Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Bac Ha Vegetable: About, How to Eat & Recipe Ideas

Bac Ha: Vegetable Superstar

With the massive universe of vegetables now available in most communities, it's time to venture outside of your food galaxy and do some interstellar travel. Set aside the staid vegetables of your mother's cupboards and live a little! Variety, as they say, is the spice of life.

Enter the fleshy vegetable known as bạc hà in southern Vietnam, also known as "dọc mùng"in northern Vietnam, "taro stem," "to-ran" (Korean), "giant elephant ear," "Colocasia gigantea," "Indian Taro," and "hasu-imo" in Japan. (Note: In northern Vietnam, bạc hà refers to a minty herb).

Read on for selection, storage, and recipe ideas!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Bengali Bottle Gourd Curry Recipe

Vegetarian Bottle Gourd (Opo Squash) Recipe

Wait...an Opo Squash Recipe?

That's right! After my exciting acquisition of an Opo Squash prompted me to share info and how-to's about this culinary workhorse, I decided to share an easy and tasty Opo Squash recipe.

After copious searching, I settled on what to make with my opo. A recipe from Rice N' Curry, Lau Doga Sukto - Bottle Gourd Stew, served as my template. I made some changes to the recipe for the sake of convenience, including swapping out hard-to-find ingredients for supermarket-handy ones. Thus adapted, I found it to be a light, tasty addition to my recipe repertoire -- a dish I'd happily make again.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Bottle Gourd (lauki, opo squash): Recipes & How to Eat


What can I say? My desire to try new raw ingredients has led me yet again to a new vegetable I've never tried before: Opo Squash. I picked it up on a run to the Ranch 99 store, which carries foods used in a variety of Asian cuisines.

As you can see, this is no small squash to mess with -- it's about a foot long and at least a good 4 or 5 pounds. Gigantic in terms of the closest common vegetable that comes to mind - a zucchini - but relatively underweight compared to, say, a newborn.

Upon bringing the opo squash (aka bottle gourd) home with my other haul of obscure (to me, at least) ingredients, I quickly got to work learning about it. Read on for notes on selection, storage, uses, recipes, and one recipe I decided to try!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Jujube Fruits (Red Dates): About and How to Eat


Jujubes! No, not the candy...

Welcome to another episode of "Fun, Weird Fruits"! While people who shop in Chinese markets will likely be familiar with jujube fruits (aka "red dates"), most of those who stick to the typical western grocery stores won't have encountered them.

For those not in the know: Jujube fruits have been cultivated in China for thousands of years. Although they are sometimes called "red dates," they aren't related to dates. They grow on a deciduous tree that sports shiny oval leaves, naturally drooping limbs and thorny branches.

Read on for selection notes, how to eat Jujubes, and a few recipe ideas.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Lemon Cucumber: About & Recipe Ideas

I'm a sucker for uncommon fruits and vegetables, often buying them without knowing what they are and then researching them and finding out how to use them.

With spring upon us and avid gardeners everywhere sharpening their shovels (myself included), it seems like the perfect time to kick off a new type of post: the weird vegetable and fruit showcase.

While this isn't the first such post (cue the Jackfruit post of 2013), it certainly won't be the last -- you can expect to see at least a handful of similar posts this year. Each uncommon food showcase will include some background info about the item, as well as a recipe idea or two in case you can find something similar near you!

Keep reading for the dirt on lemon cucumbers,  including why it's better than a traditional cucumber, where to get seeds, how to know when it's ripe, and recipe ideas.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Jackfruit Recipes & How to Eat Jackfruit

This jackfruit, about the size of a watermelon, was the smallest one at the store.

I have a lot to say about jackfruit in this post! So please jump to any of the following sections below:
  • A story about my acquisition of the jackfruit above (jump there!)
  • Information about jackfruit nutrition, flavor, and appearance (jump there!)
  • A step-by-step explanation of how to cut open and how to eat jackfruit raw (jump there!)
  • How to cook jackfruit seeds (jump there!)
  • A list of links to jackfruit recipes and my thoughts on the ones I made (jump there!)

Procuring my Jackfruit

Okay, time to get honest, folks. I didn't know jack about jackfruit until I bought one this summer from my favorite San Francisco Chinatown fresh market. I wasn't even there to get a jackfruit! I was hunting down a breadfruit!

Yes, I am a spelunker of foreign fresh markets and mysterious tropical fruits are the cave bats of my dreams. So to say.

It was mid-summer and I had spent a pleasant morning in San Francisco's Japantown catching up with a friend over tea. The teahouse was delightfully girlish, like playing at teatime inside a dollhouse.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Dandelion Green Salad with Pecans and Roasted Beets

All photos in this post courtesy of the talented Ellen Kyle.
Starting in the spring and continuing throughout most of summer, fresh, farm-raised dandelion greens make periodic appearances in stores and farmers' markets.  These farm-raised greens are often less bitter and more tender than their lawn-grown cousins. Plus, they're guaranteed to be free of lawn pesticides and other unwanted substances that might find their way onto locally-foraged morsels. :)

I got my hands on some fresh dandelion greens and set to work to make the delicious salad pictured above. Read on for the health benefits of dandelion greens, culinary tricks that will help you balance their bitterness when composing salads, and the recipe for the dandelion green salad I made.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Oven Roasted Blue Potatoes with Hemp Seed and Fresh Herbs (paleo)

Photography & Styling Credit for all photos in this post: The lovely and multi-talented Ellen Kyle of Found & Created (an innovative floral / paper / design studio). Check out her amazing work!
Roasted potatoes: So simple, yet so very tasty. Their complex, mouth-watering aroma belies their simple preparation. And you can quickly add dimension to this simple side dish via a handful of fresh herbs: texture, bright color, and a summery, herbaceous flavor. A handful of hulled hemp seeds provide healthy omega 3 fats. 

Why blue potatoes? Just for the heck of it! I'm always happy to be one dish further from a common fate: a plate of brown food. Ditch those sepia tones. Live in color! This is an easy recipe that takes care of itself while you work on the main dish, and it's versatile; you can dress it up with a variety of fresh flavors.

Read on for notes and ideas for using fresh herbs, instructions for roasting potatoes, and a recipe for making the tasty salad pictured in this post!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Paleo Sweet Potato Recipe: Pommes Anna with Sweet Potatoes

cutting into paleo sweet potatoes anna
Paleo Sweet Potato Recipe: Pommes Anna.
Photography & Styling Credit to the lovely and talented Ellen Kyle of Found & Created (an innovative floral / paper / design studio) for all photos in this post. It was a fun photo shoot!
This sweet potato dish is a great comfort food: a delicious baked pommes anna made with sweet potatoes. It's incredibly versatile in terms of the flavors it can host, spanning from a dessert-like side dish that could practically be served with ice cream to one with full-on savory seasonings. Bonus for my paleo readers, it's paleo! (By most definitions.)

I've seasoned the dish with port-soaked plums, salt, and pepper in the photos above, though I also list several other approaches to seasoning in the recipe below.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Paleo Nut and Berry Granola Bars

In my ongoing search for a tasty snack bar/granola bar/energy bar that is paleo-friendly, I put this grain-free granola bar recipe to the test. 

The previous energy bar recipes I've tested are held together almost entirely by dried fruit (Lemon Coconut Cashew Bars and Apricot, Pecan & Chocolate Energy Bars). Ultimately, they were more akin to Larabars than granola bars. As a result, some of my taste-testing friends found them too sweet.

These aren't quite as sweet as the previous two recipes: they are held together with a little honey (sticky), some coconut oil (solid at room temperature), and a LOT of physical pressure.