A la carte: New edition of 'Food Lover's Companion' arrives

| Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013, 8:42 p.m.

‘Food Lover's Companion'

Remember the scene in the 1979 movie “The Jerk” in which Steve Martin's character is so genuinely thrilled to see a truckload of directories that he jumps up and down, yelling “The new phone book's here! The new phone book's here!”? That's how we feel about “The New Food Lover's Companion, Fifth Edition” (Barron's $16.95) by the late Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst.

It has at least 500 more entries than the last edition, with more information on ethnic ingredients. Consult the paperback guide for proper pronunciations; a more comprehensive listing of food additives and even blood-alcohol concentration charts for men and women.

Red wines benefit from a bit of chill

In warm weather, red wine benefits from a slight chill before serving. If your house is warm and your bottle of wine is room temperature, it probably should be chilled down in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or so before serving. Why? Red wines fall apart and don't taste like themselves when they're too warm.

The cooler red will be more pulled together, the alcohol subdued, the flavors zoomed into focus. And no, you don't have to go out and buy a wine thermometer. Just use your good judgment. And when in doubt, taste.

At restaurants, don't be afraid to ask your server to chill a bottle of red that seems too warm. It happens a lot. When the waiter or sommelier brings the bottle over to the table, if it's not slightly cool to the touch, ask for the bottle to be put on ice for a few minutes. And by ice, we mean an ice bucket filled with ice and water, with the bottle submerged to the shoulders. You don't want your wine icy. But even if that happens, it won't take long to warm up again.

Kosher recipe app

The Manischewitz Co. has debuted their free Kosher Recipe App for Apple and Android devices. Notable chefs, cookbook authors and home cooks submitted hundreds of recipes for the app, which spans many occasions including Rosh Hashana, Passover, Hanukah, Thanksgiving and Shabbat. Categories of recipes include gluten-free, everyday meals, lunches, side dishes and desserts. Features include holiday fun facts, weekly Shabbat times and recipe sharing on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Perfectly grilled vegetables

Some tips:

Use big pieces. The larger the slices, the less likely they'll fall through the grates.

Cut them evenly. Shoot for slices about 13-inch thick.

Leafy or layered vegetables. For fennel or radicchio, cut in half (or quarters or eighths) always through the core, which will prevent it from falling apart.

Zucchini and eggplant. Buy smallish eggplant, medium zucchini, about 6 inches long. Cut off stem ends, then slice lengthwise.

Peppers. Cut off bottom and top so you have a box. Make one slit lengthwise and lay opened pepper on flat surface. Remove seeds and pith, cut pepper into large pieces where there are natural creases so it will lie flat.

Onions. Cut root and stem end off large onions and peel. Cut each onion into wide rings. Thread each slice with two thin metal skewers about an inch apart. Or just grill green onions: Barely trim off roots and trim tops to get rid of any bruised leaves, then lay perpendicular to grates.

Don't overlook fruit. Peaches, pineapple, even bananas are delicious when grilled.

— From staff and wire reports

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