Strawberry Bisque

January 31, 2008

Another cool and sophisticated party treat … SAM

1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup light red wine
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 quart fresh strawberries, hulled and mashed
1/2 cup whipping cream, whipped
1/4 cup sour cream

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the water, wine, sugar, and lemon juice. Boil, uncovered, for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the strawberries and boil 10 minutes more, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and cool to lukewarm. In a small bowl, fold the whipped cream into the sour cream. Fold the cream mixture into the strawberry mixture. Chill 10 to 12 hours.
Makes 6 servings.

Wine Gelatin

January 30, 2008

Serve this beautiful, sophisticated dessert and you’ll win the heart of every adult who ever loved a quivering bowl of Jello! SAM

1/2 cup cold water
1 (1/4-ounce) envelope unflavored gelatin
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup boiling water
1 cup rosé wine
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup whipping cream, whipped
Red grape clusters

Place the cold water in a medium bowl and sprinkle the gelatin and sugar over the top. Add the boiling water and stir until the gelatin and sugar are dissolved. Stir in the wine and lemon juice. Pour into 4 wine glasses and chill 4 hours or until set. Garnish with whipped cream and grapes.
Makes 4 servings.

Crab Soufflé

January 29, 2008

Here’s another recipe that calls for canned soup. Some cooks swear by it, some avoid it like the plague. If you’re in the second category, substitute for the soup 1 cup of béchamel sauce or 6 ounces of log goat’s cheese melted in 3 ounces of water. But, in addition to being convenient, the canned soup makes it awfully good. SAM

2 cups garlic croutons, divided
2 cups cooked crabmeat or 1 pound imitation crabmeat
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 onion, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
1 small green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped (1/2 cup)
4 medium inside ribs celery with leaves, finely chopped (1 cup)
Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
4 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup half-and-half
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of celery soup, undiluted
1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
2 ounces Monterey Jack cheese or other mild cheese, grated (1/2 cup)

Grease a 1 1/2-quart baking dish and cover the bottom with 1 cup of croutons. In a medium bowl, combine the crabmeat, mayonnaise, onion, bell pepper, celery, salt, and pepper and spread over the croutons. Spread the remaining 1 cup of croutons on top. In another bowl, combine the eggs and half-and-half and pour over the croutons. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Bake the crab mixture, uncovered, for 15 minutes. In a small bowl, combine the soup and paprika and pour over the crab mixture. Sprinkle with cheese and bake, uncovered, for 1 hour more.
Makes 8 servings.

Spinach-Mushroom Lasagna

January 28, 2008

Lasagna is a crowd pleaser no mater how you serve it. This hearty vegetarian version doubles as an entrée. Multiply it to feed as many guests as you need. SAM

6 ounces no-boil lasagna (six 7-inch squares)
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock, very warm
2 tablespoons plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 medium onions, chopped (1 1/4 cups)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 pound mushrooms, brushed and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons dry sherry
Juice of 1 lemon (3 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon hot paprika
1 teaspoon dried or 1 tablespoon snipped fresh rosemary
1 pound fresh spinach, stemmed and torn
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 (16-ounce) carton ricotta cheese
1/4 cup yogurt cheese
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Romano cheese, divided
Freshly ground white pepper to taste
4 ounces mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced

In an 8-inch square pan, crisscross the lasagna noodles and cover with warm stock, turning once to coat evenly.

In a chef’s pan or Dutch oven over medium-low heat, heat the olive oil and add the onions and garlic. Cover and sauté until tender. Add the mushrooms, sherry, lemon juice, paprika, and rosemary, raise the heat to medium-high, and sauté, uncovered, until liquid is reduced. Add the spinach and cook until wilted.

In a medium bowl, mix together the eggs, ricotta cheese, yogurt cheese, Romano cheese, and pepper.

Pour 1/3 cup of stock from the noodles into another 8-inch square baking pan and crisscross 2 layers of lasagna noodles in the bottom. Spread on top 1/3 each of the ricotta mixture, spinach mixture, and mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers until the pan is 3/4 filled, ending with mozzarella cheese. Do not fill to the top as the lasagna will expand as it cooks. Drizzle on top the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons Romano cheese. Pour the remaining stock around the edges and cover tightly with foil.

Bake at 350 degrees F, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking, uncovered, until the lasagna has risen to fill the pan and is golden on top, about 1 hour more. Let rest for 10 minutes on a wire rack before serving.
Makes 4 servings.

Chocolate-Orange Fondue

January 27, 2008

A very convivial dessert … spend an evening around a chocolate fondue pot and you’ll fall in love with everyone at the table. If you don’t like the combination of chocolate and orange—and some ROL readers don’t—omit the zest and substitute for the Cointreau your favorite liqueur or flavored syrup. SAM

1 (16-ounce) package semi-sweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Cointreau liqueur
1 teaspoon orange zest
3 bananas, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
3 oranges, peeled and sectioned
2 dozen small Coconut Macaroons

In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, melt the chocolate, stirring constantly. Add the cream and stir constantly until well blended. Add the orange zest, vanilla and liqueur, stirring until blended. Pour the fondue into a chafing dish and serve with banana chunks, orange segments, and Coconut Macaroons.
Makes 8 servings.

Date Balls

January 26, 2008

This chewy, crunchy confection is ideal for buffets or any kind of finger-food get-together! SAM

1 cup granulated sugar
1 (8-ounce) package dates, pitted and chopped (1 1/4 cups)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon brandy
2 1/4 cups crisp rice cereal
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1/2 cup flaked coconut
Confectioners’ sugar

In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine the sugar, dates, egg, and brandy and cook, stirring frequently, until the dates are melted. Remove from the heat and add the cereal, pecans, and coconut. Mix well. Form into 1/2-inch balls and roll in confectioner’s sugar.
Makes 4 dozen 1/2-inch balls.

Open-Faced Chicken Sandwiches

January 25, 2008

For these elegant and so, so tasty little sandwiches, consider a smoked paprika. The extra depth in taste will wow you and your guests. SAM

PS If your favorite grocery doesn’t have smoked paprika, one of the online spice companies. My favorite is Penzy’s.

2 pounds chicken breasts, cooked, boned, and chopped (2 cups)
2 cups finely chopped pecans
4 center ribs celery with leaves, finely chopped (1 cup)
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
Sea Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
1 cup whipping cream
24 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
Smoked paprika

In a large bowl, combine the chicken, pecans, celery, parsley, salt, and pepper. Add the cream stirring until well mixed. Spread bread slices with mayonnaise and chicken mixture and cut diagonally into quarters. Sprinkle each sandwich with paprika.
Makes 8 dozen appetizer sandwiches.