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Volume 19   Number 4        No. 3    No. 2   No. 1


  >  Article: Hearty Soup, Short Wait

  >  Food Funnies: Signs You’re Not In An Authentic French Restaurant

       S E L E C T E D    R E C I P E S :

    * Houston's Spinach and Artichoke Dip
    * Primanti Brothers Sandwich
    * Pot Roast with Vegetables
    * Penne a la Carbonara
    * Chicken Piccata
    * Sour Cream-Horseradish Mashed Potatoes
    * Corned Beef Hash
    * Banana Split Cake

     Healthy Eating:

    Low Carb: Crockpot Hungarian Goulash

    Diabetic: Lemon Chicken and Rice

    Low Fat: Buffalo Chicken Strips


  This Week's Cooking Tips

  Cooking for a Crowd:

 * Plan a simple menu with everything done in advance, except simple
   heating or reheating.

 * Check that you have the pots and pans and storage containers for
   the foods you'll be preparing.

 * If it's a buffet and people will be balancing plates on their
   laps, serve foods that are already bite-sized and that don't
   require cutting with a knife and fork.

 * When you're multiplying recipes, keep in mind that cooking times
   may be different if you change the recipe size. A larger amount of
   food may take longer to cook; a smaller amount may be overcooked
   in the same time.

 * If you're serving wine, make it white wine rather than red wine.
   White wine is less of a menace to your carpets. More Cooking Tips


  This Week's Culinary Quiz (Answer at the bottom of page)

  It may be beneficial for roses to have garlic planted next to them.
  True or False?


  Quote of the Week:

   "He dreamed he was eating shredded wheat and woke up to
    find the mattress half gone."

    - Fred Allen (1894-1956)



          January is: National Egg Month 
                      Bread Machine Baking Month 
                      Oatmeal Month 
                      Wheat Bread Month 
                      National Hot Tea Month 
                      Fat Free Living Month 
                      National Soup Month

             January 23 - National Rhubarb Pie Day
             January 24 - National Peanut Butter Day
             January 25 - National Irish Coffee Day 
             January 26 - National Peanut Brittle Day 
             January 27 - National Chocolate Cake Day 
             January 28 - National Blueberry Pancake Day 
             January 29 - National Corn Chip Day 
             January 30 - National Croissant Day 


    Hearty Soup, Short Wait
     By Mark Bittman

  Too few soups are both hearty and quick to make, but West Lake soup
 is a stunning exception. Named after its area of origin, in Hangzhou,
 China, it is sometimes called a variation on egg drop soup. This is a
 bit like calling a cream-enriched lobster bisque a variation on
 creamy potato soup.

  When I have eaten West Lake soup in restaurants and homes in this
 country, it has had wonderfully clear and intense flavors and a
 marked richness. This comes not only from dropped egg whites but from
 loads of meat or fish, cilantro, peas and, as I found out in the
 cooking, a bit of cornstarch.

  Most West Lake soup contains ground meat, often pork, sometimes
 beef. But a couple of months ago I ate a version dominated by plain
 white fish at a restaurant in Monterey Park, Calif., a largely Asian
 suburb of Los Angeles. The colors of the fish, the cilantro and the
 peas offset one another beautifully, and the dish had more flavor
 than when made with beef.

  You can make the soup in the same time with fish or meat (or even
 ground turkey or chicken, or crab meat). The other ingredients, which
 include a hefty amount of black pepper and soy sauce, are strong
 enough so that the results are splendid, especially if you begin by
 sauteing shallots or onions until they are nicely browned.

  Some people will eat nothing with this much cilantro, so I tried
 preparing the soup with chopped watercress or chopped kale. Both
 "worked" - as would dark greens like spinach or collards, or even
 parsley - though they changed the soup's flavor. Cilantro lovers will
 probably prefer the original, but no one should pass up this chance
 to expand a repertory of fast and rich soups.

  West Lake Fish Soup
    2 tablespoons peanut oil, or neutral oil like corn or canola 
    1/2 cup peeled and chopped shallots or onion 
    6 cups chicken or other stock, preferably homemade 
    3 tablespoons soy sauce, or to taste 
    1 teaspoon (at least) ground pepper 
    1 cup peas, preferably fresh (thaw frozen ones) 
    3/8 to 1 pound plain white fish fillets, like flounder, roughly
      chopped (can use ground meat) 
    2 tablespoons cornstarch 
    2 egg whites, lightly beaten 
    1 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves 

 1. Put oil in a saucepan large enough to hold all ingredients, and
    turn heat to medium. A minute later add shallots. Cook about 10
    minutes, stirring occasionally until they are golden brown,
    adjusting heat so they do not burn.

 2. Add all but 1/4 cup of stock, and turn heat to medium-high. When
    contents begin to steam, add soy sauce, pepper, peas and fish, and
    cook at a gentle simmer (adjust heat as necessary), stirring
    occasionally, until peas are tender and fish is falling apart, 5
    to 10 minutes. In a small bowl, mix 1/4 cup of stock with

 3. Drizzle egg whites into saucepan, stirring constantly with a whisk
    or a pair of chopsticks. Stir in cornstarch mixture. When soup
    thickens, stir in cilantro. Taste, and add more pepper or soy
    sauce if you like and salt if necessary. Serve immediately.



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  FOOD FUNNIES: Signs You’re Not In An Authentic French Restaurant

 8. When you order the "pommes frites", the waiter yells out,
    "Side of fries!".

 7. The waitstaff are all pleasant, attentive, helpful and clean.

 6. Possibly because the menu lists choices like French Onion Soup,
    French Fries and French Dressing.

 5. Chopsticks.

 4. The maitre d’ involuntarily taps his foot to the ambient music:
    an accordion rendition of "Achy Breaky Heart".

 3. You say, "Pain, s’il vous plait!" and the waiter hits you with
    a chair.

 2. Your waiter asks if he can supersize your petits fours.

  ... and the #1 Sign You’re Not in an Authentic French Restaurant ...

 1. If you want a good table you have to tip Tomater Dee. 

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  Houston's Spinach and Artichoke Dip
    2 bags (1 lb. each) fresh spinach
    1/8 lb. butter - not margarine
    1 tsp. minced fresh garlic
    2 tbls. minced onions
    1/4 cup flour
    1 pint heavy cream (whipping cream)
    2 teas. fresh squeezed lemon juice
    1/2 tsp. Tabasco sauce (to taste)
    1/2 tsp. salt
    2/3 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
    1/3 cup sour cream
    1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
    artichoke hearts, coarsely diced

  Steam spinach - strain and squeeze through cheesecloth. Must be
 very dry. Chop finely and set aside. In heavy saucepan, melt butter.
 Add garlic and onions and saute about 3-5 minutes. Add flour to make
 a roux. Stir; cook about 1 minute. Slowly add heavy cream, stirring
 with a whisk to prevent lumping. Mixture will thicken at the boiling
 point. When it thickens, add lemon juice, Tabasco, salt and
 Parmesan cheese. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in
 sour cream. Fold in dry, chopped spinach, coarse diced artichoke
 hearts and Jack cheese. Stir until cheese is melted. Serve
 immediately, or portion and microwave to order. Serve with salsa,
 sour cream and tortilla chips for dipping. 

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  Primanti Brothers Sandwich
    2 slices thick Italian bread
    1/4 pound meat, sliced thin (ham, turkey, pastrami, corned beef,
      roast beef, leftover meatloaf, bologna - use your imagination)
    2 slices provolone cheese
    1/2 cup cole slaw (recipe follows)
    2 slices tomatoes
    1 cup French fries, still warm

  Cole Slaw:
    1 Head green cabbage, shredded
    1 onion, sliced thinly
    1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
    6 tablespoons sugar
    6 tablespoons oil
    Salt and pepper to taste

  Combine the shredded cabbage, shredded carrots, and onion in a bowl.
 Place in refrigerator for at least an hour. In a pot, dissolve the
 sugar into the vinegar and oil over low heat. Add in salt and pepper
 and cool. Wait until completely cool before pouring over cabbage
 mixture, chill in refrigerator for at least an hour.

  In a pan, over medium heat, add just enough oil to coat the bottom
 of the pan. Add sliced meat and heat for about a minute. After
 flipping, add slices of provolone cheese and cover until melted.

  Place your meat and cheese slices on the first piece of Italian
 bread, then place one cup of fries on top of the meat. Pile on the
 cole slaw. Then add your sliced, fresh tomatoes. And finally, top
 it off with the other slice of Italian bread.

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  Pot Roast with Vegetables
    1 (3 to 4 pound) piece beef chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat
    salt and freshly ground black pepper
    3 tablespoons olive oil
    1 can crushed tomatoes
    1 cup water
    2 yellow onion, halved
    2 garlic cloves, chopped
    1 bunch baby carrots
    2 celery stalks, sliced
    1 cup button mushrooms, stems removed and sliced in half
    2 sprigs fresh rosemary
    4 sprigs fresh thyme
    2 bay leaves

  Season all sides of the beef with a fair amount of salt and pepper.
 In a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot that has a tight cover; heat
 2 tablespoons of the oil over moderately high heat. Brown the meat on
 all sides, taking the time to get a nice crust on the outside. Pour
 in the tomatoes and the water. Scatter the vegetables and herbs
 around the pot roast, season with salt and pepper; and drizzle with
 the remaining tablespoon of oil. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to
 low. Braise for about 3 hours, basting every 30 minutes with the pan
 juices, until the beef is fork tender.

  Slice the pot roast and arrange on platter surrounded by the
 vegetables. Serve with the pot juices.

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  Penne a la Carbonara
    1 pound pancetta, diced into 1-inch cubes
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    6 eggs, at room temperature
    1/2 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
    1 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
    1 pound dried penne
    4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

  Heat a large saute pan, until hot. Add pancetta and saute until
 golden brown and crispy, about 5 minutes. Season with black pepper
 and remove pan from heat.

  In a medium bowl, beat the eggs and cream. Season with salt and
 pepper. Stir in Parmesan, reserving 2 tablespoons for garnish.

  In a large pot, boil 6 quarts of salted boiling water. Add pasta
 and cook until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta in a
 colander. Do not rinse with water; you want to retain the pasta's
 natural starches so that the sauce will stick. While the pasta is
 still hot, return it back to the pot. Add the browned pancetta and
 mix well. Add the cream mixture and coat the pasta completely. It's
 important to work quickly while the pasta is still warm so that the
 cream mixture will cook, but not curdle. Add remaining Parmesan and
 chopped parsley.

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  Chicken Piccata
    2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, butterflied and then
      cut in half 
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 
    2 cups all purpose flour, for dredging 
    6 tablespoons unsalted butter 
    5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
    1/3 cup fresh lemon juice 
    1/2 cup chicken stock 
    1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed 
    1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped

  Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour and
 shake off excess. In a large 10 or 12-inch skillet over medium high
 heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 3 tablespoons olive oil. When
 butter and oil start to sizzle, add 2 pieces of chicken and cook for
 3 minutes. When chicken is browned, flip and cook other side for
 3 minutes. Remove and transfer to plate. Melt 2 more tablespoons
 butter and add another 2 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil
 start to sizzle, add the other 2 pieces of chicken and brown both
 sides in same manner. Remove pan from heat and add chicken to the

  Reduce heat to medium low and add the lemon juice, stock and capers.
 Return to stove and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits from the
 pan for extra flavor. Check for seasoning. Return all the chicken to
 the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove chicken to platter. Add
 remaining 2 tablespoons butter to sauce and whisk vigorously. Pour
 sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley.

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  Sour Cream-Horseradish Mashed Potatoes
    2 pounds Yukon Gold or russet potatoes (unpeeled)
    1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
    1 cup sour cream 
    1/3 cup chopped chives 
    1/4 cup prepared horseradish 

  Place potatoes in large saucepan; cover with cold water. Bring to
 boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until tender, about 20
 minutes. Drain well; cool slightly. Peel and mash potatoes; place
 in large saucepan. Over medium heat, dry out potatoes for 2 minutes,
 stirring occasionally. 

  Whisk sour cream, chopped chives, and horseradish in medium bowl.
 Stir butter into potatoes. Fold sour cream mixture into potatoes.
 Combine until well mixed. Season with salt.

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  Corned Beef Hash
    1 lb. baking (russet) potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice 
    1 lb. cooked corned beef, cut into chunks 
    1 cup chopped onion 
    1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch pieces 
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter 
    1/4 cup heavy cream 
    4 large eggs (optional) 
    1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 

  Cook potatoes in boiling salted water to cover until just tender,
 about 3 minutes, then drain. Pulse corned beef in a food processor
 until coarsely chopped. 

  Saute onion and bell pepper in butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet
 over moderately high heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about
 5 minutes. Add potatoes and saute over moderately high heat, stirring
 occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in corned beef and
 salt and pepper to taste, then cook, stirring occasionally, until
 browned. Add cream and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

  If desired, make 4 holes in hash and break 1 egg into each. Cook
 over moderately low heat, covered, 5 minutes, or until eggs are
 cooked to desired doneness, and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle
 hash with parsley.

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  Banana Split Cake
    4 cups crushed graham crackers 
    3 sticks butter, room temperature 
    2 eggs 
    16-ounce box powdered sugar 
    20-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained 
    2 to 3 bananas, sliced 
    12-ounce container whipped topping

  Preheat oven to 350F. For crust, mix crushed graham crackers and
 1 stick of butter. Line bottom and sides of a 13 by 9-inch pan with
 mixture. Bake crust for 5 to 8 minutes. 

  Beat the eggs, 2 sticks butter, and the powdered sugar until fluffy.
 Spread mixture on cooled crust. Add layer of crushed pineapple and
 layer of sliced bananas. Cover with whipped topping and sprinkle with
 nuts or graham crackers. Refrigerate for 1 hour.


     This Week's Culinary Quiz Answer: True

   The vicinity of garlic is a cure for Black Spot disease in
  roses. As the garlic grows, the fungus that causes the disease
  will retreat. It is also said that the roses will grow extra
  fragrant - because they'll want to overpower their smelly little


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