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Secrets from St. Louis and the Other Georgia

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November 14, 1996|MARION CUNNINGHAM | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Cunningham's latest book is "Cooking With Children," (Alfred A. Knopf, 1995)

When someone shares a favorite recipe, it is the next best thing to sitting down and sharing food.

Here are two wonderful recipes given to me by some new friends. The first recipe, Svaneti salt, comes from Laura Dewell, chef-owner of Seattle's Pirosmani restaurant, which serves the exciting food of the Republic of Georgia (formerly part of the Soviet Union). Dewell spent a year there learning how to make Georgian food.

This condiment, from the mountainous Svanetia region, is used on red meat, salads, soups and on and on. I have been putting it on everything but dessert.

The almond butter cake is a gift from a couple in St. Louis, Steve and Julia Lewis. This cake is an example of a regional favorite there, the Gooey Butter Cake. Most St. Louis bakeries have a version of this popular cake, but the recipes I've seen are based on yellow cake mix, and my attempts at making the cake from scratch have been disappointing.

This version is different from the original, but it's excellent--and very simple to make. It's also extremely sweet and keeps well too.

ALMOND BUTTER CAKE

Sugar

3/4 cup butter, melted

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon almond extract, or more

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups flour

3 tablespoons slivered almonds

Blend 1 1/2 cups sugar and melted butter in large mixing bowl. Beat in eggs, 1 at time, and stir well. Add almond and vanilla extracts and mix thoroughly into batter. Taste and add more almond extract if necessary. Add salt and flour and mix until batter is smooth.

Spread batter in greased 9-inch round cake pan. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons sugar over batter and sprinkle almonds on top. Bake at 350 degrees until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes (begin checking on doneness after 25 minutes). Remove and let cool 10 minutes and turn out onto rack.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Each of 10 servings contains about:

286 calories; 272 mg sodium; 80 mg cholesterol; 16 grams fat; 32 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams protein; 0.18 gram fiber.

SVANETI SALT

1 1/2 cups finely chopped garlic

1 cup finely ground coriander

1 cup ground black pepper

3/4 cup ground fenugreek

1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

1/2 cup coarse salt

1 cup caraway seeds

Grind garlic, coriander, pepper, fenugreek, cayenne and salt in food processor until finely ground. Stir in caraway seeds. Store salt in tightly closed jar in refrigerator for several days before using.

Makes 1 quart.

Each 1-teaspoon serving contains about:

7 calories; 296 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 0 fat; 1 gram carbohydrates; 0 protein; 0.28 gram fiber.

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