They were once worshipped by the Egyptians, considered sacred by the Aztecs, found in King Tut’s tomb and were mentioned in the Old Testament. First cultivated about 10,000 years ago, grains played a key role in turning prehistoric communities from hunter gatherers into farmers, helping usher in the creation of settlements and spurring population growth. Much more recently, grains have become a potent food trend, with case shipments of whole-grain products to U.S. outlets jumping by double digits. Continue reading
Category Archives: Ingredients
(Published by South Bay Accent magazine in May, 2019)
Farmers markets have been supplying towns and villages with fresh produce for eons, with these lively bazaars feeding citizens worldwide as well as serving as social institutions in the community. Thomas Jefferson reportedly bought his meat, eggs and vegetables in the early 1800s at a Georgetown farmers market and billions of less-renowned individuals have historically relied on such operations. But unlike in Europe and Asia, farmers markets in America dwindled away as industrialization rose, farms got fewer and larger and bureaucracies interceded.
Gail Hayden helped change that. Continue reading
(Published by South Bay Accent magazine in August, 2018)
One of the world’s most addictive carbs is pasta, from the dried, boiled spaghetti with red sauce from a jar that busy moms serve their hungry kids to exquisitely handmade noodles enveloped by made-from-scratch sauce in fine restaurants. Although it’s abundantly available in markets everywhere — typically dried or mass produced — pasta purists often seek out the fresh, local variety. A must-have on Italian restaurant menus, pasta has slithered its delicious way into the happy mouths of patrons in many high-end restaurants in general, where a pasta dish or two is now common. Continue reading
Albacore Crudo with Strawberries and Nuoc Cham
This is a simple, absolutely wonderful recipe if you have super-fresh fish and want a quick way to prepare it. Besides being utterly delicious, it’s pretty and lends itself well to adaptations. For the uninitiated, “crudo” is the same concept as sashimi except the preparation is as varied as the cook’s imagination. While nominally an Italian dish, it’s prepared in all kinds of ways by fancy chefs and home cooks. In my dish, the richness of the fish is underscored by the light, slightly citrusy sauce with its Asian flavors, which I pump up a bit with the barest drizzle of lime oil. The sweet/tart pop of strawberries goes quite well with this. Even if using strawberries with fish sounds weird to you, try it anyway and you won’t be sorry. Or use pomegranate seeds. Continue reading
Once harvested commercially until few were left in the wild, California red abalone is so delicious that demand is ongoing. Now the farmed abalone available at two Bay Area operations is said to taste even better than the wild kind and is a “best choice” according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch. Find out where to buy it in the Bay Area and learn about its interesting history. Read all about it on KQED’s Bay Area Bites here.
Cauliflower is definitely having a moment, being discovered in recent years by chefs and home cooks who resonate with its mild, goes-with-anything flavor and appealing texture. I love, love this veggie and cook it frequently, including making up recipes using a relatively new offering from Trader Joe’s called “riced” cauliflower that looks a lot like the grain and can be whipped up as a non-starchy substitute. TJ’s also sells riced broccoli but I prefer the white stuff.
Thus I was primed to like a new recipe from UK-based Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi that appeared in Bon Appetit that is the best thing I’ve tried from this popular cookbook author. The dish consists of “steaks” of thick-cut cauliflower with a puree of the veggie underneath, punched up with a “salsa” of walnuts, capers, parsley and currants that takes the delightful dish into new territories of delicious. Continue reading
(Published by South Bay Accent magazine in October, 2016.)
It may often be called “liquid gold” but olive oil actually comes in a range of luscious hues from pale yellow to deep green, with an exquisite range of aromas and flavors that vary from oil to oil — grassy, acidic, buttery, bitter, floral, fruity, nutty, spicy and more. This agricultural crop is booming in Northern California, where some have said it’s starting to parallel our state’s thriving wine-grape sector while being heralded by foodies and health professionals as a beneficial, delicious substance. And like wine, it can be challenging to select an olive oil due to the abundant choices available as well as controversies that have muddled the minds of many consumers regarding what should be an essential culinary staple. Fortunately, it’s easy to get savvy about olive oil in the South Bay and beyond, including tasting this wondrous product right where it’s made. Continue reading