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A Menu for Absent-Minded Chefs

December 26, 1991|MARCIA CONE and THELMA SNYDER

This holiday menu is quick and much of it can be prepared in advance. The wild mushroom appetizer, which may be scooped up as a dip with crackers or mounded into the cleft of endive leaves, is best made days or even one week before serving to fully develop the flavors.

The choucroute is also easily made up to two days in advance and then reheated by being placed in the microwave for 15 minutes.

In fact, the only two recipes that need to be made on the day of serving are the potatoes and the warm apple slices. And both are so simple that they can be cooked even when you aren't really paying attention.


2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions

1 pound chanterelle or porcini mushrooms (or 1/2 pound of these plus 1/2 pound domestic mushrooms), sliced

2 tablespoons Madeira or brandy

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup coarsely chopped hazelnuts

2 tablespoons chopped chives or parsley

Combine butter and green onions in 2-quart microwave-proof casserole. Microwave on HIGH (100% power) 2 minutes. Stir in mushrooms. Microwave, uncovered, on HIGH 5 to 6 minutes or until mushrooms cook down and are slightly darkened.

Spoon mushrooms into bowl of food processor. Add Madeira, salt, nutmeg, sour cream and pepper and process until smooth. Transfer mixture to bowl and fold in nuts. Pack mixture into crock, serving bowl or small new clay flowerpot. Chill overnight or up to 1 week to develop flavors. Sprinkle with chives and serve on croutons and/or crackers. Makes 2 cups.


2 ounces slab bacon, rind removed and bacon cut into 1/2-inch cubes

2 medium onions, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 pounds sauerkraut, rinsed

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 cup dry white wine

1 large apple, cored but not peeled, thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 bay leaf

6 smoked pork chops

6 links smoked bratwurst or kielbasa

Parsleyed Potatoes

Combine bacon, onions and garlic in 4-quart microwave-proof casserole. Microwave on HIGH (100% power) 4 to 5 minutes or until onions are tender and bacon is partially cooked. Stir in sauerkraut, broth, wine, apple, caraway seeds, thyme, pepper and bay leaf. Cover tightly with lid or plastic wrap, turned back slightly on 1 side, and microwave on HIGH 10 to 12 minutes or until liquid is boiling. Stir.

Transfer half of sauerkraut to plate and arrange chops and bratwurst over sauerkraut remaining in casserole, with thicker sections to outside. Spoon sauerkraut back over meat. Cover with lid and microwave on HIGH 10 minutes, then on MEDIUM (50% power) 30 minutes or until meat is heated through and flavor of dish has developed. Let stand, covered, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove bay leaf. Serve with Parsleyed Potatoes. Makes 6 servings.

Parsleyed Potatoes

2 pounds small red potatoes, 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter, washed, with single strip peeled around middle

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup chopped parsley

Combine potatoes and water in 2-quart microwave-proof casserole. Cover tightly with lid or plastic wrap, turned back slightly on 1 side. Microwave on HIGH (100% power) 8 to 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring once. Let stand, covered, 3 minutes.

Drain and arrange on platter with Choucroute Garni. Sprinkle potatoes with parsley. Makes 6 servings.


1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

4 ounces brandy

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (omit if serving cinnamon ice cream)

4 tart cooking apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch slices

1 quart vanilla or cinnamon ice cream

Place butter in 9-inch glass pie plate and microwave on HIGH (100% power) 35 seconds to 1 minute to melt. Stir in brown sugar, 2 ounces brandy, lemon juice and cinnamon. Stir in apples and coat well with mixture. Cover with wax paper and microwave on HIGH 6 to 7 minutes or until apples are tender.

Scoop ice cream into 6 dessert dishes. Pour remaining 2 ounces brandy in 1-cup glass measure. Microwave on HIGH (100% power) 15 seconds. Pour over apples and light with match. Spoon while still flaming over ice cream. Makes 6 servings.

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