Jul 28, 2007


Tarragon - Artemisia dracunculus

Tarragon was used by the Greeks as early as 500 BC. The Arabs named it “turkhum” which means dragon probably because they found the taste to be exceptionally strong or because of its serpentine shaped roots. The tradition has been continued by the French who call it “estragon.”

Tarragon came to France from the plains of Siberia in the 15th century by the Arabs who had been using it since the 13th century.

Tarragon leaves are rich in iodine, mineral salts and vitamins A and C. In the past tarragon was used to prevent scurvy. It is also used as an appetite stimulant and digestive tonic by naturalists.

Egg Cooking Tip

When you are going to beat egg whites, let the eggs sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before using them.

The egg whites will beat to a greater volume.

Leek and Watercress Soup
Great served chilled in warm weather

2 Tbs. olive oil
5 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), chopped (4 cups)
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped (1 cup)
1 large potato, peeled and diced (1 cup)
1 bunch watercress, trimmed and chopped (2 cups)
4 cups chicken stock
2 Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1 cup cream, half and half or milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Chopped chives for garnish

In large pot, heat oil over medium heat.
Add leeks and onion and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
Add potato and watercress. Cook until wilted, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.
Add stock, bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer until potato is tender, about 30 minutes.
Remove from heat.
Stir in soy sauce, vinegar and cream.
Season with salt and pepper.

In food processor or blender, puree soup in batches.
Serve warm or chilled garnished with chopped chives if desired.

Can be made the day before or frozen for up to 1 month.

Serves 6

Jul 18, 2007

Ham Trivia

A ham is the rear leg of a hog, usually preserved by salting, smoking or drying, or a combination of these methods. Fresh hams are also available. In the U.S. pork shoulders are frequently processed into hams and marketed as picnic hams, shoulder hams, etc.

It has been said that the left leg of a pig, more tender than the right leg because, a pig scratches himself with his right leg, which uses the muscles more often, so the meat will be tougher

Ham is one of the oldest meats of civilized man, although Larousse Gastronomique claims that the salting and smoking of pork to produce ham is a French invention.

Jul 13, 2007

Vietnamese Style Chicken Salad

This salad is perfect as an appetizer or a light lunch.

1 piece (2 in.) fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound boned, skinned chicken breast
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (nuoc nam or nam pla)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 cloves minced garlic
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Asian red chili paste or dried hot chile flakes
6 cups very finely shredded cabbage
2 cups shredded carrots
2 cups water chestnuts, chopped
1 cup shredded English cucumber
3 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup thinly sliced celery
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

In a 4- to 5-quart pan over high heat, bring 2 quarts water, ginger, and salt to a simmer. Add chicken and half of the garlic. Adjust heat to maintain simmer, and cook until chicken is slightly pink in the center (cut to test) about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes, then lift chicken from water. When cool enough to handle, shred or slice into bite-size pieces.

In a large bowl, mix lemon juice, honey, fish sauce, soy sauce, garlic, vinegar, and chili paste. Add cabbage, carrots, water chestnuts, cucumber, green onions, celery, cilantro, mint, and chicken; mix well. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

4 to 6 servings