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DINNER PLANS

Break Out the Silver

November 14, 1996|DONNA DEANE and MAYI BRADY | Deane is Times Test Kitchen director. Brady is a cook in The Times Test Kitchen

Dinner party season has just begun. No more easy barbecues; it's time to light the candles and break out the silver.

The big question is what to serve that is impressive but not too time-consuming during these jampacked days. Veal rib chops are a good answer. They almost demand a special occasion.

These simple pan-fried veal chops in a rich-tasting red wine-mushroom sauce are great with whipped potatoes and parsnips. Pears wrapped in a delicious pastry and baked in cinnamon syrup make a showy yet easy seasonal dessert that can be made ahead of time.

MENU

Veal Chop With Mushroom Wine Sauce

Whipped Potatoes With Parsnips

Pear Dumplings in Cinnamon Syrup

STAPLES

Olive oil

Garlic

Butter

Shallots

Chicken stock

Red wine

Cream

Flour

Lard

Sugar

Cinnamon

Egg

SHOPPING LIST

4 (10-ounce) veal rib chops

1 bunch fresh marjoram

1 bunch fresh thyme

1 pound brown mushrooms

1 (750-milliliter bottle) Port

3 white boiling potatoes

5 large parsnips

4 small pears

GAME PLAN

Night before: Make pastry dough and refrigerate.

Morning or afternoon of dinner: Marinate chops.

2 hours before: Finish pear dumplings and bake. Peel potatoes and turnips and cut up into cold water to cover.

45 minutes before: Steam potatoes and turnips; mash and keep warm.

30 minutes before: Prepare veal chops.

PAN-FRIED VEAL CHOPS WITH MUSHROOM WINE SAUCE

CHOPS

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon minced marjoram

1 teaspoon minced thyme

Salt, pepper

4 (10-ounce) veal rib chops

SAUCE

2 tablespoons minced shallots

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Reserved cooking juices

2 tablespoons butter

2 cups sliced brown mushrooms

1 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup dry red wine

1/3 cup Port

1 teaspoon minced thyme

1 teaspoon minced marjoram

Salt, pepper

CHOPS

Combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic, marjoram, thyme and salt and pepper to taste in large plastic bag. Add veal chops, seal tightly, shake to distribute marinade and refrigerate 4 to 6 hours.

Heat remaining tablespoon olive oil in large skillet until very hot. Add veal chops and cook, turning once, until browned but still pink and juicy inside, about 5 minutes per side. Remove chops, reserving cooking juices, and keep warm while making sauce.

SAUCE

Saute shallots and garlic with reserved cooking juices and butter in skillet over medium-low heat until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes.

Increase heat to medium-high, add mushrooms and cook until mushrooms begin to brown nicely, about 5 minutes. Add stock, red wine, Port, thyme and marjoram. Simmer until reduced by about half and sauce has thickened, 10 to 12 minutes. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Serve sauce over veal chops.

Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about:

506 calories; 557 mg sodium; 155 mg cholesterol; 32 grams fat; 5 grams carbohydrates; 35 grams protein; 0.52 gram fiber.

WHIPPED POTATOES AND PARSNIPS

3 boiling potatoes

5 large parsnips

1/4 cup butter

2 tablespoons chicken stock

1 tablespoon cream

Salt

Freshly ground white pepper

Peel potatoes and cut into 2-inch slices. Peel parsnips and cut into 1-inch slices. Steam potatoes and parsnips over simmering water until very tender, about 15 minutes. Beat steamed potatoes and parsnips with electric mixer until fairly smooth. Add butter, chicken stock and cream and continue beating until very smooth. Add salt and white pepper to taste.

Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about:

174 calories; 223 mg sodium; 35 mg cholesterol; 13 grams fat; 14 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams protein; 1.12 grams fiber.

PEAR DUMPLINGS IN CINNAMON SYRUP

Serve these dumplings with whipped cream or a drizzle of heavy cream if you like.

DUMPLINGS

1 1/2 cups flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup lard

3 tablespoons cold water

4 small pears, cored and peeled

1/4 cup sugar

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon butter

SYRUP

1 1/2 cups water

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon butter

1 egg, beaten

DUMPLING

Stir together flour and salt. Add lard and cut in with pastry cutter until mixture is blended to size of small peas. Sprinkle with water and lightly mix with fork until pastry forms ball.

Roll dough on floured surface to 12-inch square. Cut into 4 pieces. Place 1 cored and peeled pear in center of each pastry square.

Combine sugar and cinnamon. Spoon sugar mixture into center of each pear. Top each pear with 1 teaspoon butter. Fold dough over pears, sealing edges. Place dumplings in shallow 1-quart baking dish.

SYRUP

Bring water, sugar, cinnamon and butter to boil in medium saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes. Pour hot syrup around dumplings. Bake at 425 degrees until dumplings are golden brown, about 45 minutes. Brush pastry with beaten egg. Let cool and serve warm.

Makes 4 servings.

Each serving, without whipped cream, contains about:

723 calories; 489 mg sodium; 85 mg cholesterol; 31 grams fat; 108 grams carbohydrates; 7 grams protein; 2.45 grams fiber.

* Denby plates and dinnerware from Bristol Kitchens, South Pasadena.

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