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French bistro dinner ... it's simple, unpretentious, generous.

At its best, French bistro cuisine is simple, unpretentious food well prepared and generously proportioned. This cooking also tends to highlight a region's local ingredients, as you'll in this uncomplicated supper we encountered in Burgundy. You can easily manage this meal at home. A crisp oven-browned cake of sliced potatoes with herbs bakes while you prepare the Swiss chard and season the thick double-cut lamb ribs with an aromatic paste of juniper berries. As the chops brown, cook the chard. The tender leaves cook more quickly than the stems, so separate them and cook the stems first; add the leaves later, along with a tangy bit of Roquefort cheese. Or you can choose another vegetable, such as spinach or green beans, or offer a green salad. The chop drippings become the base for a flavorful, quickly reduced pan sauce to spoon on the meat. A smooth red wine such as a light French Burgundy (a St. Morey Denis, for example) or California Pinot Noir complements the meal. For dessert, offer a soft ripe cheese such as St. Andre to go with ripe pears.

Lamb Rib Chops with Juniper Berries

You may have to special-order rib lamb chops cut with 2 bones for each piece. Or buy rack of lamb and have it cut through at every other rib.

Juniper berry paste (recipe follows)

4 to 6 double-rib lamb chops (2 to

2 1/2 lb. total), excess fat trimmed

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1/2 cup each regular-strength chicken

or beef broth and dry red wine

2 tablespoons minced shallots Rub juniper berry paste evenly over each chop. Melt half the butter in a 10- to 12-inch frying pan over medium heat. Add chops and cook, turning as needed, until meat is well browned on both sides and still pink in center (cut to test), 18 to 20 minutes total. (The drippings will be blackened.) Transfer chops to a platter; keep warm. To pan, add broth, wine, and shallots; bring to a boil on high heat, stirring to loosen browned bits. Boil until reduced to 1/3 cup. Remove from heat and add remaining butter, stirring until melted. Pour sauce over chops. Serves 4. Per serving: 227 cal.; 20 g protein; 15 g fat; 2.4 g carbo.; 132 mg sodium; 80 mg chol. Juniper berry paste. Combine 2 tablespoons crushed dry juniper berries with 1 teaspoon coarse-ground pepper and 1 large clove garlic, minced or pressed.

Crisp Herbed Potato Cake

4 large (about 2 1/4 lb. total) russet


1/3 cup melted butter or margarine

3/4 teaspoon each dry rosemary leaves

and dry thyme leaves

Salt Peel potatoes and carefully cut into 1/8-inch-think slices. Combine butter and herbs. Coat the inside of a 12-inch oven-proof frying pan or 14-inch pizza pan with some of the herb butter. Neatly arrange potato slices, overlapping, in concentric circles to form an even layer in pan. Drizzle remaining butter over potatoes. Bake on the bottom rack in a 450 [degrees] oven until potato cake is well browned and crisp on top and bottom (lift with a spatula to check), about 1 hour. Invert a platter onto frying pan. Hold together (using hot pads) and invert potato cake onto platter. With a sharp knife, cut potatoes into wedges. Season to taste with salt. Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 322 cal.; 4.6 g protein; 16 g fat; 42 g carbo.; 173 mg sodium; 41 mg chol.

Swiss Chard in Roquefort Cream

2 pounds Swiss chard, stem ends


1 tablespoon butter or margarine

1/4 cup whipping cream

1 ounce (1/4 cup) Roquefort cheese

Freshly ground pepper Wash Swiss chard well and drain. Cut stems out of leaves and slice stems crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces. Slice leaves into 1- to 2-inch widths. Melt butter in a 4- to 5-quart pan over medium-high heat. Add stems; stir often until limp, about 8 minutes. Add leaves and cream; cover and stir occasionally until leaves are wilted, about 3 minutes. Uncover, add cheese, and stir frequently on high heat until most of the liquid boils away, 3 to 4 minutes. Season to taste with pepper. Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 144 cal.; 6.4 g protein; 10 g fat; 9.8 g carbo.; 590 mg sodium; 31 mg chol.
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Title Annotation:recipes
Date:May 1, 1990
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