Perfect One-Dish Dinners

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2010-09-20
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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In Perfect One-Dish Dinners, the New York Times best-selling author Pam Anderson shares her secret for having people over without breaking stride: Make just one dish. Instead of a parade of offerings, she focuses attention on a single main course--a rustic tart, paella, grilled platter, or homey stew. Perfect One-Dish Dinners showcases about forty such meals, perfect for every season and occasion, all designed to wow guests, calm the cook, and relieve the dishwasher at the end of the night. Stews for All Seasons * Worldly Casseroles * Roasting Pan Complete * Big Summer Salads and Grilled Platters * But that's not all. If the cook wants to make something extra, Pam provides a compatible appetizer, salad, and dessert for every one dish. And as a special bonus, she throws in "nearly instant" alternatives for each--more than 200 mixable, matchable recipes. Whether for a book group, church get together, birthday party, or family supper, Perfect One-Dish Dinners makes easy, shareable meals perfectly doable. More than 200 recipes in all.

Author Biography

Pam Anderson is the author of The Perfect Recipe, which won a Julia Child Award, CookSmart, and Perfect Recipes for Having People Over. She is the new monthly food columnist for Better Homes and Gardens and the magazine’s TV spokesperson, a columnist for USA Weekend, and a contributing editor to Fine Cooking.


IntroductionThe seed for this book was planted a number of years ago, when I was teaching a cooking class in California. A woman raised her hand and confessed, "I can make one dish just fine, but when I have to orchestrate the rest of the meal so it all comes out at just the right time, I get flustered."Since then I’ve given a lot of thought to her admission. Itisstressful to pull off a multicourse, multidish meal. But, with perhaps the exception of the occasional holiday extravaganza, things really don’t need to be that complicated. A memorable dinner can be as simple as bringing one beautifully complete dish to the table.This book features dozens of such dinners that will wow family and guests, calm the cook, and, at the end of the night, impress the dishwasher. Regardless of the season, the amount of time you have to prepare the meal, or the number of guests you’ve invited, it’s easy to find a recipe here that’s perfect for the occasion.I have to confess to a fondness for stews, which is why I include such a wide selection—for any time of the year. Many of the stews in this book, like Jerk Chicken Chili and Braised Lamb Shanks with Tomatoes, Aromatic Vegetables, and White Beans, are classic fall or winter evening fare, but there are plenty of stews for other seasons as well. Coq au Vin Blanc with Spring Vegetables and Salsa Verde Chicken with Herbed Cornmeal Dumplings are ideal for spring, while Spicy Coconut Shrimp Stew with Tomatoes and Cilantro and Carnita-Style Beef with Roasted Peppers and Onions (for a rockin’ taco party) are both great for summer.The possibilities go far beyond stews. Jazz up your next dinner with a decidedly un-American casserole. Doable, Delicious Paella is one of my favorites, as is One-Pot Penne with Turkey-Feta Meatballs—the pasta cooks right in the sauce. Or make lasagna and take your choice of three flavors, all beginning with the same basic step, or choose from three types of enchiladas (Spicy Chicken, Beef and Bean, or Creamy Seafood).For the holidays, if you dread keeping roast turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes hot during the soup course, you might want to relax and join in the festivities by serving one dish such as Festive Roast Chicken or Blue Cheese–Stuffed Beef Tenderloin with Port Sauce and Mushroom-Spinach Barley.When it’s warm outside, the grill becomes the source of some of my most convivial meals. I set out a platter of the grilled version of a classic niçoise salad, enlivened with lemony vinaigrette, or an Antipasto Platter with sausage, shrimp, eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes drizzled with a feta vinaigrette.You can make one of the spectacular one-dishes in the book and be done, but you’ll also find splendidly simple appetizers and desserts that are specially designed for each meal. Before Chicken Potpie with Green Apples and Cheddar Biscuits, you might want to put out a bowl of smoked almonds, but spend just a few minutes more in the kitchen, and you can serve Perfect Spinach-Artichoke Dip. And for when you have even less time, I’ve given you almost instant alternatives for each meal, which rely on store-bought foods but taste spectacularly homemade. For example, you can end the meal with a buttery Giant Linzer Cookie filled with raspberry jam—or make it with store-bought refrigerated dough, if you’re running short on time. You can follow the menus just as is or mix and match them for hundreds of different dinner options.Whether it’s a Super Bowl bash, a surprise birthday, a book club supper, a gourmet gathering, a housewarming party (and, for me, a constant stream of events at the church rectory), or just a Saturday afternoon when you feel like making something special for the family,Perfect One-Dish Dinnersoffers just the right recipes.Leftovers? No problem—put them to good use for quick weeknight dinners (it’s what I call money in the bank). With every dish, you’ll find storage and reheating instructions.So why stress out planning and overseeing a complicated dinner?Perfect One-Dish Dinnersoffers a wonderfully freeing alternative. You get to host your dinner—and enjoy it too.Salsa Verde Chicken with Herbed Cornmeal DumplingsBy adding a jolt of freshness—both cilantro and scallions are stirred into the dough—this dish one-ups traditional chicken and dumplings. Without losing all the comfort-food feel of the original, this rendition is sassy and utterly simple.Pimento Cheese with Green Olives and Flatbread CrackersInstant Alternative: Boursin Cheese with Flatbread Crackers

Baby Spinach Salad with Mango, Avocado, and Red OnionMiniature Lemon-Raspberry CakesInstant Alternative: Lemon Curd Ice Cream with Fresh Raspberries

Salsa Verde Chickenwith Herbed Cornmeal DumplingsServes 6This stew can be made 2 days ahead up to the point of making the dumplings. Reheat it before topping and baking. If you want to double the recipe, use a large heavy roasting pan set over two burners.

Chicken½ stick (4 tablespoons) butter½ cup all-purpose flour1 can (14.5 ounces) chicken broth1 jar (16 ounces) salsa verde (2 cups)1 can (5 ounces) evaporated milk1 large rotisserie chicken, meat deboned and left in large chunks (about 6 cups)Dumplings1 cup whole milk3 tablespoons unsalted butter1½ cups bleached all-purpose flour½ cup yellow cornmeal1 tablespoon baking powder¾ teaspoon salt¼ cup thinly sliced scallion greens¼ cup chopped fresh cilantroChicken:Heat butter over medium-high heat in a large (11- to 12-inch), deep ovenproof skillet or 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven. Whisk in flour to make a paste. Mix broth, salsa verde, and evaporated milk and whisk in all at once. Whisk, vigorously at first, until mixture simmers and thickens to sauce consistency. Stir in chicken, heat through, and cover to keep warm. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.Dumplings: Heat milk and butter in a small saucepan until steamy.Mix flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, scallions, and cilantro in a medium bowl with a fork. Stir in milk mixture to form a smooth, firm dough. Pinch off Ping-Pong-ball-size pieces of dough with your fingers and drop onto chicken mixture. Return chicken to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover and transfer pan to oven and bake until dumplings are cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve.Drink Suggestion: A good aromatic white like Viognier or Argentine TorrontesPimento Cheese with Green Olives
and Flatbread CrackersMakes 3 cupsServe flatbread crackers (preferably unflavored) with this cheese spread, allowing your guests to break off the size cracker they want. If you can’t find flatbread crackers (look for them in the gourmet section of the supermarket or the cracker aisle), any mild cracker will do.

By using pimento-stuffed green olives, you get both the pimento that typically shows up in the spread as well as briny Spanish green olives that add great color and piquant flavor. Buy the cheaper salad olives, which are partially chopped.

Use the food processor grating blade to grate the cheese, then switch to the steel blade to coarsely chop the olives (be sure to pulse, not process), and you’ve got an hors d’oeuvre for a crowd in about 5 minutes. The cheese spread can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

1 pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated1 cup coarsely chopped pimento-stuffed olives¾ cup light mayonnaise¾ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper1 package (6–8 ounces) flatbread crackers (see headnote)Mix all ingredients except crackers in a medium bowl. Just before serving, line a 3-cup bowl with plastic wrap. Spoon cheese spread into bowl; press to mold. Turn onto a serving plate, remove plastic wrap, and serve with crackers.Instant Alternative: Pick up a box of Boursin cheese and a package of flatbread crackers, if available, or regular crackers. Remove the cheese from its packaging, set it on a small plate, and top with a single sprig of fresh dill, a small step that gives the cheese an elegant, homemade feel.

 Baby Spinach Salad with Mango, Avocado, and Red OnionServes 6This refreshing salad complements the spicy chicken and dumplings.

Instead of the dressing here, you can toss with a generous ½ cup Orange Vinaigrette (recipe follows) or Balsamic Vinaigrette (page 27).

1 package (7 ounces) prewashed baby spinach (about 10 cups)1 large mango (or 2 small), peeled, pitted, and cut into medium dice or 8 ounces fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced (1¼ cups)¼ medium red onion, thinly sliced1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled, and diced4–6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oilSalt and freshly ground black pepper1–1½ tablespoons balsamic or rice wine vinegarPlace spinach, mango or strawberries, onion, and avocado in a large bowl. Just before serving, toss with 4 tablespoons olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. Taste, adding more oil, salt, or pepper, if necessary. Add 1 tablespoon vinegar and toss to coat, adding more, if necessary, to taste, and serve.

Orange VinaigretteMakes 1½ cupsThe dressing can be refrigerated in an airtight container for a week or more.

½ cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed½ cup rice wine vinegar½ cup olive oilWhisk all ingredients in a medium bowl. Miniature Lemon-Raspberry Cakes

Makes 4 double cakes, serving up to 8Even though these cakes look and taste as if they came from an upscale bakery, they’re actually just raspberry jam and toasted almonds sandwiched between two store-bought shortcakes. The cream cheese frosting, flavored with good jarred lemon curd (located with the jams and jellies in the supermarket), can be whipped up in just minutes. The cakes can be assembled a couple of days in advance (bring to room temperature several hours before serving them). Most people will opt for a half cake, giving you enough for up to 8 servings.

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened½ cup jarred lemon curd1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar2 packages (4.5 ounces each) shortcakes (8 cakes)½ cup low-sugar raspberry jam¼ cup toasted slivered almonds1 pint fresh raspberries (optional)Beat cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in lemon curd, then sugar until light and fluffy. Set 1 cake, well side up, on each of four dessert plates. Spoon 2 tablespoons jam into each well; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon almonds. Top with remaining 4 cakes, well side down. Using a table knife or an offset spatula, frost top and sides with cream cheese mixture, swirling frosting attractively. Serve, garnishing with raspberries, if you like.Instant Alternative: Serve Lemon Curd Ice Cream, a flavor so good I can’t believe it’s not in every grocery-store freezer case. For 6 people, soften 1½ pints premium vanilla ice cream (for each pint, microwave for 15 to 30 seconds on high power, checking after 15 seconds). Turn ice cream into a medium bowl. Spoon ½ cup of good store-bought lemon curd by tablespoonfuls into the ice cream. Fold until lemon curd streaks ice cream. Spoon into six goblets, topping each with a few fresh raspberries. (You’ll need a pint of raspberries.) Serve. 

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