Fries in minutesMaybe you could call it "Act III." Golden...

TIDBITS

January 24, 1993|By Karol V. Menzie | Karol V. Menzie,Staff Writer

Fries in minutes

Maybe you could call it "Act III." Golden Valley Microwave Foods Inc. of Minneapolis, the developer of the popular "Act II" microwaveable popcorn, has turned its technological skills to french fries. The fries come in one-serving packages of 24 fries, ,, ready to pop into the microwave and specially formulated to be brown and crispy when they come out.

The secret to Act II Microwave French Fries is the package, says Sara J. Risch, a Ph.D food scientist, who is responsible for product development, process engineering, package design and quality assurance for Golden Valley. Each french fry is packed in its own little "oven" -- a compartment in the package with heat strips, or susceptors, on all sides. "They create heat you wouldn't otherwise get in a microwave," she said.

The package -- designed to fit into vending machines -- was five years in development, Ms. Risch said. "The biggest difficulty was making the machinery to form the compartments -- and to get the fries into them." Because all the fries have to be the same length -- otherwise they would heat unevenly -- they are made from diced potatoes.

They come in packages of three single-serving packets, with a suggested retail price of $1.69 to $1.89. They're available in about 40 percent of the country's retail outlets, including in Baltimore. Now that the teams have been decided, the real job begins for Super Bowl fans: what to serve the crowd as they gather around the television next Sunday. If you're not the sort to spend hours slaving over a stove, there is an alternative to ripping open a dozen bags of chips and putting out the onion-soup dip. In fact, there's a gourmet alternative that may have your pals raving over more than the confidence of Dallas Cowboys' quarterback Troy Aikman.

The Classic Catering People's Classics To Go can provide everything you need for a pre-game, game and post-game bash. You can choose salsa cheesecake with homemade tortilla chips and chunky guacamole ($45 for enough to serve 25 to 30 people); chili ranging from traditional "con carne" to white bean with chicken or black bean with sirloin ($4 to $6 per serving); "Powerhouse" subs by the foot ($15 a foot; a 6-foot sub serves 30 people); and sweets of brownies or lemon squares ($12 a dozen), or white chocolate chip cookies ($8 per pound, enough to serve eight to 10 people).

You can pick up your order or have it delivered. If you like, they'll even bring the disposable plates and utensils. For more information, call (410) 356-1666. Because it's a busy time of year, place your order at least 72 hours in advance. "But we're very flexible," said Classics To Go's Harriet Dopkin.

Depending on the size of the order and the distance, some deliveries may have a fee. The Classic Catering People is located at 99 Painters Mill Road in Owings Mills.

The Year of the Rooster dawned yesterday, and Chinese people traditionally celebrate for two weeks with gifts of fruit and tea, "lion" dances and fireworks. People who'd like to put a little celebratory flavor into a midwinter meal might consider a Chinese-style dish, like this one from La Choy:

Palace chicken

Serves four to six.

FOR THE SAUCE:

1/2 cup sweet and sour sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon sesame oil

FOR CHICKEN AND VEGETABLES:

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in thin strips

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 cup celery, sliced diagonally

3/4 cup red pepper, julienne-sliced

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon ginger root

1 14-ounce can bean sprouts, drained

1 6-ounce package frozen pea pods, thawed and drained

2 large green onions, cut in 1/2 -inch pieces

hot cooked rice

In small bowl, combine sauce ingredients; set aside. In second bowl, toss chicken with soy sauce and cornstarch. In large nonstick skillet, heat 3 tablespoons oil. Stir-fry chicken in two batches; remove and set aside. Add remaining oil to pan; saute celery, peppers, garlic and ginger root until celery is crisp-tender. Stir sauce and add to skillet with chicken and remaining vegetables. Cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is thick and bubbling. Serve over rice.

Top o' the mornin' to ya -- There's still time to register for Irish Culture, a Baltimore County Adult Education course taught by Conrad Jay Bladey that includes a hearty dose of Irish cookery: Each session includes homemade sweets and desserts, a soda bread bake-off and video cooking lessons. The five-week course also covers Irish art, music and literature and ends with a visit to an Irish pub. The courses take place from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Wednesdays from Feb. 24 to March 24. For more information about course content, call Mr. Bladey at (410) 789-7329. The course costs $13 for county residents; senior citizens pay 50 percent; noncounty residents pay 2 1/2 times the resident fee. Registration runs through Jan. 29; call (410) 887-4064 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:45 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Tidbits welcomes interesting nuggets of food news -- new products, food-related news events, local cookbooks, mail order finds, openings and closings of restaurants and food shops.

Please send press releases to Tidbits, Attn.: Karol V. Menzie, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.

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