Don’t fear the artichoke. Here’s how to steam and conquer it

artichokes

Don’t fear the fierce-looking artichoke. Instead, learn to conquer and eat it. Here’s how. (Photo by Laura Groch)

It pains me to see food misused. I once nearly keeled over while watching a cooking-show host take some very fine lobsters, remove all the meat from the shells, then puree it, mix it with other stuff and pour it into a baking dish. Oh! what a terrible way to treat beautiful, succulent lobster meat!

Similarly, I was shocked to see on another show a vendor at an open-air market slicing all the leaves off an artichoke to reach the tender (and yes, delicious) heart. Oh! what a waste of tasty leaves!

But I can understand it — somewhat. You may be familiar with jarred artichoke hearts, Continue reading

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Too much arugula? Polenta to the rescue

Polenta With Arugula

Polenta With Arugula (topped with mushrooms I also had on hand) was a delicious solution to the problem of overabundance. (Photo by Laura Groch)

Can a Californian have too much arugula?

Well — maybe.

I’m a fan of this peppery little salad green, and one day at the supermarket I was seduced by the sight of a large plastic container of arugula  — one pound — on sale — for $1.69.

I could not resist.

So I brought it home. And I started adding handfuls to my salads.

Continue reading

Valentine’s Day cookies spread the love, too

Toffee Bars, Almond Roca Bars

Almond Roca Bars or Toffee Bars are a sweet way to show the love. Photo by Laura Groch

December was a bit of an unsettled month for us. A death in the family meant our Christmas celebrations were low-key.

Homebaked cookies are my usual contribution to holiday cheer. But I didn’t bake for myself, or friends, or family. Missed the annual cookie exchange, too.

But we did have some very nice homemade cookies at the funeral reception, Continue reading

Pumpkin mac and cheese needs some pumping up

Pumpkin Macaroni And Cheese

Pumpkin Macaroni And Cheese is colorful, but needs a bit more punch than fontina cheese can offer. A few frozen peas add a bit of color contrast. Photo by Laura Groch

It’s pumpkin’s season to shine, and why not? Full of nutrients, fiber and beta-carotene, it’s always a winner in the kitchen.

But sometimes it needs a little help.

I clipped a recipe recently for a Butternut Squash Macaroni And Cheese from Dr. Oz’s Continue reading

Berry simple, summery dessert (and gluten-free)

Sugar-and-liqueur-soaked fruit is an easy topper to cake or companion to ice cream. Photo by Laura Groch

Sugar-and-liqueur-soaked fruit is an easy topper to cake or companion to ice cream. Photo by Laura Groch

I recently brought this cool and easy fruit dessert to a warm-weather dinner party, where, I was happy to see, it was polished off, except for the “polite” spoonful left in the serving dish.

With berries and stone fruits in season now, this is a versatile option, especially if some of the guests, as in our group, must avoid gluten.

The dish started as a trifle — layers of liqueur-soaked pound cake, pudding, fruit — but I Continue reading

Save your green with easy-to-mix salad dressing

Inexpensive ingredients for a delicious salad dressing are already in your pantry. Photo by Laura Groch

Inexpensive ingredients for a delicious salad dressing are already in your pantry. All you need is a simple recipe like this one. Photo by Laura Groch

If you’ve been checking out my posts, you know I keep returning to certain themes: Thrift in the kitchen. Eating real food. Preparing food yourself so you know what’s in it.

So in this season of salads and cold dishes — and especially for the picnic-happy holiday that is July 4 — I wanted to bring you a recipe that hits all those notes.

It’s a simple recipe for an oil- and vinegar-based salad dressing (not the kind of white Continue reading

It’s spring, so let’s eat some flowers!

Tofu Lettuce Tacos With Cilantro And Mint

Tofu Lettuce Tacos With Cilantro And Mint from “Edible Flowers” by Kitty Morse. Photo by Mike Pawlenty.

I’ve been smelling the delicious scents of just-opening flowers on our evening walks with the dogs. Spring really is in the air!

So this is the perfect time for me to tell you that “Edible Flowers: A Kitchen Companion” by Vista cookbook author, teacher and expert Kitty Morse is in its second edition, published by Chefs Press. Kitty graciously let me share some of the recipes (and photos) from the new book. (Also, these two are vegetarian recipes, please note.)

All her books, by the way, feature beautiful photos to go with the recipes. And if you are at Continue reading