The names are memorable and mouth-watering: Blushing Shrimp Dip; Golden Ham Puffs; Applesauce Cheddar Muffins; Roast Potatoes Poupon; Vegetable Confetti Stuffed Chicken; Fantasy Fudge . . .
If those recipes also sound a little familiar, it may be because you first discovered them on the packages of some of your favorite foods. This kind of "back-of-the-box" cooking is a long-standing and honorable tradition among American chefs; it's generally simple, generally foolproof, and usually delicious.
The only problem is hanging onto the scraps of paper cut from label or package or box. Now Judith Anderson and Ten-Speed Press have come to the rescue with "Best Recipes of the Great Food Companies," with more than 300 recipes from the test kitchens of companies such as Kellogg's, Lawry's, Pet, Hershey, Dole, Contadina, Skippy, Kraft, Nestle and Nabisco.
The paperback book costs $16.96, and is available at bookstores and by mail. For mail orders, call (800) 841-2665.
You probably don't need Alvin Blank and Harvey Blankfeld to tell you there's nothing shy and retiring about former Oriole catcher and current Oriole coach Rick Dempsey. So when the two partners were looking for a way to make their new food venture a success, they turned to Mr. Dempsey -- who's "as popular as any ballplayer Baltimore's had," Mr. Blank says -- knowing he'd put a clear signature on the project.
He did exactly that. The result is Rick Dempsey's Signature Pizzas and Deli, at 1055 Taylor Ave. just east of Loch Raven Boulevard. It's the first of what the three men hope will be "a nice little chain of restaurants" throughout the region.
The venture "seemed like it was going to be a lot of fun," Mr. Dempsey says. "It takes me into the community a little bit."
Baseball pictures and memorabilia decorate the walls, and eventually baseball souvenirs will be for sale as well. Although the menu lists sandwiches, salads, soup, pasta, calzones, desserts and breakfast, the pizza section is where Mr. Dempsey and partners have had the most fun. There are 24 selections -- Mr. Dempsey's uniform number -- from Rick's Special (mozzarella, Parmesan, fontina, asiago and Romano cheese with fresh mushrooms) to Florentine pizza (fresh tomato, spinach, onion and tomato sauce with mozzarella and Parmesan) to Mexican pizza (ground beef, tomato, onion, tomato sauce, Cheddar and lettuce with salsa).
And Mr. Dempsey hopes soon to have some other Orioles join him on the menu with their own signature pizzas.
There may be other changes as well. "I've always treated menus as dynamic items," says Mr. Blankfeld, who spent 14 years with the Country Fare restaurant group.
Right now the tiny take-out establishment has eight tables on a terrace out front, but plans are under way to enclose the area for inclement-weather dining. Prices are very reasonable. Hours are Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.; and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. The phone number is (410) 337-2424.
Serving supper on a hot, muggy day can seem more like punishment than pleasure, but a nice, cool main-dish salad might take the heat off the cook. Here's a recipe from the National Fisheries Institute that uses Baltimore's favorite, crab meat. With crabs in short supply and prices sky high, this is a way to get that good crab flavor but stretch a little bit a long way.
Crab salad Nicoise
1 pound green beans, cut into 2-inch lengths
4 medium boiling potatoes (about 1 1/4 pounds)
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon thinly sliced chives or green onion
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
6 cups torn butter lettuce leaves (one head)
3/4 -1 pound crab meat (see note)
1/4 cup small ripe black olives
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Cook potatoes in boiling water 30 minutes or until tender; drain; cool 10 minutes. Cut potatoes into 1-inch chunks and place in a shallow dish. Cook beans in boiling water 10 minutes or until tender; drain and cool 10 minutes. Add to potatoes. Combine oil, vinegar, chives, salt and pepper in small jar with tight-fitting lid. Shake well and pour 2/3 over potatoes and beans. Refrigerate, covered, 2 hours, or up to 24 hours, stirring occasionally.
To serve, arrange lettuce on four plates and spoon potato-bean mixture on top. Divide crab meat among plates and garnish with olives and tomatoes. Drizzle remaining dressing on top.
Note: Other types of fish and seafood work well in this recipe, too. Substitutes for the crab meat are shrimp, canned tuna or salmon, or crab-flavored surimi.