Hello, June 2019!

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Did you know that June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month and the beginning of the Summer Season provides an abundance of colorful produce to choose from.

Remember the importance of fruits and vegetables to a well-balanced, nutrient dense diet. Fruits and vegetables are nature’s fast food that provide many vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber for overall good health.

The goal is at least 5-a-day for better health and remember to have a rainbow of delicious colors daily.

As far as the nutrition value of fruits and vegetables. If fresh is not an option at that time, frozen is the next best choice. The 3rd best option is canned fruits and vegetables. Really, it is better to have them any way you can.  Dietitians and nutritionists would like to  see you eating fruits and vegetables. Period. But don’t forget, if you are purchasing canned vegetables, try to get the “no salt added” variety for better health.

So, what fruits and vegetables are in season in June? Among other things, apricots. June stands for sweet apricots. Rich in carotene, apricots promote a natural, safe and quick suntan. If you buy unripe and sour apricots, dice them and season them with salt, extra virgin olive oil and minced fresh mint. A fresh and unusual summer salad you can serve as a starter.

In addition to apricots, here is a list of fruits and vegetables to enjoy during the month of June.

Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables for June

Apricots
Arugula
Asparagus
Beets
Black cherries
Blueberries
Broad beans
Cabbage
Carrots
Celery
Chard
Cherries
Chicory
Cilantro
Corn
Courgettes
Courgette flowers
Cucumbers
Currants
Dandelion greens
Early potatoes
Garlic
Green beans
Gooseberries
Kale
Kiwi
Lettuce
Loquats
Melons
Mulberries
Nectarines
Onions
Peaches
Peas
Plums
Radishes
Raspberries
Rhubarb
Strawberries
Sweet bell peppers
Tomatoes
Watermelons
Yellow squash

 

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Parsnip and Leek Soup

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Photo Credit:Jonny Valiant, 2011.

 

 

For those celebrating the religious calendar, Lent is upon us, and for many it is the time to give up meat in our diets. For busy home cooks, this soup can be made in ahead of time, basically because it is an uncomplicated vegetable puree. For an added touch you can dressed-up this soup with a touch of American whitefish caviar, the salty counterpoint to sweet parsnips in the mix, makes the soup plenty festive for Easter Dinner.

 

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:
For the Soup:
1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut 1/4 inch thick
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut 1/4 inch thick
3 cups chicken stock
2 1/2 cups water
2 dried bay leaves
1/2 cup whole milk

For the Black-Pepper Cream:
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
2 ounces whitefish or other caviar, for garnish

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Directions:
To prepare the leeks, rinsed well to remove the sand and grit. Cut the white and pale-green parts only into 1/4-inch-thick semi-circles and set aside.

To Make the soup: Cut a round of parchment to fit inside a large pot. Melt butter in pot over medium heat. Add leeks and a pinch of salt, and cover with parchment round (this will help keep moisture in). Cook, lifting parchment to stir occasionally, until leeks are tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

Stir in parsnips, potatoes, chicken stock, 2 1/2 cups water, bay leaves, and 1 teaspoon salt. Raise heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer gently, partially covered with lid, until parsnips are soft, about 20 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Let cool slightly, about 10 minutes.

Working in batches, puree vegetable mixture in a blender, being sure to hold lid down. Return soup to pot, and stir in milk. Reheat soup over medium heat (do not boil).

To Make the black-pepper cream: Stir 1/4 teaspoon pepper into creme fraiche.

To Serve: Ladle soup into 8 small bowls, and top each with a dollop of black-pepper cream and 1/2 teaspoon caviar.

Cook’s Notes:
Whitefish caviar is a relatively inexpensive variety and can found at Whole Foods  Markets or specialty gourmet food markets.

The soup can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 3 months. Stir in milk and rewarm over medium heat just before serving. Black-pepper cream can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.


Hello, March 2019!

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Even though it is Carnival Season around the world and Mardi Parades are in full swing in New Orleans, it’s time for the seasonal produce guide for March.This year, according to the calendar, Spring will begin on March 20, 2019. And very soon the home gardens and large farms will be sprouting, growing and producing more local produce that will begin to show up in your local farmer’s markets. Peas and lettuce greens will be in abundance as well as asparagus, artichokes, and several varieties of citrus fruits.

It is the perfect time to “Spring Clean”, your diet.

Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables for March:

Artichokes
Asparagus
Avocado
Broccoli
Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage
Carrots
Cauliflower
Chicory
Chives
Collard Greens
Endive
Garlic
Guava
Grapefruit
Kale
Kiwifruit
Kumquats
Leeks
Lemons
Lettuce Greens
Limes
Mint
Mushrooms
Onions
Oranges
Parsley
Parsnips
Peas
Potatoes
Radishes
Rhubarb
Rutabaga
Spinach
Strawberries
Sweet Potatoes
Swiss Chard
Tangerines
Turnips
Walnuts