Recipes Summer Delights: Chow Chow Chow!

I’m willing to admit it: I’m a northern girl with southern envy. Having grown up on a parade of cream of mushroom soup casseroles, I’ve since discovered some of the flavorful, everyday delights my southern brethren took for granted… things like red velvet cake, po-boys and one of the finest condiments to cross my palate: chow-chow. It’s my great loss that the only chow-chows I’d ever encountered were the dog breed and the dancing chow-chow-chow cats of 1970s-era TV advertising.

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Recipes Preserved Grapes & Pecans: A Way with Les Conserves

On a trip to Paris a while back, I stopped in a bookshop on a quest for cookbooks. There were many fine volumes, but one in particular stood out as a must-have. Les Conserves is a glossy, photo-packed soft-cover (Produced by a French division of Reader’s Digest! Why don’t they make such lovely books for English readers?) is ideal for a French neophyte like me. Just look at this recipe for grape preserves.

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Recipes Vibrant Green Coconut-Mint Chutney

I tend to eat lamb year-round, but for many, springtime is prime time for lamb roasts and chops. And I must admit, I’m not sure why mint jelly is the traditional accompaniment. I mean, it’s fine, but I just don’t think it’s quite as tasty or complex in flavor as my Coconut-Mint Chutney. This bright, fresh-tasting sauce is very similar to one I learned while working with Chef Floyd Cardoz of Tabla and Bombay Kitchen.

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Recipes Resolution #3: Get Cultured

There’s nothing like the zeal of the convert, and ever since I started getting regular doses of probiotics in my diet, I can’t shut up about ‘em. After years of having a constantly grumpy tummy, the belly is soothed and I feel my overall health is better. Thank you, gut flora. Fermented milk products like yogurt or kefir are an obvious way to get the probiotic party started, but not everyone eats dairy, so those folks can look to fermented plant products like pickled vegetables, sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, miso and kombucha for their healthy bacteria.

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Recipes Day 15: Brandied Caramel Sauce

*This post marks Day 15 of Miss Ginsu’s 2008 Advent Calendar. Seems like a great year for the home-cooked gift, doesn’t it? A little something tasty in a pretty jar. Something you can’t just get off a grocery store shelf. Something that says, “I didn’t drop a bunch of cash, but there’s a whole lotta love in here.” Last season, I recommended you bless friends and family with your own candied orange slices, citrus bitters, do-it-yourself vinaigrettes, a spicy tomato chutney, little lemon loaves and a tangy citrus curd, among other things.

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Recipes Day 6: Holiday Party Taquitos

*This post marks Day 6 of Miss Ginsu’s 2008 Advent Calendar There’s nothing particularly holiday-centric about these little tacos other than the fact that they’re red, green and festive. But color counts for a lot, and these are just so good, I can’t hold back on sharing them. We had them for dinner recently (and definitely will again) but I think they’d be fantastic as party eats, since it’s easy to make fillings in volume ahead of time and let people go crazy making their own bites while you socialize.

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Dear Miss Ginsu: I Need A Brine for Pickling Green Beans
Recipes Dear Miss Ginsu: I Need A Brine for Pickling Green Beans

Dear Miss Ginsu, We have a huge bean harvest — got any recipes for pickled beans? Yours, — Swimming in ‘em Dear Swimmer, Oh, how I loove pickled green beans! They’re so very tasty. And texture-wise, I think I may even prefer them to pickled cucumbers. In fact, I hope there are still some CSA or farmers’ market beans on the way. Now if I can only keep from boiling and eating them straight away, I’m inspired to get some into jars.

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Blended Bacon Butter (& Friends)

One of the first techniques we learned in cooking school was for making compound butter. It’s essentially just butter that’s softened, blended with something flavorful, reformed and re-chilled for serving. Compound butters are so decadent and so easy — though they never fail to impress guests when you make the effort — and yet, they’re one of those delicious details I invariably forget about. Make them with bacon and anchovies for savory punch, or stick to the purity of herbs and lemon zest to keep the flavors light.

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Recipes Make Your Own Mustard. And Mustard Vinaigrette!

I wonder if a meal’s entrées isn’t a bit like a family’s first child. Lots of attention. Lots of photos. Lots of fuss. Conversely, the condiments of a meal are more like the third or fourth children. They’re loved and cherished, of course, but they don’t get the same kind of special notice. It was close to 100°F today, so there was no cooking in our dinner plans. We ate a big dinner-sized salad made up of farmer’s market lettuce, cherry tomatoes, diced rotisserie chicken and pepperoncini slices dressed in a zippy mustard vinaigrette.

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Cockail Kit: The Sazerac and The Old-Fashioned
Recipes Cockail Kit: The Sazerac and The Old-Fashioned

It’s natural, expected even, for humans to swoon over autumn. Those crisp mornings followed by sweet, golden afternoons are bankable bliss. Likewise, the daffy days of springtime are an easy sell. Loving nothing more and nothing less than the temperatures between 45 and 85 °F, we hairless apes are among the most delicate of creatures, and summer and winter — the seasons of extremes — are the times that try our good will.

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About Me

Miss Ginsu is a nom-nom-nom de plume of Leitha Matz, who worked at Tabla and FreshDirect in NYC, wrote about the food scene from 2004 to 2009 in Brooklyn and presently lives in Berlin. Occasionally seen on TV cooking segments, Leitha has also written for FreshDirect, contributed to Cee Cee Berlin, The Food52 Cookbook and has been interviewed/quoted in The Food Keeper as well as The Washington Times and Salon.

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