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Going Without Meat for Lent Doesn't Have to Feel Like Doing Penance : Eggs, Cheese and Seafood Provide Tasty Variety

February 13, 1986|JOAN DRAKE | Times Staff Writer

Some years ago when my mother was a Sunday school teacher, she began one Easter season by asking if any of her students could define Lent. A little hand sprang up immediately. In a very positive tone and with much enthusiasm the little boy declared, "It's that fuzzy stuff you find under the bed."

Lent, of course, is the six-week period before Easter Sunday. According to the "American Book of Days--Third Edition" by Jane M. Hatch (H.W. Wilson: 1978), Pope Gregory I the Great extended the formerly brief pre-Easter penitential observance to 40 weekdays.

The Pope urged "disciplinary practices in a spirit of self-examination and penitence" throughout the period. This resulted in the custom of fasting and abstinence from dairy products and meat.

In the United States, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday remain the only days of the Catholic Church calendar on which strict fasting and abstinence from meat must still be observed; however, all Fridays in Lent are days of abstinence.

Those who elect to serve meatless meals any time during Lent can still enjoy a wide selection of entree alternatives. Many varieties of seafood are readily available, and egg and cheese-based dishes further expand menu choices.


1 (10- to 12-ounce) package fresh or frozen tortellini

2 cups broccoli florets

1/4 cup butter or margarine

1 teaspoon dried dill weed

1 pound fresh or frozen cod fillets

1 sweet red pepper, sliced

1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms

1/3 cup sliced green onions

2 tablespoons flour

3/4 cup water

1/2 cup white wine

1 cup whipping cream or half and half

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds

Cook tortellini in boiling salted water as package directs, adding broccoli during last 5 minutes. Drain and place in 1 1/2- to 2-quart casserole.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in dill. Saute cod fillets until just tender and flaky. Remove fillets to plate.

Saute red pepper, mushrooms and green onions in pan drippings. Add to pasta.

Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in skillet. Stir in flour. Add water and wine. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Blend in cream, salt, lemon peel and parsley.

Stir half of sauce into pasta and vegetables. Place cod fillets over pasta. Top with remaining sauce and sprinkle with almonds. Bake at 350 degrees 30 minutes or until heated through. Makes 6 servings.


1 (7 3/4-ounce) can salmon


1 cup buttermilk baking mix

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 cup finely chopped celery

2 tablespoons finely chopped green pepper

2 tablespoons finely chopped onion

1 tablespoon minced parsley

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

Oil for deep frying

Lemon wedges

Seafood or tartar sauce

Drain and flake salmon, reserving liquid. Add milk to salmon liquid to make 1/2 cup. Add to baking mix along with egg and lemon juice. Blend in salmon, celery, green pepper, onion, parsley and seasoned salt.

Drop batter by spoonfuls into oil heated to 375 degrees. Fry until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Serve with lemon wedges and seafood or tartar sauce. Makes 4 servings.


1/2 sweet red or green pepper, chopped

4 green onions, chopped

1/4 pound smoked fish

3 tablespoons butter or margarine

3 tablespoons flour

1 1/4 cups evaporated skim milk

4 eggs, separated

1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese

1 teaspoon summer savory

Salt, pepper

Saute pepper, onions and fish in 1 tablespoon butter. Melt remaining butter in saucepan. Whisk in flour. Stir in milk and cook until thick.

Remove from heat and whisk in egg yolks one at a time. Stir in fish mixture, cheese and summer savory, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Beat egg whites until stiff. Fold into souffle base. Pour into greased 1 1/2-quart souffle dish. Bake at 400 degrees 25 to 30 minutes. Makes 6 servings.


3 tablespoons butter or margarine

1/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup whipping cream

2 cups dry white wine

2 cups shredded Swiss cheese

4 eggs, separated

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Melt butter in heavy pan. Add flour, salt and pepper. Stir over medium heat until well blended. Slowly stir in whipping cream and wine. Cook, stirring, over low heat until thickened and smooth.

Stir in cheese 1/4 cup at time. Cook, stirring, over low heat until cheese melts. Remove from heat. Beat egg yolks until thick. Combine with cheese mixture.

Beat egg whites lightly, add cream of tartar and beat until stiff. Carefully fold egg whites into cheese mixture. Pour into ungreased 1-quart freezer-to-oven casserole. Cover and freeze.

Remove from freezer and bake frozen souffle at 325 degrees 1 hour 20 minutes or until puffed and golden. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Variation: 1 cup Gruyere cheese may be substituted for half of Swiss cheese.

Note: To bake souffle immediately, place batter in buttered souffle dish and bake at 375 degrees 40 to 45 minutes.


1 (6-ounce) package frozen crab meat, thawed

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