Just a Few Words About Knife Skills

Lately, I’ve been thinking about knife skills. Not just what they are, but why they are. If you take a cooking class, the chef starts by teaching knife skills, so clearly they are foundational to cooking. But why?

Chef Jim, where I work, taught me once that cutting foods into smaller pieces increases the amount of moisture available for tasting. Moisture serves as a vehicle to carry flavor molecules into your taste buds. The more moisture, the more flavor. And that explains the appeal of my dad’s chopped salad. He chops up lettuce, tomato, onion and other ingredients into very small pieces that markedly increase the amount of flavor (and mix of flavors!) released with every bite. And how does Chef Ira create that magic? With his knife. Continue reading



YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Recipes to Watch the Leaves Fall By

Any day now, our kitchen counters will be covered in pumpkins and onions, and this week I have two simply extraordinary recipes for you to try. Both make a meal very special: if you’d like to test them in the next few weeks for any upcoming fall celebrations, go for it. Also, although it’s not essential, if you have time to make the onions the day before, then I highly recommend it. As fabulous as they taste on day one, they taste even better the next day! Continue reading



YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Rainbow Beet Salad

Beets are one of my favorite foods. Whether purple, yellow, orange, or pink-and-white, these babies are phytonutrient heaven. Some people are partial to the smaller-sized beets, considering these the sweetest but, no matter what size you like, you’ll want to make sure to get ones with firm, dark green leaves on top. Beet greens are absolutely the best! When I buy beets, I cut the green tops off right away so I can slice them into short lengths, rinse them well, and saute them quickly in olive oil. They usually get eaten fast.  Continue reading


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Huevos Haminados (Slow-roasted Eggs)

Haminados are one of my all-time favorite Passover recipes! Simple, sublime and delicious, they have been a staple at the Passover tables of Mediterranean Jewish communities for millennia! Check out this recipe and you’ll see why. Whether you make this dish in your crockpot or oven, it takes just a few minutes to toss it together and get it cooking. Continue reading


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Chickpeas & Posole

If you have never heard of posole, you are in for a seriously delicious treat. Posole is the same as hominy, kernels of corn that have been soaked in limewater, then hulled and dried. These are whole, not like the ones that are crushed for making grits. You can get some extraordinarily good posole from Rancho Gordo in Napa, or from a Mexican grocery, or from most anywhere that beans, nuts, seeds and grains are sold in bulk. Americans eat loads of grain, including corn, but not like this. Posole is the real deal. Continue reading


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Slow Chicken & White Beans

In honor of the upcoming marriage of HLJ to ESS:
Here’s a magnificent recipe, inspired by the fact that this year is the #Year of the #Pulse! You know how much I love beans and the flavors developed by slow cooking! Try putting it up right now, and you’ll have a very special, delicious and nutritious meal for dinner tonight. Of course, if you’re me, you might decide to make it tonight instead of in the morning, so it will be ready just in time for breakfast tomorrow.
Whenever food cooks in our slow cooker through the night, it gives me delicious dreams. Sometimes it even wakes me up, a few times for a few moments, to savor the smells. Then, when morning comes, I can barely get myself up and dressed fast enough in my hurry to get downstairs to eat my yummy breakfast from the crockpot! I’m not kidding — consider yourself forewarned.

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YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Tomato Quinoa Risotto

The most important part of this beautiful dish is the gorgeous tomatoes. First find the tomatoes, and then organize the rest of your ingredients. The rest will all come together beautifully once the tomatoes are chosen.

Plan to make this recipe only if you’re going to be around to keep your eye on it. It’s a great choice for a small group of friends planning to spend the day together and looking for something special to make. It goes great with a mixed green salad and a glass of wine. Continue reading