A guide to back-to-basics entertaining

October 21, 1990|By Charlyne Varkonyi

Back-to-basics entertaining can be as easy as one, two, three.

1. Make a simple one-dish meal.

2. Put together a fresh salad.

3. End the meal with a comforting dessert.

Remember: The most important thing is not how complicated the meal is or how long it took to prepare it. Back-to-the-basics means that taste is more important than pretense.

Chicken pot pie Makes 6 servings.

From "Betty Crocker's Old-Fashioned Cookbook" (Prentice Hal Press, $17.95).

3 tablespoons butter or margarine

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon snipped fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/8 teaspoon pepper

3/4 cup chicken broth

3/4 cup whipping cream

2 cups cooked chicken or turkey, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 package (10 ounces) frozen mixed peas and carrots

1 cup frozen or canned small whole onions

pastry for 9-inch two crust pie, recipe to follow

Heat butter in a 3-quart saucepan over low heat until melted. Stiin flour, salt, thyme and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and bubbly; remove from heat. Stir in broth and whipping cream. Heat to boiling; stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Stir in chicken, peas and carrots and onions.

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Roll 2/3 of the pastry into a 12-inch square; fit into a square (8-by-8-by-2-inch) baking dish. Pour chicken mixture into pastry-lined dish. Roll remaining pastry into rectangle, about 10 by 6 inches. Cut rectangle into 12 strips, each 1/2 -inch wide.

Place seven pastry strips across filling; arrange remaining strips crisscross to make a lattice top. Trim; turn edge of bottom crust over strips. Seal and flute. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until light brown.

Pastry crust For a 9-inch, 2-crust pie.

2/3 cup lard or 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons shortening

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

4 to 5 tablespoons cold water

Cut lard or shortening into flour and salt until particles are the size of small peas. Sprinkle in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with a fork until all the flour is moistened and pastry almost cleans side of bowl (1 to 2 teaspoons water can be added if necessary.)

Gather pastry into two balls; shape into flattened rounds on lightly floured cloth-covered board. Then follow directions for chicken pot pie.


Makes 6 servings.

From "The Fannie Farmer Cookbook" (Knopf, $24.95)

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/3 cup chopped carrot

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound lean ground beef

3 cups Italian plum tomatoes

3 tablespoons butter, melted

1 teaspoon oregano, crumbled

1 tablespoon basil, crumbled

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/2 pound lasagna noodles, cooked

1/2 pound mozzarella cheese, grated

2 cups ricotta cheese

1/4 pound grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the oil in a skillet. Add the onion, carrot and garlic and cook stirring, until they are lightly browned. Push to the side of the pan and add the beef. Break it up into bits, cooking until it loses its pink color. Puree the tomatoes in a blender or food processor, add to the meat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the butter, oregano, basil, salt and pepper and mix well. Partially cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Assemble the lasagna by `D drizzling some sauce over the bottom of a shallow rectangular baking dish. Put in a layer of noodles, sprinkle with the mozzarella and spread on a layer of ricotta. Make another layer of noodles, sauce, mozzarella and ricotta. Finish with noodles and sauce. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese evenly over the top and bake 20 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

Ann Landers' meatloaf This classic meatloaf recipe appears in "Square Meals" (Knopf,

Makes 6 servings.

1 pound ground beef

1/2 pound ground veal

1/2 pound ground pork

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups cracker crumbs

3/4 cup ketchup

1/2 cup warm water

1 packet dry onion soup mix

4 strips bacon

1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix meats together by hand in a larg bowl. Add Worcestershire, eggs, cracker crumbs, ketchup, water and soup mix. Shape into a loaf in a shallow baking dish. Drape loaf with bacon strips, then pour tomato sauce over loaf. Bake 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until done.

Apple brown Betty Makes 6 servings.

From "Irena Chalmers' All-Time Favorites: A Lifetime of Recipes for the First-Time Cook" (Prentice Hall Press, $19.95).

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

3/4 cup sugar

8 tablespoons butter

4 slices firm-textured bread, crusts removed

1 cup raisins

3 small cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced

whipping cream, for serving

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch baking dish. Sif the flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar into a bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces; cut it into the flour mixture, using a pastry blender.

Cut the bread into crouton-sized pieces. Soak the raisins in boiling water until plump, about 5 minutes, then drain them. Combine the bread, raisins and sliced apples in a bowl. Sprinkle the bottom of the prepared baking dish with a third of the flour mixture, add the apple mixture and top with the remaining flour mixture. Bake, uncovered, until the top of the brown Betty is crisp and the apples are tender. Serve hot or cold with whipped cream.

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