Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Trade Secrets

Tips for dining in and dining out

Compiled by Polly Campbell
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Combo of the week

Fresh, locally grown peaches and raspberries.

At the farmer's market where I shop, getting the raspberries is an iffy thing involving some anxiety: I have to get there early and elbow a few people out of the way to get a basket or two. Peaches are much easier to score, though it's iffy getting them at the correct ripeness.

But when both are right, the two fruits together are magic, starting with their combination of sunset colors. Stir some berries into a bowl of sliced peaches, bring out the juice with a bare sprinkle of sugar, then eat on vanilla ice cream, cereal or with yogurt.

Classically speaking, a raspberry sauce on peaches is peach melba, but I can't imagine bothering making the raspberries into a sauce when you can eat them in their natural state.

Required reading

My favorite thing to take to potlucks is deviled eggs because and they require no planning ahead - not even opening a cookbook. Plus, everyone loves them.

But when something more elaborate or hearty is called for, it's good to have recipes like the ones in The Big Book of Potluck (Chronicle Books; $19.95). Maryana Vollstedt includes dishes that are simple to make, transport and present. Almost all of them require a little more planning than deviled eggs, but none is especially elaborate.

Citrus turkey salad with avocados and orange mayonnaise, or Big B salad with blackened chicken, butter lettuce, bacon, blue cheese, black beans and buttermilk dressing are among the hearty salads good for a summer potluck. Main courses include Hungarian goulash, the classic tamale pie and chicken lasagna. Desserts include several pies, which will always get attention and appreciation. Maybe one of these could become your signature potluck dish.

Shrimp and Fruit Salad with Lime Dressing

Green leaf lettuce leaves for lining platter

1 pound large shrimp (about 24) peeled, deveined, and cooked

I cantaloupe, cut into spears

1 papaya, peeled, seeded and sliced

1 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored and sliced

1 cup seedless green grapes

Lime Dressing:

Juice of 2 limes

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon honey

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Mix together all ingredients.

On large platter lined with lettuce, arrange shrimp, cantaloupe, papaya and pineapple. Scatter grapes on top, serve dressing on side. Makes 6-8 servings.

Adapted from The Big Book of Potluck

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Get to it!