02 October 2009

10 Recipes and Video: Meals for 4 Under $25 Challenge

From Denny: Wow! Now this is really cooking! Great video with some awesome recipes that will appeal to a wide range of tastes. All great ideas that won't empty the wallet. Take a look.



Fried chickpeas with cumin and lemon

From: New York Times Food Writer Mark Bittman

Makes: 4 to 8 servings; Time: 25 minutes with cooked chickpeas

INGREDIENTS

• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 cups cooked or canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained as dry as possible
• Salt and black pepper
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1 lemon, cut into wedges

DIRECTIONS

1. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a skillet large enough to hold the chickpeas in one layer. When it's hot, add the chickpeas and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

2. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until the chickpeas are browned, about 15 to 20 minutes. Just before removing them from the pan, sprinkle with the cumin and stir until coated and fragrant. Serve hot or at room temperature, with the lemon wedges.

***

Braised pork with wine, green beans and garlic

From: Mark Bittman

Makes: 4 servings

Time: About 2 hours, largely unattended

This recipe lets you adjust the pork-to-bean proportion as you like without changing the method. For a meatier stew, go with the high range on the pork shoulder, for more vegetables, use about a pound of meat and increase the amount of string beans.

INGREDIENTS

• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 pound boneless pork shoulder, cut into large chunks
• Salt and black pepper
• 5 or 6 garlic cloves (or more if you like), peeled and lightly smashed
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
• 2 cups sweet white wine or unsweetened apple or grape juice
• 1 to 1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed and left whole or cut into pieces

DIRECTIONS

1. Put the oil in a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When it's hot, add the pork to the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, turning as needed, until the pork is deeply browned all over, 10 to 15 minutes total. Pour off some of the fat (or not) and turn the heat down to medium.

2. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are nicely browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in half of the oregano, and add the pork back to the skillet. Add the wine and enough water half-cover the meat in liquid (you might not need any), and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Adjust the heat so that the mixture bubbles steadily, but not vigorously, cover, and cook, stirring once in while, until the pork is nearly falling apart, and the liquid has become saucy, about an hour.

3. Add the green beans to the skillet, raise the heat to medium-high and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until they are crisp-tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining oregano, taste, adjust the seasoning if necessary, and serve.

***

Buttery bulgur pilaf with onions and almonds

From: Mark Bittman

Makes: 4 servings

Time: 20 minutes

INGREDIENTS

• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1 small onion, halved and sliced
• Salt and black pepper
• 1 1/4 cup bulgur
• 1/4 cup sliced or chopped almonds

DIRECTIONS

1. Put the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When it melts and begins to foam, stir in the onion and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens and begins to turn golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the bulgur and toss to toast and coat in the oil, another minute or 2.

2. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of water, bring to a boil, then adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles steadily. Cook, undisturbed, until the water boils off and little holes appear in the top of the bulgur, 5 to 10 minutes. Cover (still without stirring) and turn off the heat. When the pork is ready, use a fork to stir in the almonds and fluff the bulgur. Taste and adjust the seasoning and serve.

***

Super-simple peach sorbet

From: Mark Bittman

Yield: At least 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

• 1 pound frozen peaches
• 1/2 cup yogurt or crème fraîche
• 1/4 cup sugar, more or less

DIRECTIONS

1. Put all the ingredients in a food processor container. Add a couple of tablespoons of water and process until just puréed and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. If the fruit does not break completely smooth, add a little more water through the feed tube, a tablespoon or two at a time, but be careful not to over-process or the sorbet will liquefy.

2. Serve immediately or freeze the sorbet up to a day or two in advance; if serving later, allow 10 to 15 minutes for sorbet to soften at room temperature.

***

Spinach fusilli with ragu, smoked mozzarella and fresh basil

From: Donatella Arpaia

The concept of the meal is "Cucina Povera" in Southern Italy, where pasta, vegetables and cheaper cuts of meat are the basis of the meal.

INGREDIENTS

• 1 pound spinach fusilli or ziti
• 5 cups ragu (sauce from the meatballs)
• 2 cups shredded smoked mozzarella
• 1/2 cup panko
• 1/2 cup grated parmesan
• Handful basil chiffonade

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350, cook pasta and remove one minute earlier than cooking instructions. Drain in large bowl. Toss pasta, ragu, mozzarella, basil, salt and pepper. Combine breadcrumbs and parmesan and sprinkle on top. Bake 30 minutes or until topping is browned.

***

Meatballs and sauce

From: Donatella Arpaia

INGREDIENTS

• 1/2 pound of bread
• 1 pound ground chuck beef
• 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
• 2 garlic cloves chopped
• 1/4 cup of basil
• 1 egg
• 1/2 cup chopped onions
• 2 tablespoons of olive oil
• Flour
• 1 small can of tomato paste
• 2 cans of peeled tomatoes, pureed
• Salt
• Pepper

DIRECTIONS

Soak the bread in water and mix ground beef, parmesan, chopped garlic, basil and the egg with your hands, well until all ingredients are completely incorporated. Make into meatballs the size of golf balls (Approximately 10-12).

Sweat the chopped onions in olive oil. Add the meatballs (after lightly dusting in flour) and brown them. Deglaze with the tomato paste diluted in some water (1/2cup to cup). Add the pureed peeled tomatoes, salt and pepper and simmer for about two hours. Add the basil leaves at the very end. The ragu sauce is reserved for the spinach fusilli.

***

Tangerine with lemon, mint and pop rocks

From: Donatella Arpaia


INGREDIENTS

• 2 heaping tablespoons of Pop Rocks
• Juice of one lemon
• 4 Tangerines
• A few mint leaves

DIRECTIONS

To peel completely: Cut off ends of fruits, stand on cut end, and use a sharp knife to cut off peel — including the bitter white pith of the tangerine. Arrange sliced fruit in small glass, add juice, mint toss with pastry rocks at last moment.

***

Cool roasted beet salad

From: Chef Michael Lomonaco

Yield: 4 portions

INGREDIENTS

• 1 pound red, yellow, or candy-striped beets scrubbed under cold running water
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 2 tablespoons honey
• 3 tablespoons chopped mint leaves
• 2 cups shredded red leaf lettuce leaves
• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Put the beets in a bowl, drizzle with the oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat the beets with the oil. Transfer the beets to a roasting pan, spreading them out in a single layer and roast in the oven until tender to a knife-tip, 15 to 20 minutes for very small; 45 minutes for very large. Remove the pan from the oven and let the beets cool completely.

3. When cool enough to handle, slip the beets out of their skins using paper towels to grasp them and a paring knife to help loosen the skin, discard the skins and quarter or cut into eighths.

4. Drizzle lemon juice and honey over the beets and season with salt and pepper. Add the lettuce to the beets, toss together with the chopped mint.

5. Divide the salad among 4 salad plates and serve.

***

Savory braised chicken with butternut squash

From: Chef Michael Lomonaco

Yield: 4 portions

INGREDIENTS

• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 1 large chicken, about 3 1/2 pounds, cut into 8 pieces (2 breasts, 2 wings, 2 legs, 2 thighs)
• 1 cup diced onion
• 1 cup diced carrot
• 1 pound butternut squash, or other winter squash peeled and cut into 1 inch dice
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
• 1/2 cup brown sugar
• 1/2 cup cider vinegar
• 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

1. Heat the oil in a high-sided sauté pan over medium heat. Season the chicken parts generously with salt and pepper. Add the chicken pieces to the pan, skin-side down, without crowding and cook slowly until golden-brown, approximately 8 minutes. Turn the pieces over and brown the other side, approximately 8 more minutes.

2. Transfer the chicken pieces to a plate and cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Set aside.

3. Add the onions, carrots, and squash to the pan and sauté until softened but still holding their shape, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the cinnamon powder, brown sugar and vinegar. Add the broth, return the chicken to the pan, bring the liquid to a boil. Lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer until the chicken shows no pink when pierced at the joint, approximately 20 minutes. Taste the sauce and season it with salt and pepper.

4. Remove the chicken from the pan and arrange the pieces on a serving platter.

5. Spoon the vegetables around the chicken and pour extra sauce over the chicken.

***

Sweet poached pears with spiced cream and nuts

From: Chef Michael Lomonaco

Yield: 4 portions

INGREDIENTS

• 1/2 cup sugar
• 2 teaspoons cinnamon
• 3 or 4 whole cloves
• 4 firm Bartlett pears
• 4 ounce whipping cream
• 2 tablespoons confectioners
• 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts

DIRECTIONS

1. Into a pot large enough place the sugar, cinnamon, cloves and enough water to cover the pears. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. While the poaching liquid is cooking, peel and core the pears.

2. Add the pears to the simmering liquid and poach them until they are just tender to the tip of a knife, approximately 12-15 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool the pears in the liquid for another 20 minutes, then cover and refrigerate.

3. In a bowl, combine the whipping cream, confectioners' sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg and whisk till stiff and smooth.

4. Remove the pears from the liquid, drain, and dry them. Slice a sliver off the bottom of the pear to steady it on the plate.

5. Spoon some spiced cream over the pears, sprinkle with chopped walnuts.
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