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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Supermarket Sleuth

Okra: The Best Unsung Frozen Vegetable

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© John Kernick

Chef Marcus Samuelsson's Roasted Sweet Potato and Sautéed Okra Salad.
© John Kernick

F&W Executive Food Editor Tina Ujlaki applies her incredible cooking knowledge to explaining what to do with a variety of interesting ingredients.

I’m usually very pleased with certain frozen vegetables from the supermarket, like baby peas, edamame and whole leaf spinach. Frozen baby okra is at the top of my list right now. I know there are a lot of okra haters out there, but if you’ve never tried it or you’re willing to give it another chance, you just might be pleasantly surprised. Frozen baby okra, in a bag or a box, is actually as good a vegetable as I have ever bought from a farmer. The pods are small and firm and never seem waterlogged or freezer distressed like other frozen green vegetables, and you never have to deal with the prickly fuzz that covers superfresh pods.

Related: Fantastic Okra Recipes
Vegetable Dishes for Carnivores
Quick Vegetable Main Dishes

Chefs

Christina Tosi Eats Her Vegetables for New Taste of Upper West Side

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Momofuku Milk Bar's Christina Tosi.

Gabriele Stabile

First of all, a round of applause for Christina Tosi, the Momofuku Milk Bar star and brand-new, James Beard Award–winning Rising Star.

Tosi is, of course, best known for getting New York City addicted to buttery Crack Pie (even my trainer can’t stay away from it). But next Wednesday, May 16, Tosi will be up to her pastry counter in vegetables. That night, the Vegetables at Dovetail dinner kicks off the fun-filled New Taste of the Upper West Side festival; the festival is co-hosted by F&W hero, Andrew Zimmern. The five-course vegetarian dinner will be prepared by some of the city’s great chefs: Dovetail’s John Fraser, Ed Brown, F&W Best New Chef Missy Robbins, Top Chef winner Harold Dieterle and, of course, Tosi.

If you want to confirm the high vegetable quotient of the dinner, here’s a sneak peak at the menu:

*Avocado salad with ramps, watercress and eggplant (Fraser)
*Quinoa-crusted white and shaved asparagus with morels and egg yolk emulsion (Brown)
*Barley risotto, nettles and formaggio fresco (Robbins)
*Raviolo with spring vegetable "pockets" and spring truffles (Dietrle)
*Coach Farm triple cream cheese with truffles and grapes (Fraser)
*Tristar sorbet, celery root ganache and lovage (Tosi)

Besides seeing all those terrific chefs in action, there’s this: Proceeds from the evening go to New York Sun Works, a program that improves students' understanding of environmental science in urban schools. Fraser is super involved with this great program, which brings greenhouse science labs to the schools and teaches students how to grow hydroponic vegetables.

Tickets are $195; they’re available at New Taste of the Upper West Side.

Related:  Chefs Make Change
Vegetarian
Healthy Vegetable Dishes

 

Marc Murphy

Marc Murphy's Italian Mac 'n' Cheese

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Baked Four-Cheese Spaghetti

© Quentin Bacon

Landmarc chef-owner Marc Murphy grew up in Europe, so it's no surprise that one of his favorite comfort foods—four-cheese spaghetti—is a Genovese spin on macaroni and cheese. “This is a dish my mother used to make a lot,” Murphy says. “She loved this particular dish so much when she had it at a restaurant, that she would keep going back to try and copy it perfectly.”

More about the recipe after the jump. >>>

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Recipes

Bread Pudding for Dinner

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Spinach Bread Pudding

© Antonis Achilleos / Spinach Bread Pudding

Super Natural Every Day, the second cookbook from 101 Cookbooks blogger Heidi Swanson, hit shelves in the UK today just weeks after earning a 2012 James Beard Award nomination. Measurement conversions aside, the exported version will include the original's fantastic recipes, like this savory spinach-and-feta bread pudding. Read all about the recipe here. >>>

 

 

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Well-Fed Vegetarian

A Delicious Reason to Brave Nettles

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In Well-Fed Vegetarian, chefs spotlight recipes that are worth forgoing meat.

Pizza with Garlic Cream and Nettles

© Fredrika Stjärne

Great restaurants rarely have DJs, but Napa chefs Curtis Di Fede and Tyler Rodde hired one to play a four-hour set this past Saturday for the two-year anniversary of their popular Cal-Italian spot, Oenotri. Next up in July: The duo aims to introduce two house-brewed ales that will pair fantastically with their signature pizzas, like this one with garlic cream and nettles. The wild plant grows abundantly near the restaurant most of the year, and the chefs can’t get enough. “The majority of people look at nettles as a weed,” says Rodde, “but they’re actually really tasty and flavorful.”

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Well-Fed Vegetarian

Bill Telepan’s Hearty Fettuccine with Walnut-Parsley Pesto

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In Well-Fed Vegetarian, chefs spotlight recipes that are worth forgoing meat.

Chef Bill Telepan

Photo courtesy of Telepan.

One of the ways that chef Bill Telepan—a member of F&W’s Chefs Make Change coalition—helps to improve kids’ lunches through Wellness in the Schools is by teaching cafeteria staff how to cook differently. A new partnership with Save the Children will expand these classes outside of New York City, starting with areas in Appalachia. Revising school menus often begins with recipes that avoid the processed meats that schools have the option of ordering.

Although Telepan’s fantastic Fettuccine with Walnut-Parsley Pesto isn’t landing in public schools anytime soon, the 30-minute recipe makes a hearty weekday meal when skipping meat at home.

Telepan was inspired to combine the nutty and herby flavors by meals he ate in Italy. The walnuts add a richness to a classic pesto made with parsley, an ingredient that’s easy to find in any season. “If I go to my mom’s garden, I can somehow find parsley all year-round,” says Telepan.

To add a bit more substance, or even to dress up leftovers from the previous night, he suggests mixing in some cooked white beans and adding a dollop of creamy ricotta.

See Telepan's Fettuccine with Walnut-Parsley Pesto Recipe

Well-Fed Vegetarian

Fast, Seasonal Crostini via Paul Virant

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In Well-Fed Vegetarian, chefs spotlight recipes that are worth forgoing meat.

Corn and Chanterelle Crostini

© John Kernick

Next month, Chicago-based chef Paul Virant (Perennial Virant, Vie) will release a unique first cookbook, a sophisticated canning guide called The Preservation Kitchen: The Craft of Making and Cooking with Pickles, Preserves, and Aigre-doux. Preserving the season's haul comes naturally to this sixth-generation Missouri native who grew up on a farm. Some of his favorite childhood memories involve foraging for mushrooms with his siblings and the amazing taste of his grandmother’s creamed corn. He combined those flavors in one of our favorite fast crostini recipes—also using sliced baguette, a bit of tarragon, olive oil and ground pepper—and the appetizer takes well to seasonal variations.

Right now, Virant suggests using frozen corn and black trumpets, French horns or shiitake. He also loves winter squash—caramelized in the oven with a mixture of sherry vinegar and thyme—mixed with mushrooms roasted in a bit of honey. The vegetable pairings are also delicious tossed with a pound of whole grains instead of piled on bread for a filling main course. Virant likes to use wheat berries or couscous accented with a bit of fennel and tomato.

See Virant's Corn-and-Chanterelle Crostini Recipe

Well-Fed Vegetarian

Shea Gallante’s Delicious Accident

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Shea Gallante, chef-partner of NYC’s Ciano and an F&W Best New Chef 2005, is a pasta whiz, but one of his favorite recipes for pappardelle with porcini mushrooms started with a mistake.

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Recipes

Well-Fed Vegetarian: Geoffrey Zakarian's Creamy Polenta with Wild Mushroom Ragout

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In Well-Fed Vegetarian, chefs spotlight fantastic Food & Wine recipes that are worth forgoing meat.

The Next Iron Chef winner Geoffrey Zakarian created this creamy polenta-and-mushroom-ragout recipe out of his love for porridge. "I wanted to come up with something that was the same consistency," he says, "but could be eaten at other meals." For a more filling main course, Zakarian recommends adding even more mushrooms, like porcini and giant cremini, to the wild mix, which includes chanterelles and shiitake.

While Zakarian originally used chicken stock to enrich the ragout, the natural earthiness of the mushrooms and various herbs will also work well with vegetable stock. For extra umami, you can opt for organic vegetable bouillon cubes (like the ones from from Rapunzel) dissolved in water. As for the polenta, the natural cornmeal flavor comes through most when cooked with plain old H2O.

Related: More Tasty Polenta Recipes
Fantastic Mushroom Recipes

More Delicious Vegetarian Recipes

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

Already looking forward to next year (June 19-21, 2015)? Relive your favorite moments from the culinary world's most sensational weekend in the Rocky Mountains.