A COOK’S GUIDE TO FRESH HERBS BECOMING A MINDFUL EATING MASTER •
How to Cook Fish Perfectly Fresh and Fast Family Salads
A New Way to Grill!
Table of Contents Fresh Herbs
A New Way to Grill!
A chef’s guide on how to store, use, and handle fresh herbs to pack a punch of flavor in any dish. Learn how to prepare, chop and even dry these savory, scrumptious gems from the garden or grocery store. By Amanda Powers................................................ 33
Are hamburgers and hot dogs losing their appeal at your backyard barbecue? It doesn’t have to be hard or expensive to be great and memorable! By Chevy Morrison................................................ 5
Becoming A Mindful Eating Master
Fruits, veggies and more. Cut up, diced up and sauced up in a way the entire family can enjoy!By Emily Poseneck............. 60
Eating seems to have become just another task that we have to squeeze in during each busy day. Conversely, mindfully eating can enhance the eating experience while helping control weight.By James Jackson........................ 4 and 65
Fresh and Fast Family Salads
Our Chef’s Chose the Top 15 Salsa Recipes
From fresh tomato salsa to black bean, cucumber and fruit variations, these party favorites are on punch out cards ready for your recipe file. .... 66
By James Jackson
Eating seems to have become just another task on our to do list that we have to squeeze in during each busy day. How often
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By Amanda Powers
I am an herb fanatic. I’m so crazy about herbs that I have been known to raid public gardens in search of a sprig of oregano, rosemary or the all illusive thyme just to keep myself in supply of my favorite fragrant foods. Fortunately, those days are gone, as I’m lucky enough to have a garden of my own filled with all of my favorite staples: Thyme, chives, purple sage, lavender, savory, spearmint and even more. And for any herbs that I can’t get to grow in my garden, I know have the local supermarket which is well stocked with the hard-to-grows including tarragon and rosemary as well as the prolific like marjoram and basil. Many professional and amateur cooks are intimidated by the abundant choice of herbs that has now become available – for me, it’s a dream come true! Unfortunately, I commonly see folks buying fresh herbs, using a few leaves and then forgetting what is left of the bunch until it is limp or spoiled or dried out. How can we let these fragrant treasures expire in our produce drawers? We can’t – and the cure is to learn how to store and handle them, along with learning which herbs pair well with which foods. Are you a chef that uses them as something other than a sprinkle decoration for dishes? Do you know when and how to add them during cooking? These are valid questions, and once you know the answers I know you will find yourself reaching for bundles of herbs more often, while seeing less of them go out with the trash.
Become a Mindful Eating Master
HETHER eating while working, cruising the internet through lunch hour or having the TV on during dinner, multitasking while dining often leads to over eating. Conversely, mindfully eating, or savoring each and every mouthful, creates an awareness of all that we are consuming while enhancing the eating experience.
Fresh Herbs A chef’s guide on how to store, use, and handle fresh herbs to pack a punch of flavor in any dish
do you grab breakfast on the run, attend lunch meetings, or munch on hors d’oeuvres at an after hour gathering, where work is the central focus, and food is used as bait to gather people there? On the average, folks in the United States 2 ½ to 3 hours a day watching television, while spending under 1 ¼ hours – total – eating. Children are feeling this rush too. School lunch periods now provide just 7 to 11 minutes on average for students to eat. Since it takes nearly 20 minutes from the time we start eating for our brain to send out any signal of fullness, we Americans are simply
Purchasing fresh herbs
You’ll find herbs packaged in a variety of ways when you go to the supermarket: secured by rubber bands in bunches, loosely packed into a small plastic boxes, or sometimes they are actually live and growing in small containers. No matter how the herbs are packaged, what you want to find are herbs with intense aromas and vibrant colors. Don’t be afraid to open the boxes and take a sniff! Avoid herbs that are yellow or limp, watch for black spots and be sure to return those that don’t
smell appetizing or totally fresh to where you found them. I love field grown herbs – particularly basil, parsley, mint, dill and cilantro. They are commonly available and so much better than the greenhouse veriety as they are so much more fragrant. How can you tell the difference? The stalks and leave are visibly stronger and they are generally larger overall. There are those who prefer a more tender (greenhouse) herb because they make a delicate and lovely garnish, and can be used right out of the bag. You might explore other area markets for herbs too. Middle Eastern, Asian and Latin stores frequently have higher quality herbs and a lower cost than regular supermarkets.
TLC is required for fragile herbs
Many hardy herbs like marjoram, sage and rosemary can remain fragrant and green for two weeks or more, as long as they don’t get wet and are refrigerated. Tender herbs including tarragon, chervil, dill, cilantro and basil require attention so they don’t freeze or blacken in the refrigerator. Here’s how to keep tender herbs looking and tasting their best: 1. Remove rubber band or any other fastener. 2. Trim the lower parts of the stems, including the removal any roots. This actually prevents wilting at the top. 3. Save prominent or large roots to flavor soups or stocks (Cilantro roots and leaves can be chopped up to create an Asian stock, while parsley root is typically found in traditional Jewish chicken soup). If you are making pesto, having a very sharp blade in your food processor is key, so that the ingredients are cut, not crushed. If your blade is dull, bring it to a knife sharpener – they can help you with that. The order in which you put the ingredients together plays a significant role as well. Fats go first, herbs last. Start with olive oil, then garlic, then pine nuts. Puree this completely before you add the greens. Once the greens are added, process everything for just a short time so the herbs stay cool and their good green color remains. Pesto, which is actually the Italian word for paste, doesn’t have to be made with just basil. How about a Southwest pesto, created from pumpkin seeds, garlic, Monterey Jack or Asiago cheese, a bit of green chile and cilantro? Sounds great, doesn’t it? Walnuts, parsley
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and sage combine to make a great pesto to add to hearty white bean soup in the winter time.
dry by rolling in clean paper towels or spin them in a salad spinner and you are set.
Tools are important
Cooking with herbs
First of all, don’t wash your herbs until you are ready to use Dull knives crush and bruise tender herb leaves and stems, so them. To store your treasures, trim the root ends and wrap having a sharp knife is imperative. If your herbs are turning loose bunches in dampened paper towels. Refrigerate in an black, it means you need to sharpen your knife. I love using a airtight plastic container or heavy plastic zip baggie that is scissors to snip tender herbs like chives. It allows for snipping filled with a bit of air. (The air cushions the herbs.) I tend perfectly small amounts and successfully cleanly cutting to prefer a plastic container where the herbs can be stored through stringy fibers. without being crushed. Move the herbs to the warmest section of your refrigerator (most often, this is the top shelf). Cut herbs as close to cooking time as you can. If you must Check the package daily and chop them in advance, cover discard the herbs that have “Excess moisture shortens an herb’s shelf the container they are in with begun to spoil, while using plastic wrap punched with a life considerably, so it is suggested that you few air holes and refrigerate. those that look the least perky. wash the plants right before you use them”. They will last for a day or so If you would like to freeze this way, but be sure to give your herbs, protect them with them the sniff test before using fat by making an herb butter or pesto (you don’t need to add – particularly dill, cilantro, parsley and basil which are very cheese) or you will have a slimy black mess. perishable once they are chopped up. Excess moisture shortens an herb’s shelf life considerably, so it is suggested that you wash the plants right before you use them. Ideally, actually, don’t wash them at all. I generally don’t unless I feel or see sand or dirt. Greenhouse grown herbs are almost always clean enough for use without washing. A gentle bath in a large bowl of cool water is the best way to wash herbs. Swish them in the water to release any grit or grim, then move them to a sieve. If you find the bottom of the wash bowl is covered in sand or dirt, it is wise to repeat this process until the water is clear. Gently blot the plants
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You must determine the role herbs will play in your dish to determine when to add them while cooking. If you want to utilize a strong, resinous flavor like savory, marjoram or thyme and have it show up in the background, add a sprig at the beginning. Crushing the sprig will allow a gentle release of flavor oils. This is perfect for herbs used in slow cooking stews, soups and sauces. I would suggest that you leave the leaves intact and on the stem for easy removal later. Chop an herb and add it near the end of cooking time to bring the flavor to the fore front. Chopped cilantro has a pungent and unmistakable aroma that dissipates quickly, so I add it right after removing my sauces from the heat. This also helps to
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retain the brilliant green color. You can really emphasize a flavor by adding the herb both at the beginning and end of cooking. My famous marinara sauce hosts whole basil sprigs at the start and then shredded leaves as a finish. Yummy!
Use the entire herb
Make a point of reserving unused portions of herbs when your recipe asks for just a part of the plant. There are many time-tested combinations of foods and herbs, and a little bit of research will introduce you to some long lost pairings. Here are some simple examples: Tender stems work well in soups and stocks, while heartier stems are terrific on the grill. Chicken stock and fish fumet come alive with tender stems added as a foundation flavor. Be careful though – particularly with very green herbs like cilantro, dill and parsley. A little goes a long way with these guys! Try adding strong woody stemmed herbs to your grill instead of wood chips for some extra flavor. Hot smoking food combines slow cooking with a covered grill, allowing smoke to penetrate the food. Rosemary stems are thick and hard enough to support a New York strip steak – a favorite recipe from my days in the restaurant. Thyme, marjoram, savory, and sage stems also work very well.
Become familiar with sweetly perfumed blossoms like blue-violet sage or borage and the season they are growing in. They are terrific, colorful salad garnishes, while other more savory blossoms like purple rosemary, lavender-blue summer savory or white time mix wonderfully with chives and pasta with a browned butter sauces… Sprinkle with fresh goat cheese or Parmesan – wonderful. Marjoram and basil blossoms tend to be on the bitter side to me, and though the blossoms of Chinese or garlic chives are pretty, they are much too tough to eat.
If you’d like to preserve your herbs even further, consider drying them. It’s as simple as exposing the seeds, leaves or flowers to dry, warm air, by leaving the plants in a ventilated area as moisture evaporates. Most unfortunately, sun drying will rob the delicate plants of both color and flavor, so it is not recommended. If you are growing your own plants, the best time to pick them for drying is in the bursting bud state – this is right before the flowers open. Pick the herbs after any morning dew has evaporated so as to minimize wilting. As with our fresh herbs, wash as described above only if necessary.
How about an elegant and The high water content in “If you’d like to preserve your herbs even tender herbs such as lemon crunchy garnish made by deep-frying herb leaves? Try balm, mint, tarragon, oregano further, consider drying them.” fried curly or flat-leaved and basil means they must parsley on your next fish be dried quickly so as not to or seafood dinner. Crab cakes with tomato sauce can be mold. A paper bag works terrifically to aid in this. Punch garnished with lovage leaves that have been fried. Try holes in the sides of the bag so air can circulate through it and dipping sage leaves into pastella (Italian flour and water then suspend a small bunch of herbs in the bag by binding batter) and then frying them in olive oil to complement your them to the top with a rubber band. Place the bag in an next fritto misto (meat, veggies or seafood that are batteropen, airy place, knowing any leaves or seeds that fall will fried). stay within it. When the leaves are dry and crispy enough to crumple between your fingers, they are ready. You can pack and store the leaves and stems whole or crumpled. If harvesting seeds, the husks can be removed by rubbing the pods between your hands and blowing the chaff away. Airtight containers stored in cool, dark, dry areas work best to protect the color and fragrance of your herbs. When cooking, use ¼ to 1/3 dried herbs to the amount of fresh called for in a recipe – they are 3 to 4 times stronger than the fresh – and enjoy!
eating too fast, and thus eating too much. Speed is not the only problem. Activities such as driving or working at our desks are often paired with eating. We have become a nation of multitaskers. In fact, nearly 2/3s of American people regularly eat in front of the television for dinner. Obesity is becoming an epidemic. It is now essential to take a closer look at how we eat as well as to what we eat. In addition to gastric issues and bloating, mindless eating literally feeds overeating and obesity issues. The assessment of hunger and fullness is completely negated, and mind-body connection broken by mindlessly devouring our food. While we don’t completely understand how the body comes to feel hungry and full, we do know that our body does send signals when food is needed or desired. These signals work with the central nervous system and brain, and can actually be caused by many triggers including our mood and other psychological states. Once we begin eating, the brain’s primary function it Is to signal when the body is full. If the brain is multitasking while we are eating, the full signal may not be received by the brain. In fact, if the brain does not receive specific messages, such as taste and satisfaction, it may actually fail to recognize that any eating has occurred at all. The brain will continue to send out signals of “I am hungry,” which increases the tendency of overeating.
Practicing Mindful Eating Mindful eating means eating with awareness. That doesn’t mean that you are aware of which foods are on your plate, but actually you are aware of having an eating experience. Moment by moment, we focus on being present to eating, creating an awareness of sensations such as chewing, swallowing, and actually tasting our food. Meditation, relaxation, and breathing exercises are other examples of mindfulness. If you’ve ever practiced any of these, you’re familiar with the tendency of the mind to wander. The same thing happens when we sit down at a meal. However, as we begin to practice mindful eating, we can notice our minds drifting off without judgment. Instead, we can redirect our awareness to the flavors we are experiencing, actually chewing, biting, and swallowing with intension.This is a new concept for many, so here is an exercise that can be practiced with a friend to build a new mindful eating practice.
your mind go, without giving them any of your attention. Continue to focus on the apple. How does it taste? What texture do you feel? Is it warm or cool on your tongue? Pay attention to every sensation going on in your mouth. 3. Now chew – slowly though! Just notice what chewing feels like. Again, your mind may want to wander off, but you can bring it back to this moment and the feeling of chewing. Notice each and every movement of your jaw. 4. Do you find that you want to swallow the apple? Stay present to the textures as they transition from form to form and how subtle the movement is from chewing to preparing to swallow. 5. Swallow the apple now, following the movement of it from the front to the back of your tongue, and the front to the back of your throat. Remain with the apple until there is no longer any sensation of food remaining in your mouth. 6. Now – deep breath in. Deep breath out. When you have both completed the exercise discuss your experiences. What did you notice? Were you bored? Did the taste of the apple change? Was it hard to move so slowly? Did the apple dissolve or remain intact? We are not suggesting that all meals should be consumed this methodically – that’s not the point of the exercise at all. Instead, the hope is that you discover valuable things about your own eating habits and can incorporate the principles outlined here to become a more mindful eater. You might begin with a short version of the exercise by using it for the first bite of each meal. Doing so will set a firm intention of being mindful throughout the course of the entire meal.
Begin by giving a slice of apple to each person. Partner A reads the instructions below while Partner B completes the exercise, and then you switch. Here we go. 1. Take a small bite from the apple slice, but do not chew or swallow. Simply bite and close your eyes. 2. Focus on the apple. Let any random ideas running through
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