Monday, March 9, 2009

No.36: Kohlrabi

Note: This week's kohlrabi has been requested
by Anonymous!

Kohlrabi can look pretty intimating if you have not been around them much! They are still yummy nonetheless!

1. Kohlrabi has the look of an organic green Sputnik (russian satelite), with a taste like fresh, crunchy broccoli stems accented by radish.

The name kohlrabi comes from the German kohl, meaning cabbage, and rabi, or turnip, and that kind of sums it up.

3. Two main types are grown in America, white and purple. The "white," actually light green, is much the more popular although the purple variety is most attractive.

4. Coloration of the purple types is superficial, the edible parts are all pale yellow. In Europe, fancy kinds with frilled and deeply cut leaves are sometimes grown for ornamentation.

5. It's grown more for its bulb-like stem than for its greens leaves, although these can be eaten too if they're attached when you buy it (just like the daikon), they taste similar to Swiss chard or kale. Leaves of the purple variety are better to eat than those of the green kohlrabi.

6. Cut your kohlrabi in half. Your kohlrabi should be solid all the way through, with no spongy or brown spots. Cut these out if you have them, leaving only the firm bulb intact.

7. Smaller kohlrabi are the sweetest and most tender. Bulbs much bigger than the size of a tennis ball won’t be as tasty and often have a pithy flesh. Also, they should be used when the tubers are 2 to 3 inches in diameter, before they become hard or bitter.

Reference: Wikipedia,, BBC, A Midwest Gardener's Cookbook, Plant Answers, Care2

Here's a little something extra:

Helen of Food Stories has this excellently yummy radish and kohlrabi pickles which pair up really well with her Veggie Burgers. grin* I'm getting all hungry again just looking at these pictures! drool*

Picture Credits:
Helen Graves (Food Stories)

Another equally talented individual is Lucinda of Nourish Me. Her specially adapted kohlrabi remoulade is a superb winter salad! Plus I love her interesting addition of homemade hazelnut mayonaise! very much yums*

Picture Credits:
Lucinda (Nourish Me)

Stop salivating and drop by Food Stories & Nourish Me
for these
recipes now!

Thank you Helen & Lucinda!! :)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

No.35: Jicama

Note: This week's jicama has been requested
by Anonymous!

Surprisingly sweet & crunchy, jicamas have a unique flavor that lends itself well to salads, salsas, and vegetable platters!

1. What does jicama taste like? Some say its flavor lies between that of an apple and that of a water chestnut. Sometimes they can be used to substitute chestnuts, an appreciated quality of this vegetable is that
it remains crisp even after cooking!

2. The milk jicama (jicama de leche) produces a milky juice unlike the water jicama (jicama de agua) and interestingly, both types can grow from the same seed.

3. The roots can sometimes grow to be quite large, although when they exceed the size of two fists, they begin to convert the sugars that give jicama its sweet flavor into starches, making the root somewhat woody to
the taste.

4. As mentioned, except for the root, the jicama plant, for the most part, is not edible,
but that does not mean that its other parts are not useful. The seeds in the pod contain a series of compounds that make an effective insecticide (the toxin rotenone), and they can be used as such when they are pulverized. The seeds are also used in some dermatologic preparations. The stalks, on the other hand, yield strong fibers that can be used in making fishing nets.

5. When choosing jicama at the store, look for medium sized, firm tubers with
dry roots.
Do not purchase jicama that has wet or soft spots, which may indicate rot, and don't be drawn to overlarge examples of the tuber, because they may not be as flavorful. Jicama will keep under refrigeration for up to two weeks.

NOTE! I had no idea jicamas are one of the main ingredients in a popular Malaysian treat called popiah (one of my fave snacks) as they go by a different name, here jicamas are called sengkuang! My foray into vegeland is certainly growing more interesting by the day! :D

Reference: Wikipedia, Do Unto Others Project, Fun with your food, IDPH, eons

Monday, February 16, 2009

No.34: Bitter gourd

Note: This week's bitter gourd or bitter melon has also been requested by Joana and Alda

Known as one of the most
bitter vegetables in the world,
bitter gourds have a very distingushing taste!

1. Young immature bitter gourds are the best for cooking: the skin is bright green in color, the flesh inside is white, and the seeds are small and tender. However, the pith will become sweet when the fruit is fully ripe, and the pith's color will turn red. The pith can be eaten uncooked in this state, but the flesh of the melon (fruit) will be far too tough and too bitter to be eaten anymore. (Note: Choose unripe bitter melons that are firm, like how you would a cucumber.)

2. The typical Chinese phenotype is 20 to 30 cm long, oblong with bluntly tapering ends and pale green in color,
with a gently undulating, warty surface.
The bitter melon more typical of India has a narrower shape with pointed ends, and a surface covered with jagged, triangular "teeth" and ridges. Coloration is green or white. Between these two extremes are any number of intermediate forms. (Note: The smaller variety is more bitter than the bigger one.)

3. Clean your bitter melon under cold running water and brush with a soft vegetable brush.
To prepare, slice the melon length-wise and scoop out the seeds. To lessen the bitter flavor, soak it in salt water for about half an hour before juicing/cooking.

4. Keeping bitter melons at room temperature or with other fruits and vegetables will hasten the melon to ripen and become more bitter, due to the emission of ethylene gas.

5. A “bitter gourd face” is a common Chinese expression describing a serious or sad face.

Reference: Wikipedia, Ayurbalance, Binding Love, Evergreen Seeds, Shalomboston

Sunday, December 21, 2008

No.33: Lima Beans

Note: This week's Lima Beans has also been requested by Sam's Mistress & J

Favored for their lovely nutty taste, lima beans make a great addition to any meal!

1. During the Spanish Viceroyalty of Peru, lima beans were exported to the rest of the Americas and Europe, since the boxes of such goods had their place of origin labeled "Lima - Peru", the beans got named as such.

2. Raw lima beans are not to be consumed raw! They contain linamarin (also called cyanogen), which releases a cyanide compound when the seed coat is opened. Don’t worry, cooking deactivates this compound.

3. The United States sets regulations to restrict commercially grown lima beans to those varieties with very low levels of this linamarin, but lima beans grown elsewhere,
may have 20 to 30 times the concentration allowed in the United States.

4. Before the late 19th century, most beans were raised for shelled, dried beans, not fresh green beans. Because beans dry so well, they are easy to transport and store.

5. Soak dried limas for six hours and cook on the stove uncovered for about one hour, or until tender. 1 cup of dried limas makes approximately 2 1/2 cups of cooked beans.

Reference: Food Reference, Wikipedia

Sunday, December 14, 2008

No.32: Cauliflower

Note: This week's Cauliflower has been requested
by Sam's Mistress

Sporting green leaves to shade itself from the sun gives
this yummy veg its original whitish shade!

1. Apart from the white variety of cauliflower, there are also green, purple and orange varieties! Orange cauliflower contains
25 times the level of Vitamin A of
white varieties.

2. While broccoli opens outward to sprout bunches of green florets, cauliflower forms a compact head of undeveloped white flower buds. The heavy green leaves that surround the head protect the flower buds from the sunlight, hence its white color.

3. To prevent moisture from developing in the floret clusters, store it with the stem
side down.

4. Cauliflower contains phytonutrients that release odorous sulfur compounds when heated. Some phytonutrients may react with iron in cookware and cause the cauliflower to take on a brownish hue. To prevent this, add a bit of lemon juice to the water in which you blanche the cauliflower.

5. Low carb dietiers can use cauliflower as a reasonable substitute for potatoes for while they can produce a similar texture, or mouth feel, they lack the starch of potatoes; cauliflower is used to produce a potato substitute known as fauxtato.

Reference: Wikipedia, World's Healthiest Food, Food Reference

Monday, October 27, 2008

No.31: Patty pan Squash

Being so cute & colorful makes patty pan squashes big hits
with children!

1. Brightly colored, this little squash comes in numerous varieties: white, bright yellow or orange, and ends in a thick green tail.
The pattypan is about the size of a pepper, semi-spherical in shape with
a scalloped border.

2. The French name pâtisson comes from the Provençal word for a cake made in a scalloped mould. It also bears the French nicknames of "Israel artichoke" and
"Priest's bonnet."

3. In fine cuisine, its tender flesh is sometimes scooped out and mixed with flavorings such as garlic prior to reinsertion; the scooped-out husk of a pattypan also is sometimes used as a decorative container for other foods.

4. Choose the smallest ones available if you want the best taste and texture as once it gets older, its flesh whitens and toughens. Since pattypans are picked when immature, they should be eaten as soon as possible.

5. Mini pattypans are best used raw, since high heat can turn their flesh floury and slightly sour. Or you could always preserve them in vinegar!

Reference: Wikipedia, Nation Master, Ezine Articles, The Worldwide Gourmet, Wisegeek

Sunday, October 5, 2008

No.30: Brussel Sprouts

Brussel sprouts are your one of your best sources of Vitamins K & C!

1. The Brussels sprout is a cultivar group of Wild Cabbage cultivated for its small (typically 2.5 - 4cm, 1 - 1.5 inches diameter) leafy green heads, which resemble miniature cabbages.

2. Brussels sprouts grow in bunches of 20 to 40 on the stem of a plant that grows from two to three feet tall.

3. The sprouts are usually cooked whole. To allow the heat to permeate throughout all of the leaves and better ensure an even texture, cut an "X" in the bottom of the stem before cooking.

4. Overcooking releases sulphur compounds in the vegetables that give it a distinctive smell commonly found unpleasant.

5. Don't overcook sprouts or they'll taste bland. Steaming, rather than boiling, helps to preserve their sweet flavour.

Reference: Wikipedia, Cabbage Lore & Trivia, BBC, WHFoods,