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Full-meal deals cookbook's forte

Thursday, January 09, 2003

By Nancy Anderson, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

At last, a cookbook with dozens of delicious-sounding entrees that fit Countdown to Dinner rules.

Titled "The Accidental Gourmet: A Year of Fast and Delicious Weeknight Meals" by Sally Sondheim and Suzannah Sloan (Fireside Books, $21), it offers 260 step-by-step, complete menus featuring an entree, side dishes and a dessert for every weeknight.

While the menus are nutritious and balanced, the authors don't stress fat-free or low-fat foods (you can substitute if you want to), but rather old-fashioned, grandma-type dishes that they've updated for speed.

The recipes have variety, readily available ingredients, simplicity and a catchy title that adds fun to the proceedings.

For instance, one Tuesday menu is Chattanooga Chicken, Mashville, Cucumberland Gap and, for dessert, Monkey Business (bananas, honey, brandy extract and frozen yogurt).

Another is Ham a Nice Day, Peasing Personality, Salad Isn't So and Pudding on the Ritz.

Daytime TV watchers might get a kick out of Soup Opera, The Guiding Linguini, One Loaf to Live and Dates of Our Lives.

Since we don't get many Countdowns for steak, we decided to make today's recipe -- Till We Meat Again -- as a break from chicken. Besides, heating the broiler on a cold winter night is always cozy.

The juicy steak smelled scrumptious as it grilled away; the onions piled on top got toasty brown and smothered the meat with flavor.

The book paired it with Loaf of My Life (toasted Italian bread topped with tomatoes, green onions and artichoke hearts) and The Object of My Confection, a refrigerated cream cheese/fruit pie dessert.

We opted for wide egg noodles to soak up all the oniony juices (see note), along with peas and pearl onions (canned from Whole Foods) and a glass of merlot. A friend brought a gorgeous homemade lemon meringue pie.

Altogether, a hearty, satisfying winter dinner.

Till We Meat Again

  • 1 1/2 pounds lean sirloin steak
  • 2 large onions
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • Salt to taste

Preheat broiler. Peel and thinly slice the onions.

Combine oil and oregano in a small bowl. Add salt to taste. (We added a few shakes of garlic powder also.)

Place steak in a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Brush with some of the oil mixture. Broil for 5 minutes.

Turn steak and sprinkle with the pepper. Top with onions and drizzle the remaining oil over the top. Continue broiling until done, about 10 minutes for medium rare.

Thinly slice steak across the grain and serve with the onions. Serves 4.

Tester's note: We put the noodles in a large serving bowl, poured the onions and juice over them, sliced the steak and put it on top.

From "The Accidental Gourmet" by Sally Sondheim and Suzannah Sloan

Do you have an entree, salad or vegetable side dish recipe (no desserts, please!) that can be made in 30 minutes or less from six ingredients or fewer (not counting water, salt and pepper)? Share it with Countdown to Dinner.

The PG tests all recipes and if we select your recipe for publication, you'll receive a free selection from our cookbook grab bag of current releases.

Send your recipe to Countdown to Dinner, Post-Gazette Food, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, or fax to 412-263-1313. Please include your name, neighborhood and daytime phone number. Or e-mail to: nanderson@post-gazette.com. Questions? Call 412-263-3549.

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