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MICROWAVE

Stews for Company, Split for Dessert

March 26, 1992|MARCIA CONE and THELMA SNYDER | Cone and Snyder are cookbook authors

Stews are among our favorite company suppers because they combine convenience with comfort.

The Spring Stew With Tarragon and Basil can be made in advance and frozen, then easily defrosted following the instructions below. Choose veal or pork, depending on your budget and taste. The dish is delicious served over egg noodles, buttered if calories allow, and accompanied by a basket of rolls.

For family eating, the Chicken Cubes With Peas and Mushrooms serves four and is a little lower in fat. This dish can also be served with noodles, but we prefer it with boiled new potatoes.

The hot fudge banana splits are a comforting reminder of childhood delights, and we haven't found an adult yet who can resist them. The hot fudge sauce is so quick and easy to make that we usually prepare the whole dessert at the last minute.

SPRING STEW WITH TARRAGON AND BASIL

1 tablespoon butter, margarine or light olive oil

1 cup chopped onions

4 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 pounds boneless veal stew meat, shoulder or breast, or pork tenderloin, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

2 tablespoons flour

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon minced fresh basil or 1/2 teaspoon dried

1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon or 1/2 teaspoon dried

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine butter, onions, carrots and garlic in 4-quart microwave-proof casserole. Cover with lid or plastic wrap, turned back slightly, and microwave on HIGH (100% power) 4 minutes. Add veal. Sprinkle with flour. Stir. Cover again and microwave on HIGH 10 minutes or until little or no pink color remains, stirring once.

Stir in wine, broth, parsley, lemon juice, tomato paste, salt, basil, tarragon and pepper. Cover again and microwave on HIGH 7 to 10 minutes or until boiling. Stir. Cover and microwave on MEDIUM (50% power) 40 to 60 minutes or until meat is fork-tender. Remove from microwave and let stand 5 to 10 minutes.

Stew can be prepared in advance to this point, cooled and frozen. When ready to use, defrost on HIGH 5 minutes and then on MEDIUM 5 minutes. Transfer to larger microwave-proof casserole to reheat. Microwave on HIGH 15 to 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or until heated through. Makes 6 servings.

Each serving contains about:

257 calories; 573 mg sodium; 135 mg cholesterol; 7 grams fat; 11 grams carbohydrates; 33 grams protein; 0.75 grams fiber; 25% calories from fat.

This stew is best served with quartered boiled potatoes. Fresh basil provides the best flavor; if using dried basil, increase the fresh parsley to one-quarter cup.

CHICKEN CUBES WITH PEAS AND MUSHROOMS

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons chopped onion

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

2 tablespoons flour

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

2 tablespoons dry white wine, optional

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried

1/4 teaspoon crushed hot red pepper

1 cup fresh or frozen peas

1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, quartered

Combine olive oil, garlic and onion in 2-quart microwave-proof casserole. Microwave on HIGH (100% power) 35 seconds to 1 minute or until slightly tender. Add chicken. Sprinkle with flour. Stir. Cover with lid or plastic wrap, turned back slightly, and microwave on HIGH 5 minutes, stirring after 3 minutes.

Stir in broth, wine, lemon juice, tomato paste, parsley, basil and crushed red pepper. Cover and microwave on HIGH 5 minutes. Stir. Cover and microwave on MEDIUM (50% power) 10 minutes. Stir in peas. Cover and microwave on MEDIUM 10 minutes or until chicken is tender. Stir in mushrooms. Cover and microwave on HIGH 2 minutes. Let stand, covered, 5 to 10 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about:

96 calories; 310 mg sodium; 11 mg cholesterol; 2 grams fat; 11 grams carbohydrates; 9 grams protein; 1.47 grams fiber; 21% calories from fat.

BANANA SPLITS WITH HOT FUDGE SAUCE

1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut

4 ripe bananas

1 quart French vanilla ice cream

Hot Fudge Sauce

Whipped cream, optional

Spread coconut on baking sheet. Toast in conventional oven at 350 degrees or until lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool. If made ahead, store in plastic container.

Peel and cut each banana in half crosswise. Cut each half in half again lengthwise and place 2 lengthwise halves open-face on each of 8 dessert plates. Top each with scoop of ice cream. Spoon Hot Fudge Sauce over top. Add whipped cream. Sprinkle with toasted coconut. Makes 8 servings.

Each serving, without whipped cream, contains about:

366 calories; 84 mg sodium; 35 mg cholesterol; 18 grams fat; 52 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams protein; 0.59 grams fiber; 45% calories from fat.

Hot Fudge Sauce

6 ounces semisweet chocolate pieces

1/2 cup half and half

1/4 cup light corn syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine chocolate pieces, half and half and corn syrup in 4-cup glass measure. Microwave on HIGH (100% power) 2 minutes. Stir. Microwave on HIGH 1 to 3 minutes or until smooth, stirring each minute. Stir in vanilla. Serve over ice cream. Makes 1 1/2 cups.

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