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Drumstick Malunggay
We saw this strange item being sold by a Filipino farmer at the Alemany Farmer’s Market on Saturday. What is it? It’s called a drumstick malunggay and comes from the Moringa vegetable tree. It’s also called the horseradish tree in some parts of the world, as the edible roots are grated and eaten, and have a taste similar to horseradish. Most of the tree, including the leaves, flowers, seed pods, and roots are edible. The tree is commonly found in Asia and Africa.
Jul 7, 2008
Hey! You Can Wash Mushrooms
We once interviewed a mushroom farmer for a magazine article, and she said something we never forgot: “Mushrooms need a shower, not a bath.”And so, while every cook we see on TV tells us to wipe each mushroom with a damp cloth and never, ever rinse for fear those porous mushrooms will just soak up water and turn to mush, we’ve been happily giving ours a quick run under the faucet. It’s far less time-consuming and, frankly, they taste just fine.
Jul 1, 2008
Good Eats: Little Gems Lettuce
My mystery box offered up several Little Gems lettuces last week, a most pleasant event indeed! We featuredLittle Gems look like tiny versions of Romaine lettuce, with a crisp, crunchy texture and a sweet flavor. My favorite way to serve them couldn’t be easier: simply cut in half and drizzled with a nice lemon-shallot vinaigrette. Occasionally, I’ll sprinkle on some thinly sliced radish or a few capers, but mostly I let them shine straight up.
Jun 30, 2008
Food Science: Why Blanched Vegetables (Sometimes) Turn Brown
A few weeks ago, we talked about blanching as a great way to prepare vegetables for salads and crudite platters. Cooking them quickly in boiling water brings out both their flavor and their bright colors. That is to say, except for when they turn brown! Why does this happen? Read on! The most likely reason our veggies turned brown is because we covered the pot with a lid after adding the vegetables. Yes, covering the pot certainly seems like the logical thing to do!
Jun 17, 2008
What Are Catabolic Foods?
In the summer, when there’s rather less clothes and things like beach trips are on one’s mind, one has a tendency to eat lighter. We are not necessarily on a diet, mind you, but we are eating light and healthy as much as possibe. Also, we have always been fascinated by the concept of catabolic foods.What are catabolic foods? Well, first off, they sound too good to be true.Supposedly, catabolic foods burn up more calories than they supply.
Jun 12, 2008
If You Grow Just One Thing This Spring… Plant Arugula
We were at the greengrocer a couple months ago, slightly nonplussed because we couldn’t find arugula yet. The girl at the counter told us that she just grows it herself; even through the winter, she said, it grew like wild in her containers. Hmm…we said. So when we saw tiny baby arugula at the garden center, it seemed a good idea.Well, now look what we’ve got on our hands…Arugula gone wild! We had just hacked this nearly to the root, grabbing leaves for pizza.
May 22, 2008
Recipe: Stuffed Artichokes
Remember when we contemplated the first meal cooked in our new apartmentWe love steaming artichokes and pulling off the leaves one by one to scrape between our teeth. But other than that, we rarely cook big, baseball-sized artichokes. So we loved the way this recipe highlighted their beautiful, floral shape, with stuffing tucked in every layer, ready to be scooped up with the leaves.There is one warning to this recipe. It is full of anchovies.
May 20, 2008
Seasonal Spotlight: Fresh Garbanzo Beans
A friend of ours who purchases supplies for a culinary school slipped us a few of these fresh, green beauties the other day. We felt like we were “in” on some clandestine culinary transaction!Breaking open the pod revealed two perfect garbanzo beans nestled snugly against each other. We ate them right there, popping one and then the other into our mouth with glee.They have a clean grassy taste, very similar to fresh peas.
May 9, 2008
Recipe: Tofu Stir-Fry with Snow Peas and Mushrooms
For years, we’ve been trying to duplicate the kind of tofu we’re served at Chinese restaurants. Finally, we think we’re on the right track.The secret is dredging the chunks of cut tofu in cornstarch and then sauteing them separately from the veggies. This method yields springy tofu with a pleasantly chewy interior, a nice contrast to the crunchy snow peas and the tangy flavors in the sauce.
May 8, 2008
Olive Bars vs. Pre-Packaged Olives: Which Do You Prefer?
So many grocery stores now have olive bars, with big barrels full of olives sold in bulk. They are great when you want a mix to serve as appetizers, and although some people get squeamish about germs (yes, we’ve seen people use their fingers), we don’t tend to.Recently, though, we picked up a container of pre-packaged, Kalamata olives at a store that didn’t have an olive bar.
Apr 25, 2008
Recipe: Cinnamon-Spiked Tomatoes
This is not a combination we would have thought of on our own.We recently enjoyed a cheese plate at a restaurant, where a hard goat cheese was paired with a tomato garnish. At first, we asked the bartender who served us if he could swap the tomatoes with something else (the figs looked good), but he insisted. And when we tasted them, we realized there was something different going on.
Apr 22, 2008
Tip: How To Use Frozen Edamame
A reader emailed us to ask about using up frozen edamame. Her dilemma? What to do with them besides making a puréed dip. We have several ideas, and most of them start with the microwave… Frozen, shelled edamame are becoming easier to find at the average grocery store, which is good — they are so healthy and versatile. We do often purée them into a hummus made with edamame instead of chickpeas, but they work well in any dish where you might normally use beans or peas.
Apr 16, 2008
Easter Brunch: Cold Asparagus Two Ways
Asparagus are in season in some parts of the US. Here in New York, they are the cheapest (about $2.99 a pound) they’ll be all year. According to a few of your comments about side dishes to go with Easter ham, asparagus are high up on the list.We agree. And while we usually roast our asparagus with a little olive oil and salt, we’re thinking about the fresh, bright green color we get when we blanch and chill them. Another benefit of serving asparagus cold?
Mar 21, 2008
How to Prepare Cardoons
At the Alemany Farmer’s Market right now we’re seeing a lot of cardoons in season. Cardoons are closely related to – and taste very much like – artichokes. Why is this vegetable not well-known, then?Cardoons are high-maintenance vegetables. They look like very large hearts of celery, but have thorns in the stalks, so handle with care. The stalks are not solid like celery, and are semi-hollow and stringy.
Mar 14, 2008
Recipe: Frisée Salad with Red Currants
Frisée means curly in French, and its tightly wound bitter leaves are crunchy, springy, and delicately bitter. They’re also a delicious winter salad base with an unusual winter fruit…Frisée isn’t exactly in season, sure – we admit that. But we found big bags of it at Trader Joe’s and were longing for greens. You may also be able to find it grown in local greenhouses, and soon it will be fully in season in the north and east.
Feb 18, 2008
Recipe: Confetti Potatoes and Pearl Onions
We chopped everything into even pieces, drizzled some olive oil over with herbs and salt and roasted. See the results below!Confetti Potatoes and Pearl Onionsserves 2-4 as a side About two pounds mixed baby potatoesAbout one pound pearl onionsKosher saltBlack pepperOlive oil 4 sprigs of rosemary4-6 sprigs of thyme Heat the oven to 400°F. Cut the potatoes into quarters – just a little larger than the onions. Cut the top off each onion, then slice in half and shuck away the skin.
Nov 29, 2007
Green Tomato Finalist #1: Kerry’s Curried Green Tomatoes
[Here is the first of our six Green Tomato Contest finalists. We liked how Kerry adapted her original recipe – her recipe is after the jump. Voting on all six finalists will start Friday!] This is the first time I am entering a cooking contest but I couldn’t pass it up! I used a combo of a recipe from an old cookbook and my own creation.
Nov 8, 2007
Finally! A Recipe Just For Baby Pattypan Squash
Let’s stand up for the baby pattypan. The baby pattypan has its own unique crown shape and an olive-oil like flavor that cries out for attention. While baby pattypans can work in recipes created for zucchini or yellow summer squash, we’ve been hunting all summer for recipes that were created just for the little pattypans. Isn’t it a shame to slice them up when their shape is so perfect on the plate? Until this weekend, we hadn’t had much luck in our recipe hunt.
Aug 21, 2007
How To: Blanch Asparagus
We have a new favourite way to cook and eat asparagus. We love those tiny, thinner-than-pencil-thin asparagus spears, and yet when we sauté them we often find we misjudge the timing and they get mushy. We like crisp, tender spears, with just enough of a snap and yet not crunchy raw. The easiest way to get this texture is to blanch them, and this is also so quick. Method below… Don’t try this with really thick spears – use the thinnest, freshest ones you can find.
Aug 2, 2007
What’s the Difference Between: Yuca and Yucca?
We went to lunch last week and had some crispy fries with our sandwich – but they weren’t made out of potato. They were labeled “yucca” fries on the menu, and a sharp-eyed friend pointed out that this had to be wrong. The potato-like starch that you find in Latino cuisines and in some trendy bistros nowadays is cassava or Manihot esculenta, a native of South America and consumed in large quantities throughout Latin America, Africa, South Asia and the Caribbean.
Jun 6, 2007
Recipe: Spicy Broccoli Tofu Stir-Fry
Tofu is something we have been learning to like more and more lately. It’s easy and light and fries up quickly, and when it’s poached like this in a little liquid with a heap of delicious vegetables, we really can’t resist it.This dish is even vegan, with a dash of fermented black beans for savory umami flavor, and some chilies for a kick. Leave the chilies if you don’t like it spicy, but we suggest adding a little extra garlic if you do that.
May 31, 2007
Recipe: Creamy Cheesy Potatoes
These potatoes are a homestyle recipe – full of dairy and fat and other very, very good things. They are comfort food at its finest, with cubed potatoes boiled till just tender and then baked with all sorts of creamy cheese until soft and bubbling. They also come together faster than you might think, and they last for days in the fridge – if you can keep them around that long!
Jan 25, 2007
In Season West Coast: Cauliflower
Like so many vegetables, cauliflower is one of those that is available year round but few realize that there is indeed a season for it. Cauliflower season runs from October through April but it’s at its best starting in December. Look for compact, dense heads without any discolorization. To store, place in a plastic bag and put in the refrigerator, where it should keep for about a week.
Dec 1, 2006
Recipe: Puréed Parsnips
With Thanksgiving coming up soon, I’m sure a lot of us are on the search for interesting recipes for side dishes to accompany our birds.A mash of some sort is a natural to partner for a thick slice of roasted turkey.
Nov 8, 2006
What’s the Deal With: Persimmons
Chances are you’ve seen them at the farmers’ market lately. Like pomegranates, pumpkins, apples and pears, fall is the season for this somewhat perplexing fruit known as a persimmon. Usually some shade of orange and resembling a tomato with a sort of brown flower bud in leiu of a stem, persimmons are likely conjur a jumble of questions to swirl though the heads of those unfamilar with them. Are they a fruit? Are they a vegetable?
Oct 31, 2006
Tip: Roasting Broccoli
Everything’s better roasted. Ok that’s a sweeping statement, but I almost always default to roasting when it comes to vegetables. It concentrates their flavors, caramelizes their sugars and produces interesting textural contrasts. Basically, it enhances everything that is already great about vegetables.Broccoli has been an exception up until recently. It’s really quite lovely blanched then sautéed, but I felt like cooking it differently the other night.
Oct 31, 2006
Recipe: Herbed Corn for Columbus Day
Columbus may have come searching for gold, but what he found was a wealth of new foods. Before Europeans arrived in the New World they had never tasted peppers, chocolate, tomatoes or the culinary gold of maize – staple of the Native American diet. Imagine Indian curries without peppers, pasta without tomatoes, or Paris without chocolate!This recipe is adapted from one that Gourmet ran last summer, with a tangy lime butter sauce over lightly cooked corn and herbs.
Oct 9, 2006
Word of Mouth: Mushroom Duxelles
Duxelles [dook-SEHL, deu-SEHL]n. A thick mixture of minced mushrooms and shallots slowly cooked with butter and herbs, used for flavoring soups and sauces and for fillings. This admittedly unphotogenic mushroom mixture is a deceptively simple way to add rich, intense flavor to many dishes, and it’s easy to make ahead and have on hand for quick appetizers. Wrap a teaspoonful in puff pastry and bake, or stuff into chicken breasts.
Oct 2, 2006