DINNER IN 20 MINUTES

Seared Steak With Rosemary

(4 servings)

Most weeknights, marinating seems to take an eternity, even if its only 30 minutes. Instead, try tossing the entree in a marinade after cooking.

Here we allow a seared steak to rest not on a cutting board, but in a pool of rosemary-infused olive oil. After just five minutes, the oil imparts a subtle flavor. The same approach works with any entree and an oil-based marinade or vinaigrette.

This particular recipe was based on a conversation with the gentleman seated next to us at the bar of a Charlottesville steakhouse.

About 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 to 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, cut into 2-inch pieces

About 24 ounces sirloin

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

About 2 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil, such as grapeseed or canola

In a small skillet over medium-low heat, heat the olive oil and the rosemary, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat; scrape the rosemary and oil onto a platter or container large enough to hold the steak in a single layer.

Meanwhile, pat the steak dry and season both sides with salt and pepper to taste.

In a large, preferably cast-iron, skillet over medium-high heat, heat the 2 tablespoons vegetable oil until hot but not smoking. Carefully add the steak and cook, turning only once, until cooked to the desired degree of doneness, 2 to 3 minutes per side for medium-rare.

Transfer the steak to the oil-rosemary mixture, turn to coat and set aside to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

If desired, using tongs, transfer the steak to a cutting board and cut into thin slices. (If using skirt steak, cut across the grain.) Arrange the steak on individual plates.

Discard the sprigs of rosemary and drizzle the oil and juices from the plate over each steak. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 344 calories, 28 gm protein, 0 gm carbohydrates, 25 gm fat, 73 mg cholesterol, 7 gm saturated fat, 150 mg sodium, 0 gm dietary fiber

-- Renee Schettler

And you thought you lugged a lot of food home from the grocery store.

When Lewis and Clark began their famed expedition some 200 years ago, the 33 men (and one dog) had to schlep a serious stash of provisions for what turned into a nearly three-year trip, including:

* 600 pounds of grease

* 50 kegs of pork

* 193 pounds of bullion

* 7 barrels of salt

* 30 gallons of wine

* almost 4,000 pounds of flour

Along the way, the men hunted wild game to the tune of:

* 1,001 deer

* 375 elk

* 227 bison

* 190 dogs

* 104 geese

* 43 grizzly bears

* 35 bighorn sheep

* 12 horses

-- From an article in the February issue

of Backpacker magazine

A number of events and exhibitions to commemorate the bicentennial of the journey of Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and the Corps of Discovery are scheduled throughout the country. For more information, check out the Lewis & Clark Exploratory Center Web site at www.lewisandclarkeast.org.

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Thought there was no hope of enlisting another pair of hands to help serve dinner?

These starkly modern Salad/Pasta Servers

resemble just that:

another pair of hands, good for tossing pasta or salad ($19.95). Also handy is the set of

Condiment Tools,

including a jam spoon

(also good for mustard), a spreader, a two-pronged olive fork and

accompanying olive spoon, a paddle and an ever useful long-handled spoon and fork ($15.95). Available at Crate & Barrel stores.

To Do

WEDNESDAY: Lecture and book signing with "Rustico: Regional Italian Country Cooking" author Micol Negrin at the Italian Cultural Institute. Free. 6:30 p.m. 2025 M St. NW. Call 202-223-1128.

FRIDAY: Cooking demonstration and lunch with chef Jacques Haeringer at L'Auberge Chez Francois. $85 includes wine, tax and tip. 11 a.m. 332 Springvale Road, Great Falls. Call 703-759-3800 or see www.chefjacques.com.

FRIDAY: Book signing featuring food and wine tasting with "Rustico: Regional Italian Country Cooking" author Micol Negrin at Best Cellars. Free. 5:30-7:30 p.m. 1643 Connecticut Ave. NW. Call 202-387-3146.

SATURDAY-SUNDAY: Chocolate Lovers Festival -- chocolate tasting, bake sale and children's activities. Hosted by the City of Fairfax, the Central Fairfax Chamber of Commerce and Friends of Fairfax. Free admission. Saturday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Downtown City of Fairfax. Call 703-293-7120 or see www.chocolatefestival.net

SUNDAY: One-Pot Meals -- vegan cooking lecture and demonstration at the Bethesda Co-op. $25. 8:30-10 a.m. 6500 Seven Locks Rd., Cabin John. Call 703-643-2713.

TUESDAY: Regional Italian red wine dinner at Villa D'Este restaurant. $70 includes tax and tip. 7 p.m. 818 N. Asaph St., Alexandria. Call 703-549-9477.

RESERVE NOW:

FEB. 5: Babette's Feast -- wine dinner based on the film at Le Relais restaurant. Prepared by chef Yannick Cam. $195 excludes tax and tip. Seatings from 6:30-8:30 p.m. 1025-I Seneca Rd., Great Falls. Call 703-444-4060 or see www.lerelaisonline.com

FEB. 5: Araujo wine dinner at Vidalia restaurant. $250 includes tax and tip. 7 p.m. 1990 M St. NW. Call 202-659-1990.

FEB. 6: Cain Vineyard wine tasting and seminar. $99 includes dinner, excludes tax and tip. 6:30 p.m. Sheraton National Hotel, 900 South Orme St., Arlington. Call 703-271-6602.

FEB 6: ABC's of Wine -- tasting class and lecture with Washington Post wine columnist Michael Franz. Sponsored by the Wine Academy. $40. 7 p.m. Washington Plaza Hotel, 10 Thomas Circle NW. Call 703-971-1525 or see www.WashingtonWineAcademy.org

FEB. 10: Epicurean Food and Wine Auction and Dinner sponsored by Les Dames d'Escoffier at the French Embassy. Features food prepared by local chefs; benefits Les Dames charities. $185. 6 p.m. 4101 Reservoir Rd. NW. Call 202-973-2168.