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Antipasto Platter No longer need shoppers hunt down a salumeria or pork store in the Italian part of town to find meats for a good antipasto platter. Such once-exotic salamis and sausages are found in many good supermarket deli cases. Of course the best meats are still found behind the counter of true Italian butchers.
Antipasto Salad Chicago likes big salads, especially big salads that have lots of ingredients not normally found in a typical bowl of rabbit-food greens. This one includes virtually all the meats and even cheese from an antipasto platter, plus greens. Make sure all the ingredients are diced very fine. Your goal should be to have nearly some of everything on every forkful.
Beef Carpaccio with Porcini Mushroom Relish Beef carpaccio was first served in Venice at Harry’s Bar, which is also birthplace of the Bellini (white peach nectar and sparkling wine). This elegant recipe is from Harry Caray's in Chicago.
Ben Benson's Special Salad This hearty salad made at Ben Benson's steakhouse can do serious damage to appetite, so beware if you plan to have it before tucking into a sirloin, hash browns, creamed spinach, and cheesecake. In fact, divide the recipe into halves and you've got a nice vegetarian meal instead of an appetizer. Recipe photo of Ben Benson's Special Salad
Calamari Fritto Gaetano Carbone discovered fried calamari at Leon's restaurant in New Haven, Connecticut. In order to get the recipe for his own restaurant from Leon's chef, Guy swapped him his recipe for eggplant. It remains a huge favorite at Carbone's in Hartford. Recipe photo of Calamari Fritto
Caramelized Onion Quesadilla Quesadilla means "a little something made of cheese"; and there are innumerable variations of it in Mexican cookery: deep-fried or baked, stuffed with everything from plain cheese to refried beans to lemon-flavored sweet tarts vaguely similar to cheesecake. Some of our favorites are served at The Plaza in Santa Fe. Recipe photo of Caramelized Onion Quesadilla
Crab Cakes The secret of great crab cakes is to use the most amount of crab and as little binder as you can get away with to hold the cake together. Of course, the quality of the crab meat crucial. Fresh-picked Chesapeake Bay crab or Dungeness crab is best. Recipe photo of Crab Cakes
Deviled Eggs Deviled egg plates, passed down from generation to generation, are treasured heirlooms in many families, especially in the South, where no church supper, family reunion, or holiday party is complete without the little white and yellow ovals sprinkled with paprika. Our recipe comes from the supremely southern Blue Willow Inn. They make their deviled eggs on the mild side, but it is easy to fire them up by adding chopped jalapeno peppers or to make them more devilish by using hot mustard. Recipe photo of Deviled Eggs
Garlic Mozzarella Bread Chef Sissy Hicks of Vermont's Dorset Inn described this extra-luxurious garlic bread as "everybody's favorite." It's a good side dish for all sorts of meals or, with soup and a salad, a wonderful lunch Recipe photo of Garlic Mozzarella Bread
Gorgonzola & Honey Bruschetta While testing recipes for a Super Bowl party-food story at, we came across this utterly simple, ingenious combination of ingredients at B Street & Vine in San Mateo, California. The friendly wine cafe has 14 different bruschettas on the menu, ranging from classic mozzarella and tomato to prosciutto and figs. Gorgonzola and honey is a sensational combo! Recipe photo of Gorgonzola & Honey Bruschetta
Jalapeno Poppers Poppers are a bite-size version of chile rellenos that American snackers discovered in the heat-seeking 1990s along with Buffalo Wings. While many bars deep-fry them, we prefer our poppers oven-baked, which highlights the pepper's flavor. Recipe photo of Jalapeno Poppers
Muffaletta The name "muffaletta" once referred only to the bread, a chewy round loaf turned out by Italian bakeries. New Orleans grocery stores that sold the bread got the fine idea to slice it horizontally and stuff it, and the muffuletta sandwich was born. It has become a signature dish of The Big Easy, but, like the po boy, has become known nationwide. It depends on good bread and cold cuts, but the soul of a muffaletta is its olive salad. This is the recipe used at the wonderful All-Star Sandwich Bar in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Recipe photo of Muffaletta
Panzanella Salad I am posting this recipe in December, but I strongly suggest you bookmark it and file it away until summer when fresh, ripe tomatoes are available. The quality of tomato makes all the difference in this salad, the recipe for which was suggested by the version we had at Evo in Charleston, South Carolina. Recipe photo of Panzanella Salad
Peanut Soup While many of Virginia's signature dishes are found elsewhere -- fried chicken, country ham, apple pie -- peanut soup is strictly Old Dominion. It can be as thin as broth or as thick as gravy; and its flavor, needless to say, is most dependent on the quality of peanut butter used. This recipe makes a medium-thin soup, rich but not overwhelmingly so. It's very similiar to what is served at New Market's Southern Kitchen (pictured). Recipe photo of Peanut Soup
Pimiento Cheese Pimiento cheese frequently is served on soft white bread or with crackers, but it sings a special song when used to make a grilled cheese sandwich. Consider amending the cheese in the sandwich with sliced fresh tomatoes and/or grilled bacon. This recipe comes from chef Philip Bardin at the Old Post Office restaurant on Edisto Island, South Carolina. Recipe photo of Pimiento Cheese
Pot Likker Pot likker is the broth retrieved from the pot in which greens have been boiled, usually along with plenty of fatback, bacon, or salt pork. It is an intense one-two punch of tonic vegetable and unctuous pork, customarily served in small portions as an appetizer or side dish. With a hunk of cornbread and an extra measure of salt pork, it is a meal unto itself (in which case this recipe will yield four portions). Recipe photo of Pot Likker
Potato and Onion Soup Cooking potatoes in beef stock gives the starchy vegetable a savor that all carnivores will appreciate. A sprinkle of Parmesan on each serving adds just the right zip.
Potato Skins America's infatuation with potato skins began in the mid-1960s at the original T.G.I. Fridays in New York, where customers discovered how well they went with big, fun drinks. The inspiration for our recipe comes from a potato-focused eatery called Spudly's, in Metarie, Louisiana. Although Spudly's is best known for mealworthy stuffed potatoes, it also offers all kinds of skins, which happen to be one of the best snack/bar foods on earth. They are easy to make at home (and they leave you with plenty of scooped-out potato to transform into potato pancakes later in the week). Skins are best eaten still at least a little bit warm. Recipe photo of Potato Skins
Roasted Garlic Soup When roasted, even ferocious garlic develops a pussycat personality. With potatoes and cream, six whole bulbs here become the foundation of a mellow soup.
Roasted Peppers Roasted peppers go with almost any kind of meat, but they stand alone, too. This recipe is simply a way to season them. Add a few crackers and spreadable cheese, maybe some olives, and you've got a great hors d'oeuvre tray. Recipe photo of Roasted Peppers
Salt & Pepper Shrimp Since arriving in Seattle from the east in 1977, Tom Douglas has helped redefine northwestern cooking in a number of cutting-edge restaurants, including a current favorite one called Etta's, which features seafood from the Pike Place Market across the street. One of Tom's most delicious seafood dishes is Szechuan salt and pepper prawns, which inspired this easy home version. Recipe photo of Salt & Pepper Shrimp
South Coast Clam Chowder "The trouble with most people's chowder is they cook it too long," explained Flo Klewin of Mystic Seaport's ultra-tiny Kitchen Little. "It gets too strong. Take it off the heat fast if you want it to be nice." We have reduced the measurements in her Kitchen Little recipe, which calls for a gallon of clams; but we have maintained the fundamental technique of simmering the chowder a mere three minutes once the clams are added. The result is a gentle-flavored broth containing tender clams. Recipe photo of South Coast Clam Chowder
Split Pea Soup A diner classic, especially welcome when it's cold outside, split pea soup is rich enough to be a meal -- especially if you add leftover ham or sausage along with the ham bone. Recipe photo of Split Pea Soup
Super Bowl Meatballs The only thing that would make meatballs more symbolic of a Super Bowl graze-fest is shaping them like little footballs. They are perfect party fare, versatile enough to range from knife-and-fork food to canapés to an ideal ingredient for long sub sandwiches or single-meatball sliders on potato rolls. You won't find a more versatile recipe than the one we got from Harry Caray's Restaurant in Chicago. These hefty beef-and-pork meatballs are great on a plate with teriyaki or barbecue sauce or loaded into long garlic-buttered Italian hero loaves with mozzarella cheese and marinara sauce. Recipe photo of Super Bowl Meatballs
Tomato Basil Soup Tomato and basil: from soup to sorbet (yes, sorbet!), these are the most-paired ingredients in the Italian kitchen. Onions and carrots add a deep vegetable sweetness.
Tostada Grande de Tucson Also known as Mexican pizza or cheese crisp, the tostada grande is a staple of the Sonoran cooking so prevalent in Tucson. This recipe, from the venerable El Charro, is very basic and easy to eat without spillage; but it is common to add cebolitas (grilled green onions) on top. You might also consider salsa, grilled vegetables or shredded beef -- all of which make it pretty messy. Recipe photo of Tostada Grande de Tucson
Tuscan Sausage and Bean Soup The silk-smooth texture of cannelini sings excellent harmony with rugged sausage in this recipe from Chicago's Harry Caray's
Venison Sausage Succulent and sweet, singing of autumn in the country, this venison sausage was something I discovered at a Bull Run Hunt Club breakfast in Rapidan, Virginia. Sarah Womack, the chef who devised the recipe, suggests it be sided by small roasted potatoes, biscuits, or buckwheat pancakes. Note that the sausage mix should be refrigerated at least overnight before cooking. Recipe photo of Venison Sausage
West Indies Salad It seems like a fancy dish, but restaurants of all stripe around the Mobile Bay serve this magnificent celebration of crab meat. Usually, it's a starter; but serve enough and it easily becomes a hearty meal. Recipe photo of West Indies Salad

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