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October menus: a hearty bean soup, French toast from a waffle iron, spareribs braised in wine or broth.


Beans, bread, and bones: these three humble elements, plus a little humor and ingenuity, give simple menus this month an element of adventure.

For visual impact, bake tender drop biscuits in a wreath and serve around the base of a tureen of hearty bean soup. To give French toast dimples that hold fresh toppings for brunch or breakfast, bake slices of bread saturated with egg batter in a waffle iron. And to develop tasty juices to spoon over golden polenta for a peasant-style Italian supper, braise bony pork spareribs.

Soup and biscuit supper

Thick and warming, this bean soup makes an easy-to-manage meal for a cool fall evening.

Ham Hock Bean Soup

Cheese Biscuit Wreath Butter

Salad Relish Tray

Baked Apples

Put the soup on to simmer in the afternoon, or make it a day ahead and reheat. Bake the biscuit wreath just before dinner and give it time to cool briefly so it will be firm enough to handle easily.

To go with the soup, have a tray of refreshing foods to nibble, such as thin slices of turnip, crisp radishes, carrot or celery sticks, ripe green or black olives, and bread-and-butter pickle slices.

Prepare your favorite recipe for baked apples or consider the one on page 185.

Ham Hock Bean Soup

1 pound dried small white beans


2 tablespoons salad oil

2 large onions, chopped

2 large carrots, peeled and chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

1/4 cup chopped parsley

About 2 pounds ham hocks, sawed into halves

1 teaspoon each dry rosemary, dry thyme leaves, and dry mustard

1 bay leaf

2 cans (14 1/2 oz. each) or 4 cups regular-strength chicken broth

Salt and pepper

Sort through beans and discard debris; rinse beans and drain well. Place in a 6- to 8-quart pan. Cover generously with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand at least 1 hour; drain and discard water. Set beans aside.

Place the oil in the same pan and cook the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and parsley, uncovered, over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is quite limp, about 10 minutes. Add the beans, ham hocks, rosemary, thyme, mustard, bay, broth, and 1 1/2 quarts water. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer until meat is tender enough to pull from bones and beans mash readily, about 3 hours. (If made ahead, cool, cover, and chill up to 2 days; lift off solidified fat and reheat.)

Lift out ham hocks and let stand until cool enough to handle; pull off meat, discarding skin and bones. Tear meat into bitesize chunks; set aside. Skim off and discard fat from surface of soup.

In a food processor or blender, puree about half the beans, then return to pan; stir to blend. Season with salt and pepper, and pour into a tureen or serving bowl. Makes 3 1/4 quarts, enough for 6 servings.

Cheese Biscuit Wreath

Make a circle of paper 1 inch wider in diameter than base of soup bowl or tureen. Grease a 14- by 17-inch baking sheet and set paper circle in middle.

In a bowl, combine 2 cups all-purpose flour, 4 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon each dry rosemary and dry thyme leaves, and 1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese. With a pastry blender or two knives, cut in 1/3 cup shortening until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add 1 cup milk all at once and stir just until ingredients are moistened. Drop tablespoon-size mounds of dough, edges together, to form a wreath just touching edge of paper circle. Discard paper circle. Bake in a 450| oven until biscuits are golden, about 15 minutes. Slide a spatula under biscuits to loosen, and let cool slightly. Using wide spatulas, carefully slide biscuit wreath onto a board or the table; set soup tureen in center. Pull biscuits apart to serve. Makes 6 servings of about 3 biscuits each.

French toast breakfast

For a casual weekend breakfast or brunch, set the waffle iron out on the table and let family members or company cook their own French toast.

Chilled Cranberry-Orange Juice

Waffled French Toast with Sauteed Pears

Browned Pork Sausages

Creme Fraiche or Vanilla Ice Cream

To give the toast a springier texture, use bread that is at least a day old, or let fresh slices dry unwrapped for 6 hours to overnight. For creamiest texture, let bread stand overnight in the egg-milk batter.

Waffled French Toast with Sauteed Pears

8 eggs

2 cups milk

3 to 4 tablespoons sugar

8 slices dry thick-sliced bread for French toast, or 1-inch-thick slices French sweet or sourdough bread, Hawaiian sweet bread, or egg bread

Melted butter or margarine

Sauteed pears (recipe follows)

Beat eggs, milk, and sugar (use 3 table-spoons if bread is slightly sweet) to blend. Pour mixture equally into two baking pans large enough to hold all slices in one layer. Add half the slices to each pan; turn in the egg mixture to coat both sides. Let stand at room temperature until all egg mixture is absorbed, at least 20 minutes (or cover and refrigerate overnight). Set an electric waffle iron on mediumhigh heat according to manufacturer's directions. When hot, brush grids lightly with melted butter. Arrange as many bread slices as will fit on the grids, close lid, and cook until well browned on both sides, about 12 minutes total.

Lift French toast from iron and serve hot with sauteed pears and top with a spoonful of creme fraiche or ice cream. Repeat to cook remaining toast. Serves 4 to 6.

Sauteed pears. Peel, core, and cut 3 large firm-ripe Bartlett pears into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Melt 3 tablespoons butter or margarine in a 10- to 12-inch frying pan on medium heat. Add pear slices; cook, turning frequently, just until hot, about 1 minute; sprinkle lightly with ground nutmeg. Serve, or cover, turn off heat, and let stand as long as 20 minutes.

Braised rib dinner

Pork spareribs reach fork tenderness when slowly pan-roasted in wine or broth and their own flavorful juices.

Braised Spareribs with Polenta

Broiled Parmesan Tomatoes

Butter Lettuce Salad

with Vinaigrette Dressing

Fall Fruits with Cream Macaroons

While the ribs simmer, you have ample time to prepare a salad of crisp butter lettuce leaves and a favorite vinaigrette dressing.

The polenta needs constant attention for about 20 minutes, but you can keep it warm for a short time over hot water.

While the rib juices are boiling to concentrate, broil the tomatoes.

For dessert, drizzle peeled and halved figs, pitted and halved plums, or whole grapes with kirsch or other cherry-flavored liqueur to taste; cover and chill until time to serve. Offer whipping cream to pour over individual servings.

Braised Spareribs with Polenta

3 pounds pork spareribs

2 tablespoons salad oil

3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh or crumbled dry rosemary

1 cup dry white wine or regular-strength chicken broth

Polenta (directions follow)

1/2 cup water

Cut spareribs into individual ribs. In a 12-to 14-inch frying pan over medium to medium-high heat, cook ribs in the oil until well browned on all sides. Push ribs to one side of pan.

To the same pan, add the garlic and rosemary and cook, stirring, until the garlic turns golden. Rearrange the ribs in an even layer and pour in the wine. Cover tightly and simmer gently, turning the ribs occasionally, until the meat is so tender it pulls easily from bones, about 1 1/2 hours.

Lift ribs from pan, place on a platter with polenta, cover, and keep warm. Tilt pan to accumulate juices on one side; skim off and discard fat. Add the water to pan. Boil over high heat, scraping browned bits free, until juices are reduced to 3/4 cup. Pour juice through a strainer, discarding garlic and herbs. Pour juices over ribs and polenta. Serves 4.

Polenta. In a 4- to 5-quart pan, bring 3 cups water to boiling over high heat. Meanwhile, stir together 1 1/2 cups each polenta (Italian-style cornmeal) and cold water.

Using a long-handled spoon, gradually stir polenta into boiling water. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring constantly (it splatters), until mush no longer tastes gritty, 15 to 20 minutes. Add salt to taste. Serve, or cover the polenta and keep warm in the top of a double boiler set over gently simmering water for as long as 30 minutes.

Broiled Parmesan tomatoes. Cut 2 to 4 medium-size tomatoes in half horizontally and place cut side up in a 9- or 10-inch square pan. Sprinkle with 1/4 to 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Broil 4 to 6 inches from heat just until cheese is lightly toasted and tomatoes are warm, about 10 minutes. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Photo: Biscuit ring, baked to fit around tureen base, dresses up bean soup supper. Serve with crisp vegetables, including carrots and turnip slices
COPYRIGHT 1984 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:recipes
Date:Oct 1, 1984
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