Blog Posts by Zester Daily

  • 10 Top Tips for Foraging for Free Wild Food

    You can find free wild food anywhere, from rural to urban areas.By Wendy Petty

    Wild foods are gaining a foothold, both in people's imaginations and their refrigerators. Foraging was named among the hottest trends of the year by several food buzz lists. This is, in part, thanks to foraging advocate Chef René Redzepi, who is so enthralled with wild foods that he picks wild herbs on his morning runs. But there is also an upsurge of interest from hobbyists and wild food enthusiasts, all of whom are delighted to embrace the diverse flavors of deeply local wild foods.

    Related: A guide to finding wild greens.

    In light of the recession, highly nutritious foraged foods can help ease the strain on pocketbooks. So many of the plants that are considered weeds are edible. At best, they are disregarded. At worst, they are considered pests. Foraging is the plant version of up-cycling, utilizing something that most would consider garbage to fill hungry bellies.

    Aside from the economic advantages, foraging is also old-fashioned fun, and it can

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  • Shine Supper Club: Sentimental for Mom's Baked Salmon Cakes

    Salmon cakes from mom were baked, rather than fried.By Barbara Haber

    One of the treasures I inherited from my mother is "The Settlement Cook Book," a recipe collection that originated in Milwaukee where my mother had lived most of her life. The book was a standard for Midwestern home cooks just as the "Boston Cooking-School Cook Book," better known as the Fannie Farmer cookbook, gave New Englanders basic instructions for what most people were eating a couple of generations ago. In my mother's time, people generally owned only a few cookbooks, a basic all-purpose one, and several community cookbooks purchased as fundraisers for their local schools, churches or synagogues.

    Related: From mother to daughter, a suggestion for the best birthday cake recipe.

    My mother's "The Settlement Cookbook" was pretty tattered by the time I got it, held together by a rubber band because of a missing spine and some loose pages. But the book's infirmities have only made it dearer to me, for it reflects its years of use in the hands of a

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  • 5 Reasons to Use Vintage Kitchen Tools Instead of Buying New

    Vintage tools make great kitchen art too.By Susan Lutz

    There are many reasons to hang on to old kitchen tools (beyond satisfying your secret hoarding addiction). Here are five good reasons to keep those old graters, grinders and pans you just can't seem to let go.

    1. You can't bring your grandma back, but you can bring her back into your kitchen.

    I cook with my Grandma Willie every time I step into my kitchen. Her perfectly seasoned cast-iron skillet has helped me make many a grilled cheese sandwich for my daughters. I think of her when I feel too tired to stand at my kitchen stove and I wonder how often she felt the same way. And I would never make a cake without putting it in my grandmother's cake carrier (even if I'm only carrying my cake as far as my own dining room.)

    Related: Why you need a vintage cast-iron skillet.

    The downside of this strategy is that when your old equipment finally breaks, it will break your heart. I've never mourned the loss of a newly purchased tool, but I must admit that I

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  • What's Wrong with Store-Bought Croissants - and How to Make Them Better

    Making buttery croissants from scratch isn't difficult.By Susie Norris

    A pale golden color and a uniform puff lure unsuspecting buyers to second-rate croissants. This disguise simulates the classic good looks of the famous flaky French pastry. The smell of lightly salted butter and fresh yeast encases a real, handmade croissant like an alluring halo of authenticity. Its color ranges from warm brown to a golden yellow -- a palette only possible when eggs are mixed with white fours and real, pale yellow butter.

    Related: Check out a perfect recipe to go with cheese and croissants.

    As you might expect, real croissants are made by hand in small batches -- part of the morning process for bakers around France and other pastry-centric countries such as Austria, where the croissant originated. (It was modeled after a popular pastry from Vienna, the kipfel.) When you bite into a factory-made croissant, no flavor emerges. No buttery melt, no peaks and valleys of fresh yeast flavor, no slightly caramelized base. These good-looking

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  • The Ugliest Veggie - Celery Root - and 4 Ways You'll Love it (Including French Fries)!

    Celery rootBy Terra Brockman

    Also known as céleri rave and celeriac, celery root won't win any beauty contests. The beige-colored, lopsided sphere is embossed and channeled, convoluted, creviced, and crowned with disorderly rootlets that tenaciously hold the soil from which they were recently unearthed.

    But if you give celery root a chance, you will be won over by the beauty within. Just one sniff of the recently-dug root will fill your head with an intoxicating parsley- and celery-scented aroma. The taste combines that herbaceous pungency with the crisp texture of the root. Together the combination is irresistible.

    Related: Need the perfect wine for a celery root dish?

    Despite its gnarled and gnarly appearance, celery root is well-loved by those who know it, and it has an honored place and starring role in the French specialty, céleri rémoulade (celery-root remoulade). If you have ever been to a French bistro, chances are you began with a crunchy salad of julienned or shredded

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  • No More Boring Salads - 3 Recipes to Cure Greens Fatigue

    Carpaccio of Roast Beets on Mâche Leaves With Fresh Goat Cheese and Balsamic Dressing By Zester Daily Staff

    Sure you've been great about eating a nice healthy salad for lunch at least a few days every week. How can you beat salad for a good nutritious crunch? But the same old lettuce, tomatoes, onion and croutons gets real old, real fast.

    Take a break from boring salads with these tasty, exotic alternatives from our Zester Daily contributors:

    #1 -- Lentil Salad with Olive Oil and Egyptian Spices (Coriander Seeds)

    Clifford A. Wright's recipe has a pungent coriander flavor. It serves 6 and can be prepared in just 30 minutes.


    ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

    2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

    ½ teaspoon freshly ground cumin seeds

    ½ teaspoon freshly ground coriander seeds

    ¼ teaspoon freshly ground cardamom seeds

    ½ teaspoon ground fenugreek

    1 cup dried brown lentils, picked over and rinsed well

    Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

    Related: How growing a garden full of salad ingredients can

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  • Leafy green kale packs a nutritional wallop and works in all kinds of dishes.By Zester Daily Staff

    One of the most robust-looking vegetables in any garden is kale in all its varietal splendor -- red leaved, purple-veined, blue green or nearly black; ruffled, savoyed and smooth. One look at kale and you know you should eat it, and given the robust good looks of the leaves, you'd expect them to make for spectacular eating.

    Related: A great vegetarian soup that comes to life with kale.

    Kale's fast becoming the trendy salad green. But this veggie is sturdy and hardy enough to stand up to some serious cooking and some serious accompanying flavors. Kale can take, and needs, plenty of garlic no matter how it's cooked, and a splash of acid to wake it up, just as with turnip, collards, mustard and other greens in this family.

    Related: Tips on growing kale.

    As with other greens, kale somehow comes alive when it runs into a piece of bacon or thick slices of Spanish chorizo, as in a mess of kale with potatoes and chorizo. Of course, the kale is going

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  • 4 Tips for Better Beef -- Everything You Need to Know from Shopping to Cooking

    Hanger steakBy Clifford A. Wright

    A simple steak dinner can get complicated in a hurry. Navigating the myriad and ever-evolving names for cuts of meat, weighing the politics of whether your menu is made of sustainable products and considering endless options for how to cook your beef is complicated. Here's a look at some basics you need to know about where your steak comes from and how to find the best cuts for dinner.

    Tip #1 -- Know your cuts

    Butcher nomenclature is a warren of confusion for the consumer. For example, butchers give multiple names to various cuts. The names also can vary from region to region. In naming beef cuts, butchers start with general categories that refer to the cow. So a particular steak such as hanger steak, flap steak and skirt steak come from, respectively, the plate, the flank and the plate and flank. Flank steak, obviously, comes from the flank as well.

    Related: The simple recipe for the world's best brisket.

    Hanger steak or hanging steak. This

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  • The Best Tapenade Recipe -- You'll Never Buy Jars from the Deli Again

    An authentic Provencal tapenade is easy to make.By Martha Rose Shulman

    Nowadays, it seems that any food that can be crushed or pureed is entitled to be called a tapenade, but real tapenade is the authentic signature dish of Provence. It should be made (if possible) with the rich, fleshy Nyons olives that grow in the northern part of the region.

    Related: Savor the annual olive harvest in Italy.

    Nyons olives are hard to find in the United States, but look for a dark black olive with a moist, not too salty flesh. Amphissa olives from Greece are the closest I've found in texture, though they are a light color, and don't make as pretty a tapenade as the dark black olives. I find kalamatas a little too metallic tasting. If you can find cured olives from France or North Africa, those would be my recommendation.

    Related: Growing olives in the desert in Israel.

    Classic Tapenade

    Makes about 1½ cups


    ½ pound (about 1⅓ to 1½ cups, depending on the size) imported black olives

    2 large garlic

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  • Go Wild for Mushrooms -- It's Their National Day

    There's an art to cooking mushroomsBy Zester Daily Staff

    Monday is the Day of the Mushroom, for those who celebrate food-centric holidays.

    With so many varieties -- cultivated and wild -- and so many recipes from around the world, there's no excuse not to mark the occasion with your favorite fungus.

    To celebrate the day, here are a couple of can't-miss recipes -- Mushroom Risotto and Basque Scrambled Eggs With Caesar's Mushrooms -- from the Zester Daily staff:

    Caesar's Mushrooms from Tuscany

    Amanita caesarea -- otherwise known as Caesar's mushroom -- is called "the king's mushroom," and it's native to the wildwood of southern Europe, including the oak and chestnut woods of Italy and the chestnut and pinewoods of northern Spain. The Romans loved it, modern Italians adore it, and the Catalans and Basques pay ridiculously high prices for it in the markets of Barcelona and San Sebastian.

    How to sort out what's good and what's dangerous

    A. caesarea belongs to an untrustworthy family, the

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