With the economy in crisis, eating well may seem like a luxury. But when we looked back over the hundreds of recipes we published in our You & Taste section this year, we took heart: Among them were many stars that could be made without breaking the bank. We've chosen eight to share with you once more, including an easy orange-glazed pork; a simple panzanella that will use up all your garden vegetables and stale bread; a celebratory but simple chocolate souffle; and Maryland fried chicken unexpectedly flavored with Old Bay seasoning.
pistachio-rose water cookies
These dainty, fragrant cookies from "Veganomicon," by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, wowed us during testing for a review of vegan cookbooks last January. They've got no dairy and no eggs, but lots of flavor.
(makes 32 cookies)
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons rice milk or soy milk
1 tablespoon rose water (see note)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 cup shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two cookie sheets with shortening, or spray with cooking spray.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, rice milk, rose water, vanilla extract, lime juice and zest. Add the cornstarch and whisk until dissolved. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom. Mix well.
Roll the dough into balls about 2 teaspoons in size (a bit smaller than a walnut) and dip the tops into the chopped pistachios. Press pistachios into the ball to flatten each cookie slightly.
Place the cookies, nut side up, about 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. You should be able to fit 16 on a standard baking sheet.
Bake for 13 minutes. The cookies will be soft, but will firm up as they cool. Remove from the oven and let cool on the cookie sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Note:: We found rose water at Eddie's of Roland Park.
From "Veganomicon," by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero
Per cookie: : 103 calories, 1 gram protein, 4 grams fat, trace saturated fat, 15 grams carbohydrate, trace fiber, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 48 milligrams sodium
individual chocolate souffles
Faith Kling, a senior associate chef instructor at Baltimore International College, showed us how to make these simple chocolate souffles for a Valentine's Day Cooking 101 piece. When we made them again, they rose to beautiful heights and had great chocolate taste.
(serves 6 using 6-ounce ramekins)
3 tablespoons softened butter, plus cold butter for ramekins
1/4 cup high-gluten flour or bread flour
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup sugar, plus extra for preparing ramekins
2 1/2 ounces high-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, plus more for garnish
5 separated eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons sugar for egg whites
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter 6 ramekins with cold butter, then roll sugar around the bottom and sides. Place on a baking sheet and set aside.
Off heat, mix butter and flour together in a saucepan to form a paste. In another pot, combine milk and 1/4 cup sugar and heat until scalded. Slowly pour the milk mixture into the butter-flour paste and mix until smooth, taking care to break up any lumps.
Boil this mixture 2 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until it has thickened to the consistency of hot cereal; remove from heat. Add chocolate and stir to melt. Add the egg yolks all at once and whisk to combine. Transfer chocolate mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add vanilla while the chocolate is still warm.
Whip the egg whites on highest speed until soft peaks form, then whip in 2 tablespoons sugar. Gently fold egg whites into the chocolate mixture until incorporated. Spoon the mixture into ramekins, leaving about 1/8 inch of space at the top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until souffles have roughly doubled in size. Grate a bit of chocolate over the tops and serve immediately.
Courtesy of Baltimore International College senior associate chef instructor Faith Kling
Per serving: : 265 calories, 8 grams protein, 15 grams fat, 8 grams saturated fat, 27 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 195 milligrams cholesterol, 77 milligrams sodium
Our Backyard Harvest series last summer featured recipes from gardeners. We came back several times to this panzanella from Ellicott City gardener Amanda Lauer. It's a great way to use up both leftover vegetables and extra bread - the staler the better.
3 cups cubed vegetables (tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers are best)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 loaf day-old hearty bread (ciabatta and whole-grain work well), cubed
1 can drained and rinsed cannellini beans (about 15 ounces)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
red-wine vinegar and olive oil to taste
freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
Mix vegetables, bread, beans and basil in a bowl. Combine vinegar and oil, season with salt and pepper and pour over the salad. Serve immediately.
Courtesy of Ellicott City gardener Amanda Lauer
Per serving: : 578 calories, 17 grams protein, 31 grams fat, 4 grams saturated fat, 59 grams carbohydrate, 12 grams fiber, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 677 milligrams sodium
peppers stuffed with quinoa, corn and feta cheese
We tested this delicious vegetarian entree as part of a January story on the super grain quinoa. The recipe takes a few more steps than some of our other favorites, but it's worth it.
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
1 cup quinoa, rinsed well several times
3 tablespoons olive oil (divided use)
1 bunch of scallions, including 2 inches of the greens, thinly sliced into rounds
2 jalapeno chiles, finely diced, seeded if desired
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups, more or less, fresh or frozen corn kernels (from 3 ears of corn)
1 bunch spinach, leaves only, or 1/2 pound spinach leaves
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 pound feta cheese, cut into small cubes
freshly ground pepper
2 large red onions, thinly sliced into rounds
1/2 cup white wine (can be riesling)
4 yellow and/or orange bell peppers
Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add the 1/2 teaspoon salt, then the quinoa. Give it a stir, then cover and simmer over low heat until the grains are tender and reveal their spiraled germ, about 15 minutes.
Warm half the oil in a wide skillet. Add the scallions and chiles, cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes, then add the garlic, cumin, corn and spinach, along with 2 tablespoons water. When the spinach is wilted, add the cilantro, quinoa and feta.
Toss everything together, taste for salt, and season with pepper. Heat a tablespoon of oil in another wide skillet. When hot, add the onions and saute, stirring frequently, until they start to color around the edges, after several minutes.
Pour in the wine and deglaze the pan, giving the onions a stir as you do so. Season with salt and pepper and distribute in a baking dish or two large enough to hold the peppers.
Slice the peppers in half lengthwise without removing the tops or stems, then cut out the membranes and seeds. Simmer them in salted water until tender to the touch of a knife but not overly soft, 4 to 5 minutes, and remove. Fill them with the quinoa and set them in the baking dish or dishes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle the rest of the oil over the peppers and bake the peppers until heated through, 20 to 30 minutes, then switch the heat to broil and brown the tops. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.
From "Vegetarian Suppers From Deborah Madison's Kitchen," by Deborah Madison
Per serving: : 520 calories, 17 grams protein, 20 grams fat, 6 grams saturated fat, 73 grams carbohydrate, 10 grams fiber, 25 milligrams cholesterol, 665 milligrams sodium
This pretty, easy dish of scallops, seared and dressed with lemon, capers and bread crumbs and finished in a mushroom-butter sauce, impressed us during a November review of chef books that offer fast but elegant cooking.
(serves 4 as a main course)
2 slices white bread
2 1/2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil (divided use)
1 pound large scallops (about 16), rinsed under cold water to remove any sand
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons drained capers
6 tablespoons ( 3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup diced ( 1/2 inch) white mushrooms (about 3)
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the bread into 1/2 -inch dice and toss the bread with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Spread the pieces on a cookie sheet and bake for 6 to 8 minutes, or until browned. Set aside.
Peel the lemon, removing the skin and the white pith underneath. Cut between the membranes to remove totally clean segments of lemon flesh. Cut into 1/2 -inch pieces until you have about 2 tablespoons diced lemon flesh.
Remove any adductor muscles still attached to the scallops. Sprinkle the scallops with the salt, pepper and the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil.
Heat a large, nonstick skillet over high heat until very hot, then add the scallops. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 2 minutes on each side. They should be nicely browned. Arrange 4 scallops on each of 4 serving plates and sprinkle on the lemon pieces, capers and bread cubes.
Heat the butter in a small skillet and add the mushrooms. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes, or until the butter browns lightly (this is called noisette butter). Add the vinegar. Spoon the sauce over the scallops, sprinkle the parsley on top and serve.
From "More Fast Food My Way," by Jacques Pepin
Per serving: : 455 calories, 38 grams protein, 28 grams fat, 12 grams saturated fat, 15 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 133 milligrams cholesterol, 925 milligrams sodium
This gazpacho recipe was featured in August in our Recipe Finder column, and was a favorite of tester Julie Rothman. It's best made a day ahead - a bonus for summer entertaining.
(makes 2 1/2 to 3 quarts)
4 large tomatoes, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
2 green onions, finely diced
1 small zucchini, diced
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
1 to 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely diced
1 avocado, diced
1/2 cup each: fresh parsley, dill, basil, oregano and cilantro, chopped to a fine pulp
5 tablespoons olive oil
5 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce (plus extra to serve on the side)
2 quarts tomato juice
salt and pepper to taste
Combine all the chopped ingredients, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and Tabasco sauce together in a large bowl. Stir in the tomato juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and chill (best made 1 day ahead). Serve very cold with extra Tabasco sauce on the side.
Courtesy of Debby Miran, of Lutherville
Per 1-cup serving: : 155 calories, 3 grams protein, 10 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 16 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 537 milligrams sodium
This family-friendly recipe appeared on our Charm City Moms blog. It's quick enough for a weeknight dinner and uses everyday ingredients, yet it's easy to dress up for guests. Serve it with rice or quinoa.
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
one 1 1/4 -pound pork tenderloin, trimmed of silverskin and cut crosswise into 1/2 -inch-thick rounds
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 1/4 cups orange marmalade or apricot preserves
1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season both sides of the pork with salt and pepper. Add the pork to the hot pan and sear for 2 minutes per side. Add the marmalade, soy sauce and ginger to the pan, bring to a simmer, and let simmer until the pork is just cooked through (still slightly pink in the center) and the sauce has reduced, about 5 minutes.
Adapted from "Robin to the Rescue," by Robin Miller
Per serving: : 464 calories, 32 grams protein, 9 grams fat, 3 grams saturated fat, 68 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 94 grams cholesterol, 511 milligrams sodium
maryland fried chicken with cream gravy
Rob Kasper is always on the hunt for a great Maryland chicken recipe, and this one he tested for a September column filled the bill - with the unlikely but tasty addition of Old Bay.
4 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces (thighs and drumsticks separated, breasts halved crosswise)
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups peanut oil or vegetable shortening
Old Bay Seasoning to taste
1/4 cup pan drippings from fried chicken
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon pepper
salt to taste
Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Combine the mustard, garlic powder and salt in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over the chicken. Combine the flour and baking powder in a shallow dish and, working one piece at a time, dredge the chicken parts until well coated, shaking off excess. Refrigerate on a plate for at least 30 minutes.
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 200 degrees. Heat the oil or shortening in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat to 375 degrees. Arrange half the chicken in the pot, skin side down, cover and cook until well browned, about 5 minutes per side.
Lower the heat to medium, adjusting the burner as necessary to maintain an oil temperature between 300 and 325 degrees. Cook the chicken, uncovered, until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a wire rack set over a baking sheet, season with Old Bay, and place in the warm oven. Bring the oil back to 375 degrees and repeat with remaining chicken.
For the gravy, pour all but 1/4 cup fat from the pot and discard. Stir in the flour and cook until golden, about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the broth, cream and pepper. Simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and serve with the chicken.
From "The Cook's Country Cookbook," from the editors at America's Test Kitchen
Per serving: : 907 calories, 48 grams protein, 69 grams fat, 21 grams saturated fat, 23 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 191 milligrams cholesterol, 737 milligrams sodium
The nutritional analyses accompanying recipes in today's You section were calculated by registered dietitian Jodie Shield, except where noted.