Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Weeknight "Fancy" Food

 We're all stressed during the week, but sometimes we want to bring a meal to the table that is something a bit more than the basics. Here are two recipes we recently worked on, which, with a little prep, can be on the dinner table in under an hour (most of it cooking time).

Italian Stuffed Tomatoes (adapted from Lidia Bastianich)
1 T. olive oil
1/2 c. aborio (or regular) rice
1 bay leaf
2 c. chicken broth
8 firm-ripe tomatoes
1/2 c. provolone cheese, diced
1/2 c. ham, diced
8 basil leaves, chopped
1/2 t. dry oregano
2 T. Parmesan, grated

Preheat oven to 400. In a skillet, heat the oil and saute the rice for about one minute over medium heat. Add the bay leaf and chicken broth, and stir occasionally, like risotto, for about 15 minutes until rice is done (you may need to add more water to finish the rice).  Alternately, you can just make a standard recipe of rice, using the chicken broth. Let cool for a few minutes.

Slice the bottom off the tomato, and using a teaspoon, scoop out the flesh of the tomato, leaving a shell.  Put the flesh and seeds in a bowl. Season each tomato with salt and pepper.

Chop the tomato flesh and add it to the rice. Add in cheese, ham, basil and oregano. Mix and stuff each tomato, then place in a casserole dish. If you have leftover stuffing, place it around the tomatoes. Sprinkle with the grated Parmesan. Bake until slightly golden on top -- about 20 minutes. I served these with a tossed salad and a rotisserie chicken from the store for a light, yet filling, and easy weeknight meal.

Pork Medallions with Mushroom Sauce (adapted from America's Test Kitchen)
2 lbs. pork tenderloin, trimmed and sliced into 1/2 inch medallions (could also use a pork loin)
1 T. butter
1 T. olive oil
1 lb. sliced baby bella mushrooms
1/2 med. onion chopped fine
1/4 c. white wine
1 T. flour
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 c. chicken broth
1/2 c. sour cream
1 egg yolk
1/2 t. ground nutmeg
2 t. lemon juice
2 t. minced fresh tarragon (or sage)

Season the medallions with salt and pepper and brown in batches in skillet, preheated over medium high heat with butter and oil. Transfer to plate as each medallion is browned on both sides.

Add mushrooms, onion and wine to skillet and cook about 8 minutes until mushrooms are brown and liquid has evaporated. Add in flour (or substitute corn starch for a gluten-free option) and garlic, stirring constantly for one minute. Add broth and bring to a boil, scraping bottom of pan.  Add in pork and juices from plate, reduce to medium low, cover and cook about 10 minutes.

Remove pork to platter, tent with foil. Whisk sour cream and egg yolk together in a bowl.  whisking constantly, slowly add in 1/2 c. of sauce from the skillet into egg mixture. Stirring constantly, add this mixture back into the pan. Stir in nutmeg, lemon juice and tarragon. Season with salt and pepper.  We served this with mashed potatoes and sauteed brussels sprouts for an elegant, weeknight entertaining option.

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