Jack Be Simple, Jack Be Quick

FASTLANE FEAST

January 15, 1992|By Charlyne Varkonyi

Getting a meal on the table in 30 minutes or less is no strange new phenomenon of the 1990s.

Cookbook publishers have been churning out quick cookbooks on a regular basis during the past decade. But not all are created equal. Some of these supposed quick cook menus make your kitchen look like the aftermath of a tornado; it takes more time to clean up the mess than it takes to prepare the meal.

Whether you are judging the quick-cook menu in a cookbook or developing one on your own, remember one basic: Keep it simple. Only one of the elements of the meal should actually require a lot of assembly. The great gods of cuisine won't strike you dead with a bolt of lightning if you open up a box of seasoned rice or buy a pie from the supermarket's bakery.

I have taken a 12-minute recipe for veal with zucchini and dill from one of the good quick cookbooks -- "30-Minute Meals" (HPBooks, 1984) by Susan Brown Draudt, a home economist who has done a variety of work for the food industry from recipe development to food styling. Add a seasoned wild rice mix and lemon meringue pie and a tasty dinner is on the table with minimum fuss.

Ms. Draudt's quick cooking and servings tips should help slice your preparation time:

* Be organized. Set out all your ingredients before you begin.

* Do similar tasks at the same time. Peel, chop and mince everything in one shot. Open all cans at once.

* Foods cook faster starting at room temperature instead of from-the-refrigerator temperatures.

* Cook simultaneously. Start one dish on one burner while you are broiling another.

Items you should have in your pantry include: butter or margarine, onion, salt and lemon.

Your 10-item-or-less shopping list should include:

* 4 veal chops or cutlets, 6 ounces each

* 2 medium zucchini

* 1 bunch fresh dill

* wild rice

* 1 lemon meringue pie

/ Veal with zucchini and dill Makes 4 servings

3 tablespoons butter or margarine

4 (6 ounces) veal chops or cutlets

2 medium zucchini, sliced

1 medium onion, sliced

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dill weed

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

In a large skillet, melt butter or margarine. Add veal; cook over medium heat to desired doneness. Place veal on a warm platter; cover with foil to keep warm. In the same skillet, saute zucchini, onion and dill until tender. Season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Spoon zucchini mixture over warm veal.

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