• Cracking Up (1/14/2015)

    walnuts-and-shellsLosing your marbles?  Laughing hysterically, at something not quite funny?  Maybe… Does it matter?  I decided, a long time ago, it didn’t matter in the least!

    Embrace your ‘Nutty’ side and bring more NUTS into your culinary repertoire.  Walnuts, in particular, can be a wonderful addition, to both sweet and savory dishes.  They also bring Omega-3 fatty acid and a decent amount of protein to “the table”.

    I find it relaxing to hand-shell nuts, like these.  Grab a handy nut cracker and start cracking those big shells!  You may find a certain sense of timeless contentment or…maybe you might want to use this task for a little stress relief, for those annoyances you may have internalized.  Yes, cooking can be quite therapeutic!

    Whether smashing things brings you joy or you’d rather just slide into a bag and pull out some treasure, walnuts are easy to work with.  They add a wake up of bitterness, lovely texture and the element of surprise in many dishes.

    You have probably seen them used in salads.  All of the elements discussed in the prior paragraph make them a great choice for this.

    Walnuts are wonderful, as the primary, or as a secondary component in sauces.  Consider them when working with apples, beets, blue veined cheeses, carrots, eggplant, figs, grains, greens, mushrooms, pastas, pesto and winter squashes, to name just a handful of ideas to consider.

    So, maybe you are nuts, but you’re a fabulous Cook!  Enjoy!! Chef Celinda

  • My Love Affair… (1/9/2015)

    castelvetranosI must confess, I LOVE Castelvetrano Olives… Such beauty!  Such a satisfying object to adore!

    Castelvetrano olives are named for their provenance, a town and comune of the same name in Trapani, Sicily, Italy.

    This olive is actually not cured, but processed in a similar fashion to California’s black olives.  This is why this beauty has such a lovely bright green hue.  You must keep them refrigerated, should you want to prolong their existence in your home.  That is, if you can resist eating every last one the moment you open the package…

    The flavor is sweet and a bit fruity; tasting truly like good olive oil.

    Enjoy them with your favorite bold Italian cheese, good quality cold cuts, or alone with a glass of wine.  They are an excellent ingredient for tapenade, with their delightful flavor and incredible color.  You can include them in many recipes, too.  Just crush to remove the pit and chop.  Super easy.  This olive wants to be loved!

  • Play With Your Food (1/9/2015)

    ChicoriesYes, I highly recommend playing with your culinary cohorts!  Get to know one another!  Have FUN!!

    This colorful pair of playmates are both from the Chicory family.  These are some excellent ingredients with which to invigorate your Winter diet!

    The frivolous greenery to the right is Frisee; aptly named.  Frisee is a fine leafed relative of curly endive.  It has a nice bitter, yet slightly sweet flavor.  You can eat it raw, in a salad featuring, possibly a favorite, full flavored cheese, nuts, eggs, mustard, or citrus.  Additionally, it is excellent as a wilted salad!  Frisee can also be braised.  I think I might endeavor to create a recipe using this frolicsome ingredient tonight!

    The luscious purple/red orb to the left is Radicchio.  You might have read my recent post featuring a warm radicchio salad.  This highly versatile chicory hales from Italy.  It also has the bitter notes, typical of this genus.  You will find Radicchio to have a subtle earthy quality in it’s flavor profile.  I particularly enjoy cooking it with vinegars, like Balsamic.  The cooking process brings out a wonderful sweetness, that is enhanced by the acids of the vinegar.  You might also try dressing wedges of Radicchio with oil, vinegar, salt and pepper then grilling for another addictive flavor!

    For more ideas on ingredients to use with these lovely ingredients, I recommend Karen Page’s book ‘The Vegetarian Flavor Bible’Karen does a phenomenal job of giving us endless ways to combine and create with these and 1000’s of other ingredients!

    So get out there and PLAY with your FOOD!  Chef Celinda

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