This Week I’m Hosting Martha Stewart Living Radio! Monday, Jul 23 2012 

Greens, Gardening, & Grilling

Quick note to let you know I’m hosting Martha Stewart Living Radio this week at 3:00 pm EST.

Today, Monday July 23rd I’m with vegetarian cooking expert Nava Atlas, author of the awesome new book, Wild about Greens. I’ll also have BBQ Queen Judith Fertig on the line with her new book, The Gardener and the Grill. We’re talking about greens, gardening, and grilling!

Canning & Preserving

Wednesday is all about Preserving. I’ll be talking to canning expert Sherri Brooks Vinton, author of Put Em Up! We’ll review simple approachable ways to can and preserve that will help you put up some great summer produce.
I am also thrilled to be chatting with NY Times best-selling author Mark Kurlansky, who has written a biography on Clarence Birdseye. (Yep, that one, the man that essentially invented frozen food.) I am a huge fan of Mark’s work and am so excited to have the opportunity to interview him. His book Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World changed my life and how I consider seafood.

What’s HOT!

Friday is “What’s Hot”. There’s nothing much hotter right now than food trucks in the food world. I’m excited to have John T. Edge on the line talking about his new book The Truck Food Cookbook with recipes and great photographs by Angie Mosier.

When it’s hot I love nothing more than a ice-cold glass of tea. I’ll be joined by tea expert Bob Heiss, owner of Tea Trekker, one of the pre-eminent tea stores in the country and author of The Tea Enthusiast’s Handbook.

Please listen and call in with your questions! You can also follow or ask questions on twitter at @MarthaRadio and use the hashtag #CookingToday. It’s Martha Stewart Living Radio, channel SiriusXM 110. If you would like to listen in but do not have Sirius, you can sign up for a FREE 7 day trial!

Lastly, if you miss the 3 PM broadcast, you can catch the re-play at 6 PM or 10 PM EST.

Bon Appétit, Y’all!
VA

Green Means Go: Easy Summer Salmon & Seafood Watch Thursday, Jul 14 2011 

Isn’t that photo mesmerizing? Ethereal. Beautiful. No, don’t worry. I’m not about to tell you how to cook jellyfish — although they are caught off the coast of Georgia and sent to Asia, where they are preserved and served in all manner of ways.

There’s nothing as primal and pulling as water, especially the ocean. When I was a little girl and we’d go to the beach, I wasn’t happy until I had my feet in the water. I’m still that way to this day. If I am near the ocean, I am in the ocean. If I see a creek or a babbling brook, I want to wade in it.

The part I love the most about water is that I love to fish. Now, I am pretty high energy and don’t sit still too much. If I were to stand still on the edge of a body of water, I’d settle down for a little bit, but eventually? Eventually, my mind would be assembling lists and I would be thinking of all the things I need to do. I get restless. However, put a pole in my hand and I’m happy and content. I’ll sit still for hours and hours. My mind frees and it’s the most peaceful thing in the world to me.

There was a pond at my grandparent’s house and although we no longer own the property, it remains one of my most favorite places on earth. I was practically born with a fishing rod in my hand. One of my first memories was falling in the pond, the murky brown water, and the adults scampering to fish me out of the pond.

Mama said the first time I caught a fish on my own I jumped up and down so much that my diaper fell down around my ankles.

Like I said, I was born to fish.

I was also taught to respect the pond. Dede, my grandfather, explained not to keep bass that were too small. We were taught to recognize when females were swollen with eggs and release them back into the water. Fishing around the laying nests in the shallow end in the spring was forbidden, and sometimes, Dede would toss some of the bream (pronounced brim in Georgia) onto the bank if he felt like their stock was overpopulated and they were too skinny. We were taught to respect the pond and the fish it held. If a fish was hurt or maimed, we kept it regardless of size, and we always ate the fish we caught.

To this day, when I kill and gut a fresh fish I have caught, I thank that fish for its life.

About 12 years ago, I read a book that changed my life and the way I eat fish. The book was Cod: The Biography of the Fish that Changed the World by Mark Kurlansky. Not only did I quit eating cod, I started thinking about just what the heck we humans were doing to our oceans. I started applying that same respect for the fish in my family pond as I did for the fish in the ocean.

This curiosity eventually led me to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and their sustainable seafood advocacy program called Seafood Watch.

Fish and shellfish are part of a nutritionally sound diet. Seafood is high in protein, low in saturated fat, and contains heart-healthy omega-3s, which help boost immunity and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and other ailments. Omega-3s are especially important for pregnant and nursing women and young children.

The deal is, according to Seafood Watch, nearly 75% of the world’s fisheries are fished to capacity, or overfished.

Programs such as the Seafood Watch or the Marine Stewardship Council offer information to help you choose seafood that’s good for you — and good for the oceans. Using a simple red means no, yellow means caution, and green means go color system, Seafood Watch recommends which seafood to buy or avoid, helping consumers and businesses become advocates for ocean-friendly seafood.

These recommendations are available online, in printed pocket guides, or even downloadable on mobile devices. Whole Foods Market has started labeling their fish with the Seafood Watch color coding system as well as the MSC-certified seal of approval. The choices we make as consumers can make this situation worse, or improve it. Seafood Watch recommendations consider the fishery, habitat, species, management, and a host of other factors that affect each species.

Another book that has had a huge impact on me and my opinion and my seafood choices is called Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food written by Paul Greenberg. It’s about the 4 archetypes of fish flesh — starting at the shore with salmon and moving further out into the ocean with bass, cod, and then finally tuna, the fish that swims the length of the ocean. It’s brilliant. I was fortunate enough to meet Paul at Cooking for Solutions, an event held to raise funds and awareness about Seafood Watch and sustainable seafood. (Here’s a snap of me serving up shrimp and grits and fried catfish for the Savor the Gulf Coast Champagne Breakfast.)

In Four Fish Paul examines and explores the fish that dominate our menus. How many times have you seen salmon on the menu at a fish shack on the Gulf? Too many. Paul’s tale about catching a bluefin tuna is so real, so well told, you will feel the rocking of the boat. It’s powerful. This book will make you think about what fish you choose to eat, that’s for sure. Let me put it this way, I read it twice, back to back.

Earlier this week I cooked for a business luncheon. It’s been pretty warm, so while I was planning my menu, I was thinking about cold poached chicken or salmon with an herb salad with fresh greens from the garden. When I went to the store, I saw fresh sockeye salmon. I always look for fresh, not frozen, wild salmon and when I see it, I buy it. There are seasons for harvesting and catching fish just like there are for zucchini or apples. Sockeye salmon has a full flavored firm flesh. It’s the second most abundant Alaska Salmon species. (There are different salmon species just like there are different kind of apples, too.) The distinct, deep red flesh retains its color throughout cooking.

Poaching is a fantastic way to make an easy make ahead summer lunch or supper. I made mine the night before and chilled it in the refrigerator overnight. That way, I had precious little to do right before the big lunch. I think you’ll enjoy it.

Let me know what you think.

Bon Appétit, Y’all!
VA

PS On a whole other note, in the film “The Help” from DreamWorks Pictures and Participant Media, the food on the dinner table tells a story much deeper than the list of ingredients. Drawing inspiration from the film, TakePart brings you Every Recipe Tells a Story, a series featuring the stories behind the recipes. I was fortunate enough to be included, as was my friend and colleague, Sherri Brooks Vinton. Please check it out.

Poached Sockeye Salmon
Serves 4

3 cups water
2 cups dry white wine
2 to 4 sprigs tarragon, leaves coarsely chopped and stems reserved
2 bay leaves, preferably fresh
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 carrot, sliced
Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper
4 (5-ounce) skinless salmon fillets
1 cucumber, peeled and sliced, for serving
Mayonnaise, for serving
Dijon mustard, for serving

To poach the salmon, combine the water, wine, tarragon stems (leaves reserved), bay leaves, peppercorns, and carrot. Bring to a boil over high heat, then decrease the heat to low. Simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes to make a flavorful court-bouillon. Season with salt and pepper. Have ready a large, heavy-duty sealable plastic bag filled with ice cubes. Make an ice bath to cool the salmon by transfering several cups (or more, if needed) of the broth to a large heatproof bowl. Place the ice pack in the bowl of broth; move the pack around until the broth is well chilled (drain the bag and add more ice to it as needed). Return the heat to high and bring the remaining mixture to a rolling boil. Add the salmon fillets. Cover and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes.

Remove from the heat and remove the salmon from the poaching liquid. Transfer to the cooled broth and allow the salmon to cool in the bouillon. Cover the fish and broth with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours or overnight until you are ready to serve.

When ready to serve, using a slotted spoon, remove the fish from the liquid. Pat dry with paper towels. Place on a chilled platter and repeat with remaining filets. Scatter cucumber slices over. Serve immediately with mayonnaise and mustard on teh side.

Please be nice. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission is prohibited. Feel free to excerpt and link, just give credit where credit is due and send folks to my website, virginiawillis.com Thanks so much.

Healthy Chicken, Yankee Peaches, and The Pork Chop Theory Wednesday, Aug 11 2010 

It’s high season for preserving summer fruits and vegetables and I am thrilled about my friend and colleague’s new cookbook Put ’em Up! by Sherri Brooks Vinton. Canning, fermenting, freezing, drying are just a few of the many ways eaters can preserve the fantastic flavors of locally grown foods. Whether you’re a canning novice or preservation pro, Sherri’s book gives eaters all of the information they need to Put ‘em Up!

With my next cookbook, Basic to Brilliant, Y’all on rapidly approaching deadline and launching my new product line, My Southern Pantry, I am afraid the extent of my preserving this year has been limited to making bourbon and Maraschino cherries (which simple consists of pouring booze over the fruit, not a real stretch of culinary prowess) and a putting up a couple of gallons of quart size bags of frozen butterbeans, lady peas, and okra and tomatoes.

So, sadly, canning kettle is staying in the box this year.

However, if you are in the Atlanta area and want to dust yours off, check out the Georgia Organics event with Liz Porter, Preserving the Harvest on August 14 or Yes We Can Can on August 21. Great stuff.

I was honored Sherri asked me to be a part of her book, so I am reprinting her version of my recipe here. That’s real love, you know, sharing like that. It’s the ultimate in the Pork Chop Theory by my dear friend Nathalie Dupree.

What’s that? The what? Huh?

The Pork Chop Theory is based on the premise that if you put one pork chop in the pan and turn the heat on high, the pork chop will burn. If you put two pork chops in the pan, however, and turn the heat on high they will feed off the fat of one another. It’s the ultimate in giving, sharing, and developing mutually beneficial partnerships and relationships. It’s not about competition, it’s about sharing the fat, sharing the love.

It’s about everyone getting what they need to be satisfied and happy.

And, you know what? The older I get, the more I know that’s what life is all about.

Following your heart and being happy.

So, in light of looming book manuscript and in the spirit of The Pork Chop Theory, in these next couple of months I’ll be reaching out to friends and colleagues and sharing their recipes with you. Enjoy!

Bon Appétit, Y’all
VA

Sherri’s Chinese Plum Sauce
Makes about 3 cups

Richly spiced, full of flavor, you won’t want to save it just for your moo shu. Be prepared for this condiment to become your new ketchup.

2 pounds plums, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
2 garlic cloves
1 star anise

Combine the plums, vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and star anise in a large nonreactive pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until thickened, 20 to 25 minutes. Fish out the star anise and discard. Puree the sauce with a stick blender.

Refrigerate: Ladle into bowls or jars. Cool, cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

Can: Use the boiling-water method. Ladle into clean, hot 4-ounce or half-pint canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Release trapped air. Wipe the rims clean; center lids on the jars and screw on jar bands. Process for 10 minutes. Turn off heat, remove canner lid, and let jars rest in the water for 5 minutes. Remove jars and set aside for 24 hours. Check seals, then store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.

Sherri’s Asian Chicken Wrap
Makes 2 wraps

2 cups diced cooked chicken
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup Chinese Plum Sauce (above)
2 flour tortillas
1 cup shredded lettuce
1 cucumber, sliced into ribbons with
a vegetable peeler
Several sprigs fresh cilantro (optional)

Toss the chicken with the soy sauce in a small bowl and set aside. Smear half the Chinese Plum Sauce in the center of each tortilla, being careful to leave at least a 1-inch border all around. Arrange half of the lettuce, cucumber, chicken, and cilantro, if using, on the lower third of each wrap. One at a time, fold up the wraps, first folding the two sides of the tortilla in over the filling, and then, starting with the edge closest to you, rolling the wrap away from you. Turn seam-side down on a plate and serve.

Sherri sent me a picture of peaches from the Union Square farmer’s market to use and I told her I grew up picking peaches in Peach County, Georgia. Pork Chop Theory aside, I told her I couldn’t use her photo of Yankee peaches. I might get run out of town!

Sherri’s Pickled Peaches
Makes about 2 quarts

There are some dishes so quintessentially Southern that they never make it north of the Mason- Dixon line, and Pickled Peaches is one of them. The vinegar-and-fruit combo might sound odd to a Yankee, but put up a batch of these and you’ll be whistling Dixie no matter where you live. I have adapted this recipe from one in Bon Appetit, Y’all, a treasure of a book from my dearfriend, and an authentic Georgia peach herself, Virginia Willis. For best results, use ripe but firm peaches.

ingredients
6 (500 mg) vitamin C tablets, crushed
2 quarts cold water
2 cups ice
5 pounds peaches (10–12)
4 cups distilled white vinegar
4 cups sugar
1 (2-inch) knob ginger, sliced into coins
2 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon whole cloves

prepare
In a large bowl, cooler, or your impeccably clean kitchen sink, create an antibrowning ascorbic-acid bath by dissolving the crushed vitamin C tablets in the cold water. Add the ice.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Working in batches of two peaches at a time, blanch the fruit in the boiling water for 30 seconds to loosen the skins.

Scoop the peaches out of the water and plunge them into the prepared ice water. Repeat with the remaining peaches. Drain. Using a small paring knife, peel, pit, and halve the peaches, returning them to the ice bath as you go.

Bring the vinegar, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves to a boil in a large saucepan, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the drained peaches, return to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes.

Preserve
Refrigerate: Ladle into bowls or jars. Cool, cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

Can: Use the boiling-water method. Ladle into clean, hot quart canning jars, covering the peaches by 1/2 inch with liquid. Leave 1/2 inch of headspace between the top of the liquid and the lid. Screw lids on the jars temporarily. Gently swirl each jar to release trapped air bubbles. Remove the lids and add syrup, if necessary, to achieve proper headspace. Wipe the rims clean; center lids on the jars and screw on jar bands. Process for 20 minutes. Turn off heat, remove canner lid, and let jars rest in the water for 5 minutes. Remove jars and set aside for 24 hours. Check seals, then store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.

Copyright © Virginia Willis Culinary Productions, LLC 2010

Please be nice. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission is prohibited. Feel free to excerpt and link, just give credit where credit is due and send folks to my website, www.virginiawillis.com

%d bloggers like this: