Traditional recipes

Open Sesame Pie

Open Sesame Pie

Meanwhile, in small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup cold water; set aside to soften. In 2-quart saucepan, mix dates, 1/4 cup sugar, the salt, milk and egg yolks. Cook over medium heat 10 to 12 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture is slightly thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in softened gelatin and vanilla until gelatin is dissolved. Refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until date mixture is thickened and partially set.

In small bowl with electric mixer, beat whipping cream and 2 tablespoons sugar on high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold whipped cream into date mixture. Spoon filling into cooled baked shell; sprinkle with nutmeg. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving. Store in refrigerator.


OPEN SESAME:

Sesame seeds are proof that big flavor can come in small packages. Each tiny seed has more concentrated taste than other nuts several times its size.

The seeds offer another bonus: They are as crunchy and delicious in cookies, candies and cakes as they are in savory foods, such as grilled meats, stir-fries and curries.

So why are Americans content with a mere freckling of seeds across a burger bun or an occasional sesame cracker? Americans lag far behind Asian, Indian, African and Mexican cooks in creative uses for sesame seeds.

Until the mid-1950s, few Americans knew what sesame seeds were, though some cooks occasionally used a bland variety of sesame oil for frying and making salad dressings.

Then, Mrs. B.A. Koteen, a Washington homemaker, won the 1954 Pillsbury Bake-Off with open-sesame pie, a date-and-whipped cream confection inside a toasted sesame-seed crust.

Today, the American Spice Trade Association, an industry group in New Jersey, reports that the United States imports more than 70 million pounds of sesame seeds annually. However, the lion's share still is consumed on hamburger buns.

In Asian cuisines, stir-fried vegetables get a kick from a sprinkling of toasted seeds. Strips of chicken and duck are coated with seeds and fried until they are crisp and brown. Sesame prawn balls and sesame toasts (deep-fried bread triangles spread with egg whites, mashed shrimp and sesame seeds) are popular appetizers. Strong-tasting black sesame seeds are the foundation for numerous Chinese desserts, including fried caramelized apple slices.

Sesame seeds also are common in Korean and Japanese cooking. Sesame oil long has been favored in these countries, where it is made by crushing the oil from the toasted seeds. Sesame paste is used as a sauce for noodles and rice. The oil and seeds provide the distinctive flavor and appearance of bulgogi (brazier-cooked beef), the Korean national dish.

Sesame oil and seeds flavor dozens of Japanese dips and dressings for salads and vegetables.

In the Middle East, a favorite food is tahini, a paste made from crushed sesame seeds and sesame oil, similar to smooth peanut butter. Tahini is mixed to a sauce with water and lemon juice and used to moisten falafel (snack croquettes made from beans and spices).

Elsewhere throughout the Middle East, tahini is pureed with chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and garlic to make hummus, a nutritious appetizer dip. Halvah, a beige, sandy-textured candy made from ground sesame seeds and sugar, is popular across the Middle East and India.

Archaeologists believe the tall, perennial herb plant that produces sesame seeds probably is the oldest vegetation grown for oil. Evidence of sesame cakes, wine and brandy have been found in archaeological digs in Turkey and ancient Iran.

Sesame reached the New World with African slaves, who called them benne (BEHN-ee) seeds, after a word in the Bantu language. They considered the nutty seeds good-luck charms and used them in candies, cakes, breads and sauces. The seeds gained popularity in the South, where residents of Louisiana and North and South Carolina still call them benne seeds and cook them in cookies and brittle candies. Traditional Southern benne wafers are made with plenty of butter, brown sugar and sesame seeds.

Sesame seeds also pack plenty of protein. They are 25 percent protein by weight and contain some amino acids that most other nuts, seeds and beans lack. They are high in calcium and phosphorus. Even the oil has benefits. It is high in unsaturated fat and doesn't become rancid so it's a good choice for small households that use little oil in cooking.

Unfortunately, the most serious complaint about sesame seeds is how small they are-just large enough to become a nuisance in the teeth.

Preparation time: 40 minutes

Chilling time: Several hours

To toast sesame seeds, bake at 375 degrees for 3 to 5 minutes until golden. Or they can be toasted in a skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Be careful to prevent burning. This recipe is adapted from the "Pillsbury Bake-Off Cookbook."

2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

1 cup whipping cream, whipped

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. For crust, spoon flour into a measuring cup level. In a medium bowl, combine flour sesame seeds and salt. Using pastry blender or fork, cut shortening into flour until it resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle with water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to make a dough just moist enough to hold together.

2. Roll out to a 10 1/2-inch circle and fit into a 9-inch pie pan. Crimp the edges to form a decorative border. Pierce bottom and sides with a fork. Bake until brown and firm, 9 to 15 minutes. Cool completely.

3. For filling, in a small bowl, soften gelatin in 1/4 cup water. In a medium saucepan, combine dates, 1/4 cup of sugar, salt, milk and egg yolks. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture is slightly thickened, 6 to 10 minutes. Add softened gelatin and vanilla. Refrigerate until partially set.

4. Whip cream and fold it into date mixture. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over egg whites and beat to form a stiff meringue. Fold into date filling. Pour entire filling into pie shell. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Marinating time: 2 to 4 hours

Adapted from "The MacMillan Treasury of Spices and Natural Flavorings."

3 tablespoons each: brown sugar, Oriental sesame oil

2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed through a press

3 green onions, finely chopped

5 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted

1. Slice meat into thin strips. Combine soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, garlic and green onions in large bowl.

2. Grind 3 tablespoons of the sesame seeds in a spice grinder, coffee grinder or mortar and pestle to a fine powder. Add to the soy marinade. Stir in meat strips. Marinate meat in refrigerator 2 to 4 hours, turning from time to time.

3. Strain meat, reserving marinade. Heat a wok or heavy frying pan. Quickly brown meat strips, a few at a time, over medium-high heat. As they cook transfer them to a warmed serving dish.

4. Reduce heat add marinade. Cook until mixture bubbles and thickens. Watch to make sure it doesn't burn. Pour cooked marinade over meat, and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of toasted sesame seeds.

Preparation time: 25 minutes

This recipe is adapted from "Hoppin' John's Low-Country Cooking" by John Taylor.

2 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled

1/2 cup lard or shortening, chilled

1 1/3 cups toasted sesame seeds

Additional salt if desired

1. Heat oven to 300 degrees. Sift flour, salt and cayenne into a bowl. Cut in butter and lard with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Gradually add the ice water until the dough begins to hold together. (You may not need to use it all.) Add sesame seeds, then form dough into a ball.

2. Roll dough out thin and cut into small crackers. Round wafers are traditional, but shaped cookie cutters also can be used. Use a metal spatula to transfer the delicate dough to a cookie sheet.

3. Bake for 15 minutes. Flip crackers over, and bake 15 minutes longer. If desired, sprinkle them with additional salt while they are hot and soft. Cool on racks and store in air-tight containers.

SPICY NOODLES WITH SESAME DRESSING

Preparation time: 20 minutes

This recipe is adapted from "Keeping Company."

1 pound thin egg noodles (fresh if possible)

1 tablespoon Oriental sesame oil

3 tablespoons each: soy sauce, sesame seed paste (tahini)

2 tablespoons each: unsweetened brewed tea, Oriental sesame oil

1 tablespoon Oriental chili oil

2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

Salt, freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. For noodles, heat 6 quarts of water to a boil. Add peanut oil and cook noodles until al dente, 3 to 4 minutes for fresh noodles, longer if dried. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drain and toss with 1 tablespoon sesame oil.

2. For dressing, mix all ingredients and pour over the noodles. If it's too thick, thin with additional oil.

3. Toss dressing to coat noodles. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Note: Make the dressing in advance if you wish, but don't toss the salad until right before serving. Tahini is available in Middle Eastern markets and some large supermarkets.


OPEN SESAME:

Sesame seeds are proof that big flavor can come in small packages. Each tiny seed has more concentrated taste than other nuts several times its size.

The seeds offer another bonus: They are as crunchy and delicious in cookies, candies and cakes as they are in savory foods, such as grilled meats, stir-fries and curries.

So why are Americans content with a mere freckling of seeds across a burger bun or an occasional sesame cracker? Americans lag far behind Asian, Indian, African and Mexican cooks in creative uses for sesame seeds.

Until the mid-1950s, few Americans knew what sesame seeds were, though some cooks occasionally used a bland variety of sesame oil for frying and making salad dressings.

Then, Mrs. B.A. Koteen, a Washington homemaker, won the 1954 Pillsbury Bake-Off with open-sesame pie, a date-and-whipped cream confection inside a toasted sesame-seed crust.

Today, the American Spice Trade Association, an industry group in New Jersey, reports that the United States imports more than 70 million pounds of sesame seeds annually. However, the lion's share still is consumed on hamburger buns.

In Asian cuisines, stir-fried vegetables get a kick from a sprinkling of toasted seeds. Strips of chicken and duck are coated with seeds and fried until they are crisp and brown. Sesame prawn balls and sesame toasts (deep-fried bread triangles spread with egg whites, mashed shrimp and sesame seeds) are popular appetizers. Strong-tasting black sesame seeds are the foundation for numerous Chinese desserts, including fried caramelized apple slices.

Sesame seeds also are common in Korean and Japanese cooking. Sesame oil long has been favored in these countries, where it is made by crushing the oil from the toasted seeds. Sesame paste is used as a sauce for noodles and rice. The oil and seeds provide the distinctive flavor and appearance of bulgogi (brazier-cooked beef), the Korean national dish.

Sesame oil and seeds flavor dozens of Japanese dips and dressings for salads and vegetables.

In the Middle East, a favorite food is tahini, a paste made from crushed sesame seeds and sesame oil, similar to smooth peanut butter. Tahini is mixed to a sauce with water and lemon juice and used to moisten falafel (snack croquettes made from beans and spices).

Elsewhere throughout the Middle East, tahini is pureed with chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and garlic to make hummus, a nutritious appetizer dip. Halvah, a beige, sandy-textured candy made from ground sesame seeds and sugar, is popular across the Middle East and India.

Archaeologists believe the tall, perennial herb plant that produces sesame seeds probably is the oldest vegetation grown for oil. Evidence of sesame cakes, wine and brandy have been found in archaeological digs in Turkey and ancient Iran.

Sesame reached the New World with African slaves, who called them benne (BEHN-ee) seeds, after a word in the Bantu language. They considered the nutty seeds good-luck charms and used them in candies, cakes, breads and sauces. The seeds gained popularity in the South, where residents of Louisiana and North and South Carolina still call them benne seeds and cook them in cookies and brittle candies. Traditional Southern benne wafers are made with plenty of butter, brown sugar and sesame seeds.

Sesame seeds also pack plenty of protein. They are 25 percent protein by weight and contain some amino acids that most other nuts, seeds and beans lack. They are high in calcium and phosphorus. Even the oil has benefits. It is high in unsaturated fat and doesn't become rancid so it's a good choice for small households that use little oil in cooking.

Unfortunately, the most serious complaint about sesame seeds is how small they are-just large enough to become a nuisance in the teeth.

Preparation time: 40 minutes

Chilling time: Several hours

To toast sesame seeds, bake at 375 degrees for 3 to 5 minutes until golden. Or they can be toasted in a skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Be careful to prevent burning. This recipe is adapted from the "Pillsbury Bake-Off Cookbook."

2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

1 cup whipping cream, whipped

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. For crust, spoon flour into a measuring cup level. In a medium bowl, combine flour sesame seeds and salt. Using pastry blender or fork, cut shortening into flour until it resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle with water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to make a dough just moist enough to hold together.

2. Roll out to a 10 1/2-inch circle and fit into a 9-inch pie pan. Crimp the edges to form a decorative border. Pierce bottom and sides with a fork. Bake until brown and firm, 9 to 15 minutes. Cool completely.

3. For filling, in a small bowl, soften gelatin in 1/4 cup water. In a medium saucepan, combine dates, 1/4 cup of sugar, salt, milk and egg yolks. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture is slightly thickened, 6 to 10 minutes. Add softened gelatin and vanilla. Refrigerate until partially set.

4. Whip cream and fold it into date mixture. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over egg whites and beat to form a stiff meringue. Fold into date filling. Pour entire filling into pie shell. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Marinating time: 2 to 4 hours

Adapted from "The MacMillan Treasury of Spices and Natural Flavorings."

3 tablespoons each: brown sugar, Oriental sesame oil

2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed through a press

3 green onions, finely chopped

5 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted

1. Slice meat into thin strips. Combine soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, garlic and green onions in large bowl.

2. Grind 3 tablespoons of the sesame seeds in a spice grinder, coffee grinder or mortar and pestle to a fine powder. Add to the soy marinade. Stir in meat strips. Marinate meat in refrigerator 2 to 4 hours, turning from time to time.

3. Strain meat, reserving marinade. Heat a wok or heavy frying pan. Quickly brown meat strips, a few at a time, over medium-high heat. As they cook transfer them to a warmed serving dish.

4. Reduce heat add marinade. Cook until mixture bubbles and thickens. Watch to make sure it doesn't burn. Pour cooked marinade over meat, and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of toasted sesame seeds.

Preparation time: 25 minutes

This recipe is adapted from "Hoppin' John's Low-Country Cooking" by John Taylor.

2 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled

1/2 cup lard or shortening, chilled

1 1/3 cups toasted sesame seeds

Additional salt if desired

1. Heat oven to 300 degrees. Sift flour, salt and cayenne into a bowl. Cut in butter and lard with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Gradually add the ice water until the dough begins to hold together. (You may not need to use it all.) Add sesame seeds, then form dough into a ball.

2. Roll dough out thin and cut into small crackers. Round wafers are traditional, but shaped cookie cutters also can be used. Use a metal spatula to transfer the delicate dough to a cookie sheet.

3. Bake for 15 minutes. Flip crackers over, and bake 15 minutes longer. If desired, sprinkle them with additional salt while they are hot and soft. Cool on racks and store in air-tight containers.

SPICY NOODLES WITH SESAME DRESSING

Preparation time: 20 minutes

This recipe is adapted from "Keeping Company."

1 pound thin egg noodles (fresh if possible)

1 tablespoon Oriental sesame oil

3 tablespoons each: soy sauce, sesame seed paste (tahini)

2 tablespoons each: unsweetened brewed tea, Oriental sesame oil

1 tablespoon Oriental chili oil

2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

Salt, freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. For noodles, heat 6 quarts of water to a boil. Add peanut oil and cook noodles until al dente, 3 to 4 minutes for fresh noodles, longer if dried. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drain and toss with 1 tablespoon sesame oil.

2. For dressing, mix all ingredients and pour over the noodles. If it's too thick, thin with additional oil.

3. Toss dressing to coat noodles. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Note: Make the dressing in advance if you wish, but don't toss the salad until right before serving. Tahini is available in Middle Eastern markets and some large supermarkets.


OPEN SESAME:

Sesame seeds are proof that big flavor can come in small packages. Each tiny seed has more concentrated taste than other nuts several times its size.

The seeds offer another bonus: They are as crunchy and delicious in cookies, candies and cakes as they are in savory foods, such as grilled meats, stir-fries and curries.

So why are Americans content with a mere freckling of seeds across a burger bun or an occasional sesame cracker? Americans lag far behind Asian, Indian, African and Mexican cooks in creative uses for sesame seeds.

Until the mid-1950s, few Americans knew what sesame seeds were, though some cooks occasionally used a bland variety of sesame oil for frying and making salad dressings.

Then, Mrs. B.A. Koteen, a Washington homemaker, won the 1954 Pillsbury Bake-Off with open-sesame pie, a date-and-whipped cream confection inside a toasted sesame-seed crust.

Today, the American Spice Trade Association, an industry group in New Jersey, reports that the United States imports more than 70 million pounds of sesame seeds annually. However, the lion's share still is consumed on hamburger buns.

In Asian cuisines, stir-fried vegetables get a kick from a sprinkling of toasted seeds. Strips of chicken and duck are coated with seeds and fried until they are crisp and brown. Sesame prawn balls and sesame toasts (deep-fried bread triangles spread with egg whites, mashed shrimp and sesame seeds) are popular appetizers. Strong-tasting black sesame seeds are the foundation for numerous Chinese desserts, including fried caramelized apple slices.

Sesame seeds also are common in Korean and Japanese cooking. Sesame oil long has been favored in these countries, where it is made by crushing the oil from the toasted seeds. Sesame paste is used as a sauce for noodles and rice. The oil and seeds provide the distinctive flavor and appearance of bulgogi (brazier-cooked beef), the Korean national dish.

Sesame oil and seeds flavor dozens of Japanese dips and dressings for salads and vegetables.

In the Middle East, a favorite food is tahini, a paste made from crushed sesame seeds and sesame oil, similar to smooth peanut butter. Tahini is mixed to a sauce with water and lemon juice and used to moisten falafel (snack croquettes made from beans and spices).

Elsewhere throughout the Middle East, tahini is pureed with chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and garlic to make hummus, a nutritious appetizer dip. Halvah, a beige, sandy-textured candy made from ground sesame seeds and sugar, is popular across the Middle East and India.

Archaeologists believe the tall, perennial herb plant that produces sesame seeds probably is the oldest vegetation grown for oil. Evidence of sesame cakes, wine and brandy have been found in archaeological digs in Turkey and ancient Iran.

Sesame reached the New World with African slaves, who called them benne (BEHN-ee) seeds, after a word in the Bantu language. They considered the nutty seeds good-luck charms and used them in candies, cakes, breads and sauces. The seeds gained popularity in the South, where residents of Louisiana and North and South Carolina still call them benne seeds and cook them in cookies and brittle candies. Traditional Southern benne wafers are made with plenty of butter, brown sugar and sesame seeds.

Sesame seeds also pack plenty of protein. They are 25 percent protein by weight and contain some amino acids that most other nuts, seeds and beans lack. They are high in calcium and phosphorus. Even the oil has benefits. It is high in unsaturated fat and doesn't become rancid so it's a good choice for small households that use little oil in cooking.

Unfortunately, the most serious complaint about sesame seeds is how small they are-just large enough to become a nuisance in the teeth.

Preparation time: 40 minutes

Chilling time: Several hours

To toast sesame seeds, bake at 375 degrees for 3 to 5 minutes until golden. Or they can be toasted in a skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Be careful to prevent burning. This recipe is adapted from the "Pillsbury Bake-Off Cookbook."

2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

1 cup whipping cream, whipped

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. For crust, spoon flour into a measuring cup level. In a medium bowl, combine flour sesame seeds and salt. Using pastry blender or fork, cut shortening into flour until it resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle with water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to make a dough just moist enough to hold together.

2. Roll out to a 10 1/2-inch circle and fit into a 9-inch pie pan. Crimp the edges to form a decorative border. Pierce bottom and sides with a fork. Bake until brown and firm, 9 to 15 minutes. Cool completely.

3. For filling, in a small bowl, soften gelatin in 1/4 cup water. In a medium saucepan, combine dates, 1/4 cup of sugar, salt, milk and egg yolks. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture is slightly thickened, 6 to 10 minutes. Add softened gelatin and vanilla. Refrigerate until partially set.

4. Whip cream and fold it into date mixture. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over egg whites and beat to form a stiff meringue. Fold into date filling. Pour entire filling into pie shell. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Marinating time: 2 to 4 hours

Adapted from "The MacMillan Treasury of Spices and Natural Flavorings."

3 tablespoons each: brown sugar, Oriental sesame oil

2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed through a press

3 green onions, finely chopped

5 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted

1. Slice meat into thin strips. Combine soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, garlic and green onions in large bowl.

2. Grind 3 tablespoons of the sesame seeds in a spice grinder, coffee grinder or mortar and pestle to a fine powder. Add to the soy marinade. Stir in meat strips. Marinate meat in refrigerator 2 to 4 hours, turning from time to time.

3. Strain meat, reserving marinade. Heat a wok or heavy frying pan. Quickly brown meat strips, a few at a time, over medium-high heat. As they cook transfer them to a warmed serving dish.

4. Reduce heat add marinade. Cook until mixture bubbles and thickens. Watch to make sure it doesn't burn. Pour cooked marinade over meat, and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of toasted sesame seeds.

Preparation time: 25 minutes

This recipe is adapted from "Hoppin' John's Low-Country Cooking" by John Taylor.

2 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled

1/2 cup lard or shortening, chilled

1 1/3 cups toasted sesame seeds

Additional salt if desired

1. Heat oven to 300 degrees. Sift flour, salt and cayenne into a bowl. Cut in butter and lard with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Gradually add the ice water until the dough begins to hold together. (You may not need to use it all.) Add sesame seeds, then form dough into a ball.

2. Roll dough out thin and cut into small crackers. Round wafers are traditional, but shaped cookie cutters also can be used. Use a metal spatula to transfer the delicate dough to a cookie sheet.

3. Bake for 15 minutes. Flip crackers over, and bake 15 minutes longer. If desired, sprinkle them with additional salt while they are hot and soft. Cool on racks and store in air-tight containers.

SPICY NOODLES WITH SESAME DRESSING

Preparation time: 20 minutes

This recipe is adapted from "Keeping Company."

1 pound thin egg noodles (fresh if possible)

1 tablespoon Oriental sesame oil

3 tablespoons each: soy sauce, sesame seed paste (tahini)

2 tablespoons each: unsweetened brewed tea, Oriental sesame oil

1 tablespoon Oriental chili oil

2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

Salt, freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. For noodles, heat 6 quarts of water to a boil. Add peanut oil and cook noodles until al dente, 3 to 4 minutes for fresh noodles, longer if dried. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drain and toss with 1 tablespoon sesame oil.

2. For dressing, mix all ingredients and pour over the noodles. If it's too thick, thin with additional oil.

3. Toss dressing to coat noodles. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Note: Make the dressing in advance if you wish, but don't toss the salad until right before serving. Tahini is available in Middle Eastern markets and some large supermarkets.


OPEN SESAME:

Sesame seeds are proof that big flavor can come in small packages. Each tiny seed has more concentrated taste than other nuts several times its size.

The seeds offer another bonus: They are as crunchy and delicious in cookies, candies and cakes as they are in savory foods, such as grilled meats, stir-fries and curries.

So why are Americans content with a mere freckling of seeds across a burger bun or an occasional sesame cracker? Americans lag far behind Asian, Indian, African and Mexican cooks in creative uses for sesame seeds.

Until the mid-1950s, few Americans knew what sesame seeds were, though some cooks occasionally used a bland variety of sesame oil for frying and making salad dressings.

Then, Mrs. B.A. Koteen, a Washington homemaker, won the 1954 Pillsbury Bake-Off with open-sesame pie, a date-and-whipped cream confection inside a toasted sesame-seed crust.

Today, the American Spice Trade Association, an industry group in New Jersey, reports that the United States imports more than 70 million pounds of sesame seeds annually. However, the lion's share still is consumed on hamburger buns.

In Asian cuisines, stir-fried vegetables get a kick from a sprinkling of toasted seeds. Strips of chicken and duck are coated with seeds and fried until they are crisp and brown. Sesame prawn balls and sesame toasts (deep-fried bread triangles spread with egg whites, mashed shrimp and sesame seeds) are popular appetizers. Strong-tasting black sesame seeds are the foundation for numerous Chinese desserts, including fried caramelized apple slices.

Sesame seeds also are common in Korean and Japanese cooking. Sesame oil long has been favored in these countries, where it is made by crushing the oil from the toasted seeds. Sesame paste is used as a sauce for noodles and rice. The oil and seeds provide the distinctive flavor and appearance of bulgogi (brazier-cooked beef), the Korean national dish.

Sesame oil and seeds flavor dozens of Japanese dips and dressings for salads and vegetables.

In the Middle East, a favorite food is tahini, a paste made from crushed sesame seeds and sesame oil, similar to smooth peanut butter. Tahini is mixed to a sauce with water and lemon juice and used to moisten falafel (snack croquettes made from beans and spices).

Elsewhere throughout the Middle East, tahini is pureed with chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and garlic to make hummus, a nutritious appetizer dip. Halvah, a beige, sandy-textured candy made from ground sesame seeds and sugar, is popular across the Middle East and India.

Archaeologists believe the tall, perennial herb plant that produces sesame seeds probably is the oldest vegetation grown for oil. Evidence of sesame cakes, wine and brandy have been found in archaeological digs in Turkey and ancient Iran.

Sesame reached the New World with African slaves, who called them benne (BEHN-ee) seeds, after a word in the Bantu language. They considered the nutty seeds good-luck charms and used them in candies, cakes, breads and sauces. The seeds gained popularity in the South, where residents of Louisiana and North and South Carolina still call them benne seeds and cook them in cookies and brittle candies. Traditional Southern benne wafers are made with plenty of butter, brown sugar and sesame seeds.

Sesame seeds also pack plenty of protein. They are 25 percent protein by weight and contain some amino acids that most other nuts, seeds and beans lack. They are high in calcium and phosphorus. Even the oil has benefits. It is high in unsaturated fat and doesn't become rancid so it's a good choice for small households that use little oil in cooking.

Unfortunately, the most serious complaint about sesame seeds is how small they are-just large enough to become a nuisance in the teeth.

Preparation time: 40 minutes

Chilling time: Several hours

To toast sesame seeds, bake at 375 degrees for 3 to 5 minutes until golden. Or they can be toasted in a skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Be careful to prevent burning. This recipe is adapted from the "Pillsbury Bake-Off Cookbook."

2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

1 cup whipping cream, whipped

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. For crust, spoon flour into a measuring cup level. In a medium bowl, combine flour sesame seeds and salt. Using pastry blender or fork, cut shortening into flour until it resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle with water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to make a dough just moist enough to hold together.

2. Roll out to a 10 1/2-inch circle and fit into a 9-inch pie pan. Crimp the edges to form a decorative border. Pierce bottom and sides with a fork. Bake until brown and firm, 9 to 15 minutes. Cool completely.

3. For filling, in a small bowl, soften gelatin in 1/4 cup water. In a medium saucepan, combine dates, 1/4 cup of sugar, salt, milk and egg yolks. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture is slightly thickened, 6 to 10 minutes. Add softened gelatin and vanilla. Refrigerate until partially set.

4. Whip cream and fold it into date mixture. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over egg whites and beat to form a stiff meringue. Fold into date filling. Pour entire filling into pie shell. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Marinating time: 2 to 4 hours

Adapted from "The MacMillan Treasury of Spices and Natural Flavorings."

3 tablespoons each: brown sugar, Oriental sesame oil

2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed through a press

3 green onions, finely chopped

5 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted

1. Slice meat into thin strips. Combine soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, garlic and green onions in large bowl.

2. Grind 3 tablespoons of the sesame seeds in a spice grinder, coffee grinder or mortar and pestle to a fine powder. Add to the soy marinade. Stir in meat strips. Marinate meat in refrigerator 2 to 4 hours, turning from time to time.

3. Strain meat, reserving marinade. Heat a wok or heavy frying pan. Quickly brown meat strips, a few at a time, over medium-high heat. As they cook transfer them to a warmed serving dish.

4. Reduce heat add marinade. Cook until mixture bubbles and thickens. Watch to make sure it doesn't burn. Pour cooked marinade over meat, and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of toasted sesame seeds.

Preparation time: 25 minutes

This recipe is adapted from "Hoppin' John's Low-Country Cooking" by John Taylor.

2 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled

1/2 cup lard or shortening, chilled

1 1/3 cups toasted sesame seeds

Additional salt if desired

1. Heat oven to 300 degrees. Sift flour, salt and cayenne into a bowl. Cut in butter and lard with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Gradually add the ice water until the dough begins to hold together. (You may not need to use it all.) Add sesame seeds, then form dough into a ball.

2. Roll dough out thin and cut into small crackers. Round wafers are traditional, but shaped cookie cutters also can be used. Use a metal spatula to transfer the delicate dough to a cookie sheet.

3. Bake for 15 minutes. Flip crackers over, and bake 15 minutes longer. If desired, sprinkle them with additional salt while they are hot and soft. Cool on racks and store in air-tight containers.

SPICY NOODLES WITH SESAME DRESSING

Preparation time: 20 minutes

This recipe is adapted from "Keeping Company."

1 pound thin egg noodles (fresh if possible)

1 tablespoon Oriental sesame oil

3 tablespoons each: soy sauce, sesame seed paste (tahini)

2 tablespoons each: unsweetened brewed tea, Oriental sesame oil

1 tablespoon Oriental chili oil

2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

Salt, freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. For noodles, heat 6 quarts of water to a boil. Add peanut oil and cook noodles until al dente, 3 to 4 minutes for fresh noodles, longer if dried. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drain and toss with 1 tablespoon sesame oil.

2. For dressing, mix all ingredients and pour over the noodles. If it's too thick, thin with additional oil.

3. Toss dressing to coat noodles. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Note: Make the dressing in advance if you wish, but don't toss the salad until right before serving. Tahini is available in Middle Eastern markets and some large supermarkets.


OPEN SESAME:

Sesame seeds are proof that big flavor can come in small packages. Each tiny seed has more concentrated taste than other nuts several times its size.

The seeds offer another bonus: They are as crunchy and delicious in cookies, candies and cakes as they are in savory foods, such as grilled meats, stir-fries and curries.

So why are Americans content with a mere freckling of seeds across a burger bun or an occasional sesame cracker? Americans lag far behind Asian, Indian, African and Mexican cooks in creative uses for sesame seeds.

Until the mid-1950s, few Americans knew what sesame seeds were, though some cooks occasionally used a bland variety of sesame oil for frying and making salad dressings.

Then, Mrs. B.A. Koteen, a Washington homemaker, won the 1954 Pillsbury Bake-Off with open-sesame pie, a date-and-whipped cream confection inside a toasted sesame-seed crust.

Today, the American Spice Trade Association, an industry group in New Jersey, reports that the United States imports more than 70 million pounds of sesame seeds annually. However, the lion's share still is consumed on hamburger buns.

In Asian cuisines, stir-fried vegetables get a kick from a sprinkling of toasted seeds. Strips of chicken and duck are coated with seeds and fried until they are crisp and brown. Sesame prawn balls and sesame toasts (deep-fried bread triangles spread with egg whites, mashed shrimp and sesame seeds) are popular appetizers. Strong-tasting black sesame seeds are the foundation for numerous Chinese desserts, including fried caramelized apple slices.

Sesame seeds also are common in Korean and Japanese cooking. Sesame oil long has been favored in these countries, where it is made by crushing the oil from the toasted seeds. Sesame paste is used as a sauce for noodles and rice. The oil and seeds provide the distinctive flavor and appearance of bulgogi (brazier-cooked beef), the Korean national dish.

Sesame oil and seeds flavor dozens of Japanese dips and dressings for salads and vegetables.

In the Middle East, a favorite food is tahini, a paste made from crushed sesame seeds and sesame oil, similar to smooth peanut butter. Tahini is mixed to a sauce with water and lemon juice and used to moisten falafel (snack croquettes made from beans and spices).

Elsewhere throughout the Middle East, tahini is pureed with chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and garlic to make hummus, a nutritious appetizer dip. Halvah, a beige, sandy-textured candy made from ground sesame seeds and sugar, is popular across the Middle East and India.

Archaeologists believe the tall, perennial herb plant that produces sesame seeds probably is the oldest vegetation grown for oil. Evidence of sesame cakes, wine and brandy have been found in archaeological digs in Turkey and ancient Iran.

Sesame reached the New World with African slaves, who called them benne (BEHN-ee) seeds, after a word in the Bantu language. They considered the nutty seeds good-luck charms and used them in candies, cakes, breads and sauces. The seeds gained popularity in the South, where residents of Louisiana and North and South Carolina still call them benne seeds and cook them in cookies and brittle candies. Traditional Southern benne wafers are made with plenty of butter, brown sugar and sesame seeds.

Sesame seeds also pack plenty of protein. They are 25 percent protein by weight and contain some amino acids that most other nuts, seeds and beans lack. They are high in calcium and phosphorus. Even the oil has benefits. It is high in unsaturated fat and doesn't become rancid so it's a good choice for small households that use little oil in cooking.

Unfortunately, the most serious complaint about sesame seeds is how small they are-just large enough to become a nuisance in the teeth.

Preparation time: 40 minutes

Chilling time: Several hours

To toast sesame seeds, bake at 375 degrees for 3 to 5 minutes until golden. Or they can be toasted in a skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Be careful to prevent burning. This recipe is adapted from the "Pillsbury Bake-Off Cookbook."

2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

1 cup whipping cream, whipped

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. For crust, spoon flour into a measuring cup level. In a medium bowl, combine flour sesame seeds and salt. Using pastry blender or fork, cut shortening into flour until it resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle with water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to make a dough just moist enough to hold together.

2. Roll out to a 10 1/2-inch circle and fit into a 9-inch pie pan. Crimp the edges to form a decorative border. Pierce bottom and sides with a fork. Bake until brown and firm, 9 to 15 minutes. Cool completely.

3. For filling, in a small bowl, soften gelatin in 1/4 cup water. In a medium saucepan, combine dates, 1/4 cup of sugar, salt, milk and egg yolks. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture is slightly thickened, 6 to 10 minutes. Add softened gelatin and vanilla. Refrigerate until partially set.

4. Whip cream and fold it into date mixture. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over egg whites and beat to form a stiff meringue. Fold into date filling. Pour entire filling into pie shell. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Marinating time: 2 to 4 hours

Adapted from "The MacMillan Treasury of Spices and Natural Flavorings."

3 tablespoons each: brown sugar, Oriental sesame oil

2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed through a press

3 green onions, finely chopped

5 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted

1. Slice meat into thin strips. Combine soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, garlic and green onions in large bowl.

2. Grind 3 tablespoons of the sesame seeds in a spice grinder, coffee grinder or mortar and pestle to a fine powder. Add to the soy marinade. Stir in meat strips. Marinate meat in refrigerator 2 to 4 hours, turning from time to time.

3. Strain meat, reserving marinade. Heat a wok or heavy frying pan. Quickly brown meat strips, a few at a time, over medium-high heat. As they cook transfer them to a warmed serving dish.

4. Reduce heat add marinade. Cook until mixture bubbles and thickens. Watch to make sure it doesn't burn. Pour cooked marinade over meat, and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of toasted sesame seeds.

Preparation time: 25 minutes

This recipe is adapted from "Hoppin' John's Low-Country Cooking" by John Taylor.

2 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled

1/2 cup lard or shortening, chilled

1 1/3 cups toasted sesame seeds

Additional salt if desired

1. Heat oven to 300 degrees. Sift flour, salt and cayenne into a bowl. Cut in butter and lard with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Gradually add the ice water until the dough begins to hold together. (You may not need to use it all.) Add sesame seeds, then form dough into a ball.

2. Roll dough out thin and cut into small crackers. Round wafers are traditional, but shaped cookie cutters also can be used. Use a metal spatula to transfer the delicate dough to a cookie sheet.

3. Bake for 15 minutes. Flip crackers over, and bake 15 minutes longer. If desired, sprinkle them with additional salt while they are hot and soft. Cool on racks and store in air-tight containers.

SPICY NOODLES WITH SESAME DRESSING

Preparation time: 20 minutes

This recipe is adapted from "Keeping Company."

1 pound thin egg noodles (fresh if possible)

1 tablespoon Oriental sesame oil

3 tablespoons each: soy sauce, sesame seed paste (tahini)

2 tablespoons each: unsweetened brewed tea, Oriental sesame oil

1 tablespoon Oriental chili oil

2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

Salt, freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. For noodles, heat 6 quarts of water to a boil. Add peanut oil and cook noodles until al dente, 3 to 4 minutes for fresh noodles, longer if dried. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drain and toss with 1 tablespoon sesame oil.

2. For dressing, mix all ingredients and pour over the noodles. If it's too thick, thin with additional oil.

3. Toss dressing to coat noodles. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Note: Make the dressing in advance if you wish, but don't toss the salad until right before serving. Tahini is available in Middle Eastern markets and some large supermarkets.


OPEN SESAME:

Sesame seeds are proof that big flavor can come in small packages. Each tiny seed has more concentrated taste than other nuts several times its size.

The seeds offer another bonus: They are as crunchy and delicious in cookies, candies and cakes as they are in savory foods, such as grilled meats, stir-fries and curries.

So why are Americans content with a mere freckling of seeds across a burger bun or an occasional sesame cracker? Americans lag far behind Asian, Indian, African and Mexican cooks in creative uses for sesame seeds.

Until the mid-1950s, few Americans knew what sesame seeds were, though some cooks occasionally used a bland variety of sesame oil for frying and making salad dressings.

Then, Mrs. B.A. Koteen, a Washington homemaker, won the 1954 Pillsbury Bake-Off with open-sesame pie, a date-and-whipped cream confection inside a toasted sesame-seed crust.

Today, the American Spice Trade Association, an industry group in New Jersey, reports that the United States imports more than 70 million pounds of sesame seeds annually. However, the lion's share still is consumed on hamburger buns.

In Asian cuisines, stir-fried vegetables get a kick from a sprinkling of toasted seeds. Strips of chicken and duck are coated with seeds and fried until they are crisp and brown. Sesame prawn balls and sesame toasts (deep-fried bread triangles spread with egg whites, mashed shrimp and sesame seeds) are popular appetizers. Strong-tasting black sesame seeds are the foundation for numerous Chinese desserts, including fried caramelized apple slices.

Sesame seeds also are common in Korean and Japanese cooking. Sesame oil long has been favored in these countries, where it is made by crushing the oil from the toasted seeds. Sesame paste is used as a sauce for noodles and rice. The oil and seeds provide the distinctive flavor and appearance of bulgogi (brazier-cooked beef), the Korean national dish.

Sesame oil and seeds flavor dozens of Japanese dips and dressings for salads and vegetables.

In the Middle East, a favorite food is tahini, a paste made from crushed sesame seeds and sesame oil, similar to smooth peanut butter. Tahini is mixed to a sauce with water and lemon juice and used to moisten falafel (snack croquettes made from beans and spices).

Elsewhere throughout the Middle East, tahini is pureed with chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and garlic to make hummus, a nutritious appetizer dip. Halvah, a beige, sandy-textured candy made from ground sesame seeds and sugar, is popular across the Middle East and India.

Archaeologists believe the tall, perennial herb plant that produces sesame seeds probably is the oldest vegetation grown for oil. Evidence of sesame cakes, wine and brandy have been found in archaeological digs in Turkey and ancient Iran.

Sesame reached the New World with African slaves, who called them benne (BEHN-ee) seeds, after a word in the Bantu language. They considered the nutty seeds good-luck charms and used them in candies, cakes, breads and sauces. The seeds gained popularity in the South, where residents of Louisiana and North and South Carolina still call them benne seeds and cook them in cookies and brittle candies. Traditional Southern benne wafers are made with plenty of butter, brown sugar and sesame seeds.

Sesame seeds also pack plenty of protein. They are 25 percent protein by weight and contain some amino acids that most other nuts, seeds and beans lack. They are high in calcium and phosphorus. Even the oil has benefits. It is high in unsaturated fat and doesn't become rancid so it's a good choice for small households that use little oil in cooking.

Unfortunately, the most serious complaint about sesame seeds is how small they are-just large enough to become a nuisance in the teeth.

Preparation time: 40 minutes

Chilling time: Several hours

To toast sesame seeds, bake at 375 degrees for 3 to 5 minutes until golden. Or they can be toasted in a skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Be careful to prevent burning. This recipe is adapted from the "Pillsbury Bake-Off Cookbook."

2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

1 cup whipping cream, whipped

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. For crust, spoon flour into a measuring cup level. In a medium bowl, combine flour sesame seeds and salt. Using pastry blender or fork, cut shortening into flour until it resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle with water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to make a dough just moist enough to hold together.

2. Roll out to a 10 1/2-inch circle and fit into a 9-inch pie pan. Crimp the edges to form a decorative border. Pierce bottom and sides with a fork. Bake until brown and firm, 9 to 15 minutes. Cool completely.

3. For filling, in a small bowl, soften gelatin in 1/4 cup water. In a medium saucepan, combine dates, 1/4 cup of sugar, salt, milk and egg yolks. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture is slightly thickened, 6 to 10 minutes. Add softened gelatin and vanilla. Refrigerate until partially set.

4. Whip cream and fold it into date mixture. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over egg whites and beat to form a stiff meringue. Fold into date filling. Pour entire filling into pie shell. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Marinating time: 2 to 4 hours

Adapted from "The MacMillan Treasury of Spices and Natural Flavorings."

3 tablespoons each: brown sugar, Oriental sesame oil

2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed through a press

3 green onions, finely chopped

5 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted

1. Slice meat into thin strips. Combine soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, garlic and green onions in large bowl.

2. Grind 3 tablespoons of the sesame seeds in a spice grinder, coffee grinder or mortar and pestle to a fine powder. Add to the soy marinade. Stir in meat strips. Marinate meat in refrigerator 2 to 4 hours, turning from time to time.

3. Strain meat, reserving marinade. Heat a wok or heavy frying pan. Quickly brown meat strips, a few at a time, over medium-high heat. As they cook transfer them to a warmed serving dish.

4. Reduce heat add marinade. Cook until mixture bubbles and thickens. Watch to make sure it doesn't burn. Pour cooked marinade over meat, and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of toasted sesame seeds.

Preparation time: 25 minutes

This recipe is adapted from "Hoppin' John's Low-Country Cooking" by John Taylor.

2 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled

1/2 cup lard or shortening, chilled

1 1/3 cups toasted sesame seeds

Additional salt if desired

1. Heat oven to 300 degrees. Sift flour, salt and cayenne into a bowl. Cut in butter and lard with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Gradually add the ice water until the dough begins to hold together. (You may not need to use it all.) Add sesame seeds, then form dough into a ball.

2. Roll dough out thin and cut into small crackers. Round wafers are traditional, but shaped cookie cutters also can be used. Use a metal spatula to transfer the delicate dough to a cookie sheet.

3. Bake for 15 minutes. Flip crackers over, and bake 15 minutes longer. If desired, sprinkle them with additional salt while they are hot and soft. Cool on racks and store in air-tight containers.

SPICY NOODLES WITH SESAME DRESSING

Preparation time: 20 minutes

This recipe is adapted from "Keeping Company."

1 pound thin egg noodles (fresh if possible)

1 tablespoon Oriental sesame oil

3 tablespoons each: soy sauce, sesame seed paste (tahini)

2 tablespoons each: unsweetened brewed tea, Oriental sesame oil

1 tablespoon Oriental chili oil

2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

Salt, freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. For noodles, heat 6 quarts of water to a boil. Add peanut oil and cook noodles until al dente, 3 to 4 minutes for fresh noodles, longer if dried. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drain and toss with 1 tablespoon sesame oil.

2. For dressing, mix all ingredients and pour over the noodles. If it's too thick, thin with additional oil.

3. Toss dressing to coat noodles. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Note: Make the dressing in advance if you wish, but don't toss the salad until right before serving. Tahini is available in Middle Eastern markets and some large supermarkets.


OPEN SESAME:

Sesame seeds are proof that big flavor can come in small packages. Each tiny seed has more concentrated taste than other nuts several times its size.

The seeds offer another bonus: They are as crunchy and delicious in cookies, candies and cakes as they are in savory foods, such as grilled meats, stir-fries and curries.

So why are Americans content with a mere freckling of seeds across a burger bun or an occasional sesame cracker? Americans lag far behind Asian, Indian, African and Mexican cooks in creative uses for sesame seeds.

Until the mid-1950s, few Americans knew what sesame seeds were, though some cooks occasionally used a bland variety of sesame oil for frying and making salad dressings.

Then, Mrs. B.A. Koteen, a Washington homemaker, won the 1954 Pillsbury Bake-Off with open-sesame pie, a date-and-whipped cream confection inside a toasted sesame-seed crust.

Today, the American Spice Trade Association, an industry group in New Jersey, reports that the United States imports more than 70 million pounds of sesame seeds annually. However, the lion's share still is consumed on hamburger buns.

In Asian cuisines, stir-fried vegetables get a kick from a sprinkling of toasted seeds. Strips of chicken and duck are coated with seeds and fried until they are crisp and brown. Sesame prawn balls and sesame toasts (deep-fried bread triangles spread with egg whites, mashed shrimp and sesame seeds) are popular appetizers. Strong-tasting black sesame seeds are the foundation for numerous Chinese desserts, including fried caramelized apple slices.

Sesame seeds also are common in Korean and Japanese cooking. Sesame oil long has been favored in these countries, where it is made by crushing the oil from the toasted seeds. Sesame paste is used as a sauce for noodles and rice. The oil and seeds provide the distinctive flavor and appearance of bulgogi (brazier-cooked beef), the Korean national dish.

Sesame oil and seeds flavor dozens of Japanese dips and dressings for salads and vegetables.

In the Middle East, a favorite food is tahini, a paste made from crushed sesame seeds and sesame oil, similar to smooth peanut butter. Tahini is mixed to a sauce with water and lemon juice and used to moisten falafel (snack croquettes made from beans and spices).

Elsewhere throughout the Middle East, tahini is pureed with chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and garlic to make hummus, a nutritious appetizer dip. Halvah, a beige, sandy-textured candy made from ground sesame seeds and sugar, is popular across the Middle East and India.

Archaeologists believe the tall, perennial herb plant that produces sesame seeds probably is the oldest vegetation grown for oil. Evidence of sesame cakes, wine and brandy have been found in archaeological digs in Turkey and ancient Iran.

Sesame reached the New World with African slaves, who called them benne (BEHN-ee) seeds, after a word in the Bantu language. They considered the nutty seeds good-luck charms and used them in candies, cakes, breads and sauces. The seeds gained popularity in the South, where residents of Louisiana and North and South Carolina still call them benne seeds and cook them in cookies and brittle candies. Traditional Southern benne wafers are made with plenty of butter, brown sugar and sesame seeds.

Sesame seeds also pack plenty of protein. They are 25 percent protein by weight and contain some amino acids that most other nuts, seeds and beans lack. They are high in calcium and phosphorus. Even the oil has benefits. It is high in unsaturated fat and doesn't become rancid so it's a good choice for small households that use little oil in cooking.

Unfortunately, the most serious complaint about sesame seeds is how small they are-just large enough to become a nuisance in the teeth.

Preparation time: 40 minutes

Chilling time: Several hours

To toast sesame seeds, bake at 375 degrees for 3 to 5 minutes until golden. Or they can be toasted in a skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Be careful to prevent burning. This recipe is adapted from the "Pillsbury Bake-Off Cookbook."

2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

1 cup whipping cream, whipped

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. For crust, spoon flour into a measuring cup level. In a medium bowl, combine flour sesame seeds and salt. Using pastry blender or fork, cut shortening into flour until it resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle with water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to make a dough just moist enough to hold together.

2. Roll out to a 10 1/2-inch circle and fit into a 9-inch pie pan. Crimp the edges to form a decorative border. Pierce bottom and sides with a fork. Bake until brown and firm, 9 to 15 minutes. Cool completely.

3. For filling, in a small bowl, soften gelatin in 1/4 cup water. In a medium saucepan, combine dates, 1/4 cup of sugar, salt, milk and egg yolks. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture is slightly thickened, 6 to 10 minutes. Add softened gelatin and vanilla. Refrigerate until partially set.

4. Whip cream and fold it into date mixture. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over egg whites and beat to form a stiff meringue. Fold into date filling. Pour entire filling into pie shell. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Marinating time: 2 to 4 hours

Adapted from "The MacMillan Treasury of Spices and Natural Flavorings."

3 tablespoons each: brown sugar, Oriental sesame oil

2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed through a press

3 green onions, finely chopped

5 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted

1. Slice meat into thin strips. Combine soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, garlic and green onions in large bowl.

2. Grind 3 tablespoons of the sesame seeds in a spice grinder, coffee grinder or mortar and pestle to a fine powder. Add to the soy marinade. Stir in meat strips. Marinate meat in refrigerator 2 to 4 hours, turning from time to time.

3. Strain meat, reserving marinade. Heat a wok or heavy frying pan. Quickly brown meat strips, a few at a time, over medium-high heat. As they cook transfer them to a warmed serving dish.

4. Reduce heat add marinade. Cook until mixture bubbles and thickens. Watch to make sure it doesn't burn. Pour cooked marinade over meat, and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of toasted sesame seeds.

Preparation time: 25 minutes

This recipe is adapted from "Hoppin' John's Low-Country Cooking" by John Taylor.

2 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled

1/2 cup lard or shortening, chilled

1 1/3 cups toasted sesame seeds

Additional salt if desired

1. Heat oven to 300 degrees. Sift flour, salt and cayenne into a bowl. Cut in butter and lard with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Gradually add the ice water until the dough begins to hold together. (You may not need to use it all.) Add sesame seeds, then form dough into a ball.

2. Roll dough out thin and cut into small crackers. Round wafers are traditional, but shaped cookie cutters also can be used. Use a metal spatula to transfer the delicate dough to a cookie sheet.

3. Bake for 15 minutes. Flip crackers over, and bake 15 minutes longer. If desired, sprinkle them with additional salt while they are hot and soft. Cool on racks and store in air-tight containers.

SPICY NOODLES WITH SESAME DRESSING

Preparation time: 20 minutes

This recipe is adapted from "Keeping Company."

1 pound thin egg noodles (fresh if possible)

1 tablespoon Oriental sesame oil

3 tablespoons each: soy sauce, sesame seed paste (tahini)

2 tablespoons each: unsweetened brewed tea, Oriental sesame oil

1 tablespoon Oriental chili oil

2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

Salt, freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. For noodles, heat 6 quarts of water to a boil. Add peanut oil and cook noodles until al dente, 3 to 4 minutes for fresh noodles, longer if dried. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drain and toss with 1 tablespoon sesame oil.

2. For dressing, mix all ingredients and pour over the noodles. If it's too thick, thin with additional oil.

3. Toss dressing to coat noodles. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Note: Make the dressing in advance if you wish, but don't toss the salad until right before serving. Tahini is available in Middle Eastern markets and some large supermarkets.


OPEN SESAME:

Sesame seeds are proof that big flavor can come in small packages. Each tiny seed has more concentrated taste than other nuts several times its size.

The seeds offer another bonus: They are as crunchy and delicious in cookies, candies and cakes as they are in savory foods, such as grilled meats, stir-fries and curries.

So why are Americans content with a mere freckling of seeds across a burger bun or an occasional sesame cracker? Americans lag far behind Asian, Indian, African and Mexican cooks in creative uses for sesame seeds.

Until the mid-1950s, few Americans knew what sesame seeds were, though some cooks occasionally used a bland variety of sesame oil for frying and making salad dressings.

Then, Mrs. B.A. Koteen, a Washington homemaker, won the 1954 Pillsbury Bake-Off with open-sesame pie, a date-and-whipped cream confection inside a toasted sesame-seed crust.

Today, the American Spice Trade Association, an industry group in New Jersey, reports that the United States imports more than 70 million pounds of sesame seeds annually. However, the lion's share still is consumed on hamburger buns.

In Asian cuisines, stir-fried vegetables get a kick from a sprinkling of toasted seeds. Strips of chicken and duck are coated with seeds and fried until they are crisp and brown. Sesame prawn balls and sesame toasts (deep-fried bread triangles spread with egg whites, mashed shrimp and sesame seeds) are popular appetizers. Strong-tasting black sesame seeds are the foundation for numerous Chinese desserts, including fried caramelized apple slices.

Sesame seeds also are common in Korean and Japanese cooking. Sesame oil long has been favored in these countries, where it is made by crushing the oil from the toasted seeds. Sesame paste is used as a sauce for noodles and rice. The oil and seeds provide the distinctive flavor and appearance of bulgogi (brazier-cooked beef), the Korean national dish.

Sesame oil and seeds flavor dozens of Japanese dips and dressings for salads and vegetables.

In the Middle East, a favorite food is tahini, a paste made from crushed sesame seeds and sesame oil, similar to smooth peanut butter. Tahini is mixed to a sauce with water and lemon juice and used to moisten falafel (snack croquettes made from beans and spices).

Elsewhere throughout the Middle East, tahini is pureed with chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and garlic to make hummus, a nutritious appetizer dip. Halvah, a beige, sandy-textured candy made from ground sesame seeds and sugar, is popular across the Middle East and India.

Archaeologists believe the tall, perennial herb plant that produces sesame seeds probably is the oldest vegetation grown for oil. Evidence of sesame cakes, wine and brandy have been found in archaeological digs in Turkey and ancient Iran.

Sesame reached the New World with African slaves, who called them benne (BEHN-ee) seeds, after a word in the Bantu language. They considered the nutty seeds good-luck charms and used them in candies, cakes, breads and sauces. The seeds gained popularity in the South, where residents of Louisiana and North and South Carolina still call them benne seeds and cook them in cookies and brittle candies. Traditional Southern benne wafers are made with plenty of butter, brown sugar and sesame seeds.

Sesame seeds also pack plenty of protein. They are 25 percent protein by weight and contain some amino acids that most other nuts, seeds and beans lack. They are high in calcium and phosphorus. Even the oil has benefits. It is high in unsaturated fat and doesn't become rancid so it's a good choice for small households that use little oil in cooking.

Unfortunately, the most serious complaint about sesame seeds is how small they are-just large enough to become a nuisance in the teeth.

Preparation time: 40 minutes

Chilling time: Several hours

To toast sesame seeds, bake at 375 degrees for 3 to 5 minutes until golden. Or they can be toasted in a skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Be careful to prevent burning. This recipe is adapted from the "Pillsbury Bake-Off Cookbook."

2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

1 cup whipping cream, whipped

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. For crust, spoon flour into a measuring cup level. In a medium bowl, combine flour sesame seeds and salt. Using pastry blender or fork, cut shortening into flour until it resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle with water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to make a dough just moist enough to hold together.

2. Roll out to a 10 1/2-inch circle and fit into a 9-inch pie pan. Crimp the edges to form a decorative border. Pierce bottom and sides with a fork. Bake until brown and firm, 9 to 15 minutes. Cool completely.

3. For filling, in a small bowl, soften gelatin in 1/4 cup water. In a medium saucepan, combine dates, 1/4 cup of sugar, salt, milk and egg yolks. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture is slightly thickened, 6 to 10 minutes. Add softened gelatin and vanilla. Refrigerate until partially set.

4. Whip cream and fold it into date mixture. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over egg whites and beat to form a stiff meringue. Fold into date filling. Pour entire filling into pie shell. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Marinating time: 2 to 4 hours

Adapted from "The MacMillan Treasury of Spices and Natural Flavorings."

3 tablespoons each: brown sugar, Oriental sesame oil

2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed through a press

3 green onions, finely chopped

5 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted

1. Slice meat into thin strips. Combine soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, garlic and green onions in large bowl.

2. Grind 3 tablespoons of the sesame seeds in a spice grinder, coffee grinder or mortar and pestle to a fine powder. Add to the soy marinade. Stir in meat strips. Marinate meat in refrigerator 2 to 4 hours, turning from time to time.

3. Strain meat, reserving marinade. Heat a wok or heavy frying pan. Quickly brown meat strips, a few at a time, over medium-high heat. As they cook transfer them to a warmed serving dish.

4. Reduce heat add marinade. Cook until mixture bubbles and thickens. Watch to make sure it doesn't burn. Pour cooked marinade over meat, and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of toasted sesame seeds.

Preparation time: 25 minutes

This recipe is adapted from "Hoppin' John's Low-Country Cooking" by John Taylor.

2 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled

1/2 cup lard or shortening, chilled

1 1/3 cups toasted sesame seeds

Additional salt if desired

1. Heat oven to 300 degrees. Sift flour, salt and cayenne into a bowl. Cut in butter and lard with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Gradually add the ice water until the dough begins to hold together. (You may not need to use it all.) Add sesame seeds, then form dough into a ball.

2. Roll dough out thin and cut into small crackers. Round wafers are traditional, but shaped cookie cutters also can be used. Use a metal spatula to transfer the delicate dough to a cookie sheet.

3. Bake for 15 minutes. Flip crackers over, and bake 15 minutes longer. If desired, sprinkle them with additional salt while they are hot and soft. Cool on racks and store in air-tight containers.

SPICY NOODLES WITH SESAME DRESSING

Preparation time: 20 minutes

This recipe is adapted from "Keeping Company."

1 pound thin egg noodles (fresh if possible)

1 tablespoon Oriental sesame oil

3 tablespoons each: soy sauce, sesame seed paste (tahini)

2 tablespoons each: unsweetened brewed tea, Oriental sesame oil

1 tablespoon Oriental chili oil

2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

Salt, freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. For noodles, heat 6 quarts of water to a boil. Add peanut oil and cook noodles until al dente, 3 to 4 minutes for fresh noodles, longer if dried. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drain and toss with 1 tablespoon sesame oil.

2. For dressing, mix all ingredients and pour over the noodles. If it's too thick, thin with additional oil.

3. Toss dressing to coat noodles. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Note: Make the dressing in advance if you wish, but don't toss the salad until right before serving. Tahini is available in Middle Eastern markets and some large supermarkets.


OPEN SESAME:

Sesame seeds are proof that big flavor can come in small packages. Each tiny seed has more concentrated taste than other nuts several times its size.

The seeds offer another bonus: They are as crunchy and delicious in cookies, candies and cakes as they are in savory foods, such as grilled meats, stir-fries and curries.

So why are Americans content with a mere freckling of seeds across a burger bun or an occasional sesame cracker? Americans lag far behind Asian, Indian, African and Mexican cooks in creative uses for sesame seeds.

Until the mid-1950s, few Americans knew what sesame seeds were, though some cooks occasionally used a bland variety of sesame oil for frying and making salad dressings.

Then, Mrs. B.A. Koteen, a Washington homemaker, won the 1954 Pillsbury Bake-Off with open-sesame pie, a date-and-whipped cream confection inside a toasted sesame-seed crust.

Today, the American Spice Trade Association, an industry group in New Jersey, reports that the United States imports more than 70 million pounds of sesame seeds annually. However, the lion's share still is consumed on hamburger buns.

In Asian cuisines, stir-fried vegetables get a kick from a sprinkling of toasted seeds. Strips of chicken and duck are coated with seeds and fried until they are crisp and brown. Sesame prawn balls and sesame toasts (deep-fried bread triangles spread with egg whites, mashed shrimp and sesame seeds) are popular appetizers. Strong-tasting black sesame seeds are the foundation for numerous Chinese desserts, including fried caramelized apple slices.

Sesame seeds also are common in Korean and Japanese cooking. Sesame oil long has been favored in these countries, where it is made by crushing the oil from the toasted seeds. Sesame paste is used as a sauce for noodles and rice. The oil and seeds provide the distinctive flavor and appearance of bulgogi (brazier-cooked beef), the Korean national dish.

Sesame oil and seeds flavor dozens of Japanese dips and dressings for salads and vegetables.

In the Middle East, a favorite food is tahini, a paste made from crushed sesame seeds and sesame oil, similar to smooth peanut butter. Tahini is mixed to a sauce with water and lemon juice and used to moisten falafel (snack croquettes made from beans and spices).

Elsewhere throughout the Middle East, tahini is pureed with chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and garlic to make hummus, a nutritious appetizer dip. Halvah, a beige, sandy-textured candy made from ground sesame seeds and sugar, is popular across the Middle East and India.

Archaeologists believe the tall, perennial herb plant that produces sesame seeds probably is the oldest vegetation grown for oil. Evidence of sesame cakes, wine and brandy have been found in archaeological digs in Turkey and ancient Iran.

Sesame reached the New World with African slaves, who called them benne (BEHN-ee) seeds, after a word in the Bantu language. They considered the nutty seeds good-luck charms and used them in candies, cakes, breads and sauces. The seeds gained popularity in the South, where residents of Louisiana and North and South Carolina still call them benne seeds and cook them in cookies and brittle candies. Traditional Southern benne wafers are made with plenty of butter, brown sugar and sesame seeds.

Sesame seeds also pack plenty of protein. They are 25 percent protein by weight and contain some amino acids that most other nuts, seeds and beans lack. They are high in calcium and phosphorus. Even the oil has benefits. It is high in unsaturated fat and doesn't become rancid so it's a good choice for small households that use little oil in cooking.

Unfortunately, the most serious complaint about sesame seeds is how small they are-just large enough to become a nuisance in the teeth.

Preparation time: 40 minutes

Chilling time: Several hours

To toast sesame seeds, bake at 375 degrees for 3 to 5 minutes until golden. Or they can be toasted in a skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Be careful to prevent burning. This recipe is adapted from the "Pillsbury Bake-Off Cookbook."

2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

1 cup whipping cream, whipped

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. For crust, spoon flour into a measuring cup level. In a medium bowl, combine flour sesame seeds and salt. Using pastry blender or fork, cut shortening into flour until it resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle with water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to make a dough just moist enough to hold together.

2. Roll out to a 10 1/2-inch circle and fit into a 9-inch pie pan. Crimp the edges to form a decorative border. Pierce bottom and sides with a fork. Bake until brown and firm, 9 to 15 minutes. Cool completely.

3. For filling, in a small bowl, soften gelatin in 1/4 cup water. In a medium saucepan, combine dates, 1/4 cup of sugar, salt, milk and egg yolks. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture is slightly thickened, 6 to 10 minutes. Add softened gelatin and vanilla. Refrigerate until partially set.

4. Whip cream and fold it into date mixture. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over egg whites and beat to form a stiff meringue. Fold into date filling. Pour entire filling into pie shell. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Marinating time: 2 to 4 hours

Adapted from "The MacMillan Treasury of Spices and Natural Flavorings."

3 tablespoons each: brown sugar, Oriental sesame oil

2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed through a press

3 green onions, finely chopped

5 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted

1. Slice meat into thin strips. Combine soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, garlic and green onions in large bowl.

2. Grind 3 tablespoons of the sesame seeds in a spice grinder, coffee grinder or mortar and pestle to a fine powder. Add to the soy marinade. Stir in meat strips. Marinate meat in refrigerator 2 to 4 hours, turning from time to time.

3. Strain meat, reserving marinade. Heat a wok or heavy frying pan. Quickly brown meat strips, a few at a time, over medium-high heat. As they cook transfer them to a warmed serving dish.

4. Reduce heat add marinade. Cook until mixture bubbles and thickens. Watch to make sure it doesn't burn. Pour cooked marinade over meat, and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of toasted sesame seeds.

Preparation time: 25 minutes

This recipe is adapted from "Hoppin' John's Low-Country Cooking" by John Taylor.

2 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled

1/2 cup lard or shortening, chilled

1 1/3 cups toasted sesame seeds

Additional salt if desired

1. Heat oven to 300 degrees. Sift flour, salt and cayenne into a bowl. Cut in butter and lard with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Gradually add the ice water until the dough begins to hold together. (You may not need to use it all.) Add sesame seeds, then form dough into a ball.

2. Roll dough out thin and cut into small crackers. Round wafers are traditional, but shaped cookie cutters also can be used. Use a metal spatula to transfer the delicate dough to a cookie sheet.

3. Bake for 15 minutes. Flip crackers over, and bake 15 minutes longer. If desired, sprinkle them with additional salt while they are hot and soft. Cool on racks and store in air-tight containers.

SPICY NOODLES WITH SESAME DRESSING

Preparation time: 20 minutes

This recipe is adapted from "Keeping Company."

1 pound thin egg noodles (fresh if possible)

1 tablespoon Oriental sesame oil

3 tablespoons each: soy sauce, sesame seed paste (tahini)

2 tablespoons each: unsweetened brewed tea, Oriental sesame oil

1 tablespoon Oriental chili oil

2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

Salt, freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. For noodles, heat 6 quarts of water to a boil. Add peanut oil and cook noodles until al dente, 3 to 4 minutes for fresh noodles, longer if dried. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drain and toss with 1 tablespoon sesame oil.

2. For dressing, mix all ingredients and pour over the noodles. If it's too thick, thin with additional oil.

3. Toss dressing to coat noodles. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Note: Make the dressing in advance if you wish, but don't toss the salad until right before serving. Tahini is available in Middle Eastern markets and some large supermarkets.


OPEN SESAME:

Sesame seeds are proof that big flavor can come in small packages. Each tiny seed has more concentrated taste than other nuts several times its size.

The seeds offer another bonus: They are as crunchy and delicious in cookies, candies and cakes as they are in savory foods, such as grilled meats, stir-fries and curries.

So why are Americans content with a mere freckling of seeds across a burger bun or an occasional sesame cracker? Americans lag far behind Asian, Indian, African and Mexican cooks in creative uses for sesame seeds.

Until the mid-1950s, few Americans knew what sesame seeds were, though some cooks occasionally used a bland variety of sesame oil for frying and making salad dressings.

Then, Mrs. B.A. Koteen, a Washington homemaker, won the 1954 Pillsbury Bake-Off with open-sesame pie, a date-and-whipped cream confection inside a toasted sesame-seed crust.

Today, the American Spice Trade Association, an industry group in New Jersey, reports that the United States imports more than 70 million pounds of sesame seeds annually. However, the lion's share still is consumed on hamburger buns.

In Asian cuisines, stir-fried vegetables get a kick from a sprinkling of toasted seeds. Strips of chicken and duck are coated with seeds and fried until they are crisp and brown. Sesame prawn balls and sesame toasts (deep-fried bread triangles spread with egg whites, mashed shrimp and sesame seeds) are popular appetizers. Strong-tasting black sesame seeds are the foundation for numerous Chinese desserts, including fried caramelized apple slices.

Sesame seeds also are common in Korean and Japanese cooking. Sesame oil long has been favored in these countries, where it is made by crushing the oil from the toasted seeds. Sesame paste is used as a sauce for noodles and rice. The oil and seeds provide the distinctive flavor and appearance of bulgogi (brazier-cooked beef), the Korean national dish.

Sesame oil and seeds flavor dozens of Japanese dips and dressings for salads and vegetables.

In the Middle East, a favorite food is tahini, a paste made from crushed sesame seeds and sesame oil, similar to smooth peanut butter. Tahini is mixed to a sauce with water and lemon juice and used to moisten falafel (snack croquettes made from beans and spices).

Elsewhere throughout the Middle East, tahini is pureed with chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and garlic to make hummus, a nutritious appetizer dip. Halvah, a beige, sandy-textured candy made from ground sesame seeds and sugar, is popular across the Middle East and India.

Archaeologists believe the tall, perennial herb plant that produces sesame seeds probably is the oldest vegetation grown for oil. Evidence of sesame cakes, wine and brandy have been found in archaeological digs in Turkey and ancient Iran.

Sesame reached the New World with African slaves, who called them benne (BEHN-ee) seeds, after a word in the Bantu language. They considered the nutty seeds good-luck charms and used them in candies, cakes, breads and sauces. The seeds gained popularity in the South, where residents of Louisiana and North and South Carolina still call them benne seeds and cook them in cookies and brittle candies. Traditional Southern benne wafers are made with plenty of butter, brown sugar and sesame seeds.

Sesame seeds also pack plenty of protein. They are 25 percent protein by weight and contain some amino acids that most other nuts, seeds and beans lack. They are high in calcium and phosphorus. Even the oil has benefits. It is high in unsaturated fat and doesn't become rancid so it's a good choice for small households that use little oil in cooking.

Unfortunately, the most serious complaint about sesame seeds is how small they are-just large enough to become a nuisance in the teeth.

Preparation time: 40 minutes

Chilling time: Several hours

To toast sesame seeds, bake at 375 degrees for 3 to 5 minutes until golden. Or they can be toasted in a skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Be careful to prevent burning. This recipe is adapted from the "Pillsbury Bake-Off Cookbook."

2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

1 cup whipping cream, whipped

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. For crust, spoon flour into a measuring cup level. In a medium bowl, combine flour sesame seeds and salt. Using pastry blender or fork, cut shortening into flour until it resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle with water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to make a dough just moist enough to hold together.

2. Roll out to a 10 1/2-inch circle and fit into a 9-inch pie pan. Crimp the edges to form a decorative border. Pierce bottom and sides with a fork. Bake until brown and firm, 9 to 15 minutes. Cool completely.

3. For filling, in a small bowl, soften gelatin in 1/4 cup water. In a medium saucepan, combine dates, 1/4 cup of sugar, salt, milk and egg yolks. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture is slightly thickened, 6 to 10 minutes. Add softened gelatin and vanilla. Refrigerate until partially set.

4. Whip cream and fold it into date mixture. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over egg whites and beat to form a stiff meringue. Fold into date filling. Pour entire filling into pie shell. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Marinating time: 2 to 4 hours

Adapted from "The MacMillan Treasury of Spices and Natural Flavorings."

3 tablespoons each: brown sugar, Oriental sesame oil

2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed through a press

3 green onions, finely chopped

5 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted

1. Slice meat into thin strips. Combine soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, garlic and green onions in large bowl.

2. Grind 3 tablespoons of the sesame seeds in a spice grinder, coffee grinder or mortar and pestle to a fine powder. Add to the soy marinade. Stir in meat strips. Marinate meat in refrigerator 2 to 4 hours, turning from time to time.

3. Strain meat, reserving marinade. Heat a wok or heavy frying pan. Quickly brown meat strips, a few at a time, over medium-high heat. As they cook transfer them to a warmed serving dish.

4. Reduce heat add marinade. Cook until mixture bubbles and thickens. Watch to make sure it doesn't burn. Pour cooked marinade over meat, and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of toasted sesame seeds.

Preparation time: 25 minutes

This recipe is adapted from "Hoppin' John's Low-Country Cooking" by John Taylor.

2 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled

1/2 cup lard or shortening, chilled

1 1/3 cups toasted sesame seeds

Additional salt if desired

1. Heat oven to 300 degrees. Sift flour, salt and cayenne into a bowl. Cut in butter and lard with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Gradually add the ice water until the dough begins to hold together. (You may not need to use it all.) Add sesame seeds, then form dough into a ball.

2. Roll dough out thin and cut into small crackers. Round wafers are traditional, but shaped cookie cutters also can be used. Use a metal spatula to transfer the delicate dough to a cookie sheet.

3. Bake for 15 minutes. Flip crackers over, and bake 15 minutes longer. If desired, sprinkle them with additional salt while they are hot and soft. Cool on racks and store in air-tight containers.

SPICY NOODLES WITH SESAME DRESSING

Preparation time: 20 minutes

This recipe is adapted from "Keeping Company."

1 pound thin egg noodles (fresh if possible)

1 tablespoon Oriental sesame oil

3 tablespoons each: soy sauce, sesame seed paste (tahini)

2 tablespoons each: unsweetened brewed tea, Oriental sesame oil

1 tablespoon Oriental chili oil

2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

Salt, freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. For noodles, heat 6 quarts of water to a boil. Add peanut oil and cook noodles until al dente, 3 to 4 minutes for fresh noodles, longer if dried. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drain and toss with 1 tablespoon sesame oil.

2. For dressing, mix all ingredients and pour over the noodles. If it's too thick, thin with additional oil.

3. Toss dressing to coat noodles. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Note: Make the dressing in advance if you wish, but don't toss the salad until right before serving. Tahini is available in Middle Eastern markets and some large supermarkets.


Watch the video: DJ from mars - open sesame (January 2022).