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After Hours: A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That

By Kathy Biehl, Published on February 12, 2007

As the winds of winter (and more) blow outside, After Hours surfs across the Web to a variety of culinary points of interest. After a beverage-laden start, this month’s foray heads into food-related search tools galore.

Republic of Tea

First stop: The Republic of Tea, for a hot cuppa Irish Breakfast Tea. This newcomer to the Republic’s roster is rich and full-bodied, with a strong flavor that I can describe only as round and golden – and far earthier than English breakfast tea.

Returning to the line-up, briefly, is the limited edition Rose Petal Tea, subtitled Tea for the Queen of Hearts. It’s both perfumey and subtly spicy, and contains actual rose buds.

Recipe Search Tools

When I go online for a recipe, my usual haunts are the Searchable Online Archive of Recipes, RecipeSource.com, Epicurious, and, sometimes, the  Food Network. Now I can search all of them at once, and many, many more, by using the search tool at FoodieView.com. This tool not only simultaneously searches selected public recipe collections, but also allows you to browse recipes by category and save recipes of your choice in a virtual recipe box.

If your goal is bread making, help yourself to a prowl around CookingBread.com. This site is a cornucopia of recipes for plain, sweet and savory breads. It also offers cooking “classes,” which are step-by-step instructions, with photos, for a range of bread types – from simple country white to roasted garlic and sun-dried tomato to Chinese BBQ pork buns. The site has a newsletter, but no hint of the identity of the generous spirit behind it.

Recipe Resizer

Now that you’ve got a recipe, what if you want to change the proportions? When you want to resize a recipe drastically, head for the Recipe Resizer, hosted by a food service industry support site called the WEBstaurant Store. It’s designed to expand recipes into catering-sized quantities, but also works in reverse to reduce large-portioned recipes to smaller yields. Type in the number of people the recipe feeds and the number you want it to feed, then enter the quantity, type of measurement and name of each ingredient. (Note that it does not adjust cooking times, which may well need to change for cooking or baking.)

Wine and Food Matcher

Stumped by what wine to pair with your recipes? Consult the interactive wine and food matching tool recently launched by award-winning wine writer Natalie Maclean.

Select a drop-down menu to access the matcher. One starts with food, with selections based on courses (appetizer, dessert) or type of food (pasta, seafood and game, vegetables and salads). The other approaches the issue through wine types, which are listed by category (i.e., red, sparkling, dessert). Each option leads to a much longer drop-down menu with uncommonly specific entries. Ethnic food, for example, breaks down into categories of dishes (sashimi, borscht, coconut curry) as well as national cuisines (Korean, Spanish, Tex-Mex). Similarly, each top-level wine category leads to an exhaustive drop-down menu of specific varieties, from the familiar to the not-at-all-so. Select one to view a page of food recommendations by course and type. Just below the results is a search tool for retrieving Maclean’s recommendations by label of your chosen wine type.

Copyright 2006 Kathy Biehl. All Rights Reserved.