Sandy food

Casino restaurants and bars in Atlantic City reached out this week to help hungry neighbors recovering from Hurricane Sandy by doing what they do best: providing hot meals and cool drinks.

Among the first to respond were Carmine's Atlantic City in the Tropicana Casino and Resort and Golden Nugget Atlantic City, in the Marina District. Both delivered cooked food to city shelters in the days surrounding the storm, and Golden Nugget's buffet is half-price for all New Jersey residents "until further notice," general manager Tom Pohlman said.

The Quarter's new nightclub, Anthem Lounge, started giving back just as soon as it reopened for business Nov. 3, requesting a $5 donation in place of its usual cover charge. Co-owner Carrie Kauffman said the disaster hit close to home for her and her business partner, who "both grew up here." To thank "donors," Anthem gave out free drinks at the bar.

Larger outfits, such as Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, Tropicana Casino and Resort and Caesars Atlantic City, scrambled to form "assistance plans" on a scale appropriate to their size. Caesars spokeswoman Katie Dougherty explained, "We're trying to take care of our employees who were affected, then community, then full scale aid for the Jersey shore."

In addition to technical aid with FEMA forms and the like, many casinos made large monetary donations and distributed sandwiches, dry-food staples such as canned tuna, pasta and peanut butter along with bottled water to employees.

Mixed pot

Some cooks are taught never to cook raw and cooked animal proteins together. But that's not a hard, fast rule. What about the classic dish Chicken Cordon Bleu, in which a slice of ham is placed between two chicken cutlets before cooking?

Benjamin Chapman, the food safety expert for North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, says it isn't dangerous to place cooked and raw meat together as long as you cook the raw meat correctly.

If you fear undercooking the raw meat because you are trying not to dry out the cooked, use a thermometer to ensure the raw chicken reaches 165 degrees. Use clean tools and cooking surfaces and keep the assembled dish cold until you cook it.