This Week’s Minimalist: The Food Processor Rules!

Your food processor is the king of the kitchen. If you’re letting it collect dust under the counter read this column immediately. No joke, it can change the way you cook.

Posted in Behind The Scenes

Stuffed Indian Eggplant

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By Andrea Nguyen

There are many kinds of eggplants in Asia and the egg-shaped Indian variety is particularly wonderful. It peaks during hot months and as the season winds down, I make this terrific Indian recipe, which I learned from Ruta Kahate’s 5 Spices, 50 Dishes. You’ll find the Indian eggplants at South Asian markets as well as at some farmer’s markets where they’ll be sold by Asian farmers. In California where I live, Hmong farmers are my summer time go-to source for eggplants. They have a medium-thick skin and creamy flesh, and are much smaller than the regular globe variety. You can certainly grill them, but better yet, stuff them with a rich mixture of ground peanuts and sesame seeds and let them get kind of crusty. Serve warm or cold.

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Posted in Indian, Recipes

Politics of the Plate

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By Barry Estabrook

All’s Fair: Cloned Cow Wins Iowa 4-H Competition

One of my favorite events at our rural county’s annual agricultural fair is when the youthful 4-H club members show their prized cattle. Well-scrubbed teenagers clad in white shoes, white pants, and white shirts proudly lead their well-groomed bovines into the arena where they are judged and ribbons awarded. You almost expect to see a pipe-puffing Normal Rockwell peering from behind his easel on the sidelines.

I don’t think I would have gotten the same warm, nostalgic feeling at Iowa State Fair  a few weeks ago. Tyler Faber, age 17, took home the blue ribbon in the “Big Steer” category for a 1,320-pound behemoth named Doc. The beefy steer, it turned out, was a clone.

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Posted in Farming, Food Politics

Theo Hates, no, wait, Theo Loves Tofu

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By Sally Sampson  

Theo hates tofu.  

This shouldn’t surprise me, since Theo is nine. And like a lot of kids who didn’t grow up in Asian, vegan, vegetarian or hippy households, Theo, who is an otherwise adventurous, sophisticated eater, considers tofu a foreign, even a suspicious, food.  

Normally, I wouldn’t give this much thought. But that day, the “tofu problem” was a stumbling block, since I’d recruited Theo and eight other children to shoot the cooking sequences for issue two of ChopChop, a non-profit kids’ cooking magazine I’ve just launched with a few friends with the mission of encouraging nutritional literacy.  The shoot was well underway: my friend Sue’s house had been taken over by ChopChop staff, racks of colorful clothing, boxes of sneakers, piles of socks, crates and crates of tableware, cookware and props and shopping bags (recycled, of course) brimming with fresh ingredients. 

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Posted in Slow Food

Sunday Supper: Pan-Roasted Corn with Cherry Tomatoes

Make this while the corn and tomatoes are still at their peak (and they’re both pretty close). Serve with simply grilled or broiled meat, poultry, or fish, or just with some dressed greens and crusty bread. Adapted from How to Cook Everything.

Pan-Roasted Corn with Cherry Tomatoes

Makes: 4 servings

Time: 20 minutes

At some point in the summer, you may get sick of plain corn on the cob or even grilled corn; here’s the recipe to turn to then. Its fast, it’s easy, and it’s completely different; when browned like this, corn takes on a brand-new flavor. Other vegetables you can use in this recipe: shell peas.

6 ears fresh corn, shucked

1 tablespoon neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes

1 tablespoon minced shallot or white or red onion

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chopped fresh tarragon leaves for garnish

1. Use a knife to strip the kernels from the corn. It’s easiest if you stand the corn up in a shallow bowl and just cut down the length of each ear as many times as is necessary; you’ll quickly get the hang of it.

2. Put the oil in a large skillet over high heat. When hot, add the corn, tomatoes, and shallot; let sit for a moment. As the corn browns, shake the pan to distribute it so each kernel is deeply browned on at least one surface.

3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then stir in the tarragon; serve hot or at room temperature.

 

Posted in Produce, Recipes

Prosciutto and Melon, Like a Virgin

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By Kerri Conan 

Umpteen years ago my girlfriends and I ran with a bunch of guys in San Francisco we called “The O’s.” Nando. Carlo. Enzo. Veniero. Claudio. Paulo. Antonio. You get the drift. 

The O’s weren’t Italian-Americans; they were fellows who visited from Italy and stayed for a while. We met them while waiting tables, and we shared the common language of food and fun. On our days off we rode up to Napa on their motorcycles to taste wine or eat oysters at Tomales Bay. We’d pack a picnic and rent boats at San Pablo reservoir to swim and sunbathe. On foggy days we gathered at one of their flats and they would cook for us. The O’s turned me on to proscuitto and melon. 

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Posted in Italian, Recipes

A Cure for the Uncommon Salmon

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by Cathy Erway

What a luxurious working-day lunch. It’s casual and uncomplicated to make — an open-faced sandwich — but on top of this bread lies slices of home-cured wild-caught red Alaska salmon surrounded by jewels from the garden. Funny to think that cured salmon (not smoked, but similar in texture and taste, sans smokiness) was once a common luncheon meat for the working man before it became a delicacy. It’s produced through a quick and easy process of rubbing salt, sugar and other seasonings into the fish, and letting it draw out moisture over a couple days. So, fishermen of Scandinavia, or Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest, would use this method to make their fresh catches keep longer over time. Overfishing led to the rarity of this fish and now most salmon is farmed (and, to the connoisseur, tastes nothing like its wild brethren). Now, wild-caught salmon from the only sustainable fishery left in the world, Alaska, commands more than tenderloin on the market. So how did I get my hands on this stuff, and why am I sharing it with everyone for lunch? I caught wind of a wild-caught Alaskan salmon CSA, and signed up as soon as I could.

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Posted in Recipes, Seafood

Blue Potatoes and Organic Certification

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By Clotilde Hryshko

The following is the CSA newsletter I gave out during pickups the week of 8/30/10. 

Last year I finally found a blue flesh/blue skin potato that tasted great and was versatile in the kitchen.  I celebrated Labor Day with the CSA by giving them to you that week.  I continue the tradition again this year.  These Purple Majesty potatoes are excellent for potato salad, mashed, roasted, fried or any other use on a (expected) cool Labor Day weekend.  It’s also my not so subtle way of reminding you to honor the physical labor of others.

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Posted in Farming, Produce

Summer Veggie Burger Made to Order

I got a tweet a few hours ago asking for “the ultimate veggie burger” recipe. When the corn is still good (and it is), this recipe, adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, is pretty ultimate.

Midsummer Vegetable Burger

Makes: 4 to 6 servings

Time: 45 minutes

This light, colorful burger, which gets its crunch from corn, is terrific on a bun, especially with a little Salsa, Chile Mayonnaise, or Roasted Pepper Mayonnaise, or with sliced ripe tomatoes and drizzled with basil pesto.

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Posted in Recipes, Vegan

Politics of the Plate

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by Barry Estabrook

There’s Gotta be a Catch(share)

Wherever they have been implemented, so called “catch-share” management programs—which essentially give each fisherman an ownership stake of his quota of the legal catch instead of setting a fleet-wide annual limit—have proven good for fishermen, the fish they catch, and those of us who consume seafood. Catch-share systems have been shown to reduce the decline in fish populations in all areas of the world. So it was good news late last month when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) approved a catch-share plan for bottom-dwelling species caught off the Pacific coast.  

The old laws promoted what the industry calls “derby” fishing, where captains would race out to try to catch as much as possible as quickly as possible, regardless of weather or market conditions. The method was also wasteful, encouraging sloppy practices that led to large rates of bycatch (unintended and unmarketable species) and harvests that exceeded the legal limit. In a catch-share system, each fisherman is assured a certain amount of the catch. He can fish when and where he chooses. For consumers, it means a steady supply of local fresh fish, rather than a glut of seafood that has to be frozen or trucked to distant markets.  

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Posted in Food Politics