September 5, 2012
Okay, hear me out on this one. I know that dehydrating citrus zest isn’t nearly as widely practiced or ballyhooed as, say, making stock, but it should be. Think about all that orange juice we consume. All that fresh-squeezed lemon juice going into your vinaigrettes. The limes you squeeze over guacamole and Thai food.
Now think about how often you need lemon or lime zest for a completely different recipe, and have to go out and buy more citrus which sits in your fridge looking pale and naked after you’ve stripped it of zest.
The best way to get around this scenario is the waste-not-want-not method: just zest your citrus any time you’re going to use it for just its juice or flesh, and let the zest try out before bottling it and saving it. One minute of extra work and no fancy dehydrator necessary; since the bits of zest are so small and oily, they’ll dry out quite well on your counter. It doesn’t have the nose-smacking pungency of the fresh stuff, but it makes up for it by working its way into dishes you’d never think to pull out a whole lemon for — but since you’ve got a bottle of the stuff there on your shelf, well, why not?
Plus, it makes the house smell really good while it dries. Continue Reading
August 17, 2012
When we go to a carte-blanche meal and the server asks me if there’s anything I don’t eat, my answer’s simple: “raw onions.”
I was an extremely picky eater as a kid — being a spoiled only child will do that to you — but I have gotten over most of my food prejudices. After seeing the light about tomatoes, I have been systematically trying the foods I held a prejudice against, trying to present them in a way that would turn my disposition (read: covered in cheese and/or bacon and/or deep fried). Mushrooms are now my friends. Brussels sprouts are addictive when deep-roasted and covered in a sweet-spicy fish sauce dressing. Snails? Slather those bitches in butter and garlic and bring ’em on. But no matter how many variations I try of raw onions with not a wisp of heat put to them, I always wince and move them to the side of my plate.
It’s better than eating no onions at all, right? I can certainly get down with an onion ring now. I accept that sweated onions are essential for… well… almost everything, but soups certainly. But my favorite way of preparing onions is, unsurprisingly, the least oniony of all: it’s onions taken past mere cooking into candy-land.
August 14, 2012
Spinach, kale, chard, collards, beet greens, etc. etc. etc. We’re supposed to eat lots of them. They’re called “cooking greens” to differentiate them from the tender greens that are more commonly eaten raw.
Greens are not my forte. Carbs and protein are my jams. But hey, hardy leaf matter is necessary for a hardy body, so we’d better make it taste awesome and — this is the important part — more likely to get into all of our meals. That’s where these garlicky greens come in.
August 9, 2012
I used to hate tomatoes. No joke. When I was in high school, and well into college, I refused to eat fresh tomatoes unless absolutely necessary. I was fine with tomato products — after all, what kind of person eats a white pizza anyway? — but present me with a sandwich with fresh tomato and I would pick out any offending slices.
Wrong. I was so, so wrong.
I saw the light when I was presented with a slice of salt-and-peppered black brandywine tomato at the Santa Monica farmer’s market. This was nothing like the anemic specimens I was used to seeing at the grocery store. Richly red and green and brown, it promised real flavor, not the bland wateriness of the tomatoes of my past. Chew, chew, swallow, and I was a changed girl.