New cookbook puts emphasis on quick fixes

November 04, 1992|By Gerald Etter | Gerald Etter,Knight-Ridder News Service

"Great Food Without Fuss" (Holt, $25) is a compilation of favorite recipes culled from the kitchens of 70 great cooks, such as Diana Kennedy and Julia Child.

The book focuses on dishes that can be made quickly with minimum effort. Authors Frances McCullough, a cookbook editor, and Barbara Witt, a food consultant and former restaurateur, include their own recipes, plus general cooking tips.

The structure of the book allows the reader to use it strictly as a recipe collection, or to take suggestions to improvise. There are also notes on microwaving and tips on cutting down preparation time.

The book has the old classics as well as contemporary dishes. Here are some recipes from the book:

Thai cucumber salad

Makes about 10 servings.

3/4 cup distilled white vinegar

1/3 cup sugar, preferably super fine

1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes, to taste

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

2 1/4 to 2 1/2 pounds long-style cucumbers, washed and dried but not peeled

1/4 cup finely chopped red onion

1/4 cup chopped salted roasted peanuts

In a large bowl, combine the vinegar, sugar, hot red-pepper flakes and salt. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Set aside.

Score the cucumbers with a fork and then cut them into 1/4 -inch slices. Stack the slices and cut into quarters. Add the cucumbers and chopped red onions to the bowl of salad dressing and toss well. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 4 hours, stirring occasionally.

Just before serving, add the chopped peanuts. Toss the salad once more and serve in small individual bowls.

Beef tenderloin with Roquefort and red pepper butter

Makes 6 servings.

3 pounds beef tenderloin

4 tablespoons butter, melted

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon or 1 teaspoon dried tarragon

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

watercress or fresh spinach, for garnish

6 tablespoons Roquefort and red pepper butter (recipe follows)

Trim all fat from the tenderloin. Brush meat well with the melted butter and season with salt.

Grill the meat on a rack 4 to 6 inches above the heat. It will take about 30 minutes for the tenderloin to cook to rare -- 125 degrees on a meat thermometer -- turning every 10 minutes. Cook longer for desired degree of doneness.

When meat is done, remove to a carving board and let stand for 8 minutes. Sprinkle generously with salt, pepper and fresh tarragon and parsley.

Carve tenderloin into medium-thick slices and serve on warm plates garnished with watercress or fresh crisp spinach and the Roquefort and red pepper butter. Quickly spoon the juice that was released from carving the steak into a small pan. Heat it quickly with the remaining Roquefort and red pepper butter and add a touch of salt. Serve in a sauce boat.

Roquefort & red pepper butter

Makes approximately 1 cup.

1 small red bell pepper

5 ounces Roquefort cheese

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

salt to taste

cayenne pepper or hot red-pepper sauce, to taste

paprika

Wash, core and seed the red pepper. Cut into wire-thin slivers. Cream the Roquefort and butter together in a processor or with an electric mixer. Add the red pepper and blend. Season with salt and the cayenne or hot pepper sauce. Form mixture into two balls and roll in paprika sprinkled on a piece of foil. Refrigerate to chill.

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