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January menus - role reversals: apple-topped custard for breakfast. Oyster pie for dinner.

Unusual toppings change the taste and appearance of some reliable old standbys in this month's menus.

For a new look at the breakfast table, baked custard gets a topping of warm fruit and spicy croutons. Relax with a hot cup of rich coffee dressed up with grated chocolate, slivers of orange peel, and whipped cream.

For dinner, oysters unexpectedly show up in an onion-polenta crust. Assemble this dish ahead to bake and serve after a day out in the January cold.

Custard breakfast

Breakfast ingredients are predictable enough, but the assembly is different here: eggs and milk bake as custard; toast becomes nutmeg-flavored croutons; and fruit is sauteed and served on the custard.

Morning Custards

Sauteed Apples and Nutmeg Croutons Orange Juice Coffee Whipped Cream Ground Chocolate Orange Peel Slivers

Because the custard is good hot or lukewarm, it can stand a bit after it cooks. The croutons can be prepared ahead. But wait to saute the apples until just before serving. Organize beverages while the custards bake.

Morning Custards

Mound hot apples and nutmeg croutons on custards just before serving. 4 large eggs 3 large egg yolks 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla 4 cups milk Freshly grated nutmeg

In a bowl, beat eggs and yolks with sugar and vanilla. In a 2- to 3-quart pan over high heat, scald milk; stirring, slowly pour milk into egg mixture, then pour liquid into 5 or 6 shallow ovenproof bowls (1-to 1-1/2-cup size).

Set bowls in a larger pan (use two pans if bowls won't all fit in one) in a 350 deg. oven. Pour hottest tap water into pan, filling to about 1 inch. Sprinkle each dish with nutmeg. Bake until custards feel set when lightly pressed in centers, 35 to 40 minutes. Lift custards from water; let stand at least 10 or up to 30 minutes before serving. Makes 5 or 6 servings.

Sauteen Apples and Nutmeg Croutons 1/2 cup sliced or silvered almonds 5 tablespoons butter or margarine 1 cup 1/4-inch bread cubes 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1/2 cup raisins 3 medium-size red apples, cored and cut into 1/4-inch wedges 1/4 cup sugar 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Put almonds in a 10- to 12-inch frying pan over medium heat; stir until light brown. Pour into a bowl and set aside.

In the same pan over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add bread cubes and nutmeg; stir until cubes are brown and toasted, about 10 minutes. Pour into bowl with almonds.

Reduce heat to medium and melt 1 tablespoon butter in skillet. Add the raisins and stir until they puff, about 5 minutes. Pour into bowl with almonds. (At this point, you can tightly cover almond mixture and let stand up to overnight.)

Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter in skillet; add apples, sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon. Cook, turning with a wide spatula, until apples are soft and glazed-looking, about 15 minutes. Pour almond mixture into pan, mix well, and serve hot. Makes 6 servings.

Oyster pie dinner

Kernels of corn stud of pudding-textured polenta crust that cradles a bed of sweet onions and oysters.

Oyster-Polenta Pie Hot Cooked Artichokes Butter Lettuce Salad Strawberry and Lemon Sorbets Lemon Wafers Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc

You have lots of choices with the pie: polenta or cornmeal, fresh or canned oysters, onions or leeks.

Steam fresh artichokes, or simmer in a seasoned stock. Serve with melted butter or with lemon-mustard mayonnaise.

But fruit sorbets or ices to make a two-tone dessert; accompany with purchased lemon wafers or your favorite cookies.

Oyster-Polenta Pie 1/2 cup (1/4 lb.) butter or margarine 1/2 cup chopped onion 1/2 cup polenta or cornmeal 2 cups regular-strength chicken broth or water 1 package (10 oz.) thawed frozen corn kernels 2-1/2 cups thinly sliced yellow or white onions, or 1-1/4 pounds leeks 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced 1 teaspoon fennel seed 2 cups shucked oysters, or 2 cans (8 oz. each) oysters 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs or cracker crumbs 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

In a 3- to 4-quart pan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter; add chopped onion and cook, stirring, until onion is limp, about 5 minutes. Add 1 cup broth and corn to pan; bring to boiling on high heat. In a bowl, mix polenta with remaining 1 cup broth. Using a longhandled spoon, stir polenta into corn mixture; reduce heat to keep at gentle boil (watch for spatters). Cook, stirring, until polenta mixture is the consistency of soft mashed potatoes, about 15 minutes.

Pour hot polenta into a shallow 2-quart casserole. With the back of the spoon, spread and press polenta to evenly coat bottom and 1 inch up sides of casserole. (At this point, you can let polenta cool, then cover and chill it up to overnight.)

(if using leeks, trim off root ends and green tops and discard tough outer layers; slice leeks in half lengthwise. Rinse thoroughly, fanning each piece under running water. Then thinly slice crosswise.)

In a 10- to 12-inch skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter; add the sliced onion, 1/2 of the garlic, and fennel seed. Stir occasionally until onion is limp, about 5 minutes. Spoon into crust.

Drain fresh oysters: rinse, if desired. In skillet, melt 2 more tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Add oysters; cook, turning once or twice, until oysters puff and just begin to ripple on the edges, 3 to 4 minutes. (If using canned oysters, drain them and heat just to warm in butter.) Lift oysters from pan with a slotted spoon and lay them over the leeks.

Rinse and dry skillet, then, over high heat, melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Add remaining garlic and stir over medium heat until garlic is soft, about 2 minutes. Add crums and stir until light brown, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in parsley; sprinkle mixture over oysters. Bake, uncovered, in a 350 deg. oven until polenta is hot in the center, about 15 minutes (cut to test). Spoon from dish and serve. Makes 4 servings.
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Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:recipes
Date:Jan 1, 1986
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