Passover is a time of joyous celebration and somber remembrance, but mostly it's all about the matzo balls.

Too much kerfuffle about Rioja these days. Not enough ka-ching.


At library, which came before lunch on Wednesdays in second grade, we were encouraged to browse the stacks. There I found something shocking.

Gilda Weinfeld from Pikesville, Md., said that last year during Passover, an acquaintance sent her some homemade chocolate-covered matzo. She said it was absolutely delicious, and when she called her friend to thank her for the gift she asked for the recipe - and her friend politely declined to give it to her.

For a while it seemed the days of the $12 Chianti Classico were long gone as the region hit its stride and top wines in the appellation commanded ever-higher prices.

The New Year is aging rapidly, and we've broken all of our well-intentioned resolutions by now. So let me propose a new one, at least for wine fans. Repeat after me: "At least once a month I will taste a wine I've never had before."

Delicious food and wine pairings almost always factor such individual elements as fat, salt, acidity, sweetness, tannins and alcohol in either the wine and food, then knowing how well (or poorly) these elements play together. In this recipe, you'd think it important to pay attention to the enormous amount of fat, but you needn't. Poaching in olive oil is just like roasting in salt crust: Neither oil nor salt is a final factor in the taste; they're mere mediums for heat. What will matter here is the fattiness of the fish or how much salt you sprinkle atop it.

American consumers are seeing a growing array of many fine artisanal cheeses at specialty food stores and supermarkets. People not only are buying more cheese, they are buying more interesting varieties and finding ways to incorporate them into their culinary repertoire.

Dear SOS: At Mendocino Farms, they make this incredible cold couscous salad that's out-of-this-world yummy. I don't usually like couscous, but there is something great about this cold yet tangy summer salad. If possible, could you track it down?

Nuts. And water. That's really all there is to nut milk.

Do you know what is it is to julienne? Can you chiffonade?

Product: CamelBak Relay

Julia Child used to say that you can judge the quality of a restaurant by its roast chicken.

Lemon wedges are overrated. Well, not true for iced tea maybe, but definitely as the boring, inevitable garnish for fish. Picture a plate of, say, filet of sole set before you. What that slab of cooked white fish needs is not a spritz of invisible ink but a tongue-tingling, eye-popping bit of pizazz.

Baseball is not just about the game, it's about the food, too.

Fresh artichokes are one of my favorite foods, and yet I find myself passing them by at the grocery store, having thought about the work in cleaning them and decided against it. Even baby artichokes require trimming and peeling, then a long cook time. Too much for a weeknight.

Back in the mid-1800s, tensions were mounting between the U.S. and Mexico. Contemporaneously, many Roman Catholic, Irish immigrants to the U.S. were experiencing discrimination in their mostly Protestant adopted home.

Q: I've seen recipes from chefs that call for covering food with plastic wrap and then foil before putting the food in the oven. Won't the plastic melt into the food?

This is a quick take on a popular Chinese classic. It's made with sauteed pork tenderloin and shredded cabbage, which cook in just a few minutes in a hot wok. I have used whole wheat tortillas as the wrap.

Most of the ricotta in this country is probably baked into lasagna. And that's delicious.

You wouldn't normally associate chimichurri with salmon, but the peppery bite of this arugula-kissed version pairs wonderfully with the fish and of course is a great accent to grilled flavors. The recipe is from Verlasso salmon, the only ocean farmed salmon to make the "eco-friendly" list of the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch. The impact of fish farming on the world's oceans is of concern to many; the list assigns seafoods a red, yellow or green rating, based on their sustainability and environmental impact. Red is "avoid," yellow is "good alternative" and green is "best choice."

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