Dinner In 30 Minutes

Souvlakia

2 servings

Food doesn't always need to conform to convention to be dinner-worthy

The following recipe takes a few weeknight-minded liberties with this traditional Greek lamb dish. For a more drastic departure from tradition, substitute chicken for the lamb.

Adapted from "Real Fast Food" by

Nigel Slater (Overlook, 1996)

1 medium onion, peeled

4 cloves garlic, peeled

4 tablespoons peanut oil

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon salt, plus additional to taste

3/4 pound boneless lamb (leg or

shoulder), cut into 1-inch cubes

About 2 tablespoons finely chopped

fresh mint

1/3 cup plain yogurt, preferably whole-fat

(optional)

4 pita breads, toasted while the lamb

cooks

Handful crisp shredded romaine lettuce

Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)

In a food processor or blender, pulse the onion, garlic and oil until reduced to a slush. (If working by hand, grate the onion and mince the garlic before adding the oil.) Add the cinnamon, cumin, coriander and salt and combine. Add the cubed lamb and toss to coat. Set aside for 10 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or cover and refrigerate for up to 8 hours.

Heat a grill, grill pan or broiler. Transfer the meat to the grill rack or pan, scraping any excess marinade from the meat. Grill or broil, turning as necessary, until slightly charred on the outside and cooked to the desired degree of doneness on the inside. It will take about 2 to 4 minutes per side, depending on the heat source. Sprinkle with salt.

In a small bowl, stir half the mint into the yogurt. Split each warm pita bread to reveal a pocket and pile in the hot lamb and, if desired, lettuce. Spoon the yogurt over the meat and sprinkle with the rest of the mint. If desired, sprinkle lightly with additional cayenne. Eat with your hands.

Per serving (without yogurt or pita): 281 calories, 21 gm protein, 2 gm carbohydrates, 21 gm fat, 68 mg cholesterol, 5 gm saturated fat, 365 mg sodium, 1 gm dietary fiber

-- Renee Schettler

Cooling Pool Pops With a Grown-Up Taste

Fruity cocktails with little umbrellas? They're so yesterday. This summer, to beat the sweltering D.C. heat, the Washington Plaza Hotel introduced its innovative version of poolside refreshment: alcohol-infused Pool Pops.

Food and beverage director Andre Priemer and chef Eric Robinson concocted the recipe of blended fruit, corresponding liquor and a few other choice ingredients that the guys are keeping to themselves. The popsicles come in three spiked flavors for adults -- strawberry, banana and pina colada -- and one alcohol-free flavor -- peach -- for kids or designated drivers. Pool pops are available at the pool bar for $3 through the end of September.

The pool bar at the Washington Plaza Hotel is open every day from noon to 8 and is located at Thomas Circle (14th Street and Massachusetts Avenue NW); call 800-424-1140 or see www.washingtonplazahotel.com

Call for Cooking Classes

In preparation for Food's annual list of cooking classes, we are soliciting information from local cooking instructors. For inclusion in the list, please submit your current information (100 words or less) in the same format as published in last year's list, which is available online; go to www.washingtonpost.com/food, scroll down and look under the heading Local Flavor. Then click on Cooking Classes.

Be sure to include whether the class is participation or demonstration and include a daytime telephone number or an e-mail address for us to contact you. Entries may be edited for length and style.

Information must be received by Aug. 6. We prefer to receive listings via e-mail at food@washpost.com. You may also send listings via fax to 202-334-5059 or by mail to The Washington Post Food Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington D.C. 20071.

EQUIPMENT BAKING PANS WITH LIDS

Metal baking pans with plastic lids that snap tight have been produced for decades. But we were drawn to the attractive design and sturdy heft of these aluminum baking pans with floral-imprinted plastic tops. The pans, made by Nordic Ware, are available in 9-by-13-inch ($18) and 9-inch square ($16).

We found these pans at Williams-Sonoma stores. Also available by mail-order; call 877-812-6235 or see www.williams-sonoma.com.

BOOK REPORT

A SLICE OF LIFE

Contemporary Writers on Food

Editor: Bonnie Marranca

Publisher: Overlook Press, 2003

Reading too many chirpy, glossy or over-the-top food magazines can leave a bad taste in your mouth. Here's the antidote: smart prose about food, customs and life in the market or at the table from obvious and not so obvious writers. M.F.K Fisher and Julia Child meet Isabel Allende and Susan Sontag, and a reader comes away from the collection satisfied from the varied styles and divergent topics and hungry for more.

Today's Tip

To transfer finely chopped herbs or garlic from a cutting board to a bowl or pan, use a dough scraper.

TO DO

TUESDAY: Free-Style Japanese Cuisine -- sake dinner at Kaz Sushi Bistro. Sponsored by the American Institute of Wine and Food. $105 includes tax and tip. 6:30 p.m. 1915 I St. NW. Call 301-980-0985 or see

www.aiwf.org/dc.

RESERVE NOW:

JULY 21: Tenuta Mazzolino winemaker dinner at Ristorante Geranio. Sponsored by Rick's Wine & Gourmet and Michael R. Downey Selections. $90 includes tax and tip. 6:30 p.m. 722 King St., Alexandria. Call 703-823-4600.

PLEASE NOTE: Space limitations sometimes prevent Food from publishing all submissions. For possible inclusion, send notices -- including organization name, date, cost, time, address and phone number -- to: To Do, Food, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington D.C. 20071 or food@washpost.com. Submissions must be received at least 14 days prior to publication date.

THIS WEEK'S ON THE FRIDGE CONTRIBUTORS: JEANNE MCMANUS, TERRI SAPIENZA, RENEE SCHETTLER.