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THE $5 CHEF : A (Cheap) Hangover Cure for 20

December 26, 1991|MARCIE ROTHMAN

These days everybody's worrying about fat and money, so this easy menu uses just a little of each. It takes two well-known dishes--guacamole and chile--and gives each a new and delicious twist. Everything in the meal can be made ahead except the orange-cumin drop biscuits.

It makes a perfect New Year's Day or Super-Bowl-Sunday party for 20 at a cost of less than $30, depending on your on-hand ingredients. You provide the food--ask the guests to share their favorite beverages.

Here's the menu:

Sweet Pea Guacamole with chips, vegetables and salsa: $6

Green Salad or Coleslaw, depending on lettuce prices and personal preference: $2.50

White Bean and Chicken Chile: $8

Orange-Cumin Drop Biscuits: $2.50

Spice Cake: $3

Total: $22

The high price of avocados makes guacamole a dish that easily dents a food budget. This easy, delicious and unusual dip--its main ingredient is frozen peas--is adapted from "Secret Ingredients" by Michael Roberts, chef at Trumps Restaurant in Los Angeles. A one-pound bag of frozen peas only costs about $1, and peas aren't as fatty as avocados (they don't discolor like them, either). To dip, use tortilla chips and a tray of vegetables such as tomatoes, green pepper and jicama.

SWEET PEA GUACAMOLE

1/2 bunch cilantro, trimmed

2 cloves garlic

1 to 2 serrano chiles or 1/2 teaspoon crushed hot red pepper

2 pounds frozen peas, thawed and gently squeezed of excess water

3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup lime or lemon juice

1 teaspoon ground cumin, or to taste

Salt

1/2 medium red onion, finely diced, or 6 green onions, finely chopped

2 small tomatoes, seeded and finely diced, optional

Guacamole garnishes such as salsa or sour cream, optional

Process cilantro, garlic and chiles in food processor or blender, until roughly pureed. Add peas, olive oil, lime juice and cumin. Season to taste with salt.

Blend until fairly smooth. (Some remaining lumps will give textural interest.) Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve sprinkled or mixed with onion and tomato. Makes 20 servings.

Each serving contains about:

43 calories; 4 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 2 grams fat; 5 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams protein; 1.24 grams fiber; 47% calories from fat.

This chile departs from the standard variety made with red meat, beans and tomato. It's lighter in color and taste because of the chicken (or turkey), white beans and absence of tomatoes. Feel free to spice it with your favorite chile flavorings.

WHITE BEAN AND CHICKEN CHILE

2 pounds large white Great Northern beans

12 to 14 cups chicken broth or water

4 large onions, chopped

8 cloves garlic, chopped

3 stalks celery, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped, optional

1 to 2 jalapeno chiles, finely chopped, optional

1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed hot red pepper, or cayenne to taste

2 to 3 tablespoons chile powder, or to taste

1 scant tablespoon ground cumin, or to taste

2 teaspoons crushed dried oregano

Salt, pepper

6 pounds chicken or turkey parts, uncooked and skinned, or about 5 to 6 cups cooked chicken or turkey, shredded

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Soak beans in water overnight. (Or place beans in large pot, cover with water, bring to boil, remove from heat and let sit covered about 40 minutes.) Drain.

Place beans in large heavy pot. Add chicken broth, onions, garlic, celery, green pepper, jalapeno chile, crushed hot pepper, chile powder, cumin and oregano. Bring to boil. Cover and simmer about 50 minutes or until beans begin to soften. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add raw chicken parts, if using, and continue cooking until chicken and beans are cooked. (If using cooked chicken add at last minute.) Garnish with shredded Jack cheese, chopped green onions and cilantro, if desired. Makes 20 servings.

Note: If using raw chicken or turkey parts, leave bones in when cooking.

Each serving contains about:

139 calories; 58 mg sodium; 32 mg cholesterol; 2 grams fat; 13 grams carbohydrates; 17 grams protein; 1.72 grams fiber; 15% calories from fat.

Present these biscuits warm from the oven and watch them fly off the plate. They are simply delicious, and take just minutes to put together. Make them in separate batches unless they can all be cooked at the same time.

ORANGE-CUMIN BISCUITS

2 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon crushed hot red pepper, optional

1/4 cup butter

1 cup orange juice

Zest of 1/2 orange, finely chopped, optional

Combine flour, baking powder, cumin, salt and crushed hot pepper in bowl. Cut in butter until consistency resembles coarse crumbs. Add orange juice and orange zest and quickly mix with fork until well-blended.

Drop by tablespoonfuls, 1 inch apart, onto greased baking sheet. Bake at 500 degrees until golden, about 8 to 10 minutes. Serve immediately. Makes about 20 cookies.

Note : If using self-rising flour, delete baking powder and salt. Milk, buttermilk or beer can be substituted for orange juice. Work dough quickly and gently for light and tender biscuits.

Each serving contains about:

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