Dinner in 45 Minutes

Zulu Zaalook

4 servings

Preserved lemon teams up with green olives and vinegar for a tart counterpart to the eggplant in this traditional Moroccan eggplant dish. Preserved lemons, with their unusual pickled flavor, are indispensable in Moroccan cooking. Typically, they're made by covering lemons with salted lemon juice for a month. We're providing a method to obtain some of the tang of preserved lemons in just 20 minutes. Serve with rice.

Adapted from "Moroccan Modern," by Hassan M'Souli (Interlink Publishing), published this month.

5 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 thin-skinned lemon, thinly sliced*

1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

Sugar

4 small eggplants (11/2 to 2 pounds total), trimmed

2 garlic cloves, crushed

4 Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced

2 teaspoons sweet paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup white vinegar

1/2 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped

12 green olives, preferably cracked green or Picholine

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 teaspoons of the oil. Add the sliced lemon in a single layer and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the salt and a pinch of sugar. Cook, turning occasionally, until the lemon is tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Chop into small pieces and set aside.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Halve the eggplants from stem to tip, then score the flesh deeply into large cubes without slicing through the skin. Brush the cut surfaces with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Place the eggplant pieces, cut side up, on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they are fork-tender. Remove from the oven and cut into large cubes, including the skin.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, then add the tomatoes, paprika, cumin and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the eggplant cubes and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. Add the vinegar, cilantro and half of the lemon pieces and simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and let stand for a few minutes. Serve warm, garnished with the olives and remaining lemon pieces.

*NOTE: Preserved lemons are available at some Whole Foods and Balducci's stores. They also are available online at chefshop.com. If using ready-made preserved lemons, omit the step of sauteeing the lemons.

Per serving: 284 calories, 4 g protein, 22 g carbohydrates, 23 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 3 g saturated fat, 932 mg sodium, 7 g dietary fiber

Recipe tested by Marcia Kramer; e-mail questions to food@washpost.com

-- Marcia Kramer

SHOPPING CART | Just In Time

* Hefty's Serve 'n Store disposable plates and bowls eliminate the need to scrounge for sealable containers or depend on aluminum foil to prevent spills when sending holiday guests home with leftovers. Each 9- or 10-inch plate and 24-ounce bowl has a rim that interlocks with a matching piece to form a storage container. We tested the seal and not a drop leaked out. The red "party package" plates and bowls, however, can't go in the microwave; the white "everyday" line has that versatility; about $2.69 for a pack of 15 to 24, available at Giant, Safeway, Shoppers Food and Pharmacy, Wal-Mart and Wegmans stores.

* The first two items in a new line of ceramic bakeware from renowned baker-cookbook author Rose Levy Beranbaum have arrived. Her nine-inch Perfect Pie Plate ($29.50) is adorned with her own rose design and the recipe for making her Perfect Pie Crust. Her Sweetheart Creme Brulee Set ($19.99) has four 5-inch-wide, low-walled ramekins and a heart-shaped cookie cutter. Both come in charming boxes, with recipes, and are available at Top Shelf (formerly Coffee and the Works), 1627 Connecticut Ave. NW, 202-483-8050, or order through www.fantes.com; call 215-922-5557.

* More good news from Beranbaum: On Monday, she launched a blog site called www.realbakingwithrose.com, sponsored by General Mills. She already has two Web sites (www.roselevyberanbaum and www.cakebible.com) but on this new site, Beranbaum and chatters will be able to share photos, baking advice, new recipes and discoveries.

* At the recent organic foods expo in Washington, more casual testers preferred the taste of Wholly Wholesome's vegan-friendly, eight-inch, bake-at- home dairy-free pumpkin pie over its traditional pumpkin pie; about $7.99, available for the holidays at Roots Market in Howard County, 5805 Clarksville Square Dr., Clarksville, 443-535-9321; Wegmans stores and Whole Foods stores; see www.whollywholesome.com.

TO THE LETTER | The Queen's Scones

Here's a royal postscript to last week's visit of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, from the just-released collection called "Dear Mr. President: Letters to the Oval Office From the Files of the National Archives":

Charles's mum was a baker.

In 1960, Queen Elizabeth II saw a newspaper photo that showed President Dwight D. Eisenhower barbecuing quail at the Albany, Ga., home of W. Alton Jones, who was described as a friend and wealthy oilman. It reminded her that she had promised during Eisenhower's visit to Balmoral to send him the recipe for her drop scones. She jotted it down and sent it to him Jan. 24, 1960:

. . . Though quantities are for 16 people, when there are fewer, I generally put in less flour and milk. . . . I have also tried using golden syrup or Treacle instead of only sugar and that can be very good, too. . . .

Yours sincerely,

Elizabeth R

To make 16 scones, she called for "4 teacups flour, 4 tablespoons caster [superfine] sugar, 2 teacups milk, 2 whole eggs, 2 teaspoons bi-carbonate soda, 3 teaspoons cream of tartar and 2 tablespoons melted butter."

Directions: "Beat eggs, sugar and about half the milk together, add flour, and mix well together adding remainder of milk as required, also bi-carbonate and cream of tartar, fold in the melted butter." (No information on baking time and temperature given.)

Handsomely photographed copies of the queen's letter and 86 others are featured in the book, edited by Dwight Young (National Geographic); $20, available at major bookstores.

TO DO

WEDNESDAY: Wine tasting with "Thirsty Work" author Matt Skinner. Sponsored by Olsson's Books and Music. Free. 5:30 p.m. Best Cellars, 1643 Connecticut Ave. NW. Call 202-387-3146.

WEDNESDAY: Helibronn Vineyards wine tasting to benefit the Adolf Cluss Exhibition Project, marking the 100th anniversary of the death of the German architect. $50. 6:30-9 p.m. Goethe-Institut Washington, 812 Seventh St. NW. Call 202-289-1200.

FRIDAY: Tour de Vines -- wine tasting and silent auction to benefit Alternative House for abused and homeless children. $50. 7-10 p.m. Westwood Country Club, 800 Maple Ave. East, Vienna. Call 703-506-9191 or see www.thealternativehouse.org.

SATURDAY: L'Academie de Cuisine open house of culinary and pastry arts programs, followed by buffet. Free. 11 a.m.-1 p.m. 16006 Industrial Dr., Gaithersburg. RSVP required. Call 301-670-8670 or see www.lacademie.com.

SATURDAY: Danish Christmas bazaar sponsored by the Royal Danish Embassy. Free admission. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. 917 Montrose Rd., Rockville. Call 301-365-0026 or see www.danishclubdc.org/bazaar.shtml.

SATURDAY: Czechoslovak Christmas bazaar at River Road Unitarian Church. Free admission. Noon-4 p.m. 6301 River Rd., Bethesda. Call 703-281-2570.

SATURDAY: Champagne tasting to benefit Fight for Children, which educates urban youths. Sponsored by Wide World of Wines. $75. 1-4 p.m. 2201 Wisconsin Ave. NW. Call 202-333-7500.

SATURDAY: Holiday wine tasting with over 250 wines. Sponsored by the Wine Tasting Association. $35. 1-5 p.m. Lowes L'Enfant Plaza Hotel, 480 L'Enfant Plaza SW. Call 703-799-1221 or see www.winetasting.org.

SUNDAY: Lecture by "Salt, Grain of Life" author Pierre Laszlo. Sponsored by the Culinary Historians of Washington, D.C. Free. 2:30-4:30 p.m. Bethesda/Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, 4805 Edgemoor Lane, Bethesda. Call 301-320-6979 or see www.chowdc.org.

SUNDAY: Piemontese truffle dinner at Panino restaurant. $120 excludes tax and tip. 5 p.m. 9116 Mathis Ave., Manassas. Call 703-335-2566.

TUESDAY: Wines of France -- wine tasting and discussion at National Geographic featuring wine consultant Josh Wesson. $80 for nonmembers. Must be 21 or older. 7 p.m. 1600 M St. NW. 202-857-7700 or see www.nationalgeographic.com/nglive.

RESERVE NOW

NOV. 16: Signature Chefs Auction -- Food tasting featuring 30 local chefs to benefit the March of Dimes. Honorary chef is Morou Ouattara of Signatures. $150. 6:30 p.m. Renaissance Washington Hotel, 999 Ninth St. NW. Call 703-824-0111, Ext. 30, or see www.marchofdimes.com/metrodc.

NOV. 16: Wine and autumn food tasting sponsored by the French International Culinary Society and Schneider's of Capitol Hill. $85. 6:30-9:30 p.m. The Washington Club, 15 Dupont Circle NW. Call 202-550-8991 or see www.ficsevents.com.

-- Terri Sapienza

PLEASE NOTE: Send notices 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 before publication date.