Buckwheat Banana Bread

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This quick bread contains no gluten, a common hormone disruptor. The main ingredient, buckwheat, is a very good source of manganese and a good source of copper, magnesium, dietary fiber and phosphorus. This grain contains rutin and quercitin which are health supportive flavonoids.


• 1 ½ cups buckwheat flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• ½ teaspoon baking soda
• 2 teaspoons cinnamon
• 3 ripe bananas, mashed
• 1 egg
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• ⅓ cup maple syrup
• ¼ cup olive oil or melted coconut oil, plus 1 tablespoon, divided
• topping:
• ¼ cup rolled oats
• 2 tablespoons walnuts, chopped
• 1 pinch sea salt


1.Preheat oven to 350℉. Grease a loaf pan with oil and line with parchment paper.
2.Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a large bowl.
3.In a small bowl, blend mashed banana, egg, vanilla, maple syrup, and 1/4 cup oil together.
4.In a separate small bowl, toss oats, walnuts, salt, and remaining 1 tablespoon oil together.
5.Fold wet ingredients into dry. Blend well and transfer to prepared loaf pan.
6.Arrange topping over batter. Bake for 55 – 60 minutes.


1 loaf


Jennifer Cohen Katz RD LDN
Culinary Nutritionist

Pumpkin Pie Bites

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Portioned bites of moist pumpkin pie flavor without white sugar or high fat dairy. Enjoy a taste of dessert without feeling bloated.


  • ½ cup raw cashews, soaked 2 hours, rinsed, drained
  • 9 pitted medjool dates
  • ¼ cup oats
  • ¼ cup vanilla protein powder
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • pinch of sea salt
  • ¼ cup pumpkin purée
  • Maple Coconut Glaze
  • ¼ cup coconut butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • pinch of pumpkin spice
    dried cranberries for garnish, optional



1.Add cashews, dates, oats, protein powder, pumpkin pie spice and sea salt into your food processor and pulse until mixture is completely chopped. Open food processor and add pumpkin purée. Blend for a few more seconds, until a dough forms. Scoop dough from food processor and roll into small balls using your hands. Freeze for 20-30 minutes.

2.In a shallow bowl, whisk together melted coconut butter and coconut oil with maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice. Roll each ball into the mixture and place back in the freezer to harden. Press a cranberry into the top of each bite before freezing, if desired. Store bites in your refrigerator.


Jennifer Cohen Katz RD LDN
Culinary Nutritionist


Yield: 20


Written by admin on . Posted in Business, Food

Two local shops cook up delicious gift ideas

STORY BY Emily Johnson      PHOTOGRAPHY BY Robin Shotola

November/December 2017

My grandmother has clear preferences when it comes to gifts: “If I can’t eat it or wear it, I don’t want it.”

Edible treats appeal to both the giver and the recipient. On the giving side, we can feel assured that our offering will be enjoyed. For the giftee, there’s nothing left behind to clutter up your home. A box of chocolate or a family friendly tin of gourmet popcorn will disappear in a blink.

If there’s a sweet tooth on your shopping list this season, look no further than the entrepreneurs on Main Street in Ellicott City.

Sweet Cascades Chocolatier has been shelling out delicious treats in historic Ellicott City since 2005. Owner Sue Whary started her business as a caterer, providing indulgent chocolate fountains for special events—the origin of the name Sweet Cascades. When she found a shop for lease on Main Street, however, she and her husband, Rick, began making handcrafted chocolates like truffles, caramels, peanut butter cups and more.

The shop is small and cozy, with décor that features muted colors that don’t dis¬tract from the merchandise. A massive glass case in the center of the narrow shop displays all manner of enticing chocolates, across from tables piled with colorful, giftwrapped treats. A handful of tables on a porch tucked in the back overlook the river winding between buildings.

Whary started her chocolate fountain business as an alternative to the desk job she held. “I felt stuck,” she admits. Boredom soon sparked creativity and a desire to do something exciting—each catering event introduced Whary to new people and new places.

Soon, the catering gigs led to candy making. She taught herself to make truffles, peanut butter cups and malted milk balls. The Sweet Cascades offerings are decorated with chocolate swirls and scalloped edges; while consistent they aren’t so uniform that they look factory-made.

Whary seems to enjoy dipping things in chocolate. If you bring in a bottle of wine, she’ll coat the whole thing in molten sweet-ness. When it’s time to consume the extravagant treat, pull on an embedded ribbon to disrobe the bottle. The chocolate-dipped wine, says Whary, is a holiday favorite. Has there ever been a more unusual and delectable pairing of wine and chocolate?

Other holiday themed treats include Santas and Christmas trees, as well as custom Hannukah pieces, anywhere from menorahs to dreidels.

After the flood that swept through Ellicott City in July 2016, Whary found a kitchen space in Savage Mill where she already operated a second shop. She moved back into her Main Street space in February 2017. She’s happy to be back, she says. “There’s no place like Main Street.”

Her next goal is to expand into the building adjacent to her Ellicott City shop, adding an ice cream parlor on the ground floor and using the second floor space to host chocolate workshops. As for the third floor? “I’m bringing in my disco ball,” she says with a grin. Indeed, she owns a disco ball and plans to have it up and running for Midnight Madness.

The disco ball would fit nicely less than a block down Main Street at E.C. Pops. Classic ’50s rock blasts from the building throughout the day, morphing into’80s dance tracks at night. E.C. Pops stays open until 10 p. m. most nights, doing a brisk business in sweet coated popcorn, fudge and other treats.

The decision to keep late hours was a no-brainer, says owner Lance Sovine. The festive store with its blaring music attracts after-hours browsers from Main Street’s bars and restaurants, some drawn to the tunes, others with a craving for something sweet. “The party never ends here,” Sovine laughs.

Sovine discovered Ellicott City’s Main Street after he moved to Maryland with his partner, who was transferred here by Walmart. Once he saw the way the community came together after the 2016 flood, Sovine decided to quit his job (also at Walmart) and open a small business. “Everyone—from the businesses to the customers—supported each other so fiercely,” he says. E.C. Pops moved into its space as many other businesses were finishing renovations. “I said, ‘I want to be part of a community.’”

Inside the shop, a wall of popcorn competes for attention with brightly colored treats and toys. Virginia Atkins stands behind the counter in a cherry-printed vintage dress.

Sovine and Atkins have been friends since they both worked for Walmart in Connecticut. Atkins had retired and moved to Texas, but Sovine knew she’d want to be part of the popcorn shop. “She doesn’t like to sit still,” he says. Talking her into joining him in the venture was easy, Sovine says. “She’s like family. Plus, we’re both crazy, so we make a great team.”

Atkins, who favors bright vintage dresses and upswept hair, makes the 55 flavors of popcorn, from basics like butter and caramel to such offbeat concoctions as dill pickle and loaded baked potato. She also makes all the fudge for the shop, from classic chocolate to pink strawberry and mint. Along with fudge and popcorn, E.C. Pops is stocked with craft sodas and homemade jam.

Sovine says he looks for female vendors and purveyors to stock the EC Pops gift shop. His commitment to empowering women dates to his own childhood. “My mother was physically abused for years,” he says. “I don’t want any woman to be a victim.”

A lot of the products come from tiny startups, he says, pointing to the hand-painted glassware. “That company was started by two women at their kitchen table to make extra money. Now it’s a big company with employees.” As a manager at Walmart in Connecticut, Sovine says, he had many female employees in bad relationships. “I’d do what I could to help them get out of abusive situations. I remember paying out of my pocket for hotel rooms,” he says.

E.C. Pops also raises money for local causes like Blossoms of Hope (see sidebar). It may be the season for gift-giving, but Sovine’s charitable spirit is a year-round thing.

Each year on the first Friday of December, Main Street vendors stay open late for the annual Midnight Madness celebration. (This year, the event will be held on Friday, December 1.) Sweet Cascades, E.C. Pops and other Ellicott City businesses will ring in the holiday season with plenty of sweet gift ideas.*

Bills for Hope

Before he opened the doors of E.C. Pops, Lance Sovine stapled a dollar bill to the shop’s freshly painted ceiling. “I wanted to remind myself to pick a local charity to support,” says Sovine, a former Walmart manager who owns the popcorn and candy shop on Main Street in Ellicott City. When the shop opened in April, the bill remained, catching the attention of customers.

Sovine, who had decided to support Blossoms of Hope, the organization that funds breast cancer support services, decided to leave the dollar in place, and customers began donating their own bills to the cause. Today, the ceiling of the lively shop is plastered with currency, which will be taken down and counted on New Year’s Day, says Sovine. “We’re planning a celebration and presentation.”

In December, the E.C. Pops Facebook page will seek input on a charity for 2018, and as of January 1, the bill collection will start all over again. “Each night, part of closing is pulling out the ladder and stapling dollar—or five dollar—bills to the ceiling,” says Sovine.

For 2018, customers may choose another charity, or may remain with Blossoms of Hope. One way or the other, Sovine intends to continue his relationship with the organization, which plants cherry trees and raises money for the Claudia Mayer/Tina Broccolino Cancer Resource Center at Howard County General Hospital. Last year, E.C. Pops contributed 500 bags of pink popcorn to the annual Pretty in Pink luncheon.

– Martha Thomas


Written by admin on . Posted in Food

Comfort food can also be good for you

STORY and photography BY Jennifer Cohen-Katz

November/December 2017

Wintertime in Howard County is some¬thing to look forward to. We brave the cold for Midnight Madness on Main Street, Ellicott City, to listen as carolers sing while we forage through the shops for holiday gifts. We bundle up for brisk winter hikes

at the Robinson Nature Center and Belmont Manor. Exercising in the chilly air makes me feel energized so I’ll be signing up for the Dazzle Dash race, which winds through the beautiful Symphony of Lights at Merriweather Post Pavilion.

When our toes begin to go numb it’s time to head home and create some hygge. Pronounced “hoo-guh,” this Danish term is defined as “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that inspires a feeling of contentment or well-being.” There is no direct translation in English, though “cozy” comes close. Hygge is what we experience when we come in from the cold to light candles or get a roaring fire going in the fireplace. It’s curling up under a warm blanket with a steaming mug of cocoa and inhaling the deli-cious aroma of rich stew simmering in the kitchen.

Cooking up comfort food with family or friends on a blustery winter night is hygge in my house. I try to make meals that are both comforting and healthy.

Here’s how to do it:
— What we choose to eat can help prepare us for the long winter months by boosting our immunity. To fight the flu and colds eat seasonal fruit and vegetables high in antioxidants like apples, beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, garlic, kale, kiwi, leeks, pears, sweet potatoes, turnips and winter squash.

— Foods with probiotics like yogurt, miso soup and fermented vegetables can help defend against the bad bacteria and viruses that cause winter ills. Eat plant foods at every meal. They contain the fiber that keeps those good bugs well fed.

— Hydration is a concern in hot weather but, surprisingly, also in very cold weather. Indoor heat and dry outdoor winter air are both dehydrating. For some alternatives to drinking plain water try an herbal tea, a seasonal citrus fruit salad or a broth-based vegetable soup.

— Unfortunately the shorter days of winter with less sunlight limit a natural source of vitamin D production. We can make sure that we include vitamin D on our plates in foods like fortified dairy, salmon and egg yolks; supplements may also be needed as the nutrient’s full requirement is difficult to get through food alone.

— Are you sensitive to dairy but love creamy comfort foods? Add coconut milk, puréed cauliflower or blended cashews to create creaminess in recipes without adding milk or cream.








Written by admin on . Posted in Food


STORY and Photography BY Jennifer Cohen-Katz

September/October 2017

For many of us fall means a fresh start. When the kids go back to school we get back to our workout routines and clean up our diets after summer splurges. The crisp autumn days have us yearning for comfort foods. While our digestive systems were comfort¬able with lighter foods in hot weather, a little healthy plant oil is the secret ingredient for richer fall recipes we now look forward to.

Fat is a nutrient necessary for health. Have you heard? Some fats actually offer protective benefits. The Mediterranean diet, full of healthy fats, including fish, olives and olive oils, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables, has been shown to improve cardiovascular health, help control diabetes and aid in weight loss.

Monounsaturated fats improve blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease the risk of heart disease. They may also improve insulin levels and blood sugar control, helpful for those with type 2 diabetes. Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid that helps lower cholesterol levels and support heart health. These fatty acids may also help protect against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia and slow the memory loss linked to aging. The key is to limit saturated fats, which are found in red meat and dairy products. Though recent studies have found that they may not be as dangerous as they were once believed to be, healthy oils still have more than twice the calories of protein or carbohydrates, so it’s best to stick to the types that are proven to help our health.

The science behind healthy fats will be slow to make an impact as we recover from the fat free food boom of the 80’s and 90’s, but those in-the-know have already been getting creative with avocados, coconut oil and all types of nuts and seeds. Let’s breathe a sigh of relief because food just tastes so much better with a little fat in it. I race to the bottom of a salad tossed with my favorite walnut oil vinaigrette dressing, nibble heaps of roasted Brussels sprouts tossed in olive oil and lick the chocolate pudding bowl clean if it’s made with avocados.

Consider including foods with these fats, in moderation, to your autumn menu. If you need some culinary inspiration, search for healthy cooking classes at Howard Community College, through Howard County Recreation & Parks, or at one of the food-focused stores at The Mall in Columbia.




















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STORY and photography BY Jennifer Cohen-Katz

June/July 2017

I find myself counting down all year to the longest stretch of sunlight, the summer solstice. Longer days lend themselves to extra hours of fun while higher temperatures yield gorgeous fruits and vegetables from gardens and local farms. With all of that fresh produce within reach, the options for fast, easy and healthy summer meals are endless.

Vegetables contain an array of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals crucial for brain health, disease prevention and anti-aging. Summer herbs, which enhance seasonal produce, have been found to improve memory, help prevent cancer and relieve aches and pains.

Not only is summer produce light and hydrating, it is also quicker and easier to prepare than thick-skinned winter squashes and root vegetables. Often all that is required to make a bright-flavored summer dish is a little trim, a few minutes on the grill and a toss with lemon juice and olive oil. In fact, a drizzle of oil will help your body to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins abundant in fruits and veggies.

Howard County in the summertime is brimming with activities and events. In my family, it seems, we are always running out the door to get to camp, the outdoor pool or to bike the Columbia pathways. Maybe you and your family are planning a hike and picnic in a local park or heading out to listen to music or watch an outdoor movie at the Columbia Lakefront Summer Festival. I like to have a collection of mouthwatering grab-and-go treats to pop into a cooler so we can avoid the less-than-healthy options at concession stands.

Packing meals for warm weather adventures needn’t keep you cooped up in the kitchen for long. Focus on portable dishes that use plenty of fresh seasonal herbs, vegetables and fruit. Keep the ingredients raw and toss in a healthy plant oil-based dressing, or grill to bring flavor to a whole new level. You’ll have a light picnic meal packed and ready to tote with you in no time.








Fresh Start

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Spring produce comes along just when we need a healthy boost

Jennifer Cohen-Katz

March 2017/April 2017

Even if you love winter, chances are by this point you are ready to say goodbye to the never-ending bone-chilling temperatures and heavy darkness of the season. When spring is just a peek around the corner I eagerly anticipate the green tips of the crocus, leaf buds on the stark tree limbs and the bright colors and crisp flavors of the first vegetables of spring.

The nutrient profile of spring vegetables and fruits is designed to bring us out of hibernation. Spring produce is naturally lighter in carbohydrates and calories compared to winter produce. This aligns with our need to lighten up our bodies and begin to move more. Spring plants are hydrating to support us as we get outside to enjoy the warmer weather.

I always try to have something growing as the ground warms up, maybe some lettuces, peas with their curly shoots, or simply a few pots of herbs. The reward of planting your own vegetables and herbs is creating a simple and perfectly nourishing recipe from what you’ve carefully tended to maturity. If gardening isn’t your thing you can still enjoy Howard County’s fresh picked produce. We have plenty of farmer’s markets, CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) and pick-your-own farms that offer the most flavorful produce of the season.

Act now to get on the list for one of the many local CSAs, which start up again in spring. Find a Howard County farmers market close to home or your workplace so you’ll be able to fill a basket with just-picked produce each week. Stop at the roadside stand at Clark’s Elioak Farm. Or you might want to pick your own fruit and vegetables at Larriland. Take a trip to Sharp’s at Waterford Farm to select plants for your own garden-to-table meals.

Once you get your market basket home, pause to appreciate all the health benefits it contains. Those bundles of leafy greens are full of fiber, which helps to clear excess estrogen from your body. The vibrant colors of blue and red berries, magenta radishes and bright green peas offer a secret arsenal of protective, naturally occurring phytochemicals to help fend off an array of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. These vegetables don’t require much fuss to become a flavorful dish. Early spring finds—herbs, greens and colorful, bright-flavored choices— come together easily into a salad dressed with herbal vinaigrette, or a speedy stir-fry of stems, shoots and leaves.

Fresh Pea Hummus with Feta and Mint

Fresh peas with their earthy, sweet flavor are a sure sign of spring. This bright, fresh dip is an ode to the season. English peas are only available from the farmer’s market for a short time, so grab them the minute they appear. Makes 2 cups.

2 ¼ cups fresh green peas, or frozen, thawed
1 ½ teaspoons salt, divided
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons tahini
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/3 cup fresh mint
¼ cup feta cheese, crumbled

1. If using fresh peas, bring 6 cups of water and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice and water. Add peas to boiling water and cook 3 minutes. Drain and immediately transfer peas to ice water. After 1 minute, drain completely in a colander.
2. For fresh or frozen, thawed peas set aside 1/4 cup.
3. Place remaining peas, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, olive oil, tahini, garlic, lemon juice and cayenne pepper in a food processor. Process until smooth.
4. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with reserved peas, chopped mint and crumbled feta.
5. Enjoy with pita, crackers, fresh vegetables, or use as a sandwich spread.

Lentils with Roasted Radishes

This recipe works with any variety of radishes you’d like. Choose Cherry Belle, French Basket, or Easter Egg—all are a refreshing alternative to heavy winter vegetables. If you don’t care for the spiciness of raw radishes, try less assertive roasted radishes, which sweeten in the heat. Makes 4 servings

1 cup French green lentils (7 ounces)
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon sea salt, divided
1 cup radishes, trimmed and sliced in half
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons shallots, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
5 ounces arugula

1. Preheat oven to 450. In a medium pan, cover the lentils, bay leaf, garlic and thyme with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain, stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt, remove bay leaf and set aside.
2. Toss radishes with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. I arrange them in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and roast 10 to 12 minutes.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in the pan. Add shallots and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in sherry vinegar, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, and remaining olive oil. Stir in the lentils and adjust seasonings if necessary. Combine radishes and parsley with lentils. Serve over arugula.

Roasted Sherry Strawberries

Cooking the berries at a high temperature allows their sweet-sour flavor to concentrate until you’re left with an ambrosial softened fruit in its own juice. The juice combined with a few spoonfuls of maple syrup and sherry makes a thick, slightly boozy sauce. Makes 1 ½ cups.

4 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 ½ tablespoons sweet sherry

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper to capture all the juices.
2. Place the strawberries in a large mixing bowl. Mix together the maple syrup, oil and salt. Pour over the top and toss gently to coat. Arrange the strawberries and juice in one layer on the parchment paper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until juices thicken and berries soften.
3. Transfer warm berries and juices to a bowl and gently stir in the sherry.


Written by admin on . Posted in Food


STORY BY Marion Winik

November/December 2016

Most people think of barbecue as a summer delicacy. But in the dead of winter, its smoky flavors and aromas bring back lazy backyard afternoons. Moreover the fatty meats and rich flavors of barbecue coal_comfort1make it a perfect winter food. This savory summer treat in November is like Christmas in July, only the other way around. So while everybody else was scrambling for the latest turkey recipes, I went down to D.C. and begged my friend Jim Shahin to stoke up his Weber and share his mystic knowledge.

Twenty-five years ago, when we were both writers for the “Austin Chronicle” in Texas, Jim and his wife, Jessica, came in to my life. They had a 3-year-old son named Sam; my husband, Tony, and I had two boys about the same age. Soon after, my husband died. Since then, the Shahins have been my family, and second parents to my boys.

Of course this resulted in the mingling of familial customs. The Winiks became Dallas Cowboys fans. The Shahins learned to unwind poolside. My macrobiotic coleslaw with watercress and umeboshi vinegar became a standard accompaniment to the brisket, sausage and ribs Jim was constantly pulling off his smoker.

Back then, Jim was already well into the lifelong devotion to barbecue that has resulted in his anointment as an international authority on the subject. He’s interviewed just about every living pit master and is asked to judge all manner of contests. He’s written on barbecue for “Texas Monthly,” “GQ,” “Southern Living” and, for the past six years, “The Washington Post,” where his Smoke Signals column appears monthly, featuring recipes for everything from grilled salad to grilled blueberry pie.

coal_comfort2I wouldn’t be surprised at this point to learn that he grills his toothpaste.

The day of my barbecue intensive, I asked if we could also make his fantastic potato salad. It is utterly different from the mayo-based version, which I don’t like at all. Jim’s potato salad, on the other hand, I could live on. I also wanted a lesson on chicken wings so I could impress my boys when they come to visit. We created these dishes on a fancy kettle grill in Jim’s backyard, but he assured me they could be made on my hibachi.

“What kind of barbecue sauce will we use?” I asked.

Jim got a stern look on his face and explained a few things.

Barbecue is not a sauce. It is a cooking technique that entered the American repertoire when early Spanish explorers in Hispaniola (today’s Haiti/ Dominican Republic) observed the Taino Indians cooking food on a raised platform of green sticks, used for the indirect smoking of foods. The Spanish heard the word for the platform, roughly, as barbacoa, which was later anglicized to barbecue.

Barbecue sauce is a condiment that plays a different role in different regional variations. In Texas, beef brisket is smoked with salt and pepper, and that’s it – a sauce may be served on the side. In North Carolina, sauce is typically sprinkled onto chopped pork just before serving; it is a thin vinegar-pepper sauce in the eastern part of the state, with ketchup or tomatoes added in the western part. In Kansas City and Memphis, sauce is frequently slathered onto ribs (In Memphis, this is known as “wet,” while the “dry” style is ribs rubbed with spices before smoking.). The sauce is generally tomato-based and runs the gamut from sweet to super-hot. South Carolinian barbecue fans crave mustard sauce, which is usually mixed into the pulled pork.

Sauce wasn’t part of the recipes that Jim and I used that day, though my host pulled out a selection to sample with the wings. Though gas grills are easier in the wintertime, Jim feels charcoal and wood are vastly superior for flavor and warns that extra time and extra fuel are usually necessary in the cold weather.

We cooked the potatoes in a metal basket that kept them from falling into the coals and made it easy to stir and turn them so they could roast evenly. Once we pulled them off, we set them aside and put on the prepared chicken wings. As the chicken grilled, we prepared the potato salad and threw together a facsimile of my standby cole slaw.

We stopped short of donning our bathing suits, but served with cold beer, this meal felt like July, which was just what I wanted.*


This potato salad is a refreshing and light alternative to the standard mayo-based version. It goes coal_comfort3-potato-saladespecially well with rich meats, like barbecue. The recipe calls for baby white or gold potatoes, but for color, you can also use red-skinned, or a mix. You can parboil the potatoes the day before and refrigerate in a sealed container. You can even make the entire salad the day before to allow the seasonings to meld.
Serves 4-6 as a side dish
❑ 1 ½-2 pounds baby white or gold potatoes, skin on
❑ 1 lemon, juiced
❑ ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
❑ small bunch mint, coarsely chopped
❑ 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus another ½ teaspoon
❑ ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
❑ ½ teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes

Boil the potatoes in salted water until just tender, about five minutes. Plunge them into a bowl of ice water for two minutes to stop them from cooking. Drain in a colander and set aside.
Use grill as prepared for chicken wings (See recipe at right.), placing the lid on the grill with top vents open halfway.
Dry the potatoes and quarter them or cut into bite-size pieces; place in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Toss well to make sure the oil is distributed and place over the fire and stir the potatoes occasionally until they are blistered and a little charred, about five minutes. Move basket to the cold side of the grill and close grill lid, keeping the vents halfway open to smoke for about two minutes. (You don’t want to over smoke them.)
Pull the potatoes off the grill and set aside. In a large bowl, pour the lemon juice and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Add the olive oil. With a whisk, whip vigorously until emulsified. (It’s okay if it doesn’t emulsify.) Add the potatoes, the chopped mint, black pepper and dried hot red pepper. Mix well. Serve

Recipe from “The Washington Post” Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin


This slaw is a little pungent and goes well with rich meats, like smoked ribs and pork shoulder. It’s coal_comfort4-asian-slawfine at room temperature, but better if chilled for an hour, and best if served after an overnight stay in the fridge. Try it on a pulled or chopped pork sandwich.
Serves 4-6 as a side dish

For the dressing:
❑ 2-3-inch piece of ginger, skinned and grated
❑ 1/8 cup canola oil
❑ 1/8 cup toasted sesame oil
❑ 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
❑ 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
❑ 1 tablespoon soy sauce
❑ 2 limes, juiced (about 4 tablespoons of juice)
❑ ½ cup roasted peanuts, chopped (optional)
❑ salt, black pepper to taste
For the slaw:
❑ ½ smallish green cabbage, thinly sliced
❑ ½ smallish red cabbage, thinly sliced
❑ 3 carrots, grated
❑ 1 bunch watercress, chopped
❑ mint, chopped to equal ½ cup (about a half bunch)
❑ cilantro, chopped to equal ½ cup (about 1/3 bunch)
❑ ½ jalapeno, minced (check spiciness; add more if you like)

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Pour the dressing onto the slaw. Let sit for at least an hour. Top with chopped roasted peanuts (optional).

Recipe by “The Washington Post” Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin


These chicken wings are easy to make, especially if you have the rub on hand (although it only takes coal_comfort5-wingsfive minutes to make the spice rub). Make the seasoning mix well ahead of time so you can use it when you’re ready to make the wings. The rub holds well in a sealed container for up to three months, unrefrigerated.
Serves 2 for main course or 4-6 as an appetizer
❑ 2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
❑ 1 tablespoon coarse ground black pepper
❑ 2 teaspoons cinnamon
❑ 1 teaspoon ancho powder
❑ 1 teaspoon garlic powder
❑ ½ teaspoon cayenne powder
❑ 12-14 chicken wing drumettes, rinsed and dried

Combine all dry ingredients and mix well. Aggressively coat the wings with the spice rub and set aside.
Prepare the grill for indirect heat (fire on one side). The bottom vents should be open fully. Light the charcoal; when the briquettes are just ashen, distribute them on one side of the grill for indirect heat. For a medium-hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand 6 inches above the coals for 4 or 5 seconds. Place the wood chunks on the coals, on the far side of the bed of coals.
Using long-handled tongs, dip a balled-up sheet of paper towel in vegetable oil and grease the cooking grate. Next, use the tongs to place wings onto the grate. Grill until lightly blackened, about 5 minutes, then turn over and repeat. Move the wings to the cold side of the grill, replace the grill lid and smoke for about 15-20 minutes. Taste for doneness. If they’re not cooked through, check again in another five minutes, careful not to let them dry out. Serve with Alabama white sauce.

For firewood: two hardwood chunks, such as apple or cherry for sweetness or woods such as oak, hickory and pecan for a deep flavor. Or use a mix.

Recipe from “The Washington Post” Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin.


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STORY BY Marion Winik      ILLUSTRATIONS BY Paige Vickers

My teenage daughter Jane’s favorite food is a pasta dish called kasha varnishkes. It’s an Ashkenazi Jewish recipe, one of a jewish_food_1-bagsnumber of delights from this cuisine on which I raised my children. I am an Ashkenazi Jew with ancestors who came from Eastern Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but my own childhood was completely free of kasha varnishkes, a satisfying, deliciously nutty-smelling comfort food with only four ingredients: bow-tie pasta, onion, olive oil and kasha. I never even heard of it until I was in my 30s, when it was served to me in Texas by a guy who owned an Italian restaurant.

I grew up in the most assimilated of Jewish households – neither of my parents had been raised with much in the way of religion. They did the barest minimum to pass the faith along to my sister and me, joining a Hebrew school carpool but never trespassing on the sacred grounds themselves except when invited to a friend’s kid’s bar mitzvah, in which case my mother was known for timing her arrival after the final chanting of the Haftorah. My mother was not only no big Jew, she was also no big cook.

The ultimate Jewish meal as I understood it, required no cooking. This was, of course, bagels, cream cheese and smoked salmon (the slightly less salty and oily nova style, rather than lox), served with sliced tomato and purple Bermuda onion. The bagels were plain, onion, poppy seed, sesame seed or pumpernickel marble; no cinnamon raisin and absolutely no blueberry, chocolate chip or banana, which were not even invented yet. The vegetables came from a farm market on Sunset Avenue in Wanamassa known as Snooky’s. So New Jersey.

My mother’s domestic expertise consisted of knowing the best place to buy things, rather than actually concocting anything in the kitchen. She was in the avant garde of the mid century realization that shopping could replace cooking and could be elevated to an art. The other store-bought Jewish foods that appeared in our fridge were not usually offered to the kids – a bottle of thin magenta Manischewitz borscht, a blue-and-white waxed-paper tub of Mrs. Kornberg’s chopped liver (though occasionally my grandmother made it from scratch). For my mother’s bridge parties, trays of cut-up corned beef, pastrami and chopped liver three-decker sandwiches on rye, impaled with frilly toothpicks and wrapped in layers of gold cellophane, were ordered from the deli. Layered with coleslaw and spread with Russian dressing, these we called ‘sloppy Joes,’ so I was surprised when I encountered later in life the saucy, messy ground beef sandwiches of the goyim that bear the same name. I was home in New Jersey from college one spring, reading the paper at my mother’s kitchen table when one of these fragrant golden sandwich trays ended my decade of committed vegetarianism.

My first wedding was held at my parents’ golf club, the closest thing they had to a place of worship. I planned it for midday on a Sunday, specifically so I could serve bagels and fish. We had smoked salmon, sable, sturgeon, whitefish and trout – and also bacon, and possibly shrimp. The wedding was performed by the mayor of a neighboring town, who was, like us, a golf club Jew.

I raised my children on bagels, of course, and my mother’s matzo ball soup. You buy a box of matzo ball soup mix. Follow the directions, adding sliced carrots and celery and thin noodles from a dried Lipton chicken noodle soup package when you drop in the matzo balls. Some people return to the faith when they have kids; I did not, choosing to raise mine with the agnostic worldview my parents passed on to me. But I did start atavistically cooking dishes that had not been prepared in my family for generations, and my children fell on them with a gusto that also seemed genetically coded.

I bake challah and rye bread from scratch (secret: use black cumin or ‘nigella’ seeds as well as regular caraway); I make a delicious, thick borscht with julienned beets, carrots and cabbage; I fry latkes around Rosh Hashanah. And then there’s the kasha varnishkes. Which really are vegetarian, since I leave out the schmaltz (aka chicken fat). Though it sounds exotic, kasha varnishkes is ultimately nursery food. Kasha, the Russian word for buckwheat, is a gluten-free pseudo-grain, like quinoa, spelt or amaranth. It is high in fiber, protein, zinc, copper, magnesium and potassium. It’s also very good for the digestion. Wolff’s is the brand I’ve found in stores. The recipe I use, from Mark Bittman, follows.

Since kosher food is divided into “meat” and “milk,” the latter essentially meaning “without meat,” kosher cuisine includes many interesting vegetarian dishes. Kosher New Yorkers support a whole strata of weird vegetarian Asian restaurants in the outer boroughs, where they make elaborate “fish” and “lamb” and “God knows what it’s supposed to be” most likely out of some kind of soy product. Along these lines, I recently remembered a delicious vegetarian chopped liver brought to me by a friend, and asked her for her recipe. My daughter Jane likes it on toasted rye. So, may your children be as beautiful as they are healthy, and as healthy as they are smart. Happy New Year. *


jewish_food_2-liver– 3 onions
– ½ cup walnuts
– 16 oz. bag frozen peas, defrosted and drained
– 4 hardboiled eggs
Slice the onions and sauté until mostly brown (in a little more oil than you would normally use.) Chop walnuts very fine in food the food processor, then add other ingredients with plenty of salt and pepper. Pulse until smooth.



– 2 cups chopped onions, or more
– ½ cup olive oil
– 1½ cups water
– ¾ cup kashajewish_food_3-noodles
– 1 lb. bow-tie pasta
Cook onions in a dry, covered skillet for 10 minutes, until almost sticking. Add oil, raise heat and cook until browned. Cook pasta according to directions; drain. At the same time, prepare kasha. Bring 1 ½ cups water to boil in saucepan, add kasha and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Let stand. Combine sautéed onions, pasta and kasha, adding more oil if desired. Season with salt and pepper. (adapted from “How to Cook Everything” by Mark Bittman)



Written by admin on . Posted in Food

When the sun sets, pull out the picnic blanket

STORY BY Kerry Dunnington      PHOTOGRAPHY BY Mary C. Gardella


From concerts at Merriweather Post Pavilion to the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s outdoor performances at the Patapsco Female Institute, summer’s cultural offerings are made for eating “en plein air.” There’s nothing quite like the combined pleasures of a picnic on the grass and entertainment under an open sky.

Picnics are all about pleasure, says Susan Desaulniers, who lives in Columbia and has been packing picnics for her family for more than 30 years. Furthermore, she says, dining_out_1muffin_tin“Summer food somehow tastes better surrounded by the earth, warm air, family and friends.” Desaulniers’ family lived in Paris for several years and picnicked often at the Tuileries Gardens near the Louvre museum, at the Bois de Boulogne or on the grounds of a chateau such as Chantilly or Versailles. “There were so many options!” she says.

“When we came back to this country, picnics became one of our go-to family activities.” The family has picnicked at outdoor music festivals and in their own back yard. The food can range from simple to complex, she says. “Often it’s baguette, salads, vegetables, hard boiled eggs, dried fruit and wine (for the adults!),” she says. “People generally expect sandwiches and deviled eggs,” she points out. “But it’s more fun to surprise guests by serving fare they aren’t imagining.”

Howard County, with its public parks, waterfront venues and outdoor cultural events, is the perfect place for picnics. Shakespeare under the stars, a concert in the park, or fireworks over a field call for food that complements the setting.

When preparing the menu for an alfresco party, focus on foods that travel well, can, for the most part, be made in advance and are best served at room temperature. Avoid foods that have sauces or drippy elements that can get soggy. Select menu items with broad appeal; go for comfort food rather than challenging items. Look for a range of textures and a colorful presentation.

Desaulniers suggests a tapered-down menu: “One appetizer, a one-dish main meal and individual desserts.”

Appetizers that don’t require utensils work well, so dips like hummus are perfect. Nuts are great for snacking and better than chips, which are likely to get crushed in transit. It’s best to stay away from leafy greens (because they tend to wilt) and also from mayonnaise-based dishes that need to be kept chilled. Whole fruit, like berries or stone fruits, and individual desserts like brownies, cookies or cupcakes avert the need for extra plates and utensils.

In addition to the hamper, the plastic containers and the blanket, here are some hostess-friendly tips and suggestions that will make your picnic stand out.

  • Small portable tables or card tables are a great landing spot for picnic items.
  • To keep food and beverages cold, freeze drinking water in re-usable drinking containers, which will help keep food cold and then serve as drinking water.
  • Use 6-cup muffin tins (they stack perfectly) as a multipurpose plate and beverage holder. The individual sections are great for buffet items.
  • Use tea towels for place mats and Ball jars to transport beverages and cold soups.
  • Arrange fresh-cut flowers in a hollowed-out pepper.
  • Pack picnic items in reverse order, the serving items and tableware on top.
  • Don’t forget the cutting board (also helps with items that can topple over), corkscrew, extra trash bags, serving utensils, flashlight and lighter.


Shrimp Vegetable & Quinoa Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette


  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1½ cups extra virgin olive oil

Combine salt, pepper, mustard and apple cider vinegar in blender. Pulse until ingredients are combined. Slowly add olive oil and blend until ingredients are incorporated. Transfer to a 2-cup capacity jar. Keep dressing at room temperature until ready to use.


  • 1½ cups quinoa, cooked according to package directions
  • 1½ pounds steamed jumbo shrimp, peeled, deveineddining_out_2shrimp
  • 1 cup carrots, julienned
  • 1 cup yellow pepper, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 cup red pepper, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 can (14 ounces) chickpeas, drained
  • ½ cup pitted, roughly chopped Kalamata olives
  • ½ cup sliced scallions
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • ¼ cup toasted sunflower seeds
  • basil leaves, garnish

Toss the quinoa with just enough dressing to evenly coat the grains.
In a large bowl, combine shrimp, carrots, yellow pepper, red pepper, chickpeas, olives and green onions. Toss with just enough dressing to lightly coat the ingredients.
Transfer the quinoa and shrimp mixture to a container to accommodate the ingredients and toss to evenly distribute. Top the salad with crumbled feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, sunflower seeds and basil leaves.
10 to 12 servings


Cucumber Bisque

This soup must be prepared a day in advance.

  • dining_out_3cuke1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 teaspoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 medium cucumbers, peeled and sliced (about 3 cups)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • a few grindings of fresh black pepper

In a medium pot over moderate heat, melt butter and sauté onion until transparent. Whisk in flour and slowly add chicken broth. Continue whisking until mixture is well combined. Add cucumbers to broth mixture. Cover pot and bring mixture to a boil, decrease heat and simmer for 45 minutes or until cucumbers are fork tender. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool completely.
In a food processor, puree the cucumber mixture until smooth. Add the yogurt, parsley, salt and pepper and puree until velvety smooth.
Refrigerate overnight.
Divide soup evenly into Ball jars.
6 servings *