First, There's Ruth Reichl

Great Cooks & Their Books, a series co-sponsored by The Washington Post that is designed to bring together chefs, readers, books, food and wine, announces the first two events in its fall 2004 series:

On Sept. 29, Ruth Reichl, editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine, will talk about "The Gourmet Cookbook" (Houghton Mifflin, $40), a massive undertaking of more than 1,000 recipes published in the magazine during its 60-year history. Which recipes got left behind on the test kitchen floor? Which ones inspired such fierce devotion among readers that they had to be included? Which ones did the editors wrestle to keep or exclude?

Reichl will discuss the collection, painstakingly selected by her and her staff, which includes classics (Beef Stroganoff); old-fashioned and new-fangled favorites (clam chowder and chilled lemongrass tomato soup); time-consuming authentic recipes (pot-au-feu); as well as quick meals (chicken piccata), all retested to reflect today's tastes.

To make reservations, call the Four Seasons at 202-944-2055. You must supply your credit card number to secure your reservation; major credit cards are accepted. Ticket price includes reception, dinner (recipes from the book as prepared by Four Seasons executive chef Douglas Anderson), wine, an autographed copy of the book, valet parking, tax and gratuity.

On Oct. 5, Patrick O'Connell, chef and co-owner of the Inn at Little Washington in Washington, Va., will introduce "Patrick O'Connell's Refined American Cuisine" (Bullfinch Press, $45). O'Connell's new book captures his refreshing voice on his upbringing, American food and the haute cuisine of Europe. It also brings to the reader recipes for Inn favorites. O'Connell, a self-taught chef and one of the pioneers of the American culinary revolution, presents recipes that are not only doable but, he says, are often easier than cooking the classic American dishes on which we were raised.

The evening will begin with a question-and-answer session conducted by broadcast journalist Charlie Rose in the Atrium of the Kennedy Center, followed by a reception including wine and appetizers (recipes from the new book) in the South Gallery.

To make reservations, call the Kennedy Center at 202-416-8396 between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., or go to You may leave a voice-mail message and your call will be returned. You must supply your credit card number to secure your reservation; major credit cards are accepted. Ticket price includes admission to the interview with O'Connell and Rose, reception with wine and hors d'oeuvres (recipes from O'Connell's new book), an autographed copy of the book (plus additional books will be available). Parking is not included.

Due to new traffic patterns and construction at the Kennedy Center, please allow ample time for parking. For a map of new traffic patterns, see

COMING SOON: Watch this space for details as our series continues in October and November, with events featuring Roland Messnier, Jacques Pepin and Thomas Keller.

Dinner in 20 Minutes

Tomato, Corn and Arugula Salad

4 servings

Toss the kitchen-sink salad aside and try this simple late-summer trio instead.

Adapted from "Cat Cora's Kitchen" (Chronicle, 2004):

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for drizzling

Four 6-ounce salmon or tuna fillets or boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

About 2 cups arugula leaves, stems removed, rinsed (from 1 bunch)

About 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh corn kernels (from 1 ear; may substitute frozen, defrosted)

In a skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Season the steak, fish or chicken with salt and pepper. Sear, turning once, until cooked to the desired degree of doneness. Transfer to a cutting board to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, divide the arugula evenly among individual plates, then divide the tomatoes, onion and corn among the plates of arugula. Drizzle with the oil and season with salt and plenty of pepper. Set aside.

Slice the meat or fish into thin strips and place on top of each salad. Serve immediately.

Per serving (with chicken): 240 calories, 27 gm protein, 6 gm carbohydrates, 12 gm fat, 64 mg cholesterol, 2 gm saturated fat, 148 mg sodium, 1 gm dietary fiber

-- Renee Schettler

EQUIPMENT | Blender Jar

Now you can reserve the coffee grinder for coffee. The Oster Mini Blend Jar makes blendable small quantities of ingredients that just won't work in a regular-size blender jar, such as spices, nuts, garlic or herbs.

Just screw the mini-blend jar onto the bottom blender cap and pulse. The four-inch-tall jar, made of a sturdy, break-resistant "plastic perma glass," has an eight-ounce capacity.

The mini-blend jar is available from Oster for $4 plus handling (call 800-334-0759). It is also available in two-packs from $9.99 to $27.48 from various home-appliance purveyors, including Culinary Parts Unlimited (call 866-PART-HELP or see


Carrageenan (kehr-ah-GEE-nun) is a thickener and stabilizer found in many ice creams, soy and rice milks. It is derived from carrageen or Irish moss, a red seaweed that is found along the Atlantic coast, especially along Ireland's shores.

Skins Play by Play

It's going to be a good season for Redskins fans. We can taste it . . . at the Bar at the Ritz-Carlton in Tysons Corner, for example, there will be a Hail to the Skins menu every Sunday and Monday night.

For $12, patrons can chow down on any of six potato skin varieties while they watch the weekly televised game on a 50-inch screen. Choose from the Run and Scoop (melted jalapeno jack cheese, crab dip and lump crab meat), the Burgundy and Gold (double-smoked Applewood bacon, Wisconsin cheddar cheese and sour cream) and the Touchdown (roasted garlic and blue cheese). They'll even suggest an appropriate Old Dominion beer to wash them down.

The potato skins are $12 per plate (not including beer) and are available from 6 p.m.-11 p.m. on Sundays and Mondays through the end of the regular NFL season at the Bar at the Ritz-Carlton, DTysons Corner, 1700 Tysons Blvd., McLean; call 703-506-4300.


Check the bottom of your empty soy or rice milk container. Recent research suggests that up to 90 percent of the calcium in some fortified soy and rice milks may remain in the container as sludge, even after shaking.

-- Adapted from the September 2004 issue of Prevention magazine


THURSDAY: Feast to Defeat ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) -- participating restaurants donate a portion of the day's profits to the area's ALS association chapter. Call 301-978-9855 or see list at

FRIDAY-SUNDAY: Maryland seafood festival and crab soup cook-off. Benefits local charities. Adults, $10; ages 7-12, $4. 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sandy Point State Park, Annapolis. Call 410-266-3113 or see

SATURDAY-SUNDAY: Crazy About Capsicums -- festival featuring chili pepper product samplings, wine tastings and garden tours. Free. 11 a.m-4 p.m. 35796 Milligan's Run Lane, Purcellville, Va. Call 877-668-7160 or see

SUNDAY: Slavic American festival at Epiphany of Our Lord Byzantine Catholic Church. Free admission. Noon-6:30 p.m. 3410 Woodburn Rd., Annandale. Call 703-573-3986 or see

SUNDAY: Cuisine for a Sunny Day -- discussion with Dar Curtis and Lousie Meyer. Sponsored by the Culinary Historians of Washington. Free. 4-6 p.m. The George Washington University at Mount Vernon Campus , Eckles Library Auditorium, 2100 Foxhall Rd. NW (W St. entrance). Call 703-281-5281 or see

TUESDAY: Summer Cigar Night -- cigars, wine and food at Charlie Palmer Steak. Sponsored by Cigar Aficionado. $75 includes tax and tip. 6:30 p.m. 101 Constitution Ave. NW. Call 202-547-8100.


SEPT. 16: Managing Diabetes the All-Natural Way -- discussion with nutritionist Barbara Craven at Whole Foods Market Tenley. Free. 7:30-9 p.m. 4530 40th St. NW. Call 202-237-5800.

SEPT. 17: Dinner prepared by 16 local chefs and this year's Jean-Louis Palladin Foundation interns. Benefits the foundation. $250 includes tax and tip. 6:30 p.m. Four Seasons Hotel, 2800 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Call 202-944-2055.

PLEASE NOTE: 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 Submissions must be received at least 14 days prior to publication date.