Essence of zippy cookingWho could resist a...


Essence of zippy cooking

Who could resist a cuisine that's "spicy, peppery, sweet, tangy, crispy, juicy, robust and aromatic?"

Not the 5 million monthly readers of Essence, a lifestyle magazine for black women, whose food editor, Jonell Nash, has gathered more than 300 recipes that offer cooking traditions from the American South, the Caribbean and Africa in "Essence Brings You Great Cooking" (Amistad Press, $29.95). Recipes range from grilled tilefish with black bean salsa to honey-glazed country ribs to sweet potato pie.

There are also tips, definitions, and lots of photographs. Here's a sample recipe:

Zesty Crab Dip

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

8 ounces cooked crab meat, well-drained, all cartilage removed

1/4 cup plain yogurt

1/3 cup reduced-calorie mayonnaise

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons minced onion

2 tablespoons chopped pimiento

1/2 teaspoon hot-pepper sauce

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except garnishes. Refrigerate at least one hour to chill and allow flavors to blend; garnish (optional) with cooked crab legs, lemon slices, parsley sprigs.

Nutritional information per 2-tablespoon serving: 13 calories, .79 grams of fat, 23 milligrams sodium, 5 milligrams cholesterol.

Seventeen different kinds of brick-oven pizza, an open kitchen where you can watch your food being prepared, "play" dough that can later be baked into a souvenir for youngsters and a colorful, festive atmosphere are some of the advantages of dining at Bertucci's, the newest branch of which has just opened at 1818 York Road in Timonium. It's the fifth Bertucci's in the Baltimore-Annapolis area; a sixth will open in Bel Air soon.

Menu hits so far, according to assistant manager John Williams, are chicken and mushroom ravioli, and the "very affordable" cioppino, or seafood stew (around $10). Entrees range from $5.95 for rigatoni with sauce to $13.50 for a five-topping pizza. There are 40 different toppings offered -- from sun-dried tomatoes and pesto to olives and artichoke hearts -- if you want to create your own pizza.

For more information, call (410) 561-7000.

New nutrition hot line

Got a question about health and nutrition? "Ask Cooking Light" is the name of a new toll-free line that offers consumers a source of answers on questions from diet fads to nutritional labels on food. The line, operated by Birmingham-based Cooking Light magazine in cooperation with the University of Alabama, is staffed by registered dietitians.

Call (800) 231-3438 from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Tidbits welcomes food news -- new products, food-related news events, local cookbooks, mail-order finds, openings and closings restaurants and food shops. Send press releases to Tidbits, Attn.: Karol V. Menzie, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278.


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