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Food Bytes PG Cookbook The Food Chain
Kitchen Mailbox Countdown to Dinner Dining
Cooking for One: A pledge may lead to the perfect cookbook

Thursday, March 15, 2001

By Marlene Parrish

Good recipes come from the darnedest places. I cut up the Williams-Sonoma catalog, snip out patches from the paper sacks of flour and sugar and soak off labels from cans, all in the name of finding good recipes. Now I have another source. It cost me $60, and it's some of the best money I've ever spent.

A few weeks ago I was dodging potholes on Route 51 listening to WQED-FM. It was during a pledge drive, and right after an Aaron Copland piece, on came the staff, pleading for money.

Did I change the station? Did I moan about banging the tin cup? Nope. I listened to producer-announcer Judi Cannava pitch her heart out.

To sweeten your pledge, she said, you get a premium -- the "WQED-FM Classical Cookbook," a collection of recipes from our musical community. I collect community cookbooks, so I listened intently.

John Moore, bass player for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, submitted Enchiladas from New Mexico, loaded with chilies, pinto beans and Monterey Jack cheese. Denis Colwell, musical director of the River City Brass Band, offered his Grilled Salmon. Irene Brychcin, soprano with the Mendelssohn Choir, suggests a speedy Couscous Salad with champagne basil dressing. Jim Heinrich, of the Pittsburgh Camerata (and also a Post-Gazette copy editor), makes a butterscotchy Pecan Pie to die for.

Jim Means, also of the Camerata, sent in his Chicken Cordon Brew, a prize-winner made with Penn Brewery beer.

On and on, Judi praised the recipes, occasionally smacking her lips, which makes me think they were sampling in the studio and getting crumbs on the turntables.

I couldn't stand it. As soon as I got home, I dialed up and gave my Visa number. Within 10 days I had the cookbook, some fine new recipes and a good bit of satisfaction from helping FM reach its operational goal.

I urge you to do the same the next time you hear 'QED or WDUQ-FM asking for help.

Why? When you or I, and you solo cooks especially, spend time in the kitchen, who is there to keep us company? The radio. And if we like our company to be commercial-free, we tune to public radio. Don't know about you, but I'd be absolutely lost without it.

Check out this good chili, listen to FM and, while you're at it, sip a coffee in a swell mug, this year's premium from WDUQ-FM.

Joann Vosburgh's White Chili

Joann is the principal librarian with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. She says this recipe is fast, easy and delicious. And it is.

1 1/4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast, cubed
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can chicken broth
1 (4 1/2-ounce) can chopped green chilies
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Ground black pepper to taste
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini (white kidney) beans, drained
1 (2 1/2-ounce) can sliced black olives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Garnish: grated Monterey Jack cheese and chopped scallions

Saute chicken and onion for 5 to 10 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. Add the garlic the last few minutes of cooking to soften. Add broth, chilies, cumin, oregano and cayenne and black peppers.

Bring to a simmer and cook 10 to 15 minutes. Add beans, olives and parsley and simmer 5 minutes more to heat through. Serve over steamed rice and add the garnishes. Makes 4 servings, enough for one dinner and a couple of lunches for the solo cook.

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