5 of Ann Heller’s favorite recipes


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It’s a recipe from Marcella Hazan, whose cooking schools in Italy and New York have trained thousands of American cooks in authentic Italian home cooking.

The first recipe from her that I tasted was this Lemon Road Chicken. It turned out incredibly simple and delicious.

Makes 4 servings

1 chicken, about 2 ½ to 3 pounds

Salt and pepper

2 whole lemons

Wash the chicken, drain and pat dry with paper towel. Remove any loose fat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, inside and out, rubbing.

Wash and dry the lemons and soften them by rolling them on the counter. Pierce each lemon at least 20 times with a skewer, ice pick or toothpick. Put the lemons inside the chicken, close the opening with toothpicks or sleeves and tie the legs together loosely.

Place in a roasting pan, breast side down and place in the top third of a preheated 350 degree oven. Do not add fat.

After 15 minutes, flip the chicken breast over and roast for another 20-25 minutes. Lower the heat to 400 degrees and cook the chicken for another 20 minutes. (If using a larger bird, you may want to roast the bird about 5 more minutes – but in the thigh at the knuckle and make sure the juices are light yellow.)

Serve the chicken with all the lemon juice in the roasting pan. They make a delicious sauce.

SPANISH PORK LOIN

One of my favorite Spanish recipes is this amazing easy Seasoned Pork Loin.

The pork is brushed with a mixture of paprika, garlic and herbs and left to marinate for several days.

It’s a wonderful piece of meat to have on hand, and it can be stored in the refrigerator for several days. If you don’t use it at the same time, pork is a tasty substitute for bacon in a BLT.

Makes 4-6 servings

1 teaspoon paprika 1 teaspoon coarse salt

2 crushed garlic cloves 1 broken bay leaf

3 tablespoons olive oil 1 ½ pounds boneless pork loin

¼ teaspoon dried thyme oil for frying

In a small bowl, combine the paprika, garlic, oil, thyme and salt to form a paste. Spread mixture over pork and rub in, coating all sides. Place in a glass dish with the bay leaf, cover well and refrigerate at least overnight. The meat will be tastier after several days.

To serve, cut the meat into quarter-inch slices. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and brown the slices, about 2 minutes on each side. Remove the meat and deglaze the pan with 2 to 3 tablespoons of white wine or chicken broth or water. Stir all the cooking juices and pour a little sauce over the meat.

If you are making sandwiches, skip the last step.

CRAB CAKES

The wonderful Maryland Blue Crab is one of the most delicious foods I have ever tasted. There’s no better way to eat it than in crab cakes.

The recipes are intensely personal, with the debate centering on the seasoning and the amount of breadcrumbs added to help bind the crab cakes together. Too much bread is scorned as a garnish.

Here is my recipe, which was just a slice of bread. Crab cakes are partially fried rather than fried which is traditional.

I prefer to let the crab taste dominate and forego additions such as onion or peppers or spicy seasonings. Only chunk crabmeat that has perfectly white pieces of crab the size of a dime and a nickel will do.

Makes 2-4 servings

1 pound chunks of crabmeat, fresh or pasteurized 1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 slice of bread, crusts trimmed* ¾ teaspoon salt

1 egg ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons mayonnaise oil

1 tablespoon chopped parsley butter

Carefully sort the crab meat to remove pieces of gristle. Be gentle – you are paying dearly for these pieces of crab. Put aside.

Cube the bread and pass it through a food processor to obtain coarse crumbs. Mix the egg, mayonnaise, parsley and seasonings, then add the breadcrumbs. Gently stir in the crab. Form four patties about one inch thick.

In a skillet, heat equal parts oil and butter to cover the pan about ¼ inch deep. Fry the patties for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until golden brown.

Otherwise, grill under a preheated broiler for about 3 minutes on each side.

*Or use ¼ cup cracker crumbs.

NOTE: For extra flavor, add 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce or 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning to the mixture.

GARLIC ROASTED POTATOES

I could make a meal out of a plate of fresh buttered asparagus, but potatoes? You bet, when it’s those potatoes.

The recipe comes from Alice Waters, via the Potato Board. Waters is the chef-owner of Chez Parisse in Berkley, California, and is close enough to Gilroy, the garlic capital of the world, to put this native culture to good use.

Whole unpeeled garlic cloves are roasted with the potatoes. Each guest presses some of the soft, sweet roasted garlic over the potatoes.

This is not a dish for those who don’t like garlic, and certainly not for those who are too picky to get their hands dirty. But for those who like to sample flavors, it’s a wonderful and incredibly easy side dish or meal.

Makes 6 servings

12 medium new potatoes or Finnish potatoes, unpeeled sea salt

1 ½ heads fresh garlic ground black pepper

Olive oil

Wash the potatoes and dry them. Cut into quarters. Separate the garlic into individual cloves, but do not peel them.

Arrange the potatoes skin side down in a lightly oiled baking dish that can only hold them. Scatter the garlic cloves on top. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and drizzle olive oil on top.

Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 50-60 minutes, tossing once to evenly coat with oil. Potatoes should be just tender when pierced with a fork.

BLUEBERRY CRUMBLE

As a matter of principle, I believe that desserts – at least those that are rich and sweetened with sugar – should be reserved for special occasions. And what could be more special than the start of blueberry season?

How I love these berries. When I was a girl, it was a rare treat to eat bowls of berries with real heavy cream and dollops of sugar.

These days, I make a cool meal on a hot summer day by filling half a cantaloupe with lightly sweetened blueberries. But my favorite blueberry dish is an incredibly easy dessert called blueberry crumble.

It’s similar to other fruit crumbles, except with blueberries, all you have to do is wash the fruit – no peeling, pitting, coring or slicing.

Makes 4-6 servings

3 cups blueberries ¾ cup flour

6 tablespoons sugar 1/3 cup butter

Juice of 1 lemon 6 tablespoons sugar

¼ teaspoon cinnamon ½ teaspoon salt

Wash the berries and place them in a buttered 9-inch square baking dish or similar sized casserole dish. Add the sugar, lemon and cinnamon and stir to coat the berries.

Combine flour, butter, sugar and salt and stir with fork or fingertips until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle the mixture over the berries and bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

It’s great as is, but you can also splurge with popsicles.

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