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20 Dollar Dinner


Cookbook/The $20 Dinner


Article

Thursday January 6, 2005 12:04 am EST

The dawn of a new year is an invitation for purging, letting go, detoxifying on all levels. If you're like me, you've probably had your holiday landfill of butter, cream, animal fat, alcohol and other things that have contributed to dull taste buds and big bulges in all the wrong places. Top this human sundae off with a measly dose of winter daylight and you've got a recipe for sludge.

It's a...

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Article

Thursday December 30, 2004 12:04 am EST

Even this gal, born and raised north of the Mason-Dixon Line, knows that Hoppin' John rules when it comes to New Year's Day traditions. You can't start a year off right without it.

Thing is, you kind of hope you'll get invited somewhere for a bowl of black-eyed peas and rice, lovingly prepared by somebody who knows how to cook it right, seasoned with plenty of salt, spice and pork product....

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Thursday December 23, 2004 12:04 am EST

Inevitably during the holiday season — with all of its twists, turns and stress galore — something goes wrong in the kitchen. Even worse, you've got a pack of carolers showing up in 20 minutes for yuletide socializing with nothing in the way of vittles.

With Martha in the slammer, this is a good opportunity to develop your own entertaining tricks. After all, every cook and/or party...

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Article

Thursday December 16, 2004 12:04 am EST

If your definition of eggnog is derived from a refrigerated supermarket carton, you have my permission to run for the hills. To say that store-bought eggnog is one of the nastiest beverages available for purchase is an understatement. Cloyingly sweet with a chemical finish, commercial eggnog is almost viscous enough to chew. It's like drinking a Twinkie with a Jell-O pudding sauce.

Good news:...

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Article

Thursday December 9, 2004 12:04 am EST
Only at this time of year do I get inspired to use lots of eggs, cream and butter. What the hell, I say, it's only once a year that I indulge in artery heavy-hitters such as eggnog, chocolate truffles and chicken liver pate. Not only are these heady treats great fun to nibble over a roaring fire, they're simply glamorous. For the better part of a Christmas cartoon special, you can feel like the... | more...

Article

Thursday December 2, 2004 12:04 am EST
If you've been out for drinks lately, you may have noticed the seeds or juice of a pomegranate showing up in your favorite cocktail. The pomegranate is the "it" fruit, baby, but she ain't the new girl in town. In fact, she's been around since prehistoric times and is documented as one of the earliest cultivated fruits. She came from Iran or Turkey, turned up in Mesopotamia and Egypt, and became... | more...

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Wednesday November 10, 2004 12:04 am EST



Kitchen More than any other time of year, Thanksgiving evokes a strange justification for tradition, particularly when it comes to the dinner menu. It doesn't matter that young Sheila has just graduated from culinary school and wants to experiment with a few new recipes; Uncle Phil has been in charge of the stuffing for the past 20 years and won't be relinquishing his coveted assignment....

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Thursday November 4, 2004 12:04 am EST

The big feast of the year is only three weeks away. To help get you in the mood, a primer of mashed potato dos and don'ts.

DO:

Branch out beyond Idaho. Consider the Yukon gold, blue Peruvian and Russian fingerling potato varieties, to name a few.

Rinse potatoes well and remove any brown spots or signs of rotting.

Chop potatoes into manageable pieces so they don't take forever to cook.

Salt...

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Article

Thursday October 28, 2004 12:04 am EDT

I owned a Snoopy lunchbox in the first grade. I remember its contents like it was yesterday: bologna sandwich on white; a waxy, Red Delicious apple from Acme; and the highlight of my meal, a surprise snack food item.

I was the great arbiter of processed snack foods. Truth be told, I would have died happy getting a bag of Fritos in my lunchbox every day. But life as a middle-class 6-year-old...

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Thursday October 21, 2004 12:04 am EDT
Have you ever met anyone who doesn't like apples? They're hard to come by, these genetic anomalies. I found out only last week that my boss is one of these people. I am still rattled by the news that he turns his nose at one of nature's simplest treats. Seriously, what else is a combination portable snack, nutritional powerhouse, gesture of goodwill (think your first grade teacher) and... | more...

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Thursday October 14, 2004 12:04 am EDT
I will never command you to do anything in the kitchen. I may gently coax, cajole and persuade, but command I will not. I'll try to get you excited about making your own stuff rather than the store-bought version of things like chicken stock, cranberry sauce or chip-dipping salsa. I'll wax philosophical about the merits of free-range birds, and I'll encourage you to try an apple from the... | more...

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Thursday October 7, 2004 12:04 am EDT
The roast chicken is a common culinary conundrum — it's the "see ya, wouldn't want to be ya" item in a beginner cook's repertoire. Although you might love tearing into a properly seasoned, tender-fleshed bird, you may also stop short when it's your turn to pull out the roasting pan. The dual challenge of seasoning the bird adequately and arriving at a balance between cooked and overcooked... | more...

Article

Thursday September 30, 2004 12:04 am EDT

Among the canned tuna, pasta, olive oil, strong mustard and coarse salt on my pantry shelves, you'll always find cans of chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans), plus a jar of tahini paste in the fridge. These items comprise my essential kitchen staples — the things that make it simple to whip up somethin' when there's seemingly nothin' in the house.

At the end of a long day, instead of reaching...

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Thursday September 23, 2004 12:04 am EDT

I know what you're thinking: No way a girl from Philadelphia can make a Southern boy get down on his hands and knees, beggin' for more of her fine peach cobbler. But this recipe is so good I even surprised myself.

Infused with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and bourbon, the fruit holds its shape and peachy characteristics. Partnered with a cream biscuit inspired by bread diva Nancy Silverton of La...

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Thursday September 16, 2004 12:04 am EDT
Before summer makes its exit, consider the watermelon. Great big mama that she is — with her juicy, fuchsia hunks of flesh — slurp her up before she goes the way of the harvest moon. Except this time around, treat the lady with a dab of sophistication. Team her up with some savory elements, instead of dragging her outside all by her lonesome, allowing her juices to drip on the... | more...

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Thursday September 9, 2004 12:04 am EDT

Good pesto is never boring, but let's be honest — it's overused to a cliched extreme. Let's break out of the pesto box and consider a variation on the pesto theme — venturing instead in the culinary direction of India or South America. Below are two simple green sauces that promise to wake up the senses and the spirit.

First contestant: Green chutney

This is a typical chutney made...

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Article

Thursday September 2, 2004 12:04 am EDT
Gazpacho had its start in the Arab world as a bread-based soup, flavored with garlic, olive oil, vinegar and salt. Tomatoes and peppers weren't part of the recipe until explorers brought them back from the New World. Purists will tell you that a "genuine" gazpacho includes tomatoes, garlic, bread, olive oil, salt and vinegar. But really, the beauty of gazpacho is you can add or subtract... | more...

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Wednesday August 25, 2004 12:04 am EDT
I don't bake traditional cakes because of my fear of layers: too much architecture for this gal. The cake below, though, is a one-piece bundt baby, without any icing to worry about. With the addition of zucchini, this cake takes a walk on the simpler, earthier side. See if you agree with me on the use of extra virgin olive oil instead of plain old vegetable oil. I love the rich fruitiness it... | more...