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MENU PLANNER

Worth a Wait

June 08, 1995|BARBARA HANSEN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Ever have guests arrive so late that the juicy roast turned out more like chewy jerky? Well, here's a menu that's delay-proof. The key dish is leg of lamb simmered with eggplant, onion, tomatoes and wine. If it has to be put on hold, you simply add more tomatoes and wine and continue cooking. The meat winds up moist, and you wind up with even more of the delicious ratatouille-like sauce.

The recipe comes from home cook Dee Draper of La Can~ada. Draper seasons the lamb with garlic and lots of home-grown rosemary and serves it over rice, accompanied by a good red wine. The roast is boned and rolled, so it's easy to slice.

For appetizers, Draper suggests cheese, crackers and grapes. The lamb is rich, so accompaniments should be light, perhaps baby vegetables and a salad with balsamic vinegar dressing. And for spring, a strawberry tart is the perfect dessert.

MENU

Assorted cheese such as Brie, baby Gouda and Swiss, with grapes and hard crackers

Dee Draper's braised lamb

White rice

Mixed salad with balsamic vinegar dressing

Steamed baby carrots

Strawberry tart

Wines: Chardonnay with the cheese and Merlot with the lamb

GAME PLAN

Morning of dinner: Bake strawberry tart.

Four hours before dinner: Start lamb.

One hour before dinner: Cook rice and keep warm. Assemble salad greens and refrigerate.

About 30 minutes before dinner: Steam carrots and keep warm.

At serving time: Make dressing and drizzle dressing over salad. Slice meat and arrange on platter with sauce, or over rice on dinner plates.

After entree: Whip cream to spoon onto tart.

SHOPPING LIST

1 (6-pound) leg of lamb

Fresh rosemary

1 medium eggplant

1 (18-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes

1 (9-inch) ready-made pie shell, or use homemade shell

White wine

1 small head red lettuce

2 Belgian endives

1/4 pound fresh mushrooms

3 pints strawberries

STAPLES

Salt, pepper

Garlic

Flour

Olive oil

Butter

Onions

Balsamic vinegar

Cracked black pepper

Sugar

Cornstarch

Whipping cream

Vanilla

DEE DRAPER'S BRAISED LAMB

If serving time is delayed, continue to cook meat, adding more tomatoes and 1/2 cup wine.

1 (6-pound) leg of lamb

Salt, pepper

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon minced rosemary

Flour

2 tablespoons olive oil or butter

1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut in medium chunks

2 onions, cut in medium dice

1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes

1 cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon butter blended with 1 tablespoon flour, optional

Steamed rice, optional

Have butcher bone, roll and tie lamb. Rub with salt and pepper to taste, garlic and rosemary. Dredge in flour.

Heat olive oil in pan. When hot, brown lamb until golden brown, about 5 minutes on each side.

Place eggplant and onions in large casserole or oven roaster with cover. Set browned lamb on top. Add tomatoes and wine. Cover and bake at 350 degrees 2 to 3 hours. If sauce is not thick enough, thicken with butter-flour mixture. Serve over rice.

Makes 6 servings.

Each serving, without rice, contains about:

685 calories; 202 mg sodium; 167 mg cholesterol; 46 grams fat; 14 grams carbohydrates; 46 grams protein; 1.30 grams fiber.

MIXED SALAD WITH BALSAMIC DRESSING

This dressing is salt-free, but you may add salt if you want.

1 small head red lettuce

2 Belgian endives

1/4 pound mushrooms, sliced

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

Cracked black pepper

Combine lettuce leaves in bowl with sliced endive and mushrooms.

Combine vinegar, oil and cracked pepper to taste. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss.

Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about:

297 calories; 60 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 28 grams fat; 12 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams protein; 2.70 grams fiber.

STRAWBERRY TART

3 pints strawberries

1/2 cup water

Sugar

2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon butter

1 (9-inch) baked pie shell

Whipped cream

Vanilla extract, optional

Rinse, drain and hull strawberries. Place 2 cups berries in bowl and crush. Turn into saucepan and mix with water, 1 cup sugar and cornstarch. Heat to simmering and stir 2 minutes, or until thickened and clear. Add butter.

Put glaze through fine sieve and cool 15 minutes. Pile remaining berries into pie shell. Carefully spoon glaze over berries. Just before serving, spoon whipped cream in mounds around edges. Lightly sweeten whipped cream to taste with sugar to tasteand add dash vanilla extract, if desired.

Makes 6 servings.

Each serving contains about:

461 calories; 119 mg sodium; 5 mg cholesterol; 20 grams fat; 69 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams protein; 0.92 grams fiber.

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