Eat this Word: Purslane

PurslaneWHAT? In the weeds. The Forme of Cury, the earliest known English cookbook (published around 1390 by Richard II's cooks), asks for "purslarye" in a salad recipe; colonists brought the plant to America, where they used it as an herb and pickled it for a condiment; and a few sources say it was Ghandi's favorite vegetable. It's a main ingredient in fattoush, a Middle-Eastern bread salad, and Arabs once believed that if sprinkled around the bed, the small, oval-shaped leaves could chase away erotic dreams. (Why they'd want to, we don't know.) At some point in this country, purslane fell into disfavor. Waverly Root quotes a certain William Cobett on purslane in 1819: "a mischievous weed that Frenchmen and pigs eat when they can get nothing else." Happily, American chefs are rediscovering the herb's subtly tart pleasures. WHERE? Tom Crenshaw's Beard House Dinner

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Test Your Eat-Q: Barbecue

barbecue As summer’s final stretch approaches, we know we’ll be seeking out some seriously slow-and-low eats. And while we’re on the subject, do you know the answer to this barbecue question? Bones from this animal were found during an archaeological dig in the Czech Republic, uncovering “the world’s oldest barbecue”:
A. Brontosaurus B. Buffalo C. Woolly mammoth D. Hammerhead shark
We’ve got a whole slew of trivia, so click here to see if you really have a clue about ‘cue.

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Recipe: Tawa Baingan

Tawa BainganThis Indian recipe for roasted eggplant and spiced mashed potatoes comes from chef Vikram Sunderam of Rasika Restaurant. A tawa is a flat and sturdy pan used in Indian cooking, but you don’t need one to make this dish: the tawa's American cousin, the griddle, will work just fine. (Baingan simply means eggplant.)

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On the Menu: August 8 through August 14

Beard House Here’s what’s happening at the Beard House next week: Tuesday, August 10, 7:00 P.M. Best of D.C. It’s comforting to know that no matter what is happening in the House and the Senate, Washington, D.C.’s dynamic food scene remains as deliciously compelling as ever. Find out for yourself when this group of D.C. power chefs visits us at the Beard House. Wednesday, August 11, 7:00 P.M. Great Friends, Great Chefs For years this powerhouse group of Beard House alums has collaborated on Taste of the NFL, an event that raises money to fight hunger and whose founder, Wayne Kostroski, won JBF’s 2010 Humanitarian of the Year award. Eager to reunite, they’ll be cooking together in our kitchen for the first time ever. Thursday, August 12, 7:00

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Eye Candy: Seasonally Sweet

Black Pepper Shortcake with Summer Fruits and Honey Lavender Ice Cream Peter Hoffman, who launched locavorism at New York's Savoy 20 years ago, served this black pepper shortcake with summer fruits and honey lavender ice cream at his midsummer Beard House dinner. The dessert was made with ingredients that Hoffman and Savoy alums handpicked from the Union Square Greenmarket that day. See more photos here.

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Recipe: Corncake with Blueberry Compote

Corncake with Blueberry Compote Summer is hot enough already—why break a sweat in the kitchen? For an easy midweek dessert, make this crumbly corncake with blueberry compote. The topping is sweetened with apple juice instead of sugar, which helps the blueberries' natural flavor shine.

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