Whether the weather in Central Texas is indicating it or not, the Fall season is officially here. It’s the season when we start thinking about pumpkins and heartier holiday dishes like chili, apple pie, and pot roast. We always look forward to this time of year. Our culinary artist within comes alive with the anticipation of creating new recipes and dishes and sharing them with our friends and family.
Have you ever thought about why some dishes are more popular during the current season? Why do we always have pumpkin pie in the Fall or tomato salad in Summer? It is because of the seasonality of produce. Eating vegetables and fruits that are “in season” have so many benefits:
- You get a broader variety of foods in your diet.
- You save money (seasonal produce is less expensive).
- You get the best tasting, healthiest food available because they are picked when ripe and travel a shorter distance to get to you, the customer.
- You end up supporting local, more sustainable farmers ( Downtown Waco Farmers Market ).
How do we know what is really “in season” in our area? The local farmers market is a great resource! The produce offered by these local farmers is all seasonal. We make a point to go every week and see what is available, and even chat with the vendors to see what they will have in the following weeks. (Another great resource: Seasonal Food Guide )
Last week we picked up some fresh Bok Choy from The Home Grown Farm. This Chinese vegetable, which is a cross between romaine lettuce and cabbage, is very versatile. Serve it raw in salads, add it to soup, or just saute and serve as a side dish, which is what we did! What’s great about Bok Choy is you can use the whole vegetable. Talk about getting your money’s worth.
|Sauteed Bok Choy
½ cup water
1 ½ teaspoon tamari or soy sauce
2 teaspoons avocado or extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon finely minced ginger
1 lb. bok choy
pinch of coarse sea salt
Sesame Seeds, optional for garnish
- Whisk water and tamari in a small bowl and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large nonstick pan over high heat.
- Add the garlic and ginger and cook just until they begin to sizzle, tilting the pan so the aromatics and the oil get a little bath, all in all just about 30 seconds.
- Immediately add the greens along with pinch of salt to the pan and stir to coat greens with garlic and ginger.
- Add the reserved soy sauce mixture and cook just until the greens begin to wilt, about 3 minutes. Serve immediately.
Even a dish as simple as mashed potatoes has room for improvement. Here are the “10 Commandments of Mashed Potatoes” to guarantee perfect, fluffy mashed potatoes every time.
1. DO USE THE RIGHT POTATOES: Yukon golds or Russets
2. DO CUT YOUR POTATOES THE SAME SIZE: start them in cold water, and bring to a simmer until they are cooked through.
3. DO NOT ADD YOUR FLAVORINGS AT THE END: add garlic and herbs in the pot with the milk or cream
4. DO EMBRACE THE TANG FACTOR: add cream, buttermilk, crème fraîche.
5. DO NOT LOSE THE FLUFF: drain the potatoes and put them back in the pot without a lid after they have boiled. Cook them just for a couple minutes on medium-low, shaking the pot, until all the excess moisture is evaporated.
6. DO NOT ADD COLD LIQUID: Make sure the milk or cream you add to your potatoes is HOT.
7. DO NOT SKIMP ON THE SEASONING: Salt the water you are cooking your potatoes in.
8. DO USE A POTATO MASHER OR RICER.
9. DO NOT SERVE A NAKED MASH: top with butter, crispy shallots or chives.
10. DO WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE: peel & cut potatoes the day before, cover with water and keep in fridge. Assemble your milk/cream/butter mixture in a small saucepan and refrigerate that, too. That way, all you need to do on is boil, drain, and mash on the day of your holiday meal.
Perfect Mashed Potatoes
Makes 8 servings
3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 2″ pieces
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 2″ pieces
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter; plus more for serving
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup sour cream
Special equipment: A potato ricer
Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water by 2″. Generously season with salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until tender, 10–15 minutes. Drain and transfer potatoes to a baking sheet; let stand until dry, 10–15 minutes. Set pot aside.
Meanwhile, heat cream, milk, and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat; season with salt and pepper.
Pass potatoes through ricer into reserved pot. Mix in warm milk mixture, then sour cream; season with salt. Serve topped with pepper and more butter.