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Microwave . . .

Blending the Old With the New

June 16, 1988|DIANA WILLIAMS HANSEN | Hansen is a Louisville-based cooking consultant specializing in microwaving

Much has been made lately about mixing traditional cooking styles with different ethnic ingredients. By using new ingredients in an old recipe it's possible to create an interesting twist on an already good food.

At my local Mexican fast-food restaurant, for example, they are offering Mexican Pizza. Current television advertising features Cajun potato chips. Magazines show crepes and omelets stuffed with Asian fillings. I've seen Greek baklava filled with chocolate instead of the more traditional honey.

Diversity of Styles

Food experts say that this trend began long ago. As America was settled, immigrants mixed cooking styles from their homelands with the food they found in the New World. Currently, the influx of Asian people to our shores has introduced us to a diversity of Asian styles modified for foods available here. The modifications of these dishes represent a metamorphosis from what once was old into something new and different.

You can microwave mixed cuisine foods too. The proof follows. Both recipes are contest winners.

Chicken Kiev generally is recognized as a Russian dish, although many people think it was greatly influenced by French cooking. In this recipe the chilies and cheese filling replaces the traditional butter. The chicken then is microwaved rather than deep fried in the old-style manner.

MEXICAN CHICKEN KIEV

4 whole chicken breasts, split, skinned and boned

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons prepared sharp cheese spread

2 tablespoons dried minced onion

1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoon chopped green chiles

1/4 cup melted butter

1 cup crushed Cheddar cheese crackers

1 1/2 tablespoons powdered taco seasoning mix (or substitute 1 teaspoon chili powder plus 2 teaspoons paprika)

Pound each chicken piece on wax paper covered wooden board with meat mallet to flatten.

Beat butter and cheese spread in small bowl until well blended. Mix in onion, salt and chiles. Place some of mixture at 1 end of each chicken piece, dividing evenly. Roll up each piece, tucking in ends to completely enclose filling. Fasten rolls with wood picks.

Dip each roll in melted butter to cover, then into mixture of cracker crumbs and seasoning mix. Arrange rolls in 12x8-inch microwave dish. Cover with wax paper.

Microwave at HIGH (100% power) 10 to 12 minutes, rotating dish 1/2 turn after 5 minutes, until done. Let stand about 5 minutes before serving. Makes 8 servings.

Frittatas are traditionally Italian omelets. This recipe blends Asian vegetables and West Coast Jack cheese into a tasty entree.

JAPANESE FRITTATA

1 (10-ounce) package frozen mixed Japanese vegetables in cooking pouch

1/4 cup julienne strips cooked pork

1 (4-ounce) jar whole mushrooms, drained

8 eggs

2 tablespoons water

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Dash salt

1/2 cup shredded Jack cheese

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Make small slit in center of vegetable pouch with sharp knife. Microwave at HIGH (100% power) 5 to 8 minutes, rotating pouch 1/4 turn every 2 minutes, until vegetables are heated. Carefully cut pouch open and place vegetables with sauce in 10-inch microwave quiche dish. Stir in pork and all but 4 mushrooms. Set aside.

Combine eggs, water, pepper and salt in large microwave bowl and beat well. Microwave at HIGH 2 to 3 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken, stirring every 30 seconds. Stir in 1/3 cup cheese and parsley.

Pour egg mixture evenly over vegetables and meat. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave at MEDIUM (50% power) 12 to 17 minutes or until eggs are just beginning to set and still moist, rotating dish 1/4 turn every 3 minutes. Garnish with reserved mushrooms, sliced, if desired, and remaining cheese. Cover and let stand 4 minutes before serving. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

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