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Help! I've Had It! (November 21, 2001)

In a jam? Out of control? No time to eat, much less plan menus…. Whoa, help is here. This week we decided to ask Professional Home Economists for Short-Order Recipes from the Pros!

In a bit of a rut, are we? Statistics tell us that when it comes to what we're really cooking in the kitchen, it's only about 10 to 15 recipes, which just get repeated again and again. What, your crowd moans…meatloaf again?

If you've got a family to feed, it's a problem; first the "love it/hate it" gang and the fussy eaters, then the meat, no meat, lacto, ovo, brown, organic and the aliens who only want mushrooms. You know them all, you face them over the table each night. While the cook has dreams of fleeing to Rio, reality says forget that trip, there's not even time to do more than defrost, and hey, whose turn is it to feed and walk the dog tonight anyway?

Sound like a variation on your theme?

Here comes the Culinary Cavalry to the rescue! We asked The Ontario Home Economics Association and they gave us some terrific answers to fighting kitchen boredom with little-time, no-whine recipes. These busy professional home economists face the same stresses as the typical Canadian family, juggling jobs, kids, elderly parents and the family's car pool pick-up schedule – they've been there too!

For starters, OHEA suggests stocking your pantry with packages of rice, pasta and a variety of canned beans, and your freezer with easy-to-read frozen hunks of chicken or stewing beef. Frozen and canned vegetables will supplement available fresh produce, and delicious sauces, spices, seasonings and flavourful oils can all add up to turn an easy pantry meal into quick gourmet!

Here comes Yum! Instead of ho-hum!

On the menu today:

Barb's Warm Pesto Pasta Salad

Barb Holland, P.H.Ec., is a freelance Professional Home Economist and food writer from Markham, Ontario. While many envy her home office – the kitchen is steps away and commuting non-existent – her media appearances and deadlines keep her life a personal juggling act. One of Barb's favourite super-quick recipes is based on that pantry pasta, pesto and the still plentiful and tasty fall tomatoes. We loved her pesto variation, which uses fresh arugula for a piquant peppery kick. No complaints tonight with this five-minute dish!

Serves 4

12 oz. (375 g) rotini pasta
½ cup arugula pesto, or to taste (recipe follows)
1 bunch fresh arugula
1 large ripe tomato, chopped, or 8 cherry tomatoes, quartered

Accompanying wine?
Tony Recommends...

a crisp Sauvignon Blanc from a cool climate region – Sancerre (Loire) or New Zealand or Ontario Sauvignon Blanc.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta until tender.

Wash arugula, spin dry, and remove stems.

Drain pasta (don't rinse) and place in large bowl. Toss with pesto. Add arugula leaves and tomato, toss again and serve.

Basic Pesto Recipe

This is the classic – make it in quantity in early fall when the basil needs to be harvested for the last time.

For a change, try arugula pesto. Just substitute 1 cup arugula for the fresh basil. In fact, you can use almost anything green, and substitute other nuts for the pine nuts, just keep the proportions the same.

1 clove garlic
2 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves (or arugula)
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
salt and pepper

In blender or food processor, process garlic until minced. Add pine nuts, greens and olive oil. Blend until finely pureed. Using a rubber spatula, scrape mixture into small mixing bowl. Stir in grated Parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes about ¾ cup.

Ellie's Barbecued Pork Tenderloin
with Soy-Mustard Sauce

Ellie Topp, P.H.Ec., is the co-author of several cookbooks, including Put a Lid on It, More Put a Lid on It, and the latest release, The Complete Book of Year-Round Small Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard, Firefly Books, 2001.

Busy Ellie and her family love this dish: lean pork tenderloin is grilled to perfection in short order for an easy meal. If the grill is not handy, simply roast it in the oven. Top with chutney and tropical fruit slices, then serve with rice pilaf or couscous (recipe follows) and steamed asparagus to round out the meal.

Serves 4

1 lb. (500 g) pork tenderloin(s), 1 or 2
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup grainy Dijon mustard
¼ cup honey
1 clove garlic, minced

Trim any visible fat and membrane from meat.

Combine remaining ingredients. Pour over meat, turning to coat thoroughly. Set aside.

Accompanying wine?
Tony Recommends...

a medium-bodied fruit-driven red with soft tannins – Oregon Pinot Noir or California Merlot.

Preheat barbecue to high and lightly oil the grill. Place meat on grill and reduce heat to medium-high. Turn meat and brush with sauce frequently until outside is caramelized but inside still pink, about 10-12 minutes. Alternatively, bake in 375°F oven for 40 minutes or until meat has just a hint of pink remaining. Slice and serve immediately.

Yvonne's Cran-Apple Sage and Thyme Chutney

Chutney goes with almost every roast meat, and this seasonal version will be perfect with Ellie's Barbecue Pork Tenderloin.

Yvonne Tremblay, who has a B.Sc. in Food and Nutrition, is a three-time Grand Champion Jam and Jelly Maker from the venerable Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. Her current book, Prizewinning Preserves, is delightful, with fabulous pairings of seasonal and imported fruit as well as preserves using wine, herbs or edible flowers. Prizewinning Preserves also has all the up-to-date preserving information and tips for producing your own prizewinning results.

You can't do this recipe at the last minute, but when you have an hour, you might want to process a few jars to keep on hand this winter. This is the kind of chutney you'll want to eat with roasted turkey, chicken or pork, or add to your stuffing. The flavour of herbs is a nice variation on traditional chutneys, which are primarily seasoned with spices and hot peppers.

Makes about four 250 mL jars

1 Tbsp oil
1½ cups chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups chopped, peeled apples that keep their shape, such as Golden Delicious, Jonagold, Idared, Spy or Spartan
3 cups chopped, peeled apples that soften, such as McIntosh, Cortland, Empire, or Russet
3 cups cranberries
2½ cups granulated sugar
2 cups water
1 cup cider vinegar
1 tsp each salt and dried sage
¾ tsp dried thyme

In a Dutch oven or large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add onions; cook for about 7 minutes or until softened. Add garlic; cook for 2 more minutes.

Add remaining ingredients. Bring to boil over high heat, stirring often. Reduce heat; boil gently for 35-40 minutes or until thickened, stirring often. Reduce heat further and stir more often as it thickens. Test for doneness.*

Ladle into sterilized jars to within ½" of rim; wipe rims. Apply prepared lids and rings, tighten rings just until fingertip tight.

Process jars in boiling water canner for 10 minutes.

Let rest at room temperature until cooled. Check seals; refrigerate any unsealed jars for up to 3 weeks.

*Test for doneness: Place a spoonful of chutney on a plate. Draw a small spoon through the centre. Chutney tests done when no liquid seeps into the space. Chutney will thicken more as it cools and should not be overly thick. It should mound on a spoon but fall gently from it.

Mary's Wonderful Ginger Tomato Chicken

Mary Bewick Clowater, P.H.Ec., is a Professional Home Economist working as a product manager on Bick's pickles and relishes at Robin Hood Multifoods Inc. Mary has a busy schedule working at a full-time job during the day and a Gourmet Candy business, called Mary's Gourmet, with her husband at night and weekends. Clearly Mary has no time to cook! Fortunately, she's one of the best-organized people we know. You'll love her recipe!

Easy, delicious and low in fat, it's also ready to eat in less than 30 minutes. Serve with rice or pasta and green vegetable or salad.

Serves 4

1 Tbsp chopped fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 large tomatoes, sliced
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
Pinch salt
½ cup fresh bread crumbs
1 tsp each minced fresh parsley and rosemary leaves

Preheat oven to 400°F.

In small bowl, combine ginger, garlic and mustard mix together to form a paste.

Accompanying wine?
Tony Recommends...

an aromatic, off-dry white wine – Alsace Muscat, German Riesling Spätlese Trocken or Ontario off-dry Riesling.

Place chicken in a baking dish and coat with paste mixture. Top with tomato slices. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, bread crumbs, parsley and rosemary.

Bake in preheated oven until chicken is tender, about 20 minutes.

Diane's Strawberries 'n' Cream

Diane O'Shea, P.H.Ec., is a professional home economist and secondary school teacher who lives on a busy family farm in Granton, Ontario. Managing a career, family life with four active children, O'Shea's Farm Fresh Vegetable and Berries and many volunteer activities requires terrific organizational skills. Just one of O'Shea's volunteer activities is as the Chair of the Family Lifestyles Committee for the 2002 International Plowing Match in her community of Middlesex County. Here she shares her favourite topping for seasonal fruit.

O'Shea fell in love with strawberries and Devonshire cream during a trip to England many years ago. This is her yogurt-based alternative. While similar to Devonshire cream in consistency, this recipe provides a delicious richness with the bonus of being low in fat. Enjoy the berries and all the seasonal Ontario fruits coming to the markets with this simple topping. And, it's short order, too!

Serves 4

2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced or other seasonal fruit

2 cups low fat, natural yogurt
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice or 1 tsp almond extract

Accompanying wine?
Tony Recommends...

sparkling or dessert white wine – Extra Dry Champagne or Sauternes.

Line a sieve with cheesecloth and set over a bowl. Pour yogurt into a sieve. Cover. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, allowing liquid to drain. Discard excess liquid.

Combine yogurt, sugar and lemon juice or almond extract.

Spoon over fresh berries or fruit. Garnish as desired.

Photographs courtesy:
Tomatoes: Hugo Langshire
Pork: The Ontario Pork Board
Pasta: Mike Palmer
Chutney: Lorella Zanetti
We wish to thank Prentice Hall Canada for permission to publish Yvonne Tremblay's recipe from Prizewinning Preserves: Fabulous Jams, Jellies, Marmalades and More.

The Ontario Home Economics Association, a self-regulated body of Professional Home Economists, promotes high professional standards among its members so that they may assist families and individuals to achieve and maintain a desirable quality of life.

For more information, please contact:
Meline Batten, Administrator/Registrar
Ontario Home Economics Association
Box 45, R.R. #5, Dundalk, ON N0C 1B0
Tel/Fax: (519) 925-9684


In affiliation with: Canadian Home Economics Association/Association canadienne d'économie familiale,

Happily tested by Helen Hatton and Ron Morris.




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