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June menus: Italian "batons" for breakfast. Ribs and shrimp, indoors or outdoors. Polenta and eggs, brunch or supper.

The emphasis is on relaxation in these three menus for June. Two lend themselves to either breakfast or light supper. Consider the other, an informal eat-with-your-hands dinner, for Father's Day; it makes an ideal garden picnic.

Weekend breakfast or late-night snack

Oven-toasted sweet rusks, reminiscent of Italian biscotti, are delicious to dunk into big mugs of hot coffee or chocolate. Serve them as a soothing way to start the day, or a cozy way to end it.

Twice-baked Ginger Toast Ricotta Cheese Spread Peaches Anise Sugar or Anise Honey Coffee or Hot Chocolate

You can make the mildly sweet, toasted cooky-bread, cheese spread, and flavored sugar or honey several days ahead. Allow at least 1 large ripe peach for a serving; peel and slice at the table. The anise sugar or honey sweetens the fruit and cheese, and is also good in coffee.

Twice-baked Ginger Toast 3/4 cup sugar 2/3 cup coarsely chopped almonds 1/3 cup melted butter margarine 2 tablespoons water 1-1/2 tablespoons minced candied ginger 4 teaspoons anise seed 1 teaspoon vanilla 2 large eggs 1-2/3 cups all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons baking powder

In a bowl, mix sugar, almonds, butter, water, ginger, anise, vanilla, and eggs; beat to blend. Mix flour with baking powder, and stir thoroughly into sugar mixture. Scoop dough out onto the center of a greased 10-by 15-inch rimmed pan. With a rubber spatula, shape dough to make a rectangular log about 1-1/4 inches thick, 3 inches wide, and the length of the pan. Bake in a 350 [deg.] oven until golden brown, about 35 minutes.

Remove loaf from oven; let cool slightly. Cut loaf diagonally in long slices about 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide. Tip slices over onto cut sides and arrange slightly apart on pan. Return to oven until toasted a deep gold, about 20 minutes more. Cool on wire racks. Serve, or store in airtight containers up to a week; freeze to store longer. Makes about 1-1/2 dozen pieces, or 5 or 6 servings.

Ricotta Cheese Spread

In a bowl, blend 2 cups (1 1b.) ricotta cheese and 1-1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel. Serve, or cover and chill up to 2 days. Makes 2 cups, or 5 or 6 servings.

Anise Sugar or Anise Honey

Lightly crush 2 teaspoons anise seed in a mortar and pestle or under a flat-bottomed glass. Mix seed with 1/2 cup sugar. Or combine seed with 1/2 cup honey in a 2- to 4-cup pan, and stir over low heat to flavor honey; allow about 5 minutes. Serve honey warm or cool. Sugar and honey keep indefinitely at room temperature. Makes 1/2 cup, or 5 or 6 servings.

Rustic Sunday dinner

Indoors or out, the rustic character of this meal invites informality. Confit-style Country Ribs and Shrimp White Bean and Lentil Salad Garden Lettuce Basket Boysenberry Cream Puffs Dry Jug Red Wine or Lemondae

You start this meal a day ahead. Rub the meat and shrimp with seasoned salt; as they stand overnight, the salt lightly cures them, giving them succulence. You can also make the salad a day ahead.

Next day, bake cream puffs and fill with whipped cream or ice cream to go with fresh boysenberries. Or buy cream-filled puffs from a bakery.

While the ribs braise, you have ample time to organize dinner.

The salad can be spooned into green leaves to eat. Wash and crisp 1 small head each of romaine and red leaf lettuce, and, if you like, 1 medium-size head Belgian endive. Tuck leves upright in a basket for a fresh-from-the-garden look.

Confit-style Country Ribs and Shrimp 2 tablespoons salt 2 teaspoons each cracked dry bay leaves and dry rosemary leaves 5 to 6 pounds country-style pork spareribs. 1/2 pound medium-size or large shrimp, shelled and deveined Water Italian or regular parsley sprigs Combine salt, bay, and rosemary; rub mixture over the ribs and shrimp. Place ribs and shrimp in a plastic bag and twist shut, or in a glass or stainless steel bowl; cover and chill 10 to 12 hours. Thoroughly rinse ribs and shrimp under cold running water, rubbing lightly to release as much salt as possible; drain and pat dry. (If you are not ready to start dinner, chill ribs and shrimp, covered, up to 8 hours.)

In a 5- to 6-quart pan (with tight-fitting lid) over medium-low heat, arrange spareribs as flat as possible. Cover and cook slowly until meat is very tender when pierced and is richly browned, about 2 hours. As the fat cooks out of the meat and begins to brown, you will hear it sizzling; from this point check frequently, turning often for even browning

Lift ribs from pan; drain, set aside, and keep warm. Add shrimp to pan; cook, uncovered and turning often, until shrimp are opaque in center (cut to test), about 8 minutes. Arrange ribs and shrimp on a large serving platter; garnish with parsley. Eat with knife and fork, or with your fingers. Serves 5 or 6.

White Bean and Lentil Salad 2 teaspoons each dry basil leaves, dry oregano leaves, and fennel seed 2 cups regular-strength chicken broth 1/2 cup lentils, sorted and rinsed 2 cans (15 oz. each) cannellini (white kidney) beans Red pepper dressing (recipe follows) Salt and pepper 1/4 cup minced parsley

Put basil, oregano, and fennel in a large tea ball or tie up in a triple thickness of cheesecloth. Place herbs in a 2- to 3-quart pan with broth and bring to a boil. Add lentils; cover and simmer until lentils are tender to bite, 30 to 40 minutes. Drain and discard herbs; if you like, save broth for soups.

Drain cannellini beans; rinse and drain again. Mix beans with lentils and dressing in a serving bowl; season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and chill to blend flavors, at least 6 hours or overnight. Stir in parsley. Makes 5 or 6 servings.

Red pepper dressing. With a fork or whisk, blend 2/3 cup olive or salad oil, 1/2 cup each minced red bell peppers and onion, 1/4 cup white wine vinegar, and 1-1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard.

Eclectic foods for A.M. or P.M.

Flavors from the Southwest and from Italy are present in this light and easy menu for brunch or supper. Creamy Italian polenta, laced with bacon, goes with smooth scrambled eggs and mild Southwestern-style baked chilies. Bacon Polenta Scrambled Eggs Roasted Cheese-stuffed Chilies Tomato Wedges Limeade or Grapefruit Juice

While fresh mild chilies roast with cheese, cook the polenta, then scramble the eggs.

Bacon Polenta 1/2 cup chopped bacon (about 5 slices) 1/3 cup finely chopped onion 2 large cloves garlic, minced 2-1/4 cups regular-strength chicken broth 3/4 cup polenta (Italian-style cornmeal) or yellow cornmeal

In a 2- to 3-quart pan on medium heat, cook bacon until crisp; stir often. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until onion is limp, about 8 minutes. Drain off and discard all but 1 tablespoon fat. Add 1-1/2 cups broth and bring to a boil, uncovered, over high heat.

Meanwhile, mix polenta with remaining broth. Using a long-handled spoon, gradually stir the polenta mixture into the boiling broth; it will thickens and spatter. Reduce heat to low and continue stirring 5 minutes longer. Remove from heat and at once mound onto a platter or ladle onto plates. Makes 4 servings.

Roasted Cheese-stuffed Chilies 4 fresh red or green Anaheim (California) chilies (about 1/2 lb.) 1/2 cup (2 oz.) each shredded cheddar and mozzarella cheeses

Leave stems on chilies; slit lengthwise and pull out and discard seeds and ribs. Mix shredded cheddar and mozzarella cheeses and fill chilies equally with cheese.

Place chilies, side by side and slit side up, in a 9-inch square pan. Bake, uncovered, in a 400 [deg.] oven until chilies are soft and lightly tinged with brown, about 25 minutes. Serve chilies on a small platter or plates. Makes 4 servings.
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Date:Jun 1, 1985
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