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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It’s bean time again, plus green

limapoppers-copy

Lima bean poppers from the San Dieguito Heritage Museum’s Lima Bean Festival 2015. Photo by Laura Groch

The San Dieguito Heritage Museum in Encinitas is holding its free annual festival  from noon-4 p.m. Oct. 8. That’s this Saturday.

I’ll be helping judge the entries (and entrees), which will have a broader reach now, since the festival has morphed from being all about the limas to a Beans and Greens theme this year. Even when it was limited to limas, that didn’t stop people from coming up with lima 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

Easy, hearty shepherd’s pie takes the edge off winter

shepherd's pie

A scoop of piping-hot shepherd’s pie will warm you on a cold evening. Photo by Laura Groch

Wet, wintry weather makes me want hearty, hot meals. Soups and stews come to mind, warming the kitchen as they cook and warming the body as we eat.

The humble but sturdy shepherd’s pie also fills the bill. This is an easy-to-make, forgiving dish that can be as economical or as extravagant as your budget allows.

It’s also extremely flexible: You can use whatever’s at hand without having to rigidly adhere to a list of ingredients, which freaks out some cooks.

(And p.s., looking ahead to Super Bowl feeds, this would be just as bowl-worthy as chili for your crew.)

My pie — baked in a casserole dish, not necessarily a pie plate (see? flexible) — Continue reading

When life gives you portobellos and peppers, sauté them

portobello mushrooms, onions, peppers, tomatoes

Portobello mushrooms are great in a stir-fry fajita-style with peppers, onions and tomatoes. Photo by Laura Groch

Necessity is the mother of invention, and sometimes bargains can be the parents of creativity. Especially in the kitchen.

I snagged a package of three portobello mushroom caps for 99 cents in the marked-down produce section of my supermarket recently. I knew portobellos were expensive, so this was truly a deal. But if you can’t figure out what to do with your deal, it’s money down the drain.

I also picked up a bag of three bell peppers for 99 cents. Hmmm. I had Continue reading

Here’s a scoop — make your own chocolate syrup

So. Hot. Need. Ice. Cream.

You can easily make your own chocolate syrup with just five ingredients. Photo by Laura Groch

You can easily make your own chocolate syrup with just five ingredients. Photo by Laura Groch

With chocolate syrup, of course.
Here’s how to make chocolate syrup on the cheap, and without any artificial ingredients.
One of the things I like to do in this blog is to offer easier, cheaper ways to make food. We used to call them helpful hints; today they’re called “kitchen hacks.” (Whatevs.) It’s all still about saving money and time, and sometimes making things a bit more healthful.
I know: What’s so healthy about chocolate syrup? It’s full of sugar. Well, OK — too much sugar is bad for you, so please don’t eat the entire potful of chocolate syrup I’m going to show you how to make. (One pot is not 1 serving.)

Continue reading