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Fast, Fresh and Easy : Who says fast food must be takeout? : Some of the best fast meals can be whipped up at home . . . often on the spur of the moment.

May 07, 1987|BETSY BALSLEY | Times Food Editor

Among the most coveted recipes in any personal collection are those that fit into the quick-and-easy category. No cook can ever have too many tucked conveniently into a handy recipe file. Unfortunately, because recipes of this type fit their description so well, they do tend to be overused, a practice that leads either to boredom or complaints on the part of the diner or diners. And that means there is always room for more.

Where do these recipes come from? They all started somewhere . . . whether from desperation when a key ingredient for another planned recipe was missing, or simply because nothing was planned at all. Many are short versions of lengthy, classical recipes that have been adapted to fit a more hectic life style. Others came about simply because imaginative cooks tried new techniques on old standbys.

The Souffleed Eggs Benedict recipe that follows is a fine example of the latter. While vacationing with a group of friends in Hawaii recently, Jean Thwaite, food writer with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, demonstrated a wonderful, simple replacement for poached eggs, which tend to overcook very quickly unless monitored closely. We tried utilizing her method of egg preparation in an eggs Benedict dish and it worked beautifully. Adding minced chives and cheese to the eggs provided additional flavor in a light main dish that is quick to prepare and uses ingredients that are readily available in most homes.

Another egg-based dish shared by a good cook came to us from B.J. Doerfling, supervisor of the consumer test kitchens at Sunkist Growers, the citrus cooperative headquartered in Sherman Oaks. Her contribution is a puffy omelet that can be whipped up quickly and will serve four or five at once. Again, the recipe is not new, but the method of preparation is slightly different.

Although classed as a puffy omelet, Doerfling's offering really is more like an airy quiche than an omelet. And once the technique is mastered, the flavors can be changed to suit personal tastes.

The shrimp dish is one The Times' Test Kitchen director Minnie Bernardino came up with when she found a good buy on shrimp one day. Serve this one with steamed rice and fresh fruit for a light, complete meal.

The Turkey-Asparagus Rolls are both attractive in appearance and delicious. They would make a good main dish for unexpected guests. A light salad and some fruit and cheese for dessert would round out a repast that no one could fault.

The following recipes should provide some welcome variety for those in need of fast, fresh and easy menus.

Food styling by MINNIE BERNARDINO and DONNA DEANE / Los Angeles Times

TURKEY-ASPARAGUS ROLLS

6 turkey breast slices, cut 1/4 inch thick

Salt, pepper

7 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup soft bread crumbs

1 teaspoon crushed fresh thyme

12 asparagus spears, trimmed and cooked until tender-crisp

Flour

1 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup white wine

1/2 cup whipping cream

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Shredded lemon or orange zest, optional

Pound turkey breast slices to flatten. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Melt 2 tablespoons butter, then stir in garlic, bread crumbs and thyme. Spoon onto turkey slices. Place 2 asparagus spears along longer edge of each turkey slice and roll up turkey. Dredge lightly in flour.

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in large skillet. Add turkey rolls and cook until light golden brown. Remove turkey from skillet. Melt another 2 tablespoons butter in skillet. Stir in 2 tablespoons flour and cook 1 minute. Stir in chicken broth, white wine, cream and mustard. Add turkey, seam side down, and simmer, covered, until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Place turkey rolls on heated platter. Garnish with shredded lemon zest. Serve sauce on side. Makes 6 servings.

EASY SHRIMP

1 (14-ounce) can clear chicken broth

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon Sherry

2 teaspoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons oil

1/2 teaspoon minced ginger root

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/2 teaspoon minced jalapeno or serrano chile

1 pound medium to large shrimp, shelled

2 cups Chinese pea pods

1 cup julienne-cut jicama

Salt, pepper, optional

Combine 1/4 cup of broth with cornstarch, then set aside. Mix remaining broth with Sherry and soy sauce.

Heat oil in wok or large, deep skillet. Saute ginger, garlic and chile. Add shrimp and cook 1 minute. Stir in Sherry-broth mixture. Cook 2 minutes. Remove shrimp with slotted spoon. Add Chinese pea pods to wok and cook 3 minutes. Stir in jicama and cornstarch mixture. Heat just until thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Combine shrimp with mixture and serve immediately. Makes about 4 servings.

PUFFY OMELET WITH HAM AND CHEESE

5 eggs, separated

2 tablespoons milk

Salt, pepper

1/4 teaspoon fines herbes or other herb of choice

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1/2 cup shredded Fontina cheese

1/4 cup chopped cooked ham

2 tablespoons chopped green onion

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