Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Smart Mouth

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Just In

The International Association of Culinary Professionals named Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini (Morrow; $60) by Elizabeth Schneider as "Cookbook of the Year" for 2002. Schneider also won the IACP's Jane Grigson Award in recognition of her book's scholarship and depth of research. The organization honored other cookbook authors, cooking teachers and food and wine professionals during its annual conference, April 12, in Montreal.

For the first time in its 109-year history, Hershey Foods has introduced a line of sugar-free candies, including Reese's Sugar-Free Peanut Butter Cup Miniatures, Hershey's plain and almond Chocolate Candy and Dark Chocolate candy. The Pennsylvania company says it began offering the new line in response to requests by diabetics and those on reduced-carbohydrate diets. Made with the sugar substitute lactitol, the new candies contain 19 percent fewer calories.

Market Scan

Asparagus is generally available year-round, but tastes best February through June. Buy firm, bright green spears with tight tips. Asparagus is most flavorful and tender the day it's purchased, but will keep up to four days tightly wrapped in plastic in refrigerator. Or, store spears standing upright in about an inch of water, covering the container with a plastic bag. No need to peel asparagus. Grasp both ends and snap. The tough ends can be discarded or used for soup or vegetable stock. Despite what some believe, thick and thin asparagus spears are equally flavorful. But it's easier to uniformly cook asparagus of the same diameter.

Sip It

Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold ($8 6-pack): A deeply satisfying lager that's a great complement to almost any meal. It looks like a standard pilsner, but is ever so slightly stronger, richer, better balanced and more flavorful. Brewed in Cleveland, and definitely world class.

Ed Westemeier

Hot Date

Chef Jimmy Gherardi of J's Fresh Seafood in Hyde Park creates a multi-course "Helping of Spring" to benefit the Seton Family Center at 6 p.m. May 5. Tickets are $100. Reservation deadline: May 2.

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