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Volume 18   Number 22

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  THIS WEEK'S FEATURES AND RECIPES:

   > Article: For the Artichoke, Some New Helpers

   > Food Funnies: Things You Don't Want To Hear at Your Family BBQ

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

    * Cracker Barrel's Chicken Salad
        
    * Southern Grilled Barbecued Ribs
        
    * Cordon Bleu Casserole
        
    * Cajun Baked Shrimp
        
    * Red Potatoes and String Beans
        
    * Summer Squash Casserole
        
    * Cheese and Rosemary Breadsticks
        
    * Walnut-Date Torte

     Healthy Eating:

    Low Carb: Belgian Waffles

    Diabetic: Cream Cheese and Jelly Cookies

    Low Fat: Cheese Ravioli

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  This Week's Cooking Tips

    Grilling Tips:

 * Always preheat the gas grill for a good 10 minutes or with charcoal
   allow 20 to 30 minutes for it to turn to a light gray ash.

 * Keep the grill vents open. This lets oxygen in which fuels the
   flame.

 * Keep your grill clean. Scrub grill grates with a wire brush or
   spatula before and after cooking. Oil the grill grates so food
   doesn't stick.

 * Season the food with dry rubs before cooking.

 * Turn items only once (halfway through cooking time) and test with
   an instant-read thermometer.

 * Keep grill cover closed for even cooking. Resist the urge to peek.
    More Cooking Tips

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

   This Japanese dish is savoury and has vegetable and meat toppings.
  Sometimes it is garnished with mayonnaise and fish flakes. It looks
  like a pizza. Do you know what it is? 

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  Quote of the Week:

    "The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly,
     and lie about your age."

     - Lucille Ball (1911-1989)

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    UPCOMING FOOD HOLIDAYS:

           June is: National Papaya Month 
                    National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month 
                    National Iced Tea Month 
                    National Dairy Month 
                    National Seafood Month

            May 29 - National Coq Au Vin Day 
            May 30 - National Mint Julep Day 
            May 31 - National Macaroon Day
            June 1 - National Hazelnut Cake Day 
            June 2 - National Chocolate Macaroon Day 
            June 3 - National Rocky Road Day 
            June 4 - National Frozen Yogurt Day 
            June 5 - National Gingerbread Day 

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   For the Artichoke, Some New Helpers
    by Mark Bittman

  A lesson I learned this spring: if you have artichokes in your
 kitchen, you will find new ways to cook them. 

  While traveling throughout Western Europe intermittently since
 February, I saw them eaten raw, braised, sauteed and fried, served
 solo or with lamb, shrimp, octopus or pasta. And I internalized, as I
 never had before, that artichokes are not a precious ingredient but a
 regular vegetable and can be treated as such. 

  In a way they remind me of lobster: they’re so great steamed, with
 lemon or butter, that you forget that it’s easy enough to take them
 a step or two further. 

  On my extended periods at home, I bought artichokes whenever I saw
 decent ones. It didn’t hurt that they don’t seem too expensive this
 year. 

  I began not only duplicating beloved recipes from past years, a
 seasonal ritual with many of my favorite ingredients, but also
 improvising with them. 

  The best consequence of all that was this quick saute, in which as I
 was trimming my artichokes I began piling them, cut side down, into a
 pan filmed with hot oil. 

  (I’m not a big fan of soaking artichokes in acidulated water to keep
 them green, for three reasons: one, it’s a hassle; two, it doesn’t
 work that well unless you make the water so acidic that it changes
 the taste; and three, I don’t mind olive-green artichokes.) 

  With them, I cooked garlic, tomatoes and olives - I used oil-cured,
 but any good olives will do. It’s a simple and obvious enough
 combination, but a fabulous one as well. 

  The dish is a bit easier when made with little artichokes (or baby
 ones; they’re not exactly the same), whose chokes are either
 nonexistent or small enough to ignore, and which can therefore be
 prepped a little bit faster than their larger cousins. 

  You can deal with them at the rate of about one per minute, so a
 dozen or so doesn’t take much more than 10 minutes. (Details for
 trimming are in the recipe below.)

  But if you can’t find the little ones, trimming the big ones (cut
 them in half lengthwise to remove the choke) doesn’t require much
 more time.

  Little Artichokes, Provencal Style
  =========================
    1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    4 cloves garlic, crushed, then peeled
    Fresh thyme or rosemary, optional
    1/2 cup flavorful black olives, pitted
    Salt 
    12 little (or baby) artichokes
    1 pint grape tomatoes, halved or left whole, or about
      1 1/2 cups any other tomatoes, chopped
    Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish

 1. Combine oil and garlic in a large skillet (cast iron is good),
    over low heat. When garlic sizzles, add herb, olives and a pinch
    of salt. 

 2. Meanwhile, one at a time, prepare artichokes: remove hard leaves,
    then cut off spiky end, about an inch down from top; trim bottoms,
    cut artichokes in half, and add them to pan as they are ready, cut
    side down. When about half of them are in pan, raise heat so they
    brown a bit; move them around as you add remaining artichokes so
    that they brown evenly. 

 3. When artichokes brown, add tomatoes and a splash of water. Cook
    until chokes are tender, 10 to 20 minutes. Add water if needed.
    Adjust seasoning, garnish and serve hot or at room temperature.

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  FOOD FUNNIES: Things You Don't Want To Hear at Your Family BBQ 
 

 8. "I got the idea for this recipe from watching 'Survivor'"

 7. "Which do you want first, kids, ice cream or the name of your
     real father?"

 6. "I made the potato salad three weeks ago, so it's naturally red,
     white and blue"

 5. "Somebody keep the cops busy while dad buries the knife"

 4. "It's me, Aunt Susan -- you remember me from last year as
     Uncle Jeff"

 3. "If you don't wash your hands, it gives the burgers more flavor"

 2. "By the way, your wife is an excellent kisser"

   ... and the #1 Thing You Don't Want To Hear at Your Family BBQ ...

 1. "Dude, that firecracker really did a number on your eye"

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  Cracker Barrel's Chicken Salad
  ========================
    2 pounds chicken breasts
    2 ribs celery, cut in chunks
    2 chicken bouillon cubes
    2 cans (3 oz. each) chunk chicken; shredded fine
    2 tablespoons dill pickle relish
    2 tablespoons onion, diced fine
    1/4 cup celery, minced fine
    2/3 cup Kraft mayonnaise
    1/3 cup sour cream
    2 tablespoons Miracle Whip Salad Dressing
    lettuce, torn
    cheddar cheese wedges
    1 tomato, quartered
    hard boiled egg halves
    extra dressing

  Cook chicken breast in enough water to cover with celery chunks and
 bouillon cubes. When tender, remove from broth. Refrigerate till very
 cold.

  Cut into bite-size pieces and combine with canned chicken, relish,
 onion, celery, mayonnaise, sour cream, and Miracle Whip. Place scoop
 of salad on lettuce and surround by cheese, tomato and egg.

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  Southern Grilled Barbecued Ribs
  =========================
  4 pounds baby back pork ribs
  2/3 cup water
  1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  1 cup ketchup
  1 cup water
  1/2 cup cider vinegar
  1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
  1/4 cup prepared mustard
  4 tablespoons butter
  1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  1/8 teaspoon salt

  Preheat oven to 350F. Place ribs in two 10x15 inch roasting pans.
 Pour water and red wine vinegar into a bowl, and stir. Pour diluted
 vinegar over ribs and cover with foil. Bake in the preheated oven for
 45 minutes. Baste the ribs with their juices halfway through cooking.

  In a medium saucepan, mix together ketchup, water, vinegar,
 Worcestershire sauce, mustard, butter, brown sugar, hot pepper sauce,
 and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer
 barbeque sauce for 1 hour.

  Preheat grill for medium heat. Lightly oil preheated grill. Transfer
 ribs from the oven to the grill, discarding cooking liquid. Grill
 over medium heat for 15 minutes, turning ribs once. Baste ribs
 generously with barbeque sauce, and grill 8 minutes. Turn ribs, baste
 again with barbeque sauce, and grill 8 minutes.

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  Cordon Bleu Casserole
  ==================
    6 slices white or whole-wheat bread
    6 chicken breast halves, cooked and sliced
    1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, thinly sliced
    1/2 lb. sliced, fully cooked ham
    2 (8 ounce) cups shredded swiss cheese
    2 (10 ounce) packages frozen broccoli stems
    2 cans condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
    1/4 teaspoon pepper

  Preheat oven to 350F. Place bread slices in the bottom of a greased
 9x13 pan. Layer chicken, cream cheese slices and ham over bread.
 Sprinkle with 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese. Top with broccoli.
  Combine soup and pepper; spoon over broccoli. Top with remaining
 cheese. Bake uncovered at 350F for 50 to 55 minutes or until bubbly.

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  Cajun Baked Shrimp
  ================
    3 pounds uncooked large shrimp, unpeeled
    3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
    1 1/2 cups bottled Italian dressing
    1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
    1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
    2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
    1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce
    4 bay leaves, crumbled
    2 teaspoons ground black pepper
    1 teaspoon salt 

  Place shrimp in a 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Melt butter in
 medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in Italian dressing, lemon
 juice, mint, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, bay leaves, pepper, and
 salt. Cool sauce to room temperature; mix into shrimp. Refrigerate
 at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours, tossing occasionally.

  Preheat oven to 450F. Bake shrimp until just opaque in center, about
 15 minutes, and serve. Lay down newspapers on the table and invite
 guests to peel-and-eat.

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  Red Potatoes and String Beans
  ========================
     2 1/2 lbs. Red Potatoes
     2 lbs. frozen String Beans, thawed
     1 lb. Red Onions
     4 oz. Olive Oil
     3 oz. White Wine Vinegar
     1 teaspoon Oregano
     1 tablespoon Salt
     1 teaspoon White Pepper

  Wash potatoes and cut in half. Place in large pot and cover with
 water. Bring to a boil. Cook for about 15-20 minutes or until soft.
 Drain and place on a flat pan. Cool in refrigerator for 1 hour.

  Meanwhile, bring quarts of water to a boil. Add string beans and
 cook for 3 minutes. Drain and cool in refrigerator.

  Peel onions and cut in half. Slice halves the long way into
 1/4 inch slices.

  Combine cooled potatoes, string beans, and onions in a large
 bowl. Mix remaining ingredients as a dressing, and pour over all.
 Mix well being careful not to break potatoes.

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  Summer Squash Casserole
  =====================
    1 3/4 pounds crookneck yellow squash or other yellow summer squash
    1/4 pound zucchini or additional yellow summer squash 
    1/2 cup coarse-chopped carrots 
    1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter 
    1 large onion, preferably yellow, chopped 
    1 plump garlic clove, minced 
    1 1/4 cups saltine or Ritz cracker crumbs 
    1/2 cup grated mild to medium Cheddar cheese 
    Hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco 
    Salt and freshly milled black pepper 
    2 eggs, lightly beaten

  Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a medium baking dish. Slice the
 yellow squash and zucchini lengthwise into quarters, then cut into
 1/2-inch-thick wedges. Place the yellow squash, zucchini and carrots
 in a saucepan, barely cover with water and salt well. Bring to a
 boil; reduce the heat to medium and cover. Cook about 20 minutes, 
 until the vegetables are very soft. 

  Meanwhile, warm 3 tablespoons of the butter in a medium skillet over
 medium-low heat. Stir in the onion and cook slowly until very soft
 and translucent, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional
 minute. Scrape the mixture into a mixing bowl. Wipe out the skillet,
 return it to medium-low heat, and add to it the remaining tablespoon
 of butter. Stir in 1/2 cup of the cracker crumbs and cook briefly
 until the crumbs are golden. Scrape them onto a small plate and
 reserve them. 

  Drain the squash mixture, mashing the vegetables just a bit. Spoon
 it into the mixing bowl. Stir in the remaining 3/4 cup of cracker
 crumbs, cheese and a good splash or two of the pepper sauce. Salt and
 pepper generously to taste. Stir in the eggs and spoon the mixture
 into the prepared baking dish. Scatter the toasted cracker crumbs
 over the top. Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes, until golden brown
 and lightly firm in the center. Serve hot.

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  Cheese and Rosemary Breadsticks
  ===========================
    1/4 cup grated Parmesan 
    1/3 cup grated Gruyere 
    1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves 
    1 (11-ounce) container refrigerated breadstick dough
    Finely ground sea salt, optional 

  Preheat the oven to 350F. Line 2 heavy large baking sheets with
 silicone baking sheets or parchment paper. In a food processor, chop
 the Parmesan, Gruyere and rosemary together until coarsely chopped.
 Set the cheese mixture aside. Separate the dough strips. Using a
 pizza cutter or a large sharp knife, cut each dough strip in half
 lengthwise to form thin strips. Working with dough strip at a time,
 coat each strip with the cheese mixture, pressing very gently. Twist
 each cheese covered dough strip and place onto prepared baking sheets.
 Sprinkle with the salt, if you wish. 

  Bake until the breadsticks are golden brown, about 10 to 15 minutes.
 Transfer the warm breadsticks to a basket and serve.

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  Walnut-Date Torte
  ==============
    1/4 cup boiling-hot water 
    1 1/2 cups pitted dates (1/2 pound), finely chopped 
    1 1/2 cups walnuts (5 ounces), toasted and cooled 
    3/4 cup sugar, divided 
    2/3 cup matzo meal 
    1 tablespoon grated orange zest 
    1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom 
    1/4 teaspoon salt 
    4 large eggs, separated, at room temperature 30 minutes

  Preheat oven to 350F with rack in middle. Generously grease a 9- by
 2-inch round cake pan with softened butter or vegetable oil and dust
 with some matzo meal, knocking out excess. 

  Pour hot water over dates in a large bowl and let stand 15 minutes
 to soften. Pulse walnuts in a food processor until chopped, then add
 1/4 cup sugar and pulse until nuts are finely ground. Add matzo meal
 (2/3 cup), zest, cardamom, and salt and pulse until combined. 

  Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt in a bowl using an electric
 mixer at medium-high speed until they just hold soft peaks. Add
 remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a slow stream, beating until whites hold
 stiff glossy peaks. Whisk yolks into date mixture. Fold one third of
 yolk mixture into whites, then fold in remaining yolk mixture gently
 but thoroughly. Fold all of nut mixture into batter. 

  Spoon batter into cake pan and bake until golden and springy to the
 touch and cake just begins to pull away from side of pan, 35 to 40
 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 30 minutes, then invert onto rack and
 cool completely. Serve with whipped cream.

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   This Week's Culinary Quiz Answer: Okonomiyaki

  The word "okonomi" means "as you like" and the word "yaki" means
 "grill". It was first made sometime around 200 years ago. It was
 more basic than nowadays and the base recipe was only made out of
 flour, spice, water and cabbage. Now it has lots of variety and
 each area has its own special style. Osaka okonomiyaki has a thicker
 and richer taste, and Tokyo has a thinner and healthier okonomiyaki
 (a.k.a monjayaki).

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