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A Mediterranean Meal With Zest!

Chef Jennifer Jasinski cut her teeth, so to speak, under the world-famous Wolfgang Puck.

Eight years ago, she opened her own restaurant, Rioja, in Denver, where she mixes Mediterranean-style with fresh, local ingredients. It's bene winning rave reviews for the menu and extensive Spanish wine list.

But could she prepare a spicy, three-course meal for four on our $40 dollar budget, as this week's "Chef on a Shoestring?"

She gave it a go!


  • Madras Curry Scented Garbanzo Dip
  • Shrimp & Spicy Sausage Skewers w/ Corn-Orzo Salad
  • Lemon Anise Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich

    Garbanzo Beans: Garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas, have a delicious nut-like taste and buttery texture. A very versatile legume, they're a noted ingredient in many Middle Eastern and Indian dishes such as hummus, falafels and curries.

    Madras Curry: Madras curry is a flavorful curry that originates in southern India. This curry can accompany vegetables or meats, and it can feature a wide range of ingredients, although chili peppers are usually a fundamental ingredient.

    Pappadams: Pappadams, also called papadums, are a thin, crispy Indian wafer, sometimes described as a cracker, or flat bread. An important part of Indian cuisine, recipes vary from region to region and family to family, but it's typically made from lentil, chickpea, black gram or rice flour.

    Orzo Pasta: Orzo is Italian and means "barley," but in common use in the United States, orzo is understood to mean rice-shaped pasta, slightly smaller than a pine nut. It's frequently used in soups. Despite its rice shape, orzo is not made out of rice but of hard wheat semolina.

    Star Anise: Anise contains licorice-like components, it's sweet and very aromatic. Star anise is obtained from the star-shaped fruit of a native evergreen tree of southwest China. The star shaped fruits are harvested just before ripening.


  • Substitute pita or tortilla chips if you can't find pappadams .
  • Undercook the pasta; it absorbs the vinaigrette and continues to soften.
  • Make the cookies ahead of time; they're best straight out of the freezer.


    Madras Curry Scented Garbanzo Dip

    2 tablespoons olive oil
    2 cups drained garbanzo beans (reserve the liquid)
    1/2 cup shallots, sliced
    1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
    1-1/2 teaspoons Madras curry
    2 ounces garbanzo bean liquid
    1/2 cup sour cream
    1 teaspoon orange zest
    Pinch cardamom
    Salt and pepper, to taste
    1 package pappadams
    1/4 cup olive oil for pappadams

    Add the olive oil to a sauté pan and sauté the shallot until very light golden brown.

    Add the curry and cardamom and toast for a few seconds to open the flavors in the curry.

    Add the drained garbanzo beans and remove from the heat.

    Place the entire contents of the pan in the food processor with the S-blade and pulse until ingredients are well blended.

    Add the 2 ounces of garbanzo bean liquid to the emptied sauté pan to deglaze the pan, add the contents to the food processor.

    Using a micro-plane or zester, zest an orange to get 1 teaspoon of orange zest.

    Top the dip with the sour cream and orange zest, season to taste.
    Keep cool until ready to serve.

    To cook the pappadams, brush both sides with olive oil and toast on the grill until you see the dough change to opaque.

    They can brown quickly so make sure to flip them every few seconds.

    When done, remove from the grill promptly; they will become crispy in a few seconds. Break into pieces and serve with the dip.


  • Shrimp and Spicy Sausage Skewers with Corn-Orzo Salad

    8 peeled and de-veined shrimp (21-25 size)
    3 links of spicy Italian sausage (approximately 6" long each)
    1 onion
    4 each metal or bamboo skewers

    1-1/2 cups cooked orzo pasta **
    1-1/2 cups corn, fresh cut off the cob
    2 ounces olive oil
    1/3 cup dill vinaigrette
    Squeeze lemon juice
    Salt and fresh black pepper

    Bring a pot of water to a boil and add salt to keep orzo from sticking. Cook for about 8-10 minutes for al-dente pasta. Strain from the water earlier than anticipated to keep al dente. When making a marinated salad, pasta tends to absorb the vinaigrette and continue softening.

    Dill vinaigrette:
    1/2 cup fresh dill (no stem)
    1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley (no stem)
    6 cloves garlic, peeled
    1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    Salt and pepper to taste

    Skewer preparation:

    To assemble the skewers cut the onion into large squares, about 1-1 ½ inch square.

    Cut the sausage into 4 pieces per link, 12 pieces total.

    Alternating between shrimp, onions, and sausage, assemble with two shrimp and three pieces of sausage per skewer.

    Drizzle a small amount of olive oil on each skewer and season with salt and pepper.

    Place on a hot grill and cook until shrimp are opaque, about 3-4 minutes on each side.

    Salad preparation:

    In a small pot over medium heat, add all but 2 ounces of the oil and the peeled garlic cloves.

    Cook until garlic is a light golden brown.

    Allow the pan to cool and gather all the other ingredients for the vinaigrette.

    Place all the ingredients for the dill vinaigrette in a blender and blend until smooth.

    Season with salt and pepper and set aside until ready to use.

    The recipe will yield more dressing than necessary.

    Shuck the corn and sauté it in the large sauté pan with the 2 ounces olive oil and garlic until it is tender.

    Combine this with the orzo and then mix in the vinaigrette.

    Taste for seasoning and finish with the lemon for balance.

    Serve with shrimp and sausage skewers.

    Lemon Anise Cookie Sandwich

    1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1-3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch
    2 teaspoons star anise, finely ground
    zest of one lemon
    1/3 cup granulated sugar
    1/4 cup granulated sugar to sprinkle on the top
    8 ounces vanilla bean ice cream

    Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

    Grease a 13 x 9 inch jelly roll pan.

    Place the softened butter and salt in a mixing bowl (the butter should be the consistency of mayonnaise) and mix well with a wooden spoon until completely dissolved.

    Combine the flour, cornstarch, and anise into a separate bowl and set aside.

    Grate the lemon zest on a micro plane and stir the lemon zest into the flour mixture.

    Add 1/3 cup sugar to the butter and mix until just combined.

    Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until a smooth dough forms.

    Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan (the dough should be no more than 1/2 inch thick).

    Sprinkle the dough with the 1/4 cup sugar and bake for about 25 minutes until the edges of the pan are lightly browned.

    The middle of the pan will remain light. Let cool until warm to the touch.

    With a sharp knife cut the cookies into 3 inch squares.

    Chill thoroughly before removing from the pan.

    To assemble, place 6 of the cookies on a plate and top each with a small scoop of the vanilla bean ice cream, and top with the remaining cookies.


    garbanzo beans $1.19
    shallots .65
    parsley .69
    Madras curry $3.99
    sour cream $1.49
    orange zest .25
    cardamom $3.99
    pappadams $1.99

    shrimp $9.99
    Italian sausage $4.29
    onion .69
    orzo pasta $1.19
    corn .50
    dill .89
    garlic .66

    cornstarch $1.69
    star anise $2.49
    lemon .75
    vanilla ice cream $1.99

    FINAL COST: $39.37

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