Compiled by Chuck Martin
Tube food: Learn to make Mom Sampson's Corn Bread, Honey Chicken and Creole Tomatoes on the Food Network special, A Taste of Harlem, 10 p.m. today. Isaac Hayes conducts the tour, from a gospel brunch to the Cotton Club and the famous Sylvia's restaurant.
Q & A
I want to make cherry pie for President's Day. What's better for filling - canned or dried cherries?
The flavor's certainly not like fresh fruit, but most would probably prefer canned cherries in a pie. Dried cherries might taste too raisiny. To improve the flavor of canned cherries, add a tiny amount - 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon - of pure almond extract. You may also need to boost the tinned cherries' blush with a touch of red food coloring. Use dried cherries in bread, cookies and other pastries. Rehydrate them for about 30 minutes in hot water or liqueur before folding into the dough.
Best pie stuff: In a test of nine brands of all-purpose flour, Cooks' Illustrated magazine rated King Arthur Unbleached Enriched and Pillsbury Unbleached Enriched tops. And in a test of 10 pie plates, old reliable glass Pyrex came out on top. Coincidentally, the Cooks' editors judged the pie plates' performance while baking a cherry streusel pie.
Web grazing: Find more cherry recipes at www.cherrymkt.org, www.cherryrepublic.com and www.nationalcherries.com.
Birds in the pie: These ceramic creatures vent steam from double-crust pies, keeping the pastry crisp. Sur La Table offers a clever and colorful selection ranging from a blackbird ($3.95) to pheasant ($49.95). A handmade Eiffel tower ($60) serves the same purpose, although technically it's a pie "vent," not a "bird." At www.surlatable.com.
Book talk: Cincinnati's Culinary Collectors' Society gathers at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Swaim Lodge in Blue Ash to chat about favorite cookbooks. The meeting is open to non-members, but an RSVP is requested: 981-0786.
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