All Posts In In Season

Herb of the Month: Parsley

by in In Season, April 1, 2012

parsley
Spring is in the air and fresh herbs are in season, readily available at grocery stores, farmer’s markets and home gardens. We’re starting the season by celebrating a quintessential green herb: parsley. Did you know it was traditionally added to plates as a way to freshen breath after meals?

Parsley Basics
This green Mediterranean herb is part of the Umbelliferae family along with carrots and celery. The parsley plant prefers to grow in rocky areas. There are more than 30 varieties of the herb with the most popular being the stronger flavored “flat” leaf (AKA Italian) and the milder “curly” leaf.

Parsley is grown worldwide. In the U.S., it’s mostly grown commercially in California and Florida. Curled parsley is available all-year while Italian parsley may sometimes be more difficult to find.

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Market Watch: Winter Produce

by in Farmers' Market Finds, February 21, 2012
winter produce
Winter CSA shares can provide fresh, local produce, even in the dead of winter.

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can’t get your hands on local produce. Eating locally year round is easier if you live in California or Florida but here’s how I do it in Connecticut.

Farmers Markets Finds
Farmers are extra good at holding on to their harvests. If you didn’t turn your own summer bounty into a winter-friendly form, stop by a local farm or winter market to find baked goods, pickles, honey, jams and relish.

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In Season: Brussels Sprouts

by in In Season, January 19, 2012

brussels sprouts
Pick up a bunch of these little green beauties on your next trip to the market. Not sure how to cook them? We’ve got simple recipes to get you started, plus some fun facts for Brussels sprout connoisseurs.

What, Where & When?
Thought to have been cultivated in 16th century Belgium, Brussels sprouts are part of the cabbage family and actually look like mini heads of cabbage. Many rows of sprouts grow on a single two to three foot long stalk. The sprouts are usually ½ to 1 ½-inches in diameter. Smaller sprouts are more tender than larger ones.  They have a strong nutty or earthy flavor and can be slightly bitter. Their peak season is from late August through March.

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30 Days of Sweet Potatoes

by in In Season, November 5, 2011
sweet potatoes
One easy way to cook sweet potatoes: wrap 'em in foil.

Mashed with marshmallows on top isn’t the only way to enjoy sweet potatoes. Here are 30 ways to enjoy sweet potatoes while they’re in season (and not just on Thanksgiving!):

1.    These tubers are not technically potatoes – get the sweet facts.

2.    No need to buy organic – sweet potatoes are #13 on the Clean Fifteen produce list.

3.    Combine leftover sweet potatoes with a few simple ingredients for an entirely new meal: Sweet Potato Soup.

4.    Toss cooked potatoes, crunchy veggies and vinaigrette dressing for a colorful take on potato salad.

5.    Make a smoky and spicy mash with chipotle peppers.

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Herb of the Month: Rosemary

by in In Season, November 4, 2011
rosemary
This herb will add loads of flavor without extra calories.

Fresh herbs are becoming tougher to find as the weather becomes colder. Luckily, rosemary is still available, so grab a bunch while you still can!

Rosemary Basics
This symbol of love and fidelity is a member of the mint family. It has needle-shaped leaves that are very fragrant with hints of both pine and lemon. Rosemary is native to the Mediterranean, but today is grown in France, Spain, and the United States where California is the main grower of the herb. Popular varieties for cooking include “Tuscan Blue,” “Spice Island,” and “Miss Jessup.”

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Cook This Now: Garlicky Broccoli Rabe

by in Cookbooks, In Season, November 2, 2011
broccoli rabe
6-minute side dish.

I see a lot of cookbooks — that’ll happen when you work for Food Network — and even though there’s a stack of new books on my desk threatening to topple over, I still get excited when I get a really good, new cookbook. The cookbooks that excite me are the ones filled with healthy, seasonal recipes, especially those with a lot of vegetable dishes because I don’t eat meat. Food writer, NY Times columnist and cookbook author  Melissa Clark‘s book, Cook This Now was one that excited me. So much so that it made it home to my kitchen, and not the teetering, 4-foot cookbook pile on my desk.

The book is organized by month, and each month has 10 recipes using ingredients that are at their peak that month. The setup is helpful for obvious reason: it’s easy to figure out what’s freshest and what to shop for at farmers’ markets, but there was an unexpected bonus to the month-by-month organization. Usually when I get a great cookbook, I leaf through the whole thing, flagging dozens of recipes I must make, then can’t decide what to make first. When I cracked open Cook This Now, I jumped right to November. I was tempted by the Butternut Squash Risotto With Pistachios and Lemon, the Honey Whole Wheat Corn Bread and the Roasted Acorn Squash, Honey, Smoked Paprika, and Sage Salt, but last night just happened to get a big bunch of broccoli rabe in my CSA, so was eager to turn that into dinner.

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Apple Recipes for Every Variety

by in In Season, October 29, 2011
bakedapplecrisptop
Sunny Anderson bakes apples and oats for a seasonal dessert.

Now apple season is in full swing, there’s even more reason to get your “apple a day”—and then some. According to the US Apple Association, US orchards produce nearly 100 varieties of apples, but 15 varieties make up about 90 percent of production. Those 15 include Braeburn, Crispin, Empire, Fuji, Gala, Ginger Gold, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Honey Crisp, Idared, Jonagold, Jonathan, McIntosh, Red Delicious, and Rome apples. For more details on their respective taste and textures, check out the US apple association’s chart

In October, Braeburn, Crispin, Idared, and Jonagold apples are just starting their harvest season. While most apple varieties stay in season for many months, harvest for the Ginger gold ends in Novermber, so grab them while you can!

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How Can You Tell if a Pear is Ripe?

by in In Season, October 14, 2011
bartlett pear
Barlett pears. Image courtesy of USA Pears.

If you’ve ever bitten into a pear, heard a crunching sound, but didn’t really taste the sweetness you might have expected, chances are it wasn’t quite ripe. A little-known fact about pears: They’re one of the few fruits that don’t ripen on the tree. Once they’re picked,they need a little time for their sugars to develop, then they ripen (and sweeten) from the inside out. 

Some pear varieties change color when ripe. A Bartlett pear acts like a banana—it goes from green to yellow when ready to eat.  Unfortunately, not all pears broadcast this transformation so vividly. Checking ripeness doesn’t involve some complicated process however; it really just calls for holding the fruit in your hand. If the area around the stem of a pear gives a little with a gentle squeeze, it’s good to go. The USA Pear Bureau has an easy phrase for remembering how to determine if your pear is ripe: Check the neck.

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Market Watch: Early Butternut Squash, and a Butternut Squash Focaccia Recipe

by in Farmers' Market Finds, October 5, 2011

butternut squash
Typically winter squash isn’t ready until mid-October, but I get to enjoy it extra early since I grow this special variety in my garden.

While it’s too late now to plant it in your garden, put these seeds on your list for next year. Be on the lookout for it at the local farmers’ market too, its name is simple to remember, it’s actually called Early Butternut Squash. The sweet and tender squash will be ready to eat as early as August and the plant will keep producing through October. Make soup, add roasted chunks to pasta or make this crowd-pleasing foccacia recipe.

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31 Days of Pumpkins

by in In Season, October 3, 2011
alton brown's pumpkin bread
What to Do With Pumpkins idea #15: make Alton Brown's pumpkin bread.

Whether it’s for dinner, dessert or carving Jack-o-lanterns, nothing says fall quite like shiny orange pumpkins. We’ve got ideas for every day of the month.

1.    Check out your local farm or farmers’ market for unique varieties like “Oz” or “Spooktakular”

2.    Did you know? Pumpkins can be found in different colors, like orange, green and white.

3.    Find out where the “pumpkin capital” of the United States is.

4.    When you’re at the pumpkin patch – choose pumpkins with smooth, hard skin that are free of bruises or blemishes.

5.    It’s not pumpkin season until you make Pumpkin Pie – try our slimmed down recipe.

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