Fresh & Seasonal

cookbookcover_web.jpgI found a real treasure when I discovered “Flavors of the Arboretum: 101 Tastes of the Season” as I browsed through the gift shop during a recent visit to the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska.

Recipes in the book include signature classics that you might find on the menu in the Arboretum Restaurant, treasures from the old Tea Room, as well as recipes from cooking classes taught in the “Harvest Kitchen” at the Marion Andrus Learning Center on the Arboretum grounds and guest chefs who are invited to share their knowledge and skills as they teach classes.

Turn to page 29 in “Flavors of the Arboretum: 101 Tastes of the Season,” and you will be in the Summer/In Bloom section. That’s where you will find suggested summer menus from Twin Cities area chefs with all of the recipes needed to do some “Dining Al Fresco” and enjoy a “Summer Solstice Dinner,” as well as several other recipes.

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Imagine a chef who spends six months a year in a restaurant making food for the fussiest guests and six months in a tiny galley kitchen with a rickety stove and barely any counter space. Meet David Tanis of Chez Panisse. His recipes are mostly pretty easy, but rely on the best quality ingredients.

Bookmarked recipes: Celery, radish and watercress salad with walnut oil, Buckwheat galettes with ham and cheese, Black sticky rice pudding with coconut cream.

Why?
It's fascinating to see the way a restaurant chef cooks at home, when he wants to, to please himself and his friends.

Who?
Anyone who has access to fantastic quality ingredients and wants to learn how to make them shine.

clqc_cover.jpgDid your New Year's resolution include losing weight or eating more healthfully? You're not alone. Millions of Americans have made the same resolutions. I just hope you don't go on a diet. Because if you go on a diet, you'll eventually go off a diet.

Here's my advice: skip the diet and buy a book instead, specifically Cooking Light The Complete Quick Cook by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough. Having written more than 20 cookbooks together, Weinstein and Scarbrough know how to develop recipes that work. If they say a recipe takes 30 minutes or less, is good for you, and tastes great too, then you can believe them.

In The Complete Quick Cook, you'll learn how to be a savvier shopper, faster cook, and healthier eater, all of which will help you lose weight and keep it off. The book includes over 200 healthy, quick-cook recipes organized into chapters including Fast & Fresh Salads, Convenience Cooking, Stir-Fry, Fast & Fancy, and Sweet Endings. Most are written in short, clear sentences, and have relatively short ingredients lists with easy-to-find ingredients. Nearly all recipes are accompanied by a color photo.

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power-foodsYou’d never know by looking at my chubby exterior, but during the week we focus on a variety of healthy meals at home in an effort to balance the overindulgence, tastings, and big dinners that usually fill our weekends. And even if it weren’t for this health focus, if anything it’s to give my palate a rest from overactivity. But that doesn’t mean I enjoy sacrificing flavor because I do not; I need meals that incorporate great tastes as well as make me feel fantastic.  When I read that the editors of Whole Living Magazine were compiling their best recipes that feature the healthiest ingredients possible I knew I’d be in for a treat. And Power Foods: 150 Delicious Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients doesn’t fail.

The book contains recipes that incorporate key ingredients that are not only delicious but good for you — things like berries, tomatoes and nuts. These foods have a tremendous impact on our health but none of that means a thing if you can’t find ways to actually prepare them and like them, a key to maintaining a successful diet. Power Foods gives you hundreds of ideas, but a favorite thing for me is the inclusion of the book’s Golden Rules, a collection of best practices for shopping and the kitchen.

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jamieathome.jpg My son Ethan and I once tried to cook our way through Jamie Oliver’s Italy—he was going off to school and had some delusional fantasy that there would be a kitchen in his dorm (not!) and that he would be able to cook for his friends and his girlfriends and somehow simulate some of the cuisine he was accustomed to...  It was great.  Everything we made was perfect.  I don’t even like swordfish and Jamie Oliver’s swordfish is one of the best things I’ve ever had.  He thinks “fruit is lovely”, he uses words like “drizzle” and you sort of feel like he’s in the kitchen with you. 

So, I was really excited when Jamie Oliver’s new book “Jamie at Home” arrived in the mail.  And it’s xmas and it’s chaotic and I haven’t had time to even begin to cook my way through it.  But I’m really pleased that they’re allowing us to excerpt some of Jamie Oliver’s new recipes.

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