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Flavor of trusted recipe remains

Dear Jeanne: We have used this recipe for company many times and have tried substitutions with somewhat limited success.

Can you help us turn this trusted dish into something we can eat without our arteries clogging up? _ Martha Schuller, Houston, Texas.

Dear Martha: This is a beautiful, colorful dish with an interesting combination of ingredients. I reduced the fat by more than half by making my own sauce and using less added fat. Putting some of the sauce on the bottom of the casserole helps to prevent it from being too dry.

There are so many wonderful flavors in it that I did not miss the cream at all. Cutting the chicken into strips makes the casserole easier to eat and distributes the meat more evenly.

Celery Victor

I can remember when Celery Victor was not only a household word but also graced the menus of almost all upscale restaurants. Whatever happened to this once-trendy cooked, marinated and chilled celery heart?

I'm not really sure, but I think it was because the celery was marinated in a vinaigrette dressing containing so much oil that it turned this popular, low-calorie vegetable into such a high-fat dish that it gradually lost its appeal.

Since celery is a universally well-liked vegetable, available the year around and equally tasty raw or cooked, I decided to update this cooked celery classic for the '90s.

This fat-free version is also delicious served right out of the oven as a hot vegetable side dish.

If you prefer to serve it as a cold entree instead of an appetizer, just add a large can of drained, water-packed tuna to the marinade along with the cooked celery hearts and surprise your family.

Jeanne Jones is a consultant on menu planning, recipes and new-product development for major hotels and spas. She is also the author of 18 cookbooks.

Send your recipe for revision to: Cook It Light, the Times, P.O. Box 1212, La Jolla, Calif. 92038.

Chicken and Artichoke Buffet

3 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts, split and cooked (4 cups meat)

2 cups carrots, cut in 1-inch julienne strips

4 tablespoons butter, divided

4 cups cooked wild rice

10 medium mushrooms, sliced

10 scallions, chopped

2 cans condensed cream of chicken soup

{ cup heavy cream

{ cup sherry

1 teaspoon salt

2 (14-ounce) cans artichoke hearts, drained and quartered

10 slices thick bacon, fried and crumbled

3 cups grated mozzarella cheese

Parmesan cheese, for topping

Cut split chicken breasts in half. Blanch carrots for 5 minutes. Rinse with cold water and drain well. Grease 9x13-inch casserole with 2 tablespoons butter and spread cooked rice over bottom.

Saute mushrooms and scallions in remaining butter. Add soup, heavy cream, sherry and salt. Mix well.

In large bowl, combine the mushroom mixture, chicken, artichokes, bacon, blanched carrots and mozzarella; mix well, spread over rice and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes (covered for the first 30 minutes, uncovered for the last 15). Makes 8-10 servings.

Easier-to-Swallow Chicken

and Artichoke Buffet

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon corn-oil margarine, divided

6 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

1{ cups defatted chicken stock

1 cup non-fat milk

} teaspoon salt

[ teaspoon garlic powder

[ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 cups cooked wild rice

10 medium mushrooms, sliced (2 cups)

10 scallions, chopped ( cup)

{ cup 2 percent low-fat milk

{ cup dry sherry

6 (4-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cooked and sliced into {- by 1{-inch strips (4 cups)

4 (7-ounce) or 2 (14-ounce) cans water-packed artichoke hearts, drained and quartered

6 ounces Canadian bacon, chopped

1 pound carrots, peeled, cut in 1-inch julienne strips, steamed 4 minutes, rinsed in cold water and drained

8 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, grated (2 cups)

2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Melt 2 tablespoons of the margarine in a medium saucepan. Add flour and stir over medium heat for 1 minute; do not brown. Add stock and non-fat milk and stir, using a wire whisk, over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Add salt, garlic powder and pepper. Continue to cook for 1 minute more. Measure out \ cup sauce and set remainder aside.

Spray a 9x13-inch casserole with non-stick vegetable coating. Spread the \ cup sauce evenly over the bottom and spread the rice over the sauce.

In a large non-stick skillet, melt the additional teaspoon margarine. Saute mushrooms and scallions until tender. Stir in the remaining sauce, low-fat milk and sherry; mix well.

In a large bowl, combine mushroom mixture, chicken, artichokes, bacon, carrots and mozzarella. Mix well and spread over rice. Sprinkle with Parmesan and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 45 minutes, covered for the first 30 minutes, uncovered for the last 15. Makes ten 1\-cup servings.

Each serving contains approximately: original recipe: 644 calories, 129 mg. cholesterol, 40 gm. fat, 1,891 mg sodium; revised recipe: 395 calories, 69 mg. cholesterol, 14 gm. fat, 1,153 mg. sodium.

Celery Victor '93

8 small celery hearts, with leaves, or 4 large celery hearts, cut in half lengthwise

1 medium red bell pepper, seeded, membranes removed, cut into thin strips

1 large carrot, peeled and cut into thin rounds

2 cups defatted chicken stock

\ teaspoon ground celery seed

2 cloves garlic, halved

Capers for garnish, optional

Fresh tarragon leaves for garnish, optional

Marinade:

{ cup white wine vinegar

{ teaspoon salt

\ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon dried tarragon, crushed

1 tablespoon sugar

2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

2 teaspoons white wine Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 cup reserved cooking liquid

Place celery hearts in a 9 by 13 by 2-inch glass baking dish.

Cover with the red bell pepper strips and carrot slices.

Combine stock, ground celery seed and garlic and pour over the top. Cover tightly with a lid or aluminum foil and bake in a 325-degree oven for 45 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.

Discard garlic. Drain off and reserve the cooking liquid.

To make the marinade, combine the vinegar and salt and stir until the salt is completely dissolved.

Add all of the other ingredients and mix well.

Pour marinade over the cooked celery hearts. Cover tightly and refrigerate for several hours or overnight before serving.

To serve, place one of the celery hearts on each of 8 chilled plates or on a serving platter. Top with the strips of red bell pepper and slices of carrot.

Garnish with a few capers or fresh tarragon leaves or both, if desired.

Makes 8 servings. Each serving contains approximately 35 calories, no cholesterol, negligible fat, 225 mg. sodium.

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