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GOOD COOKING / ABBY MANDEL

St. Barth's Tart

July 22, 1998|ABBY MANDEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

I've been lucky enough to have had picnics in wonderful places. One of the best was in the Leeward Islands of the Caribbean, overlooking St. Jean beach on St. Barth's. There's a little takeout shop there where I bought tarragon roasted chicken, a cabbage tart, and a celery root and carrot salad. A wonderful meal.

When I got home, I created my own versions of the dishes so I could think of St. Barth no matter where I was picnicking.

With the chicken, tart and salad, try sliced tomatoes, a cucumber or roasted red pepper salad, cured olives, melon with prosciutto and a selection of cheeses with bread. A slightly chilled light red wine goes beautifully with the meal.

Mandel is the author of "Celebrating the Midwestern Table" (Doubleday & Co., 1996).

TARRAGON ROASTED CHICKENS

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 (3-pound) chickens, fat trimmed

2 tablespoons seasoned salt

1 tablespoon lemon pepper

4 large shallots, halved

1 large bunch tarragon

Rub oil on chickens inside and out. Combine seasoning salt and lemon pepper in small bowl and use to season chickens inside and out. (Chickens may be prepared to this point several hours ahead or overnight and refrigerated. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before roasting.)

Place chickens breast side down on rack in shallow roasting pan. Fill cavity of each chicken with half of shallots and half of tarragon. Tuck wings under and tie legs together.

Roast chickens at 425 degrees until lightly browned, about 30 minutes. Insert large kitchen fork into each chicken cavity and turn breast side up. Return to oven and roast until darkly browned and meat thermometer inserted into innermost part of thigh registers 165 degrees, about 30 minutes. Transfer chickens to platter and let rest 10 minutes before slicing. Chickens may be served warm, room temperature or chilled.

6 to 8 servings. Each of 8 servings:

431 calories; 183 mg sodium; 130 mg cholesterol; 31 grams fat; 3 grams carbohydrates; 33 grams protein; 0.25 gram fiber.

CABBAGE TART WITH PARMESAN CHEESE (VEGETARIAN)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup diced onion

1/2 head cabbage, cored, thick ribs trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

Freshly ground nutmeg

1 tablespoon flour

1 cup half and half

2 eggs

1 (9-inch) baked tart shell in pan with removable bottom

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add cabbage, salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste, then stir-fry until cabbage just begins to soften, about 1 1/2 minutes. Stir in flour. Remove from heat.

Whisk half and half and eggs in 2-quart bowl until well mixed. Stir in cabbage mixture. Place tart shell on baking sheet and ladle cabbage-cream mixture into shell. Sprinkle with Parmesan.

Bake at 375 degrees until browned and puffy, about 40 minutes. Serve hot, chilled or at room temperature.

6 servings. Each serving:

174 calories; 531 mg sodium; 88 mg cholesterol; 12 grams fat; 11 grams carbohydrates; 6 grams protein; 0.69 gram fiber.

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