What the world needs now is a 30-minute meal.
A really good home-cooked meal, that is. Half an hour from parking in the garage to sitting down at the table, without relying on mediocre convenience products or takeout.
You can do it, and we will tell you how.
This is the beginning of an occasional series. From time to time, The News will present a quick and easy suggestion to prepare a three- or four-course dinner menu, complete with a 30-minute timetable and recipes. And -- most importantly -- complete with dessert.
We hope to inspire you to act. We hope to improve the quality of your life.
Do we have to tell you that organization is key here? Decide on the menu, check the pantry and fridge, make sure you have the right pots and pans.
And then -- just do it. In order to ease into this project, we recommend you plan one real meal a week, or a month if that suits you. Fair warning, though: This kind of thing can be habit forming. You may never eat leftover pizza again!
The first menu centers around a meat dish that is so simple, it's almost embarrassing.
Veal Scallopine. It's actually Veal Cutlets, pounded very thin -- use a rolling pin, a mallet or even the edge of a plate for this operation. And then cook them on top of the stove for five minutes tops, finishing off with a little white wine.
By the way, if you don't want to use veal, substitute chicken or turkey cutlets, or even slices of pork tenderloin. Work out your aggressions if necessary. It's vital, though, that the meat is pounded very thin.
Accompany that with a sauteed vegetable and a salad, if you wish.
Dessert is baked peaches, and this time we do use a convenience product. Good quality canned peach halves -- they are better than fresh peaches now that harvest is over. And a little brandy never hurts.
The peach recipe was given to me by Betty DiCamillo King of the Niagara Falls DiCamillo family and would taste wonderful with cookies, ice cream or whipped cream if you are so inclined.
Tossed Green Salad
Baked Brandied Peaches
1 1/2 pounds thinly sliced veal
1/4 cup olive oil
Seasoned flour (mixed with salt and pepper)
1/2 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
Juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons capers, drained
Place the veal between two layers of waxed paper. Pound it firmly with a rolling pin or mallet until it is no more than a quarter-inch thick. Place the container of seasoned flour near the stove.
Heat the olive oil in a sturdy skillet over moderate heat. Dip the veal slices on both sides in the flour, shaking off the excess. Put into the olive oil and cook until browned, turning once. Remove the veal from the skillet. Keep warm.
Pour off the excess fat from the skillet. Add the vermouth all at once and cook until it has almost evaporated, stirring as you do this to bring up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the lemon juice (just cut the lemon in half, pick out the seeds and squeeze it with your hand right into the pan. Add the capers. Stir. Voila -- You now have (a small amount) of sauce.
Serve the veal with the sauce poured over it. Either embed it on the sauteed vegetables below or serve the vegetables on the side. Makes 4 servings.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 chopped onion
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 medium zucchini or yellow squash
2 large cored tomatoes, canned if necessary
1/2 cup good quality (not canned) pitted black olives, halved if they are large
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil in a skillet, add the onion and cook until soft. Add garlic, zucchini, tomatoes and cook, stirring until mixture is soft. Stir in the olives, add salt and pepper. Keep warm. Makes 4 servings. Note: This is great the next day cold.
Stuffed Peach Halves
4 to 6 good quality peach halves, drained
Several macaroon cookies or vanilla cookies
4 small pats of butter
1/4 cup good brandy or Amaretto liqueur
Butter a baking dish and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Drain the peach halves and place in the baking dish. Crush the cookies into crumbs and fill the center of the peach halves with the crumbs. Place a pat of butter on each.
Place peaches in the oven until they begin to brown. Remove from oven and pour brandy over them. Return to the oven for a few minutes until the peach halves are thoroughly brown.
Remove from oven. Let the peaches stand at room temperature until serving with cookies or ice cream. Makes 4 servings.
Step One: 5 minutes. Prepare salad greens if using, place in bowl with dressing on the side.
Step Two: 5 minutes. Make crumbs, prepare peaches and place in the oven. While peaches are baking, slice vegetables and prepare seasoned flour for the meat.
Step Three: 10 minutes. Remove peaches from oven. Let stand at room temperature. Cook vegetables and keep them warm right in the skillet over low heat.
Step Four: 10 minutes. Heat the oil for the veal, dip in flour and cook. Make the sauce. Dish out the food.
Step Five: Sit down and eat. Pour yourself a nice glass of wine.