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Cooking up a spell

Post Independent/Kelley Cox
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“S-u-p-e-r-i-n-c-i-p-h-e-r-a-b-l-e.”I spelled it out confidently, handed the microphone back to the emcee, “Lucy” (as in Lucille Ball, complete with red hair), and sat back with a smug smile on my face.As the pronouncer conferred with the judges, I looked around the room at the spectators and the competitors. Everyone was dressed in ’50s-style clothing, in keeping with the theme of this year’s Spellebration. This spelling bee was not like the ones in the days of my youth. This was a playful adult spelling bee, with music, costumes and prizes – and “Elvis.” But the competition was just as fierce.Then I heard it.”I’m sorry, that is incorrect.”An audible gasp coursed through the room. I was wrong! I had let my teammates down. I’m a writer and a copyeditor – I should have spelled it right!The next team took the mike and spelled the word correctly: “superencipherable,” with an “e.” My teammate Bobby shot me a dirty look.Oh, well, it was all in fun. (And for the record, Bobby spelled “hebephrenia” wrong.)Still, I must say I was a little disappointed with myself. Words are my life. Not only do I write and copyedit, I love doing crosswords and word puzzles. I become viciously competitive when playing Scrabble. I own an unabridged dictionary that ways about 10 pounds, and I often look up new words I come across while reading, doing word puzzles or cooking.Yes, sometimes even the recipes in my cookbooks can be spelling challenges (not to mention pronunciation nightmares). Veal carpaccio, aioli sauce, tilapia en papillote, tagliatelle … I’ve eaten baba ghanoush, but don’t ask me to spell it without a dictionary.I’ve had great practice with culinary terms; maybe at next year’s spelling bee there will be more gustatory-related words and I’ll taste victory (no pun intended).But heck, if I can’t spell it, at least I can cook it!Gabrielle Devenish is the food editor at the Post Independent. She blames her misspelled word on the fact that there is no spellcheck button in a spelling bee. Contact her at 945-8515, ext. 535, or gdevenish@postindependent.com. The following recipes contain words from the Paideia 2006 Scripps National Spelling Bee study booklet.

Dacquoise with mocha sauceA dacquoise is traditional French cake consisting of two to three layers of discs of crisp meringue that are sandwiched together with whipped cream or buttercream (or in this case, frozen yogurt), and sometimes fruit.Meringue:5 large egg whites1/2 teaspoon vanilla extractDash of salt2/3 cup sugarFilling:3 cups vanilla frozen yogurt, slightly softened1 tablespoon instant coffee granulesMocha sauce:1 cup strong brewed coffee3/4 cup Dutch process cocoa1/2 cup light-colored corn syrup1 teaspoon cornstarch1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips1/4 teaspoon vanilla extractPreheat oven to 275 degrees.Cover 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Draw 2 (912-inch) circles on paper. Turn paper over; secure with masking tape.Place egg whites, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until foamy. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Divide the egg white mixture evenly between the 2 drawn circles. Spread egg white mixture onto the circles using the back of spoon. Bake at 275 degrees for 1 hour or until dry. Turn oven off; cool meringues in closed oven at least 1 hour. Remove meringues from oven; cool.To prepare filling, beat yogurt and coffee granules until smooth. Carefully remove the meringues from paper. Invert 1 meringue onto a serving plate. Spread filling evenly over meringue. Top with remaining meringue. Cover and freeze several hours or until firm.To prepare mocha sauce, combine brewed coffee, cocoa, corn syrup, and cornstarch in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in chocolate chips and vanilla. Remove dacquoise from freezer, and let stand for 5 minutes. Cut dacquoise into wedges with a serrated knife. Drizzle the mocha sauce over each serving. Makes 12 servings.- cooks.comLobster quenellesA quenelle is a dumpling made with chopped meat and bound with fat or eggs that is formed into an oval shape and poached in liquid. They can be served as an entree with a sauce, as a filling for savory pastries or as a garnish for soups.1 lobster 2 tablespoons bread crumbs 6 tablespoons butter 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon pepper Few grains cayenne 2 egg yolks 1 egg white Pound to a paste the meat and coral of a hen lobster, mix with it the bread crumbs and butter; add seasonings and moisten with eggs; if it proves too soft when tasted, add another white; if too stiff, work in a little water. Shape and poach, and serve with tartare sauce. (If served hot, the sauce should be Bechamel.) These may be cooled after poaching, fried in butter and served as a garnish for steamed fish, or in soup. -freerecipe.org


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