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DISH: A weekly serving of food news and views

By JANET K. KEELER, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 20, 2002


deconstructing
explanations from the inside out

horseradish root

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Horseradish root
This 3,000-year-old member of the mustard family of plants has been used in various ways over the centuries. We know it now mostly as a condiment for roast beef and raw oysters and as the ingredient that spices up cocktail sauce. However, in ancient times it was used primarily for medicinal purposes.

Early Greeks used the gnarly root with creamy white flesh as a lower back rub and as an aphrodisiac. When horseradish root migrated north from the Mediterranean and central Europe, the Scandinavians and English used it to treat food poisoning, scurvy, tuberculosis and colic.

Horseradish plays a major part in the Jewish Seder, a ritual meal of Passover, which begins at sundown on March 27. Laid out on the Seder plate, horseradish represents bitter herbs, symbolic of the bitterness Jewish forebears experienced as slaves.

Cultivation of horseradish began in the United States in the mid-1850s, according to the Web site www.horseradish.org. Today, 60 percent of the world's supply is grown in Illinois, near the banks of the Mississippi river.

The main ingredient in prepared horseradish, besides the root itself, is vinegar. You can make a homemade version with this recipe from Zell Shulman's Passover Seders Made Simple (IDG Books Worldwide Inc., 2001). Process 2 cups of peeled, cubed horseradish root in a food processor to the desired consistency. Remove pulp to a bowl and add 11/2 cups white vinegar, 2 tablespoons sugar or to taste, salt and white pepper to taste. Without a processor, the root can be grated but you will have a chunkier mixture.

cooking class

Lemon is a perfect complement to leafy spinach. But its acidic nature turns the green spinach a drab khaki. Adding finely grated lemon zest, rather than lemon juice, gives spinach a bright lemon taste without sacrificing its fresh look.

constant comment

"Life is a combination of magic and pasta."
-- late Italian film director Federico Fellini

www.ilovecheese.com

photoDid you know that legendary Cincinnati Reds manager Sparky Anderson loves cheese? Well, you would if you clicked on this site that pays homage to the most versatile member of the dairy family. When pressed for a hall of fame cheese pick, Anderson gives the nod to Cheddar. Plenty of recipes and other cheese facts included.

a year of jewish holidays

Tastes of Jewish Tradition, from the Jewish Community Center of Milwaukee, contains recipes, essays, stories and lots of family activities for holidays, from Rosh Hashanah to Shavuot. The spiral-bound book is available by mail for $26.95 plus shipping; to order, call toll-free 1-888-644-1847 or order online at www.jccmilwaukee.org.

A day for pizza

The No. 1 day for pizza sales last year was Sept. 11, Harry Balzer, vice president of NPD Group, a research firm in Chicago, told journalists gathered recently in Orlando to cover the Pillsbury Bake-Off. "Most people wanted someone else to cook while they were glued to the TV" watching the coverage of the terrorist attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington. He also said that pizza is the most popular frozen food item in the grocery store.

two for one

Cuisinart has introduced the first ice cream and sorbet maker that allows consumers to create two flavors at once. The Flavor Duo Ice Cream and Sorbet Maker will be available in stores in May at a suggested price of $99.99.

retro dinnerware

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Salt & Pepper Shakers

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Party Plate
Oneida is bringing back a bit of American history with the reintroduction of Russel Wright dinnerware. Wright's curvaceous designs have been hailed as one of the catalysts of America's transition to casual dining. The Cooper-Hewitt design museum, a part of the Smithsonian Institution, in New York is exhibiting Wright's work through Sept. 15. The open-stock dinnerware will be sold at Bed Bath & Beyond, Linens 'N Things and JCPenney. Prices are $5 to $30 per piece.

Pitcher

  • $29.99

Salt & Pepper Shakers

  • $7.99

Party Plate

  • $24.99

-- Compiled by Janet K. Keeler, from staff and wire reports

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