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Elegance with eggplant and zucchini.

An elegant, delicious and impressive buffet can be put together easily around a vegetable theme--one that features eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes and spinach.

All these attractive, vegetable-based dishes are easy and quick to assemble and prepare. This kind of cooking is an integral part of the new American approach to food--one that emphasizes fresh, colorful, simply prepared food, as good to look at as it is to eat.

The Oriental influence on American cooking is clear in this approach--one that I observed in my 11 years as executive chef for the Sheraton Hotel in Hawaii. There I watched Chinese and Japanese cooks prepare all ingredients beforehand and cook them quickly and simply. The elimination of heavy sauces and intricate preparation techniques not only means faster, easier and more healthful eating, but it also frees the host or hostess to enjoy the party and join the guests rather than to be exiled in the kitchen.

Morevoer, these dishes are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber and relatively low in fats and cholesterol.

It is no exaggeration to say these trends are part of a true revolution in American food. They reflect a growing national maturity and self-confidence as well as an interest in our own culinary past and regional traditions. Until six or seven years ago it was next to impossible to find an American chef in our better restaurants and hotels. The mistaken idea that only Europeans could produce truly fine food was widely held. All of that has been completely overturned, and we are now producing--here at home--a new generation of talented, original American chefs, food writers and critics.

A few specifics for the best possible results for these recipes follow. When shopping for produce, look for fruits and vegetables that are brightly colored and firm to the touch. Don't buy anything that looks or feels limp. If cauliflower is rusty on the tips of the florets, it is old. If you do buy it, you will have to cook it in milk to get rid of the color. If carrots bend, they are olf--don't buy them. With eggplant, the color tells you nothing, so a firm touch is essential. Be especially careful with yellow squash and zucchini; make sure they are firm and not moldy, because these vegetables tend to become moldy quickly. Mushrooms must be white and closed. Brown spots or openings between stems and caps indicate they are too old to yield a fresh flavor or texture.

Accompanying wines for this meal might be any one of the following: Louis Jadot Macon Blanc Villages; Louis Jadot Beaujolais Villages; Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve; or Robert Mondavi Chenin Blanc. All of these are characterized by their broad appeal. They are neither too dry nor too sweet, but those people who know fine wine will also enjoy and appreciate them.

Recipes follow: Eggplant with Veal and Mushrooms

(Makes 6 servings) 1/4 cup oil 1/4 cup light margarine, melted 1 large eggplant 1 pound ground veal 1 onion 1 pound mushrooms, chopped fine 1 whole shallot 2 cloves garlic Coarse black pepper (called butcher block) 1/4 cup chives 1/2 pound Cheddar cheese Hollow out eggplant and leave a 1/4" border. Cut into small cubes. Heat oil and margarine in skillet and add eggplant and veal. Cook on low heat about 3 minutes. Add onion, mushrooms, shallot, garlic and pepper. Cook approximately 5 minutes. Add chives. Fill shell of eggplant. Top with cheese. Bake in 375[deg.]F. oven for 20 minutes. Can also be made with zucchini as an appetizer.

Zucchini Bread

(Makes 2 loaves) 3 cups wheat flour 1 tablespoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon salt 2 teaspoons cinnamon 1 teaspoon nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves 1 cup milk 2 eggs, beaten 1/2 cup vegetable shortening, melted 1/2 cup honey 2 cups zucchini, shredded, raw 1-1/2 cups chopped walnuts Preheat oven to 350[deg.]F. Grease and flour two 8-1/2" x 4-1/2" pans. Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves; set aside. Place milk, eggs, shortening, honey and zucchini in mixing bowl. Add dry ingredients and beat until batter is blended. And walnuts. Bake 50-60 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes, then turn out on rack and cool.

Zucchini Quiche

(Yields approx. 100 quickes) 8 long, slender zucchinis 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese 1 can (6-3/4 oz.) chunk ham 3/4 quart heavy cream 3 egg whites Nutmes Preheat oven to 400[deg.]F. Wash zucchini and cut off ends. Cut into 1" rounds. Hollow out middles with melon baller. (Be careful not to cut all the way through.) Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and ham into each round. Beat cream, eggs and nutmeg together. Pour into each zucchini round to fill. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes or until firm and golden on top.

Flowered Chilled Pasta

(Makes 4 servings) 1 pound wheat pasta 1/2 pound handmade zucchini flowers or simple slices 1/2 pound handmade carrot flowers or simple slices 1/2 pound yellow squash 1/4 pound broccoli flowers 1/4 pound cauliflower flowers 1/2 pound shitake mushrooms 1 tablespoon garlic 1/4 cup oil Cook pasta in salted water al dente. Rinse in cold water. Blanch all vegetables and leave slightly crisp. Set broccoli only in bath of ice water to hold color. Saute shitake mushrooms in oil with 1 tablespoon of garlic. Toss pasta and vegetables together and hold 3 of each for top garnish. Top with yogurt dressing.

Yogurt Dressing 1 cup yogurt 1 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon pepper 2 teaspoons prepared mustard 1 teaspoon salad herbs (thyme, tarragon, oregano, basil) 1 teaspoon curry powder 1/4 cup oil

Zucchini Custard Tarts

(Makes 24 tarts) 1 cup Cheddar cheese, finely diced 1-1/2 cups zucchini, chopped fine 24 unbaked 1-1/2" tart shells 8 egg whites 1 tablespoon flour 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon powdered mustard 1/4 teaspoon ground mace Dash cayenne 1 cup skim milk 1 cup light cream 1 tablespoon light margarine Preheat oven to 375[deg.]F. Divide cheese and zucchini equally among the tart shells. Set aside. Beat the next 6 ingredients together; then stir in milk, cream and margarine. Strain mixture and divide equally between tart shells. Bake for 30 minutes or until custard is set. Serve hot.

Crust for Tarts

(Makes 24 tarts) 4 cups whole-wheat flour 2 cups white flour 2 teaspoons salt 2 teaspoons baking powder 3 cups shortening 2 cups cold water Mix all ingredients with fork and stir in water, a small amount at a time. Mixture will be crumbly. Roll a handful at a time on floured surface with rolling pin. Place in 3-inch pie tins. Add filling and bake as directed above.

Spinach Salad

(Makes 4 servings) 1 pound spinach 1 teaspoon salt 1 tablespoon sugar 1/2 teaspoon paprika 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 2 tablespoons lemon juice 1/2 cup ketchup 1 cup oil 1 tablespoon vinegar Garnishes Wash the spinach in water several times and remove hard stems. Cut the spinach into strips, dry and chill. Make dressing by mixing salt, sugar, paprika and mustard with Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and ketchup. Add oil and vinegar slowly and alternately while heating in an electric mixer. The dressing should be thick and creamy. Serve over spinach. Garnish with bacon bits and sliced onions, mushrooms and alfalfa sprouts.

Zucchini Souffle

(Makes 6 servings) 1/4 cup light margarine 4 tablespoons flour 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 cup heavy cream 1 cup (1/4 lb.) Gruyere cheese or Cheddar cheese, grated 1 cup zucchini, chopped fine 1 pound ricotta cheese 8 egg whites (reserve yolks) Dash cayenne 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar Preheat oven to 325[deg.]F. Melt margarine in saucepan. Remove from heat and blend in flour and salt. Stir and cook 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in cream. Cook until the sauce is medium thickness and stir constantly. Stir in cheese, zucchini and ricotta. Add a little of the hot sauce to the egg yolks and then stir the yolks into the remaining hot mixture. Add cayenne. Beat egg whites until they are foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat until whites stand in stiff peaks. Gently fold into the mixture. Batter bottom (not sides) of a 1-1/2-quart souffle dish and pour in the mixture. Place the dish in a pan of hot water. Bake 75 minutes or until souffle is well puffed and browned. Serve immediately. Serve with tomato couless.

Tomato Coulee 1/4 stick light margarine 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced 1 small carrot, thinly sliced 1 small onion, thinly sliced 4 large tomatoes, peeled and seeled 1 tablespoon sugar 1 teaspoon parsley stems, minced 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme 1/4 teaspoon bay leaf, crumbled Freshly ground pepper Combine all ingredients; garnish with watercress sprigs.

Zucchini Stir Fry

(Makes 6 servings) 1/2 pound zucchini and 1/2 pound yellow squash, cut in pieces 1/ pound broccoli florets 1/2 pound cauliflower florets 1/2 pound snow peas 1/2 cup sesame oil 1 tablespoon garlic 1/2 teaspoon ginger, freshly grated 1 pimiento, chopped and squeezed Bring large pot of water to boil. Blanch each of first five ingredients separately for one and one-half minutes. Drain each and place immediately in ice water. Heat oil in pan until hot. Add garlic and ginger and saute for 1 minute. Add vegetables and toss ingredients until hot. Add chopped pimiento.
COPYRIGHT 1985 Saturday Evening Post Society
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes recipes
Author:DeRosa, Pasqual
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Date:Apr 1, 1985
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