Monthly Archives: July 2014

Jicama

 

Jicama

JICAMA

     Jicama is a large, bulbous, root vegetable. (Pronounced heek a mah). It is also known as the Mexican turnip, Mexican potato, Mexican yam, or yam bean. This plant was originally exported from the Spanish to the Philippines in the 17th century. Jicama comes from the Aztec word xicamalt. They used its seeds as medicine. Jicama is also one of the 4 elements honored during the Festival of the Dead on November 1st in Mexico.
Jicama is a starchy, edible root. It has thin, brown, papery skin that must be removed before eating. The flesh is crispy and white. It can be eaten cooked or raw. It has a flavor similar to raw potato and apple. Jicama won’t discolor when cut.
The root is the only edible part of the jicama plant. The leaves, stems, and ripe pods of the plant are poisonous. Jicama is also used to make a thickener similar to arrowroot.

There are two main varieties of Jicama: Pachyrhizus tuberosus, and P. erosus. P. tuberosus is native to the Amazon. It grows in tropical and temperate zones of the Americas, Andes, Ecuador, China and Caribbean. It is 8 to 12 inches in diameter. When this plant reaches a diameter of 12 inches, a toxic substance called retonone is produced. Retonone is used as an insecticide. P. tuberosus is juicy, and almost always eaten raw. P. erosus comes in two types: water and milk.     They just denote the consistency of the root. It grows in Mexico and Central America. It is 6 to 8 inches in length. P. erosus is eaten raw or cooked.
Jicama contains vitamin C and Potassium. Peak season for the jicama is November through May.

Flavors for Jicama

cayenne
chiles
cilantro
citrus, especially lime
cucumbers
lime
mangoes
oranges
salt
vinaigrette

© 2014 Chef Jennifer M. Denlinger All rights reserved
Please contact me for permission to use or reference this work.

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Kantola

Kantola

Kantola  (Momordica dioica, or M. cochinchinensis) is a curious little gourd, commonly found in Indian in Southern Asian cuisines.  Sometimes it is called the spiny gourd or teasle gourd.

This little fruit is covered in little spines, but they aren’t sharp.  When the fruit is ripe- it changes from dark green to light green.  When it turns to yellow- it gets bitter.  Most commonly, this fruit is sliced and used in curries.  They are also pickled, or stuffed and steamed.  The out layer of skin should be removed before eating.

Kantola is related to the bitter melon, but does not resemble it in taste.  There are many health benefits that are purported.  They are full of phytonutrients and antioxidants, especially vitamin C.  They are high in folate, and may possibly reduce the blood sugar level.  It is also said to help with kidney stones when pulverized with water and drank every day.

Kantolas come to market around “monsoon” season- and are cultivated in the mountain regions of India.

© 2014 Chef Jennifer M. Denlinger       All rights reserved

Please contact me for permission to use or reference this work.

Please contact me if you wish to receive “Food For Thought” in your mailbox.

#LeCordonBleu

Rosemary

Rosemary

Rosemary is a perennial herb that is native to the Mediterranean area.  It is a member of the mint family.  It has been used since 500 BC.  In the 1600s it was introduced into America.  Rosemary is Latin for Dew of the Sea.  It has silver green needle shaped leaves, and has pale blue flowers. Its flavor is similar to evergreen.  Rosemary can be overpowering.  Sometimes it may irritate the stomach.  Through out time, rosemary has been use to cure ailments of the nervous system.  It helps reinforce memory.  In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Ophelia said, There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. It has also been said to be anti-spasmatic, antiseptic, diuretic, stomachic, and a stimulant.  It relieves rheumatism, and flatulence, and stimulates perspiration and menstruation.  It also aides the liver.

Rosemary is  commonly found in the herb blend of Herbes de Provence.  It is also found in stuffing, and complements onions, potatoes, fava beans, lamb, and olive oil well.  Another use it to try with lemony sweets and honey.  With rosemary, less is more.  Too much rosemary may be overpowering, and leave a bitter taste.  Rosemary is found in the fresh, dried, and powdered forms.

Rosemary’s Flavors

  • beans, especially dried and fava
  • chicken
  • fish, oily
  • game
  • grains
  • lamb
  • mushrooms
  • onions
  • oranges
  • peas
  • pork
  • potatoes
  • poultry
  • salmon
  • spinach
  • steaks
  • veal

Rosemary Oil

Yields 1 ½ gal

1-qt extra virgin olive oil

1-gallon virgin olive oil

1/2 pounds fresh rosemary, reserving 10 stalks

Strip rosemary from large woody stem.
Place approximately one fourth of the rosemary in the blender and cover with virgin olive oil.  Return lid.  Blend on medium high for 30 seconds.
Strain through a chinoise mousseline into a cambro.
Continue in similar fashion until all rosemary and all virgin olive oil is blended and strained.
Add the extra virgin olive oil to the rosemary oil.
Place reserved 10 stalks in oil mixture.
Cover, label, and date.

 

Originally Published 11-19-13

© 2013 Chef Jennifer M. Denlinger       All rights reserved

Please contact me for permission to use or reference this work.

Please contact me if you wish to receive “Food For Thought” in your mailbox.