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Volume 18   Number 5        No. 4    No. 3    No. 2   No. 1

  THIS WEEK'S FEATURES AND RECIPES:

  >  Article: A Venetian Bath of Wine and Spice

  >  Food Funnies: Creative Ways to Add More Fiber To Your Diet 

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

    * Olive Garden Beef Filets in Balsamic Sauce
       
    * Sweet and Spicy London Broil
       
    * Crock Pot Pork Chops
       
    * Lemon Pasta with Chicken
       
    * Spinach and Bacon Quiche
       
    * Indian Baked Rice
       
    * Red Lentil Soup
       
    * Jalapeno Brownies

     Healthy Eating:

    Low Carb: Sirloin Tip Roast with Bacon

    Diabetic: Turkey Burgers

    Low Fat: Caramel Apple Cobbler

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  This Week's Cooking Tips

  Pesto Tips:

 * Pesto and pine nuts. May the two never be torn asunder. Forget
   what you read about substituting walnuts, almonds or hazelnuts.
   Pignoli is the only ingredient that provides the creamy texture
   that binds this sauce.

 * Never heat pesto sauce; the basil will turn black and taste bitter.

 * Never use dried basil or you're in for a rude surprise.

 * When cut basil is exposed to oxygen, it eventually blackens. If
   you must make pesto ahead of time, cover the top of the batch with
   a light layer of olive oil and press a piece of plastic wrap evenly
   over the surface. Refrigerate. Leave the pesto out to reach room
   temperature before adding to a recipe.

 * Does your pesto taste a tad flat? Add 1/4 teaspoon of high quality
   balsamic vinegar to round it out. More Cooking Tips

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

      What ubiquitous frozen treat dominated America's craving
     for sweets in the 1980's?

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  Quote of the Week:

     "Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake,
      zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie."

      - Jim Davis, "Garfield"

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    UPCOMING FOOD HOLIDAYS:

        February is: Berry Fresh in the Sunshine State Month 
                     National Snack Food Month 
                     Canned Food Month 
                     North Carolina Sweet Potato Month 
                     Great American Pies Month 
                     National Grapefruit Month 
                     National Cherry Month 
                     National Potato Month 
                     Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month

           January 30 - National Croissant Day 
           January 31 - National Brandy Alexander Day
           February 1 - National Baked Alaska Day 
           February 2 - National Heavenly Hash Day 
           February 3 - National Carrot Cake Day 
           February 4 - National Stuffed Mushroom Day 
           February 5 - National Chocolate Fondue Day 
           February 6 - National Frozen Yogurt Day 

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   A Venetian Bath of Wine and Spice
     by Mark Bittman

  This is a column about luck, not skill - or at least not mine.
 Having become enamored of Peasant, on Elizabeth Street, I discovered
 that the chef, Frank DeCarlo, also ran the newer Bacaro. (Bacaro is
 the name given to a Venetian bar serving what are called cicchetti
 but are better known elsewhere as tapas - or small plates, or snacks.)

  The first time I ate at Bacaro I was struck - even dumbstruck - by
 one particular dish. It’s a marinated rib-eye, and part of the luck
 came in ordering it in the first place, since I’m not big on
 marinating meat that tastes fine just by itself. This, however, was
 clearly an ancient recipe - you could taste the sweet spices and the
 rich red wine immediately - and an unusual one. 

  The next time I saw Frank I asked him about it, and he agreed to
 share the recipe. Turns out it is indeed an ancient Northern Italian
 preparation, originally created for horsemeat. To improve the flavor
 of the meat, this powerful marinade relied on rich local wine
 (typically, says Frank, Amarone, but you can use something cheaper,
 as long as it’s full-bodied), along with aromatic spices. 

  It’s dead easy. Start with a relatively thin rib-eye. Marinate for
 one to three days. (We tried one of these steaks after a 30-minute
 marinade; it was good, but different. Try longer first.) 

  The cooking should be quick and hot, in a heavy pan, for just about
 two minutes per side; you might generate a bit of smoke but the
 cooking time is short enough that it will be tolerable. 

  Which makes us even luckier, given that indoor steak-grilling season
 is here for real. 

  Old-Fashioned Marinated Rib-Eye

    1/2 bottle rich, full-bodied red wine, preferably Amarone
    2 tablespoons sugar
    6 whole cloves
    1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
    1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    1 teaspoon orange zest
    2 (8 - 12 ounce) rib-eye steaks, about 1/2-inch thick
    Salt and pepper

 1. Combine wine and sugar in a large pot and bring to boil; lower
    heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon
    and orange zest, and remove pan from heat to cool. 

 2. Put steaks in a large baking dish and pour marinade over them.
    Marinate steaks in refrigerator for at least several hours and up
    to three days. 

 3. Take steaks out of the marinade, season with salt and pepper, and
    cook them in a very hot skillet, about 2 minutes each side for
    medium rare. (You can grill or broil them if you prefer.) Slice
    the meat about 1/4-inch thick and serve.

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  THE E-COOKBOOKS LIBRARY 

               ALL YOU NEED TO COOK IT RIGHT!

   Discover The #1 Cookbook Collection In The World!

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  FOOD FUNNIES: Creative Ways to Add More Fiber To Your Diet

 9. Make fruit smoothies in a high-speed blender using a wooden spoon.

 8. If they didn’t want you to eat the bag, why do they call it a
    Brown Bag Lunch?

 7. Eat a lot of pineapple. Whole.

 6. "It’s not spinach spaghetti - it’s an old green sweater that
    came unraveled, with alfredo!"

 5. Switch from Mojitos to "De-Spacklers": 1 part vodka, 1 part
    vermouth and 9 parts pulped oat bran.

 4. When you have Cedar-Plank Salmon, make sure you eat the plank too.

 3. Knit your own tortillas.

 2. When ordering seafood, always request it served on a bed of
    the line it was caught with.

  ... and the #1 Creative Way To Add More Fiber To Your Diet ...

 1. Out: Banana split. In: Hot fudge cauliflower sundae.

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  Olive Garden Beef Filets in Balsamic Sauce
  ==================================
    4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    4 tablespoons butter
    1 yellow onion, medium and sliced thin
    Salt to taste
    Black pepper to taste
    1/2 cup dry white wine
    3 fresh rosemary sprigs, finely chopped
    1/2 cup Marsala wine
    1/2 cup beef broth
    2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    4 beef tenderloin filets (6 oz each)
    parsley, finely chopped
    Rosemary sprig, for garnish

  Heat oil and butter in large saute pan over medium heat. Add sliced
 onions, salt, and pepper. Cook 10 minutes or until caramelized
 (softened and golden brown), stirring frequently. Add wine, broth,
 vinegar and chopped rosemary. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer
 for 10-15 minutes or until sauce is reduced by half.

  Rub beef filets with oil, then season with salt and pepper. Grill to
 preferred temperature. Place grilled filets on a large platter; top
 with sauce. Garnish with parsley and rosemary.

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  Sweet and Spicy London Broil
  =======================
    1 flank steak (about 1 3/4 pound)
    3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    2 tablespoons sweet paprika
    2 tablespoon light brown sugar
    1 tablespoons kosher salt
    2 teaspoons chili powder
    1 lime, zested

  Preheat a broiler to high. Bring the steaks to room temperature
 about 20 minutes before cooking.

  Mix the olive oil, paprika, sugar, chili powder, salt, chili powder,
 and zest in a bowl to make a paste. Rub the spice mixture all over
 the steak. Broil until just charred and crispy on top, about 6 minutes
 on 1 side. Flip the steak and cook until beginning to char, about
 6 minutes more or until rare and temperature registers 115F on an
 instant-read thermometer. Place the steak on a cutting board and let
 rest, tented with foil for about 10 minutes. Slice across the grain
 and serve.

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  Crock Pot Pork Chops
  =================
    8 boneless pork chops (1/2 inch thick) 
    2 tablespoons olive oil 
    1/4 teaspoon salt 
    1/8 teaspoon pepper 
    2 (10 3/4 ounce) cans condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
    3 cloves garlic, chopped 
    1 medium onion, chopped 
    1/2 cup ketchup 
    2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce

  In a large skillet, cook pork chops in oil until lightly browned on
 each side. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place in crockpot. In a
 bowl, combine the soup, garlic, onion, ketchup and Worcestershire
 sauce and pour over chops. Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours or
 until meat juices run clear. 

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  Lemon Pasta with Chicken
  =====================
    1 pound dried penne 
    2 chicken cutlets, cut into fingers 
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper 
    3 cloves garlic, sliced 
    1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes 
    3 tablespoons olive oil 
    3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh parsley, for garnish 
    2 lemons, juiced 
    1/2 cup grated Parmesan

  Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, until al
 dente. Drain well. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a
 large grill pan over medium high and add chicken. Grill until
 golden and completely cooked. Remove to a plate and slice. 

  Add the garlic and red pepper flakes to a saute pan with 3 tbls.
 of olive oil and saute until fragrant. Add the cooked pasta and
 turn heat off. Mix all together. Remove pasta to a large bowl. Add
 chicken to the warm pasta and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle
 in chopped parsley. Add the juice of 2 lemons and mix. Before
 serving top with Parmesan.

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  Spinach and Bacon Quiche
  =====================
    6 large eggs, beaten 
    1 1/2 cups heavy cream 
    Salt and pepper 
    2 cups chopped fresh baby spinach, packed 
    1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled 
    1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese 
    1 (9-inch) pie crust, fitted to a 9-inch glass pie plate 

  Preheat the oven to 375F. Combine the eggs, cream, salt, and pepper
 in a food processor or blender. Layer the spinach, bacon, and cheese
 in the bottom of the pie crust, then pour the egg mixture on top.
 Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until the egg mixture is set. Cut into
 8 wedges to serve.

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  Indian Baked Rice
  ==============
    basmati rice (19 oz.) 
    5 tablespoons vegetable oil 
    1/4 cup slivered almonds 
    1 large onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise 
    1 large garlic clove, minced 
    1 small fresh jalapeno chile, seeded and thinly sliced crosswise 
    1 teaspoon garam masala 
    1 teaspoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger 
    1/2 teaspoon salt 
    4 cups chicken broth, heated 

  Wash rice in 6 or 7 changes of cold water in a large bowl until
 water is almost clear. Drain in a large sieve 10 minutes. 

  Preheat oven to 325F. Heat oil in a 4-5 quart heavy ovenproof pot
 over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then cook almonds,
 stirring frequently, until golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer with a
 slotted spoon to paper towels to drain, then add onion to pot and
 cook over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until pale
 golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic, jalapeno, garam masala, ginger,
 and salt and cook, stirring frequently, 1 minute. Add rice and cook
 over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, 6 minutes. Add broth
 and simmer briskly, uncovered, until top of rice appears dry, about
 8 minutes. 

  Cover pot and bake rice in middle of oven until tender and liquid
 is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand,
 covered, 15 minutes. Serve sprinkled with almonds.

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  Red Lentil Soup
  ============
    1 large onion, chopped 
    1 tablespoon olive oil 
    4 garlic cloves, finely chopped 
    1 teaspoon ground cumin 
    1 bay leaf 
    1 sprig fresh thyme 
    1 cup red lentils (7 ounces), picked over and rinsed 
    6 cups chicken broth
    2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley 
    lemon wedges 

  Cook onion in oil with 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium heavy
 saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened,
 about 8 minutes. 

  Add garlic, cumin, bay leaf, and thyme and cook, stirring, 1 minute
 more. Add lentils, broth, water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon
 pepper and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until
 lentils are very soft and falling apart, about 30 to 45 minutes. 

  Discard bay leaf and thyme sprig, then puree 2 cups of mixture in
 blender (use caution when blending hot liquids) and return to pan.
 Stir in parsley and season with salt.

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  Jalapeno Brownies
  ===============
    4 oz. (4 squares) unsweetened baking chocolate 
    2/3 cup shortening 
    1 1/3 cups flour 
    1 teaspoon baking powder 
    1/2 teaspoon salt 
    4 eggs 
    2 cups granulated sugar 
    2 teaspoons vanilla 
    1/2 cup finely chopped fresh jalapenos 
    1 cups chopped toasted walnuts 

  Melt chocolate with shortening in a microwave or over a double
 boiler. Mix flour with baking powder and salt. Beat eggs well; then
 gradually beat in the sugar. Blend in the chocolate mixture and
 vanilla. Add flour mixture and blend well, stir in jalapenos and
 nuts. Spread in a greased 9"x13" pan. Bake in a preheated 350F oven
 for 25-30 minutes.

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     This Week's Culinary Quiz Answer: Frozen Yogurt

   Although frozen yogurt has been made since at least the 1970s,
  it's popularity exploded in the 1980s as a low fat alternative to
  ice cream. It’s made like ice cream, constantly churned at a very
  low temperature, and, with the exception of the yogurt cultures,
  the ingredients are also similar. 

   Frozen yogurt chains, such as TCBY, popped up in the eighties,
  and added sugar to their yogurt, making a previously sour food much
  more marketable. TCBY offered a variety of yogurt flavors, plus a
  delightful array of tasty toppings, such as fruit and crushed up
  candy and cookies.

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