Ronnie Paul
Special to The Union

Try new recipes for a New Year

As my holiday chocolate hangover lifts, I feel the bitter-sweetness of starting another new year.

I apologize for publishing any 2012 recipes that didn’t earn you brownie points, and sincerely hope you won’t bellyache about ones that may fall flat in the coming year.

As for the sweet, I’ll try and noodle around with more desserts.

Each new year calls for changes, but my deeply ingrained Hungarian compulsiveness makes resolutions almost impossible.

I whip myself to a froth just imagining a sink full of unwashed dishes, so vowing to leave them dirty for even a few hours would prove grueling. Luckily, my friends get fired up making deprivation promises.

I appreciate their attempts because for at least a few weeks, I can stuff myself with the fudgy brownies they pledge to forego in the new year.

January is also my birthday month. Because I’m really stewing about adding another year to my advancing age, I consider making a bucket list. As for risky gotta-do-it-once-in-this-lifetime adventures, I’m a chicken. Unlike some people who crave snowboarding in the Alps or bungee jumping over Niagara Falls, my fantasies are limited to imagining what would happen if I launder my husband Jeff’s white shirts with the darks.

Creating tantalizing tastes, writing bolder columns, learning how to make dal: these thoughts top my bucket list. Make yours with a plan that includes these daring new dishes.

Here’s a new year’s brunch idea. As well as scrumptious, it’s as comforting as a security blanket.

New Year’s Apples

Serves 4-6

1 1/4 pounds cooking apples

1/2 cup cranberries (These
were in my freezer from last Thanksgiving)

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1 tablespoon flour

Streusel topping:

2 tablespoons cold butter, cut up in small bits

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup walnuts

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 tablespoons flour

You don’t have to peel the apples, just core them and slice about 1/2-inch thick. Mix the apples with the cranberries, sugar, walnuts and flour, and spread in a lightly greased 8-inch glass pan.

Mix together the streusel ingredients until they resemble coarse meal, and spread it evenly over the apples. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 35 minutes, and then broil for 1-2 minutes until the top is golden. Prepare to purr and be overwhelmingly soothed.

Serve this divine dish for a special dinner party.

Swiss Enchiladas with Shrimp

Serves 6

1 onion, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound baby spinach leaves, chopped

12 taco-size soft flour tortillas

1/4 pound Jarlsberg cheese, grated

1 pound small cooked salad shrimp

Sauce:

2 tablespoons butter, melted

4 tablespoons white flour

3 cups milk, heated

1/2 cup grated Jarlsberg cheese

Salt and pepper

4 ounces canned mild green chilies, chopped

Sauté the onion in oil until soft. Add the spinach and toss until wilted. Put the veggies in a strainer and press out all the liquid.

Lay out the tortillas on a counter. Spread equal amounts of the veggie mixture on one-third of each tortilla. Divide and layer on the cheese and shrimp, then tightly roll up each tortilla. Place them in an oiled 9 X 14-inch glass pan - yes, it’s a tight fit - and spritz water over the tops and ends.

To make the sauce, put the butter and flour in a pot over a very low flame. Stir in the milk a little at a time, turn up the flame slightly, and stir until the mixture is thick. Add the cheese and salt and pepper, and continue to stir until smooth. Pour the sauce over the tortillas, then sprinkle the chilies on top. Bake covered for 30 minutes in a 350-degree oven, then uncover and bake 10 more minutes until everything is hot and bubbly. Light the candles and serve.

Change plain rice to exotic pilaf, and your family will never complain, “Oh no, rice again.”

Fusion Pilaf

6 Servings

1/2 cup diced yellow onion

2 tablespoons olive oil

3/4 teaspoon powdered ginger

1 1/2 cups raw white basmati rice

2 scallions

2 1/4 cups water

1/2 cup golden raisins

2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut

1/4 cup roasted salted almonds, chopped

Salt and pepper

In a soup pot, sauté the onions and ginger in the oil for about 10 minutes until the onions turn soft and translucent. Add the rice and quickly swish it around so that each grain becomes coated with oil. Add the scallions and water and stir. Bring everything to a boil, then turn the flame down low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes until the rice just begins to stick to the bottom of the pot.

Turn off the flame and stir in the raisins, coconut, almonds, and salt and pepper. For absolute fluffiness, serve immediately.

Ronnie Paul is a freelance writer in
Nevada City.


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The Union Updated Dec 26, 2012 04:00AM Published Dec 27, 2012 12:39PM Copyright 2012 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.