Germany’s Hokkaido Kürbis Obsession: How Deutschland Fell in Love with a Japanese Squash
Recipes History Germany’s Hokkaido Kürbis Obsession: How Deutschland Fell in Love with a Japanese Squash

It’s hard to miss Hokkaido Squash season in Germany, with special menus and all the farmers' markets and vegetable stands piled high with the popular red-orange “Hokkaido Squash.” Wait, hold on… Hokkaido? That’s a region in Japan. And all the squash and pumpkins are new-world vegetables, anyway. So how the heck did Germany make the Hokkaido pumpkin its own? Our food history on the Hokkaido Kürbis takes us back to the 1500s, when the Portugese brought south and central-American pumpkins back to Europe.

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5 Make-Ahead Mixes to Rescue Your Busy Weekday Dinners
Recipes 5 Make-Ahead Mixes to Rescue Your Busy Weekday Dinners

When I have a little time on a Sunday and I know I’m going to have a particularly busy week coming up, I start thinking about a few little make-ahead projects that help to move dinner along more quickly or turn a basic dish into something a little more special. With just a small amount of advance preparation, I’ve found that reaching for few little jars can be fairly miraculous when I’m pressed for time.

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Mom’s Homemade Pizza & The Joy of Memory-Making Meals
Recipes Mom’s Homemade Pizza & The Joy of Memory-Making Meals

Today’s post is an homage to the pizza that mom makes, but like many Americans, I grew up with a broad spectrum of different foods that were all called “pizza.” At the far end of the thin-crust spectrum, we see things like the cracker-thin Neapolitan-style pizzas, light on toppings and baked to bubbly, lightly blackened pies in ultra-hot wood or coal-fire ovens. On the other end, you see emphasis on crust thicknesses rising all the way to the casserole-like excess that is Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, which can be so overloaded, it’s like an entire meal in a single slice.

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Recipes A Wintery Short Rib Braise

I’m always thrilled to find something that’s so satisfying and nourishing, it becomes a new addition to the lineup of household favorites. That’s a rare occasion. But I think we have a winner, folks. This is a braise made up of beef short ribs, mushrooms and the hearty winter greens of your choice. There’s a little fuss involved in browning the short ribs before they head into the oven for a slow-cook, but it’s worth it for the rich flavor and falling-off-the-bone tenderness.

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Resolution #2: Rearrange the Plate

In culinary school, we did a lot of plate drawings. The elements were always different, but the formula was invariable: Protein, Veg, Starch. Protein, Veg, Starch. J recently started trying to drop weight to qualify for a lower weight division at tournaments, and he suggested that we drop the starch sector from our plates. “Just double the vegetables and put the meat on the side.” At the time, this statement was revolutionary, and I must admit, not terribly welcome.

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Resolution #1: Better Brown Bagging

Get to (or stay at) a healthy weight. Enjoy variety. Save money. Control what goes into your body. Feel more organized. These are just a few of the many tasty benefits wrapped up in the resolution to pack more delicious lunches to take to work. Truth is, I’ve known all the terrific reasons to pack lunch for quite some time, but I’ve never quite been able to put the plan in action.

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Day 23: Christmas Gumbo
Recipes Day 23: Christmas Gumbo

*This post marks Day 23 of Miss Ginsu’s 2008 Advent Calendar. In my neighborhood, ‘tis the season of the big carp slaughter. Apparently it’s traditional for Polish folks to eat fresh carp for Christmas (part of the traditional “fish on holy days” tradition, no doubt) so the fishes are currently swimming about in cold-water pools waiting to be chopped up for dinners across the ‘hood. Likewise, in Italy, southern folks celebrate the feast of the seven fishes over the holidays.

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Day 20: The Scarborough Loaf
Recipes Day 20: The Scarborough Loaf

*This post marks Day 20 of Miss Ginsu’s 2008 Advent Calendar. Like me, you may know a few vegetarians. Like me, you may have once been one of those vegetarians. In those days, I was always a little befuddled at the holidays. I mean, feast foods are pretty proscribed for omnivores (1. roast something 2. add starchy sides). Those who shun meat are left without a lot of festive “center of the plate” foods.

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Smoked Chops & Apple-Kissed Kraut

I had grand plans for a gorgeous autumnal Choucroute Garni, but life interfered (I’m certain you’re well aware of know how life tends to do that) and I realized that a long-cooking dish in the Dutch oven simply wouldn’t do. Food needed to appear on the table STAT. Luckily, a deconstructed Choucroute Garni happens to make for one of the quickest meals out there. And a darn tasty one at that.

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Recipes Not the Lunchlady’s Goulash

At the tender age of six or seven, I had a clear moment of decision in the school lunchroom. As most epiphanies are, this revelation was heartfelt and simple. Though I’d traditionally devoured nearly anything that crossed my path — poisonous or not — I discovered a newfound hatred for goulash. Little did I know that the bland hamburger-macaroni combo they’d scooped onto my plastic tray and billed as goulash was actually a low-rent impostor.

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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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