cookin' with auntie dee
Volume 22/Issue 5/2004

Donnie Jay  

 

 

by Donnie Jay
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA

Lent

Alas my dears, the merriment has ended, and now the piper must be paid. Ash Wednesday has ended our debacle of self-indulgence. The Lenten season has begun and it is time for us to sacrifice by giving up something that we take great pleasure in, and for many here in the Crescent City, that means it is also time to forsake eating meat. Now whither this is just for Ash Wednesday and Fridays during this period is open to debate and interpretation, but after giving it much thought Auntie Dee doesn’t believe that we have to stop eating all meat as it were, but rather just that meat which is traditionally served at the table for dietary consumption. So, yes the answer to the most asked question, I’m sure you can still eat that particular piece. But just to be on the safe side you might ask your spiritual leader.

Now I know that some of you have a hard time (no pun intended here) at just the thought of getting down on a juicy piece of meat, and are terribly distressed about even giving it up for a few days, so I have selected some rather tasty recipes to ease you through the ordeal you are facing.

RATATOUILLE
Now here is a wonderful and tasty dish that is totally vegetarian but very satisfying. It is wonderful served over pasta as a main dish, and if you're not vegan, top it with Parmesan cheese. Diabetic? No problem, here either just omit the sugar and add a little artificial sweetener, and serve over whole-wheat pasta.

1 large Spanish onion, peeled and sliced
1 large eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
4 small zucchini, about 1/2 pound sliced
8 tomatoes, peeled quartered and seeded
1 large red pepper julienne
1 large clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh shredded basil
4 tablespoons olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a nonstick pan. Add the onion and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes or until soft.

Add the rest of the ingredients except the basil. Stir well. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to low cook for about forty-five minutes until the vegetables are tender but still retain their shape. Stirring gently from time to time. At the end of cooking adjust the seasoning and sprinkle with the fresh basil. Serve over pasta if so desired.

SALMON NICOISE SALAD
1/2 pound new potatoes, boiled, sliced into rounds
1/2 pound fresh green beans, snipped, cut into halves length wise, boiled and cooled
1 clove of garlic peeled and minced
1 table fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh basil, shredded
1 head Boston lettuce
1/4 pound cherry tomatoes, halved
4 hard boiled eggs, shelled cooled and cut into wedges
4 small salmon fillets, grilled for two minutes on each side
1/2 cup pitted black olives in oil, drained
3 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
6 tablespoons French dressing
Whisk the garlic and herbs into the French dressing and set aside.

Seperate the lettuce leaves and arrange them around the edges of four individual plates. Arrange the potato slices, halved tomatoes and egg wedges attractively on top of the lettuce.

Place a salmon fillet in the center and arrange the black olives around them. Scatter the scallions over the top and then drizzle with the dressing.

Cover the salads loosely and chill for an hour before serving.

Our next recipe is one of my personal favorites for Lent. I am a big fan of pasta dishes as I am sure if you are a regular reader you are well aware of. I can remember enjoying stuffed shells growing up. The following recipe is based on one of my grandmother’s recipes with a few added ingredients of my own. It is one I am sure you will enjoy whether you prepare your own favorite tomato sauce or purchase one.

STUFFED PASTA SHELLS with MARINARA SAUCE
12 large or 24 medium pasta shells, cooked
1 pound spinach leaves, cleaned, sautéed and cooled
2 tablespoons chopped pimento
1 cup mascarpone
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup grated Romano cheese
1 tablespoon shredded fresh basil
A few gratings of fresh nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease an 8 by 10 baking dish. Spread a little of the tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan.

Place spinach, pimento and marcarpone in a bowl and beat together with a spoon. Add all other ingredients, except the pasta shells, mixing well.

Pack each shell full of the filling and place in the baking pan closely together. Cover with the remaining sauce and bake for 35 minutes, or until bubbly.

Make sure the shells are completely covered with the sauce before baking or they will be tough.

Since the weather is still very unpredictable with Easter being early, and it has been so cold lately, I thought it would be nice to include a nice soup as well. This one is quick and easy to make. Serve it with some crusty French bread for lunch or supper.

LEEK AND POTATO SOUP
3 leeks, cleaned, trim leaving a little green to color soup. Cut in half and slice thin.
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced thin
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound potatoes peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices
5 cups vegetable stock (or five vegetable bouillon cubes dissolved in 5 cups water)
Fresh nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Chopped parsley for garnish

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until foaming. Add leeks and onions, stir to coat vegetables with butter. Cover the pan and cook about 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft but not brown.

Add the potatoes and the stock to the pan. Add 8 gratings from the nutmeg. Add all other ingredients except the heavy cream, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for about fifteen minutes or until the potatoes are very soft.

Remove the pan from the heat and with a hand held blender, puree the soup until it is very smooth. Return the soup to medium heat until it boils. Take off the heat add the cream. Adjust the seasoning. Serve hot sprinkled with the fresh parsley

Now darlings I know that it is very hard to give up those things we cherish most in our lives, but not everything is all-bad. For instance eating fish is all right during Lent, which leaves our lesbian sisters in much better shape. Now Gentlemen please remember that it is only the meat we shouldn’t be eating on holy days, but fruit is most acceptable.

APPLE-VINEGAR BISCUIT COBBLER
This recipe is an old favorite. A generous scoop of vanilla ice cream compliments the vinegar flavor in this sweet-tart dessert, best served warm.
8 Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled and cut into pie size wedges
2 cups sugar
1 (3 ounce) package of cream cheese
1/3 cup butter
2 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1-cup milk
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon all spice 1-teaspoon cloves

Preheat over to 425 F.

Combine apples and sugar and set aside. Cut cream cheese and 1/3-cup butter into the flour with a fork or pastry blender until crumbly. Stir in the milk. Turn dough out onto a floured a surface: knead three or four times. Roll out to 1/2 inch thickness and cut with a 2" round cutter. Set aside. Melt the other 1/4 cup butter in a large skillet over medium heat: add apple mixture. Cook stirring often, twenty minutes or until apples are tender and syrup thickens slightly. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Pour into a lightly greased 11 by 7 inch baking dish: place dish on baking dish. Top with biscuits. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until biscuits are golden brown. Bake extra biscuit on a cookie sheet.

Serve with vanilla ice cream, this will make your suffering much easier during Lent. Remember dearies it’s only forty days and we certainly know how to make up for any meatless nights that occur.

You can e-mail me at auntiedee@bellsouth.com.


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