Category Archives: Vegetables

Pan-Seared Lamb Chops

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Looking for a quick yet elegant entree for a dinner party? Well, these easy lamb chops are just the ticket. Pair them up with a few sides likes mashed potatoes and sauteed green beans to complete the dish. And for the finishing touch, pour a full-bodied Merlot or Pinot Noir.

Enjoy!

Serves 4
Ingredients:
For the Lamb Chops:
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced
2 teaspoons fresh parsley, minced
2 teaspoons fresh oregano, minc
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 lamb rib chops

For the Mini Fried Blooming Onions:
20 pearl onions
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tablespoons water
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon paprika
kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, taste
Vegetable oil, enough to fill skillet to 1-inch depth; more for a deep fryer

For the Caramelized  Pearl Onions:
10-12 whole pearl white onions, skins removed
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
In a large bowl, mix together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, cumin and herbs. Season the lamb chops lightly with salt and pepper. Add  the chops to the olive oil mixture. Using tongs to  turning  each chop to coat completely.  Cover and  set aside to marinate, for 15-30 minutes.

To make the Blooming onions, preheat the oven to 170°F.

Cut tops of pearl onions, then slice top down (being careful not to cut all the way through) 3 times to form six sections of the onion. Using your fingers, gentley separate onion sections.

Place the onions in cold water to allow the petals to further separate. Soak for about 10 minutes and remove and drain on paper towels.

In a shallow bowl, mix eggs with water. In a separate shallow bowl, mix flour with garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika. Season with salt and pepper. Stir together until combined.

Dredge onions first in egg and then in flour mixture. S

In a large, high-sided skillet or a deep fat fryer, heat oil to about 350°F. Fry onions in batches, until they are golden. Place on a paper-towel lined plate to drain.Season with salt and set aside in the oven until ready to serve.

Cook the Pearl onions. Heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to soften and turn golden brown, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat down to low, and continue cooking, covered, for another 5-10 minutes until the onions are a deep, rich golden color, but still hold their shapes.

Meanwhile, heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. When the skillet is hot, add the chops to the skillet and cook to desired doneness, about 3-4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Serve warm alongside the onions.

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Hello, June

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The warm weather is here!

Fruits  and vegetables abound with all  the brillance of the sunny warmth all around beginning in June. Summer produce begins to sprout and before you know it, all types of berries are showing up in your local farmers markets,  reaching their peak in flavor and with the season comes blueberries, strawberries, black berries and stone fruits like cherries.

So , I am sure that you are wondering what  you can  expect to find in your local supermarkets and  grocery store shelves and what can you make with it? Well, here is a list I have put together that can help you break out of your cooking rut using  fresh fruits and vegetables in their peak season!

Also note that buying locally sourced produce is easier on your wallet and it  helps the local economy as well.

June Fruits and Vegetables

Apricots
Avocados
Beets
Blackberries
Blueberries
Cabbage
Carrots
Cherries
Corn
Cucumber
Fava Beans
Green Beans
Greens
Herbs
Kale
Kiwi
Leeks
Mangoes
Nectarines
Peaches
Peas
Radishes
Raspberries
Rhubarb
Spinach
Strawberries
Sorrel
Watermelon
Yellow Squash
Zucchini
 

This Month’s Featured Fruit: Blueberries

Blueberries are here! Those plump little berries are packed full of antioxidants and they are  delicious, nutritious and oh so  versatile. They’re naturally fat-free, high in vitamin C and a powerful antioxidant. We love them in cereals, salads, sauces, as toppings and by the handful.Blueberries pair marvelously with lemon flavor (juice and zest). Think of a refreshing blueberry lavender lemonade for sipping in the hammock. As with all berries, buy organic if possible to avoid pesticide exposure. 

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Photo Credit: Fitness Republic , 2017

Blueberry Varieties

Throughout the year, we typically see the beautiful, plump cultivated blueberries we’re most familiar with. However, in the summer it’s easy to spot smaller wild blueberries popping up in the market.

The main difference between wild and cultivated blueberries is found in their size: cultivated blueberries are typically larger than wild blueberries. Which means, since most of a blueberry’s antioxidants and other health benefits are found in the skin, per cup there will be more skin of wild blueberries than cultivated ones, due to their size.

However, it’s important to note that both varieties of blueberries are delicious, healthy and a nutritional powerhouse that belongs in everyone’s diet.

While we love to take advantage of the short season of wild blueberries and enthusiastically devour them in the summer, we also are happy to enjoy the cultivated ones year round.

What Goes Well With Blueberries?

Produce: bananas, lemon, peaches, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, mango, spinach, lemon, lime, watermelon, beets, orange, kiwi, and coconut

Herbs, Spices & Sweets: cinnamon, ginger, honey, maple syrup, nutmeg, vanilla, mint, and basil

Savory: oatmeal, granola, almonds, walnuts, pork, cornmeal, and chicken

Dairy: cream cheese, sour cream, crème fraîche, cream, yogurt, mascarpone, goat cheese, ricotta, and buttermilk

How To Select and Store Blueberries

Choose blueberries that are firm and have a lively, uniform blue colour. Avoid berries that are dull in color or soft and watery in texture (as the presence of moisture will cause them to decay).

Give the container a shake to see whether the berries move freely. If they don’t, this may be a sign that they are soft and damaged, or worse, moldy.

Store ripe blueberries in a covered container in the refrigerator. Here, they will keep for up to three days. If kept out at room temperature for more than a day, the berries may spoil.

Blueberries are extremely easy to freeze and store for future use. To do so, buy them in abundance in the summer and freeze them for a batch of Sunday blueberry pancakes or to stuff into muffins throughout the year. To freeze, wash blueberries and remove any stems and spoiled blueberries. Arrange on a clean tea towel to gently blot dry. Transfer to a lined baking sheet and flash freeze the cleaned and dried blueberries until frozen. Transfer to an airtight container and use within 8 months.

How To Prepare Blueberries

Your berries should not be washed until you are ready to eat them, as washing will remove the bloom that protects the berries’ skin from spoiling. Fresh berries are very fragile. They should be washed briefly and carefully and then gently pat them dry.  You can also spin them dry in salad spinner.

Blueberry Tips

  • Before storing, remove any crushed or moldy berries to prevent the rest from spoiling.
  • Like other tender fruit, blueberries have a natural bloom or slight white coating. The plant produces this in order to protect the fruit, so wait to wash your berries until you are ready to enjoy them.
  • Freeze blueberries on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Once frozen, transfer them to a re-sealable bag or container. This keeps them from sticking together.
  • Add frozen blueberries to a smoothie, yogurt, oatmeal, muffins, pancakes etc.
  • When shopping in the store, give the container of fresh berries a shake to see whether they move freely. If they don’t, this may be a sign that they are soft and damaged or moldy.
  • Wash your blueberries in a salad spinner to keep them intact while drying them at the same time.

Serving Ideas

Everybody knows that blueberry muffins are a perfect morning food, but don’t forget that blueberry pancakes or blueberry sauce on waffles can bring breakfast to a whole new level. This vegan blueberry lemon loaf is also a great treat in the morning if you need a pick-me-up!

Blueberries are also classic in pies and cobblers. Blueberries and lemons are a match made in heaven beneath a blanket of oat streusel or biscuits. Top with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream for a decadent spin on this dish.

Add blueberries to your favorite greens like kale or spinach and pair with some salty cheese like feta to have a delicious and complex textured saladGrilled peaches and blueberries tossed in vinaigrette are also delicious, while this simple yet tasty blueberry, walnut, and Manchego cheese salad is great for a quick side dish.

For a spin on your traditional bruschetta, try this gorgeous blueberry and beet bruschetta at your next gathering. It will be sure to wow your guests with its striking color and flavor.

After a long week, wind down with some blueberry mojitos. Muddle blueberries with mint to get extra flavor and a beautiful hue to your drink.

A Caprese salad is typically prepared using a few high quality ingredients like fresh mozzarella, tasty tomatoes and fresh basil. Seasoned only with good quality olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper to taste, it’s as delicious as it is simple. Try giving it a little extra boost of flavor and color  with fresh blueberries .

You can never go wrong with a classic like blueberry muffins. Perfect for on-the-go breakfasts and late-afternoon snacks, keeping a stash on hand will satisfy all your hunger cravings.

Source:

Produce Made Simple: Blueberries. (2018) The Ontario Produce Marketing Association. Date Accessed May 15, 2018.  https://producemadesimple.ca/blueberries/ 

Asparagi e Porri al Limone

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Photo Credit: Lidia’s Italian Kitchen, 2017

Asparagi e Porri al Limone
(ASPARAGUS AND LEEKS IN LEMON VINAIGRETTE)

From
Lidia’s Celebrate Like an Italian
by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali
2017

I am really trying to eat light this Spring and given that I love asparagus, I found this delightful salad while perusing Lidia Bastianich’s most recent cookbook, “Lidia’s Celebrate Like an Italian” .

Lidia’s Celebrate Like an Italian

The best thing about this salad is that you can serve it while the vegetables are still warm, or you can serve it chilled, especially if you are hosting a buffet or a picnic. The important thing is to dress it just before serving, since the lemon juice will change the color of the vegetables.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon kosher salt, to taste
2 pounds medium thick asparagus spears, trimmed and peeled
1 bunch medium leeks, white and light green parts, washed and halved lengthwise
Juice of 1 large lemon
¼  Cup extra-virign olive oil
4  Hard boiled eggs, peeled and quartered

Directions:
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cut the peeled asparagus into thirds, crosswise. Cut the leeks in thirds crosswise as well. Add the asparagus and leeks to the boiling water, and cook until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes, depending on their thickness. Drain, and plunge into an ice bath to stop the cooking and set the color. Drain and pat very dry.

Put the asparagus and leeks in a serving bowl. Drizzle with the lemon juice and olive oil, and season with the salt. Toss well. Mound the asparagus and leeks on a serving platter, and scatter the hard-boiled eggs over the top and serve.

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Thank you so much!

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Indian Butter Chicken

 

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Butter chicken – two simple words to describe one of the richest of Indian and most popular dishes where succulent pieces of chicken are cooked and then simmered in a sauce that is utterly a buttery combination of cream, tomatoes and aromatic spices. Known as murgh makhani in Hindi,this dish is a culinary star that tickles palates across the world. While this iconic dish remains a much-loved favorite on menus across the country, few people know about the humble and practical origins of the butter chicken.

The genesis of the original butter chicken is inextricably tied to the evolution of another gastronomical hero, the tandoori chicken. The origins of the latter lie in Gora Bazaar in Peshawar, British India, where nearly 100 years ago, a man named Mokha Singh Lamba started a small restaurant called Moti Sweets.

In the 1920s, in Peshawar in undivided India, a  young boy aged 12, named Kundan Lal Gujral,  started working as a kitchen helper in at  Moti Sweets. Having lost his father at a very young age, he had to start earning early in life. When the eatery’s owner died a few years later, the boy took over the chain, as the owner was very fond of him. He renamed the place Moti Mahal.

Moti Mahal was the first resturant to dig up a tandoor right in the middle of the eatery. and as a young chef, Kundan Lal Gujral decided to experiment by skewering yogurt marinated pieces of chicken and sticking them into the tandoor oven, which was previously used only for breads. Thus, Peshawar cuisine was introduced to the culinary art of tandoori chicken and the incredibly popular, ubiquitous tandoori chicken was born.

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 A view of the tandoor at the earliest Moti Mahal restaurant in 1948 where a cook is seen putting bread inside the tandoor to cook it . Photo Credit:Monish Gujral

Cooked in the radiant heat of the clay tandoor, fragrant and flavored by the smoke rising from the hot coals, the version Gujral made—with crispy skin and a recognizably bright red exterior—became an enormous success until Gujral was forced to flee Pakistan during the 1947 Partition of India.

flash5 (1)    Photo Credit: http://www.motimahalindia.com

The tragedy of partition forced Gujral to flee to Delhi with nothing but his skills as an innovation and creative user of Tandoor, an oven used by the people of North India.

Moti Mahal had already established itself among the British elite in Peshawar but the challenge came with Partition, when Gujral had to move to India and start a new life as a refugee.

Because he came from a more privileged background than most other refugees,  starting afresh was less of a struggle. Gujral  was among the few rich people who flew to India rather than taking the train. He stayed in a refugee camp initially and thought of setting up a dhaba (roadside eatery) to introduce Delhiites to the tandoori chicken.

In his new home in Delhi, Gujral co-founded a new restaurant and also called it, Moti Mahal, in Daryaganj, with Kundan Lal Jaggi and Thakur Dass.  It was one of the first restaurants to introduce the Punjabi cuisine to the rest of the world and many famous dishes include tandoori chicken, butter chicken and dal makhani.The place quickly proved popular and within a year Gujral turned Moti Mahal into  into a 400-seat restaurant.  Gujral also tried to make Moti Mahal a different experience by introducing live “qawwali” (a form of sufi devotional music) and a see-through kitchen.

Because of the lack of refrigeration facilities during this era, necessity led Gujral to having to innovate once again to avoid wastage, especially that of the unsold tandoori tikkas. He cleverly reasoned that a tomato gravy, lushly made with butter and cream, would soften his leftover chicken. He took the leftover pieces of tandoori chicken and cooked them over a low flame and served it as such. The combination proved to be a masterstroke and thus, by an act of genius, the butter chicken was born, a dish that is now a staple of Indian restaurants around the world. And by the same token, the very same gravy recipe was then used to make dal makhani.

709457284Kundal Lal Gujral (Center) with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi (Left)
                    Photo Credit:Moti Mahal Delux Resturant

Moti Mahal enjoyed the patronage of India’s first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, who used to get catering done from here. So fond was he of the Peshawari cuisine that the owners had even set up a tandoor at Teen Murti House to serve piping hot naans and rotis to state guests at this august venue. In a rare gesture, the then Prime Minister had allotted an adjacent area to the owners — Kundan Lal Gujral, Kundan Lal Jaggi and Thakur Dass — to expand their business. The restaurant menu at the time as well as the placard outside used to make it clear that it had no branches anywhere and it was the sole restaurant to ensure that no one would misuse the name to start business elsewhere.

In its 1950s heyday, Gujral’s Moti Mahal resturant was extremely popular with celebrities and world leaders, including former Indian President Dr. Zakir Hussain, Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy and actors Raj Kapur and Nargis were among the famous patrons.

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Dr. Zakir Hussain (Left) and K.L. Gujral (first from the Right).

Photo Credit: Moti Mahal Delux

In its 1950s heyday, Gujral’s Moti Mahal resturant was extremely popular with celebrities and world leaders, including former Indian President Dr. Zakir Hussain, Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy and actors Raj Kapur and Nargis were among the famous patrons.

It  was also the favorite restaurant of former Soviet and Pakistan Prime Ministers Nikita Khrushchev and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, respectively. So impressed was Bhutto with the culinary skills of the chefs during an earlier visit that Indira Gandhi decided to get food served from here during the famous Simla pact meeting. Khrushchev would get handpicked dishes on the menu flown to Moscow for his official banquets.

Freedom fighter and independent India’s first education minister, Maulana Azad reportedly even told the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, that while in India he must make two visits – to the Taj Mahal in Agra and the Moti Mahal in Delhi. And the Shah followed his advice, adding his name to some of the most renowned patrons of Moti Mahal.

In its more recent times,the resturant now called Moti Mahal Delux with its global chain of restaurants with over 120 franchises in India and around the world, the Dehli location was visited by master chef Gordon Ramsay, who even went behind the counter in the kitchen of this iconic restaurant.

With time, Moti Mahal changed, too. While it retained the signature dishes of dal makhani, butter chicken, tandoori chicken, chicken pakora (fritters), the restaurant reinvented itself to suit the changing palate of the Indian customer. They introduced tandoori dishes made with broccoli, trout and lobster.

In this version of the famous dish, I found that marinating the chicken in yogurt and a seasoned tikka masala curry paste makes the chicken extra tender before finishing it in the oven and adding it to a creamy, rich, fragrant, mildly spiced tomato sauce. Served on the side, there’s ginger-spiced sautéed spinach, rice, and of course, plenty of warm, toasted naan for scooping up the extra sauce.

Definitely a favorite dish that is perfect for adding to your meal rotation.

Enjoy!

Serves 6 to 9

Ingredients:
For the Chicken:
½ cup whole-milk Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon tikki marsala curry paste
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces

For the Sauce:
1 stick unsalted butter, divided
1 3-inch cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 whole clove
1 large yellow onion, sliced
1 serrano chile, split lengthwise and seeded
Kosher salt, to taste
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
Two 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes

For the Spinach:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
10 ounces, baby spinach
1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Fresh coriander chopped, for garnish
Thinly sliced serrano peppers, for garnish
Fresh cream, for garnish

Directions:
For the Chicken:
Preheat oven to 475°F.

In a large bowl, whisk together yogurt, curry paste, lemon juice, salt and pepper to combine. Pat chicken dry with paper towels, cut into 1-inch pieces, and add to bowl with marinade. Turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to marinate in the refigerator for 1 to 3 hours.

For the Sauce:
Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add cinnamon atick and clove, stirring, until slightly darker and fragrant, 1–2 minutes. Add onion and chile season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden and beginning to caramelize, 8–10 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, until very fragrant and ginger starts to turn golden, 2–3 minutes. Add garam masala, fenugreek, paprika, and turmeric and cook, stirring, until very fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, breaking up into pieces with a spoon, and cook until most of the liquid is evaporated, about 1 minute. Continue to simmer, uncovered, until sauce is the consistency of a thick ragù, 40–50 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the sauce to to cool. Discard cinnamon stick and the bay leaf, but allow the whole clove to remain.

Transfer the sauce to a blender and purée until smooth. Cut remaining the 4 tablespoons of butter into pieces. Add butter and cream to blender and purée until creamy; season with salt. Return sauce to the pot and bring to a simmer.

Meanwhile, prepare a wire rack set inside a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.

After marinating, remove the chicken from the marinade and arrange the chicken in a single layer on the baking sheet. Broil until chicken starts to brown in spots , 7–8 minutes per side. Add chicken to simmering sauce, cover, and cook until chicken is cooked through, 8–10 minutes.

For the Spinach:
Heat  1 tablespoon butter in a large pan over medium heat. When butter is just melted, add shallot and ginger and cook until shallot is soft, about 3 minutes. Add spinach and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 3 minutes more. Season with  salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, transfer the chicken and sautéed spinach to serving bowls, spooning over remaining sauce and garnish with cilantro. Tear naan into pieces and serve alongside with rice.

Cook’s Note:
Butter chicken can be made three days ahead of time.

Sources:
Gujral, Monish. (2013).  The Moti Mahal Cookbook. India: Penguin Books , Publisher.

Pal, Sanchari (2016). “The Better India (TBI) Food Secrets: The Humble Origins of the Hugely Popular Butter Chicken”. Retrieved 21 April 2018. https://www.thebetterindia.com/75100/butter-chicken-history-kundan-lal-gujral/

Retrieved 21 April 2018. https://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2011/12/22/moti-mahal-delhis-gastronomic-pearl/

Vohra, Pankaj (2015).”Partition brought Moti Mahal, a landmark in India’s culinary history, to central Delhi”. The Sunday Guardian.New Dehli. Retrieved 21 April 2018.http://www.sunday-guardian.com/investigation/partition-brought-moti-mahal-a-landmark-in-indias-culinary-history-to-central-delhi

All photographs and content, excepted where noted, are copyright protected. Please do not use these photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this photograph and all other contents, then we kindly ask that you link back to this site. We are eternally grateful and we appreciate your support of this blog.

Thank you so much!

 

 

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In the Spotlight: Peas

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Reaching their peak season during Spring, peas can offer. An impressive nutrition profile that is so ofteh overlooked.

Did you know that a half cup serving of  shelled peas can supply an excellent source of Vitamin C, a good source. Of Vitamin A, plus four grams of fiber and plant based protein.

All varieties of peas, including English green peas, snow and sugar peas are versatile and can serve as a main ingredient in stir- frys, salads, pasta, spreads and soups.

Green Peas

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The most common type of green peas include the English or garden peas, which are vibrant green and plump with pods that contain upbtobten precious round green seeds.

This variety is best eaten fresh. You should choose fresh garden peas thatcare small to medium in size because they will be the sweetest. When preparing them, just remove and discard the pods before eating them. When using them in pasta, soup or grain dishes, add peas during the last few minutes of cooking to maintain the beautiful green color.

For more traditional dishes, you can pair green peas with potatoes, carrots, onions and herbs like mint, basil and parsley.

In addition to being fresh, green peas are also available are year round in the canned or frozen forms. Try using them in making a mock gacumole with thr usual avocado, tomatoes, onions, cilantro and lime juice for the right touch of acidity.

 

Snow Peas

Peas-Snow,-Organic

The snow pea (Pisum sativum var. saccharatum) is a variety of pea eaten whole in its pod while still unripe. The name mangetout (French for “eat all”) can apply both to snow peas and to snap peas.

Snow peas are botanically known as Pisum satvium and are considered to be a hardy annual. sugar-ann-snap-sweet-peaThe entire pod is edible while unripe and typically grows up to 6″ in length. Produce on a climbing vine, Snow peas offer a sweet, tender flavor that has mild green notes.

Also known as Chinese peas, snow peas are flat with small seeds having a pleasant herbaceous flavor.

Did you know that the name mangetout (French for “eat all”) can apply both to snow peas and to snap peas and this vegetable has been cultivated since the 19th century in Europe?

Another fun fact is that Austrian scientist and monk Gregor Mendel  used peas which he called vi_a_201Pisum saccharatum” in his famous experiments demonstrating the heritable nature of specific traits, though this Latin name might not refer to the same varieties identified with modern snow peas. Imagine that, the entire study of genetics is based on the humble pea!

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When selecting snow peas, look for smooth pods with bright green skins and are at least 3 inches in length. The whole pod is edible abr contains the most fiber of all the varieties of peas currently being cultivated.

The best method for cooking snow peas is by steaming. In preparing snow peas before stir-frying, sauteeing or simmering, trim the stem end and remove the string along the side of the pod. You can refrigerate the peas in a kraft paper bag or a perforated plastic bag and use within three days.

Sugar Snap Peas

sugarsnappeas

Bright, crisp and naturally sweet, sugar snap peas are a cross between garden peas and snow peas.

Sugar Snap peas are bright green with thick walls that encase a row of petite green peas. The pea pod itself is crisp, juicy and fresh tasting and the peas, tender with a sweet pea flavor. The entirety of the pod, both the shell and peas are edible. In addition the vine, leaves and flowers or pea tendrils the Sugar Snap pea grows on is edible as well.

Sugar Snap peas provide a good source of vitamins A, C, potassium, iron, riboflavin and thiamine.

When selecting sugar snap peas, look for firm pods that do not bend and snap easily. In terms of storing this variety, refrigerate in a tightly sealed plastic bag for up to five days.

Sugar Snap peas are a versatile pea and can be enjoyed both raw and cooked. Serve whole on crudites trays or as an appetizer. Their crunchy texture makes them fun for snacking or just dipping in hummus or paired with cream based dips and cheese. Snap in half and add to an array of salads. Stringless Sugar Snap peas can be utilized whole and added to stir-fries, soups and sautés or even braised alongside beef or duck.

Sources:
Weis Super Markets Healthy Bites Magazine, March/April 2018. “Ripe Now: Peas”. Retrieved 20 March 2018. http://healthybites.weismarkets.com/18Mar/Page-4

Specialty Produce (2018). “Stringless Sugar Snap Peas”. Retrieved 26 March 2018. http://www.specialtyproduce.com/produce/Stringless_Sugar_Snap_Peas_410

Hello, May!

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What’s in season right now, this month? For starters, lettuces, turnip greens, kale, and possibly some root vegetables like fennel and onions are signatures of Spring. You’re also likely to see strawberries, rhubarb, and asparagus, and okra. Check out the list below for a quick guide to the top in-season fruits and vegetables for the month of May.

May Fruits and Vegetables

Artichokes
Apricots
Arugula
Asparagus
Basil
Beets
Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage
Carrots
Collard Greens
Cauliflower
Chard
Cherries
Garlic
Green Garlic
Garlic Scapes
Kale
Lettuce
Mushrooms
Mustard Greens
Okra
Peas
Radishes
Rhubarb
Scallions
Spinach
Strawberries
Sugar Peas
Snap Peas
Swiss Chard
Turnips
Turnip Greens

Hello April!

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It’s Spring Time……

And cooking with the seasons means choosing fruits and vegetables that are at the peak of freshness and flavor and for the purposes of freshness, April is a fabulous month for choice! Buying locally grown produce is the best: local produce is less likely to be damaged, uses less energy to transport, ripens more naturally. In fact, when fruits and vegetables have been allowed to ripen on the vine for consumption — they taste sweeter and have significantly more intense flavor.

And, locally sourced produce helps the local economy as well.

April Fruits and Vegetables

Artichokes
Arugula (Rocket)
Asparagus
Beans
Beets
Broccoli
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Chicory
Chives
Dandelion greens
Fava Beans
Fiddlehead Fern
Horseradish
Leeks (end of season)
Lettuce (leaf and head)
Limes
Morel Mushrooms
Oranges
Papayas
Peas
Radishes
Ramps
Rhubarb
Shallots
Strawberries
Sweet Potatoes
Sweet Onions
Turnips
Watercress

 

This Month’s Featured Vegetable: Cabbage

Cabbage is in season all year long and is more abundant during the beginning of Spring.Cabbage is a low-calorie, fiber-rich, leafy vegetable that boasts plenty of health benefits, which include: treatment for constipation, headaches, obesity, arthritis, and vitamin C deficiency. An unsung hero of the vegetable crisper, this versatile veggie can be used in everything from slaws and salads, to fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi, to soups and stews and Indian curries.

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Photo Credit: Produce Made Simple, 2018

Cabbage Varieties

Cabbage comes in a variety of kinds – green, red, Savoy and Napa.

Green and red cabbages are identical with the exception of their colour. Both are quite heavy for their size due to their density and are smooth and spherical in shape.

Savoy cabbage has crinkly and flexible green leaves that are looser than a green or red cabbage. Savoy is also milder in flavour (with the exception of the stems, which are slightly bitter) and very tender.

Napa cabbage is long with oblong leaves and pale green in colour and tastes milder than green cabbage and is common in Asian cuisine.

 

How to Select and Store Cabbage

Select  cabbages  with compact  heads and that feel  heavy for their size with good colour and nice crisp leaves. Avoid cabbages that have brown and/or blemished spots, or loose or yellow leaves. Cabbage generally keeps for a pretty long time and can be stored unwashed in a plastic bag in the vegetable crisper of your refrigerator for up to two weeks. That quality along for most cabbages makes it a good ingredient to keep on hand. However, Napa cabbage has a shorter shelf life and will only last approximately four days.

How to Prepare Cabbage

A cousin to broccoli, this potent anti-cancerous cruciferous vegetable can be a part of many healthy meals. It cab be great raw, in slaws, roasted in pieces, or chopped and sautéed with olive oil and garlic. It cab also be the best comfort foods of all times – cabbage rolls.

To prepare your cabbage, first remove the outer leaves and run it under cold water. To core the cabbage, use a small sharp knife and cut a cone shaped section from the bottom of the cabbage. Or, you can cut the cabbage into quarters starting at the stem end. Be sure to cut the core out of each piece.

You can also freeze cabbage for future use. Start by first chopping it into slices or chunks, depending on how you choose to use it in your recipes. Blanch cabbage for about a minute or two in boiling water, then drain and submerse into an ice bath to shock the cabbage and stop the cooking process. Spread the leaves or pieces out and pat dry. Transfer to a baking sheet to flash freeze, and then place in an airtight container and use within 9 months.

Important to note: One pound of cabbage will yield approximately four cups of shredded raw cabbage or two cups cooked cabbage.

Cabbage Tips

  • Red cabbage tends to turn pale blue when cooked so if you want it to retain its vibrant purple colour, add a little vinegar or lemon juice (or something slightly acidic like apples or wine).
  • Shredded cabbage is a great addition to any salad, soup or stir-fry and cooked shredded cabbage is a terrific filling in wraps and casseroles.
  • Try cooking cabbage until it’s just tender. This way it will retain its sweetness and crunch.
  • If you find it difficult to slice cabbage thinly, try peeling a few leaves off the head of the cabbage and stacking them on your cutting board. This makes it much easier to finely slice to your desired thickness.
  • Said to aid digestion, fermented foods including sauerkraut made from cabbage are on trend. It’s also very easy to do yourself at homeThis recipe is a good starting point for those who would like to give it a go.
  • Speaking of foods that are on trend, Kimchi, another fermented cabbage-based side dish, is having a much–deserved moment and can also be made at home.

 

Source:

Produce Made Simple: Cabbage. (2018) The Ontario Produce Marketing Association. Date Accessed March 18, 2018.  https://producemadesimple.ca/cabbage/ 

Chilled English Pea Soup with Crab and Meyer Lemon

Chilled English Pea Soup with Crab and Meyer Lemon

Photo Credit: Eric Wolfinger, Food and Wine Magazine, 2018

 

By SARAH HELLER
Food and Wine Magzine
April 2018

This refreshing, verdant English pea and watercress soup is the perfect base for a zesty crab salad. Chef Sarah Heller of Napa’s Radish Leaf Cuisine folds sweet Dungeness crab with Meyer lemon, crème fraîche, and a host of delicate spring herbs before mounding atop each serving of the soup. Any lump crab meat or cooked, chilled shrimp would also work.

Serves 6

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for garnish
1 small sweet onion, diced
2 small celery stalks, diced
1 garlic clove, smashed
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
3 cups whole milk, divided
5 cups fresh English peas, shelled
2 bunches watercress (about 4 ounces), rinsed
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 cup crème fraîche
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon Meyer lemon zest
3 tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice, divide
1/2 pound cooked Dungeness or other lump crabmeat
Pea tendrils and freshly ground black pepper, for garnish (optional)

Directions:
Heat oil in a large saucepan over low. Add onion, celery, garlic, and 1 teaspoon salt. Sauté until onions are translucent, 10 to 12 minutes. Add 2 cups milk; bring to a simmer, and cook until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool slightly.

While vegetables are cooking, prepare a large bowl of ice water and bring a large pot of water to a boil over high. Add peas to pot, return to a boil, and cook until peas are bright green and just tender, about 2 minutes. Remove peas with a slotted spoon, and immediately plunge into ice water. Return water in pot to a boil, add watercress, and cook until bright green and wilted, about 1 minute. Plunge watercress into ice water. Drain peas and watercress; set aside peas. Squeeze watercress to remove as much water as possible.

Combine peas, watercress, and remaining 1 cup milk in a blender. Process on high until smooth. Working in batches if necessary, add onion mixture to blender; process on high until smooth. Pour through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a bowl; discard solids. Season with remaining 1 teaspoon salt and white pepper. Cover and chill until ready to serve, at least 2 hours or up to 1 day.

Whisk together crème fraîche, 1 tablespoon chives, 1 tablespoon dill, tarragon, lemon zest, and 2 tablespoons lemon juice in a medium bowl. Gently fold in crab. Chill until ready to serve, at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.

Stir remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice into soup. To serve, pour 3/4 cup soup into each bowl, add one large dollop of crab salad in center of soup, and drizzle with oil. Garnish with chives, pea tendrils, and black pepper, if desired.

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Pappardelle with Butternut Squash, Radicchio and Fennel

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Serves 2 to 3

Ingredients:
9 ounces of  Pappardelle pasta (home made or commercially prepared)
2 cups butternut squash, diced
2 cups fresh radicchio, shredded
1/2 cup fresh fennel, shredded
1 garlic clove, minced
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white vinegar
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish
Grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino cheese  (optional)

 
Directions:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Heat 4 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add garlic and cook for 1 minute stirring occasionally. Add the squash and sauté for 5-6 minutes on high heat until the squash is golden and crispy.  Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the radicchio and vinegar, lower the heat and cook until wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cook the Pappardelle according to package directions and drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. Transfer the Pappardelle to the pan adding a little of the pasta cooking water to loosen if needed, then add the remaining oil and toss to combine.

Add the fennel. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Divide among plates, garnish with chopped parsley and serve.

Sprinkle with grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese or grated Pecorino cheese if desired.

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Hello, March

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Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables for March

Listed below is a broad range of beautiful fruits and  vegetables that are available right now, as well as tips on how to prepare them.

Arugula
Asparagus
Avocados
Beets
Broccoli
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage
Carrots
Cauliflower
Chives
Collards
Endive
Garlic
Grapefruit
Guavas
Kumquats
Leeks
Lemons
Limes
Mandarins
Mint
Onions
Oranges
Parsley
Parsnips
Potatoes
Radishes
Rhubarb
Rutabaga
Strawberries
Tangerines
Turnips
Spinach
Walnuts

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Asparagus is a perennial favorite and is really only worth eating in the springtime. And since asparagus season comes around for a few short weeks every spring try to enjoy this delicious vegetable while it lasts! The fresh flavor of asparagus purchased at the farmers market is at its best when prepared simply.  It can be eaten raw, grilled, roasted and sauteed. Think beyond drenching it i Hollandaise sauce. It’s lovely with lemon and mint. Shaved asparagus is great in salads and roasted asparagus makes a perfect springtime side dish, whether it is at a barbecue or a formal dinner.

Photo Credit: SouthwestJournal.com, 2017

 

 

CITRUS FRUITS
Citrus fruits like grapefruits, lemons, limes oranges, tangerines and mandarins show up citrusevery year when the sky goes gray and we are all in desperate need of some bright color on our plates during our winter meals and continues to grace our dinner tables right through spring.  Now is the best time where you can find a great selection of citrus fruits in you local  grocery stores and super markets right now. Why not use real lemon juice to make your favorite salad dressing, it tastes so fresh and the light acidity will make a salad sing!

 

 

PARSNIPS
Parsnips are root vegetables that look like off-white carrots with parsley-like, leafy tops.Parsnips-58371ca43df78c6f6a3688e9 Unsurprisingly, they’re related to both carrots and parsley. Parsnips are usually served roasted or cooked, but can also be eaten raw.

Look for bright, very firm, relatively smooth parsnips. They should, like most fruits and vegetables, feel heavy for their size. This tip is particularly important when choosing parsnips, since they can get dried out or turn extra woody if not properly stored.If you’re lucky enough to buy parsnips with their greens still attached, the greens should look fresh and moist. Remove the greens when you get them home for longer storage.

Store the parsnips chilled and loosely wrapped in plastic. Fresh parsnips will last a week or two properly stored.

When cooked until tender parsnips have a lovely, starchy texture that works beautifully roasted or added to soups and stews. Add parsnips the same way you would add carrots or potatoes to stews, knowing that they’ll have a nuttier flavor than carrots and a sweeter, more distinctive, and less starchy flavor than potatoes.

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