When love's labor is not that much work

FAST & FRESH

February 10, 1993|By Rita Calvert | Rita Calvert,Contributing Writer

To embellish a meal of romance on the day designed for love, consider this effortless menu masquerading as a culinary feat. Arty and appealing roulade rounds are a tasty use of vegetables with the always popular steak. The trick for instant tenderness is to have the butcher run the steak through his tenderizer machine and this takes only a minute. (Otherwise, your flank steak could well be stringy and tough.)

Simple fresh steamed green beans add a bright touch as the vegetable and can be fanned out on the plate for an attractive presentation. There are some very interesting rice mixes on the market and those containing wild rice lend a touch of elegance.

A grand finale is important on this day of romantic indulgence but it doesn't have to be laborious. Create a simple winter shortcake by using a heart-shaped cookie cutter to stamp out slices from a store-bought fudge loaf or pound cake. Allow two per person or enough for a base and top layer. Make sure the raspberries are thawed and drizzle some of their syrup over the cake hearts. On individual plates, top the base heart with a scoop of ice cream and a spoonful of raspberries and juice. Top with a second cake heart and more raspberries.

If the mood is truly celebratory, a lovely libation would be a Cham Cham, a bubbly combo of dry champagne, Chambord liqueur and floating raspberries. (Make sure to add it to the shopping list.)

Items you should have in your pantry are: grated Parmesan, long grain and wild rice mix, freshly ground pepper, vanilla ice cream (or preferred flavor).

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

1 1/2 - to 2-pound flank steak, run through the butcher's tenderizer

1 7-ounce jar roasted red bell peppers (not in vinegar)

5 ounces fresh spinach

1 pound fresh green beans

fudge pound cake or loaf cake

frozen raspberries in syrup

fresh raspberries, if available for garnish

Flank steak pinwheels Serves 4.

1 1/2 -2 pound flank steak, run through your butcher's tenderizer

freshly ground black pepper

1 7-ounce jar roasted red bell peppers, drained and sliced into 1-inch strips

1 1/2 cups lightly cooked (just wilted) patted dry fresh spinach, (about 5 ounces fresh)

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Lay out flank steak and sprinkle with pepper. Top with a patchwork of red peppers (they will not solidly cover the steak). Sprinkle evenly with Parmesan cheese and then dot with a spinach layer and press firmly. Roll up tightly, beginning at the long edge and secure the roll with toothpicks at 1-inch intervals. Slice crosswise into into 1-inch thick pinwheels, making sure each spiral is secured with a toothpick.

Lay the slices, pinwheel sides up, on a broiler pan and broil about 1 inch from the heat for a total of 6 to 7 minutes turning after three minutes. Remove toothpicks before serving.

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