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Turn Cooking Into A Family Affair

Debra Ponzek is an award-winning chef and cookbook author. She is also a mother of three, and her family is the inspiration behind her latest book, "The Family Kitchen." The recipes are ideal for parents and children to cook together and eat together.

For The Saturday Early Show, Ponzek and her special helper prepare a three-course meal for four on the Chef on a Shoestring budget of $40. On the menu, Grilled Mushroom Stacks, Citrus-Grilled Chicken with Mango Salsa and Remy's Patchwork Apple Pie.


Portobello mushroom An extremely large, dark brown mushroom that is simply the fully mature form of the crimino, which in turn is a variation of the common cultivated white mushroom. The name "portobello" began to be used in the 1980s as a brilliant marketing ploy to popularize an unglamorous mushroom that, more often than not, had to be disposed of because growers couldn't sell them. The portobello has an open, flat cap. Because it's the elder of the species, the portobello's gills are fully exposed, which means that some of the mushroom's moisture has evaporated. The reduced moisture concentrates and enriches the flavor and creates a dense, meaty texture. The stems are very woody and should be removed.

Mango The mango tree is considered sacred in India, the land of the fruit's origin. Now this delectable fruit is cultivated in temperate climates around the world, including in California and Florida. Mangoes grow in a wide variety of shapes (oblong, kidney and round) and sizes (from 6 ounces to 4 pounds). Their thin, tough skin is green, and as the fruit ripens, becomes yellow with beautiful red mottling. The fragrant flesh is a brilliant golden orange, exceedingly juicy and exotically sweet and tart. Perhaps the only negative to the mango is the huge, flat seed that traverses its length. The fruit must be carefully carved away from the seed with a sharp knife. Mangoes are in season from May to September, though imported fruit is in the stores sporadically throughout the year.


Grilled Mushroom Stacks

(Serves 4)

Flavorless vegetable oil spray
1 large red bell pepper
8 small portobello mushroom caps, stemmed and wiped clean
1 medium zucchini, cut on the bias into four 1/4-inch thick slices
1 medium red onion, peeled and cut into four 1/4-inch thick slices
1 medium tomato, cut into four 1/4-inch thick slices
About 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
8 fresh basil leaves
4 sturdy sprigs rosemary, each about 4 inches long


1. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill so that the coals or heating elements are hot. Off the heat, lightly spray the grate with vegetable oil spray.
2. Grill the bell pepper, turning, until charred on all sides, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. After about 5 minutes, remove the wrap and rub the blackened skin from the pepper. Cut the bell pepper into quarters, remove the core and seeds, and set aside.
3. Lay the mushrooms, zucchini, red onion, and tomato slices on a rimmed sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Flip them over and season the other sides. Use tongs to transfer the vegetables to the grill. Grill the mushroom caps for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until they are tender. Remove to a plate when done.
4. Grill the zucchini and onion slices for 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until softened. Remove to a plate when done.
5. Grill the tomato slices, on one side only, for about 1 1/2 minutes. Remove to a plate when done.
6. Build four stacks by starting each one with a mushroom cap, gill side up. Top with a slice on zucchini, onion, tomato, and mozzarella. Add two basil leaves and one piece of the red bell pepper to each stack. Finally, sandwich with another mushroom cap, gill side facing down.
7. Trim the bottom leaves from the sprigs of rosemary to expose a bit of the stem and skewer each stack in the center with the rosemary sprig. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Call the kids to:

  • Stem and wipe the mushrooms clean
  • Slice the mozzarella with a blunt knife
  • Strip the leaves from the rosemary sprigs

    Citrus-Grilled Chicken Breasts with Mango Salsa

    (Serves 4)

    1/2 cup canola oil
    Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
    Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
    Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
    2 garlic cloves, sliced
    1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
    4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (5 to 6 ounces each)
    Flavorless vegetable oil spray
    Salt and freshly ground pepper
    Mange salsa (recipe follows)

    1. In a shallow glass, ceramic, or other non-reactive dish, combine the oil, citrus zests and juices, garlic and jalapeno. Mix well. Add the chicken and turn once or twice to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for 3-6 hours.
    2. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill so that the coals or heating elements are medium hot. Off the heat, lightly spray the grate with vegetable oil spray.
    3. Lift the chicken breasts from the marinade, letting any excess drip back into the dish. Discard the marinade. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Grill for 4 to 5 minutes per side, or until the chicken is cooked through.
    4. Serve the chicken with the mango salsa.

    Call the kids to:

  • Measure the oil
  • Squeeze the orange, lemon, and lime
  • Turn the chicken in the marinade
  • Cut the mango with a blunt knife
  • Stir together the ingredients for the salsa
  • Mango Salsa
    (Makes about 2 cups)

    1 ripe mango
    3 tablespoons chopped red onion
    2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
    1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 teaspoon chopped jalapeno (about a quarter of a jalapeno)
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

    1. Slice both ends from the mango to determine where the seed is located. Peel the skin from the mango with a sharp knife or peeler. Cut the fleshy "cheeks" from each side of the mango by cutting almost in half lengthwise along the side of the seed. Trim around the mango, following the curve of the seed to remove the remaining flesh from the other sides. Cut the mango into a small dice and put in a medium bowl.
    2. Add the onion, cilantro, lime juice, oil, jalapeno, salt and pepper and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if necessary. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate for up to two days.

    Remy's Patchwork A

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