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THE LIVE AND LEARN GOURMET

BY ANN-LAURIE HYMAN

It is with great pleasure we bring you the recipes of Ann-Laurie Hyman, our resident gourmet. We have enjoyed her tasty treats for quite some time. And now, you can too! We are sure you will enjoy them.


Side Dishes For Family Gatherings!
Reduced Fat Chocolate Chip Cookies!
Bread And Chocolate!
Fondue!
Low Fat Chili!
Deep Dish Pies!


SIDE DISHES FOR FAMILY GATHERINGS

Holidays usually signal family gatherings. Dining room tables extend out to the living room. And many times, the youngest children often get their own special table. There always seem to be a flurry of activity around the cookbook section of the library during holidays as we attempt to find wonderful new recipes to impress the crowd. Here are a few side dishes I've used with great success and I hope these recipes may mean one less trip to the library for you.

Oven-Roasted Potatoes (10 servings)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Cut potatoes into 1 1/4-inch wide wedges. Combine potatoes, oil and herb(s) in roasting pan. Season generously with salt and pepper; sprinkle with paprika. Roast until potatoes are tender and crusty, stirring occasionally. Serve hot.

Jasmine Rice with Green Beans and Almonds (4 servings; can be doubled or tripled)

Coat a saucepan with cooking spray; and place over medium-high heat until hot. Add onion; saute 3 minutes or until tender. Add beans; saute 2 minutes. Add water and broth; bring to a boil. Stir in rice and salt. Cover, reduce heat and simmer about 40 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat; let stand, covered, 10 minutes. Stir in almonds. Note: This can probably be done in the microwave following your manufacturer's directions for rice or similar recipes.

Mixed Vegetables in Foil (4 servings; can be doubled or tripled)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. At the center of each of four 12-inch squares of heavy-duty aluminum foil (shiny side up), place in layers a quarter of the zucchini slices, mushrooms, peppers and onion.

In a small bowl, whip together the softened butter/margarine, the garlic and the white pepper. Divide into 4 portions and put a "blob" on top of each mound of vegetables. Fold two opposite sides of the foil into a tent and seal the top. Roll up the ends, leaving room inside for steaming. Finished packets should be about 6" x 8" x 2" tall. Place foil packets on a cooking sheet in oven for 20-30 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Serve the vegetables in their individual packets.


REDUCED FAT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

According to a report in Zillions, The Consumer Reports publication for kids, Americans eat about 3 billion pounds of cookies every year. A Zillions taste test was conducted to reveal whether cookies with low-fat claims would turn out to be taste losers. Surprisingly, the results found kid-tasters mistaking fat-filled cookies for reduced fat treats and reduced fat cookies for the full fat varieties.

I recently tested a recipe for reduced fat chocolate chip cookies on my family of testers and the results were marvelous, simply marvelous! These are a welcome addition to my arsenal of butter-loaded chocolate chipsters, weighing in at about 2 grams of fat and 100 calories each, depending on the size of the cookie.

CHOCOLATE Chocolate Chip Cookies (makes about 4 dozen)

Note: All three fat substitutes can be found in your local supermarket. Lekvar can be found in the aisle with the canned fruit pie fillings; Baby food prunes can be used for prune puree and the Sunsweet Lighter Bake can be found in the baking aisle.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment or coat with cooking spray and dust with flour; set aside. In a large mixing bowl beat together sugars, Lekvar, prune puree or Lighter Bake, egg and vanilla. In another bowl combine flour, cocoa, espresso, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to sugar mixture. The dough will be somewhat dry. Stir in chocolate chips. Shape into balls about the size of a walnut and place onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake about 9 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets at least 5 minutes before transferring to racks to finish cooling.


BREAD AND CHOCOLATE

Until recently home baked bread was a laborious luxury. Most of us, including yours truly, chose to buy our bread rather than attempt to bake it ourselves. These days however, with the help of the now ubiquitous bread machine, everybody seems to be baking bread. I, of course, am no exception.

One of my favorite recipes is based on a sweet dough bread and is simply called Bread and Chocolate. It is quite versatile and low in fat. I've served it for breakfast, after dinner and as a snack. Bake the bread in mini-loaf pans if you have them. If not , try a standard loaf pan, adjusting the time upwards to 35 minutes.

SWEET DOUGH

FILLING

GLAZE

1. Use the dough or manual setting on the bread machine and combine all the ingredients. Process according to manufacturer's instructions for the dough or manual setting.

2. Grease and flour four 2 1/2 x 4 inch miniature loaf pans, or one standard loaf pan.

3. Once the dough has completed the first rise, turn it out onto a well-floured board or pastry cloth. It will be very sticky, so have extra flour ready. Knead a few seconds than roll out into a rectangle about 10 x 8 x 3/4 inches. Cut into 4 equal pieces about 2 1/2 x 8 x 3/4 inches for the miniature loaf pans. Do not cut the rectangle at all for the standard loaf pan.

4. Spread with jam or marmalade, if desired, then scatter the chocolate chips evenly over the top of each rectangle and roll up the loaf or loaves, like a jelly-roll.

5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

6. Place each loaf of bread, seam side down, into the prepared pan or pans and set aside to rise until doubled in bulk in a warm, draft-free place for about 25 minutes.

7. Brush the egg-milk glaze very gently on the raised loaves. Sprinkle the tops with sugar. Bake in the preheated oven about 25 minutes (35 minutes for the standard loaf size) or until golden brown.

8. Carefully turn out onto a rack to cool. Slice and enjoy!


THE RETURN OF FONDUE

Yes, fondue is back and my kids seem to love it. Dip, drip, and eat. It's fun, it's messy and it's nostalgic. Fondue for lunch may be a welcome alternative to Peanut Butter & Jelly or tuna fish sandwiches. And it's all done in the microwave! Of course, if you own a fondue pot, by all means, use it.

Traditional cheese fondue is a mixture of Swiss cheeses, garlic and white wine. Not exactly kid fare. I've made a few changes and found the results to be, according to my daughter's friend, "excellent." The kids continued to eat up the cheese, even with chocolate fondue ready for dessert.

CHEESE FONDUE

In a 4-cup glass measure, melt butter on High for about 45 seconds. Stir in flour, Worcestershire, mustard and hot sauce. Set aside. Pour milk in a 2-cup glass measure and cook on High 1 1/2 minutes, or until warm. Gradually add milk to flour mixture, stirring firmly, but slowly with a spatula to smooth lumps and avoid splashing. Cook on High 3 minutes, stirring once during cooking. Stir, cook on High 1 1/2 minutes more, or until smooth and thickening. Blend in cheese and stir until melted. Serve warm with bread cubes, bread sticks, apple slices and so on.

CHOCOLATE FONDUE

Combine the chocolate and skim milk and microwave on High for 1 minute. Stir, then microwave for another 30 seconds. Place fruit, marshmallow or cake on fork or skewers. Dip into fondue and then roll in the sprinkles or crushed candy.


DELICIOUS LOW FAT CHILI

One of the easiest meals to prepare and one of the best for freezing in large batches is chili. Over the years I have tried numerous recipes; from the one on the back of the McCormick's original chili powder, to one I found in a gourmet cooking magazine. More recently, I was lucky to find one both my husband and son agree has resulted in my best chili.

MY BEST CHILI adapted from The Ultimate Low-Fat Mexican Cookbook

Garnishes

1. Place a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the ground meat and sear, stirring occasionally, until browned. Break up the meat with a fork or spatula and cook another 3 or 4 minutes, stirring until juices no longer run pink.

2. Place the meat in a strainer or colander over a bowl and press to strain the juices. Set aside. Later, pour juices into one of the empty cans used in the recipe. Place can in the freezer to solidify fat for easy removal.

3. Add onion and bell pepper to the same pan and cook over medium high heat 3 or 4 minutes.

4. Return meat to the same pan and continue cooking until the onions appear wilted.

5. Stir in chili powder and cumin, then add tomatoes or tomato sauce and the cornmeal. Stir in the remaining ingredients.

6. Continue cooking until beans are softened. Serve hot in bowls.


DEEP DISH PEACH, CHERRY AND BLUEBERRY PIE

Brown Butter Pie Crust For A 10-Inch Pie

1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat; cook until the butter begins to turn golden brown and has a nutty aroma, about 4 minutes. Watch carefully so the butter does not burn.

2. In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup of the flour and the oil. Add the browned butter and toss with a fork, blending until smooth. Set in the freezer for about 30 minutes.

3. Remove the bowl from the freezer and add the remaining flour, the sugar and the salt. With 2 knives, cut the frozen butter mixture into the dry ingredients until the dough is in pea-sized lumps. Sprinkle on the milk 1 tablespoon at a time, adding only enough to hold the dough together. Gather the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

4. To roll out dough, place between 2 sheets of wax paper or on a pastry cloth. Roll into a circle 1 1/2 inches in diameter larger than the pie pan. If using wax paper, peel off top sheet and carefully flip the pastry circle over the pie pan, gently easing the pastry into the pan. Peel off the paper.

5. Patch any tears or holes by touching torn edges with water and pressing on a bit of excess pastry. Trim or fold over overhanging pastry. Crimp edges. If desired, roll out any pastry scraps and cut or shape into decorative leaves. Place leaves on wax paper and set in pie shell temporarily. Cover the crust (and leaves) with plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.

Streusel Topping (about 1 1/2 cups)

1. In a bowl, combine and toss together all the dry ingredients.

2. Add the extracts, oil and the milk or juice and blend with a fork. If necessary, add more liquid a few drops at a time until the mixture forms crumbs.

Fruit Filling

In a small bowl mix sugar, tapioca, salt, cinnamon, and both extracts. Put the fruit into a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Cover. Within about 3 or 4 minutes the fruit will have given off considerable juice. Remove from heat and add sugar mixture. Stir to blend. Place over low heat and cook until thickened, about 3 minutes. Allow fruit mixture to cool slightly, then pour into pie shell. Place a length of foil on the bottom of the oven to catch any spills. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Sprinkle streusel topping over top of fruit, pressing down gently to hold topping in place. Arrange leaves on crust, if using. Place pie on the lower shelf of the hot oven for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F. and move to a middle shelf to continue baking until filling in center is hot and bubbling, about 40 minutes more. Cover with foil if crust should brown too quickly. Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool. It's wonderful served with vanilla ice cream!

To peel peaches: Place peaches in medium size heat resistant bowl. Pour boiling water to cover peaches. Peel off skin in strips with a sharp knife. They should almost slide off.

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