Wondering what to do with the latest seasonal foods? Here’s a partial record of what we’ve been eating ourselves.
I’ve always been drawn to bitty things: baby carrots, mini-muffins, and decorative teaspoons. So when I spotted adorable baby artichokes spilling out of a bin at the farmers’ market, I was easily and quickly persuaded to buy a dozen.
The catch was that I’d never previously prepared artichokes; I’d only ever spooned them from a can into pastas and salads for quick, easy artichoke enjoyment. After all, as Kelly Myers points out in her column on how to prepare an artichoke, prepping mature artichokes requires guidance and time.
Fortunately, preparing baby artichokes isn’t such a daunting task. They’re still thistles with stiff outer leaves, but these leaves easily pull off to reveal the prize: a tender, pale yellow-green heart.
Continue reading Artichokes »
The pickup: It’s citrus season, so I picked up a few grapefruit from my neighborhood grocer. Yellow, red, or a pinkish in-between, I love the bright, tangy flavor of grapefruit; I like slicing one in half and broiling it with a sprinkling of brown sugar for breakfast.
The results: This time, though, I wanted to break out of my grapefruit rut. I happened upon a feed talking up a traditional Texas dish of grapefruit pie and later an Epicurious recipe for the same dish.
But I’m eating alone this week and knew I wouldn’t be able to (and shouldn’t!) consume a whole pie by myself. So I continued my search until I found a Martha Stewart recipe for grapefruit risotto.
Continue reading Grapefruit »
The pickup: Huge and bulbous, with a knobby, wrinkled skin, celeriac (also known as celery root) is one ugly duckling. But celery root is a versatile vegetable with a delicate flavor somewhere between celery, parsley, and artichokes. Its flesh is reminiscent of potatoes; unlike spuds, however, celery root can be eaten both raw and cooked, making it equally suitable for crunchy salads and creamy soups.
The results: Celeriac is perhaps best known as the main ingredient in the classic French salad known as céleri rémoulade. I wanted to try a twist on this famous dish in Gourmet magazine incorporating parsley and fennel. (Food & Wine also offers a version of this bistro salad featuring pears and walnuts.)
Continue reading Celeriac »
The pickup: In season from early October into early April, chard is arguably the most eye-catching winter vegetable; with its rich green leaves and stems the color of pomegranate seeds, each bunch appears inspired by holiday color schemes.
On appearance alone, I’d fallen under chard’s spell. But I didn’t know how to prepare it, with its occasionally thick leaves and tough stems.
The results: The easiest way to prepare chard is to strip the leaves from the stems and make a quick stir-fry out of it, cooking the stems first and then wilting the leaves. Dressed with a bit of vinegar or a squeeze of lemon, it’s a great winter side dish.
Continue reading Chard »
The pickup: A pound of bitty, brightly hued kumquats.
The results: I’ve always regarded kumquats with a decorative eye rather than a culinary one. But these tiny winter fruits (which look like miniature oval oranges) have a distinct tart flavor. And unlike most citrus, kumquats’ sweetness is in their skins, not their flesh, so there’s no peeling required.
The New York Times suggests tossing small slices of fresh kumquat into salads or adding them to braises for their acidic punch. And many recipes I found called for candied kumquats, which are very easy to make.
Continue reading Kumquats »
The pickup: I’d been crunching on apples for snacks and slicing crisp pears atop my salads for weeks before quinces — a relative of both apples and pears — caught my eye at a farmers’ market.
I’d only ever tasted quince in membrillo, the classic Spanish paste typically served with Manchego cheese. Membrillo is delicious, but it’s hard to comprehend how that thick pink preserve comes out of such large, hard, odd-shaped, fuzzy fruits. So I bought three quinces and brought them home, determined to make something different.
The results: My choices were limited by the fact that quince is too dry, too tart, and too tough to eat raw. So I turned toward baked dishes. Inspired by an old recipe from Sunset magazine, I decided to substitute quince for half of the apples in my favorite version of apple crisp.
Continue reading Quirky quinces »
The pickup: Jerusalem artichokes, also known as sunchokes, are pretty darn ugly. But after tasting these knobby, gnarled roots at a cooking class last winter, I decided that their appearance is deceiving.
Sunchokes are actually a type of sunflower whose flavor closely resembles jicama or water chestnut. They’re a great source of inulin (a carbohydrate linked with good intestinal health) and are high in vitamin C, potassium, and iron.
The results: I bought a pound of sunchokes at a local grocery store and pulled out the recipe packet from my cooking class. Jerusalem artichokes are commonly puréed into a thick, creamy soup. But they’re also delicious when fried into latkes. Their simple taste makes them very versatile.
Continue reading All choked up »
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