by Toby Amidor in Healthy Recipes, Why We Love, December 25, 2012
by Toby Amidor in Why We Love, September 28, 2012
Roasting chestnuts over an open fire may seem cliché, but it’s one of the best ways to enjoy this sweet nut.
Chestnuts have a dark outer shell that ranges in color from light brown to blackish. The outer skin is pretty thin and easy to cut with a knife. The nut inside is covered with a bitter inner skin called a pellicle, which should be peeled before eaten.
Fresh chestnuts are available from September through February. Most are imported from around the world from countries like Italy, China, Spain and Korea.
Watch how chestnuts go from field to plate in this FoodNetwork.com video.
by Toby Amidor in Why We Love, June 30, 2012
My friends and family can attest that olives are one of my all-time favorite foods. I heart olives in my morning omelet, chopped into my Israeli-Style Salad and when sipping on a cold brew. There’s no wrong time to munch on this salty, briny fruit.
Olives date back to biblical times where the olive branch was a symbol of peace. These gems were thought to have originated in the Mediterranean, tropical and central Asia and several parts of Africa. Olive trees were first seen in California in the late 1700s.
Olives grow on trees, have one pit in the center, and contain oil in their flesh. In order to extract their oil the olives must be pressed. The difference between a green and black olive is their degree of ripeness: black olives are the most ripe. Fresh olives picked right off the tree are inedible and must be prepared with brine, salt or cured in olive oil before being consumed.
Some of the most popular varieties include Manzanillo, Mission, Rubra, Sevillano and Gordal. Mission is most commonly used for cold-pressed olive oil from California and Gordal is a very popular table olive from Spain.
Today, over 90% of the world’s olive oil production comes from Spain, Italy, Tunisia, Turkey, Greece, Syria, Morocco and Portugal.
by Toby Amidor in Why We Love, January 20, 2012
For years my culinary students have told me how much they love shrimp. They’re pretty surprised when I tell them that these crustaceans are not only delicious, but good for you too! Here’s why we love shrimp and how you can too.
90% of the shrimp Americans consume is imported from countries in the Central and South America and Asia-Pacific regions. The hundreds of species of shrimp are typically divided into 2 basic categories: warm-water and cold-water shrimp. The rule of thumb is the colder the water, the smaller and juicier the shrimp.
Shrimp ranges in hue from deep red to pink to grayish-white to yellow and even dark green. When cooked, most shrimp shells change color due to a heat-induced chemical change.
You can buy shrimp according to their size—usually you’ll find that larger shrimp cost a prettier penny. Colossal shrimp usually come 10 or less per pound, jumbo 11-15 per pound, extra-large 16-20 per pound, large 21-30 per pound, medium 31-35 per pound, small 36-45 per pound and miniature about 100 per pound. Of course, these numbers can vary from region to region. As a general rule, one pound of whole, raw shrimp yields ½ to ¾ pound of cooked meat.
Shrimp is available all year round. They can be found in various forms at your local market such as shelled or unshelled, cooked or raw and fresh or frozen.
by Toby Amidor in In Season, Tomatoes, Why We Love, August 23, 2011
- We love this stuff.
From ooey gooey grilled cheese sandwiches to fancy shmancy cheese and crackers, there are so many ways to love cheese. Worried about your waistline? We’ll tell you how you can incorporate all types of cheeses in a healthy and enjoyable way.
When I was growing up, my parents owned a cheese store on Chambers Street in New York City. There were so many cheeses, I couldn’t keep them straight but it was sure fun sneaking a taste every time I sliced a piece for a customer. Luckily I learned a thing or two while working for my parents about the various cheeses.
Cheese is categorized by their texture as unripened (or fresh) and ripened. Unripened cheeses are usually slightly tangy with a mild and creamy texture. They include cream cheese, mascarpone, mozzarella and ricotta.
Ripened cheeses can be categorized as soft, semi-soft, firm or hard. Soft cheese is characterized by thin skins and creamy centers. Brie, camembert and boursin are three of the more popular varieties. Semi-soft cheeses include many mild flavored varieties that have a smooth and easily sliceable texture. They include fontina, gorgonzola, Havarti, Roquefort and stilton.
Firm cheeses are usually either similar to the consistency of cheddar or they’re dense and holey like emmenthaler. Some other popular firm varieties are manchego, jarlsberg, monetary jack and provolone. Hard cheeses are carefully aged for a long period of time and are less moist than the other cheeses. Varieties include asiago, parmesan and pecorino romano.
- Tomatoes. We love 'em. (Who doesn't?)
For all you die-hard tomato fans, these babies are now in season! We’ve dedicated this week to celebrating these red gems. Pick some up during your next visit to the farmers’ market and whip up some tomato-licious recipes.
Tomatoes were introduced to Italy in the early 16th century but many folks feared they were poisonous since they belonged to the nightshade family (peppers, potatoes and eggplant also belong to this family). The French, however, felt differently about tomatoes and called them “pomme d’amour” (a.k.a. love apples). Colonists who settled in Virginia brought tomatoes with them, but they didn’t become popular until the 19th century.
Tomatoes are technically a fruit since they grow on vines. They come in various shapes, sizes and colors, too. Don’t be fooled into thinking they should all be round —check out some of the crazy tomato finds out there. Read more