Kathy Maister's Start Cooking

How to: Strawberries

posted in Fruits by Kathy Maister

Strawberries, once just a summertime treat, are now available year round. Especially tasty are the locally grown ones that are now showing up at farmers’ markets.

Always choose strawberries that are plump, firm and glossy.

Wash them just before using them.

I always wash my supermarket strawberries, in a colander, under a gentle spray of running water. Or you can swish the strawberries around in a bowl with cool tap water.

(Actually my old friend Roger never washed strawberries. He felt it washed away the flavor. But then again he lived in the south of France and only bought them from the local farmer who grew them organically.)

Once washed, spread the strawberries out on a clean dish towel to dry.

To “hull” a strawberry means to remove the green leafy top and the tiny stalk. If you plan on hulling tons of strawberries, you may want to buy a strawberry huller. But a small paring knife works very well for hulling a quart or two.

Start by grasping the green top…

…and just trim out that tiny stem.

Or you could just slice off the whole top with a small paring knife.

Just pulling off the green leafy top (as shown below) is NOT enough. You need to remove that tiny bit of white, hard stem as well.

To store strawberries, place them in a single layer in a moisture-proof plastic container that has a tight fitting lid.

Lay a paper towel on top of the strawberries and then put the lid on the container. When you put them in the refrigerator, store them with the lid side down in the refrigerator.

Stored this way they should stay fresh for at least 2-3 days.

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Recipes to die for:

Strawberries dipped in Chocolate from startcooking.com

Strawberries Romanoff –Strawberries soaked in orange juice/curacao/cointreau and served with Whipped Cream

Strawberry Short Cake – a classic that everybody loves!

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Cooking Green Beans

posted in Vegetables and Beans by Kathy Maister

Green beans are one of those vegetables that are available year round at the grocery store. Make sure you buy ones that have a nice bright color and are free of blemishes.

With just a sprinkle of salt and two minutes in the microwave, you’ve got a fresh vegetable for dinner. Given they cook so quickly, make only enough for what you are going to eat for dinner tonight.

About 24 (four inch long) green beans will be enough for two servings.

The first thing you have to do is “top and tail” the beans. That’s the official term used to nip the tips off each end of the beans.

You can line them up and with a knife cut the ends off. As long as the beans are young and fresh, they should not be stringy. If they are stringy you will need to nip the ends off, one at a time, with your fingers. This same technique is used when making snow peas as well.

Sort of drag the tip off, pulling any of the stringy bit off as you go.

Rinse the beans in a colander.

Put them in a microwave safe dish. Add about 2 Tablespoons of water.

Cover the beans with plastic wrap leaving a small corner open.

If you seal them completely, the plastic wrap will almost shrink-wrap itself to the beans. This makes it a lot harder to remove the plastic wrap and much more likely you will get burned by the trapped steam.

Some people serve green beans with lashings of butter, or with almonds. I prefer them just with salt and sometimes a squeeze of lemon juice.

Cheers!

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Fiddleheads

print recipe card posted in Food, Vegetables and Beans by Kathy Maister
Difficulty:

You may have seen these in the produce section of the grocery store and thought “NO WAY”! Well guess what? They’re delicious! These fiddlehead ferns are also very nutritious.

What ever you do, don’t just pop one in your mouth raw. They need to get cooked first! Once cooked, you can then eat them hot or cold, alone, or in soups, salads, or stews. Fiddleheads are only available in the springtime and have a very short season. So grab them when you see them and startcooking!

Step 1. Cleaning the Fiddleheads

Fill a bowl with cold water and submerge the fiddleheads.

(I stuck them in a colander first and then put the whole colander in the bowl of water.) With your hand, swish the fiddleheads to remove any bits of dirt.

Lift the fiddleheads out of the sink and let them drain.

With a paring knife trim off the end.

Step 2. Boiling the Fiddleheads

DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. Even though I am going to sauté (fry) the fiddleheads in garlic and olive oil they still need to get boiled first. This not only cooks them but it also removes any bitterness.

Put the fiddleheads in a pot and cover them completely with cold water.

As they come to a boil they will float to the surface.

Boil them for 6-8 minutes. The water ends up looking quite dirty!

Step 3. Sautéing the Fiddleheads

Drain the fiddleheads in a colander.

Heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan over medium- high and add one clove of crushed garlic

…. and the fiddleheads.

Sauté for approximately 1 minute.

Add some fresh cracked black pepper…

…a sprinkle of salt…

…and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Stir is all together..

…and the fiddleheads are ready!

Enjoy!

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