cook

Cook: Stone Fruits

It is the height of summer and we are loving the incredible variety and quality of available stone fruits in season. This year has been a particularly good one for Texas peaches... 

Did you know that you can use all parts of a peach in your home cuisine? Turn team member, Chef Mike Lawson, teaches us how to utilize all parts of this delicious summer fruit at home and turn it into a simple and delicious summer dessert.

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  1. The meat: cut the peach in half, take out the pit. Sprinkle with a little brown sugar and roast (bake setting) in the oven on 350 degrees until softened.

  2. The skin: dehydrating the skins with a little sugar can make a delicious peach chip. You can dehydrate them in a dehydrator at 155 degrees, or use the ambient heat leftover from cooking in the oven.

  3. The pit: save the pits of your peaches and use a hammer or rolling pin to smash them in a plastic ziplock bag or parchment paper. the pits can be thrown onto your grill or in your smoker.

  4. The kernel: the kernels of stone fruits can be roasted and salted (they should be cooked and not eaten raw), and turned into a crunchy and savory snack.

Dessert Directions: Place the roasted peaches on a plate and base or top them with yogurt or cream. Sprinkle with granola or muesli. Garnish with the fruit chip. Drizzle with a little honey or peach glaze.

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Cook: Corn

It is peak season for fresh summer corn from local farms! Here are several ways to be sure you are cooking and using all of the corn at home.

1.     Use the fresh kernels, uncooked. Make your own corn salsa, veggie tacos, salad bowls, or soup…Use a knife (che'f’s knife, serated knife, or paring knife) to shave off the fresh kernels into a flat bowl or plate. Save them in the fridge throughout the week and pull them out for a variety of purposes.

2.     Add water/heat and cook it. Steaming and boiling whole corn on the cob are perhaps the easiest and fastest methods for serving it fresh at dinnertime. Or, saute the kernels in a skillet with some oil and herbs.

3.     Grill it. Baste the whole corn with some oil or butter and salt and pepper.  Add some dried or fresh herbs and get creative. Grab your tongs and grill away.

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Be sure and grab fresh corn from your local farmers and the easiest way it so shop at local farmers markets. Check out this great list published on Green Source DFW.

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4.     Freeze it. Any leftovers? Remember you can put the kernels in a Ziploc and store in the freezer. Put a date on the label with a Sharpie.

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Cook: Pickled Things

It’s officially summer and you will hopefully have a ton of fresh produce at home from local farmers, and perhaps even from your own back yard. One of the best ways to preserve fresh produce for months is to pickle them.

There are a ton of sources out there who will recommend different ways of doing this, and we encourage you to try different methods and recipes to find what works for you!

To boil it down (food pun, you’re welcome) into five easy steps, here is how we like to pickle!

Step One: Start with clean jars and lids. If you are reusing previously owned jars and lids (good for you!), be sure they are cleaned with hot water and a little dish soap. (You can also boil them in hot water in a large stock pot if you are really concerned about cleanliness…)

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Step Two: Clean whatever fresh produce you are going to pickle, and slice them into whatever serving shape and size you prefer (or leave whole depending on what it is).

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Step Three: Gather the dried and fresh herbs and seeds that you would like to create flavor. This is where you can get really creative! We always like to use a combo of some fresh herbs and some dried herbs.

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Step Four: Bring equal parts water and vinegar to a rapid boil along with salt in a pot on the stove - reduce heat and let simmer for several minutes (some people will recommend also boiling your herbs and seeds during this time as well).

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Step Five: Bring all of these items together for the pickling party. Place your flavoring herbs and seeds in each jar. Fill the jar with the cleaned produce. Carefully pour the vinegar mixture into each jar and leave a bit of space at the top. With a clean towel, carefully and tightly screw on the lids to each jar. Let them cool on your counter until the jar lids pop. Store in your pantry or in your fridge.

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We love the pickled food items that you will find at these local businesses. Check them out!

Jimmy’s Food Store - Khao Noodle Shop - Petra and the Beast - Pickletopia - Yim’s Foods

Cook: Citrus

When weather gets warmer, we start thinking about buying and using more citrus in our kitchens at home. As prices lower, it is tempting to buy entire bags of oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit…having more means you may be tempted to forget (and waste) them if not used.

There are several ways you can use an entire piece of citrus – and even preserve it for the future. Here are some tips from our team:

  1. ZEST or GRATE the peel. One of the fastest and easiest ways to add instant flavor to any dish you are preparing is to add a tsp or TB of citrus zest. Having a zester tool in your kitchen is a must have.

  2. DEHYDRATE the peel. You can use a small paring knife (or vegetable peeler) to carve off small strips. You can dehydrate in the oven at a low temp, or in a dehydrator, or even just air dry in a cool dark space.

  3. JUICE the entire fruit. You can: 1, drink the juice (aqua fresca!); 2, freeze the juice in a bag in the freezer (popsicles!); or 3, mix it with some vinegar in a spray bottle to make an eco friendly household cleaner.

  4. Fruit started to harden? SLICE the entire fruit and store it in the fridge in cold water for a refreshing beverage on a warm day.

All of the tools needed for these items can be purchased at high-end culinary shops like Sur la Table or Williams Sonoma. However, they can also be purchased at Dollar General, Dollar Tree, or your local grocery store (Central Market in Dallas has a great section) that has a kitchen utensils section.

Tools (L-R): zester, box grater, paring knife, vegetable peeler, chef’s knife

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Cook: Winter Greens

January is a great time to buy and cook local winter greens - broccoli, chard, kale, spinach, collards…we hope you sauté, or braise, or steam these beauties at home for your family.

However, if you don’t think you will be able to cook them in time before they go bad, here’s a quick tutorial on how to blanch them and save them for a future date!

Blanching is a culinary term that means, “to cook an item partially and very briefly in boiling water or in hot fat.  Usually a pre-preparation technique, as to loosen peels of vegetables, fruits, and nuts, to partially cook French fries or other foods before service, to prepare for freezing, or to remove undesirable flavors.” [Source: “Professional Cooking”, Wayne Gisslen]

That’s a technical way to say: quickly cook at high temp, then chill immediately.

Here’s what you do:

1.     Chop up the greens. While chopping, put a pot of salted water on the stovetop and bring that water to a rapid boil.

2.     Once water is boiling vigorously, put the greens in and let them cook for 1-3 minutes. It is important to not let them boil for too long, as you will lose more nutrients and texture the longer they cook. Wait for them to turn a bright color and soften slightly…for thicker greens, boil slightly longer – more delicate greens only need 1 minute or so.

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3.     While the greens are boiling, get another bowl and fill it with ice water (this is your “ice bath” for the greens – yes, they’re getting a little spa treatment…)

4.     Drain greens in a colander, and quickly move them to their ice bath. Let them cool to room temperature. Drain them again in the colander.

5.     Put greens in Ziploc freezer bags and label with the date you cooked them. Store them in your freezer.

Blanch away, friends!  Don’t waste those good greens.