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Contents Disk 243

How to use these pages:  Below is a list of the recipes on this page.  You can either scroll down the page and look at all of the recipes, or look at the titles.  When you find one that seems interesting, use your web browsers FIND function to take you directly to that recipe (on my IE browser it's Edit/Find (on this page)   or Ctrl - F on your keyboard).



































































By Dianne Jacob, ucook.com contributor


Pasta is the savior of busy cooks. When we can't think of anything else, there's always that jar of red sauce. Within a few minutes, we've boiled the pasta, heated the sauce, and thrown in whatever was lurking in the refrigerator that looked good. Sprinkle with Parmesan and we're done.


While this meal is handy, I'm tired of it. Making the same thing repeatedly bores me, even when it meets my criteria for an incredibly quick meal.


If you feel the same way, here are some ways to break out of your rut, without spending any extra time on the sauce. First, choose your sauce base: canned spaghetti sauce, prepared Alfredo sauce, olive oil, or fresh tomatoes. Then, try one of the combinations below.


The premise is simple: add a few exciting things to the base so that that your dish tastes good enough to make again, and good enough to make for company.


Some of these combinations are deceptively simple and surprisingly luscious. I made the tuna and olive oil dish for my skeptical husband, and together, we finished the whole bowl. The anchovy pasta has been a family favorite for years.


1. Spaghetti Sauce Base


Sauté these items below in a pan, then add the sauce:

sausage slices, browned with sliced red peppers and onions

mushrooms (a variety is good) sautéed in butter and herbs,

preferably fresh sage

leftover sliced chicken breast sautéed quickly with onions or shallots. Add chopped green olives to taste.


2. Alfredo (white sauce) Base


Today you can purchase respectable pre-prepared white sauces at the grocery store. Just heat the sauce over the stove, then throw in:


smoked salmon pieces, capers, and dill

peas and chopped pancetta or ham

a few twists of lemon peel, a squeeze of lemon juice, and cooked shrimp.


3. Olive Oil Base


This one is so easy, it's ridiculous. You can make just about anything with the triumvirate of olive oil, garlic and Parmesan. You can even leave it at that, for a classic Italian dish. Or, sauté minced garlic over low heat, then add:


a can of anchovies, smash them, then toss sauce with pasta and 1/4 cup of chopped parsley.

a can of tuna, capers and chopped parsley.

chopped arugula, spinach or chard (tough stems discarded). Toss pasta with Parmesan cheese.

chopped cooked broccoli.

Toss with Parmesan, bacon bits and hot red pepper flakes.


4. Fresh or Canned Tomato Base


Start with a sauté of:

olive oil and diced zucchini, then a clove or two of garlic, minced. Throw in tomatoes and heat. Add chopped fresh basil and toss.


olive oil and garlic, add a can of tomatoes, dried herbs, and a can of chickpeas. Add chopped fresh basil and toss.


olive oil and garlic, add a can of tomatoes, then 1 lb. shrimp. Toss in herbs such as fresh basil and parsley, and sprinkle pasta with Parmesan cheese.


Makes 2 quarts


1 pint chilled prickly pear juice (fresh or purchased)

1 pint chilled cranberry juice

1 quart chilled ginger ale


Mix juices in 2-quart pitcher. Add ginger ale. Dip rim of glasses in mixture of lemon juice and water, then sifted powdered sugar.


Pour cocktail over a couple of ice cubes in glass.


Serves 6

3 cups cooked rice

3 cups milk

1/3 cup honey

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon butter or margarine


1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar

3 to 4 peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

2 tablespoons brandy or 1 teaspoon brandy extract

6 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted

Whipped or sour cream, optional


Combine rice, milk, honey and salt in saucepan. Cook over medium heat about 30 minutes, or until thickened, stirring often. Add vanilla and butter. Portion into serving dishes. Serve with topping.


To make topping: sprinkle brown sugar over peaches. Let stand 30 minutes or longer. Combine cornstarch, salt and cinnamon in saucepan. Blend a little of the juice from the peaches, then add peaches and remaining juice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 2 to 3 minutes or until clear and thickened. Remove from heat.


Add butter and brandy. Spoon over rice pudding. Sprinkle with almonds. Serve warm or cold, topped with cream.



Makes about 11/2 quarts


Caramel sauce:

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup butter, cut into small pieces (1/2 stick; see note)

1/2 cup half-and-half

1/4 teaspoon salt


Vanilla ice cream base:

2 eggs

1/4 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup granulated sugar

21/2 cups half-and-half

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup chopped salted macadamia nuts


To make caramel sauce: Pour sugar into small, heavy-bottomed pan. Place over medium heat and let sugar melt to a dark brown liquid. Stir in butter and half-and-half (mixture will sputter, so be careful). Stir over medium heat until mixture comes together as a sauce. Stir in salt. Remove from heat.


To make vanilla ice cream base: In heat-proof bowl, beat together eggs and salt. Set aside.


In heavy-bottomed pan, combine sugar and half-and-half. Bring to a simmer. Pour about 1/2 cup of the mixture into egg mixture and beat. Return mixture to pan, and cook slowly over low heat until thickened to sauce consistency and it coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Strain into bowl. Cover and refrigerate until cold.


If caramel sauce is too thick to pour, microwave on low 30 seconds.


Make ice cream according to manufacturer's directions. While ice cream is still soft but almost firm, drizzle in caramel sauce and nuts. Continue to churn ice cream just to mix ingredients. Remove from machine and serve or freeze immediately.


Note: Use real butter or stick margarine. Do not substitute reduced-fat spreads; their higher water content often yields less-satisfactory results.


Makes 6 servings

Pineapple and kiwifruit give this salsa a sweet-and-sour flavor. Use to top grilled fish, chicken, beans or rice.

2 cups pineapple chunks, drained and chopped

2 yellow or red bell peppers, seeded and chopped

3 kiwifruit, peeled and chopped

1 small red onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped

Juice of 1 lime

Dash of cayenne pepper


Combine pineapple chunks, bell peppers, kiwifruit, onion, cilantro, lime juice and cayenne pepper in a bowl, toss thoroughly and serve with fish or chicken.


This classic, slow-cooked dish from Chez Panisse brings out the sweetness of summer produce. For a quick alternative, and a beautiful presentation, grill the peppers, squash and eggplant, then chop and combine them with chopped raw, ripe tomatoes, herbs and seasonings just before serving.


1 large eggplant


3 onions

3 red bell peppers

4 summer squashes

5 tomatoes

6-12 cloves garlic

Extra-virgin olive oil

Red pepper flakes, optional

1 large bunch basil


1. Cut the eggplant into 1/2-inch cubes. Salt it liberally and leave it to drain in a colander.


2. Peel and cut up the onions, and cut up the peppers, squashes, and tomatoes, keeping them all separate. Everything should be cut into pieces about the same size as the cubed eggplant. Smash and peel the garlic and chop it coarsely. Press down on the eggplant to extract more water and dry it.


3. In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat some of the olive oil and gently fry the eggplant until golden. Drain and reserve. Add more olive oil to the pot, and over medium-low heat, start sautéing the onions. When they are soft and translucent, add the garlic, optional hot pepper flakes, and a bouquet garni consisting of the bunch of basil wrapped tightly with string, reserving a handful of the basil leaves for a garnish. Stir for a minute, toss in the peppers, and cook for a few minutes; next add the squash and cook a few minutes more, and then add the tomatoes.


4. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Finally add the eggplant, and cook 15 to 25 minutes more, until everything is soft and the flavors have melded together. Remove the bouquet of basil, pressing on it to extract all its flavors, and adjust the seasoning with freshly chopped basil leaves, salt, and a bit of fresh extra-virgin olive oil and fine-chopped garlic, if needed. Serve warm or cold. The dish tastes even better the next day.


Serves 4


3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup water

1/2 cup vinegar

1 slice lemon

1 cinnamon stick

1 pound fresh figs or bottled figs, drained

1/2 cup medium-sweet white wine

Peel of 1/2 lemon

Chicken: 1 (3- to 31/2-pound) chicken, cut into serving pieces

Coarse salt, freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup diced slab bacon

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 tablespoons beef broth


To prepare figs: In saucepan combine sugar, water, vinegar, lemon slice and cinnamon stick. Bring to boil, then simmer 5 minutes. Add figs and return to boil. Simmer 10 minutes more. Cover and let stand 2 hours, if possible.


When ready to use, drain figs, discarding lemon slice and cinnamon stick. Place drained figs in bowl along with wine and lemon peel. Set aside.


Meanwhile, sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. In large, shallow, oven-proof casserole, slowly heat bacon pieces until golden and they give off oil. Reserve bacon, leaving oil in pan. Add olive oil and heat. Add chicken and saute until golden on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes.


Increase heat and very gradually add wine mixture (discarding lemon peel) in which figs have been soaking. Boil until reduced and very syrupy, 3 to 5 minutes.


Transfer casserole to oven that has been heated to 350 degrees and bake, uncovered, 20 minutes, adding water if necessary to prevent burning. Return casserole to top of stove. Add beef broth and figs.


Cover and cook 10 minutes more. Sprinkle with bacon pieces before serving.


Makes 4 servings

Rice salad:

2/3 cup uncooked wild rice

1/3 cup uncooked long-grain rice

1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion

1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 2-ounce can sliced ripe olives, drained

Red leaf lettuce

1 small avocado, peeled and sliced

1 medium tomato,

sliced Sprigs of fresh cilantro

Fiesta Dressing:

1/3 cup olive oil

1/4 cup fresh lime juice (2 medium limes)

1 clove garlic, minced

1 to 2 jalapeno peppers, minced (see note) WEAR GLOVES

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

Salt to taste


Rinse wild rice thoroughly. Place in a saucepan with 11/2 cups boiling water. Bring back to a boil, cover and simmer 35 to 45 minutes, until rice is tender and water is absorbed. Set cooked wild rice aside.


Bring 1 cup water to a boil. Add 1/3 cup uncooked long-grain rice. Bring back to boil, cover and simmer 20 minutes or until rice is tender. Set cooked long-grain rice aside.


Meanwhile, make Fiesta Dressing. Whisk oil, lime juice, garlic, peppers, chili powder, cumin and salt; set aside.


In large bowl, combine warm wild and long-grain rice with 2 tablespoons dressing and green onions; cool. Add bell pepper, cilantro and olives; toss to mix well.


Line serving dish with lettuce; mound rice mixture in center. Arrange avocado and tomato slices, alternating around rice mixture. Garnish with a sprig of cilantro. Pass remaining dressing to serve.


Note: Wear gloves when handling fresh, canned, dried or pickled chilies; the oils can cause a burning sensation on your skin.


Makes 6 to 8 servings


21/2 tablespoons butter, melted (divided)

Just under 3 cups cubed stale corn bread

1 large Walla Walla or other sweet onion, thinly sliced

1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded and thinly sliced

1 teaspoon Mexican oregano

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 to 4 chipotle chilies in adobo, chopped, with sauce to taste

4 eggs

1 pint half-and-half

1/4 cup whipping cream


Grease 8-inch square baking dish with 1/2 tablespoon melted butter. Arrange corn bread cubes in pan.


Place remaining melted butter in large saute pan. Add onion, pepper, oregano and salt; cook slowly until very soft and almost caramelized, about 20 minutes. Spread over corn bread.


Heat oven to 350 degrees. In bowl, whisk together chipotles, eggs, half-and-half and cream. Pour over corn bread and let stand 10 minutes. Bake 40 minutes, until set and golden. Serve hot.



Makes 8 to 12 servings


4 ounces unsweetened chocolate

1 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks (2 sticks; see note)

11/2 cups granulated sugar

3 eggs

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon vanilla

6 cups all-natural cherry-vanilla ice cream, slightly softened


Combine chocolate and butter in the top pan of a double boiler over simmering water. Melt, stirring occasionally. Remove top pan from heat. Stir in sugar. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Stir in salt and flour. Stir in vanilla.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread batter in greased 9-by-13-inch pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until just firm. Remove from oven and cool completely.


Carefully turn pan upside down so brownies are on a clean work surface. Trim off browned edges. Cut brownies into three 8-by-4-inch slabs. Place 1 layer in 81/2-by-41/2-inch pan. Spread 3 cups ice cream over the top. Place another brownie layer on top and press down. Spread with remaining 3 cups ice cream. Top with third brownie layer and press down. Cover pan with foil and freeze at least 2 hours.


To serve, run a knife around the edges of the pan, and turn ice cream loaf onto chilled cutting board. Work fast so ice cream doesn't melt. Either cut into 1-inch slices for 8 servings or make diagonal slices. For diagonal slices, cut loaf into 3 long horizontal slices. Cut in half widthwise for total of 6 slices. Remove slices one at a time and cut diagonally in half to make 12 slices.


Note: Use real butter or stick margarine. Do not substitute reduced-fat spreads; their higher water content often yields less-satisfactory results.


Makes about 1 quart


3 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped

1 cup granulated sugar

4 to 6 tablespoons malted milk powder

2 cups half-and-half

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup whipping cream

2 teaspoons vanilla


Combine chopped chocolate, sugar, malted milk powder and half-and-half in a heavy, medium saucepan. Place over low heat and cook, stirring, until chocolate is completely melted and sugar is dissolved. Bring mixture to a simmer and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Slowly beat hot chocolate mixture into eggs in a bowl. Return mixture to pan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly with whisk or wooden spoon, until custard thickens slightly. Be careful not to let mixture boil or eggs will scramble.


Remove from heat. Pour through strainer into a large, clean bowl. At this point, custard should be homogeneous. If you see specks of chocolate, allow custard to cool slightly, then pour custard into blender and blend 30 seconds. Pour back into bowl. Stir in cream and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate until cold or overnight.


Stir chilled custard, then process in 1 or 2 batches in ice cream machine according to manufacturer's directions. When finished, ice cream will be soft but ready to eat. For firmer ice cream, transfer to freezer-safe container and freeze at least 2 hours.


Makes about 41/2 cups, 9 servings


For a double coconut treat, stir 1/2 cup (11/2 ounces) toasted shredded coconut into the ice cream during the final minute of processing. To make a colorful sundae, garnish the ice cream with diced tropical fruit. 11/4 cups packed sweetened flaked coconut 11/2 cups half-and-half 3/4 cup canned sweetened cream of coconut 6 egg yolks 1/3 cup granulated sugar 11/2 cups whipping cream


In a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, place the flaked coconut. Stir the coconut until it begins to brown, about 7 minutes, watching carefully so it doesn't burn. Add the half-and-half and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes.


Pour the coconut mixture through a medium-mesh sieve set over a large bowl, pressing on the coconut with a rubber spatula to extract as much liquid as possible; discard the coconut. Return the coconut milk to the same saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Add the cream of coconut and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat.


In a metal bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until blended. Form a kitchen towel into a ring and place the bowl on top to prevent it from moving. Gradually pour the hot coconut-milk mixture into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the same saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring slowly and continuously with a wooden spatula, until the custard thickens and leaves a path on the back of the spatula when a finger is drawn across it, about 5 minutes; do not allow to boil.


Pour the custard through the medium-mesh sieve set over a clean bowl. Add the whipping cream and stir well. Refrigerate the custard until cold, about 1 hour.


Transfer the custard to an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer the ice cream to a container; cover and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours or for up to 3 days.


1 egg

1 cup milk

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/3 teaspoon dried oregano

1/8 teaspoon dried thyme

1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

1 large sweet onion

enough vegetable oil for frying


Dipping Sauce:


1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon ketchup

2 tablespoons creamy-style horseradish

1/3 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon dried oregano

1 pinch ground black pepper

1/3 teaspoon cayenne pepper


To make sauce: In a medium bowl, combine mayonnaise, ketchup, horseradish, 1/3 teaspoon paprika, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon oregano, a dash ground black pepper and cayenne pepper; mix well. Keep sauce covered in refrigerator until needed.


To make the batter:

In a medium bowl, beat egg and add milk. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, cayenne pepper, paprika, ground black pepper, oregano, thyme and cumin; mix.


To prepare onion:


Slice 1 inch off of the top and bottom of the onion and remove the papery skin. Use a thin knife to cut a 1 inch diameter core out of the middle of the onion. Now use a very sharp, large knife to slice the onion several times down the center to create "petals" First slice through the center of the onion to about three-fourths of the way down. Turn the onion 90 degrees and slice it again in an X across the first slice. Keep slicing the sections in half, very carefully until the onion has been cut 16 times. Do not cut down to the bottom of the onion. (The last 8 cuts will be difficult, be careful).


Spread the petals of the onion apart. To help keep them separate you could plunge the onion into boiling water for 1 minute and then into cold water.


Dip the onion into the milk mixture and then coat it liberally with the flour mixture. Again separate the petals and sprinkle the dry coating between them. Once you're sure the onion is well-coated, dip it back into the wet mixture and into the dry coating again. This double-dipping ensures you have a well-coated onion because some of the coating will wash off when you fry it.


Heat oil in a deep fryer or deep pot to 350°F (175°C). Make sure you use enough oil to completely cover the onion when it fries.


Fry the onion right side up in the oil for 10 minutes or until it turns brown. When the onion has browned, remove it from the oil and let it drain on a rack or paper towels. Open the onion wider from the center so that you can put a small dish of the dipping sauce in the center.


Makes 8 servings


About 6 cups crumbled stale corn bread

1 large green bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 to 2 large ripe tomatoes, diced

2 ribs celery, diced

1 large bunch green onions, trimmed and chopped

1 2-ounce jar pimientos, drained and chopped

2 cups mayonnaise (1 pint)

1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped (see note)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Combine corn bread, bell pepper, tomatoes, celery, green onions, pimientos, mayonnaise, pecans, and salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl and mix well.


Chill before serving.


Note: To toast nuts, heat in a dry skillet over medium heat until they start to brown. Stir occasionally. Be careful not to scorch them.


Makes 8 to 10 servings


1 tablespoon plus 1/4 cup peanut or corn oil (divided)

1 cup coarse yellow cornmeal

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons granulated sugar or honey

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup buttermilk


Heat oven to 425 degrees. Use 1 tablespoon oil to grease 9-inch square or round pan.


Combine cornmeal, flour, sugar (if using honey, add to wet ingredients), baking powder, baking soda and salt in one bowl.


Whisk honey (if using), eggs and buttermilk in another.


Combine dry and wet ingredients and stir together just until batter is moistened but not smooth. Spread in prepared pan and bake 15 to 20 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on rack.



For dressing

1 medium Granny Smith apple, chopped (1 cup)

2 tablespoons chopped shallot

1 large garlic clove, chopped

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

3/4 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil


For salad

1 lb jumbo lump crabmeat

1/2 large firm-ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/4-inch dice (1/2 cup)

1 medium Granny Smith apple, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro


Cumin apple chips


Make dressing:

Purée apple, shallot, and garlic with vinegar and salt in a blender, scraping down sides several times, until very smooth. With motor running, add oil in a slow stream, then blend until emulsified and very smooth, about 30 seconds.


Make salad:

Gently stir together crab, mango, apple, cilantro, and 6 tablespoons dressing, then season with salt.


Just before serving, put 1 apple chip on each of 6 plates and top each chip with about 3 tablespoons crab salad. Layer with another chip and another 3 tablespoons crab salad, then top each stack with 1 more chip. Drizzle plates with some of remaining dressing and serve immediately. serves 6

Note:• Dressing may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.




1 English cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded, and chopped

1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar

1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil

1 lb large shrimp (20 to 24), shelled and deveined

1/2 tablespoon curry powder

1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil


Accompaniment: small cucumber sticks


Purée cucumber with vinegar in a blender until very smooth. Add sesame oil and blend until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.


Pat shrimp dry and sprinkle with curry powder and salt and pepper to taste. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté shrimp in 2 batches, turning them, until golden brown and just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. (If necessary, add more vegetable oil to skillet for second batch.) Transfer shrimp to a plate to cool.


Serve shrimp at room temperature with vinaigrette for dipping.


Cooks' note: • Vinaigrette and shrimp can be prepared 1 day ahead and chilled separately, covered.




(See disk 242) Serves 6

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 sliced shallots

1 large celery root or celeriac (about 2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

5 cups chicken broth

1 pound shelled edamame (frozen or cooked)

1 red bell pepper (see Note)

1/2 cup milk

Salt and white pepper (optional)


In a heavy soup pot, melt half the butter over medium heat, add shallots and cook slowly until golden. Dice remaining butter and set aside in refrigerator. Add celery root to shallots and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until cubes take on some golden spots. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 5 minutes, until celery root is tender when poked with a sharp knife. Add salt to taste. Add edamame and bring to boil again. Simmer until edamame are tender and celery root falls apart, about 20 minutes.


Meanwhile, roast bell pepper: Broil pepper on a foil-lined baking sheet or hold with tongs over a flame, turning occasionally so skin becomes bubbly and black-spotted on all sides. Wrap pepper in foil or otherwise cover until cool enough to handle. Peel off charred skin, pull out stem and remove seeds. Cut flesh into 1/4-inch dice and set aside.


When vegetables are tender, puree soup in blender or food processor. Thin with milk to consistency of pea soup. Keep hot. Add salt and pepper to taste. Finish soup by stirring in cold diced butter. Garnish with diced roasted pepper.


Note: Roasted peppers from a jar or diced fresh bell pepper can be used instead.


(See disk 242) Serves 6

1 1/2 cups medium-grain rice

2 cups water

3 tablespoons amber Chinese rice wine or sake

3 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 1/2 cups frozen, shelled edamame (see Note)

1 teaspoon sugar

1 cup pecan pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


Combine rice, water, wine and 2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce in rice cooker or pot. Cook as you would normally cook rice. When rice is about halfway done, stir in edamame.


Meanwhile, dissolve sugar in remaining soy sauce and mix into pecan pieces. Spread on foil-lined pan and toast in oven (or toaster oven), watching carefully, until pecans look dry but not burned. Let cool. They will be soft when hot but crisp at room temperature.


Add pecans to rice, using a fork or chopsticks.


Note: If you have only unshelled edamame, cook and shell them first, then add to the rice 5 minutes before it's done.


8 servings


1 (1 pound) package orzo

2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil

1/4 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 large eggplant, diced

1/4 cup white wine

Salt, freshly ground pepper

1 stick pepperoni, diced, about 1 cup (or chicken breast, or no meat at all)

1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried

2 teaspoons each: dried oregano, fennel seed

Grated Parmesan cheese, optional


Heat medium pot of salted water to boil. Heat oil in large, nonstick skillet. Add onion and garlic; cook about 3 minutes. Add eggplant, wine and salt and pepper to taste; cook until softened and browned, about 15 minutes.


Add orzo to boiling water; cook about 8 minutes.


Add pepperoni, tomatoes with their juices, basil, oregano and fennel seed to eggplant mixture. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Stir in drained orzo.


Cook about 2 minutes more to let flavors blend. Ladle into bowls; top with cheese.


Serve with Italian bread, chianti or sparkling water. For dessert, biscotti.


Makes 6 to 8 servings


1 10-inch round loaf focaccia

1 cup herbed cream-cheese spread, softened

1 cup fresh spinach leaves, rinsed and patted dry

1/2 cup very thinly sliced red onion

1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into thin rings

8 slices provolone or fontina cheese


The night before your trip or picnic, or the morning before you go, slice the focaccia in half horizontally. Spread the bottom half with the cream cheese spread. Cover with spinach leaves, then sliced red onion and bell pepper rings. Top the sandwich with cheese. Place the top half of the focaccia on the cheese and press down gently.


Cut the loaf into 8 wedges. Wrap the loaf well with foil and refrigerate until ready to pack.



Serves 8


18-ounce package prepared sugar cookie dough

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup mascarpone or sour cream

1 egg

1 pound firm, ripe fresh figs (about 8 large), quartered

1/4 cup currant or apple jelly

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.


Slice and place the cookie dough in a single layer on a 12-inch pizza pan. Allow to stand for a few minutes at room temperature until softened. Flour hands generously and press dough slices together evenly to about 1/4 inch thick, leaving 1/2-inch raised edges all around. Bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.




Combine cream cheese, mascarpone and egg in a small bowl. Beat until smooth. Spread evenly over crust except on edges. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until filling is set and lightly browned. Cool.


Just before serving, arrange fig quarters on top. Melt jelly with lemon juice in a small saucepan over low heat and brush onto figs. Cut into wedges.


Makes 4 servings

1 pound boneless sirloin, all visible fat removed


1/2 cup chopped onion, or 2 green onions, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons sake or dry white wine (regular or nonalcoholic)

1 teaspoon wasabi powder (optional, see note)

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger, or 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon reduced-sodium soy sauce


1/4 cup low-sodium beef broth

1 tablespoon plus 11/2 teaspoons firmly packed light brown sugar

1 tablespoon low-sodium teriyaki sauce

2 cups fresh sugar snap peas

Nonstick cooking spray

1 teaspoon sesame seeds


Cut beef into thin strips.


To make marinade: In a medium bowl, stir together onion, sake, wasabi powder, ginger and soy sauce.


Stir in beef strips and cover bowl with plastic wrap; set aside for 10 minutes or refrigerate for up to 12 hours.


To make glaze: Stir together beef broth, brown sugar and teriyaki sauce in a small bowl; set aside.


Trim ends of fresh peas; set peas aside.


Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray. Cook meat with any remaining marinade for 3 to 4 minutes, or until browned, stirring occasionally.


Add glaze and cook for 6 to 7 minutes. Add peas and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until most liquid is gone and meat is glazed, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.


Note: Also known as Japanese horseradish, wasabi is available in paste and powder. Both pack a powerful pungency, so add wasabi in small amounts. The powder form of this light green condiment is usually mixed with water or other liquids. From "Meals in Minutes Cookbook" from the American Heart Association


Jan Roberts-Dominguez

It begins with the long, warm days of midsummer when a miracle occurs: Fresh garlic finally arrives at the farmers market. These aren't the dry, papery-light heads you paw through at the supermarket in search of a decent one. These are heavenly scented bulbs, heavy with moisture and loaded with flavor.


They haven't aged yet, the grower cautions. But you barely hear her as you stuff these grand specimens into your shopping bag, making mental adjustments with the week's menu. Tonight you'll be smashing through the still-damp sheaths surrounding the precious cloves, mincing and sauteing.


Then it's on to roasting, because when garlic's this exquisitely fresh and flavorful, it can stand up to time and temperature in the oven and come out singing. Besides, roasted garlic is one of the best ways to capture its essence in a plethora of condiments and sauces that will carry your new treasure well into fall and winter.


Like many cooks who have fallen head over heals in love with the process, I've worked out some new approaches on the roasted garlic theme. All of these variations, however, fall into three categories: roasting whole heads, roasting halved heads and roasting individual cloves.


I'm not sure which treatment I prefer; each produces considerably different results. When the head's roasted intact, the cloves have the mildest and most tender disposition. Roasting individual cloves, on the other hand, produces more intense results. But from a simplicity standpoint, this has one advantage: The cloves are easier to peel after roasting since the crisp peelings easily flake away from the clove.


With any approach, you can do the roasting days, weeks, or even months ahead, so the garlic will be on hand for all the wonderful dishes in which they can be used. The key is to do the roasting now, while the object of your devotion is in its prime.


Oven-roasted garlic --


whole head


Remove the outer skin covering each head: Make a superficial cut around the circumference, about 1/2 inch from the base. The outer skin will peel off easily, exposing the cloves, but leaving them intact. Slice about 1 inch off the top so a bit of the innards is open.


Set the garlic heads root end down in a baking dish. Top each head with a dab of butter, if desired (it adds just a bit more flavor, but isn't necessary if you're trying to avoid butter), then sprinkle each with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil.


For golden brown roasted heads, bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 to 45 minutes (time varies based on age and size of the garlic); for less browned garlic, cover the dish loosely with foil and bake as directed.


To determine doneness in either case, press the cloves; they should be soft but not mushy. Don't overcook or they'll taste bitter.


Oven-roasted garlic --


whole head (short version)


As delightful and delicious as roasted garlic cloves are, they're a bit messy. Trying to wrangle the tender morsels of garlic out of the sturdy skins can lead to disaster. Here's my solution, which makes them rich in flavor and texture:


Cut heads in half horizontally (through the plumpest portion of the cloves), keeping each half intact. Don't worry if you have to snuggle some of the cloves back into their skins -- that's to be expected.


Place the heads, cut side down, in little pools of olive oil in a baking pan. Leave about 1/2 inch of breathing room around each half. Bake the garlic, uncovered, in a 350-degree oven for 25 to 40 minutes (depending on size and age of the head), until the cloves are a rich golden brown around the bottom edges where the cut surface is in contact with the dish (garlic juices will be oozing around the edges of each clove).


The only trick is to achieve the perfectly browned exterior without scorching.


The garlic may be served hot, warm or chilled. The cloves may be roasted up to several days ahead and refrigerated; warm gently in oven or microwave before serving or using in recipes. As a simple appetizer, serve with crusty chunks of VERY fresh French bread.


Oven-roasted garlic --


individual cloves


These become quite intensely flavored and darkly golden. I love to sprinkle them into tossed salads, particularly a well-made Caesar.


To separate whole cloves from the head, place the root side down on a firm cutting surface. Place a flat, heavy object (such as a cast-iron skillet) firmly on top of the head and press down vigorously. The head will try to scoot out from beneath your press, so some counter-jiggling and pressing will be necessary. The cloves miraculously disengage from the root and center stem into a papery pile.


Place the cloves in a baking dish with 1 tablespoon of olive oil per head of garlic, stir to coat each clove in oil, then bake, uncovered, in a 400-degree oven for about 20 to 30 minutes, or until the cloves are richly browned and soft. Remove from oven and cool.


At this point, the skins are crisp and can be easily peeled. You can prepare and refrigerate the cloves several days ahead.


Jan Roberts-Dominguez is a Corvallis writer and home economist. She can be reached by e-mail at: janrd@proaxis.com.


Makes 4 servings

1 9-ounce package refrigerated cheese ravioli

11/4 pounds lean ground beef

2 141/2-ounce cans diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano, undrained

2 cups lightly packed fresh baby spinach, plus additional leaves for garnish

1 cup pitted ripe olives

1/2 to 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese


Cook ravioli according to package directions; drain.


Meanwhile, brown ground beef in deep, 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat for 6 minutes, or until beef is not pink, breaking up into 3/4-inch crumbles.


Stir in tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes. Stir in ravioli; simmer 3 minutes. Stir in the 2 cups spinach and olives; cook just until spinach is wilted.


Sprinkle with cheese before serving. Garnish with fresh spinach leaves.


Makes 6 servings

Fresh corn on the cob is one of the many glories of summer. Grilling it, liberally brushed with a garlic and herb butter, makes it especially delicious. Serve this with grilled chicken or steak and plenty of napkins!

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature (1 stick)

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons ground cumin

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

12 ears fresh corn, husked


Prepare a charcoal or gas grill. Lightly spray the grill rack with vegetable oil spray to prevent sticking. If using charcoal, let the coals burn until they are hot to medium-hot, covered with a thin layer of white ash, and glowing deep red.


Put the butter in a small bowl, add the garlic, cilantro, and cumin, and mash with a fork until mixed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


Brush each ear of corn with the garlic butter. Lay the corn on the grill rack and grill over medium-high heat for 4 to 6 minutes, turning several times, and basting with additional butter, until nicely browned. Just before serving, brush with the remaining butter, season with salt and pepper, and serve at once.



Makes 6 servings


We like the idea of spooning a little herbed goat cheese on the plate next to this mixed salad. The tastes and textures mingle seductively on the tongue. Meaty portobello mushrooms are great for grilling. They aren't really a variety of mushroom, but rather a name given to large crimini mushrooms, which are among the most popular of cultivated culinary mushrooms.


1/2 cup olive oil

1 clove garlic, crushed

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 red bell peppers

1 yellow bell pepper

6 large portobello mushrooms

6 green onions, white and some green parts, sliced

Herbed Goat Cheese:

3 ounces mild, fresh goat cheese

2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme

1 teaspoon minced garlic

About 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 ounces mesclun or other mixed salad greens (about 2 loosely packed cups)


Prepare a charcoal or gas grill. Lightly spray the grill rack with vegetable oil spray to prevent sticking. The coals should be moderately hot to hot, and if charcoal, covered with a thin coating of white ash and glowing deep red.


To make salad: In a small bowl, combine the olive oil with the garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Halve the peppers, and stem, seed and derib them. Cut the peppers lengthwise into quarters and arrange on a large tray or rimmed baking sheet. Trim the stems from the mushrooms and lay the caps on the tray. Lay the green onions on the same tray. Brush the oil over the peppers, mushrooms, and green onions.


Grill the peppers for 12 to 15 minutes, turning once, until lightly charred and softened. Lay the mushrooms on the grill and grill for 8 to 10 minutes, turning once, until softened, and the green onions for 1 to 2 minutes, turning once, until softened. Set the peppers, mushrooms, and green onions aside to cool. Slice the peppers and mushrooms into 1/2-inch-thick strips. Leave the green onions whole.


To make the goat cheese: In a small bowl, combine the goat cheese, thyme, and garlic, using a fork to mash the mixture. Drizzle with enough olive oil to moisten the cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


To make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar and olive oil together. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


In a shallow bowl, combine the lettuce with the grilled peppers, mushrooms, and green onions. Drizzle the dressing over the salad, tossing gently to mix. Use only as much dressing as necessary to moisten the salad. Divide among 6 salad plates. Spoon herbed goat cheese on the side of each plate and serve.





You know how to eat ice cream, don't you? Silly question. You've been doing this since you were 2. You just stick out your tongue and lick.


Ah, no, for the true ice cream aficionado -- and you do pride yourself on being one -- anticipation builds long before the first bite. And when you do eat ice cream, you're savoring a combination of aroma, texture and flavor -- and memory.


"Ice cream is so nostalgic. We have an association with specific ingredients or an ice cream name that may bring memories," says Dale Conoscenti, who formerly held the title of chef-philosopher for Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc. in Burlington, Vt. "For so many, ice cream is an event. We create a certain feeling around the experience of eating ice cream. During days when I'd eat a pint of ice cream at a sitting, I'd think about it for hours ahead of time," says Conoscenti, who is now the licensing and franchising manager for the company.


One of his favorite childhood recollections was summer afternoons, sitting on a curb with his friends and eating Good Humor Creamsicle Cream Pop Bars, with their combination of vanilla ice cream and orange ice.


Bruce Weinstein also whets his appetite with memories. "I wanted to re-create ice creams with the flavors and textures found in an old-fashioned ice-cream parlor," says Weinstein, an ice-cream lover and author of "The Ultimate Ice Cream Book" (William Morrow, 1999).


Once you've set your ice cream mood, you'll want to take the necessary steps to taste and enjoy every bite. Start with temperature. It's the thing you'll first notice, the experts say. Conoscenti takes a pint of ice cream from the freezer and refrigerates it 30 minutes before eating. "It has to be the right temperature, not too cold, not too wet and mushy," he says.


Then texture: "When you bite into ice cream and say, 'This is good,' you're responding to texture. Even before flavor, you're hit with the texture," Weinstein says. "You definitely don't want to feel ice crystals. That's a sure sign the ice cream has been defrosted and refrozen."


The texture should be smooth, without the gritty sensation of ice. It should be dense, which indicates there's a low proportion of air whipped in (often referred to as the overrun). Premium ice creams with a low proportion of air are dense, a quality ice-cream lovers can sink their teeth into. "It feels better in your mouth. It has a chewy quality I love," Weinstein says.


You probably won't notice a greasy texture in commercial ice creams. That unpleasant, coat-the-roof-of-your-mouth sensation is the result of an ice cream recipe that uses too much fat. Taste is ultimately what you want from ice cream. "When you bite in, the flavor hits your mouth, goes through your nose to the back of your throat," Weinstein says. "You want to be hit with the flavor. You don't want to have to guess what the flavor is."


His key is to keep formulations simple and use quality ingredients. "I use double-strength vanilla. It's flowery. It's heaven," Weinstein says.


Conoscenti looks for balance and for big flavors. "We have to understand sweetness levels. We get a pleasant sensation when sweet things hit our tongue, but then other flavors have to take hold. You can't have so much sweetness that it overwhelms other flavors," he says.


He mixes in berries for a slightly tart accent or peanuts for a salty contrast, and the more the better. "I go for something with a lot in it -- marshmallow swirls, candy and cookie pieces," Conoscenti says.


Whether you prefer making your own ice cream or using a commercially made product, here are ways to create your own delicious experiences.


Makes about 61/2 cups


1/2 cup firmly packed fresh basil leaves

15 or 20 cloves roasted garlic, peeled (see accompanying directions)

11/2 cups balsamic vinegar

11/2 cups grated parmesan cheese

1 to 11/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 cups extra-virgin olive oil


Place the basil and garlic in a blender or food processor. Hit the "pulse" button or "on-off" switch to chop the basil and garlic without creating a puree.


Scrape the mixture into a large bowl and stir in the vinegar, cheese, salt and pepper. Whisk in the oil then adjust seasonings.


Ladle the mixture into several clean jars with tight-fitting lids. May be stored in the refrigerator for several months (bring to room temperature to serve).


When serving, mix oil to blend seasonings and pour into small, shallow platters or rimmed plates. Slice or tear bread into pieces and dip into oil to eat.



Makes 2 servings


This fruit salad makes a great dessert or light meal. The yogurt-lime dressing with honey tops off this light, healthy and easy-to-make dish.

3 kiwifruit, pared and sliced (about 3 ounces each)

1 grapefruit, peeled and sectioned

1/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds (see note)

Yogurt-Lime Dressing (recipe follows)


Arrange kiwifruit, grapefruit and blueberries on a platter; sprinkle with almonds. Serve with Yogurt-Lime Dressing.


Yogurt-Lime Dressing:


1/4 cup plain yogurt with

1 teaspoon honey and

1/2 teaspoon grated lime peel; mix well. Makes about 1/4 cup.


Note: To toast nuts, heat in a dry skillet over medium heat until they start to brown. Stir occasionally. Be careful not to scorch them.


Makes 2 servings

2 bananas, cut in half lengthwise

1 green kiwifruit, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick

1 gold kiwifruit, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick

1/2 cup vanilla yogurt

2 tablespoons granola


For each serving, lay 2 banana halves in a serving dish and top with half of kiwifruit slices. Put a dollop of 1/4 cup yogurt on each, add rest of kiwifruit slices and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon granola.


Serves 24

4 eggs, separated

1 1/2 cups whipping cream

1 cup sugar

3 cups buttermilk

1/4 cup lemon juice

3 tablespoons grated lemon peel

1 tablespoon vanilla

Quartered lemon slices and shredded lemon peel for garnish (optional)


In small bowl of an electric mixer, beat egg whites until they hold stiff peaks; set aside. In large bowl of mixer, beat cream until it holds soft peaks; beat in egg yolks, sugar, buttermilk, lemon juice, grated lemon peel and vanilla. Fold in egg whites.


Pour mixture into a one-gallon ice- and salt-cooled or self-refrigerated ice-cream maker; freeze according to manufacturer's directions, using one part salt to eight parts ice. Ice cream is ready to serve when frozen soft. For a firmer texture, repack with one part salt to four parts ice and let stand 1-2 hours. Or cover container of self-refrigerated machine and place in freezer for 1-2 hours. Garnish each serving with lemon slices and shredded lemon peel, if desired.



Serves 4


1/2 medium cantaloupe, honeydew melon or watermelon, rind and seeds removed, flesh cut into chunks (about 4 cups)


About 4 tablespoons sugar, or to taste

About 1/2 lemon

Pinch of sea salt

3 drops vanilla extract (optional)


In a blender, purée the melon until it is liquid (about 11/2 cups; may have to process in batches).


Pour the resulting mixture through a strainer into a bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of sugar, whisking until the sugar is dissolved. Remember that once the granita is frozen, it will not taste quite as sweet as it does at this moment.


If desired, add more sugar, a little at a time, whisking until it is dissolved and tasting for sweetness as you go.


Holding a sieve or strainer over the bowl, squeeze the lemon juice into the fruit mixture, tasting as you go. Using a sieve or strainer prevents lemon seeds and chunks of lemon pulp from falling into the mixture.


Add a pinch of salt and, if desired, the vanilla extract. Whisk to combine.


For the freezer version: Pour the mixture into a metal, ceramic or glass pan or bowl. The granita should be less than 1 inch deep; this ensures that it will freeze relatively quickly.


Transfer the pan to the freezer. When the top has formed an icy crust (about 40 minutes, though it depends on your freezer) remove it from the freezer. Using the back of a spoon, break through the icy crust and stir the mixture (see photo). Return the pan to the freezer.


When the crust forms again (about 40 minutes), repeat process. Repeat once more (in about 30 minutes) until the granita is made up of coarse, grainy ice crystals.


For the ice cream maker version: Pour mixture in the frozen canister of the ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer's directions, from 20 to 40 minutes, until frozen. (Be sure that your granita mixture does not exceed the manufacturer's suggested capacity of the ice cream maker.)


When processed in the ice cream maker, the granita will be smoother, more opaque and less granular.


Makes 11/2 quarts, 12 servings


Liz Smith, Southpark's dessert consultant, says you can make this with any mint leaves -- Oregon peppermint, chocolate or pineapple mint or spearmint, but FOODday especially loves the spearmint. She uses green creme de menthe to give the ice cream a pretty green color, rather than green food coloring. The alcohol cooks off, making this appropriate for kids, too. 3 cups whipping cream 11/4 cups whole milk 1/4 cup green creme de menthe liqueur 1 cup granulated sugar 1 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves 3/4 cup egg yolks, beaten (about 6 or 7) 11/2 teaspoons vanilla


In a large saucepan, bring cream, milk, creme de menthe, sugar and mint leaves to a boil. Remove from heat. Whisk the egg yolks in a large bowl and very slowly add the warm cream mixture, continuing to whisk the mixture.


Pour the mixture back into the pan and cook over medium heat until slightly thickened. Remove from heat, add vanilla and pour immediately into shallow container(s). Cool completely in refrigerator, at least 8 hours.


Strain out mint leaves and freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions.


Makes about 2 quarts, 16 servings


The dried fruits vs. fresh give a more concentrated fruit flavor, according to pastry chef Carrie Cole, who makes the ice cream at Zinc Bistrot. Cole presents this scooped on top of folded crepes with brandied cherries.


"Jam" flavoring: 1 cup dried nectarines (5 ounces; see note) 1 cup dried apricots (5 ounces) Dry white wine or water to cover (about 1/2 cup; see note) Vanilla base: 1 quart whipping cream 1 cup granulated sugar 1 vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon vanilla 10 egg yolks


To make "jam" flavoring: In a medium saucepan, place dried nectarines and dried apricots, cover with wine or water. Bring to a boil, then simmer until liquid is reduced and fruit is reconstituted and becomes thick and jamlike. If liquid evaporates before fruit is softened, add a bit more liquid.


Remove from heat. After this cools slightly, smooth out with an immersible blender, or in a blender or food processor. Push mixture through a wire sieve to remove fiber; discard fiber, reserving remaining jam.


To make vanilla base: In a large, heavy saucepan, mix together cream and sugar. If using vanilla bean, split bean lengthwise and add; if using vanilla extract, add later as directed below. Over medium-low heat, bring mixture just to a simmer.


In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks. Slowly pour about half the cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking all the time. Then gradually stir that mixture back into remaining half of cream in the saucepan and return to low heat, whisking constantly until it's somewhat thickened and coats a spoon. Remove from heat. If using vanilla extract, stir in now. If using split vanilla bean, strain out bean.


In large bowl, place 1/2 to 1 cup of reserved "jam," and gradually whisk in vanilla base, enough to make ice cream to desired fruit strength.


Chill thoroughly in a shallow container. Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions.


Note: Dried nectarines are available at Trader Joe's and some specialty stores.


Note: Cole says using fresh juice instead of wine or water when making the jam flavoring is perfectly acceptable; however, the water content in juice will affect the richness of the ice cream. When using fresh juices (such as orange, apple), she likes to simmer the fruit and the juice with a little sugar and simmer to reduce the liquid more, which intensifies the flavor.




Add nopales to bread recipes. A favorite is a multigrain bread mix. Using a bread maker makes it easy, but baking bread the old-fashioned way is great.


Regardless of what bread recipe is used, reduce the amount of water required by 1/2 cup for a 11/2-pound loaf, and add 1/2 pound of puréed nopal (about 2 cups).


With some bread types and loaf sizes, you may have to experiment with moisture requirements. Some recipes will let you add 1 cup pureed nopal without reducing water.


The texture of the resulting bread is not unlike an English muffin. The Ramirezes like to toast it on a "comal" or tortilla griddle, then top it with cream or Neufchatel cheese, jam or jelly.



1 ripe banana, cold from the refrigerator

1 cup diced nopalitos, frozen

Juice of 1/2 key or Mexican lime or 1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice

1 cup cold orange, pineapple or grapefruit juice

2 ounces Glorioso herbal tonic or 1/2 ounce Glorioso concentrate, optional

1 tablespoon honey


Put banana, nopalitos and juices in blender and liquefy until smooth.


Notes: Diabetics should use unsweetened grapefruit or pineapple juice and omit the honey.


Glorioso is a combination of plant extracts that can be found in some health food stores. You can add protein powder or whatever you usually add to your smoothie, or skip this ingredient.




1/4 cup Salsa de Nopalitos

1 egg


Saute 1/4 cup salsa, scramble in egg and cook to desired doneness. Salsa can be added to omelets or can top fried or boiled eggs.


THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, (Published: Wednesday, August 08, 2001)


Grill a roll of pork tenderloin stuffed with spinach and mushrooms, serve with sweet-pepper sauce, and enjoy the full flavor -- with only about seven grams of fat per serving.


The recipe for pork spirals with red pepper sauce uses readily available ingredients put together in a stylish presentation. The pepper sauce is very versatile: you can make it to serve with other chicken, beef or fish dishes.


The recipe is among about 160 in Better Homes and Gardens' "The Smart Diet: The Right Approach to Weight Loss" (Meredith, $24.95).



Serves 4


One 12-ounce pork tenderloin

1 cup loosely packed fresh spinach leaves, stems removed

1/3 cup finely chopped fresh mushrooms

1/4 cup snipped fresh basil

2 tablespoons fine dry bread crumbs

1 tablespoon finely shredded Parmesan cheese

1 slightly beaten egg white

1 tablespoon olive oil

Black pepper

1/2 of a 7-ounce jar roasted sweet red peppers, drained

1 teaspoon red or white wine vinegar

1 clove garlic

Dash salt


Trim fat from meat. Using a sharp knife, make a lengthwise cut along the center of the tenderloin, cutting to, but not through, the opposite side. Spread meat open. Place meat between two pieces of plastic wrap.


Working from center to the edges, use flat side of a meat mallet to pound meat into an 11-by-7-inch rectangle. Remove plastic. Fold in narrow ends a necessary to make an even rectangle.


Stack spinach leaves on top of each other; slice crosswise into thin strips. In a medium bowl stir together spinach, mushrooms, basil, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and egg white. Spread evenly over pork.


Starting at one of the short sides, roll up. Tie with 100-percent cotton string at 11/2-inch intervals. Brush surface of meat with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil; sprinkle with pepper.


Arrange medium-hot coals around a drip pan. Test for medium heat above pan. Place meat on grill rack over pan. Cover; grill for 25 to 30 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted in the center registers 155 degrees. Remove from grill. Cover with foil; let stand for 10 minutes.


Sauce: Meanwhile, to make sauce, in food processor bowl combine roasted peppers, the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil, wine vinegar, garlic and salt. Cover; process until smooth. Transfer sauce to small saucepan; cook over medium heat until heated through.


To serve, remove strings from pork. Slice pork; serve with sauce.




Makes 7 servings

1 6-ounce package wild rice

Nonstick cooking spray

1 pound pork tenderloin

1 cup sliced green onions

1 cup seedless green grapes, halved

1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted (see note)

1 tablespoon grated orange peel (orange part only)

1 cup fresh orange juice

1/3 cup sherry vinegar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

7 red-leaf lettuce leaves


Cook rice according to package directions, omitting salt; drain.


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.


Place a large skillet coated with nonstick cooking spray over medium-high heat until hot. Add pork; cook until lightly browned on all sides. Place in an 11-by-7-inch baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers 160 degrees F. Cool.


Cut pork into 1/4-inch-thick strips. Combine pork, wild rice, green onions, grape halves and pecans in a large bowl.


Combine orange peel, orange juice, vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl; stir well with a whisk. Pour over pork mixture and toss to coat. Serve salad at room temperature on lettuce-lined plates.




LAREDO, Texas -- Nopales, the big cactuses that Anglos call prickly pears, are everywhere along the border between the United States and Mexico, growing wild along the highways and on the ranches, friendly looking despite their thorns.


Occasionally, you'll see a family stop along the roadway to cut a few, especially if the plants' spiked round fruit, or tuna, is in season. And why not? Both stem pad and fruit make good, healthful eating.


They don't have much taste by themselves, but the stem pads, which are considered vegetables, add texture, zest, color and vitamins to dishes. Some compare them to okra or green peppers.


So central were nopales (pronounced no-PAH-lace) to the indigenous culture of Mexico and what is now the southwestern United States that they are the root of Mexico City's Aztec name, Tenochtitlan, meaning "place of the cactus fruit."


In cases of drought, nopales were the lifeblood of ancient cultures here, food for both people and their livestock. They also were used to soothe wounds, stiffen cloth, strengthen mortar and fence off wild animals. Cattle that grazed on the nopales were said to develop a special flavor in their meat and milk.


Mexicans and Mexican-Americans are accustomed to mixing nopales into all sorts of dishes -- the cactuses are stir-fried with eggs and shrimp or maybe beef and peppers, tossed into soups, grilled with olive oil, even pickled or made into a salsa for tortillas. In some cases, the recipes have been handed down for generations.


It's only recently that the nutritional benefits have been getting attention. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the sliced pads, or nopalitos, are low in fat but high in water-soluble fiber, pectin and energy-boosting complex carbohydrates, as well as calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron. They weigh in at about 60 calories a cup.


Because they adapt well to hot, dry climates, the nopales have become an important crop in Israel and southern Italy.


Uses documented by plant scientist Luther Burbank in the early 20th century include squeezing the sap over cuts, burns and bruises, and grinding and pureeing for use as a laxative. In central Africa, the sap from the pads served as a mosquito repellent.


Cactus at the market


Growing knowledge of the benefits has helped spur demand for the cactus, and retailers are responding. Fresh nopales are available year-round in many Mexican-American markets and some supermarkets; nopalitos are available canned, pickled or packed in water. The nation's largest retail grocery chains, including Albertson's, stock them in their produce aisles or will stock them on request. Many Wal-Marts offer them from August through April.


Tony Ramirez is a Laredo herbalist who swears by the benefits of nopales. His family goes way back in the Laredo area. His grandmother was an indigenous medicine woman, as was her mother before her.


Now, Ramirez devotes his life to documenting how previous cultures used native plants for well-being.


"She had no formal education, never took her kids to a doctor, never set foot in a store even," he said of his grandmother. "She always prepared nopales."


As a boy, Ramirez would go out in the brush and gather them for his parents to cook.


Today, he chases leads, usually word-of-mouth, to elderly people who speak of old plant cures, so he can compile and investigate them. He also wants to recapture the indigenous Mexican diet, the one that predates fat-laden, fast-food tacos. Nopales, he said, are a big part of that diet.


When choosing pads for eating, pick immature ones so they still will be tender. Use tongs so as not to get spines in your fingers. Using a sharp knife or vegetable peeler, remove the areoles (the places where spines develop on the pad). Rinse and then dice, slice or pare as desired.


To avoid contact with the sticky fluid that oozes from the nopales, steam them whole, just long enough for their color to change from bright green to olive drab. Once the color changes, immediately plunge them into a bowl of cool water, then cut on a cutting board. The fluid is meant to be mixed into and enhance dishes.


Nopalitos can be cut according to preference; half-inch strips in a hot wok will provide a nice texture in about 90 seconds. The thinner they are cut and longer they are cooked, the more soluble fiber they are likely to lose.


Eggplant-pepperoni medley

By RENEE ENNA, CHICAGO TRIBUNE (Wed. August 8, 2001)


When you've got a can of diced tomatoes and lots of pasta, anything is possible.


Even with a near-empty refrigerator, which offers up only an aging but still worthy eggplant (never got around to making that eggplant Parmesan) and pepperoni slices (made pizza instead), a hearty, quick meal is possible.


This pasta sauce will mingle with almost any type of pasta. This version uses orzo for a souplike dish that invites dipping with rustic bread.


Medium shells would add a little more substance. But spaghetti would be a bit too messy.


Pepperoni from the deli often is preferable to the versions sold in shrink wrap. But feel free to improvise: Sliced, skinless chicken breast would work well here. Or, to make it vegetarian, bypass the meat altogether and add a zucchini or bell pepper.


There's a myth that eggplant requires too much oil; the reality is that eggplant will soak up whatever you give it, so this recipe uses some oil, yes, but also some wine and lots of tomato juice for a pleasant, peasant-style entree.


Time-saving tips:


A little oil added to the pasta while it cooks keeps the pasta from sticking together.


Sharp knives speed up cooking. A good habit is honing a chef's knife after washing and drying it. Give it a few swipes on the steel before returning it to the wooden block.




A granita is simply flavored ice. Once it was commonly known as a palate cleanser, a small dish served between courses of a multicourse meal, whose purpose was to whet the appetite for the next course.


Today, it is most likely served as a dessert -- ice cold, fat free and often low in calories.


Any fruit or berry that can be liquefied can be turned into a granita or granité (grah-nee-TAY in French).


Or start with your favorite juice -- apple, papaya, guava, for example -- and turn it into an ice. Unlike most other recipes, this one allows you to experiment. There really are no hard-and-fast rules for ingredients.


We have provided suggestions for three summer granitas made with melons common to Central California: cantaloupe, watermelon and honeydew. But you can substitute your favorite berries or other fruit or juice.


As you will see from the directions, the ingredients very much depend on your taste and on the water content and sweetness of the particular fruit you are using.


If you are using berries, you may want to strain the seeds before freezing the juice.


If you are using a processed fruit juice, you may not need to add any sugar. If your cantaloupe is extremely sweet, you may need to add just a little sugar. If the fruit is more mellow, you may need more sugar.


We've provided directions for making the granita in the freezer or in an ice cream maker.


The freezer version, which is stirred by hand, will give you a denser, grainy ice. The ice cream maker version, which is whipped, is a smoother, airier ice and will yield a larger number of servings. Serve the granita alone or with fruit or cookies.


Once you've made a simple granita, consider everything a potential ingredient, a cool variation on a summer theme:


Apple juice with Calvados, served with a cheese platter


White grape juice with cognac


Lemon juice with mint


Tropical juice blend with lightly toasted coconut


Raspberry with Chambord


Tips and terms


Disaster undone: If you use the freezer method and wait too long to break the first icy crust, the granita may freeze into a solid block of ice. Remove it from the freezer. Take an ice pick and carefully break up the ice. Transfer the mixture to a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and briefly process until the ice becomes large crystals.


Sweet test: Taste the granita before you freeze it. The taste will lose some of its kick and become a bit more bland once it is frozen. Adjust the sweetness accordingly before you put the mixture in the freezer.

What's the difference?: What makes a granita different from a sorbet or sherbet? Granita has less sugar and larger ice crystals, a grainy texture, especially when made in the freezer and not in an ice cream machine.


Makes about 11/4 cups


These will keep in your refrigerator for months at a time, and are extremely handy to have around for flavoring vinaigrettes, mashed potatoes, pasta sauces, or green salads (just toss them in with the lettuce and fresh vegetables).

Roasted Garlic Spread (see accompanying recipe)


Smooth all of the prepared Roasted Garlic Spread on the bottom of a 10-inch glass pie plate or similar-size shallow casserole dish. Roast in a 400-degree oven for about 1 hour, stirring frequently, until the mixture caramelizes and darkens and becomes quite firm (with a few spots remaining on the chewy side).


With a slotted spoon, scoop the crunchies onto paper towels to cool. When cool, refrigerate in a tightly sealed container, such as a glass jar.



Makes about 31/3 cups

1 large head fresh garlic

2 1/2 cups virgin olive oil (divided)

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon tamari sauce or soy sauce

2 teaspoons shredded/grated fresh ginger

1/4 teaspoon dark sesame oil


Prepare the garlic head for roasting by cutting it in half horizontally (through the plumpest portion of the cloves), keeping each half intact. Place the halves, cut side down, in a baking dish coated with 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Roast in a 400-degree oven until tender and golden, about 30 minutes. Remove dish from oven and let garlic cool.


To make the sauce: Squeeze the garlic cloves out of the skins and place them back in the baking dish. Smash the cloves into small bits (leaving some in chunks is perfectly OK). Scrape the mixture into a bowl and stir in the vinegar, tamari, ginger and sesame oil. Add the remaining 21/4 cups olive oil. May be prepared several days or weeks ahead and refrigerated.


Bring the sauce to room temperature before serving. Ladle into shallow platters and surround with chunks or slices of good quality, crusty bread. We served it with a Tyee 1999 Gewurztraminer, but any fine quality, well-balanced gewurztraminer would stand up to the sauce.


Blue cheese variation: Just before serving, gently heat the sauce in a skillet until warmed through. Pour the mixture into shallow plates and sprinkle with about 8 ounces of crumbled blue cheese (divided among the plates), and gently stir just until some of the cheese begins to melt slightly and merge with the sauce. Oregon pinot gris is a wonderful complement to the earthy flavors in the blue cheese.


Makes about 1 cup


One of my favorite spinoffs from the baked garlic theme is this Roasted Garlic Puree, a simple little concoction that goes well with raw vegetables and chunks of French bread. It comes together in a much shorter time than the Roasted Garlic Spread. Since it stores well in the fridge for weeks at a time, I'm always dipping into it when in need of a tasty garlic flavor in salad dressings, soups, stews or vegetable sautes. It can also be frozen.


5 garlic heads

7 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper

2 to 3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes


Using the 5 heads of garlic, 7 tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste, prepare roasted garlic using one of the methods described in the accompanying recipes. Let the heads cool; reserve the olive oil that the heads were baked in.


With kitchen shears, gently cut the cloves away from each base (5 heads of garlic will yield about 60 cloves). Remove the cloves from their skins (the cooked cloves will be soft but firm enough to hold together).


Place the cloves in a blender or food processor with the salt and pepper, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, and 3 tablespoons of the reserved olive oil. Blend until mixture is pureed but still slightly grainy.


The puree will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator. To store, pour on a thin layer of olive oil on the surface (stir the olive oil into the puree when ready to serve). The mixture can also be frozen for up to 3 months, but the flavors will fade toward the end of that time.


Serve the puree with chunks of French bread and fresh vegetables.

Alternative serving ideas: Add fresh or dried basil to the puree instead of/or in addition to the soy sauce and crushed red peppers.


Makes about 11/2 cups


A zesty, sophisticated concoction to have on hand for zipping up vegetable sautes and pasta sauces. Also delicious served as an appetizer with slices of crusty French bread. If you go to the trouble of making this, make a double batch and turn half of it into Roasted Garlic Crunchies (see accompanying recipe).


3/4 pound whole heads of garlic (6 medium-large heads; divided)

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/3 cup olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon Blackened Seasoning (see note)

1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce


Separate 1/2 pound of whole garlic heads into individual cloves. Peel the outer papery skin. Set the heads root ends down on a firm surface. Place a heavy, flat object (such as a hefty cookbook) on top of each head and press firmly. This causes the heads to collapse into individual cloves (1/2 pound of heads equals about 2 cups of cloves).


Peel the cloves by pressing firmly on them with the wide side of a chef's knife (position the blade away from you). Give the side of the blade a firm-but-controlled whack with your hand (your goal is to crack the skins and slightly crunch the cloves). Remove the loosened skins.


Separate the remaining 1/4 pound of heads into individual cloves and set aside without peeling them.


Arrange the peeled-and-crunched cloves in a 10-inch pie dish or casserole dish of similar dimensions. Stir in the parsley, olive oil, vinegar, soy sauce, Blackened Seasoning and hot pepper sauce. Bake, uncovered, in a 225-degree oven for 31/2 to 4 hours, stirring and turning the mixture every half-hour or so, watching closely after the 3-hour mark to make sure it doesn't burn. Remove the dish and let it cool.


Meanwhile, blanch the unpeeled garlic cloves: Drop them into a 2-quart pot of boiling water, lower heat and simmer for 1 minute; remove from the heat and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Peel the cloves and chop coarsely.


Combine the roasted garlic mixture with the blanched garlic cloves. Scrape the mixture into the workbowl of a food processor and process in two or three very short bursts to chop the mixture without pureeing it.


Scrape the spread into a container, cover tightly, and refrigerate for several hours or overnight before using to allow flavors to meld. At that point, taste and adjust the seasonings, adding more of the Blackened Seasoning, vinegar, olive oil or hot pepper sauce if necessary.


When ready to use, bring to room temperature for the best flavor.


Note: Blackened Seasoning is a commercially prepared spice blend. Paul Prudhomme markets a brand called Louisiana Cajun Magic. You could blend your own, using spoonfuls of sweet paprika, salt, onion and garlic powders, ground red pepper, white pepper, black pepper, dried thyme leaves and dried oregano leaves.


14 ounces asparagus spears

8 ounces dried rotini or gemelli pasta (about 2-1/2 cups)

1 cup mixed sweet pepper chunks from salad bar or 1 large red or yellow sweet

pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 cup halved baby pattypan squash or sliced yellow summer squash

1 10-ounce container refrigerated light Alfredo sauce

2 tablespoons snipped fresh tarragon or thyme

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper


1. Snap off and discard woody bases from asparagus. Bias-slice asparagus into 1-inch pieces (about 1-1/2 cups)

2. Cook pasta according to package directions, adding asparagus, sweet pepper, and squash to pasta the last 3 minutes of cooking; drain. Return pasta and vegetables to hot pan.

3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan combine Alfredo sauce, tarragon, and crushed red pepper. Cook and stir over medium heat about 5 minutes or until mixture is heated through. Pour over pasta and vegetables; toss gently to coat.

Makes 4 servings




1 cup finely chopped tomato

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

1 cup fresh diced nopalitos

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon cumin powder

1 chopped jalapeño pepper (or chili powder to taste)

1/2 teaspoon salt (optional, or more to taste)

1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh cilantro


Blend all ingredients. Salsa can be used as a side dish or topping.


It also can be simmered in a covered pot until cooked, about 15 to 20 minutes, and served as a warm salsa.



Mash 1 ripe avocado and add fresh or cooked Salsa de Nopalitos to taste.


Serve with chips.



Leftovers still have that good corn flavor and crunch in their second go-around




Connoisseurs know corn bread has a shelf life just slightly longer than a souffle. Hot out of the oven, it reaches perfection in those few heartbeats between the moment you get the butter slathered on and the second it starts to fall apart as you take the first bite.


Once corn bread goes cold, it's no longer fit to be bread. It never reheats well; it dries out and turns to crumbs.


Then it starts to get interesting.


Leftover corn bread is one of the great secret ingredients in summer. Even at its most forlorn, hours or a day old, it still has strong corn flavor and crunchy texture. You can't just eat it by the wedge. You have to crush it into crumbs and make it into a topping for baked fish, break it up and treat it like couscous in a salad or just cube it and use it in savory puddings or as a stuffing for baked tomatoes or zucchini.


I started recycling stale corn bread instead of tossing it out after interviewing a Texas barbecue impresario who called himself Crazy Sam Higgins. Along with educating me in the finer points of rubs rather than sauces and in smoking rather than grilling, he passed along a recipe for a corn-bread salad that he swore was so good that anyone who made it would be tempted to eat the whole bowlful. An ingredient list that started with a pint of mayonnaise made it easy to understand why.


But it's more than just unflinching richness that makes this salad irresistible. It's the contrast of color and crunch in natural complements for corn: green onions, celery, bell pepper, pimientos and toasted pecans, and juicy tomatoes. I bake corn bread just to let it go cold so I can eat this.


I've since come across corn-bread salad recipes that call for bacon, eggs, cheese, ranch dressing and other overkill ingredients. I've experimented, adding Vidalia onions, fresh corn or pickled jalapenos, but this is one of those rare recipes you really can't improve.


I had better luck putting my imprint on another corn-bread makeover, a pudding from "Tom Douglas' Seattle Kitchen" (Morrow, 2000) that had been haunting me for months before I decided to try it for a dinner party. The recipe called for a chef's extravagance of fresh herbs and cheese, but my menu had more of a Southwestern theme and two kinds of cheese already. I left out the Monterey jack, parsley, rosemary and thyme, and added bell pepper along with chipotle chilies in smoky adobo sauce. I didn't know whether to be wounded or flattered when there were leftovers of everything I cooked but that pudding.


Both dishes sound and taste very American but have antecedents in Europe. Corn-bread salad is just a Texas twist on Tuscan bread salad, also a salvage operation for stale bread. The pudding is a savory take on pain perdu (alias French toast), in which stale bread absorbs a new identity thanks to eggs and dairy.


You could make either dish with purchased corn bread or with the over-sweetened kind from a mix, but that would be silly. It takes less time to make corn bread from scratch than it does for it to go stale.



Makes 6 servings

1 1-pound package prepared polenta, cut into 12 slices

1 1-pound package smoked beef sausage

3 cups frozen bell pepper strips

2 cups frozen chopped onions

3 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning (divided)

3 small tomatoes, cored and each cut into 4 slices

4 ounces soft goat cheese (chevre),

crumbled Fresh basil sprigs (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray; place polenta slices on pan. Bake for 20 minutes.


Spray large, heavy skillet with nonstick cooking spray. While polenta bakes, heat skillet over medium heat. Cut sausage into 1/2-inch slices. Add sausage, pepper strips, onion and 2 teaspoons of the Italian seasoning to skillet. Cook until vegetables are tender and liquid evaporates, 10 to 12 minutes.


Place a tomato slice on each polenta slice. Sprinkle tomatoes with remaining 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning. Sprinkle with cheese. Return to oven and bake until heated through and cheese starts to melt, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer 2 of the polenta stacks to each dinner plate. Spoon sausage mixture over polenta stacks. Garnish with fresh basil if desired. Marilou Robinson, Portland grand prize winner Hillshire Farm "Brings the Family Home" recipe contest



(See disk 242) Serves 4

1 pound shelled shrimp

Salt to taste

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 tablespoons minced garlic

2 tablespoons minced ginger

2 cups shelled cooked edamame

Freshly ground black pepper to taste


Toss shrimp with salt to taste. In a saute pan, heat oil on high until it shimmers and barely begins to smoke. Add garlic and ginger; stir briefly, but don't let them brown. Add shrimp and cook, stirring, until they are mostly pink with a few spots of gray, 1-2 minutes. Add edamame and more salt to taste if needed. When shrimp are pink and edamame are hot, remove from heat. Grind pepper over dish.


(See disk 242) Makes about 24

2 cups mochiko (glutinous rice flour; see Note)

1 cup sugar

1 3/4 cups water

4-6 ounces sweetened red bean paste (see Note)

1/4 cup cornstarch (or Japanese roasted soybean flour), for dusting


Combine rice flour, sugar and water in a heat-proof bowl. Mix thoroughly until there are no visible lumps and the sugar seems to have dissolved.


Place the bowl into a Chinese bamboo steamer, couscous maker, rice cooker or other steamer contraption, cover, and steam for approximately 30 minutes. Make sure there is enough water to simmer for 30 minutes, but not so much that it boils over into your bowl of mochiko mixture. Check the dough after 30 minutes; it should be uniformly translucent. If not, continue to steam, checking it for uniformity at 5-minute intervals.


While the mixture is cooking, prepare the filling and your work space.


Remove red bean paste from its can and mix thoroughly to an even consistency. Place in the refrigerator or freezer for 15-20 minutes.


Lightly dust work area and serving dish with cornstarch.


Sprinkle 1/4 cup of cornstarch in a shallow bowl or plate large enough to fit the flat of your hand (for easy coating to be used as you work with the mochi dough).


When the dough is done, remove the bowl from the steamer, and allow it to cool slightly. As soon as the dough is cool enough to touch, cover the bowl with a damp, lint-free towel, tap your hands in the cornstarch, and pull a golf ball-sized piece of dough from the mass, keeping the bowl mostly covered with the towel.


Quickly shape the dough into a ball, taking care not to use too much cornstarch. Flatten the dough with your hands into a disc approximately 3 inches in diameter. Scoop about 1 teaspoon filling into the center of the dough. Repeatedly pinch together opposite ends of the disc while rotating the disc until you have completely enclosed the filling and sealed the dough. Place the completed mochi on the serving dish, seam-side down. The mochi will round out and flatten slightly as it rests. Repeat the process until all of the dough has been used.


Mochi are best eaten fresh, within a day or two, but can be kept for several days at room temperature, wrapped tightly and individually with plastic wrap. Mochi can also be refrigerated or frozen for longer storage (and a slightly chewier texture).

Note: Glutinous rice flour, also called mochiko, and sweetened red bean paste are available in well-stocked supermarkets or Asian markets. Mochiko is sold in boxes; sweetened red bean paste is canned.




2 pounds sirloin steak, trimmed

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup vinegar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons minced onion

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 clove garlic -- minced

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper


Trim fat from steak and slice lengthwise into 1/2-inch strips; place in a

large glass bowl. Combine all remaining ingredients; pour over meat and toss

gently. Cover and refrigerate 2 to 3 hours. Drain, discarding marinade.

Loosely thread meat strips onto metal or soaked wooden skewers. Grill over

medium-hot heat, turning often, for 7 to 10 minutes or until meat reaches

desired doneness. Remove from skewers and serve. Yield: 6 servings.


By ROB KASPER, TE BALTIMORE SUN (Wed. August 08, 2001)


Every summer, when the two trees in my back yard start producing fruit, I start touting the joys of fresh figs. I plead guilty.


I like to think that each time I trumpet the pleasures of this fresh fruit, I am not simply rolling out the same old story. Instead, I like to think that I am spontaneously responding to the bounty of Mother Nature, specifically to the wave of fresh figs coming from the two trees in our back yard.


If you buy that story, I have some figs I would like to unload on you, a couple of trees-full, in fact. Once again, the figs are falling. Once again, they are splattering the roofs of our cars, which are parked underneath the trees' ever-spreading branches. Once again, they cover the ground, where I step on them and track them into the house. Once again, I have picked buckets of figs


and fed them to family members, neighbors, passers-by.


There are four major varieties of fresh figs commonly sold in markets, and you may like to do a taste test to find out which you like best:


Calimyrna figs are large, with greenish-yellow skin, pale flesh and a sweet, nutty flavor.


Mission figs are purple to black in color with pink flesh, and very fine seeds.


Kadota figs are small, thick-skinned, with a creamy amber color when ripe. They have hardly any seeds and they are a favorite for canning and preserving.


Brown Turkey variety, pear-shaped, has brown or black skin, rosy flesh, is recommended for eating as a fresh snack or using in cooked dishes, but not for drying.


Figs are quite perishable and should be used soon after they're bought, or stored in the refrigerator for only two or three days. The Associated Press contributed to this report.





Makes about 2 quarts, 16 servings

3 eggs, beaten

2/3 cup granulated sugar

3 cups whole milk

2 tablespoons instant coffee granules

3 1.6 -ounce Heath candy bars, chilled

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups whipping cream


In a medium saucepan, combine beaten eggs, sugar, milk and coffee granules. Cook and stir over low heat until sugar and coffee granules dissolve and mixture thickens slightly. Cool to room temperature.


Leave chilled candy in wrappers and break into small pieces by striking sharply with handle of a knife. Unwrap and stir candy, vanilla and whipping cream into cooled mixture.


Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions.


Makes 2 stacks (4 to 6 servings each)


3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper

3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper

1 small onion, chopped

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 cup picante sauce

1 16-ounce package frozen broccoli-cauliflower blend

6 8-inch flour tortillas

1 16-ounce can refried beans

2 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese (8 ounces)

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (8 ounces)

Minced fresh cilantro or parsley

Sliced ripe olives

Sour cream and additional picante sauce


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.


In a skillet, saute peppers and onion in oil until tender. Stir in picante sauce; set aside.


Cook frozen vegetables according to package directions; drain. Cool slightly; coarsely chop vegetables.


Place 2 tortillas on an ungreased baking sheet. Spread each with 1/3 cup refried beans and sprinkle with 1/3 cup of the pepper mixture. Top each with another tortilla. Spoon 11/2 cups vegetables over each tortilla and sprinkle with all of the jack cheese. Top the last 2 tortillas with remaining beans and pepper mixture; place one on each stack. Sprinkle with all of the cheddar cheese.


Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted. Garnish with cilantro and olives. Cut into wedges. Serve with sour cream and picante sauce.


Homemade ice cream is the ultimate creamy, cooling dessert for summer.


But with Ben & Jerry's, Haagen-Dazs, Umpqua, Tillamook and Dreyer's churning the good stuff for you, what's the point, you ask?


Because making it is a grand food experience with an unbeatable outcome.


Because everyone should have the chance to lick an ice-cold dasher clean, to sample freshly churned ice cream still velvety soft straight from the canister. It's a rite of passage.


For novel ideas of what to make, we turned to two experts who do cold, creative thinking for a living: pastry chefs Liz Smith and Carrie Cole. Smith shares her palate-soothing Oregon spearmint ice cream and Cole her combination nectarine-apricot, made from reconstituted dry fruit for a more dense, concentrated flavor.


Smith is former pastry chef, now dessert consultant, for Southpark Seafood Grill & Wine Bar, 901 S.W. Salmon St., Portland, Oregon. She's also married to the restaurant's executive chef, Paul Ornstein. Cole is pastry chef at Zinc Bistrot, open since June at 500 N.W. 21st Ave., the corner formerly occupied by Zefiro.


Although the 33-year-old from the Bay Area graduated in art history from the University of Oregon, she never worked in the field. After graduating from Western Culinary Institute, she debated whether to pursue spa food or pastries. Fattening desserts won. Working at Sonoma Mission and Spa in Sonoma, Calif., taught her that sweets make people happy.


Smith's ice cream repertoire covers a spectrum of flavors, she says, from the "simple, classic fresh strawberry to experiments with spices and herbs," like her star anise ("wonderful!"), Chinese five-spice (cinnamon, cloves, star anise, fennel seed and Szechuan peppercorns) or bergamot (the characteristic orange flavoring in Earl Grey tea). Bergamot, she notes, "is such a sweet tea, mixed with cream; it's such a nice balance."


Then there are sweet herb-scented varieties, such as lemon verbena, lemon thyme and a bright yellow honey saffron. "It's surprising how good they are," she notes.


A recent sample dessert menu from Southpark includes seven ice creams (chocolate malt, fresh mint, lavender, lemon-ginger, pistachio, fresh strawberry and toasted almond) and three sorbets (coconut, apricot and mango-passionfruit) -- all Smith's creations. This is in addition to a Strawberry-Fudge Ice Cream Sandwich, featuring fresh strawberry ice cream sandwiched between double chocolate fudge cookies. (Tip: Chocoholics not in the mood for ice cream should just order those cookies.)


Kids go for her malted chocolate ice cream -- with chopped up Whoppers (the malt balls, not the burgers).


You can hear your hips moaning, listening to her talkin' dirty like this.


Smith says tropical sorbets such as mango-passionfruit, coconut and lychee are her favorites because they turn out "very, very creamy." Last year she created a unique citrus, calamansi lime -- a small exotic "sweet, sweet" lime from the Philippines.


Smith likes to pair an unusual ice cream with a scoop of something familiar -- like chocolate -- to increase the likelihood of diners ordering it.


On weekends, she says, Southpark may sell 200 servings of ice cream a day -- three generous scoops adorned with a thin tuile cookie for $7. "I make them to share," she says. "It's much more romantic."


Once in a while an experiment bombs and never makes it to the menu. Such as a version with fennel seeds, which Smith thought wouldtaste of anise, but instead came out "too harsh -- with almost a woody quality. It was very strange."


But she managed to turn a failed cream cheese icing into "a great ice cream," a flavor she calls bittersweet chocolate cheesecake.


And if you have a mousse that's not panning out, Smith suggests using it as an ice cream base, too.


"I love to do sundaes," she adds. Smith's personal favorite? "Probably malted vanilla bean," which she used in hazelnut sundaes with bananas that were caramelized with a propane torch. Or is it her espresso turtle sundae -- bittersweet chocolate espresso ice cream with candied pecans, chocolate fudge cookies and caramel sauce?


"That'll keep you on a caffeine high for a week. It's best to have one of those in the morning for that reason," she muses. "I could throw one in a blender and make it into a shake, so you could have it on the way to work."


But don't stop by Southpark mornings hoping to find her there; a year and a half ago, she moved from being the restaurant's full-time pastry chef to its dessert and special events consultant. During the day she works full time at Provvista Specialty Foods, a wholesale purveyor.


"I would love to open an ice cream shop someday that's my dream," she says. Not just retail, but also bulk for restaurants and caterers. "I've always wondered what you'd have to sell with it to make a profit -- like ice cream and cocktails," she says, chuckling.


Cole challenged


At Zinc Bistrot, pastry chef compatriot Carrie Cole faces a dessert challenge every night: To produce daily crepe specials with house-made ice cream.


Recently, the bistro's chalkboard revealed the previous night's choice: a blueberry crepe with lemon mascarpone ice cream. Soon, the billing would be erased for the following night's special: sauteed apple crepes with hazelnut ice cream, dotted with dark chocolate and white chocolate chips. (The restaurant isn't open at lunch.)


"We try to keep the crepes du jour really fresh, really seasonal," she says.


What's been hot? "Mixed berry crepes with strawberry ice cream," according to Zinc co-owner Susan Sarich. Or the nectarine-apricot combination that Cole shares a recipe for here, with brandied cherry-topped crepes.


Also orange crepes with mango ice cream. Baby banana crepes with dried currant ice cream, which tastes "like a rum raisin," she adds. Then there were apple, passionfruit, orange, and a takeoff on a Creamsicle bar -- orange juice with plain yogurt, a flavor Cole says is "great with chocolate cake."


Even vegetables get their chance to shine. Beets' natural sweetness produced a great flavor and color. But another stab at something more savory -- carrot -- "wasn't that good."


Her focus is "doing a take on a classic" or simply doing "the best, not trying to overcreate no bells and whistles.


"We pick a flavor and see how strong, how pungent and perfect we can make it," Cole says.


"I find the summer overwhelming," the 29-year-old notes. From July through September, "I can't keep up" with all the berries, plums, nectarines, apricots, peaches, etc. Then comes fall's apples and pears.


Cole grew up in Tigard and graduated in history from Boston University, "waitressing and bartending" through school. When a restaurant offered her a job as a pastry chef, she "jumped at the chance."


That led to a stint as pastry chef at the Esplanade Restaurant at the RiverPlace Hotel, and later, the job at the bistro.


"I love this space," she says. "It's always great to be part of something new, to be in the driver's seat."


In addition to Cole and Smith's two contributions, we're scooping up two other ice cream varieties -- a tropical-inspired coconut, plus coffee-toffee, for a combination of buzz and crunch.





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