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  • Top Five Beer Cocktails

    Lagers, ales, and stouts add flavor and carbonation to mixed drinks. Below are five tasty tipples, in order of complexity.

    Many beer enthusiasts, like oenophiles and Scotch lovers, believe in the purity of their drink and don't welcome dilutions. Let them live in their gated communities. More open minds, and palates, recognize the simple pleasures of a Black and Tan (combining stout/porter and lager/ale) and a Snakebite (hard cider and lager). The whole is greater than the sum of its parts in each of these cases. The union of flavor begets a wholly original taste sensation. This has not been lost on better bartenders, who have been experimenting with beer in recent years. In addition to making the aforementioned classics, they're going to beer for effervescence, much like cocktails calling for a touch of Champagne or ginger ale. For this roundup, we chose to focus on beer-forward beverages that prove the stubborn purists wrong. The following drinks include some oldies-but-goodies, a

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  • A Do-Ahead Easter Dinner

    This simple yet elegant meal is practically stress-free

    An Easter dinner should feel like a special occasion, but it doesn't have to require hours and hours in the kitchen. Our menu features a succulent roast leg of lamb with a simple gravy thickened with vegetables, a decadent gratin that can bake alongside the lamb, and a salad of tender spring greens. Hors d'oeuvres made from skewered shrimp and scallops dress up the meal but are a snap to assemble. And chocolate cupcakes topped with fluffy white clouds of frosting and coconut finish things off in style.


    Honey-Mustard-Glazed Shrimp and Scallops

    The shrimp and scallops can be skewered together on toothpicks up to eight hours before cooking. Simply chill them on a plate, covered with plastic wrap, until you're ready to use them.

    Herb-Roasted Leg of Lamb with Vegetables and Jus

    This boneless leg of lamb takes just over two hours to cook but doesn't require much attention during that time. Put it in

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  • Colorful Creations

    Tips and ideas for making beautiful Easter eggs

    Remember how much fun it was to decorate Easter eggs when you were a kid? Every orb was a blank canvas, an invitation to experiment. The final result might have been a mess or a masterpiece, but it was always immensely satisfying.

    If you haven't been up to your elbows in dye and decorations for a while, you might want to try it again this year. "Making Easter eggs is a great activity for the whole family," says author-stylist Matthew Mead. "Kids will get messy and have a blast, and adults can produce intricate designs that will last for years."

    Mead is the author of Easter Eggs, the definitive guide to using paint and craft supplies to put together gorgeous holiday creations. He shared with Epicurious instructions for making three of his designs, as well as tips to get you started.

    Matthew Mead's Tips for Easter Egg Decorating:

    Prepare Your Eggs

    Most of the projects at right start with blown eggs, in which the

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  • Watching What We Eat: A History of TV Food Shows

    It was arguably the most influential medium of the 20th century, but television sure doesn't get a lot of respect from most people, much less serious scholar types. And among TV shows, food shows have long been relegated to the back of people's minds along with extended commercials for tomato sauce and having to spend time with your fusty grandmother canning beets.

    But food shows are finally getting notice, and author Kathleen Collins has made their place in television history official by writing a fun and informative book about how they got to this point, in "Watching What We Eat: The Evolution of Television Cooking Shows."

    What show today strikes the right balance between having personality and being useful?

    What could today's shows learn from those food programs of yesteryear?

    Which modern food-show personality would you like to see Julia Child take on in the boxing ring, and who would win?

    Find out how Kathleen Collins answered these puzzlers in our Q&A with her.

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  • Delicious Passover Desserts

    Four exceptional Passover treats from baking maven Marcy Goldman

    It's Passover and you know what that means: Time for another round of Mom's rubbery sponge cake and canned macaroons. But, guess what, matzoh meal and margarine don't have to spell mediocrity. In the hands of Marcy Goldman, Montreal baker extraordinaire and author of A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking (Doubleday), Passover ingredients are transformed. "If you put a dessert on the table and have to shrug and say, 'What do you want, it's a Passover dessert,' then you shouldn't serve it at all," she says. Here she shares four recipes that will defy your expectations.

    Mock Chestnut Torte

    "This is an elegant cake. It doesn't taste like something Bubby would schlep over in a white CorningWare dish covered with foil." -Marcy Goldman

    Our Notes:
    Rich but light. Velvety smooth and quite gorgeous, with a chocolate glaze and fresh berries. Your guests will plotz.

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  • This Crazy Vegan Life: A Healthy Book for the Vegan in You

    James Cury blogged about teens possibly masking eating disorders by claiming to be vegetarian. After reading Christina Pirello's This Crazy Vegan Life: A Prescription for an Endangered Species (Penguin), I think it's safe to say that Pirello advocates a healthy lifestyle, one that happens to be vegan. Her story is a refreshing one: Having followed a vegan macrobiotic diet, she eventually realized that she was living an unhealthy lifestyle. But how could a vegan be unhealthy? In her case, by consuming too many desserts and snacks, and not maintaining a balanced lifestyle that includes exercise. A re-evaluation put Pirello back on track with "whole vegan food and cooking and working [out]" both her body and mind. The book addresses commonplace issues such as what to eat, when to eat, why eat X but not Y, etc., all from a vegan's point-of-view. And it is persuasive. Because who doesn't want to look more trim, have more energy, and eat well?

    A few things in Pirello's book stand out.

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  • South-of-the-Border Seder

    An upscale Mexican restaurant is not the first place you'd think of to hold a seder. But walk into any of Rosa Mexicano's New York City , Washington , D.C., Atlanta , or Miami branches during the week of Passover, and you'll have your pick of dishes created just for the holiday, from tropical charoset to pears poached in cinnamon-scented red wine and served with a spicy sabayon sauce.

    Why this unexpected-and inspired-pairing? "We have many Jewish friends, both in Mexico and here in the U.S. ," says culinary director Roberto Santibañez. In fact, Jews have an historic presence in his native land- Mexico City is the center of a community of more than 40,000 that dates back to the Spanish Inquisition.

    Adds Lila Louli, a Mexican-Jewish food writer who gave Santibañez recipe advice, "Over the centuries, Jews have sought refuge in Mexico from many different areas, including Germany, Eastern Europe, Spain, Turkey, and Syria. You'll find both Sephardic and the Ashkenazic cooking here,

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  • A Sophisticated Seder

    New tastes meet tradition in this modern Passover menu

    Passover obviously isn't a secular holiday, but it is at least partly defined by traditions that are older even than the flight of the Hebrews from Egypt: making do in the scarcity of late winter (matzoh, about the most spartan bread you can make), the celebration of the beginning of spring's bounty (lamb, herbs, new wine - think of Beaujolais Nouveau - and green vegetables), and the very serious ritual of spring cleaning (one of the mandates of Passover is essentially to rid the house of just about everything that's been lying around all winter).

    It's the commemoration of freedom, however, that makes Passover a true celebration, a joyful feast, a holiday that everyone can relate to - increasingly, in many households it's become a semi-secular holiday, celebrating the rights of oppressed people all over the world. Whether your seder is highly traditional or a more informal gathering of friends to read the Haggadah and

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  • How to Pair Asparagus with Wine

    Certain chemicals in asparagus can make your wine taste vegetal, grassy, or just plain rotten. No other ingredient, not even cheese or chocolate, is the target of such fear, disdain, and discussion. Asparagus has been likened to Kryptonite; it is the enemy, it ruins perfectly nice vino. But it's too delicious to ignore entirely. With the arrival of Spring, there's a growing chance you will have to deal with this dining dilemma. But how?

    I tasted several asparagus dishes earlier this week (white and green, prepared in a variety of ways with all kinds of sauces) and then compiled a quick and easy list of tips, based on what I tried, to help you optimize the food or the wine, depending on where you like to start.

    Recipe Tips to Make Asparagus Pair Better with Wine:

    1) Grill the asparagus so there's a char (perhaps steam or microwave it first)

    2) Cover it in sauce (cheese, hollandaise, etc.)

    3) Serve with a creamy dressing

    4) Look for thin spears, which may have less

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  • First Taste: Starbucks' New Coffee-Drink Ice Creams

    Another sign that Spring has sprung: We're tasting ice cream. Specifically, the editors here sampled three out of the four new coffee flavors from Starbucks: Mocha Frappuccino, Java Chip Frappuccino, and Caramel Macchiato (each is $3.99 per pint). What about the old flavors including Mud Pie, Coffee Almond Fudge, Low Fat Latte, and Caramel Cappuccino Swirl? They're doneski. No longer available.

    So which of the new releases was the staff favorite? The Caramel Macchiato had the boldest and most intense coffee flavor, as well as luscious thick swirls of sweet caramel, which contrasted nicely with the creamy vanilla ice cream.

    The Java Chip Frappuccino, which was a touch creamier than the others, had nice bittersweet chocolate chunks. But there were criticisms: "This is not as coffee flavored as I would have imagined," announced one editor. Many agreed that this would be the ideal choice for someone who likes their coffee mild and not too sweet.

    The Mocha Frappucino, comprising

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