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THURSDAY, DECEMBER 4, 1 997 3 The Palm Beach Post w SECTION FN QUICK BITES INSIDE JAVA AND LAMB Instead of using stock or water for a lamb stew or casserole, try adding black coffee. It complements lamb surprisingly well and makes the meat juices rich. LIFE OF THE PARTY Homemade eggnog or a fruit : concoction are sure to please at your holiday gathering. PAGE 3FN DINING FOOD Beans can bail you out at dinner By Alicia Ross, with Beverly Mills Special to the Palm Beach Post One of our favorite desperation dinner solutions is to rely on pantry-based recipes. If you can stash away ingredients when you're not stressed out, they can be a welcome relief during $iose times when you are. Today's recipe uses fresh bell pep J pers, but if you re fresh out of those at the moment when desperation hits, just leave the peppers out entirely. Menu: Bail-out beans with corn chips; simple green salad with bottled EXUBERANT . I 7 i "i tr T r i r n i i : ) bCRI fr i h-A C m inn I n i " y Lin KdJ LZ3 u J zJ LZ3 Q 7 ' DESPERATION DINNERS dressing. Bail-out beans By Jan Norris A Palm Beach Post Food Editor I 1 TV chef J TV chef The sizzling-hot kicks it up a notch with a new cookbook, an award-winning show and two more restaurants in the works. BOCA RATON Emeril Lagasse is digging enthusiastically into a plate of stone crabs at lunch after a recent book-signing. He loves food, almost any kind of food, with one exception. "I can't think of anything I won't eat, except fast food," he said. The hyperkinetic, hugely popular TV chef blames that very same fast food for the downfall of family dining in America. But Lagasse (pronounced la-GAS-ee) is trying to change all that. He happens to be at the top of the cooking world's A-list at the moment. Lagasse is running three successful restaurants in New Orleans and Las Vegas, opening a couple more by the end of next year, touring the country to promote his new cookbook (Emeril's Creole Christmas), and hosting an award-winning TV show, Emeril Live! On this day, however, after signing more than 1,200 books at Liberties bookstore, he's running low on energy. He's also very hungry. "I haven't had anything to eat to speak of in three days," he said. "To make a long story short (though he never quite manages), I won't eat airline food, and I was on a plane all day yesterday. Then we didn't get out of the event last night until 2:30 this morning. I Please see EMERIL2i7V 1 teaspoon olive oil 1 large onion (or 1 cup chopped) lVa teaspoons bottled minced garlic Vi large red or green bell pepper (or cup chopped) Vi large yellow bell pepper (or cup chopped) 1 can (15 ounces) pinto beans 2 cans (15 ounces each) black . beans 1 teaspoon dried oregano 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar V teaspoon cayenne pepper (omit if . : serving children) 3 ounces (about 28) low-fat tortilla ; chips 1 medium ripe tomato, optional low-fat or fat-free sour cream, X optional ' ; Heat the oil over medium heat in a 12-inch extra-deep, nonstick skillet that has a lid. Peel and coarsely chop the onion, adding it to the skillet as you chop. Add the garlic and cook, stirring from time to time. ! Meanwhile, rinse and seed the bell peppers. Coarsely chop half of each pepper, adding it to the skillet as you chop. (Reserve the remaining pepper halves for another use.) Cook until the onions and peppers are soft, about 2 minutes. Meanwhile, rinse and drain the pinto beans and 1 can of the black beans. Add the drained pintos and black beans and the undrained black beans to the skillet. Add the oregano, vinegar and cayenne pepper. Stir and raise the heat to high, and let the mixture cook until the liquid begins to reduce, about 5 minutes. While the beans cook, mash some of them with the back of a spoon or fork to thicken the mixture. If using the tomato, chop it into bite-size pieces and set aside. Place 7 tortilla chips in each of 4 bowls and set aside. " ; When the beans are done, spoon them over the chips in each bowl. Garnish with tomato chunks and a dollop of sour cream, if desired. Serves 4. HOOXING NEW FANS Chef Emeril Lagasse has won over audiences especially men with his simple, fun approach to cooking. "When I was doing Real and Rustic Louisiana I learned the appreciation for simple ingredients. A roux is a roux. You're not going to have blueberries in it." I shoot TV for fun. That's the God's honest truth. I'm not all wrapped up in that stuff. It's fun I'm havin' a blast!" "Cooking is cool right now, and not just with guys, but with girls, with the kids everybody." "People said, 'TV? You gotta be nuts!' But if I can get one person interested or touch one -person a day, I'm happy. And we are reaching tons of people, so I'm happy, happy!" 00KIE BAKERS mmm time for c Queen of the Court swears vegetarian diet a winner . : V ' f ; . I 1 By Jan Norris Palm Beach Post Food Editor Think you love cookies? Well, put your ' passion up against Helen Dullaghan's. This ; Lake Worth woman takes a week off work t during the holidays to churn out hundreds of; cookies just to give away. "Our whole kitchen table was filled with I cookies last year," Dullaghan said. She and her mother, Virginia Ryan, 74, make it an annual project. "It's quality time to spend with mom," Dullaghan said. They give the cookie to local firefighters, police, co-workers and .', neighbors. "It's all in the spirit of giving," she, said. She's not in an organized cookie exchange', but there are many of those around. These are groups of home bakers who meet and exchange by the dozen their homemade treats. ;; Everyone takes home a variety. ' Carol Csomay is a longtime member of the Delray Beach Cookie Bake. The members of the group go to one person's house, mix their doughs, bake the cookies, and exchange them all in one day. "Part of the fun is baking them off right there," she said. "Sometimes some of the ' women will make their doughs up in advance," so they can start baking right away. Yeah, we eat some of the cookies there, too they're Phase see COOKIES3vV. V . to By Jan Norris Palm Beach Post Food Editor If she had known how good it felt to be a vegetarian, Martina Navratilova would have gone without meat a long time ago. "I did it for philosophical reasons the health benefits came later." The diet has clearly helped her tennis playing, she said. "I perform better than ever now," she said in a recent visit to Palm Beach. She was in town meeting with Chris Evert about the Virginia Slims Legends Tour (Delray Beach Tennis Center, Saturday and Sunday). "I was telling Chris yesterday I am less stiff, I warm up much quicker than 10 years ago," she said. "When I became a vegetarian five years ago, I started in January. I played my first tournament in May in Italy that year. It was cold, raining; but I didn't get as stiff as I would have before in that kind of weather. It used to take me a long time to get my joints and muscles warmed up." No one would call her old at 34. The Queen of the Court (she holds the most singles women's tennis titles in the world) still reigns over most tournaments she plays. She also plays hard at playing snowboarding, snow skiing, basketball and golf. Though her diet isn't unique among athletes, it's still enough of a novelty that she has to look for food on Please see NAVRATILOVA? Martina Navratilova says her vegetarian diet has helped her tennis. 'I perform better than ever now,' she says. LANNIS WATERSStaff Photographer Outside, clockwise from top: almond stamped cookies, Florentines, strawberry-topped chocolate cheesecake bar, almond cookies, raspberry swirl pinwheels. Inside: pecan crescents. Center: white-chocolate-covered Ritz-Bits, love tortes.