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If we all waited for a stress-free work week to do our entertaining, some of us would never give dinner parties. When you barely have an hour to yourself after coming home from work, it's almost impossible to imagine making the sort of elaborate meals that super-organized party planners recommend, the kind that require advance preparation throughout the week. And you certainly don't want something that's going to take hours and hours on the day of the party.

This is a menu that can be prepared at an easy pace. You can make the Chinese-style short ribs the morning of the party, or even the night before, then come back to the rest of this Asian-inspired meal a couple of hours before your guests arrive. In between, put your feet up and get a little R&R.


Orange Barbecued Short Ribs

Mango Slices on Lettuce Leaf

Five-Spice Biscuits

Almond Rice Pudding

Suggested Wine: Riesling, Gewurztramminer or good-quality beer.


1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup ketchup

1/4 cup sugar

Juice 1 orange

2 tablespoons grated orange zest

2 tablespoons minced ginger root

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 to 4 pounds short ribs

Salt, pepper


3 tablespoons oil

Green onion curls

These ribs taste even better the day after you make them, but they're terrific right out of the oven too.

Combine soy sauce, ketchup, sugar, orange juice, orange zest, ginger and garlic in bowl. Set aside.

Season ribs to taste with salt and pepper. Dredge ribs in flour and shake off excess. Put oil in skillet, heat to smoking and fry ribs until brown.

Arrange browned ribs in single layer in rectangular baking dish. Pour reserved sauce over. Cover and bake ribs at 350 degrees 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until ribs are fork-tender. Baste ribs occasionally with sauce.

Remove ribs from sauce. Skim excess fat off sauce. Serve ribs with sauce. Garnish with green onion curls.

Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains:

551 calories; 2554 mg sodium; 113 mg cholesterol; 30 grams fat; 29 grams carbohydrates; 41 grams protein; 0.09 grams fiber.


2 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon 5-spice seasoning powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

6 tablespoons butter

1 cup sour cream

1 egg, beaten

Sesame seeds

Combine flour, baking powder, 5-spice powder, salt and baking soda in bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles small peas. Quickly stir in sour cream, just until blended.

Roll dough out on lightly floured board to rectangle about 1 inch thick. Then cut into 8 biscuits. Brush tops of biscuits with beaten egg. Sprinkle with additional 5-spice powder and sesame seeds to taste. Bake on buttered baking sheet at 450 degrees 12 to 15 minutes or until tops are golden.

Makes 8 biscuits.

Each biscuit contains:

256 calories; 419 mg sodium; 63 mg cholesterol; 16 grams fat; 24 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams protein; 0.33 grams fiber.


1/2 cup rice

1/2 cup water

2 cups half and half

2 cups milk

1 stick cinnamon

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds

Combine rice and water in 4-quart saucepan. Bring to simmer over medium heat. Cook and stir over low heat until water is absorbed, 3 to 4 minutes.

Stir in half and half and milk until blended. Add cinnamon stick. Bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to simmer. Cook until rice is tender and pudding has creamy consistency, 30 to 35 minutes. Stir in sugar during last 10 minutes of cooking.

When rice is done, remove small amount and stir into beaten egg. Return whole mixture to saucepan. Stirring constantly, cook over low heat just until custard thickens slightly, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.

When pudding has cooled to warm, remove cinnamon stick and stir in vanilla and almond extracts. Stir toasted almonds into custard, reserving some almonds for garnish. Spoon into serving dishes and chill. Just before serving, sprinkle with reserved toasted almonds.

Makes 6 servings.

Each serving contains:

312 calories; 85 mg sodium; 71 mg cholesterol; 15 grams fat; 36 grams carbohydrates; 8 grams protein; 0.35 grams fiber.

Game Plan

Day before or morning of dinner: Prepare the Chinese orange ribs. Let cool, then cover and refrigerate. Make green onion curls and put in bowl of cold water. Refrigerate until just before serving time. Prepare Chinese almond pudding. Spoon into serving dishes, cover and chill.

Morning of dinner: Measure out dry ingredients for five-spice biscuits and place in bowl. Cover and set aside.

Two hours before serving: Remove ribs from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for an hour before reheating in oven.

One hour before serving: Put ribs into low oven, about 300 degrees, to reheat. Baste occasionally. While ribs are reheating, slice mango and rinse lettuce leaves. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

30 minutes before serving: Cut butter into prepared biscuit ingredients. Stir in sour cream. Roll out biscuits, cut and put on baking sheet. Set aside.

15 minutes before serving: Bake biscuits.

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