Voices for Children, a Howard County advocacy program for abused and neglected children, will be the beneficiary of "A Vintage Affair," a gala wine-tasting event from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday at Oakland Manor, a restored 1815 estate home in Columbia.
There will be more than four dozen wines, including champagne, from around the world -- Crate & Barrel is donating 336 wine glasses for the tasters. There will also be hors d'oeuvres and desserts from caterers and restaurants, including Bun Penny, the Classic Catering People, Morgan's Food and Spirits, and Rendezvous Catering. And there will be live jazz from the group Thin Air. Black tie is optional. Tickets are $40 per person. For information, call (410) 740-0933.
Fielding a cookbook
The cookie lady is back, and this time she's offering chocolate -- as in chocolate creme brulee, Mother Lode brownies, mocha truffles, white chocolate pudding and layered chocolate peanut butter cheesecake, just to name a few. Those are some of the recipes in Debbi Fields' new cookbook, the "Mrs. Fields I Love Chocolate! Cookbook" (Time-Life Books, $12.95). Mrs. Fields, who became famous selling upscale chocolate chip cookies from her own series of shops, says she sees chocolate as "a kind of emotional statement. . . . Chocolate is another way of saying 'I love you.' " Here's a sample recipe from the new book:
White Chocolate Pecan Sheets
Makes about 1 1/4 pounds
1 pound white chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans or pistachios
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
In a double boiler, melt the chocolate with the butter and oil over hot, not simmering, water, stirring constantly until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
Remove the top part of the double boiler and stir the nuts into the melted chocolate. Pour the chocolate out onto the prepared cookie sheet.
Spread randomly to the desired thickness. Refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes, or until set.
Slide a metal spatula under the chocolate to loosen from the foil. Break into uneven pieces. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Fans of fiery foods, mark next Sunday on the calendar. It's the fourth annual Hot Sauce Tasting Festival from Mencken's Cultured Pearl restaurant and Flamingo Flats specialty hot-sauce shop in St. Michaels. The festival starts at noon at Viva House, 26 S. Mount St., with a mariachi band and procession of the Chile Goddess to the Cultured Pearl restaurant, 1114 Hollins St. There will be music and dancing in the streets all afternoon.
"Hot" cooks can submit their own incendiary creations to a contest judged by celebrities and festival guests. (Pick up forms at the restaurant or at Flamingo Flats; entries must be submitted by Saturday.)
The restaurant will also offer a tasting of more than 200 hot sauces. Tickets to the tasting are $12. The festival benefits Viva House, a nonprofit kitchen for the hungry and homeless. For more information, call (410) 837-1947.