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Kitchen Mailbox Countdown to Dinner Dining
Summer sizzles with shish kebab a la Samreny's

Thursday, June 24, 1999

By Arlene Burnett, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Kitchen Mailbox receives numerous requests for restaurant recipes, and it's a very rare occasion when we actually get to answer one of these requests.

Today we have two recipes from Samreny's Restaurant in Bloomfield. Samreny's is now closed, but its customers have fond memories of the delicious food. In the past, owners Paul and Cecilia Samreny were gracious enough to send us the requested recipes. This time readers Sally Batko of Bloomfield and Marilyn Dusmal of Finleyville sent us the recipes for Shish Kebab and Rice and Pignolia Nuts. Both recipes were taken from the 1982 book "Dining in -- Pittsburgh" by Barbara Klein and Judith Roscow.

The aroma of grilled steak had us eager to dig in. The Shish Kebab was tender and moist and the rice was a delicious accompaniment (we suggest using butter instead of margarine for the rice). We completed the meal with a fabulous dessert, Viennese Apricot Pie. This decadently rich pie has golden bits of apricots throughout the creamy filling and a brown sugar and butter topping that adds even more flavor.

Margaret Purvance of Clearwater, Fla., requested the recipes below.

Shish Kebab

3 pounds beef or lamb, cut into 3/4-inch cubes

Skewer meat, 4 or 5 pieces per skewer.

Broil at very high heat to char outside, turning as necessary (we broiled ours on a gas grill set on high for 3 minutes each side).

Reduce heat and cook to desired doneness.

Yields: About six kebabs

To remove from skewer, firmly press down -- not out -- with serving fork on nearest piece of meat, while evenly drawing skewer toward you.

Note: Shish Kebab may be broiled indoors in an oven broiler, or outdoors on a grill.

Helpful hints: When shopping for beef to cube, select a naturally tender cut. Pick steaks from the tenderloin, loin, sirloin or top round and cube the meat yourself. If you're using lamb, select the leg meat.

If using bamboo skewers. wrap the ends of the skewers with foil to prevent burning. Or soak wooden skewers in water for an hour before using.

Remember, the USDA recommends implementing the guidelines below when cooking or grilling beef: Medium rare, 145 degrees; medium, 160 degrees; and well done, 170 degrees. Of course you could test the meat the way the experts do by using what is called the hand test (This does take years of practice though):

Rare: Let one hand dangle freely, letting it relax completely. With the forefinger of your other hand, touch the meaty area between your thumb and forefinger. This is what a rare piece of meat should feel like.

Medium: Now make a fist with your hand. Touch the same place again. This is what a medium piece of meat should feel like.

Well-Done: Now tightly clench your fist. Touch the same place again. This is what a well-done piece of meat should feel like.

Source: Cole's Complete Culinary Reference Recipe & Techniques in "Cooking A to Z."

Rice and Pignolia Nuts

3 tablespoons extra fine noodles (broken in pieces), see note
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup uncooked rice
1/2 cup pignolia nuts

Fry noodles in butter until golden brown. Add noodles to rice and cook rice according to box directions.

Sauté pignolia nuts in a little butter and when browned, sprinkle over top of cooked rice.

Note: We placed the noodles in a plastic bag and rolled a rolling pin over the bag.

Kitchen Mailbox thanks Gaile Beatty of Pleasant Hills for this luscious dessert.

Viennese Apricot Pie

Unbaked 10-inch pie shell, see note
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 cups sour cream
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 drops almond extract
1 1/2 cups dried apricots
Crumbly Topping, recipe below

In saucepan, combine dried apricots with water to cover; simmer for about 10 minutes, adding 2 tablespoons sugar after 5 minutes.

Combine eggs, sour cream, sugar, flour, salt and almond extract; beat until blended. Stir in apricots, cooked, drained and cut into small pieces.

Pour mixture into pie shell. Bake in 400-degree oven 25 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with Crumbly Topping. Return to oven and continue baking 20 to 25 minutes, or until filling is set. Cool to room temperature or chill before serving. Makes 8 servings.

Crumbly Topping: Combine 1/2 cup light brown sugar and 1/3 cup flour, mixing well. Cut in 1/4 cup butter or margarine until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Note: We couldn't find a 10-inch unbaked pie shell, so we used a 9-inch deep-dish pie shell which accommodated all but 1/2 cup or less of the filling If you have a 10-inch pie plate, make you own pie shell.

If you want to answer a recipe request from a reader or are looking for a recipe yourself, please write to Kitchen Mailbox, c/o Arlene Burnett, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222. Please include a name, neighborhood and a daytime phone number. All recipes are kitchen-tested by the Post-Gazette.

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