Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Trade Secrets

Tips on dining and dining out

Required reading

The best comfort food is food that someone else cooks for you. As I fight off a spring cold, I'd love it if someone made me some of the dishes in Cooking for Comfort (Simon and Schuster; $24) by Marian Burros. Some Hungarian goulash, eggplant lasagna, raisin nut oatmeal cookies or plum torte might go a long way to making me feel better.

Some of them I could make myself, even in my sadly weakened state: streamlined mashed potatoes made with buttermilk, or sloppy joes. Burros' recipes tend to be simple, without being too elementary, with some emphasis on health.

Comfort food

Cauliflower Puree

4 pounds cauliflower

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/8-teaspoon ground mace

Salt and white pepper to taste

Remove the leaves and core from the cauliflower and break it into florets. Steam over boiling water until quite tender but not mushy, about 5 minutes. Drain thoroughly.

Put the cauliflower in the food processor with the butter and process to a puree in two or three batches. Spoon the puree into a bowl. Season with the nutmeg, cardamom, mace, salt and pepper and stir well.

From Cooking for Comfort

Menu glossary

You may have wondered why the word we use for a main course is "entree," which in French means "entry" or "beginning."

In parts of Europe, main courses are more often referred to as les plats or plat principle. "Entree" means appetizer. It also refers to the dish served between the fish and meat course at formal dinners. Since we don't usually eat a fish course and a meat course and another in between, "entree" has come to cover anything that would be served in any of those courses.

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