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The 10 best recipes ...


The 10 best recipes ...

Recipes on this page were developed or tested by CeCe Sullivan of The Times food staff and were evaluated by staff members.

Vegetable Torta Rustica
8 to 10 servings

- Nonstick cooking spray
- 2 large eggplants, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 large red bell pepper, cut into quarters, seeded and thinly sliced
- 2 large plum tomatoes, cored, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 small onion, halved, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 medium cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
- 1 pound low-fat ricotta cheese
- 1 whole egg
- 3 egg whites
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
- 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 cups (16 ounces) good-quality marinara sauce
- 1/3 cup dry Italian bread crumbs
- 1 1/2 cups shredded mixed Italian cheeses

1. Spray 2 baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray. Lay the eggplant slices on the sheets and brush with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Lightly sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and some pepper. Bake in a preheated 400-degree oven 20 minutes, until tender and golden. Let cool slightly and transfer to a plate.

2. Combine the bell pepper, tomatoes, onion, garlic, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a little pepper. Bake 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool. Stir in the olives.

3. Combine the ricotta, whole egg, egg whites, Parmesan, basil, parsley and cayenne. Stir well until completely blended.

4. Spray a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Line the bottom with half of the eggplant slices. Spread the ricotta mixture on top. Drizzle with a third of the marinara sauce and sprinkle with half of the bread crumbs and half of the shredded cheese. Spread the bell pepper mixture on top; sprinkle with the remaining bread crumbs. Top with a final layer of the eggplant slices, the remaining tomato sauce and shredded cheese.

5. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven 40 minutes. Let set 15 minutes before cutting.

Note: The torta can be baked a day in advance. Cool, cover and refrigerate. Remove from refrigerator about an hour before serving. Rewarm, covered with aluminum foil, in a 350-degree oven 45 minutes. The torta can also be reheated, loosely covered with wax paper, in a microwave.

Data per 1 of 10 servings
Calories 262
Protein 14.2g
Fat 14.9g
Carbohydrates 18.5g
Sodium 911mg
Saturated fat 4.55g
Monounsaturated fat 6.41g
Polyunsaturated fat 1.20g
Cholesterol 39mg

Moroccan Chicken Stew
4 servings

- 2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
- 1 cut-up fryer chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds), skin removed
- 2 ribs celery, sliced
- 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced, or 1 teaspoon garlic paste
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 tablespoon Middle Eastern spice blend (see note)
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Hot cooked couscous
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1. In a large Dutch oven or deep skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Brown the chicken, a few pieces at a time, and remove to a plate. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat.

2. Add the celery, carrots and onion; saute until onion is softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. S 13413d324n tir in the garlic, flour and spice blend; saute 30 seconds. Return the chicken to the pan.

3. Add the chicken broth, bay leaf, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered, until the chicken is tender and cooked through, 35 to 45 minutes.

4. For easier serving, cut the chicken from the bone and put back into the sauce. Spoon over the hot couscous and garnish with parsley.

Note: You can make your own spice blend by stirring together 3/4 teaspoon each ground cumin and coriander, 1/2 teaspoon each cinnamon and ground ginger and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper.

Data per serving
Calories 367
Protein 39.8g
Fat 16.8g
Carbohydrates 12.6g
Sodium 1493mg
Saturated fat 3.16g
Monounsaturated fat 7.56g
Polyunsaturated fat 4.33g
Cholesterol 114mg

From "The International Pantry Cookbook: An Everyday Guide to Cooking with Seasonings, Prepared Sauces, and Spices" by Heidi Haughy Cusick.

Mushrooms a la Stroganoff
4 servings

- 1 cup Brown Vegetable Stock (recipe follows)
- 1 1/4 pounds mushrooms (a combination of cremini and shiitake)
- 2 cups sliced onions
- 1 medium clove garlic, peeled and minced
- Optional: 2 tablespoons dry sherry
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika (see note)
- 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 (6-ounce) package egg yolk-less noodles, cooked according to package directions

1. Prepare the vegetable stock; measure 1 cup and refrigerate or freeze the remaining.

2. Trim away stem ends of mushrooms and wipe with a damp paper towel. Slice thinly and set aside.

3. Put the onions and garlic into a large saute pan with 1/2 cup of the vegetable broth. Simmer, covered, until onions are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add the mushrooms and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the sherry and cook 2 minutes.

4. Stir in the paprika, cayenne, lemon zest and remaining 1/2 cup stock. Simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, or until reduced by one-third. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and let sit 5 minutes. Stir in the yogurt, dill and parsley. Heat on low heat.

5. Cook the noodles. Reserve about 1/3 cup of the cooking water; drain the noodles. Stir into the mushroom sauce, adding some of the reserved water if necessary so the noodles are well-coated. Serve immediately.

Note: A tablespoon may seem like too much paprika, but the entire amount should be used. Not only is it a flavor and color agent, but it also serves as a thickener.

Data per serving
Calories 244
Protein 12.1g
Fat 1.8g
Carbohydrates 46.8g
Sodium 396mg
Saturated fat 0.17g
Monounsaturated fat 0.07g
Polyunsaturated fat 0.43g
Cholesterol 1mg

From "Eat More, Weigh Less" by Dean Ornish, M.D.

Brown Vegetable Stock
Makes 4 cups

- 2 yellow onions, cut into quarters
- 1 red onion, cut into quarters
- 5 carrots, cut into large chunks
- 3 ribs celery, cut into large chunks
- 1 clove garlic, cut in half
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 quarts water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Put the cut vegetables in a heavy baking pan. Roast in the oven, uncovered, stirring occasionally for about 1 hour.

2. Remove pan from the oven. Pour about half of the water into the pan and scrape up the caramelized juice. Then transfer mixture, along with the remaining water, to a stockpot. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, 1 hour.

3. Strain the stock and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate up to 4 days, or freeze for longer storage.

From "Eat More, Weigh Less" by Dean Ornish, M.D.

Sweet-Heat Chicken Penne
4 servings

Fruit stock:
- 3/4 pound green grapes, removed from stems
- 2 medium oranges, skins and seeds discarded, pulp coarsely chopped
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt

- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce (see note)
- 2 boneless and skinless chicken-breast halves
- Salt and pepper to taste

Sauce and pasta:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
- 1 large clove garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 medium-size, ripe plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
- 1 1/2 cups fruit stock, divided
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- 1 to 2 teaspoons hot sauce (see note)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups penne pasta
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
- 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts, coarsely chopped

1. To prepare the fruit stock: Puree the grapes and orange pulp together in a food processor. Then combine with the water and salt in a small stockpot. Bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce the heat slightly and simmer vigorously 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit 10 minutes, then strain through a cheesecloth-lined sieve. Refrigerate until ready to use.

2. To prepare the chicken: Combine the olive oil, liquid smoke and hot sauce. Line a small baking pan with aluminum foil and brush lightly with some of the olive oil mixture. Put the chicken into the pan and brush with the remaining oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Place on second-highest oven rack under a hot broiler and broil 5 minutes. Turn chicken and broil an additional 5 minutes, or until chicken tests done. Cool, then cut into thin strips. Set aside.

3. To prepare the sauce and pasta: In a large, nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking 1 minute. Then add chopped tomatoes and dried basil; cook 5 minutes. Pour in 1 cup of the fruit stock and simmer 5 minutes. Add the cream and 1 teaspoon of the hot sauce; simmer a few minutes until lightly thickened. Add salt and pepper. Taste the sauce; add a little more hot sauce if needed. Stir in the chicken and keep warm.

4. Bring a large pan of water to the boil for the pasta. Cook according to package directions. Drain. Put back into the hot pan.

5. Add the sauce, the remaining 1/2 cup fruit stock, basil and parsley. Place pan over medium-low heat, stir a few minutes until the pasta absorbs some of the sauce. Add cheese and pine nuts. Adjust seasoning with additional hot sauce if necessary.

Note: The Times Test Kitchen used Cajun Sunshine Hot Pepper Sauce in this recipe.

Data per serving
Calories 546
Protein 26g
Fat 26.1g
Carbohydrates 54g
Sodium 561mg
Saturated fat 10.01g
Monounsaturated fat 10.72g
Polyunsaturated fat 3.47g
Cholesterol 83mg

Adapted from "Heading for the Sweet Heat: Fruit and Fire Spice Cooking" by Jacqueline Landeen.

Spicy Hot Sauce Pizza
16 slices

- 1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 (16-ounce) bottle mild salsa
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon milder hot sauce (see note)
- 1/2 teaspoon spicier hot sauce (see note)
- 2 (16-ounce) Boboli pizza crusts
- 4 tablespoons black-olive paste
- 2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
- 3 cups packaged Mexican-blend grated cheese
- 1 ripe but firm avocado

1. In a large, nonstick skillet, saute the red onion and bell pepper in the olive oil over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the salsa and water; simmer 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.

2. Divide the salsa in half. Add 1/2 teaspoon of a milder hot sauce to one batch, and 1/2 teaspoon of a spicier sauce to the other.

3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place the crusts on baking sheets and spread each with one of the sauces. Dot each with 2 tablespoons black-olive paste, spreading gently. Top with tomato slices and cheese.

4. Place pizzas in oven and bake 5 minutes. Rotate baking sheets for even cooking and continue baking 5 minutes.

5. Remove the pizzas from the oven and cool 5 minutes.

6. Peel, seed and coarsely dice the avocado. Sprinkle over the pizzas and cut into wedges.

Note: The Times Test Kitchen used S'Ole Jalapeno Medium Hot Pepper Sauce for the milder sauce, and Aji Amazona Salsa Verde Picante for the spicier sauce.

Adapted from "Hot Licks: Great Recipes for Making and Cooking with Hot Sauces" by Jennifer Trainer Thompson.

Mango Tart with Blackberries
8 to 10 servings

Sweet tart pastry:
- 1 1/2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons sugar (superfine)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons apricot preserves, warmed

- 3 medium mangoes
- 2 cups blackberries
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 5 tablespoons sugar, divided
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

- 1/4 cup apricot preserves
- 1 tablespoon water

1. To prepare the pastry: Place the flour, sugar and salt into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse 3 to 4 times to blend. Distribute the butter around the bowl and pulse 6 to 7 times. Then process 6 to 8 seconds, until the crumbs are about the size of coarse meal. Add the egg and vanilla; pulse a few times until it forms large clumps. Transfer dough to a piece of wax paper.

2. To blend the flour and butter together, use the heel of your hand to push about a quarter of the dough at a time outward in 6 inch sweeps. Repeat the process until all of the dough has been worked. Gather the dough in a mound again and repeat twice. (Lightly flour your hands if the dough is sticking too much.) Dust the dough lightly, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate about 20 minutes before shaping.

3. Generously butter a 9-inch removable-bottomed tart pan. Roll the dough between lightly floured sheets of plastic wrap and fit into the tart pan, pressing the dough into the sides. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Line the dough with a piece of aluminum foil and fill with dried beans or pastry weights. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven 12 minutes. Remove foil and beans; continue baking 5 minutes. Place on a rack and brush with the apricot preserves. Cool while preparing the filling.

4. To prepare the filling: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Position oven rack in the lower third of the oven.

5. Cut the flesh from the mangoes and remove peel. Place flat-side down on a cutting board and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices. Set aside. Gently rinse blackberries and drain on paper towel-lined half-sheet pan.

6. Combine the cornstarch and 3 tablespoons sugar in a large bowl. Add blackberries and shake the bowl to coat the berries. Carefully stir in the mangoes and lemon juice. Transfer to the tart shell. Combine the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar with the cinnamon and sprinkle the mixture over the fruit.

7. Place the tart on a baking sheet and bake about 40 minutes, or until the juices begin to bubble and the edge of the crust is golden brown. Cool on a rack.

8. To prepare the glaze: Place the preserves and water in a heatproof glass container and heat in a microwave on medium power for 20 to 30 seconds, or until bubbly. Brush the warm glaze on top of the tart. Let stand 1 hour before cutting.

Data per 1 of 10 servings
Calories 326
Protein 3.3g
Fat 14g
Carbohydrates 49g
Sodium 64mg
Saturated fat 8.25g
Monounsaturated fat 4.13g
Polyunsaturated fat 0.88g
Cholesterol 57mg

Island Fish Cakes with Wasabi Beurre Blanc
6 cakes

Fish cakes:

- 1 pound white fish fillet, such as sea bass, snapper or mahi-mahi <
- 1 3/4 cups panko crumbs, divided
- 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
- 2 medium green onions, minced
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 medium clove garlic, peeled and minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil

- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 3/4 teaspoon arrowroot dissolved in 1 teaspoon water
- 3/4 teaspoon wasabi powder (Japanese horseradish) dissolved in 1 teaspoon water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces

1. To prepare the fish cakes: Remove any skin and bones from the fish, then dice finely. Put into a bowl and add 1/2 cup panko crumbs, mayonnaise, bell pepper, green onions, eggs, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix gently. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

2. Form into 6 cakes. Spread the remaining 1 1/4 cups panko crumbs on a plate and dredge the fish cakes on both sides. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

3. While the fish cakes are resting prepare the sauce: Pour the wine and broth into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat slightly and cook at a low boil 3 minutes. Add soy sauce and dissolved arrowroot; simmer a few minutes until lightly thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the dissolved wasabi powder. Whisk in the butter slowly, piece by piece, until smooth. Hold on low heat.

4. To finish the cakes: Heat a tablespoon oil in each of 2 large nonstick skillets over medium-high heat. When hot, put the fish cakes into the pans and cook about 4 minutes on each side, until golden and cooked through. Spoon the sauce over the cakes and serve.

Data per cake with sauce
Calories 316
Protein 18.8g
Fat 18.1g
Carbohydrates 15g
Sodium 640mg
Saturated fat 4.97g
Monounsaturated fat 7.78g
Polyunsaturated fat 3.97g
Cholesterol 123mg

From "America's Kitchen" by Anthony Dias Blue.

Baked Pears with Caramel-Chenin Blanc Sauce and Ginger Cream
6 to 8 servings

- 1 quart vanilla ice cream, softened
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger

Pears and sauce:
- 4 ripe pears
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup chenin blanc
- 1/2 cup caramel sauce (see note)

1. To prepare the cream: Whip the softened ice cream and ground ginger together. Return the ice cream to its container and to the freezer.

2. To prepare the pears and sauce: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel the pears, quarter and remove the cores.

3. Melt the butter in a large, heavy skillet. Remove from the heat and put the pears into the pan. Sprinkle with sugar and turn gently. Place in oven and bake about 12 minutes, until tender when pierced with a knife.

4. Remove the pan from the oven. Remove pears from pan and place the pan over medium heat. Cook the syrup until it thickens, about 4 to 5 minutes. Then pour in the wine and cook 4 minutes. Stir in the caramel sauce and cook a few minutes just to blend. Remove from the heat and put the pears into the sauce, stirring gently to coat. Let sit off the heat about 5 minutes.

5. Spoon the ice cream into glass serving bowls. Spoon the warm pears and sauce over the top. Some of the ice cream will melt, forming a creamy sauce with the caramel.

Note: A couple of good prepared sauces to try in this recipe are Dilettante Chocolates' Carameled Cream and Caramel Sauce from Fran's Chocolates.

Adapted from a recipe by Madeleine Kamman.

Roast Pork with Berry-Cabernet Sauce
About 10 servings

- 2 tablespoons minced shallots
- 1 medium clove garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 (2 3/4 pound) pork loin roast
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Kitchen string

- 3 tablespoons minced shallots
- 1 medium clove garlic, peeled and minced
- 4 small sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries or blueberries, or combination of both, divided
- 1 cup cabernet sauvignon
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 3/4 cups chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot dissolved in 1 1/2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon softened butter
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
- Salt to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. To prepare the pork: Combine the shallots, garlic and thyme. Cut the strings from the pork and separate the halves. Spread with the shallot mixture and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Retie the pork with kitchen string and sprinkle outside with salt and pepper. Place pork on a rack in a roasting pan and roast in a preheated 350-degree oven about 1 3/4 hours, or until an internal temperature reaches 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Baste occasionally with the cooking juices.

2. While the pork is cooking, prepare the sauce: In a medium saucepan, combine the shallots, garlic, thyme sprigs, 1 cup berries, wine, vinegar and sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and cook at a low boil 5 minutes. Add the broth and continue cooking 5 minutes. Strain the mixture.

3. Transfer the pork from the roasting pan to a cutting board and cover loosely with foil. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes.

4. Pour the drippings from the roasting pan and place the pan over stove burners set on medium heat. When pan is hot, deglaze with the sauce and cook until the caramelized juices dissolve. Add the dissolved arrowroot and cook 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and swirl in the butter. Then add the remaining cup berries, chopped thyme leaves, salt and pepper. Hold on low heat.

5. Cut the strings from the pork and separate the halves. Slice the meat thinly and serve with the sauce on the side.

Note: Serve with mashed or roasted potatoes.

Data per serving
Calories 245
Protein 29.1g
Fat 8.4g
Carbohydrates 8.2g
Sodium 269mg
Saturated fat 3.16g
Monounsaturated fat 3.49g
Polyunsaturated fat 0.91g
Cholesterol 73mg

Raspberry Mazurkas
Makes 24 bars

- Nonstick cooking spray
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
- 1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
- 1 cup flaked coconut
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/2 sticks margarine, melted
- 1 (18-ounce) jar raspberry preserves

1. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, oats, walnuts, coconut and salt. Pour melted margarine over the mixture; mix with clean hands until well-combined.

3. Press half of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Spread the preserves on top, leaving a 1/2-inch border around pan. Spread remaining crumb mixture on top evenly, pressing down lightly.

4. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown.

5. Cool on a rack before cutting into bars.

Note: These bars freeze well.

From Tara Kay Reed of Hoffman's Fine Pastries in Kirkland.

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