pro­duce preparation

  • Bright & Tangy

    Tart and tangy, with an under­ly­ing sweet­ness, win­ter grape­fruit offer bright­ness to the cold days of Jan­u­ary.

    This juicy piece of cit­rus shines by pro­mot­ing good nutri­tion while deliv­er­ing a zippy taste.

    Orig­i­nally known as “the for­bid­den fruit”, grape­fruit made its way to the United States in the early 1800’s via the Span­ish and French set­tlers who brought seeds to Florida.

    From there, Span­ish mis­sion­ar­ies are cred­ited for bring­ing grape­fruit west to Texas, Ari­zona and Cal­i­for­nia.

    Although avail­able year-​round, they are in sea­son and at their best from win­ter through early spring.
  • Call Me “Honey“

    The National Mango Board has launched a new mar­ket­ing cam­paign, renam­ing the Ataulfo mango vari­ety to Honey mango.

    Over the years, the Ataulfo name has been repeat­edly reported as hard to pro­nounce for United States con­sumers, retail­ers and food­ser­vice users.

    They’ve had a bit of an “iden­tity cri­sis” with other names attached to them as well. Cham­pagne, yel­low, young, baby and Adolfo are all name tags placed on this beloved sweet piece of fruit.

    Dif­fi­culty with the name has cre­ated some missed edu­ca­tional oppor­tu­ni­ties for this pop­u­lar Mex­i­can cul­ti­var.

    A main dif­fi­culty in the name has been a bar­rier to pur­chas­ing for those U.S. mango lovers con­fused about the mango. Using Honey mango is a consumer-​friendly way to improve the honey mango aware­ness and purchases.
  • Figs


    David John III dif­fer­en­ti­ates figs: Brown Turkey, Kadota, Tiger Striped.


  • Fresh Turmeric


    Turmeric: what it is, health ben­e­fits, prepa­ra­tion, usage.
  • Good Stuff

    Nearly any­thing stuffed will con­vince us that there is a cel­e­bra­tion in the mak­ing.

    That could mean an easy week­night din­ner party if the vehi­cle used for stuff­ing is a por­to­bello mush­room.

    In North­ern Italy, this over­sized mush­room is called “cap­pel­lone” which means “big hat”. It makes sense as the shape resem­bles a large cap or top­per (just right for stuff­ing).

    To be clear, once a cri­m­ini mush­room reaches between four to six inches in diam­e­ter, it is offi­cially called a por­to­bello or porta­bella. Yes, they are one in the same vari­ety, with a dif­fer­ent matu­rity level dic­tat­ing its name.

    A porta­bello is rec­og­nized by it’s open, flat sur­face (cap). Because it’s left to grow larger, the gills are fully exposed. This means that some of the mushroom’s mois­ture has evap­o­rated. The reduced mois­ture con­cen­trates and enriches the fla­vor and cre­ates a dense, meaty texture.
  • Haku Haku

    Kabocha, pro­nounced “kah-​BOH-​chah”, is a win­ter squash encased in a dull, deep green, hard, mot­tled skin that is often­times lined with pale, uneven stripes.

    There are also some orange skinned cul­ti­vars, though the green is the most com­monly pro­duced. This time of year, they begin to appear on autumn tablescapes and in earthy fall menu items.

    The skin is tech­ni­cally edi­ble if cooked, though most com­monly, it is dis­carded. Round and squat, with a flat­tened top, it ranges from one to eight pounds. Gen­er­ally, aver­age weight is two to three pounds.

    Inside is a deep yel­low orange flesh sur­round­ing a small seed cav­ity. Cooked, Kabocha offers a finely grained, dry flesh with a but­tery and ten­der tex­ture. Rather sweet, the rich fla­vor resem­bles a com­bi­na­tion of sweet potato mixed with pump­kin.

    In Japan, Kabocha squash was tra­di­tion­ally eaten around the time of the win­ter sol­stice with shiruko (adzuki beans) in a sweet soup to boost the immune sys­tem and help pre­vent colds dur­ing the win­ter months.
  • Ital­ian Prune Plums


    David John III explains how to choose, ripen, use and enjoy this sea­sonal treat!


  • Jack­fruit


    Find out what Jack­fruit is, how to eat it, and what it tastes like. Try some­thing new!
  • Late Bloomers

    Sum­mer is fad­ing fast. Vaca­tion days in the rear view mir­ror bring a dif­fer­ent focus with some new rou­tines shap­ing our plates. Before com­pletely let­ting go of sum­mer, how about tak­ing one last bite?

    The best of late har­vest sum­mer fruits and veg­eta­bles are ready for the final soirée. Act quickly, as the win­dow is clos­ing on the late bloomers.

    That glo­ri­ous camp includes heir­loom toma­toes, egg­plants (in all shapes, sizes and color), sum­mer and early fall squashes (zuc­chini, eight ball, spaghetti and but­ter­nut), and even some squash blos­soms still on the stem.

    Last of sum­mer basil makes for pesto for pasta, pizza or bruschetta. Use the toma­toes for tomato and herb salad or Cap­rese with a bal­samic driz­zle. Both are fresh, light and the per­fect com­pli­ment to any Sep­tem­ber din­ner party.

    Off the vine pep­per choices, make us dream of sump­tu­ous stuffed bells, chile rel­lenos and roasted Ana­heim, poblano, Hatch and jalapeños. South of the bor­der delec­tables go far beyond salsa. Pep­per pop­pers keep things lively for al fresco appetizers.
  • Mint Takeover

    A rene­gade herb that will hap­pily take over any untended gar­den bed, mint is a sta­ple of sum­mer eats and drinks.

    Look­ing to exact a sense of culi­nary cool, calm, sweet or fresh­ness? Mint is indis­pens­able and with­out sub­sti­tute.

    The entic­ing aro­matic gets its scent from the oil in the leaf, men­thol.

    A wide vari­ety of mint plants exists, ready for use in the kitchen. The two most com­mon are prob­a­bly pep­per­mint and spearmint and the more rare curly leaf, pineap­ple and gin­ger mint.

    Get to know the nuanced dif­fer­ences so appli­ca­tions into sal­ads, starters, sides, entrees, drinks, cock­tails and desserts are best suited to spe­cific fla­vor pro­files.

    A few top mints to get to know: Spearmint. Most com­monly used in cook­ing for many noto­ri­ous mint recipes, includ­ing lamb, spring rolls, veg­eta­bles (like peas, car­rots, pota­toes, beans and cucum­bers), tabouli salad and favorite sum­mer cock­tails like moji­tos and mint juleps.
  • New CA Pota­toes


    Learn about New Pota­toes and how to use them.
  • Run­ner Beans (Mann’s Ten­der­bite Beans)


    These long, ten­der beans are a vari­ety called run­ner beans. Mann’s Pack­ing is re-​introducing them to the US as Ten­der­bites beans.


  • Secret Sauce

    Grilling, smok­ing and bar­be­cu­ing are all pre­ferred meth­ods of sum­mer­time cook­ing.

    If you are the cook, you have a “secret sauce” of some kind in the out­door cook­ing arse­nal. Shar­ing it with oth­ers depends on how close to the vest you want to play it.

    Those of us merely the lucky recip­i­ents of good food cooked by oth­ers can only imag­ine what goes into the secret sauce. A hint of honey, a hit of ginger…sweet apri­cots or plums all just a guess.

    Mas­ters of mari­nades and glazes typ­i­cally have a “go to” one that can be applied to a choice of poul­try, fish, pork, beef or veg­eta­bles. Divulging any fam­ily recipes might be tricky.

    A quick inter­net search results in thou­sands of rec­om­men­da­tions for rich, lusty, sticky sauces that can be appro­pri­ated as our own.
  • Soup Plus Sand­wich

    A mid-​winter slump begs for more choices in the week night meal rota­tion. Soup and sand­wich riffs take some pres­sure off any­one respon­si­ble for putting food on the table.

    Afford­able and sat­is­fy­ing, a grilled cheese sand­wich and tomato soup combo are pretty hard to beat.

    Their warmth and com­fort goes past those Campbell’s Soup com­mer­cials. Think of other nat­ural pair­ings and get into the spirit of a lunch or din­ner that don’t require much home­work.

    Explore cream of cel­ery, French onion, Thai aspara­gus, veg­etable, potato — leek and mine­strone soup pro­files. A vast cat­a­log of recipes are avail­able to assist.

    Spicy ver­sions of tor­tilla, Mul­li­gatawny and pho take us to great exotic tastes from around the world. Chile pep­pers, curry, lentils, gin­ger root, mush­rooms and gar­lic make for excep­tional soup starters.
  • Sweet For­give­ness

    Not every­one is blessed with the tal­ents of a great pas­try chef. A chem­istry class at times seems eas­ier than fol­low­ing an elab­o­rate dessert recipe.

    Not to worry. That same casual approach to sum­mer din­ing allows for sweet for­give­ness when it comes to summer’s famed desserts.

    Pair­ing the best exquis­ite sea­sonal fruits with the sim­ple, rus­tic meth­ods of care­free desserts require almost no kitchen skills.

    Light-​hearted clas­sics include fruit galettes, clafoutis, crisps and cob­blers.

    The impre­cise, free-​form galette is more of an imper­fectly shaped pie or tart — filled with the good­ness of sliced berries, cher­ries, peaches, nec­tarines, plums, pears, apri­cots, apples, rhubarb or any com­bi­na­tion of on-​hand sum­mer fruits. The dough is folded in on itself giv­ing it an irreg­u­lar, but entic­ing look to the pastry.
  • Team Car­rot

    Brus­sels sprouts and cau­li­flower have enjoyed the recent lime­light with chefs and home cooks.

    The hum­ble car­rot is wor­thy of some kitchen love and atten­tion.

    Car­rots are at their sweet­est in spring, when their bright col­ors and del­i­cate fla­vors shine.

    They are ten­der enough to enjoy raw in sal­ads and yet hearty enough for roast­ing, pick­ling, mash­ing and purees. Soups and stews are made bet­ter when car­rots take the stage.

    Juic­ing car­rots, alone or with other fruits and veg­eta­bles, is a game chang­ing spring rit­ual for those look­ing for a sea­sonal cleanse or detox. Their inher­ent, earthy sweet­ness bal­ances other flavors.
  • Vidalia Onions; Cac­tus Leaves


    David John dis­cusses how Vidalia onions dif­fer from other onions; how to pre­pare and enjoy cac­tus leaves.