Chocolate!Chocaholics take note: There'll be chocolate everywhere...



Chocaholics take note: There'll be chocolate everywhere at the Rehoboth Beach Chocolate Expo weekend Sept. 12-14. There will be demonstrations, games, and lots of chocolate to taste.

And there's still time to enter the chocolate baking contest, which just about anyone who can stir a batch of fudge can enter. The whole recipe -- an entire cake, or whole batch of cookies, for instance -- must be delivered to the Rehoboth Beach Convention Hall between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. Sept. 12. (Items not requiring refrigeration can be delivered between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sept. 11.)

To get an entry form, send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to Chocolate, P.O. Box 1055, Rehoboth Beach, Del. 19971.

Chefs to share recipe secrets

Wouldn't it be nice to have a chef stationed next to the produce counter to tell you just what to do with the zucchini, or the new potatoes or the peaches stacked there in such abundance? Owings Mills New Town Farmers Market approaches this ideal situation with its "Secrets of the Great Chefs." Each Tuesday through Sept. 29, a different chef will offer free samples of a favorite seasonal dish for market shoppers to sample. On Sept. 1, Nancy Longo of Pierpoint will offer three side dishes for fall. Future chefs include Amy Taubenfeld, of Great Occasions Catering (Sept. 15), Linwood Dame, of Linwood's (Sept. 22), and Harold Marmelstein of the Polo Grill (Sept. 29).

Mornings -- or morning coffee -- made easy

You know how it is. The alarm goes off, aarrgghhh, it's another morning. Got to have a cup of coffee. Drag yourself out of bed, stumble to kitchen, fall over dog/cat/child's toy, locate coffee pot, locate filters, locate coffee, locate water, locate on-switch -- it's almost more than the breakfast-disadvantaged can manage. Why doesn't coffee just make itself? Well, with Black & Decker's new 10-cup automatic drip coffee maker with a digital clock-timer, it very nearly does. You can set the machine up to 24 hours ahead to turn itself on and make the coffee. It can be set for small brews or the full 10 cups, and it has a "pause to serve" function so you can grab a cup without having to wait till the end of the brewing cycle. Suggested retail price is $44.98 wherever Black & Decker products are sold. It's almost like having a cook. And all you have to do in the morning is get to the kitchen. Watch out for the dog. House guests and headaches need not be synonymous. You and your visitors can all have a good time if you follow some simple rules, according to Rick Rodgers, a New York caterer, food consultant and cookbook author. The basics: Keep plans flexible; allow for private time; get guests involved in work as well as play; keep food simple, and don't forget breakfast.

Mr. Rodgers suggests getting the coffee maker ready the night before, with a note on how to start it, so early risers can help themselves. Special treats, such as muffins, can be made ahead and baked in the morning. And fruit, whole-grain cereals, and decaffeinated coffee are good items to have on the menu. Instead of a huge dinner as a send-off, plan a Sunday brunch (but with a simple menu so you don't have to linger and clean up).

Here's a recipe from a booklet by Mr. Rodgers on morning entertaining. He notes that it can be made with leftovers from the previous night's barbecue. To obtain the booklet, send name and address to Grand Awakenings, Les Amis De Grand Marnier, 353 Lexington Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016.

Chicken and orange salad

Makes 4 servings.

4 cups (about 1 1/2 pounds) cooked chicken, cut into 1-inch cubes

1/2 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped

lettuce leaves

1 red onion, sliced and separated into rings

2 oranges, peeled and separated onto slices

6-8 scallions, minced

buttermilk dressing (recipe below)

In a medium bowl, combine chicken and walnuts with about 1/2 cup of the dressing. To serve, arrange lettuce leaves on four dinner plates. Divide chicken salad among them and garnish with red onion slices, orange slices, and scallions. Serve remaining dressing on the side.

Buttermilk dressing

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

1 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon dried tarragon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

grated zest of 1 large orange

1/4 cup buttermilk

3 tablespoons Grand Marnier liqueur

In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, tarragon, mustard, salt, pepper and orange zest. Gradually whisk in buttermilk and grand Marnier. The art of dining out gets a boost from a new publication, called "Guide to Artistic Dining," which contains brief descriptions of more than two dozen places to eat and drink in the Baltimore area. Each hand-lettered description is accompanied by a line drawing by Joel Goldsby, of Boulder, Colo., who dreamed up the idea a few years ago in Sante Fe, refined it in Boulder and now hopes to introduce it in all 50 states.

Some time ago he sent a copy of the Boulder guide to a friend in Baltimore, Alfred Wilkerson, and asked if Mr. Wilkerson thought Baltimore would be a good location for such a publication.

The answer was an enthusiastic yes: "I'm a great supporter of Baltimore and of the great restaurants we have here," Mr. Wilkerson says. "I thought it would be a great idea." He also helped with researching restaurants and with sales.

Mr. Goldsby hired Anastasia Vari to handle sales in Baltimore and the East Coast. Ms. Vari said Artistic Dining hopes to have a guide to Pittsburgh out in the spring.

The guide is free to consumers. Restaurants pay a moderate fee to be included. For the first Baltimore guide, Mr. Goldsby, who is an illustrator, came to Baltimore to sketch each participant's quarters. The booklet also includes a basic map of the area and two indexes, one by location, one by type of cuisine.

Among the restaurants in the guide: the Milton Inn, Marconi's, the Wharf Rat (Fells Point and Camden Yards), Tamber's, Southwest Passage, McGinn's, Sisson's, Spike and Charlie's, Louie's and Red Star.

The guide is available in the restaurants and at other places such as museums, galleries, some hotels (ask the concierge) and at An die Musik in Towson.

Tidbits welcomes interesting nuggets of food news -- new products, food-related news events, local cookbooks, mail order finds, openings and closings of restaurants and food shops.

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