IF IT'S NOT BEEF WHAT IS IT? That's the question that comes to mind when glancing at the latest school lunch menu for some of Arlington County's elementary schools. Featured for June 1 was "All Beef Hamburger" with green beans. Beside the dish was an asterisk, signifying that the product "may contain pork." So what's in the burger? "That's a good question," replied a chagrined Arlington school official, who then checked the ingredients list and concluded that the asterisk should not have been there. But, she added, the asterisk beside the meatball sub (to be served on June 11) really does mean that it may contain pork.
LARRY FORGIONE'S ALBERMARLE SOUND PINE BARK FISH STEW
For a country picnic site, Rockefeller Center doesn't usually come to mind. But that's the theme for this year's Tribute to James Beard on Monday. It's the nation's most chef-studded annual event, this time featuring 20 chefs stretching across the country from Los Angeles' duo Nancy Silverton (La Brea Bakery) and Mark Peel (Campanile) to Brooklyn's Edna Lewis (Gage & Tollner). As usual, all the proceeds from the $350-a-plate dinner will benefit New York City's Meals-on-Wheels. For stay-at-homes who don't have time to make Mark Miller's (Coyote Cafe) Seared Tenderloin with Green Chile Jerky or David Liederman's (Chez Louis) Upside-Down White Peach Macadamia Tart with Praline Crumbs and Caramel Raspberry Sauce, here is a quick recipe from Larry Forgione (An American Place).
2 ounces smoked bacon, cubed
2 jalapenåo peppers (preferably red), seeded and diced, or to taste
1 cup finely diced onions
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 1/2 cups finely diced potatoes
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sweet marjoram
1 cup peeled, seeded and diced tomatoes
5 cups fish or shellfish broth
1 pound rockfish (substitute grouper or any other white saltwater fish), boned and skinned
1 pound fresh crawfish tails or rock shrimp (substitute medium shrimp)
3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
In a 4 quart saucepan, render the bacon over low heat, 8 to 10 minutes, but do not brown. Add the jalapenåos, onions and garlic and saute' without browning, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the diced potatoes, marjoram and diced tomatoes, season with a little freshly ground black pepper and continue to saute' for 2 to 3 more minutes. Add the fish broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the broth to a simmer and skim the surface of any excess bacon fat. Let simmer until the potatoes are tender, 3 to 4 minutes.
Cut the rockfish into cubes and add to the broth. If you are using Carolina rock shrimp, add them now. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes and then add the crawfish or shrimp and parsley. Simmer another 3 to 4 minutes, adjust seasoning and serve. Per serving: 305 calories, 42 gm protein, 13 gm carbohydrates, 7 gm fat, 3 gm saturated fat, 160 mg cholesterol, 1026 mg sodium.
UN-SPRAYED OR MINIMALLY-SPRAYED produce can be found by perusing the D.C. Area Organic Farmers Directory, a 36-page booklet that lists local farmers who sell their wares via pick-your-owns, farmers' markets and food coops. The pamphlet, published by the Capital Coalition for Safe Food, includes growers who are using less than recommended amounts of chemicals, or none at all. (Remember that the information in the booklet was supplied by the producers themselves; the best way to determine a farmer's methods is to discuss them with the individual grower, says CCSF.) For a copy of the directory, send $4 (includes postage and handling), to: CCSF, 11 Devon Rd., Silver Spring, Md. 20910. For more information, call Barbara Francisco at 434-6313.
SWAB THE DECKS should be the motto of grocery stores interested in pleasing their clean-conscious customers. The number one criteria for judging the cleanliness of a supermarket, according to a survey published recently in Supermarket News, was -- interestingly enough -- the appearance and condition of its floor.
VEGETARIANS AND CARNIVORES ALIKE enjoyed Deborah Madison's "Greens Cookbook," recipes from her San Franciso vegetarian restaurant. Now Madison has a new cookbook, "The Savory Way" (Bantam, $22.95), with enough delicious desserts included along with vegetarian pastas, salads and main courses to interest even non-vegetarians. Madison will be signing copies of her new book this Saturday, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Kitchen Bazaar on 4401 Connecticut Ave. N.W., and on Monday, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at the KB in Towson. Call (301) 337-8900 for reservations for the Towson appearance only. For those of you who can't make it, here's a taste from the book:
RED ONION TIAN
This colorful vegetable dish can be served along with a main course, but would also be delicious spread on thick slices of bread and eaten as a snack.
1 large red onion
1 small red bell pepper
1 small yellow bell pepper
2 medium-sized ripe tomatoes
2 tablespoons virgin olive oil
6 thyme branches, or several pinches dried thyme
6 small garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, or more to taste
Quarter the onions, leaving the base intact, and peel them. Halve the peppers crosswise and lengthwise, remove the seeds and veins and cut into pieces roughly 1/2 inch wide. Core the tomatoes and cut into sixths.
Brush a film of oil over a gratin dish, scatter the thyme over it and attractively arrange the vegetables, including garlic, in the dish. Brush the remaining oil over the vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Cover the tian with foil and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 1 1/2 hours. The vegetables should be very soft, the tomatoes melting into a jam. Remove the dish from the oven and carefully pour the liquid that has collected into a small saucepan. Add the vinegar, bring the liquid to a boil and reduce until thick and syrupy. Taste for seasoning, then pour over vegetables and serve.
Per serving: 128 calories, 3 gm protein, 15 gm carbohydrates, 7 gm fat, 1 gm saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 11 mg sodium.
TO DO: Friday and Saturday: Delmarva Chicken Festival, with chicken-cooking contest, carnival and arts and crafts, Friday, noon to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Talbot County Community Center, Rte. 50, between Wye Mills and Easton. Call 301-822-5644 for directions and information.
Saturday: Virginia State Chili Championship, chili cook-off and entertainment to benefit the George Mason University scholarship program, part of the Fairfax county fair, with judging and free samples after 3 p.m. George Mason University, Fairfax. Call 631-9198, evenings, for information.
Sunday : Virginia State Barbecue Cookoff, to benefit the George Mason University scholarship program, part of the Fiarfax County fair, with judging and free samples after 3 p.m., George Mason University, Fairfax. Call 631-9198, evenings, for information.
Saturday and Sunday: Lithuanian Festival with Lithuanian food, crafts and music, 11 a.m to 6 p.m., Festival Hall, Sharp and Pratt streets, Baltimore. Call 301-659-7000 for directions and information.
Sunday: "Sundae in the Park," ice cream festival to benefit the American Cancer Society, with unlimited bowls of ice cream and frozen yogurt, music and entertainment, 1 to 5 p.m., Washington Harbour Park, 3000 K St. NW. Tickets $5 for adults; $2 for children 10 and under. Call 483-2600 for information. (Is it strange, or it just us, that ACS -- the same group that recommends that Americans lower their fat intakes -- would serve unlimited ice cream at its benefit?)