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January 18, 2013

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.% 80 FRIDAY, JANUARY 18 - MONDAY, JANUARY 21, 2013 Cape Gazette ooking for a sweet snack the other day, I discov- ered a forgotten box of prunes - excuse me, d ied plums - at the back of our pantry shelves. The container had never been opened and was still within the sell-by date, so I was optimistic. I wasn't disap- pointed; the prunes were sticky, soft and chewy, with a rich, sweet flavor. Of course, now that the pack- age was opened, prunes became the focus of our next few meals. Breakfast was easy: stewed prunes. This is a great way to re- cover prunes that may be past their tender days (it also works for raisins that have become too dry to chew). Toss the fruit in a saucepan with some water and simmer for 20 minutes. You now have a supply of juicy, moist sweets to stir into yogurt, oat- meal or muffin batter. You can also add flavorings to the simmering liquid tO create the basis for a wonderful syrup. I've tried lemon juice, orange zest, cinnamon sticks, star anise and vanilla. If you have an ag- gressive sweet tooth, leave the stewed prunes in the liquid and serve them with it. Otherwise, drain the prunes, return the juice to a saucepan and reduce it until it reaches a honey-like con- sistency - try it instead of hot chocolate on your next ice cream sundae. A popular use of prunes is found in most recipes for tagines. This is the name for the vessel used to cook the dish as well as the food itself. Originat- ing with the nomadic people of Morocco and Tunisia, a tagine is a type of slow-cooked stew con- taining highly seasoned meat, vegetables and dried fruit. It cooks over a low heat for several hours, concentrating the flavors, tenderizing the meat and creat- DRIED PLUMS, or prunes, simmered with port, make an elegant sweet treat with ice ing a thick, spicy sauce,the knob at the top of the cone is Traditionally, tagines were used to remove the cover, releas- prepared in two-piece portable ing the tantalizing aromas of ovens (called tagines) which in- cumin, cardamom, cinnamon clude a shallow, flattened bowl and saffron. Tender pieces of as a base and a tall conical cover, meat swim in a thick sauce Made from unglazed clay, their slightly sweetened by the elegant shape is both decorative prunes. and functional. The top seals Today, you can purchase a tightly over the base, trapping tagine (the pot) online or at a the cooking heat and sending gourmet kitchen supply store. steam back down to keep the in- They're available in decorated gredients moist as the dish sim- earthenware as well as with a mers. heavy cast-iron bottom compati- To serve a tagine, the entire ble with modem stovetops. A1- vessel is brought to the table and tematively, you can save the cost JACK CLEMONS PHOTO cream, of the special pot and make a tagine (the stew) in a casserole or Dutch oven with a tight-fit- ting lid - just resist the urge to lift the top during cooking. I've included recipes for prunes, from the simple stewed fruit with lemon, to port-stewed beauties seen in the photo with ice cream. The tagine recipe calls for beef, but you could readily substitute lamb or chick- en thighs. Although the list of spices is long, the mixture is Continued on page 81 i just returned from the Vir- ginia wrestling duals. You folks know I love amateur wrestling, and this event is terrific for a fan. There is com- petition on every level from K-8 to D1 College going on from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on 10 mats. Many of the teams and wrestlers are highly rated, and while the early matches can be blowouts, the last match determined four of the championship duals. Way etter than watching a bunch of /;erpaid, underperforming whiners and crybabies bumbling around on There were quite a few com- peting from Delaware, with Saint Mark's, Sussex Central grad Codey Combs, now at Ari- zona State, and Caravel standout Jarrod Garnett, who is ranked No. 4 and a senior at Virginia having success. Combs and Garnett won all their match- es and Virginia Tech won the eOllege division. When I read the program I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Bedford Iilglls, N.Y. was competing. This is my old junior high school. A grandson of a former teammate was coaching the team, so I had the opportunity to be filled in on news about old friends. Don't have much good to say about food, but the chain restaurants near the Hampton Coliseum were extremely busy. We dined in ignorance in a place that serves "Bloomin Idiots," chemically treated steaks and greasy stuff. Normally a place I avoid due to old-man digestive system, but I was with a crowd, including kids, and they do serve a Cobb salad that usually won't kill you. We visited a place that served crabs on Saturday. Here I got lucky because the wine list drinking window, but the proper Write for informed readers. Go was very good and fairly priced balance is there, indicating an- to as well. Itserved most of the list other year or so will reward. A cles/the-problem-with-wine-rat- by the glass, little swirl releases dark fruit, ings/. For you Chard searchers, I blackberry, herbs, anise and Please take note that one ma- sipped a Deep Sea Chardonnay some tar supported by firm tan- jor area where I diverge is to 2009. I found it on sale under nins and plenty of mineral zip. provide points, up to three, for $18. You may remember, I wrote Knights Valley verticals are a fair and value pricing. Due to re- it up a few months back after it good way to go to observe wine strictions placed bY the wine il- won gold at Critics Challenge aging properties. In each vintage literates in the state government, Intemational Wine Competition. since 2005, KV has been rated 88 we in Delaware often pay too Here's a synopsis: clear golden, points or better, and I have usu- much or are unable to access opens to aromas of mandarin or- ally added one or two price great product without breaking ange with green apple, yeast, points. Your wine person laws that appear on the same honey, lemon zest and hints oak. should be able to fmd a mixed pages as buggy whip and out- They lead to Vanilla, butter- varietal case at a reasonable house appliances ordinances. scotch and nutmeg flavors bal- price. Contrary to what you willbe anced by crisp acidity and rain- Seems like I am continually told by your Delaware state leg- eral notes, referencing Greg Dal Piaz. The islators, the very strong wine, Beringer Knights Valley Cab guy does very nice research and beer and liquor distribution 2010 was also available, I rate it usually has insightful critical companies who lobby heavily in 91-plus and when I came home evaluation to guide interested Dover to promote their monop- looked it up. It can be found people away from some of the olistic practices wrote most of priced under $20. Those who traps and pitfalls set up to en- our liquor laws, and few favor are frequent readers may re- snare busy people without a gu- the pocketbooks or access of the member I am a big fan of ru. Please check out this article savorers, relishers, guzzlers, sip- Beringer. The firm habitually by Greg, writing in Snooth, for pers, swillers and common sew- makes fme product and has held input on some of the problems ers among us. the price line, unlike some of the that are driven by ratings and Cali three-card-monte guys. The raters. I hate to throw myself un- Email John McDonald at 2010 is just barely entering its der the bus, but I prefer trying to