Half-Scratch Magic: 200 Ways to Pull Dinner Out of a Hat Using a Can of Soup or Other Tasty Shortcuts


Chinese Tomato Shrimp Soup. Enchiladas Vera Cruz. Spicy Gingered Asian Slaw with Salmon. No one needs to know these dishes began with a can of soup, a store-bought roast chicken, and deli cole slaw. With this book, cooks can discover the quick trick of pairing freshly prepared purchased items and pantry staples to produced such specialties. It is chock-full of more than 200 great spur-of-the-moment recipes for hors d'oeuvres, entrees, biscuits and breads, and desserts fashioned from ready-made, boxed, or frozen ...
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Chinese Tomato Shrimp Soup. Enchiladas Vera Cruz. Spicy Gingered Asian Slaw with Salmon. No one needs to know these dishes began with a can of soup, a store-bought roast chicken, and deli cole slaw. With this book, cooks can discover the quick trick of pairing freshly prepared purchased items and pantry staples to produced such specialties. It is chock-full of more than 200 great spur-of-the-moment recipes for hors d'oeuvres, entrees, biscuits and breads, and desserts fashioned from ready-made, boxed, or frozen ingredients. Packed with smart shortcuts for busy cooks, this practical, inspiring book brilliantly redefines home cooking.

Author Biography: LINDA WEST ECKHARDT is a cookbook author and contributor to Cooking LIght. She is author if Bread in Half the Time, winner of the 1991 IACP Julia Child Award for the Best Cookbook of the Year, and the coauthor, with her daughter KATHERINE WEST DEFOYD, of Entertaining 101 and Stylish One-Dish Dinners. The authors live in Maplewood and South Orange, New Jersey.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
While some quick-and-easy style cookbooks suffer from a lack of imagination (creamed corn poured over vegetables to create a dubious veggie bake) or worse, a lack of scruples (a can of V-8 poured into a bowl and presented as "gazpacho"), this volume offers hearty, delicious recipes, most of which require 30 minutes or less in the kitchen, and all of which use jars or cans of ingredients that are probably already in the pantry. The recipe for Grilled Lamb Chops on Sweet-and-Sour Red Pepper Chutney, for example, asks for little more than some lamb chops, a food processor and a jar of red peppers, but turns out to be an elegant and slightly exotic dinner party dish. Similarly, Couscous, Chicken, Grapes, and Arugula Salad demands only rudimentary skills-think mixing and boiling water-but still makes for a fresh-tasting lunch or light supper. The authors, a mother and daughter team, are both accomplished cooks, with James Beard and Julia Child awards between them. But despite their high-flown credentials, they clearly understand that elegance need not require hours in front of the stove, and convenience need not sacrifice taste. (Feb.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780609808511
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/18/2003
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 7.33 (w) x 9.04 (h) x 0.71 (d)

First Chapter

deli voodoo

The deli is no longer limited to pastrami and roast beef. Today, you see mashed potatoes, pasta salads napped with vinaigrettes, quesadillas, cooked chicken and veal cutlets-even poached salmon. The sheer sorcery of mixing and matching a few ready-to-eat choices into a new dinner item may seem as wondrous as watching a woman in a box being sawed in half by a magician-only to rise at the end to great applause. With these recipes, get ready to take your bow.

• roast beef sandwiches with arugula and wasabi spread •

Thinly sliced roast beef is easy to find and much improved with wasabi, a dry magical powder (just add water). It also compliments the peppery arugula.

1tablespoon dried wasabi powder

1/2cup mayonnaise

4crusty Italian sandwich rolls, split

1pound thinly sliced roast beef (preferably fresh cut from the deli section of a better grocery store)

Salt and freshly milled pepper

1bunch arugula

1. Hydrate the wasabi.

In a small bowl, stir together the wasabi and 1 tablespoon of water.

2. Make the spread.

In another small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise and the wasabi.

3. Make the sandwiches.

Spread the rolls with the wasabi mayonnaise. Layer on the roast beef, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with the arugula, and serve.

tip: Wasabi powder is a classic ingredient that we keep on hand at all times. It will last a long time and can be used to spice up many sauces. Try stirring just a little into sour cream or heavy cream for an instant wasabi cream sauce that's great on top of fish orchicken.

• vietnamese roast beef salad •

Nuoc mam gives this all-in-one salad meal a complex flavor profile often associated with hours of cooking. Grab a package of shredded carrots, and you won't even resent having to chiffonade the greens.

2tablespoons peanut oil

2garlic cloves, finely chopped

3teaspoons Vietnamese fish sauce (nuoc mam)

Juice of 1 lime (1/3 cup)

11/2teaspoons sugar

1/2teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

1pound thinly sliced roast beef, cut into 1/2-inch strips

1head Boston or Bibb lettuce leaves, cut into thin strips*

1/2cup fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips

1/4cup fresh mint, cut into thin strips

1cup shredded or grated carrot

1. Make the marinade.

In a large bowl, stir together the oil and garlic, and cook them in the microwave on high (100 percent power) for 1 minute. Add the fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, and red pepper, and combine.

2. Marinate the roast beef.

Toss in the roast beef and let it sit in the marinade for 15 minutes.

3. Toss the greens.

In a large bowl, combine the lettuce, basil, and mint.

4. Compose the salad.

Arrange some of the greens on each plate and sprinkle with the carrots. Lift the meat from the marinade, and arrange it on the greens.

• madras turkey quesadillas •

Pears and turkey are great together. Try a jar of select pears from the refrigerated case if the market has only rock-hard pears. If you have time, pick your fresh pears and let them ripen in a brown paper bag for two days for perfection.

8tortillas, preferably toasted sesame flavor

1/4cup Curry Mayonnaise (page 176)

3/4pound smoked turkey breast, thinly sliced

2firm, ripe Anjou pears, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced, lengthwise

1/2pound shredded aged Gouda cheese

4teaspoons butter

1. Assemble the quesadillas.

Lay 4 of the tortillas on a work surface. Spread each tortilla with 1 tablespoon of Curry Mayonnaise. Top with the turkey and pear slices. Sprinkle shredded cheese over each, and top with a second tortilla. The quesadillas may be prepared up to this point and refrigerated for up to 2 hours.

2. Grill the quesadillas.

Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. For each quesadilla, and cooking 1 at a time, add 1 teaspoon of butter to the pan. Fry the quesadilla until it is lightly browned and the cheese is melted, about 2 minutes per side. Cut each into quarters, and serve warm.

• provençal spinach and goat cheese wraps •

Colorful spinach and puckery goat cheese wrapped up in a sophisticated roll; these are as easy to eat as they are to make.

1/2pound fresh baby spinach

2(8-inch) spinach tortillas

1/4cup prepared olive tapenade

6ounces herbed goat cheese, crumbled into small pieces

1small tomato, thinly sliced

1. Cook the spinach.

Clean the spinach leaves, discarding their stems. Place the leaves in a colander, and rinse well with cool water. Place the spinach in a small saucepan, and cook, covered, over medium-high heat just until it is wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

2. Assemble the wraps.

Lay the tortillas on a flat work surface or plate, and spread them with the tapenade. Lay the cooked spinach leaves over the tapenade; then top with the goat cheese and tomato slices. Roll the tortillas up tightly, and place them, seam-side down, on serving plates. The wraps may be prepared up to 2 hours ahead of time and refrigerated. Serve the wraps at room temperature.

• shaman southwestern roast beef salad on top of corn salsa •

The earthy flavor of roast beef works well with the smoky flavor of chipotle and the sweet flavor of corn. And of course, it is all great on top of plain old cold, juicy iceberg lettuce on a hot day.

1/4cup fresh lime juice

1/2cup chopped cilantro

2teaspoons chopped canned chipotle in adobo or jalapeño pepper

1garlic clove, finely chopped

1/2cup olive oil

3/4pound thinly sliced roast beef, cut into thin strips

2cups frozen corn kernels

1large or 2 medium tomatoes, halved, seeded, and cubed

2stalks celery, chopped

1/2medium red onion, finely chopped

1/2 to 3/4 head of iceberg or Boston lettuce, cut into thin strips

2mangos, peeled, pitted and thinly sliced

1. Make the dressing.

In a medium bowl, stir together the lime juice, 1/4 cup of the cilantro, the pepper, garlic, and olive oil.

2. Marinate the beef.

Toss the roast beef strips with half of the dressing to thoroughly coat each strip. Marinate the beef for at least 5 minutes.

3. Make the salsa.

In another medium bowl, toss together the corn, tomato, celery, red onion, and the remaining cilantro. Drizzle the salsa with the remaining dressing.

4. Arrange the salads.

Divide the lettuce among 4 plates, placing it in the center of each plate. Spoon some salsa onto the lettuce, and top with the marinated beef. Surround the mounds of salad with the mango slices. Serve at once.

• ham and mango chutney sandwiches •

Major Grey's chutney-keep it in your pantry for those days when your palate is in a panic for something flavorful. Here we use it on a sandwich, but the sky's the limit on this product.

1baguette, cut in half lengthwise

1/2pound thinly sliced deli ham

1(8-ounce) jar mango chutney

Make the sandwiches.

Spread the chutney on both sides of the bread, layer the ham on top, and put the halves together. Cut the baguette into 6 sandwiches. Wrap the sandwiches in plastic wrap, and chill them until serving time.

• smoked turkey, cream cheese, and cranberry sauce sandwiches •

Turkey with cranberries is a classic combination that has a way of surprising people "off season." For a fast meal, try this winner of a sandwich.

1baguette, cut in half lengthwise

1/2pound cream cheese

1(15-ounce) can whole-berry cranberry sauce

1/2pound smoked turkey, thinly sliced

Make the sandwiches.

Smear one side of the bread with cream cheese and one side with cranberry sauce. Layer the smoked turkey onto a baguette half, and top with the remaining half. Cut the baguette into 6 pieces. Wrap the sandwiches in plastic wrap, and chill them for up to 1 hour, or until serving time.

• smoked turkey, mango chutney, and blue cheese sandwiches •

Pick up almost all these ingredients in the deli section of your grocery store. Mango chutney works its magic again. Its complex flavor can tune up many old standards.

6ounces mild blue cheese (such as Maytag, Gorgonzola, or Stilton)

1/4cup plus 2 tablespoons mayonnaise

3tablespoons bottled mango chutney, large pieces of mango chopped up

2tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Juice of 1/2 lemon

4(5-inch) pieces Italian or French bread, cut in half lengthwise

1pound thinly sliced smoked turkey

8 to 10 arugula or lettuce leaves

1. Make the cheese spread.

Mash together the cheese, mayonnaise, chutney, parsley, and lemon juice. Adjust the seasonings to your taste.

2. Make the sandwiches.

Spread the cheese mixture on each half of the bread slices. Layer each sandwich with turkey and lettuce. Serve as open-faced sandwiches or top with a second slice of bread.

Copyright© 2003 by Linda West Eckhardt and Katherine West Defoyd
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