Sara's Secrets for Weeknight Meals: Featuring 200 Recipes for Quick and Easy Dinners

Sara's Secrets for Weeknight Meals: Featuring 200 Recipes for Quick and Easy Dinners


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780767916592
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/18/2005
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 358
Product dimensions: 8.25(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.35(d)

About the Author

SARA MOULTON is the host of Public Television’s Sara’s Weeknight Meals and the author of Sara Moulton Cooks at Home. She is Gourmet magazine’s executive chef and the food editor of ABC’s Good Morning America. Sara lives in New York City with her family.

Read an Excerpt

Sara's Secrets for Weeknight Meals

By Sara Moulton

Random House

Sara Moulton
All right reserved.

ISBN: 076791659X

Chapter One


Creole Spice Mix

Hands-on time:
5 minutes

Total preparation time:
5 minutes

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon hot paprika (see pages 183 and 347)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly milled black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme


I developed this recipe as a way of glorifying the Blackened Fish in my first cookbook. Usually, I am not a fan of onion and garlic powder-nine and a half times out of ten I'll reach for the fresh-but we're talking about a dry spice mix here, and these powders meld in just fine. Use this spice mix to season fish, meat, or fowl before you cook them. You might even make up a big batch of Creole Spice Mix and parcel it out as gifts for the holidays.

Combine the paprika, salt, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne, oregano, and thyme and transfer to a small airtight container. Use within 3 months.

Todd's Garam Masala

Hands-on time:
6 minutes

Total preparation time:
8 minutes
plus cooling time

2 tablespoons cumin seeds
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 1/2 tablespoons green cardamom pods
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoons whole cloves
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 cinnamon stick, 2 1/2 inches long
4 Turkish bay leaves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg


Todd Coleman, the former food producer of Sara's Secrets and a dear friend of mine, contributed two recipes to this book, both of them Indian. In typical Todd fashion, he also contributed notes about each recipe. Here are his thoughts about the spice mix called garam masala: "Masala is what gives Indian food its tone and feeling. According to Hobson-Jobson, the quirky Anglo-Indian dictionary, masala means 'materials, ingredients . . . or things . . . conducive to good.' Masala most commonly refers to a mix of spices, and garam means warm or hot in Hindi. The spices in garam masala are thought to be warming. Think gingerbread. Use these 'warm materials' to spice up your food and life."

1. Combine the cumin, peppercorns, cardamom pods, coriander, cloves, fennel, cinnamon, and bay leaves in a large, dry skillet. Toast the spices over high heat, tossing or stirring them occasionally, until they have browned lightly and are fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the garam masala to a bowl to cool.

2. When the garam masala has cooled, grind it into a fine powder in a spice grinder, clean coffee grinder, sturdy blender, or mortar and pestle. Transfer the ground masala to a bowl and whisk in the ginger and nutmeg.

3. Store the garam masala in an airtight container, away from heat, light, and moisture, for up to 6 months.

A QUESTION I get asked a lot on my show is how to store dried herbs and spices. Both herbs and spices should be kept in a cool dark place, preferably a closed cupboard or drawer. They will last for about six months, depending on how long they were sitting on the shelf before you purchased them. You can tell by their color how fresh they are. Dried herbs go from green to gray as they age; dried spices also fade in color. (For example, paprika and cayenne should look red, not brown.) What happens after six months? It is not like spices and herbs go bad and will harm you; they just lose flavor, and it will take more of them to get the same effect in a dish. Whole spices have a longer shelf life than ground. You can purchase one of those little coffee grinders and use it exclusively for spices (unless you want your coffee to taste like cumin and coriander). You can even go one step further and intensify the flavor by toasting the spices in a small dry skillet over low heat until they are fragrant, and then grinding them. The best way to clean your spice grinder is to grind a little bread in it. Discard the bread and wipe the grinder out. The bread takes most of the spice aroma out of the grinder.

Bread Crumbs Four Ways

Hands-on time:
2 minutes

Total preparation time:
2 minutes



The bread crumbs you buy in the supermarket are certainly very convenient but often very stale, and will only get more so if you leave them on your shelf for a while. Most of us have leftover bread kicking around at any given time, so rather than toss it, why not turn it into homemade bread crumbs? It takes just two minutes from start to finish to make fresh bread crumbs. I am also including recipes for dried bread crumbs (four minutes of hands-on time), panko bread crumbs (again four minutes), and seasoned bread crumbs (a whopping nine minutes of your time). With the exception of the fresh crumbs, they all keep for several months in an airtight container in your cupboard. The fresh bread crumbs will also keep for several months if you wrap them tightly and freeze them.

1. Break 4 slices (4 ounces) homemade-style white toasting bread into quarters and process in a food processor fitted with the chopping blade until fine crumbs have formed, 45 to 60 seconds.

2. Store in an airtight container in a cool place and use within 2 days or wrap tightly and freeze.


Hands-on time:
4 minutes

Total preparation time:
24 minutes
plus 1 hour drying time


1. Place 4 slices (about 4 ounces) homemade-style white toasting bread on a wire rack and set aside, uncovered, 1 hour, turning once.

2. Preheat the oven to 200°F. Grate the bread by hand on the coarsest side of a metal grater. Spread the crumbs on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven for 20 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure they don't begin to brown.

3. Turn off the oven and allow the crumbs to continue to dry as the oven cools. Once they are dry, store the crumbs in an airtight container and use within 2 months.


Hands-on time:
4 minutes

Total preparation time:
20 minutes
plus drying time


1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Break 4 slices (about 4 ounces) homemade-style white toasting bread into 1-inch pieces and spread them on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until they just begin to turn golden; stir occasionally and check to make sure they don't get too dark.

2. Turn off the oven and allow the bread to stay in the oven until completely dry, several hours or overnight. Once the toasted bread pieces are dry, process them in a food processor fitted with the chopping blade until fine crumbs have formed, 45 to 60 seconds. Store the crumbs in an airtight container and use within 2 months.


Hands-on time:
9 minutes

Total preparation time:
25 minutes
plus drying time


Dried Bread Crumbs (page 24)
3/4 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated (about 1/4 cup; see grating information, page 10)
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1. Combine the dried bread crumbs, Parmigiano-Reggiano, basil, oregano, and garlic powder in a small bowl; stir until thoroughly combined.

2. Store the crumbs in an airtight container and use within several days. For longer storage, add just the herbs and garlic powder with the crumbs; then add the cheese just before using.

Excerpted from Sara's Secrets for Weeknight Meals by Sara Moulton Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Lisa McLaughlin

"...[Sara] streamlines the process of getting dinner on the table quickly and without sacrificing flavor."

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Sara's Secrets for Weeknight Meals: Featuring 200 Recipes for Quick and Easy Dinners 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I admit I'm not a gourmet chef, but I tried the duck recipe in this cookbook for Christmas Eve dinner and it was not a hit. Perhaps duck is just tough to make at home, but I would not recommend the recipe to others. I haven't tried any other items yet...