DINNER TONIGHT

Lamb Kebabs in Cranberry-Onion Marinade

(4 to 6 servings)

How about throwing some lamb on the barbie for dinner? Mild and tender, lamb can be a welcome change to the same old grilling routine. Experiment a bit with lamb chops, leg of lamb or even ground lamb burgers.

This recipe is from "Meat New Zealand," a booklet containing tips on selecting, preparing and serving New Zealand lamb (although you may substitute lamb of any "nationality"). For more information or a free booklet, write to Meat New Zealand, 8000 Towers Crescent Dr., Suite 240, Vienna, Va. 22182 or call 1-877-ITS-LAMB.

1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped

3 cloves garlic, peeled

1 teaspoon dried marjoram or oregano

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup cranberry or pomegranate juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 pounds boneless lamb, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

2 red onions, cut into 1-inch chunks

1 green bell pepper, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks

1 red bell pepper, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks

In a food processor, make a marinade by processing the coarsely chopped yellow onion with the garlic, marjoram or oregano, salt and pepper until it forms a coarse paste. Add the cranberry or pomegranate juice and oil and pulse once or twice to blend.

Place the lamb in a shallow bowl and add the marinade; cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours or overnight, turning the meat occasionally.

Bring the lamb to room temperature. Preheat the grill on high.

Remove the lamb from the marinade, reserving the excess marinade. Thread the lamb pieces onto the skewers, alternating with the red onion and bell pepper chunks. Grill for 3 to 5 minutes per side (130 to 135 degrees for medium-rare), brushing occasionally with the reserved marinade. Transfer to a serving platter.

Per serving (based on 6): 252 calories, 32 gm protein, 7 gm carbohydrates, 10 gm fat, 99 mg cholesterol, 3 gm saturated fat, 284 mg sodium, 2 gm dietary fiber

The Ultimate Zester

Here's a gadget that looks like a black swan with an amber neck. Examine the pointed tip and you'll know exactly what it is--the latest greatest citrus peeler from Paris. It's perfect for making thin strips of lemon for vodka martinis or tall cool glasses of lemonade. Flip it over and a sharp wedge makes peeling an orange a snap. (Ask for a store demonstration.) Pack one in your picnic basket. $6.25 at Dean & DeLuca, 3276 M St. NW; call 202-342-2500.

WHOA, SILVER

In response to last week's Food 101 column about cleaning silver flatware by bathing it in water, salt and baking soda in an aluminum pan, several readers have pointed out that some silver patterns do not benefit from this treatment. "Whoa, Dr. Wolke," writes Joel Rhoads of Fairfax. "I regret to tell you that if your silver has a French Gray finish, the finish is gone if you use your method." Another reader adds that Wolke's method "removes absolutely all oxidation, meaning that if your silver has a pattern that involves dark areas--which is oxidation--the [definition of the] pattern will be gone." Whatever your pattern, it is best to check with the manufacturer before cleaning your silver in an aluminum pan.

To Do

SATURDAY: Fund-raiser including food tastings from the Junior League of Northern Virginia's cookbook "What Can I Bring?" Free admission. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. 4500 block of Lee Hwy., Arlington. Call 703-893-0258.

SATURDAY: The Restaurant Business Plan--lecture on launching a restaurant. $75. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. L'Academie de Cuisine, 16006 Industrial Dr., Gaithersburg. Call 301-670-8670.

SATURDAY-SUNDAY: Chesapeake Wine and Beer Fest at historic Ballestone Manor. $15. Noon-6 p.m. Rocky Point Golf Course, Essex, Md. Call 410-296-2272.

SUNDAY: I Do: Courtship and Marriage in Early 19th-Century America--exhibit featuring tastings of period wedding cake and beverages. $5 for adults; $4 for seniors; $3 for students. Noon-4 p.m. Riversdale Mansion, 4811 Riverdale Rd., Riverdale Park. Call 301-864-0420.

MONDAY: An Evening of Cigars and Dinner--outdoor 4-course dinner including 3 cigars at Blue Point Grill & Oyster Bar. $90 includes tax and tip. 6:30 p.m. 600 Franklin St., Alexandria. Call 703-739-0404.

TUESDAY: Wine Basics 101--wine course and tasting sponsored by the Tasting Society. $35. 7-9 p.m. Radisson Barcelo Hotel, 2121 P St. NW. Call 202-333-5588.

RESERVE NOW:

JUNE 17: An Evening of Wine and Opera--wine dinner sponsored by the Wine Tasting Association at the Embassy of Finland. $65 for nonmembers. 7 p.m. 3301 Massachusetts Ave. NW. Call 703-765-8229 or www.winetasting.org.

Add this Web site to your bookmarks:

home.cynet.net/bagelmon

Foodies and trivia mavens alike, take note of this site's thought-provoking "Food Trivia Games." Thank goodness for the varying degrees of difficulty, because these questions are, admittedly, a tad confounding. Think we're slighting your food I.Q? Check it out. Scores (including the correct answers) are sent via e-mail.

SHELF LIFE

More for your condiment collection:

Why the preponderance of bottled mango chutneys that proudly proclaim "Major Grey" across the label? According to legend, a British army officer stationed in India in the early 1800s was so taken with the traditional chutney that he recreated it--as best he could--when he returned to England to jazz up bland foods.

Sweet yet savory, chutney traditionally consists of fruit, vinegar, sugar, ginger and spices. Granted, bottled blends can't compete with made-from-scratch chutneys, but either one can add such a zing to so many things! Slather a spoonful--plain or mixed with mayo--on hamburgers and hot or cold sandwiches (try leftover roast chicken, turkey or pork). Stir some into marinades, mix it with vinegar as a glaze for grilled meats or stir a few spoonfuls into a quick curry for added depth. And if you only have two seconds, toss it into any mayo-based salad or mix with cream cheese and smear some on a toasted bagel.

--Renee Schettler

CAPTION: At the Opera Ball: Waiter, there's a hat in my dessert. And it looks expensive.Well, it should be. Hat-shaped confections inspired by Christian Lacroix couturier designs were among the fanciful desserts served at the Washington Opera's 1999 Opera Ball Friday night. Created by pastry chef Lee Blackwood for Occasions, the cakes were the stars of the Millennium dessert buffet in a tent outside the residence of French Ambassador Francois Bujon de l'Estang and his wife, Anne. Surrounded by examples of Lacroix's couture designs and his costumes for ballet and theater, guests were able to choose from a multitude of high-style desserts--not only Lacroix's Chapeau Cakes, right, made of chocolate ganache, strawberry meringue and lemon curd, but also tea cookies shaped like an assortment of designer clothing buttons, below, and chocolate evening pumps with pulled sugar bows. Ooh la la.