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On Our Radar: rugelach, panettone and caviar 101

* Zeke Emanuel's day job is as an adviser to the White House Budget Director. At heart, he's a food lover and so Emanuel is a sometime restaurant critic for the Atlantic's food channel.

This week, he shares his experiences in learning to make great rugelach: "An unruly gang of 11 Emanuels and a couple of friends" joined Polly Brown in a Washington kitchen. No word on whether the brothers Ari or Rahm joined the party. (A recipe was included. If you are interested in baking, however, also check out our Best Ever Rugelach.)

* Baking for friends and family is one thing. Baking for millions is quite another. This week, the Economist looks at how bakers in Milan handle the intense demand for Italian fruit cake panettone. With 12 million expected to be sold this season, the answer is simple: Start baking in September and hire an extra 400 bakers to keep production lines moving.

* The debate about how to improve public school lunch is set to heat up next year when Congress (finally) finishes working on health care and starts focusing on child nutrition programs. School officials in two New Jersey towns have their own ideas: Serve sushi. This month, six elementary schools added spicy shrimp rolls and California rolls with crab to their menu. So far, the article reports, reviews have been positive.

* The New York Times offers a handy explanation of caviar labels, just in case you're planning to pick up a tin for your New Year's party. With beluga banned and nearly every kind of farmed caviar claiming to be Osetra, knowing what you are buying can be a tricky business. For example, Zwyer caviar uses the motto, “The Caspian Legacy,” although the roe is from Siberian sturgeon raised in Uruguay -- nowhere near the Caspian Sea.

* Speaking of labeling, chocolate lovers will enjoy Culinate's take on how to read a chocolate label. It explains the relevance of cacao percentages, fair trade certification, organic and the (mostly meaningless) artisanal.

-- Jane Black

By Jane Black  |  December 16, 2009; 12:30 PM ET
Categories:  On Our Radar  | Tags: Jane Black, On Our Radar  
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Next: Sam Kass preps and plugs the winter garden


My Nonna Lucia used to buy our Pannetone at Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. It was always plain, simple, made some GREAT French Toast -- and when it was gone, it was gone.

One day MANY years later I walked into a Ross? Dress for Less store in the middle of nowhere, and there was a whole table filled with Pannetones of every persuasion -- chocolate, orange, unidentifiable flavors, and more. Wow! What I was missing in my childhood!!!

Posted by: bronxace | December 16, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Why does this guy continue to get press coverage? He hasn't seen a camera he doesn't like, and he's just using the Obama's to further his non-existant career, one that appears questionnable. He came here from a soup kitchen; no other background appears available. He did not fill a chef's position; one was created for him. You are making his career while he is taking money from taxpayers, and he's finding more and more ways to do this. By the way, some of those "volunteers" appear to be in Park Service uniforms. Read some of your own press about him, and question more about his background and job description. It appears he's making this up as he goes along.

Posted by: ubuzzoff2 | December 17, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

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