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Compass Connoisseur Serious Choppers For knives that will last a lifetime and require sharpening 10 times less often than the competition, check out the Chef’s Choice from EdgeCraft. Your inner ninja will be drooling over these blades, which are made in the U.S. and forged from a single bar of Trizor. EdgeCraft’s own steel alloy has a 100% higher carbon content than you’ll find in any other kitchen cutlery on the planet. These knives are also optimally balanced and mind- blowingly sharp, they will inspire you to get chopping as soon as you take them out of the box; $330; EdgeCraft.com. Tasty Spotlight Looking for a chance to unleash your inner Top Chef? You can find it at Key Biscayne’s own Le Croisic French Bistro. Once a week, Le Croisic opens its kitchen to a “Guest Chef” who prepares his or her special dish for patrons. To get behind the apron yourself, you’ve just got to convince 10 of your friends to come that night to enjoy your creation. Each of them gets a glass of champagne on the house, and the guest chef takes home a $75 gift certificate. Open for lunch and dinner Mon.- Sat.; 180 Crandon Blvd., Ste. 117, Key Biscayne; 305.361.5888. King of Pies Everybody loves a good pepperoni and cheese pie once in a while, but pizza has moved from soaking up beer in the stomachs of frat boys to becoming a canvas for top chefs to show off some of their most fascinating flavors. But you may not realize that it’s easier than you think for you to play pizza master in the comfort of your own kitchen. Even a store-bought pizza dough can be turned into a masterpiece of food art with the right technique and a little out-of-the-box thinking. The key element is a pizza stone. These large, ceramic slabs are readily available at kitchen supply stores. Place the stone on a rack that has been moved as close as possible to the top of your oven. If there is only about two or three inches of space above the stone, great! Heat your oven to its top temperature — generally around 550 F. In the meantime, shape and top your pizza on a piece of parchment paper. Using a pizza paddle, slide your pie onto the pizza stone and bake for 7-10 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and starting to brown. Here are a few unconventional topping combinations to try: 1.) Olive oil with garlic, rosemary, mozzarella, goat cheese and halved red grapes. 2.) Fig preserves with mozzarella, proscuitto and mint. 3.) Tomato sauce with mozzarella, fontina, sliced bratwurst, caramelized onions and blue cheese. Go crazy! If it goes wrong, there’s always Chinese... › Jacquelyn Benson is an avid home chef and gardener. She is currently working on a book about the tastes, history and politics of heirloom vegetables. Her blog, Scratch, gets under the surface of some of her wilder culinary experiments; ScratchRealFood.com. Word Play “I told my doctor I get very tired when I go on a diet, so he gave me pep pills. Know what happened? I ate faster.” — Joe Lewis 40 Great Char Icy Fact Vomitoria weren’t actually special rooms where the Romans would purge themselves to fit in more courses. The word actually refers to the passages built into the theaters to “spew out” exiting audiences. Searing meat doesn’t actually “seal in” its juices — the high heat actually makes it lose moisture. What it does do is add fantastic flavor, thanks to a chemical process called the Maillard Reaction. The Western world discovered one of its favorite foods — ice cream — thanks to Marco Polo’s famous expedition to China in 1295. He returned with a recipe for a dessert made with frozen milk.