Eat this Word: Fiddleheads

WHAT? Fern believers. A seasonal green available for only about two weeks in spring, fiddleheads are actually the young, tender shoots of "cinnamon," "brake," or "ostrich" ferns. The tightly coiled, immature fronds can be eaten raw or gently cooked, and have a taste likened to a cross between asparagus, green beans, and okra. The shape of the coil echoes the shape of the scroll of a violin or fiddle, hence the name. The season is over once the fiddleheads uncoil into full-fledged fronds. WHERE? Linton Hopkins's Beard House dinner WHEN? May 5, 2010 HOW? Hickory-Smoked Pepper-Crusted Rib-Eye and Braised Short Ribs with Appalachian Ramps,

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On the Menu: From the Hearth

If you’re a fan of Jim Lahey’s famous bread or Neapolitan-style pizzas, you're in luck: the dough maestro himself will be cooking at the Beard House tomorrow night, and his menu, which includes some of his signature breads, is after the jump: Hors d’Oeuvre Deep-Fried Veal Meatballs Arancini Morels and Thyme on Stirato Cannellini Beans and Pancetta on Stirato Pane Casareccio Dinner Olive Oil–Poached Artichoke Salad with Arugula, Parmesan, and Lemon Vinaigrette Asparagus Sformato with Shaved Asparagus, Guanciale, and Pane di Comune Roasted Suckling Pig with Kumquat Marmalade and Spring Onions Braised and Grilled Baby Spring Lamb with Ramps and Cannellini Beans Strawnoffe

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Eat this Word: Banoffi Pudding

WHAT? The proof is in the pudding. This creamy-and controversial-concoction was invented in the early 1970s at the Hungry Monk restaurant in Jevington, a town in East Sussex, England. In an attempt to create an easy, foolproof toffee dessert, chef Ian Dowding boiled condensed milk for a few hours to make a soft toffee, which he poured into a shortbread crust and topped with a layer of bananas and coffee-laced whipped cream. The Hungry Monk's owner, Nigel Mackenzie, came up with the name, which is a portmanteau made up of its two main ingredients-banana and toffee-and can also be spelled banoffee, banoffie, or bannofy. After the recipe's appearance in The Deeper Secrets of the Hungry Monk cookbook in 1974, the dish became a dinner party staple. Banoffi pie eventually gained such popularity that several British supermarket chains created

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Eye Candy: Old Fashioned

A bartender prepares an Old Fashioned using 12-year-old reserve bourbon from the Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery. The cocktail was served at a Beard House event that featured top chefs from Kentucky. To see more photos of the Bluegrass State–themed dinner, click here.

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Eye Candy: Escargot with Garlic–Herbsaint Cream

Finished with a garlic and Herbsaint–flavored cream (the latter is a brand of anise liquor that was originally produced in New Orleans as an absinthe substitute), these escargot were a true taste of Crescent City cuisine. Brian Landry, who helms the century-old Galatoire's, served them during the reception that preceded his Beard House dinner. Click here to view more photos of chef Landry's dinner.

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Eat this Word: Cavatelli

WHAT? Shapely pasta. Few Americans understand either the regional diversity of food in Italy or the pride that Italians take in their cuisine. Take these little, handmade pasta curls, for example. Made from a stiff dough of semolina and water that is traditionally shaped on a wooden work surface by curling it with the tip of a butter knife, cavatelli are claimed by the Molize, Puglia, and Abruzzo regions of Italy. The dough and the shaping technique are similar to those used for orechiette, but the shape is closer to gnocchi. Cavatelli (or cavatieddi in Apulian dialect) are traditionally served with cooked bitter greens, such as arugula, and tomato sauce. WHERE? Duskie Estes, John Stewart, Justin Everett, Janine Falvo, and Bruce Riezenman's Beard House

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Eye Candy: Turkish Coffee Sundae

Haim Cohen—Israel's premier celebrity chef and cooking show host—spun a menu of reinvented Israeli cuisine at the Beard House last month. This Turkish coffee sundae, layered with puff rice and feathery halva, was a real crowd pleaser. Click here to see more photos of chef Cohen's dinner. (What's the deal with chefs pairing coffee with puffed rice in their desserts? Cohen's is the second one we've seen recently. Look at David Katz's here.)

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Eat this Word: Stone Crabs

WHAT? Seafood for the softhearted. As only the sweet, white claw meat of this warm water crustacean is eaten, fishermen twist the claws off and throw the crab back in the sea. The claws regenerate after about 18 months, although the new claw--known as a retread--is smaller than the original. Fisherman typically leave each crab with one claw so it can defend itself. James Peterson wrote in Fish & Shellfish that he was "shocked" the first time he saw the claws for sale because he assumed, mistakenly, that the crustacean had been killed for a relatively small amount of meat. The crabs, considered a delicacy today, were popularized 80 years ago at Joe's Stone Crab Restaurant in Miami Beach, now a historical landmark. You eat them, usually cold, by cracking the shell with a mallet and dipping the succulent meat in sauce. WHERE?

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Eye Candy: A Schmaltz to Remember

A bowl of matzoh ball soup from last month's deli-style James Beard dinner, which featured a team of talented chefs who transformed delicatessen staples into creative, contemporary cuisine. Click here to see more photos from the night.

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Eye Candy: Coffee as Dessert

David Katz, chef and owner of the popular Mémé Restaurant in Philadelphia, treated Beard House diners to his beautifully crafted New American cuisine last week. We loved his playful, multitextured dessert: coffee gelée with almond cream, chocolate puffed rice, and orange powder. See more photos of his marvelous menu here.

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