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Sometimes, only roast beef will do

Cooks have favorite ways of preparing roast beef. Mildred Throckmorton asked for the method of cooking a roast in the oven for a certain length of time and then letting it stand in the oven, which has been turned off. She needed the details. There seem to be two schools of thought: One uses a 500-degree oven setting, roasts the beef for 5 minutes per pound and lets it stand for two hours; the second method roasts the meat for an hour at 375 degrees, lets it stay in the turned-off oven for about 3 hours and then reheats it briefly. Advocates of each method send high recommendations.

Turning to other dishes, if you would like to try a delicious dish from the Canton province of China, here is a recipe for Lobster Cantonese.

For: Mildred Throckmorton of Clearwater.

From: Juliet Dyal of Tampa; Ethel Diehl of Bayonet Point; Olga Townsend of Clarendon Hills, Ill.; Sally Blum of North Redington Beach; Anne Drew of South Pasadena; Joyce Van Horn of Dade City; Kay Albaugh and Jane Mason of Clearwater; Mildred Boerckel and Helen Popko of St. Petersburg; and Lillian Permar, Janet Battey, Barbara Mitchell and Sue Conrad of Largo.

Recipe: 500-degree Roast Beef from many sources, including the New York Times, Family Circle and Redbook magazines.

500-Degree Roast Beef

Rib roast, eye of round or rib eye roast

Salt, pepper and flour

Have roast beef at room temperature. Dredge with salt, pepper and flour (use your favorite seasonings if you like).

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Put roast in pan with rib side down, or put boneless roast on a rack. Roast for 5 minutes per pound. When roasting time is up, turn off oven heat. Do not open oven door. Let roast remain in the oven for at least 1 hour, and up to 3 hours. The perfectly cooked roast will be pink in the middle and a delicious crusty brown on the outside.

If a more done roast is desired, cook for 6 minutes per pound. Seven minutes per pound will produce an almost well-done roast.

From: Sarah Tait of Tarpon Springs; Helen Cobb of South Pasadena; Betty Sabatelli of Palm Harbor; Alice Romero of Dunedin; Ethel Batson of Pinellas Park; Louise Langley of Sun City Center; Helen Nelson of Gulfport; Janette Lucas and Sophie Damkus of Clearwater; Barbara Janke and Joan Schaffer of St. Petersburg; Annette Deibel and Gisela Kresmer of Spring Hill; Marlene Castle and Nettie McCartney of New Port Richey; Ruth Leech and Mae Bissonette of Seminole; and Charlette Schoneman and Lorraine Kolleda of Largo; and many more.

Recipe: Perfect Roast Beef. (This is the recipe that appeared in Merle Ellis' "The Butcher" column in about 1985.)

Perfect Roast Beef

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Salt and pepper the roast, which should be at room temperature, so take it out of the refrigerator the first thing in the morning. Place the roast on a rack in a shallow baking pan and put it in the oven. Roast for one hour at 375 degrees while you get ready for the day. Then, turn off the oven but do not open the oven door; if you do, you'll let out all the heat and louse up the whole process. Trust me, it works _ do not open the oven!

Allow three hours in the oven to complete the cooking. You can even let it go a bit longer if need be. About 20 minutes before you want dinner on the table, turn the oven back on to 300 degrees to warm up the roast. While it's warming, you can finish the rest of the meal.

Ellis adds that it works with any size roast _ from a 4-pound sirloin top roast to a 10-pound rolled cross rib. It even seems to help tenderize the tougher cuts. It also works with a roast that's frozen solid. Simply roast for 1{ hours before turning off the oven.

For: Frank Padovan of Port Richey.

From: Marcella Krhovsky of Pinellas Park.

Recipe: Lobster Cantonese.

Lobster Cantonese

2 1-pound lobster tails

1 teaspoon salt, divided

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon salted black beans, pounded and soaked in 1 tablespoon water

2 cups vegetable oil for deep frying

1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger root

1 scallion, finely chopped

\ pound ground pork

2 tablespoons sherry, divided

1 tablespoon light soy sauce

1 cup chicken broth

1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons water

2 scallions, cut in 1-inch pieces

1 egg, beaten

Cut each lobster tail in half. Wash thoroughly; drain. Cut tails into 1{-inch long pieces, leaving shells on. Sprinkle lobster with { teaspoon salt and the flour.

Combine garlic with black bean mixture in bowl; stir well.

Heat oil in wok to 400 degrees. Put in lobster; deep fry until shells are red. Remove and drain.

Reheat 1 tablespoon oil in wok to 275 degrees. Stir-fry black bean mixture for 1 minute; remove. Reheat 2 tablespoons oil in wok. Stir-fry ginger and scallions about 1 minute. Add pork and stir-fry at 400 degrees until color changes. Add 1 tablespoon sherry, soy sauce, black bean mixture and chicken stock; bring to a boil.

Add lobster tails to meat mixture; add 1 tablespoon sherry; cover and cook 3 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove lid; bring to boil. Thicken sauce with cornstarch mixture and add { teaspoon salt. Add scallions. Slowly pour in beaten egg and stir-fry for 1 minute. Serves 4 to 6.

You Asked For It is a reader mail column. If you have a cooking question or the answer to someone else's question, write to: You Asked For It, the Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Be sure to include your full name, city and phone number with your letter; letters without this information will be discarded. Requests cannot be answered by phone or mail.