bake, uncovered, on the upper rack of a 475| oven for 10 minutes. Turn chops over, spread each with 1 more tablespoon of dressing, and continue to bake until browned and no longer pink at bone (cut to test), 8 to 10 minutes. Serves 4 to 6.

Best-ever Crispy Potatoes

2 tablespoons each olive oil and butter or margarine

5 large russet potatoes (about 3 1/4 lb. total), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

1 large onion, cut into eighths

4 cloves garlic, cut into halves Salt

Place oil and butter in a rimmed 10- by 15-inch baking pan. Scatter potatoes, onions, and garlic in pan. Bake on lower rack of a 475| oven until golden brown and crispy, 1 to 1 1/4 hours, stirring occasionally. Add salt to taste. Serves 4 to 6.

Photo: Fireside supper of mushroom and prosciutto calzone, spinach salad, cookies, and grapes will satisfy hearty appetites

Photo: Wake up to this simple yet festive breakfast: cranberry scones, flavored cream cheese, bacon, sparkling compote, and hot cocoa
COPYRIGHT 1987 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:recipes
Publication:Sunset
Date:Dec 1, 1987
Words:1343
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