Sunday, January 31, 2010

Figuring out farmers' markets

There are many reasons why eating locally is best. First of all, shopping locally ensures that your produce is fresh, seasonal and contains a higher level of flavor. And when it's not organic, small farms tend to be less generous with the amount of chemicals sprayed on their crops, so it's healthier! Secondly, average fresh food items can travel 1,500 miles just to get to your table. By shopping locally you help the environment by eliminating the need for the fuel wasted on transportation. Thirdly, shopping at your nearest farmers market supports your local farmers. On average, farmers receive 20 cents of the dollar spent, the rest going towards packaging, refrigeration, marketing and shipping. But at a farmers markets, the middle men are cut out so you know the farmer receives the dollar he deserves. Lastly, shopping at farmers markets' are fun and personable. Everything is always in season and they have a wide range of produce not found in grocery stores. Visit Local Harvest and type in your zip code to see the nearest farmers markets', family farms and other sources of sustainable grown foods in your area.

Yesterday I stopped by my local farmers market to pick up some fresh produce. Here are some of the beautiful items that are in season right now.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Fruit Spread

You’re making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or so you think, when you look down at your jar of jelly and see that it says "JAM"! Or even worse, "CONSERVE"! What the hell is a conserve? Will that even work? Who ever heard of a peanut butter and conserve sandwich??? “Oh well,” you think, “it’s probably the same thing.” Or is it? Do you know the difference? I didn’t until I did a little research. This is what I uncovered.

Jam- a thick mixture of fruit and sugar cooked down until the pieces of fruit are almost formless
Jelly- a mixture of fruit juice and sugar
Conserve- a mixture of fruits, nuts and sugar
Preserve- similar to jam except the fruit is left in medium to large chunks. Basically, chunky jam.

So next time you're making a peanut better and whatever sandwich, do it with confidence, knowing that you're using your favorite fruit spread mix.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

La la la latkes!

Right now I am lovin’ latkes. Nothing beats the taste of warm, crispy latkes straight out of the skillet, for breakfast, lunch or dinner. A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting celebrity chef Katie Lee, author of The Comfort Table: Recipes for Everyday Occasions. She taught a class at Sur La Table called The Comfort Table: Chrismukkah with a menu that offered hip innovations to traditional holiday recipes. Everything was tasty with a capital T, but the star of the show was the latkes. She made a delicious spice apple chutney as an accompaniment, but if you are pressed for time, grab a jar of applesauce or sour cream and trust me, no one will be disappointed. To see what else Katie is cooking check out her page on twitter at Katieleekitchen.

For Angelinos who want to enjoy a latke but just can’t find the time to make them, check out Nate ‘n Al Delicatessen in Beverly Hills or Thousand Oaks. They’ve been making latkes since 1945 and they know what they’re doing!

A few tips from Katie:
• If you are making these for a party, prep the mixture ahead but begin frying them just as your guests start to arrive, this way there sure to be extra crispy, and warm.
• Measure the mixture with an ice cream scoop to make uniform latkes that will cook evenly. Remember, the smaller they are the crispier they will be.

Mini Potato- Leek Latkes with Spice Apple Chutney

Yield: 12-14 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

For the latkes:
• 3 large Idaho potatoes, peeled and grated
• ½ cup finely diced leeks, white part only
• 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
• ½ cup dry breadcrumbs
• 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, minced
• 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
• ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
• ¼ cup canola oil

1. Press the excess water from the grated potatoes. In a medium bowl, mix the potatoes with the leeks, eggs, breadcrumbs, parsley, salt and pepper.

2. In a large heavy skillet over medium heat, melt butter with oil. Use a tablespoon to drop potato batter into the skillet. Flatten the potatoes with a spatula. Fry until golden brown, a couples minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels and serve with chutney.

Spice Apple Chutney

For the chutney
• ¼ cup orange juice
• ¼ cup water
• 3 tablespoons brown sugar
• 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
• ½ teaspoon cinnamon
• ½ teaspoon kosher salt
• ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 2 teaspoons olive oil
• 2 shallots, minced
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• ½ jalapeno, minced
• 2 granny smith apples, peeled and diced

1. In a small bowl, combine orange juice, water, brown sugar, vinegar, cinnamon, salt and pepper.

2. Heat olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic and jalapeno and sauté about 5 minutes. Stir in apples and orange juice mixture. Let come to a low simmer. Cover and cook until apples are tender, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Latke recipe courtesy of Katie Lee
Chutney recipe courtesy of Sur la Table

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ten Foods to Fool You

I know that with the New Year comes the pressure to IMPRESS IMPRESS IMPRESS. "Look your best!", "be more perfect!", "throw away your toenail collection!" "stop eating last years cheetos wedged between your couch cushions!"... Well my gift to you this new January, is to help you look and feel smarter about food. That's why I'm giving you these 10 foodie facts from the book "The Cooks Companion", because I care what people think about YOU! So relax, know that you're in good hands, and the next time you attend a party, bring up one of these super cool facts, and you're sure to be the crème de la crème* of the party.

1. Bombay duck is a northern Indian fish dish

2. Glamorgan sausages are sausage-shaped, but made with cheese

3. A Jerusalem artichoke is neither from Jerusalem nor an artichoke. It's an edible tuber from North America

4. A peanut is not a nut, it's a legume

5. Mock turtle soup is made with calf's head, beef and veal

6. A Salisbury steak is a hamburger

7. American coffee cake is a cake, but may not contain coffee; it refers to any cake made to be eaten with a cup of coffee

8. Poor man's caviar is made of aubergines (eggplants)

9. Scotch woodcock is anchovies and eggs on toast

10. Boston crab is a wrestling manoeuvre- oh my!

For more fun food facts check out The Cook's Companion published by Think Publishing.


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