• “Jimmy Nardello” Sweet Pep­pers

    What are “Jimmy Nardello” sweet pep­pers and how are they used?

  • “On the Rocks“

    Freeze now, use later. Look no fur­ther than an ice cube tray for a smart sum­mer food saver and kitchen convenience.

    We hate to waste fresh herbs, fruits and most any­thing that might be at a sur­plus in the galley.

    A bright reminder is to take advan­tage of those trays to pre­serve small por­tions of those fresh excesses.

    Once we get going, it’s hard to not see every­thing as a frozen pos­si­bil­ity. Start with food safe stor­age trays, prefer­ably with lids. Look for ones that are BPA and Phtha­late free.

    Next, have a good look at what is in sur­plus or need of sav­ing now, using later. Fresh herbs, berries, pureed fruits, greens and selected veg­eta­bles, yogurt, cit­rus juice, pesto and fresh roasted gar­lic cloves and grated gin­ger are a good start.
  • “R & B“

    We’ve talked about mak­ing quick pick­les before. They really are a stand­out addi­tion to any sum­mer meal.

    A new twist on the prover­bial blanched first step that adds a burst of fla­vor is to roast the veg­eta­bles before blending.

    A mix­ture of col­ors, tex­tures and fla­vors is what makes quick mar­i­nated veg­eta­bles come to life.

    Select every­day veg­eta­bles always on hand like car­rots, beans, bell pep­pers, onions and toma­toes to get started. Seek more vari­ety with exotic or inter­est­ing fare in pur­ple or orange cau­li­flower, okra, shal­lots, arti­choke hearts, fen­nel and baby squashes.

    Up the ante on heat by adding locally sourced ser­rano or jalepeno pep­pers or whole peeled gar­lic cloves for some desired “umph”.

    The more the mer­rier tact works well when assem­bling a com­plex plate of crunch, spice and acid­ity. Vine­gar choices always bring us up to speed on the lat­est and tasti­est available.

    Col­or­ful pick­led veg­eta­bles make a great addi­tion to an antipasto-​like plat­ter of cheeses and meats, but they fit nicely in other dishes like sal­ads and rice or pasta plates. They make splen­did top­pers for sum­mer sand­wiches and grilled sausages.

    For the mari­nade, fla­vor with juniper berries, cloves, pep­per­corns, mus­tard seeds, whole star anise, or bay leaves — to name a few favorites.

    Once the cut up veg­eta­bles have bathed suf­fi­ciently in the brine (30 min­utes min­i­mum), remove them to a bak­ing pan lined with parch­ment paper. Save the reserved mari­nade for adding later to roasted pickles.

    A driz­zle of olive oil prior to putting the veg­gies in a pre­heated grill or oven helps them caramelize while roast­ing. Cook­ing until ten­der requires only about 20 minutes.

    Once ten­der, remove from heat and allow to cool com­pletely. Sea­son lib­er­ally with salt and pep­per. Add any fresh, chopped herbs or diced cel­ery or even cel­ery leaves as desired. Toss with the remain­ing mari­nade to coat the newly roasted bites.

    Ital­ians use the term “gia­r­diniera” or “from the gar­den” to describe the sat­is­fy­ing mar­riage of mar­i­nated quick veg­etable pick­les. This is an easy tech­nique for any­one to per­fect. Make good use of farm­ers’ mar­ket picks or gar­den grown favorites.

    Serve the R & B (roasted and blended or roasted and brined) pick­les as a tangy sum­mer side. Pile them high on burg­ers or stuff them in pitas. Bet­ter yet, save them in the fridge for a cool snack all by them­selves. No need to share.
  • Arugula

    Selec­tion, usage and stor­age of arugula.
  • Aspara­gus Tips

    Once a har­bin­ger of spring, aspara­gus is now avail­able nearly year round with imported prod­uct from Peru and Mex­ico.

    Even so, when fields in Cal­i­for­nia begin to sprout up ten­der tips, by early April, it’s indica­tive of a sea­sonal shift in local eat­ing habits.

    An ele­gant veg­etable with long, ten­der shoots that are gen­er­ally cat­e­go­rized as white, pur­ple and green vari­eties, all belong­ing to a plant in the lily fam­ily.

    The shoots of the green and white vari­eties are usu­ally hand-​harvested when the stalks reach a height of around eight inches and are one quar­ter to half inch thick. The com­pact, tightly packed leaves (resem­bling scales) at the top of the stalk are prized for their soft, to crunchy tex­ture and mild, provoca­tive fla­vor.

    Green aspara­gus is tra­di­tion­ally the most com­mon vari­ety grown in the United States. Pur­ple or white aspara­gus is usu­ally avail­able on a lim­ited basis in spe­cialty and farm­ers markets.
  • Basil

    Dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing basil in appear­ance, fla­vor and usage.

  • Best Fronds

    Fen­nel is one of those “old soul” obscure veg­eta­bles that peo­ple either love, hate or know zilch about.

    Assertive in fla­vor, this aro­matic bulb-​like bot­tom is topped with wil­lowy fronds that have a del­i­cate, sweet anise fla­vor. These ten­der lacy tops are best used like fresh herbs.

    Fen­nel sprigs added to fall and win­ter sal­ads and starter plates add a bit of bright­ness in place of dill, tar­ragon or thyme. The dis­tinc­tive bite is memorable.

    The sig­na­ture mild licorice taste of raw fen­nel bulb or stalk is tamed when roasted, braised, sautéed or baked. The bulb and stalk are then softened.
  • Black Radish

    David John dis­cusses avail­abil­ity, prepa­ra­tion, usage, fla­vor and his favorite way to eat Black Radishes.
  • Cal­abaza & Red Kuri Squash

    David John talks about what to do with Cal­abaza and Red Kuri Squash. Try it!

  • Cauli Hacks

    Let’ s be hon­est. In the wide open uni­verse of fresh veg­eta­bles, there are many picks that beat out cau­li­flower in pop­u­lar­ity.

    In chef cir­cles, we hear of inno­v­a­tive ways to har­ness the full fla­vor of this under rep­re­sented power source.

    Roast­ing leads the way in the method cat­e­gory. An earthy, nutty fla­vor devel­ops by sim­ply oven roast­ing with noth­ing more than a sprin­kle of salt and a driz­zle of cook­ing oil.

    The real genius of hacks comes from allow­ing the cau­li­flower to play a sup­port­ing role. Try cast­ing this white, crunchy char­ac­ter in numer­ous dishes that embrace bolder per­son­al­ity traits.

    Korean bar­be­cue bowls, buf­falo cau­li­flower steaks, chimichurri cauli, bat­tered and fried and cau­li­flower alfredo liven up the dol­drums of this pedes­trian cruciferous.
  • Cock­tail Avo­ca­dos

    Cock­tail Avo­ca­dos: What they are, when and how to use them.
  • Cook­ing Greens

    About the Pro­duce Beat: David John hosts this weekly pro­gram regard­ing every­thing you ever wanted to know about fresh fruits and veg­eta­bles: selec­tion, stor­age, prepa­ra­tion, vari­eties, sea­sonal avail­abil­ity, trivia, and his per­sonal secrets about how to enjoy pro­duce.
  • Cool in the Shade

    Sum­mer heat waves are a spring­board for wild, trop­i­cal fan­tasies. Refresh­ing, cool drinks quench hot weather thirst. Explore Poly­ne­sian island dreams with a tra­di­tional sum­mer­time bev­er­age. Stay­ing hydrated and replen­ished has never been tastier.

    Along­side kava, otai is one of the most rec­og­niz­able and defin­ing drinks from Tonga.

    Otai is a fruit drink which is usu­ally made as a sum­mer­time refresh­ment. Sure, it can make an appear­ance at wed­dings and birth­day par­ties, too. Let’ s all agree, if there is a cel­e­bra­tion under­way in Tonga or Samoa, likely that otai will be at the cen­ter of the punch bowl. That bowl may be the hol­lowed out por­tion of a water­melon half.

    This blend of water and coconut milk takes it up a step with any vari­ety of pulped trop­i­cal fruits. Coconut, water­melon, mango, and pineap­ple are typ­i­cal. With water­melon so plen­ti­ful in Tonga, that choice is read­ily available.
  • Cucamel­ons

    What are Cucamel­ons and how are they used?
  • Egg­plants

    Selec­tion tips, dif­fer­ences and fla­vor pro­files of var­i­ous eggplants.

  • Fen­nel

    How to pick, store, and 3 ways to use fennel.

  • Fin­ger­ling Pota­toes

    Happy Potato Lover’s Month! Learn all about fin­ger­ling pota­toes.
  • Fork “Over” Knife

    A plant-​based diet can boost opti­mum health, decreas­ing the risk of heart dis­ease, Type 2 dia­betes, and cer­tain can­cers.

    The main advan­tages with a plant-​based diet seem to be related more to the foods con­sumed (eat­ing plenty of veg­eta­bles, fruits, whole grains, beans and nuts) rather than those foods avoided (pri­mar­ily meats).

    Stay­ing at a healthy weight is eas­ier on a plant-​based diet and menu. A “less meat, more plants” style of eat­ing can improve qual­ity of life.

    Asso­ci­ated ben­e­fits include the reduc­tion of inflam­ma­tion and dis­eases attrib­uted to inflam­ma­tion. Lower cho­les­terol and blood pres­sure lev­els are oth­ers plus ups seen with plant-​based food choices.

    There are many dif­fer­ent types of plant-​based diets. The three most com­mon ones are: Vegan: No ani­mal prod­ucts such as meat, eggs, or dairy prod­ucts. Lacto-​vegetarian: No meat or eggs, but dairy prod­ucts are accept­able. Lacto-​Ovo-​vegetarian: No meat is con­sumed, but dairy prod­ucts and eggs are allowed.
  • Fresh Corn; Baby Corn; Sun­shine Rasp­ber­ries

    How to select corn; baby corn; intro­duc­ing new Sun­shine Raspberries.

  • Fresh Figs; Fresh Gar­banzo Beans

    David John dis­cusses sea­sonal items; mar­ket con­di­tion of figs; how to pre­pare fresh gar­banzo beans for a sum­mer treat.