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DISH: A weekly serving of food news and views

By JANET K. KEELER

© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 5, 2001


deconstructing
explanations from the inside out

bouquet garni

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This French term, pronounced boo-KAY gahr-NEE, refers to an assortment of herbs and aromatic ingredients tied together or bundled in a cheesecloth pouch. The bouquet is used to flavor soups, stews and broths. By tying or bundling the herbs together, the bouquet is easily removed from the dish before serving.

The classic French bouquet garni includes a bay leaf, parsley and thyme; add peppercorns and whole cloves, and you have the herbs used to flavor both white and brown stock. Cloves would be eliminated for a fish stock.

To make a cheesecloth pouch, place the herbs in the center of a square of cloth, draw together the edges and tie with string. Some people make the string long enough to tie around the pot handle so that they don't have to fish for the bouquet in the stock when it's ready to be removed.

You may have to hunt for cheesecloth at the grocery store. Some stores stock it in the cleaning supplies aisle.

cooking class

Tweezers or needle-nose pliers are handy for preparing fish. Salmon fillets and steaks often have rows of bones called pin bones because they are the size of straight pins. Before cooking, rub your fingers over the surface of the fillet, and you can feel them protruding just above the surface. If you try to remove the bones with a knife, you will mar and slash the surface of the fish. Instead, use the pliers to grasp the tip of the bone and pull to remove.

constant comment

"A philosopher is a person who doesn't care which side his bread is buttered on; he knows he eats both sides anyway."

-- psychologist Joyce Brothers

candy your way

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We've all seen the colors of the Christmas and Easter M&M's, and now you can create your own color schemes. M&M's Colorworks are available by special order in 8-ounce and 5-pound bags in 21 colors, including black, silver, teal and purple. Planning a party for the Bucs home opener Sept. 16? Get your M&M's in red and pewterlike silver. Go online at www.colorworks.com to see available colors or phone toll-free 1-888-265-6788 to order. The 8-ounce bags are $3.99 each; 5-pound bags are $39.90. Shipping extra.

all about whine

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[Meridian Vineyards]
Meridian Vineyards is making a play to attract more women to its wines with the brochure "7 Things Every Gal Should Know About Ordering Wine." Topics include "What To Do When the Server Presents the Bottle" to "Navigating the Wine List." Not sure we love the "gal" part of the title, and it seems sort of presumptuous to think that women need special help understanding wine, but there is a lot of great information provided. For a free copy, write to Meridian Vineyards Brochure, P.O. Box 111, St. Helena, CA 94574, or visit www.meridianvineyards.com.

a little bit helps

Ever find yourself needing a small amount of chicken broth and don't want to open a whole can? The latest Swanson chicken broth product solves that dilemma. Something like a juice box minus the straw hole, these containers have a seal that lifts off for easy pouring. It can be resealed and refrigerated. Each box contains one cup of broth and comes three for $1.89 or so. Look for it at your favorite grocery store.

citrus chapeau

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It may look like a shower cap for Barbie, but the cheesecloth stretch wrap for lemon halves is a really cool invention. Widely used by bartenders and at seafood restaurants, the wraps keep pits in place while lemon juice flows into drinks or on seafood. They are about $2.50 for a dozen at liquor and grocery stores.

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

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