Northwest NEWS

December 18, 2000

Home & Garden

Puff Pastry Christmas Trees

* 1 pkg. frozen puff pastry sheets (2 sheets)
   1/3 c. prepared vanilla pudding or lemon curd
   1/3 c. honey, warmed
   Green decorating sugar
   8 raspberries or maraschino cherry halves
   Thaw pastry sheets at room temperature 30 min. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
   Unfold 1 pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Using 3 star cookie cutters in graduated sizes cut 4 stars of each size. Repeat with remaining pastry sheet. Place stars on ungreased baking sheets.
   Bake 10 min. or until puffed and golden. Remove and cool on wire rack.
   To assemble trees:
   Top large star with about 1 tsp. pudding. Top with medium star, turning star so points do not line up. Top with 1 tsp. pudding and place small star on top, turning so points do not line up. Repeat with remaining stars. Drizzle "trees" with honey. Sprinkle with green sugar and top each with a raspberry or cherry half.
   Makes 8 servings.
  
   Spiced Chai
   4 cardamom pods
   4-inch cinnamon stick
   8 whole black peppercorns
   4 cloves
   1 vanilla bean
   1 inch fresh ginger, peeled
   4 tsp. black tea or 4 teabags
   2 c. milk
   1/2 - 1Tbsp. honey
   1/2 - 1 Tbsp. sugar
   Place cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns and vanilla bean in a saucepan. Add 2 c. water. Using the finest holes on a grater, grate ginger over pot to catch all the ginger's juices. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat and simmer gently 3 minutes. Cover pot and remove from heat. Steep spices for 10 minutes. Return pot to medium-high heat and bring to a boil, uncovered. Add tea and milk. When mixture is about to boil again, stir in honey and sugar. Strain Chai and pour into mugs to serve.
   Makes 4 servings.
  
   Spiced Cranberry-Pear Chutney
   3 large ripe pears, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
   1 small onion, chopped
   1/2 c. sweetened dried cranberries.
   1/2 c. packed brown sugar
   1/4 c. cider vinegar
   1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, finely chopped
   1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
   1/4 tsp. ground allspice
   Combine all ingredients in large saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 30 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Serve warm or at room temperature.
   Makes about 3 cups.
  
   Warming Winter Punch
   1 orange, unpeeled, cut in half-cart- wheel slices
   1 lemon, unpeeled, cut in half-cartwheel slices
   2 c. water
   1/2 c. packed brown sugar
   4 cinnamon sticks
   8 whole cloves
   4 c. fresh squeezed orange juice
   2 c. pineapple juice or juice of 2 lemons
   Place citrus slices in heat-proof bowl or large pitcher. In large saucepan, combine water, sugar and spices; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Add juices and heat. Do not boil. Pour over citrus slices; stir well. Makes about 8 cups.
   Makes 10 servings.
  
   Citrus Salad
   8 c. assorted salad greens
   2 large grapefruit, peeled and cut crosswise into rounds
   4 kiwifruit, peeled and quartered
   1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
   1/4 c. orange juice
   3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
   1 Tbsp. honey
   1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper
   Arrange salad greens and fruit on individual plates or on a large platter. In small bowl whisk together the olive oil, orange juice, vinegar, honey and pepper. Drizzle over salad and serve immediately.
   Makes 4-6 servings.
  
   Baked Potato Latkes
   1 medium Spanish onion, finely chopped
   1/2 c. reduced-sodium, fat-free chicken broth
   2 very large (1 3/4 lb.) baking potatoes
   1 large egg, beaten
   1 tsp. salt
   1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
   Applesauce or low-fat sour cream for garnish
   Preheat oven to 400. Spray a non-stick, 12-cavity muffin tin liberally with cooking oil spray and set aside.
   Spray a medium non-stick skillet with cooking spray and place over medium-high heat. Sauté onions 1 minute, stirring.
   Add broth. When liquid comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium. Cook until onions are soft, lightly colored, and the pan is dry, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
   Peel potatoes. Shred them, using the coarsest holes on the grates. Squeeze as much water as possible out of the potatoes, preferably by twisting them in the corner of a dishtowel or piece of cheesecloth. It is important to get potatoes as dry as possible. Place potatoes in a bowl. Add egg, salt and pepper and onions.
   Scoop 1/4 c. of potato mixture into each cavity of the greased muffin tin. With the tines of a fork, press until potato mixture is compact.
   Bake 20 minutes, until cakes are crisp and brown on the bottom and sides, and firm when pressed in the center. Let pancakes sit 5 minutes in the pan. Work the tip of a rubber spatula around the edge of each pancake, then underneath it to scoop the pancake out of the tin. Serve with apple sauce or sour cream.
   Makes 6 servings.
  
   Sweet Potatoes with Margarita Fruit Salsa
   1/2 c. chopped sweet onion
   2 c. diced peaches
   2 Tbsp. finely minced, seeded serrano or jalapeno pepper
   2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
   3 Tbsp. tequilla
   2 tsp. grated lime peel
   2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
   1/4 tsp. ground cumin
   4 medium sweet potatoes
   In a medium bowl, mix first eight ingredients, blending well. Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight to allow flavors to blend.
   Wash, dry and pierce sweet potatoes several times then place on baking sheet in center of oven. Bake at 400 for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife tip slips easily into center. Slit lengthwise and top with salsa.
   Makes 4 servings.
  
   Traditional Wild Rice Side dish
   3/4 c. each: chopped onion and celery
   2 c. sliced fresh mushrooms
   2 Tbsp. butter
   1/4 c. sherry
   1/2 tsp. salt
   1/8 tsp. pepper
   6 c. cooked wild rice
   In skillet, sauté vegetables in butter; add sherry, salt, pepper and wild rice. Cook until liquid is evaporated and wild rice is heated through.
   Makes 6-8 servings
  
   Green Bean Bake
   1 can (10 3/4 oz.) condensed cream of mushroom soup
   1/2 c. milk
   1 tsp. soy sauce
   Dash of pepper
   4 c. cooked cut green beans
   1 can (2.8 oz.) french fried onions
   Mix soup, milk, soy, pepper, beans and1/2 can onions in a 1-1/2 qt. casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until hot. Stir. Sprinkle with remaining onions. Bake 5 minutes.
   Serves 6.