Spike's & Jamie's Recipe Collection & a Whole Lot More!

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Recipes from Spike & Jamie

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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).







































































``What did you learn to cook?'' friends asked after our family returned from five months in Romania. A better question is, ``What did you eat?''

With two sons hungry for home, I turned out sloppy joes and hamburgers, pasta and chicken on our tiny gas stove. But thanks to generous hosts, intriguing restaurants and extraordinary markets, we tasted Romania in the smoky richness of eggplant salad, the spicy bite of grilled sausages and the soft comfort of mamaliga, Romanian polenta.


We lived in Timisoara (tee-mee-shwar-ah), a vibrant and venerable city of 600,000 on the country's western plain. The scars of communist rule and post-communist struggle are evident in the pot-holed streets and Soviet-era apartments blocks, but they can't obscure the beauty of Timisoara's rose-filled parks, glorious churches and graceful squares.


Nor have decades of deprivation dampened the spirit of hospitality that embraced us. A U.S. expatriate and his Romanian wife, Harry and Margareta Morgan, drew us into their lively social circle, and we soon learned our role as guests: Bring a bouquet of flowers and big appetites.


Margareta and her friend Aurelia Popa introduced us to the pleasures of the Romanian buffet: pork schnitzel, potato salad, meatballs, deviled eggs, stuffed mushrooms, pickled vegetables and baba ganoush-like salata de vinete (eggplant salad), a likely legacy of the Ottoman era.


Luckily for us, the Austro-Hungarian Empire reclaimed Timisoara from the Turks in 1716, and two years later German beer meisters founded the oldest, and, to our taste, the best brewery in Romania. A cold, liter-size bottle of Timisoareana Lux was just right with those bountiful buffets.


The hearty beer was also a must with mititei, literally ``the wee ones.'' These skinless, finger-sized rolls of highly spiced ground meat are grilled over charcoal and served with a dab of mustard and a slab of bread. (You can grill your own with the mititei mixture made at European Homemade Sausage in Hollywood.)


Mititei weren't on the menu at Restaurant Mioritic, a cozy place near our apartment, but that was our only disappointment. The wide selection of preparate traditionale romanesti kept us coming back. So did co-owner Stefan Ghilerdea. Remarkably, Stefan had perfected his English (and Spanish) in Hialeah, where he lived briefly in the '90s while working for a cruise line.


Over the months, he steered us to such favorites as sarmale in cuib, stuffed leaves of cured cabbage served with mamaliga; fasole cu ciolan afumat, white beans with smoked pork shank; and tocana miroitica, Mioritic's Romanian ragout.

On our last weekend in Timisoara, Stefan and I took the tram to my favorite food destination, the Josephine Market. I did my daily shopping at the neighborhood supermarket or produce stand, but for a real taste of Romania there was nothing like the largest of the city's countless farmers' markets.


In a covered area the size of a football field, hundreds of vendors presided over mountains of dried beans, piles of fresh produce, barrels of cured cabbages and ranks of recycled Coke bottles filled with farm-fresh milk. Outside, you could buy river fish from a tank or a fishing pole to catch your own; a live chicken for your pot or baby chicks for your coop. At the bread window, fresh-baked baguettes and horn-shaped corn beckoned.


When we said our goodbyes, Stefan presented me with a true Romanian delicacy: a bottle of tuica, potent, home-brewed plum brandy. We've been bringing it out for special guests, toasting them with Noroc! -- Good luck! -- and recalling how lucky we were to discover Timisoara.


Food Editor Kathy Martin's husband, Herald writer John Dorschner, taught journalism as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of the West in Timisoara from February to June.


Makes 6 servings


My favorite sweet potatoes have deep orange flesh. It's not only that I find them more intensely flavored than the pale golden sweet potatoes; I prefer their dense, smooth texture. While this puree is a delicious side dish for savory meals, it also makes a good base for a sweet or savory pie filling.

2 large sweet potatoes

2 large apples (Rome Beauty, Northern Spy, Winesap)

4 tablespoons butter

1/4 to 1/2 cup whipping cream or sour cream

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


Place the potatoes on a greased baking sheet and bake for 11/2 hours, or until very tender.


Peel, core and slice the apples.


Melt the butter in a skillet and cook the apples over low heat until tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer the apples to a large bowl.


Peel the potatoes while still hot. Add them to the apples. Add the cream, nutmeg and ginger. Mash together with a fork, then whip the mixture with an electric mixer until the texture is creamy. Serve at once.


Makes 6 servings

3 large Jonagold or Braeburn apples, unpeeled, cored, sliced

1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (see note)

Juice of 1/2 lemon (2 tablespoons)

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar (divided)

11/2 teaspoons ground ginger (divided)

1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal, uncooked

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

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (see note)

Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream


Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place apple slices and cranberries in 9-inch pie plate or casserole. Add lemon juice, 3 tablespoons of the brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of the ground ginger and salt; toss to combine. Pat fruit to compress in plate; flatten top evenly.


Combine oatmeal, nuts, flour, remaining brown sugar and remaining 1 teaspoon ginger in medium bowl. Cut in butter using pastry blender, 2 knives or fingers to distribute butter evenly. Sprinkle topping evenly over fruit; press down lightly.


Bake until topping is golden and fruit is soft when pierced with sharp knife, 50 to 60 minutes. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.


Note: Dried cranberries or tart cherries can be substituted for fresh. Rehydrate in very hot water about 30 minutes. Drain well.


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.


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


Makes about 6 half-pint jars

1 cup apple juice

1/2 cup golden raisins

3 cups cored, peeled and chopped ripe Granny Smith apples (3 to 4 apples)

1/4 cup strained fresh lemon juice (1 large lemon)

4 cups granulated sugar

11/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon butter (preferably unsalted)

1 3-ounce pouch liquid pectin


In a small bowl, combine the apple juice and raisins. Let stand for 1 hour to plump the raisins.


Wash 6 half-pint jars. Keep hot until needed. Prepare lids as manufacturer directs.


In an 8-quart nonaluminum pan, combine the apples and lemon juice, stirring until the apples are well coated. Stir in the raisin mixture.


In a medium bowl, combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg until well-blended. Stir the sugar mixture into the apple mixture in the pan. Add the butter.


Over medium-low heat, heat the apple mixture, stirring constantly, until the sugar mixture is completely dissolved. Increase the heat to medium and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes.


Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Stir in the entire contents of the pectin pouch. Return to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat. Skim off any foam.


To prevent floating fruit, allow the conserve to cool for 5 minutes before filling the jars. Gently stir the conserve to distribute the fruit.


Ladle the hot conserve into 1 hot jar at a time, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Wipe jar rim with a clean damp cloth. Attach lid. Fill and close remaining jars. Process in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes (15 minutes at 1,000 to 6,000 feet; 20 minutes above 6,000 feet).




3 quarts chicken broth

3 potatoes, peeled and diced into bite-sized chunks

6 carrots, 2 parsnips, 2 zucchini, cleaned & sliced into circles

6 celery stalks, peeled and sliced

2 large onions, skinned and diced

1/2 pound string beans cleaned and cut horizontally into two or three pieces

1/2 teaspoon minced parsley and dill, fresh or dehydrated


Place all ingredients in a large pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower temperature to medium, stirring occasionally. Simmer for one hour or until vegetables soften. Ladle into a soup terrine and serve immediately or refrigerate and reheat. Tastes better when prepared a couple of days in advance. Yield: 8 servings



2 pounds pickling cucumbers (less than 5 inches long)

3 tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

5 cloves garlic, peeled and bruised


1 pound carrots, peeled and cut on the diagonal into 1/4-inch slices

1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 green bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced (about 2 cups)

4 cups cider vinegar

2 1/2 cups brown sugar

1 teaspoon fennel seed

1 teaspoon ground cloves

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon yellow mustard seed

2 tablespoons prepared Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons whole allspice berries, cracked

2 teaspoons coriander seed, toasted and cracked


Trim and discard the blossom ends of the cucumbers, then cut the cucumbers into rounds about 1/4 to ›-inch thick.


In a medium nonreactive bowl, combine the cucumbers and salt and toss to coat. Cover with ice cubes or crushed ice and let stand in the refrigerator for one to two hours.


Drain the cucumbers, rinse them well, then drain them again. In a medium saute pan, combine the oil, garlic, carrots, bell peppers and onions and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent browning, until the carrots "sweat" and soften a bit, five to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and combine with the cucumbers.


In a nonreactive pan, combine the vinegar, brown sugar and all the spices. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Continue to boil for five minutes to flavor the syrup with the spices. Pour the boiling syrup over the vegetables, allow to cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate.


This pickle will keep, covered and refrigerated, for one month. Makes 12 cups.




Serves 4

4 whole cardamom pods or 1 teaspoon ground cardamom

4 large ripe bananas, peeled, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds

2 tablespoons flaked sweetened coconut

2 tablespoons light brown sugar


Slit open cardamom pods; remove seeds. Chop or grind seeds in spice grinder or with mortar and pestle. Set aside.


Toss bananas, coconut and brown sugar together in medium bowl. Add cardamom, toss.


Makes 7 to 8 half-pint jars

31/2 cups peeled, cored and finely chopped ripe Bartlett pears (about 4 pears) 1/4 cup strained fresh lemon juice

2 medium oranges

3/4 cup water (divided)

1 81/4-ounce can crushed pineapple, packed in juice, lightly drained

1/2 teaspoon butter (preferably unsalted)

6 cups granulated sugar

1 3-ounce pouch liquid pectin


Wash 8 half-pint jars. Keep hot until needed. Prepare lids as manufacturer directs.


In a medium bowl, combine chopped pears and lemon juice. Stir gently until pears are completely coated with lemon juice. Set aside.


Using a zester, remove only the outer orange-colored peel of the oranges. Or, with a sharp paring knife, thinly slice off the peel, then cut into fine strips. Peel the fruit, removing all of the white pith. Separate the orange segments from the white membrane and remove any seeds. Discard the membrane. Chop the fruit and set aside.


In a small bowl, combine the orange peel and 1/4 cup of the water. Let soak for 10 minutes. Drain the peel and discard the water.


In an 8-quart nonaluminum pan, combine the drained peel, chopped oranges and remaining 1/2 cup of water. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.


Add the pears, pineapple and butter to the citrus mixture and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent sticking. Gradually stir in the sugar. Heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved.


Increase the heat to medium-high. Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Stir in the entire contents of the pectin pouch. Return the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat.


To prevent floating fruit, allow the marmalade to cool 5 minutes before filling jars. Gently stir the marmalade to distribute the fruit.


Ladle the hot marmalade into 1 jar at a time, leaving 1/4-inch head space. Wipe jar rim with a clean damp cloth. Attach lid. Fill and close remaining jars. Process in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes (15 minutes at 1,000 to 6,000 feet; 20 minutes above 6,000 feet).




Serves 4

1/2 cup soybeans, dried

8 cups water, plus 1/2 tablespoon hot water

2 ounces rice flour

1 teaspoon gypsum powder or gelatin powder (see Note)

For sauce:

8 ounces brown sugar

8 ounces sugar

1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and diced


Soak soybeans at least 6 hours; drain. Place beans in blender and liquefy with 8 cups water. Strain through a chinois or cheesecloth and discard pulp. Place rice flour in a bowl and pour half of soybean liquid on top; mix to a thin paste. Set aside.


Put remaining soybean liquid in large saucepan and turn upheat. Wait until liquid starts to steam before stirring. Stir in a clockwise direction, making sure not to change direction. You want to aerate the liquid. Once foam appears on surface, add rice flour paste and continue stirring.


Add hot water to gypsum powder or gelatin and make a paste. Paint inside and bottom of a large pot with this paste and immediately pour in soybean liquid. Cover and let rest 20 minutes at room temperature until it looks like gelatin. Let chill or scoop into individual bowls.


To prepare sauce: Combine sugars in saucepan and add equal parts water to make a simple syrup. Add ginger root and simmer. Add more sugar if needed. Strain.


To serve: Pour sauce over individual bowls of bean curd and finish with a squeeze of lime juice. Although best served warm, dish can also be served cold.


Note: Available in Vietnamese markets.



Makes about 18 cookies


2 cups unbleached flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

3/4 cup cold vegetable shortening

1 1/4 cups sugar, divided use


1 cold large egg

1/4 cup molasses


Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or heavy aluminum foil.


Sift the flour, baking soda, salt, cloves, cinnamon and ginger together and set aside.


Put the shortening and 1 cup of the sugar in the large bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed for about 1 minute, until smooth. Add the egg and molasses and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds, until blended thoroughly. Stop the mixer and scrape the bowl during this time.


On low speed, add the flour mixture and beat until all the flour is incorporated and the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.


For each cookie, roll 2 tablespoons of dough between the palms of your hands into a 11/2-inch ball. Roll each ball in the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar to coat. Place balls about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.

Bake one baking sheet at a time, about 17 minutes, reversing sheet after 8 minutes. The cookies will flatten toward the end of their baking time and the tops will have cracks when they are done. Bake the second pan of cookies.


Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer them to wire racks to cool completely.


2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon crushed dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon red pepper

6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, pounded to even thickness


Combine all the seasonings and mix well. Sprinkle over chicken, coating completely. Heat a large skillet (cast iron is best) over high heat until very hot. Working in batches if necessary, carefully place chicken in skillet and cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until coating is blackened and chicken is no longer pink inside. Makes 6 servings.


BY KRISTIN EDDY, Chicago Tribune

THE CARDAMOM HILLS, Kerala, India -- If you drive east from the lowlands of India's southwestern coast, the road begins to weave and rise into terraced hillsides of bushy tea plants, rubber trees and the climbing pepper vines for which this region is famous. Yet none of these crops is distinguished enough to lend its name to the gentle mountains here.


To find the plant that claims this honor, you would have to pull to the side of the sunburned road and head toward a shadier spot. Protected by a green umbrella of banana or jackfruit trees are the fronds of the cardamom plant, which in turn hides its prize. Under leaves fluffed out distractingly, lie the pink and white cardamom flower, the pod and its flavorful seeds. Practically buried treasure.


Unlike so many other spices, cardamom rarely calls attention to itself. For most Americans, at least those without a Scandinavian heritage, cardamom does not rate an appearance in the pantry. But diners who enjoy a variety of ethnic foods are consuming cardamom more often than they realize.


In addition to being an essential aromatic in Swedish cream cakes and Norwegian sweet buns, the spice is a player in a variety of seasoning compositions: Indian garam masala, Moroccan ras-el-hanout, Ethiopian berbere and the savory paste used in Thai Mussaman (Muslim) curry.


What cardamom brings to the table is an intriguing mix of citrus, camphor and bergamot flavors -- think of Earl Grey tea with a splash of lemon -- that suits sweet dishes and savory ones.


``I always say cardamom is the vanilla of India,'' Delhi-born cookbook author Madhur Jaffrey said from her New York home. ``We use it in a lot of desserts, but there are two other ways to use cardamom. In rice and meat dishes it is a savory, but there, the aroma it gives is really more important. The third way is as a mouth freshener. Instead of a mint you would have a little box with the pods, which you would put in your mouth and crack, not chew really, and suck on.''


The flavor can be quite strong, which is why cardamom tends to be mixed with other spices, such as cinnamon or ginger.


``When you work with cardamom, you have to be careful or it can take over the whole dish,'' said Marcus Samuelsson, chef of Aquavit restaurant in New York and Minneapolis, who was raised in Sweden. ``It numbs the diner as well.''



On the throne


In India, where the cardamom plant originated, it rivals pepper in prestige; pepper is known here as ``the king of spices,'' while cardamom is ``the queen.''


Just over 15 years ago, India was virtually the only country in the world to produce cardamom, harvesting and distributing about 95 percent of what was consumed internationally, according to the Spices Board of India. This country dominated the world market partly through cultivation efforts in the cardamom preserves established after independence from the British in 1947.


Then Guatemala began developing its cardamom industry, and in recent years has surged ahead as a leading competitor. In response, India began focusing on its domestic market, increasing consumption from around 300 tons annually to about 7,000 tons.


``Indians use cardamom in everything,'' said M. Murugan, head of the Cardamom Research Station in eastern Kerala. ``It goes into curry mixes, tea, biscuits, toffee. Many Indians also use cardamom in essential oil blends. But we export the oils, too, because lots of international factories use them for perfume base.''


For all its uses, other countries with similar growing environments may not have wanted to bother with cardamom. As suits a queen, the succulent plant -- a member of the ginger family -- makes specific demands.


An elevation of at least 2,000 feet above sea level is required. A tropical rain forest climate with moist air and peat soil is essential to keep the shallow root system healthy. And lots of shade is needed to keep plants cool and leaves from burning.


Unlike pepper, turmeric and ginger, cardamom pods aren't easily dried outdoors with the full force of the sun. To protect the color, green cardamom is cured in dark warming rooms built on the small farms here. The pods are spread on stacked mesh pallets, then baked with heat pumped in from wood ovens.


The hand labor involved, from cultivating the plants and picking the pods to curing them and sorting them into grades, is the one element the growers can control.


The fragile nature of the crop may explain the look of quiet horror on the faces of buyers at a local cardamom auction when a visitor, offered a handful of premium green pods to inspect, casually drops them in the dirt.


``This is very expensive compost,'' said one man quietly, as he bent down to retrieve and clean each pod.


Judging the crop


The auction house in Vandanmedu is a central cardamom trading area where buyers come to bid on cardamom lots. Inside a large room open to the blinding light outdoors, two dozen men inspect a board that holds packets from different sellers. A bell chimes, and everyone stands, heads bowed, for a silent prayer. Then the action begins.


Another bell. In the middle of a U formed by long tables, auctioneers toss measures of cardamom into bowls set in front of each customer, everyone calling out numbers. The pods fly everywhere, landing in the bowls, on the tables and eventually the floor.


But this area is carpeted with tarp, and at the end of the auction, everything swept onto the tarp becomes the property of the auction house: its commission, sold privately.


Bidders have just a few minutes to evaluate the cardamom, checking for the brightest color -- the most prized being a parrot green -- and tossing the pods hot-potato-style between their hands to assess weight.


Later, women hand-sort the spice into grades, sitting on the floor of a concrete lean-to. To an outsider, their bright saris give splendor to the small room. Kohl-rimmed eyes watch for impurities and the women's gold bangles and rings move over the cardamom, giving the work an oddly glamorous aspect.


It seems fitting that the women look so regal. After all, they are handling the queen of spices.


As with all spices, cardamom's flavor and fragrance come from essential oils that quickly fade if not properly handled. If possible, buy whole cardamom pods. Remove the seeds and grind them at the last minute before using. Cardamom seeds also are sold whole and powdered. All cardamom should be stored in airtight containers in a cool, dry place away from sunlight.

There are three types of cardamom:


Green cardamom -- The small pods resemble puffed-up pumpkin seeds. They can easily be slit open with a fingernail and contain clusters of about 10 sticky black seeds, which is the source of most of cardamom's flavor and aroma. The pods may be cooked whole and will soften in heat and liquid, but the casings are not usually consumed whole.


White cardamom -- These pale pods are the same ones as green cardamom, but they have been bleached. Most spice buyers say the flavor of white cardamom is milder than the green, but that is also why professional cooks say they don't like to use it.


Black or large cardamom -- The dark-brown and black pods are up to six times larger than green cardamom and come from the same family. This spice is usually cooked whole and adds an earthier flavor and aroma to food than its green cousin, making it better-suited to savory dishes than desserts.


Availability -- Ground cardamom is widely available at supermarkets. Whole cardamom seeds may be at some supermarkets and specialty shops. Green cardamom pods are sold through natural food stores such as Whole Foods Markets; green and black cardamom can be found at specialty spice retailers and at Indian and Middle Eastern groceries.


Makes 4 servings

1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon baking

/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper

1 small clove garlic, minced

1 cup diced zucchini

31/2 cups cooked rice (1 to 11/4 cups uncooked)

3/4 cup cashews

Red bell pepper rings


Cut shrimp in half lengthwise and reserve.


In a medium bowl, combine cornstarch, sugar, baking soda, salt and pepper. Add shrimp and toss gently to coat. Let stand 15 minutes.


Heat oil in a large skillet. Add shrimp and stir-fry for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove shrimp and set aside. Drain off all but 2 tablespoons oil.


Stir-fry onion, pepper and garlic in oil remaining in skillet. Add zucchini and stir-fry 2 minutes. Stir in shrimp, rice and cashews. Cook over low heat, stirring, until heated through. Spoon into serving dish. Garnish with red pepper rings.



Serves 4

4 cups water

1 cup milk

4 cardamom pods

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

2 teaspoons loose black tea

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar


In a saucepan over medium heat, bring water, milk, cardamom and fennel to a low boil. Stir in loose tea and sugar; reduce heat to a simmer and cook about 8 minutes. Strain and serve.




This holiday weekend, serve quick and easy grilled chicken kabobs. Known in Japan as yakitori, they're made with a sweet Japanese barbecue sauce. Serve the chicken over sesame-flavored rice to complete this 20-minute dinner.


In Japan, clouds of aromatic smoke waft off the grill at yakitori stands, making them popular stopping places for an after-work snack. I've added vegetables to the skewers and served it over rice to make an entire meal.


The secret to quick and even kabob cooking is to leave a little space on the skewer between each piece of chicken. This allows the chicken to cook through on all sides.


Use the sauce given in the recipe or, if pressed for time, use a thick, bottled teriyaki sauce and stir in some sliced scallions.


Note: Any type of mushrooms can be used.

The skewers can also be cooked on a broiler or an outdoor grill.

If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for about 30 minutes first.



Make sauce and marinate chicken and mushrooms.

Heat a stove-top grill.

Start rice.

Skewer and cook kabobs.

Finish rice.


Chicken and Shiitake Yakitori

(Japanese Grilled Chicken Skewers)

Vegetable oil spray

4 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

4 tablespoons sugar

3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes

1/4 pound shiitake mushrooms (about 8 mushrooms)

1 red bell pepper, cut into 2-inch pieces

4 skewers


Heat a stove-top grill on high. Spray it with vegetable oil spray. Mix soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan. Add chicken, mushrooms and peppers and marinate 5 minutes while rice is started. Reserving sauce, place chicken, mushroom and red pepper on skewers, alternating until the skewers are full. Leave at least 1/4-inch space between ingredients. Place on stove-top grill and cook 5 minutes; turn and cook 5 more minutes.


Bring reserved sauce to a boil and cook 3 minutes. Serve skewers over Sesame Rice and drizzle sauce on top. Makes 2 servings.




1/2 cup long-grain white rice

1 tablespoon sesame oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper


Bring a large pot with 2 to 3 quarts of water to a boil. Add rice and boil, uncovered, about 10 minutes. Test a grain; rice should be cooked through, but not soft. Drain into a colander in the sink. Mix in oil and salt and pepper to taste. Makes 2 servings.


1 pound lean ground beef

1 pound ground veal or lean pork

2 1/2 cups cornflakes, crushed

1 small onion, chopped fine

1/4 cup chopped parsley

3 eggs

Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste

3/4 cup tomato sauce, ketchup or barbecue sauce


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. With your hands, mix together ground meat, cornflakes, onion and parsley in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk eggs, salt, pepper, garlic powder and tomato sauce. Pour over meat mixture, and work in with your hands. Transfer to a lightly greased 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Bake 1 hour, or until juices run clear (160 degrees if using a meat thermometer). Let stand 10 minutes, pour off any fat, and slice to serve. Makes 8 servings.


For the cake:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 tablespoons sugar

2 2/3 tablespoons ( 1/3 stick) butter, softened

3 tablespoons milk

1 egg

1 1/2 pounds (about 20) Italian prune plums

For the topping:

1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. For the cake, stir together flour, baking powder and sugar. Beat butter with milk and egg; work in the dry ingredients. Spread the dough in a greased 9-inch deep-dish pie pan, pressing it halfway up the sides. Halve plums and remove pits. For the topping, stir together sugar, flour and cinnamon; sprinkle all but about 2 tablespoons over prepared dough. Arrange plums, cut side down, on top. Sprinkle remaining topping over plums and bake 40 minutes. Makes 12 servings.


Cool, sweet jicama perfect in salads or simply dressed

BY KIM BOATMAN, Mercury News


We all know what lies ahead. That's temptation just around the corner. And as usual this column will lead the charge as recipe requests for holiday favorites find their way into my mailboxes over the next few months. Goodness knows, no one ever requests vegetable recipes. No, we all want to make the cakes and pies and cookies that remind us of home and hearth at the holidays.


In general, requests for desserts dominate my mail year-round. So, it's almost a welcome respite when someone wonders about a recipe for something healthful, such as jicama. Also known as the Mexican potato, jicama is a tuberous root, loaded with vitamin C. And it's one of those items I bypass too frequently at the grocery store because I can't think of anything to do with it besides eating it raw.


Fortunately, Home Plates readers had several ideas.


Maree Lubran of Saratoga offered a gingered carrots and jicama recipe that makes an interesting side dish. And Sue Cam says the jicama salad recipe she sent is ``crisp, cool and refreshing.'' For a bit of simple virtuosity, Cam suggests following the lead of Mexican restaurants and serving thin sticks of jicama dipped in lime juice and sprinkled with cayenne pepper. Connie Bertuca of Santa Cruz substitutes jicama in recipes calling for water chestnuts. She also enjoys it in brunch salads along with oranges, cilantro and lime juice.




Broiled eggplant makes for quicker and lighter Parmesan dish.

This Neapolitan dish is made with slices of eggplant baked in a rich tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese. I learned to make it when I stayed at a villa in Italy. The recipe came from the Italian cook.


Normally, this dish requires the time-consuming step of frying the eggplant before it's baked. I've created this quick version by broiling the slices instead. It makes the dish much lighter than fried or sautéed eggplant, which tends to soak up a lot of oil.


Crumbled goat cheese is added to the base of nonfat ricotta cheese. Using the nonfat ricotta mixed with a more flavorful cheese provides flavor without adding a lot of fat calories.


Note: Crumbled goat cheese is sold in the dairy case of most markets.

Any type of goat, feta or cheddar cheese can be used.

Buy good quality Parmesan cheese and ask the market to grate it for you. Or chop it yourself in the food processor. Freeze extra for quick use.

Any type of pasta can be used.

The ingredients for this dish can be prepared and assembled in the baking dish in advance and then broiled when needed.



Preheat broiler.

Place water for pasta on to boil.

Broil eggplant.

Mix cheeses.

Assemble eggplant Parmesan dish and place under broiler.

Boil linguine.

Rich tomato sauce and cheese call for a nice, red chianti.


Eggplant Parmesan over Linguine

Olive oil spray


1 pound eggplant, cut into 1/4-inch slices

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 cup low-fat, low-salt tomato sauce

1 cup fresh arugula, torn into large pieces

1 cup nonfat ricotta cheese

2 ounces ( 1/2 cup) crumbled goat cheese

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 pound fresh linguine

2 teaspoons olive oil


Heat the broiler. Line a large baking sheet with foil and spray with olive-oil spray. Cut the eggplant into 1/4-inch slices; arrange in a single layer on baking sheet and spray with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Place in broiler about 3 inches from heat. Broil 4 minutes; turn and broil 4 minutes more. Remove from broiler.


Spoon a layer of sauce into the bottom of an 8- or 9-inch pie plate. Place a layer of eggplant slices over the sauce and place half the arugula leaves over the eggplant. Mix ricotta and goat cheeses and spoon over the arugula. Repeat layering with the sauce, eggplant, arugula and cheese mixture. End with a layer of cheeses. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top. Broil 10 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and cheese melted.


Place linguine in boiling water for 3 minutes (9 minutes if using dry linguine). Drain and toss with 2 teaspoons olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Place linguine on dinner plates and serve Eggplant Parmesan on top. Makes 2 servings.


Makes 2 loaves

4 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

2 cups granulated sugar

2 cups grated zucchini

2 teaspoons vanilla

3/4 cup honey

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 cup chopped nuts

1/4 cup sweetened, shredded coconut


Grease and flour two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.


Beat eggs until light and foamy. Add oil, sugar, zucchini, vanilla and honey; mix well.


Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Add to zucchini mixture and mix well. Fold in nuts and coconut.


Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Invert on a wire rack to cool.



Defending the traditional way of creating a sukkah of one's own

BY LINDA MOREL, Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Caryl Ehrlich has vivid memories of the sukkah built by an Orthodox rabbi in the Miami Beach neighborhood where she was a child.


That grid of streets is still lush with green lawns in front of pastel houses; behind them grass-covered alleys wider than trucks. Every Sukkot, the rabbi erected the ceremonial hut in the alley behind his house, diagonally across from the Ehrlich family's back door. In the spirit of the holiday, the rabbi and his wife invited their neighbors to celebrate Sukkot.


``We were not a religious family,'' Ehrlich says, explaining that they hardly saw the rabbi all year. ``I used to look forward to this festivity every fall; it was my only connection to Judaism.''


A Manhattan resident for decades, Ehrlich, who teaches a behavioral approach to weight loss, recalls the palm fronds that created a lacy ceiling and the rabbi filling his small hut with oranges, grapefruits, limes, mangoes, papayas, lemons -- and etrogs, the citrus-like fruit that is used to celebrate the holiday. Their varied shapes and colors mesmerized her; tropical perfume filled the air.


``The dangling decor wasn't just for show,'' says Ehrlich, describing large baskets filled with Florida's finest fruit among dishes on the table that the rabbi's wife had prepared from the same kind of produce gracing the sukkah's walls.


Her description brought back Sukkot celebrations from my childhood. But since I grew up in the suburbs of New York, I was smelling and tasting entirely different crops: apples and pears, eggplants, peppers, pumpkins and parsnips.


In contrast to our visceral memories, there are people who now decorate sukkah walls with plastic fruit and vegetables, which they recycle and use year after year. A page in a Jewish holiday cookbook I own features a photo touting ``creative Sukkah decoration in Los Angeles.'' Its walls are made from bamboo curtains stenciled with bananas, watermelons, oranges and strawberries; its ceiling supports super-sized cardboard pears and twirling mobiles of artificial fruit.


In a world where computer programs compete with real life experiences, is virtual fruit becoming the link to our ancient harvest festival? How did Jews stray so far from our agrarian roots?


Sukkot began as a pilgrimage holiday, a time when our forbears traveled to Jerusalem carrying figs, dates, pomegranates, apricots, squash, oil, barley, wheat bread and wine. After the year's final harvest, the Israelites offered thanks for the blessing of fruit and grain and shared the earth's bounty with the poor, none of which involved plastic produce or pictures of fruit. Since Sukkot marked the end of the growing season, thousands of people were able to spend a week celebrating and living in harvesters' huts, a precursor to the modern sukkah.


Although it takes more time and effort, hanging a farmers market worth of produce on Sukkah walls and incorporating some of the fruits and vegetables into recipes, such as the ones below, is far more rewarding than decorating the easy way, with toy food.


Lemon chicken is a traditional Sukkot dish, probably because the etrog, a lemon flavored, divinely scented citrus the size of a grapefruit, plays a pivotal role in the holiday's rituals. The Book of Leviticus says, ``You shall take for yourselves the product of goodly trees,'' which rabbis throughout the ages have interpreted as the etrog. Along with the lulav -- branches of palm trees, willows of the brook and leafy trees, assumed to be myrtle -- the etrog is one of the four species of the earth, which represent all growing things.


In today's push-button world, many of us have lost the connection between farming and the food on our table. Perhaps it's because we purchase shrink-wrapped produce, order groceries online or rely on restaurants to deliver dinner. We couch potatoes have become too comfortable to adorn a sukkah with food we cook and eat, to entertain friends outdoors, or simply to commune with nature.


For centuries, people have read, noshed and -- on warm afternoons basked in filtered sunshine inside sukkahs -- chatted for hours under the stars within their walls. Traditionally these makeshift huts have been a place of hospitality and openness, a place to invite guests for dinner, especially those who do not have a sukkah of their own. Weather permitting, people should enjoy as many meals as possible inside sukkah walls during the eight-day holiday, all of which is more meaningful surrounded by the touch, sight and smell of real food.



Makes 4 fruitcake logs

This recipe does not include butter or other shortening.

Eleanor Ostman is former food editor of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

4 cups walnut halves and large pieces

11/2 cups halved pitted dates

11/2 cups whole candied cherries

11/2 cups candied pineapple chunks

3/4 cup diced candied orange peel

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

4 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 teaspoon rum flavoring

1/4 cup rum, brandy or dry sherry (optional)


Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, and grease the paper.


Combine walnuts, dates, cherries, pineapple and orange peel in a bowl. Sift flour with sugar, baking powder and salt over fruit. Mix well.


Beat eggs with vanilla and rum flavoring. Pour over fruit mixture. Stir until well-blended. Turn into prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake below oven center for 11/2 hours, or until fruitcake tests done, when it pulls away from the side of the pan. Remove from oven.


Cool in pan for 30 minutes. Remove from pan. Lift off paper. Sprinkle with rum or other liquor of choice. Sprinkle again later in cooling process.


When thoroughly cooled, cut fruitcake crosswise into 4 even strips. Wrap each in wax paper, then in foil. Store in cool place.



The chef describes the following garlic and onion jam as surprisingly good. "Serve it alongside beef or chicken, or spoon small quantities onto fancy crackers for a gourmet appetizer to serve at parties."


2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

5 cups peeled and finely chopped onions (2 to 3 pounds)

8 large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

4 cups sugar

2 cups white wine

1 tablespoons strained fresh lemon juice

Two 3-ounce pouches liquid pectin


In a large, heavy skillet over low heat, combine the butter and vegetable oil. Add the onions and sauté gently, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Do not allow the onions to brown or the jam will have a tough texture.


Add the garlic and 1/2 cup of the sugar. Sauté, stirring frequently, for five minutes. Do not allow the onions and garlic to brown.


Remove the pan from the heat.


Transfer the mixture to an 8-quart stainless steel pan. Add the wine, lemon juice and the remaining sugar.


Over low heat, stirring constantly, heat the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Stir in the entire contents of both pectin pouches. Return the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, for one minute. Remove the pan from the heat.


To prevent the jam from separating in the jars, allow the jam to cool five minutes before filling the jars. Gently stir the jam every minute or so to distribute the fruit. Ladle the hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe the jar rims and threads with a clean, damp cloth. Cover with hot lids and apply screw rings.


Process half-pint jars in a 200-degree water bath for 10 minutes, pint jars for 15 minutes. Makes five to six half-pint jars.


Serves 4

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

1 1/2 teaspoons minced ginger

4 medium carrots, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch rounds OR 1 pound baby carrots

1/2 pound jicama, peeled, sliced 1/4-inch thick and cut into matchstick strips

1/3 cup water

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds


Heat oil in wide frying pan over high heat. Add ginger and cook 10 seconds. Add carrots, jicama, water, sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer until carrots are tender and pan juices have evaporated, about 18-20 minutes. If pan appears dry before carrots are cooked, add a few drops of water. Stir in sesame seeds before serving.



24 jalapeño peppers

2 1/4 cups goat cheese

2 tablespoons minced garlic chives

3/4 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary needles

Salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

5 eggs, lightly beaten

5 tablespoons milk

Flour for dredging


Seasoned bread crumbs

Vegetable oil for frying


Scoop out the stems, seeds and membranes of the peppers (a grapefruit spoon is handy for this task), keeping the top of the pepper intact. Rinse and dry the peppers thoroughly.


With a fork, mash together the goat cheese, chives, rosemary, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Fill each pepper with the cheese mixture. Chill for at least 1 hour to harden the cheese.


Combine the eggs and milk in a bowl to make the batter. Dip the stuffed jalapeños in the batter, then roll them in the flour. Dip again in the batter, then roll in bread crumbs, repeating this step until they are coated thoroughly. Refrigerate until ready to fry.


Fill a large frying pan with oil to 1/2-inch deep and heat until hot, but not smoking. Deep fry jalapeños until golden brown, about 5 to 8 minutes.


Drain on paper towels and serve.



Makes 2 cups


2 cups salt-cured black olives

2 teaspoons fresh rosemary or thyme leaves

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil


In a bowl, combine the olives, rosemary or thyme, and olive oil and turn to coat the olives. Let them stand for 30 minutes.


Prepare a medium-hot wood or charcoal fire in a grill, or preheat a gas grill.


Put the olives in a vegetable grilling basket and place it on the grill rack 6 to 8 inches above the fire. Grill the olives, stirring, just until they begin to darken and wrinkle a bit, 3 to 4 minutes.


Transfer to a bowl and let cool for a minute or two before serving. Serve meat in bed of polenta and you-make-the-call veggies


2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons butter, chilled and cubed

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 large egg

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Mix together buttermilk, egg and vanilla; stir into flour. Add chocolate chips and hazelnuts. Divide dough into 8 pieces; shape into mounds. Bake on a lightly greased baking sheet for 17 to 19 minutes, until lightly browned. Makes 8 scones.



10-ounce box couscous pasta

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken, cut into strips

1 tablespoon cooking oil

1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips

1 onion, sliced

1/4 cup honey mustard

1/4 cup barbecue sauce


Prepare couscous according to package directions. Keep warm.


Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over high heat. Stir-fry chicken for 5 minutes until well browned. Transfer to bowl.


In the same skillet, stir-fry bell pepper and onion strips for 3 minutes until crisp-tender. Return chicken to the skillet. Stir in 1/4 cup of water, mustard and barbecue sauce. Heat to boiling, stirring often. Serve over couscous.


1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil

Dash of salt

Dash of freshly ground black pepper

1 10-ounce package frozen peas

1 medium red bell pepper, cut into thin strips

1 medium yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips

1/2 medium jicama, peeled and cut into thin strips

1/4 cup chopped sweet onion

Lettuce leaves


Combine vinegar, oils, salt and pepper in a jar; cover and shake well. Set aside. Combine vegetables, pour dressing over and toss to coat. Cover and chill until serving time. Toss again, then serve on top of lettuce leaves.





1 chicken cleaned and cut into 8 pieces

1 lemon for squeezing; plus 2 lemons for slicing

1/2 cup olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 teaspoon dried rosemary needles

1 teaspoon salt

Cooking spray

Optional: 2 teaspoons fresh parsley, minced


1. In a bowl, pour juice of one lemon and olive oil. Add garlic, rosemary and salt. Mix well. Coat chicken with mixture and marinate for an hour.


2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heavily coat a roasting pan with cooking spray.


3. Slice remaining 2 lemons into rounds (removing pits) and scatter on bottom of pan. Arrange chicken pieces on top.


4. Place in oven and baste every ten minutes with pan liquids. Roast for 45 minutes, or until chicken browns and juices run clear when pierced with a fork.


5. Serve on a platter, surrounding chicken with lemon rounds. Garnish with parsley. Yield: 5-6 servings.


The following spread has great flavor and color, with the thick consistency expected of a good fruit butter, the authors write. It is in the chapter on less-sweet spreads, so-called because they do not have enough sugar to be called a jam.

1 cup peeled peaches, finely chopped

1 cup finely chopped plums

1 tablespoon water

1/2 cup granular low-calorie sweetener

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger


Combine peaches, plums and water in a 4-cup microwaveable container. Microwave, uncovered, on high (100 percent) for five minutes, stirring once. Microwave, uncovered, on high for 10 minutes or until mixture is very thick, stirring every three minutes.


Stir in sweetener, cinnamon and ginger.


Spoon spread into clean jars or plastic containers to within 1/2 inch of rim. Cover with tight-fitting lids. Label jars and refrigerate for up to a week, or freeze for longer storage. Makes 1 cup.



"Making it in a microwave oven is much easier than making it in the traditional double boiler," the writers say. "Just be careful not to overcook it or it will separate." Use it as a filling for cakes, coffee-cakes, or rolls.


2 to 3 lemons

1/4 cup butter

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs


Finely grate thin outer rind of lemons. Squeeze lemons. Measure 1/2 cup lemon juice into a 4-cup microwaveable container. Stir in rind, butter and sugar. Microwave, uncovered, on High (100 percent) for 11/2 to two minutes or until butter is melted and mixture is hot.


Beat eggs in a bowl. Gradually add hot lemon mixture to eggs, stirring constantly. Return mixture to the microwaveable container and microwave, uncovered, on medium (50 percent) for one to two minutes or just until thickened, stirring every 30 seconds. (Do not allow it to boil; mixture will thicken as it cools.) Let cool.


Pour curd into a tightly sealed container. Refrigerate up to two weeks, or freeze for longer storage. Makes 1/3 cups.


Makes 2 fruitcakes

11/2 pounds golden seedless raisins (43/4 cups)

8 ounces red glace cherries (11/4 cups)

8 ounces candied pineapple pieces (1/2 cup)

8 ounces dried apricots (12/3 cups)

8 ounces pecans (2 cups; see note)

8 ounces almonds slivered (13/4 cups; see note)

8 ounces walnuts (13/4 cups; see note)

11/2 cups warm water

11/4 cups fine granulated sugar (see note)

3/4 pound butter

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon salt

13/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour

11/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

5 eggs

1/4 cup whipping cream

11/2 tablespoons vanilla


Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line two 10-by-5-inch loaf pans with parchment paper. Grease the bottom and sides with butter.


Coarsely chop raisins, cherries, pineapple, apricots, pecans, almonds and walnuts with a knife. Using a food processor would chop everything too fine.


To a large pot, add the fruits, nuts, water, sugar, butter, nutmeg, cloves, allspice and salt. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat, stirring often, and boil for 1 minute. Remove pan from heat and cool.


Sift together flour, baking powder and baking soda.


In a small dish beat eggs, whipping cream and vanilla just until mixed together.


Add flour mixture gradually to cooled fruit and nuts. Add in egg mixture, stirring everything until perfectly blended (no lumps in flour). Batter will be quite wet.


Ladle batter into loaf pans. Place an ovenproof container (like a 9-by-13-inch pan) of hot tap water on the shelf under the loaf pans to create steam and moisture.


Bake cakes in middle rack of oven for approximately 21/2 to 3 hours, checking to make sure tops do not get too brown. Adding a layer of parchment paper over the cakes after about 30 minutes of baking will keep the tops from getting too dark.


Test cake with toothpick in the center. Cake is done when toothpick comes out clean. Top of cakes may be a little tacky to touch when first removed from oven.


When cakes are done, remove from oven. Let cakes cool in pans, then turn out onto a cake rack.


Wrap well in heavy-duty foil, then double plastic freezer bags to freeze or refrigerate.


Slices best when cake is chilled.


Note: Any combination of nuts will be OK.


Note: Use Baker's Sugar or process granulated sugar in blender or food processor.


Makes 6 servings

2 red onions, cut into eighths

2 small yellow squash, cut in 1/2-inch strips

2 small zucchini, cut in 1/2-inch strips

1 each red, yellow and green bell pepper, cut in 1/2-inch strips

4 cloves garlic, sliced thin

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano or

11/2 teaspoons fresh

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper


Place onions, squash, zucchini, bell peppers and garlic in a bowl and toss well. Combine parsley, vinegar, oil, oregano, salt and pepper in a lidded jar and shake well. Pour over vegetables and toss.


Spoon into a greased, 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Makes about 5 half-pint jars


A delightfully different preserve, it's sure to please any pear fan. If Bartlett pears are not available, use another firm variety that will hold its shape when cooked.

5 cups cored, peeled and sliced firm, ripe Bartlett pears (5 to 6 pears)

1/4 cup strained fresh lemon juice (1 large lemon)

4 cups granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon butter (preferably unsalted)

1 3-ounce pouch liquid pectin


In a large bowl, combine the pears with the lemon juice, stirring gently to coat the fruit.


In an 8-quart non-aluminum pot, alternately layer the pears and sugar. Cover and let stand for 3 to 4 hours.


Wash 5 half-pint jars. Keep hot until needed. Prepare lids as manufacturer directs.


Remove the cover from the pot of pears and sugar. Over medium-low heat, gradually heat the pear mixture, stirring constantly and gently, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Stir in the butter. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.


Increase the heat to medium-high. Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly and gently. Stir in the entire contents of the pectin pouch. Return the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat. Skim off any foam.


To prevent floating fruit, allow the preserves to cool 5 minutes before filling the jars. Gently stir the preserves to distribute the fruit.


Ladle the hot jam into 1 jar at a time, leaving 1/4-inch head space. Wipe jar rim with a clean damp cloth. Attach lid. Fill and close remaining jars. Process in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes (15 minutes at 1,000 to 6,000 feet; 20 minutes above 6,000 feet).


1 tablespoon olive oil

2 large onions cut lengthwise into thin shreds

1 large garlic clove, minced

4 cups 2-inch-long strips of mixed green and red bell peppers

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can reduced-sodium chopped tomatoes, including juice

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon sugar

1/3 teaspoon black pepper

Pinch of red pepper flakes

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon salt, optional


In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat, combine oil, onions, garlic and peppers. Adjust heat so onions brown but do not burn, and cook, stirring, until they are golden, 6 or 7 minutes.


Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, black pepper and red pepper flakes.


Adjust heat so mixture simmers gently and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, 20 minutes. Add vinegars and continue simmering, stirring frequently to prevent sticking, until flavors are blended, about 10 minutes longer. Add salt if desired.



Serves 10-12


Whether it's stirred or baked, the key to successful custard is using gentle heat in a double boiler or bain-marie (water bath) so the eggs don't curdle.


For caramel sauce

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup water

For flan

6 eggs

1 12-ounce can condensed milk

1 12-ounce can evaporated milk

1 teaspoon vanilla


To prepare sauce: Pour sugar and water in a heavy saucepan and simmer over medium heat. Stir constantly about 8 minutes or until sugar is golden. Immediately -- and carefully -- pour hot caramel sauce into ovenproof pie plate or 8-inch round baking pan, gently moving dish so sauce covers bottom and sides. Let cool completely.


To prepare flan: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir eggs in a bowl. Slowly add condensed milk, then evaporated milk. Add vanilla, blending well. Pour flan mixture over ovenproof dish coated with caramel. Carefully place filled dish into a baking pan. Pour in enough hot water to reach about halfway up dish. This water bath process is called baño mar(acu)a in Spanish and bain-marie in French.


Bake about 40 minutes. Flan is cooked when a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven. Carefully separate flan from dish with a thin knife and let cool. Invert on a flat dish and garnish with sliced strawberries, maraschino cherries or other fruit. Flan may be refrigerated for a few days and is best served very cold.


1 cup canned purple plums, drained

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup chopped nuts


1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 9-inch square pans. Pit the plums and mash them. Beat together sugar, oil, eggs, plums and buttermilk. Stir together flour, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice. Stir into the plum mixture; stir in vanilla and nuts. Divide between pans and bake 40 minutes. Prick tops of finished cakes all over with toothpick.


Bring butter, buttermilk and sugar to a boil in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda and vanilla. Pour over hot cakes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 18 servings.



Serves 6

8 ounces egg noodles

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 pound cremini, shiitake, oyster OR other mushrooms, stems removed, sliced

(about 5 cups)

3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed

3/4 cup thinly sliced scallions (about 6 scallions)

1 small sweet red pepper, cored, seeded and chopped

2 to 3 teaspoons curry powder

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cups milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 can (12 ounces) solid white tuna packed in water, drained and broken into


1/2 cup crushed cornflakes OR butter crackers, for topping

Cook noodles, following package directions. Drain and set aside.


Meanwhile, in a large non-stick skillet, heat butter over medium. Add mushrooms and sauté until softened and liquid is released, 6-8 minutes. Add peas, scallions, red pepper and curry powder, and sauté until pepper has been slightly softened, about 3 minutes.


In a small bowl, whisk together flour, milk and cream until smooth and blended. Stir into mushroom mixture in skillet. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove skillet from heat. Add parsley and salt.


Heat oven to 375 degrees. Using a rubber spatula, fold cooked noodles and tuna into sauce in skillet. Scrape into an 8- or 9-inch square baking dish or other 2- to 2 1/2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle cornflakes or crackers over top.


Bake until casserole is bubbly and topping is toasted, about 20 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes, then serve.


Serving tip: Accompany with a simple romaine salad splashed with orange vinaigrette.


Make-ahead tip: Earlier in the day, assemble casserole without topping, and refrigerate, covered. To serve, sprinkle with topping and bake as directed, allowing a little extra time because casserole is cold.




Serves 6

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 1/2 pounds chicken thighs, on the bone, with skin removed

1 yellow onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise

6 cups water OR canned chicken broth

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 cup dry-roasted, unsalted peanuts, ground medium-fine

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into quarter-inch sticks 2 inches long

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)


In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add chicken thighs and slowly brown on all sides, about 20 minutes. Remove chicken to a plate.


Add onion to pot and sauté over low heat until softened, about 10 minutes; do not let onion brown. Return chicken thighs to pot. Add water, salt and cumin. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, uncovered, until chicken is very tender, 30-40 minutes.


Stir in ground peanuts, cornmeal and allspice and cook 15 minutes, scraping bottom of pot occasionally to prevent scorching. Stir in sweet potato sticks and cook 15-20 minutes or until sweet potato is tender and mixture is very thick. If you like the flavor of cilantro, stir that in just before serving. Spoon stew into serving bowls.


Serving tip: Accompany with cubes of papaya tossed with fresh lime juice and spooned over a bed of leafy lettuce.


Meals in about half an hour

Pretend that tuna is a juicy beefsteak

Try The `Au Poivre' Treatment, By Mark Bittman, New York Times


For many home cooks, tuna involves a quick soak in soy sauce and ginger, followed by a visit to the grill. There is nothing wrong with that, but tuna takes equally well to the skillet. At the top of my list for tuna steak possibilities is tuna au poivre, a recipe that plays on tuna's similarity to beefsteak.


The recipe is simple: Coat the tuna with crushed black pepper and sear on both sides until it is done. But it can take on a more elegant air if you finish it with a reduction sauce. That sauce, which you can prepare while the tuna finishes cooking in the oven, can be based on almost any liquid. I like red wine or cream. To make it, cook some shallots for a moment in butter or oil, add the wine or cream and then pour it on the finished tuna.


Of eight common species of tuna (bigeye, blackfin, albacore, yellowfin, bluefin, bonito, skipjack and little tunny), bluefin is by far the fattiest and the best for eating. It is also the most difficult to find, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program lists it as a food to avoid, because of endangerment. Supermarkets most frequently sell the paler albacore and skipjack, which are extremely lean and not especially flavorful. Yellowfin, most often found in good fish stores and restaurants, is worth seeking out.


That freshly ground black pepper is better than preground pepper is a given. But the uninitiated might ask, How finely should it be ground, and is a variety of peppers better than plain black? The second question is the easier one to answer. I played with green, white, pink and Sichuan peppercorns and could discern no difference among them.


How fine to grind the pepper is a matter of taste. The coarser the grind, the more powerful the taste.



Makes 6 servings

2 pounds red cabbage, cored and shredded

1 Gala apple, peeled, cored and chopped fine

1/4 cup chopped green onions, white part and some green part

8 ounces blue cheese, crumbled

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1/2 cup vegetable oil or corn oil

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon granulated sugar, or to taste

Salt and fresh pepper to taste

1/2 cup pecans, toasted, for garnish (see note)


Toss together the cabbage, apple, green onions and blue cheese in a large salad bowl.


In a separate small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, fennel seeds and 1 teaspoon sugar. Taste, and add salt and pepper and additional sugar, if desired.


Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to blend. Sprinkle the pecans on top and serve.


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 about 4 cups

2 7-ounce jars roasted red peppers, drained

1 15-ounce container ricotta cheese

2 small cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

2 tablespoons olive oil (or oil in jar if peppers are packed in oil)

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil


Place peppers, cheese, garlic and oil in a blender or food processor and process until pureed. Pour into a saucepan, add basil and heat over low heat, stirring frequently, until heated through. Do not boil. Serve over pasta.


Serves 6

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 a vanilla bean pod

Zest of 1/2 lemon or orange

2 ounces Carnaroli or Arborio rice

2 cups half-and-half

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

Sugar for caramelizing

Aged balsamic vinegar and fresh berries for garnish


Melt butter in a large skillet. Add vanilla bean pod, zest and rice. Sauté rice until grains appear translucent. Slowly stir in half-and-half, in small increments, allowing liquid to be absorbed between each addition. Add sugar; stir until dissolved. Stir in cream.


Remove from heat to a nice bath when rice is just less than al dente. When mixture cools, whisk in eggs and yolks.


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Transfer mixture to six 4-ounce, buttered, ceramic ramekins. Bake, covered, in a water bath about 30 minutes until center is set. Custard should wiggle when shaken, but not be liquid. Remove ramekins and cool at room temperature.


Un-mold by scoring rims of ramekins with thin knife; invert onto serving plate. Coat top with thin layer of sugar; scorch to a rich caramel color under the broiler or with a hand torch. Serve slightly warm, garnishing with berries, a bit of their juice, and a drizzle of vinegar.


2 salmon fillets (about 8 ounces each), lightly salted

3 cups cooked rice

4 cups hot Japanese green tea

1 sheet nori, cut with scissors into thin strips

2 to 3 teaspoons wasabi


Grill or broil salmon about 4 minutes per side or until the flesh turns opaque and pale pink, being careful not to burn; or boil in water until pink, about 8 minutes. Remove the skin and bones and flake meat with a fork.


Divide the rice into 4 deep bowls. Top each rice bowl with a portion of flaked salmon. Pour 1 cup of hot tea over each serving. Top with nori and a dab of wasabi. Makes 4 servings.


Makes 4 servings

1 small carrot

4 whole water chestnuts

8 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked until softened

20 dried shrimp, soaked in hot water (optional; see note)

3/4 pound lean ground pork

11/2 teaspoons plus

1/3 teaspoon granulated sugar (divided)

About 11/2 teaspoons salt

White pepper

3 teaspoons sesame oil (divided)

2 teaspoons cornstarch (divided)

1 21/2-pound or two

11/4-pound zucchini (4 medium; see note)

4 bok choy leaves

1 tablespoon plus

1 teaspoon vegetable oil (divided)

1 2-inch piece ginger, finely chopped

2 green onions, white parts only, finely chopped

1 teaspoon Chinese wine or dry sherry

1 tablespoon soy sauce


Mince the carrot, water chestnuts and mushrooms very fine; they must be small for the stuffing. Chop the soaked shrimp very fine.


Combine the carrot, water chestnuts, mushrooms, shrimp and pork. Add 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, a dash of white pepper, 1 teaspoon sesame oil and 1 teaspoon cornstarch. Mix well.


Cut off each end of the zucchini. Peel, using a potato peeler. Hollow out the center carefully, using a sharp thin knife or melon baller. Rinse the center cavities. Stuff as much of the pork mixture into the zucchini as possible. Form any remaining filling into marble-sized "meatballs."


Place the stuffed zucchini and the meatballs on a heat-proof platter and set on a rack in a steamer over simmering water. You can also set the rack over a roaster or pot large enough to hold the rack. Cover and steam until the squash is tender and the pork is cooked, 20 to 30 minutes.


Meanwhile, cut the bok choy leaves crosswise into 2-inch pieces, then slice vertically, but not too fine. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a wok over high heat. Add a little of the ginger and green onions and all the bok choy, 2 tablespoons of water, the wine, 1/3 teaspoon of sugar and a dash of salt. Cover and cook 1 minute, then add 1 teaspoon sesame oil and 1 teaspoon vegetable oil.


Arrange this mixture on a large serving platter, leaving a clear space in the center for the zucchini. Place the zucchini on the platter, reserving any liquid accumulated during steaming, and cut the zucchini crosswise into 1-inch slices. Set the meatballs aside.


Add the cooking liquid to the empty wok. Add 1/2 cup water, the remaining ginger and green onions, the soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon sugar and a dash of white pepper. Add the meatballs. Mix 1 teaspoon of cornstarch with 2 teaspoons of water, add to the wok and mix gently. Cook over medium-high heat until thickened, about 2 minutes. Pour the meatballs and their sauce over the zucchini.


Note: Dried shrimp are sold at Asian markets.


Note: The zucchini for this recipe must be really large, 21/2 inches in diameter or more, to allow for stuffing.


Makes 4 servings

3 zucchini

1 large clove garlic

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1 tablespoon butter

11/2 teaspoons vegetable oil

1/4 cup very finely chopped onion

Freshly ground pepper (optional)


Cut the ends off the zucchini. If the zucchini are small in diameter, leave them whole. If large, cut them in half lengthwise. Slice the zucchini paper-thin, using the slicing blade of a grater or a mandolin.


Mash the garlic in the salt until dissolved to a paste.


Heat the butter and oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic mixture and onion and cook until the onion is tender, 5 minutes. Add the zucchini slices and cook until tender, stirring as needed to cook evenly, 6 to 8 minutes. Sprinkle with pepper, if desired.




Serves: 4



1/2 cup reduced-calorie or regular mayonnaise

2 tablespoons sour cream

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1/4 teaspoon salt


Soy Glaze:

1 cup low-sodium soy sauce

3 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon plus 1 glass chilled Sutter Home Sauvignon Blanc



1 egg

2 tablespoons aioli

2 tablespoons sour cream

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon Asian hot chili sauce or bottled hot sauce

1 1/4 pounds skinless salmon fillets, chopped finely

2 green onions, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves

1/3 cup breadcrumbs

1 teaspoon salt

Vegetable oil

4 sesame buns, split

1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and julienned

Radish or soy bean sprouts for garnish, optional


Prepare grill with a medium fire for direct-heat cooking. In a small bowl, combine aioli ingredients. Reserve 2 tablespoons for burgers and chill remainder until serving time.


Combine soy sauce, honey, and rice vinegar in a small, heavy saucepan. Mix cornstarch and 1 tablespoon wine in a small bowl until smooth and add to soy mixture. Place over grill and stir mixture until glaze boils and thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, sip glass of Sutter Home Sauvignon Blanc, saving remainder for grilling. Set glaze aside.


In a large bowl, whisk together egg, aioli, sour cream, lime juice and chili sauce. Stir in salmon, onion, mint, breadcrumbs and salt to combine. Coat hands with vegetable oil and form 4 patties.


Brush grill with vegetable oil and grill patties until browned on bottom, about 3 minutes.


Recommence sipping of Sutter Home Sauvignon Blanc.


Turn patties and brush cooked side with soy glaze. Cook 3 minutes, turn and brush other side with glaze. Grill just until done, about 4-6 minutes, turning and brushing with glaze frequently.


During the last few minutes of cooking, toast buns, cut side down, on outside of grill. Place cucumber strips on bottom half of bun, top with burgers, aioli and bun tops. Garnish with sprouts, if desired.


Serves 6

For lamb:

2 pounds lamb shoulder, trimmed, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

Salt, freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium onion, chopped

3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup golden raisins

For pilaf:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/4 teaspoon each, ground: cardamom, cumin, coriander

3 cups long-grain or basmati rice

Salt, freshly ground pepper

5 cups chicken broth

3/4 cup pine nuts, toasted (see Note)


2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 pounds fresh spinach, washed, dried

Parsley sprigs, for garnish


Season lamb with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add lamb in batches. Brown on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch. Remove lamb; set aside. Add garlic and onion; cook, stirring, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in cardamom, cumin and coriander; cook 1 minute. Add chicken broth, scraping bottom of pan to dislodge brown bits. Return lamb to pan. Add raisins. Cook, covered, over low heat until lamb is tender, about 1 hour, 15 minutes. If too soupy, remove cover, turn heat to high and reduce liquid, about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.


To prepare pilaf: Melt butter with oil in large, deep skillet over medium heat. Stir in cardamom, cumin and coriander and cook 1 minute. Stir in rice; cook until lightly golden, about 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour broth into skillet; heat to boil. Reduce heat and cook, covered, until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes. Stir in pine nuts with fork, fluffing rice while mixing.


To prepare spinach: Melt butter in skillet. Cook spinach until wilted but still glossy and green, 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.


Place lamb with some of its liquid in center of large serving platter. Place spinach around lamb. Place rice around spinach. Garnish with parsley sprigs.


Note: To toast pine nuts, place in small dry skillet over medium heat. Cook, shaking almost constantly, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.



Rinse and stem three 10-ounce packages of fresh spinach (don't dry it).

In a large pot, heat 1/4 cup olive oil over medium-high heat.

Sauté 2 to 3 tbsp chopped garlic just until golden, 3 to 4 minutes.

Stir in spinach,

1/4 cup white wine or chicken broth and salt and pepper to taste.

Reduce heat and simmer 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until spinach wilts completely (do not overcook). Just before serving, toss in some son-dried tomatoes.


A Japanese mom-and-pop grocery in Fort Lauderdale has been turning out `trendy' raw fish for almost 20 years. LINDA BLADHOLM, ETHNIC EXPLORER

When you have a yen for sushi or sashimi, head to the Japanese Fish Market and Grocery in Fort Lauderdale. There you can pick up seaweed salad, rice crackers, candied beans, sinus-clearing wasabi, devil's tongue jelly and citrus-flavored soy sauce with the take-out sushi and thinly sliced raw fish.

It's like being in a small neighborhood shop in Tokyo where the owners know you by name and remember your favorite sushi topping. Tsuyoshi Sakata and his wife, Masako, are originally from Kobe and the Tokyo suburb of Chiba-ken, respectively.


Tsuyoshi arrived in South Florida in 1970 to work at a Benihana restaurant and later at Nobi, one of the few Japanese restaurants in Broward back then. Masako soon followed, and in 1981 they opened the fish market to supply local Japanese with quality seafood. When a nearby Chinese market closed and sold them all their Japanese goods at a discount, the current business was born.


``We have seen a real evolution since coming here 30 years ago,'' Masako says. Back then sushi was hard to find, and eating raw fish was considered a little suspect. Now, she says, ``sushi is mainstream and there are over a hundred sushi restaurants in South Florida.''


Sushi was developed thousands of years ago to preserve fish by treating it with salt in rice. Originally, the rice was discarded; eventually it was flavored with vinegar and eaten as well. In the early 19th Century in Edo (now Tokyo), fresh, raw fish was placed on top the vinegared rice. Such sushi was sold by vendors from mobile stalls and a special jargon developed.


In sushi-speak, pickled ginger (shoga) switches to gari; rice, usually called gohan, becomes shari; shoyu (soy sauce) is murasaki; and ocha, the green tea sipped between sushi pieces to refresh the mouth, is agari.


In the Japanese Fish Market you need only English to order everything from a temaki hand roll or la carte nigiri to a sushi and sashimi party platter ($27 to $70). Some customers can't wait to dig in, and grab one of the two chairs in the front of the store to eat their sushi pieces and California rolls from the box.


Grocery items range from basics such as mochigome (glutinous rice), komezu (rice vinegar), umeboshi (pickled, plum-like apricots), nori (seaweed sheets and strips), kombu (kelp for delicate stocks), miso paste, pickled daikon radish and bottles of premium gingo ozeki (sake). Try the sublime daifuku (sweet rice cakes stuffed with red bean paste) and blocks of konnyaku (called devil's tongue jelly), a gelatin made from a type of taro which is boiled, sliced and served with a sweet miso paste.


A deli case holds slabs of blood red maguro (sushi tuna); pickled baby octopus with sesame seeds; tofu; salads; and conch sunomono (in vinegar with cucumber slices). In the freezer you'll find bags of peeled sataimo, a type of taro; fish paste cakes and the infamous natto, made by fermenting soybeans in a rice-straw yeast culture. The slippery, pungent-smelling mass has a nutty flavor; it's mixed with hot mustard and chopped scallions and eaten with rice or rolled up in sushi -- oishi! (delicious!).


Finds on the shelves include ban-cha (green tea), hoji-cha (roasted ban-cha), genmai-cha (ban-cha with bits of popped brown rice), shiitake nori muruwa (jars of slightly salty black paste made from ground mushrooms, nori and seasonings, eaten for breakfast with rice and grilled fish) plus a variety of noodles and senbei (rice crackers).


Age ichiban are large, light-textured crackers with a salty-sweet flavor, perfect for munching while your sushi is made in the back of the store. When it arrives, say ``Itadaki masu!'' which shows respect to everyone from the rice farmer to the Sakatas who helped make the sushi happen. After eating it, you should say ``Gochiso sama'', meaning, ``I have feasted.''


Japanese Fish Market, 1521 E. Commercial Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; 954-772-0555; grocery hours 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday, sushi hours 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Closed Sunday.


Serves 10

1 stick ( 1/2 cup) plus 2 teaspoons unsalted butter

10 vanilla wafer cookies, crushed into crumbs

1 3/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup sugar

3 eggs

2 teaspoons ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2/3 cup sour cream

Confectioners' sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9-inch tube pan with 2 teaspoons of butter; dust with cookie crumbs. Set aside. Combine flour and baking soda in small bowl; set aside.


In separate bowl, cream remaining butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in cardamom and cinnamon. Add flour mixture; beat until just combined. Add sour cream; beat until smooth. Pour batter into pan.


Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before turning onto wire rack. Cool completely. Dust with confectioners' sugar.



Serves 6

1/2 cup dried black beans

1 teaspoon salt, divided use

3/4 cup granulated sugar, to taste, divided use

1/2 cup small tapioca pearls (see Note)

2 cups, or 1 (14-ounce) can, coconut milk

1 teaspoon sea salt, to taste


Pick through and discard any shriveled beans. Cover with water; soak for 2 or more hours.


Bring 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add beans and return to a boil. Simmer covered over low heat until beans are tender, stirring occasionally and adding more boiling water if beans are drying up. When tender, stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 cup sugar and simmer a while longer for beans to absorb flavorings. (To save on time, substitute canned cooked black beans.)


When beans are almost done, heat 2 cups of water in another saucepan. Rinse tapioca pearls in a fine-mesh strainer under running cool tap water until thoroughly wet. Drain and let sit a minute or two for pearls to absorb surface water, then add to boiling water. Reduce heat and stir frequently until pearls clear (8 to 10 minutes). If mixture becomes too thick, add a little more water to help cook tapioca until all pearls are cooked through.


Make a coconut sauce by combining coconut milk, 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a saucepan. Heat and simmer about 5 minutes to thicken slightly.


When beans and tapioca are cooked, mix together and add coconut sauce. Stir to blend. Serve warm.


Note: For a chewier texture, try larger tapioca pearls.



Serves 6

2 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup small tapioca pearls

1/2 cup chopped peeled fresh water chestnuts (or substitute jicama)

1/3 cup sugar

Pinch of salt

Coconut cream topping:

1/4 cup rice flour

2 cups (or one 14-ounce can) unsweetened coconut milk

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons sugar


Bring water to boil in small saucepan. Meanwhile, rinse tapioca pearls under running water in a fine wire-mesh colander and drain. Allow the surface water to penetrate and soften the tapioca. Add tapioca to boiling water. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, until most of the pearls have become clear and translucent (8 to 10 minutes). Stir in water chestnuts, 1/3 cup sugar and a pinch of salt. Simmer 2 minutes longer.


Remove from heat and spoon into small custard cups, or pour into an 8-inch serving dish. Set aside.


Mix the topping ingredients together in saucepan, blending until smooth. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly so that the flour does not lump. Reduce heat to low and cook 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the mixture is very thick and creamy. Spread topping evenly over the tapioca. Serve warm, or at room temperature.


Variation: Instead of water chestnuts or jicama, try this pudding with sweet corn. Slice the kernels off a cob of fresh corn and cook with the tapioca, adding when about half the pearls have cleared.



Sea bass in cider; a dish for autumn.

A typical Spanish meal of fish cooked in cider and served over saffron rice was a delightful surprise. Cider isn't well-known as a Spanish ingredient.


This dish is from the Asturias region of Spain located on the northern coast of the Iberian Peninsula. The area has been blessed with a stunning geography and exceptional natural richness and is also known for its gastronomic delights, including hard cider, cheeses and fish.


Asturianos pour their famous cider from above so that it foams up as it splashes into a glass held low in the other hand. Hard cider is available this time of year in many supermarkets.


The cider gives this dish a sweetness that would be nicely matched by a slightly off-dry chenin blanc.


Helpful Hints

Bijol or turmeric can be used instead of saffron.

You can substitute beer or apple juice for hard cider.



Start rice.

Make sea bass.

Complete rice.




1/4 cup flour

Salt and freshly ground pepper

3/4 pound sea bass

2 teaspoons olive oil

3 medium garlic cloves, crushed

2 medium tomatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)

1 cup hard cider

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley


Place flour on a plate and add salt and pepper to taste. Roll sea bass in the flour, coating all sides. Heat olive oil in a medium nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Brown sea bass 2 minutes; turn and brown second side 2 minutes. Remove to a plate. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Add garlic, tomatoes and cider to skillet. Simmer 5 minutes. Return fish to skillet and cook in sauce 4 minutes. Arrange over saffron rice. Spoon sauce over fish and sprinkle with parsley. Makes 2 servings.


1 teaspoon olive oil

1/2 cup long-grain white rice

1/8 teaspoon saffron

Salt and freshly ground pepper


Heat olive oil in a medium nonstick skillet on medium heat. Add rice and toss 1 minute. Add 2 cups water and saffron. Bring to a simmer and cover. Simmer 15

minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Makes 2 servings.


(Romanian Ragout)

1 garlic clove, peeled

5 tablespoons butter, divided use

1 1/2 pounds pork, lamb or veal shoulder, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

2 1/2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms

1 onion, chopped

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup dry white wine

3/4 cup beef stock (divided use)

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sour cream

1 tablespoon flour

1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed hot red pepper

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1 tablespoon chopped fresh fennel

1 tablespoon chopped parsley


Rub the bottom of a Dutch oven with garlic; heat 3 tablespoons butter over medium-high. Brown meat. Add mushrooms and cook 5 minutes. Remove mixture from pan and set aside. Reduce heat to low. Add remaining butter and the onion; crush and add garlic. Cook 5 minutes. Return meat mixture to pan and cook 10 minutes. Stir in salt, pepper, wine and 1/4 cup stock. Cover and cook 25 minutes.


Stir flour into 1/4 cup sour cream. Add it to the meat, increase heat to medium and cook 10 minutes. Lower heat and simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes. Stir in remaining sour cream, the hot pepper, paprika and remaining broth. Cook 10 minutes more. Stir in fennel and parsley and serve. Makes 4 to 6 servings.



Serves 4

4 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 6- to 8-ounce tuna steaks (or 2 larger steaks), each at least 1 inch thick


2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup minced shallots

1 cup dry red wine


Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Put pepper on a plate. Place a large skillet, preferably non-stick, over medium-high heat. Add olive oil. Dredge both sides of each piece of tuna lightly in pepper, forming a thin coat. Add steaks to pan, and turn heat to high. Cook about 2 minutes, then turn. Add salt, cook 1 minute more. Turn heat to low, remove steaks to an oven-proof plate, and place in oven.


Add 1 tablespoon butter (or a bit more oil, if you prefer) to pan, followed by shallots. Turn heat to medium, and cook, stirring, until shallots soften, about 2 minutes. Turn heat to medium high, and add wine. Let wine bubble away for a minute or so, then add remaining butter. Cook, stirring occasionally, until butter melts and sauce thickens.


Tuna steaks will by now be medium rare (roast a little longer if you like). Put each on a plate, spoon sauce on top and serve.



Serves 4

4 baby eggplants OR Japanese eggplants (about 1 1/4 pounds total)

Coarse salt

1/4 cup olive oil

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

8 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 small tomato, cored and chopped (about 3/4 cup)

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, plus extra for garnish

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest and a squeeze of juice OR 2 teaspoons grated orange zest and a squeeze of juice

1/4 cup hot water, plus more as needed


Using a small paring knife, peel parallel ``stripes'' lengthwise on each eggplant, alternating purple skin with exposed white. Cut a lengthwise slit 1/2 to 3/4 of the way through each eggplant, to within a 1/2 inch of each end. Salt each eggplant and let stand on paper towels 45 minutes to release bitterness and some excess moisture. Rinse eggplants well under cold running water. Thoroughly pat dry.


Meanwhile, prepare stuffing. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add onion and sauté until softened, 5-10 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Scrape into a bowl. Add tomato, parsley, dill, sugar, salt, citrus zest and juice to onion-garlic mixture.


Once eggplants are rinsed and dried, heat 2 tablespoons oil in same skillet. Add eggplants and sauté until golden brown on all sides, about 15 minutes total. Remove to a plate.


Heat oven to 375 degrees. Arrange eggplants, slit side up, in a small baking dish. Spread open eggplants. Fill each with stuffing. Drizzle with remaining oil. Add 1/4 cup hot water to baking dish. Cover dish tightly with aluminum foil.


Bake until eggplants are tender, about 1 hour. Check from time to time, making sure there is a little liquid in bottom of baking dish. Add water if needed. Remove from oven and let cool. Serve at room temperature or chilled, sprinkled with chopped fresh parsley.


Serving tip: Serve eggplants on their own as a light lunch with bread, cured olives and a green salad, or as a make-ahead accompaniment to grilled or roasted meats.


A Tuscan-style pork recipe developed by chef Rhys Lewis of the American Club in Kohler, Wis., may ease your way to a special dinner for a few guests.


This herb-seasoned combination of chops, vegetables and polenta calls for minimal shopping ahead of time and only about 45 minutes in the kitchen. The pork is prepared in the same pan as the vegetables; it goes from stove to oven and back, so there's not much to clean up after the meal.


Lewis says he chose the ingredients for the recipe because they're readily available in almost any market or grocery store.


But see what is good and fresh in your market, he urges, and don't be afraid of making substitutions. For example, the Roma tomatoes or pearl onions can be replaced with other tomato or onion varieties, he says, depending on availability or individual preferences.


The rub can be applied well in advance or at the last minute -- the flavor won't be affected. The flavor of this country-style dish, Lewis says, emerges as the pork cooks and its juices combine with the other ingredients.


Serves 4


For the pork:

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1/3 teaspoon salt

1/3 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

Four 6- to 8-ounce bone-in pork loin chops


For the vegetable sauté and pork browning:

2 tablespoons olive oil

12 small pearl onions, whole, or peeled cipollini onions, whole

12 whole garlic cloves, peeled

8 crimini mushrooms (about 4 ounces), cut into sixths

1/2 cup Marsala wine (see note)

1/2 cup chicken broth 6 Roma tomatoes, quartered

1/4 pound fresh baby spinach

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon chopped parsley, for garnish (optional)


For the polenta:

3 cups 2-percent milk

Salt and pepper to taste

3/4 cup corn meal

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Stir together the rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Rub this spice mixture onto the chops. (The chops can be rubbed with the spice up to a day in advance and refrigerated until ready to cook.)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


In a large ovenproof sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the onions, garlic and mushrooms for 4 to 5 minutes. Push the vegetable mixture to the edges of the pan and add the chops to the center. Brown the chops for 1 to 2 minutes on each side. Place the pan in the oven; roast for about 15 minutes or until pork reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees.


While the pork is roasting, prepare the polenta by heating the milk in a heavy sauce pot until boiling; season to taste with salt and pepper.


Pour the corn meal into the milk in a steady stream, while whisking continuously. Reduce heat to low and cook polenta for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese; cover and keep warm.


When the pork is done, remove the chops and vegetables from the pan; keep warm. Place the pan over medium heat and add the wine; simmer until wine is reduced by half. Add the chicken broth and return to simmer; stir in the tomatoes and the spinach. Cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes; season to taste with salt and pepper.


To serve, spoon some polenta into the center of each plate. Top with pork chops and vegetables, and the wine sauce from the pan.


Note: Sweet port, Madeira wine or apple juice may be substituted for the Marsala wine.



1 tablespoon cooking oil

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin

1 small onion, sliced

1 (10-ounce) package mushrooms, sliced

1 cup barbecue sauce

1/4 cup honey

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce


Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook chicken for 5 minutes until chicken is no longer pink in center.


Remove chicken to serving platter; keep warm.


In the same skillet, sauté onion and mushrooms for 5 minutes until mushrooms are golden brown and no liquid remains. Return chicken to skillet.


Combine barbecue sauce, honey and Worcestershire sauce; pour into skillet. Bring to a full boil. Reduce heat and cook 2 to 3 minutes until sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally. Serve with hot cooked rice, if desired.


Makes 4 to 6 servings

2 pounds zucchini, coarsely shredded (4 cups)


Freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

2 eggs, beaten

2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

2 tablespoons dry bread crumbs


Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 1-quart shallow baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.


Place the zucchini in a bowl, add salt and pepper to taste and mix gently. Let stand for 5 minutes. Drain the zucchini of any water that may have collected in the bottom of the bowl.


Heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat in a large nonstick skillet. Add the zucchini and cook 10 minutes until all the moisture has evaporated. Add the garlic and cook 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley and basil and remove from heat.


Beat the eggs and goat cheese together in a large bowl. Stir in the cooked zucchini. Spoon into the baking dish. Top with the bread crumbs and the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Bake until browned, 20 to 30 minutes.


(Calabacitas con Queso)

Makes 4 servings

1 pound zucchini, sliced (2 medium)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 small serrano chili, halved lengthwise, then sliced crosswise (WEAR GLOVES)

1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/2 pound tomatoes, chopped (2 small to medium)

Kernels from 1 ear of corn (3/4 to 1 cup)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup shredded combined jack and cheddar cheese (4 ounces)


If the zucchini are too big around, cut them in half lengthwise, then slice crosswise.


Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, chili and cumin seeds and cook until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the zucchini, corn, oregano and salt; cook, uncovered, until the zucchini is tender, stirring as needed, 10 to 12 minutes. Top evenly with the cheese and cook until the cheese is almost melted.


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



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