- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Maybe you have to be a certain age to remember tearoom lunches.

As quaint as white gloves, these were a once-a-summer tradition when I was a child. My mother and I would spend a day in the “city” getting our dose of museum exhibits, followed, with some relief on my part, by lunch.

Tearoom menus, wherever one found them, had certain qualities in common. The room was light, feminine and quiet, except for the tinkling of ice in tall glasses of tea. The fare was what women supposedly wanted to eat: dainty sandwiches, artfully arranged salads and pretty tomato or cucumber garnishes.

Thankfully, lunchtime fare defined by gender is a thing of the past. You’re as likely to see men eating chef’s salads and women helping themselves to hefty burgers, and that suits most twosomes.

You can serve a rich and delightful salad, spicy chips and a cold beer and please both partners in a Two’s Company household.

In this version of a salad lunch, the choice of protein is up to you. Crab and chicken taste delicious with the egg, caper and mayonnaise salad base. You can also substitute two small cooked, hollowed-out artichokes for the avocado.

How liberating.

Lunchtime avocado salad

1 cup flaked crabmeat or 1 cup cooked diced chicken breast meat

2 teaspoons rinsed and drained capers

1 tablespoon minced chives

1 hard-cooked egg, chopped

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon light mayonnaise

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Pepper to taste

1 small avocado, pitted, peeled and halved

Place crabmeat in a bowl. Add capers, chives, egg, mayonnaise and lemon juice.

Mix lightly but well. Season with pepper to taste. Spoon mixture into 2 avocado halves.

Makes 2 servings.

Homemade spicy tortilla chips

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon medium chili powder

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

2 8-inch flour tortillas

Nonstick cooking spray

Combine salt, chili powder and lime juice in a cup. Mix well. Brush lightly over each tortilla. Cut each tortilla into 8 wedges. Spread tortilla wedges in a single layer on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.

Toast in preheated 400-degree oven for 7 to 9 minutes or until chips are lightly browned and crisp. Remove from oven. Cool. Chips will firm as they cool. Makes 2 servings.

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