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Staging a Hit Meal : Cookbooks: The Pasadena Playhouse's 'Tasty Productions' found a grateful audience. Now the buffet's best recipes are available to the public.

May 23, 1991|BARBARA HANSEN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Stage shows aren't the only productions at the Pasadena Playhouse. On Saturdays, between the matinee and night performances, a sumptuous meal takes center stage. Partakers are the actors, crew and staff, and the producers are volunteers from a support group, the Friends of the Pasadena Playhouse.

No cooking takes place at the theater. The volunteers bring food prepared at home, reheat hot dishes in a microwave in the basement and set up a buffet in a hallway outside the Green Room, which serves as the dining area.

During the recent run of "Other People's Money," a between-shows dinner included meat loaf, vegetarian shepherd's pie, macaroni and cheese, tossed green and potato salads, fruit, bread, poppy-seed cake and tea.

That menu catered to vegetarians. Cast and crew are asked to supply information on dietary restrictions in advance of the show, says Lenore Bond Almanzar, hospitality committee chairman. From 25 to 40 people line up to eat, and the menus have been so well received that the Friends decided to organize their own production: a cookbook.

Titled "Tasty Productions," the collection of some 300 recipes follows a theatrical format. Chapters have titles such as Setting the Stage (appetizers), Dress Rehearsal (soups) and Intermission (beverages). Many of the recipes have stage-related titles too, like premiere chicken casserole, last act spaghetti sauce and star cheesecake.

Most of the food is easy to prepare and economical, an outgrowth of the busy lifestyles of the contributors, says Almanzar.

"Tasty Productions" is on sale at La Tienda, the playhouse gift shop, which is located at 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena, and also at Vroman's and Jurgensen's in Pasadena. The price is $12.50. Mail-order copies are $15, which covers postage and handling. To order a book, send a check made out to Friends of the Pasadena Playhouse to Friends Cookbook, P.O. Box 1096, La Canada, Calif. 91012.

Here is a sampling of dishes from the book.

SHOWSTOPPER DIP

1 medium avocado

2 tablespoons plain yogurt

Dash paprika

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

1/8 teaspoon dry mustard

1 tablespoon hot salsa

Mash avocado and mix in yogurt, paprika, mayonnaise, mustard and salsa. Makes 2 servings.

DRESSERS' BLACK BEANS

1 pound dry black beans

10 cups water

3 large green peppers

4 cloves garlic

2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

4 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1 bay leaf

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

2 tablespoons vinegar

1 tablespoon white wine or Sherry

Wash beans. Soak overnight in water with 1 green pepper. Cook beans in soaking liquid with pepper about 45 minutes, or until tender enough to mash. Discard pepper.

Finely chop remaining 2 peppers or grind with garlic cloves. Heat 2/3 cup olive oil in skillet. Add onion, green peppers and garlic and fry until tender. Add about 1 cup beans and mash well. Pour all back into pot with remaining beans. Add salt, pepper, oregano, cumin, bay leaf and sugar. Simmer, partially covered, 1 hour. Add vinegar and wine.

Simmer, partially covered, over low heat 1 hour longer, or until thickened. If too watery, cook uncovered until thick. At serving time, add remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

APPLAUSE CHICKEN

1/3 cup butter or margarine

1 1/2 cups instant mashed potato flakes

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

6 chicken breast halves

2 eggs, beaten

Place butter in 13x9-inch baking pan and set in 400-degree oven until melted. Mix potatoes, cheese, salt and pepper. Dip chicken in beaten eggs, then roll in potato mixture. Place chicken, skin side up, in pan.

Bake until thickest portion of breasts tests done, 40 to 45 minutes. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

CAST PARTY KAHLUA PIE

1 1/2 cups corn flake crumbs

1/2 cup chopped chocolate chips

1/3 cup brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup melted butter

2 quarts coffee flavor ice cream

1/2 cup Mexican coffee liqueur

Shaved chocolate

Mix corn flake crumbs, chocolate chips, brown sugar and melted butter. Line 9-inch pie pan with mixture and chill 2 hours or longer.

Soften ice cream and stir in liqueur. Fill chilled crust with ice cream mixture and sprinkle with chocolate. Freeze until firm. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

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