Writer, cooking teacher, television host, and author of an award-winning book, Amelia Saltsman is passionate about getting everyone into the kitchen.
read more...

Events

Tour the Santa Monica Farmers' Market with Amelia Santa Monica Farmers' Market Tour Santa Monica, CA
July 30, 2014
9 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.
Farmers' Market Tour
Tour the Santa Monica Farmers' Market with Amelia Santa Monica Farmers' Market Tour Santa Monica, CA
October 8, 2014
9 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.
Farmers' Market Tour
Cooking Experiences at La Cocina Que Canta Cooking Class and Retreat Tecate, Mexico
May 9-15, 2015
Rancho La Puerta

How to Skin, Slice and Chop a Melon

cantaloupe-melon-weiser-family-farms It is officially melon season. Here’s the one trick you need to easily skin, slice, and dice your way through a summer’s worth of cantaloupe, honeydew, or any of the fabulous types available at farmers’ markets, such as Weiser Family Farms’ lovely French Cavaillons, above, and their Israeli Arava variety, below. This technique makes short work of cutting crescents to pair with prosciutto or chunks for a summer salad, like this refreshing and unusual Melon and Cucumber Salad with Mint. What’s that you say? Well, cukes and ‘loupes are kissing cousins and they marry well.

I learned …

Melon and Cucumber Salad with Mint

At first glance, melon and cucumber seem like an unlikely match. They are actually close cousins that go well together in this ultra-refreshing salty-sweet summer salad that is a play on the Israeli summer favorite made with watermelon.

melon-cucumber-salad-with-mint

I like to use two kinds of cucumbers in this salad–crisp flavorful Persian cukes and prickly, pale yellow lemon cucumbers, named for their looks, not their flavor. You can really see how closely related melons and cucumbers are in this lemon cucumber photo. The two types add color, flavor, and texture variety to this dish. Be sure to use a very sweet melon in this salad for good flavor contrast.

Click to continue reading…

What’s in Season in Israel?

olive-tree What’s in season in Israel? And more to the point, where and what should I eat? After a too-long 30 years, I’m heading back to the land where my parents grew up, met and married, and then left to study and settle in the U.S.

My desire to return to Israel was there, but blame the kids for the destination not staying in the number one slot. Three children going to college and grad schools in interesting places, then their jobs in interesting places we wanted to visit—Japan! Cambodia! Vietnam!—a couple of weddings, grandkids, family illnesses and passings here and in Israel. That’s how 30 years can pass in the blink of an eye.

Why now, finally? Well, time …

A Fresh New Side Dish for Passover

steamed-fennel-carrots-radishes-passover-herb-salsa-verde

Passover Seder side dish inspiration: the Seder plate. Seriously. You’re buying all those herbs, alliums, and radishes anyway. Why not use the extras in a Passover Herb Salsa Verde to serve over steamed fennel, carrots, and radishes?

Yes, radishes. When steamed (or roasted), their sharpness mellows into a young turnip-like sweetness. That may sound oxymoronic, but if you’ve ever had truly young turnips, you know what I’m talking about.

Simply steam wedges of fennel, fat carrots–those round French ones are wonderful here–and French breakfast or pink Japanese Shunkyo radishes until they’re just tender. Shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes.Use any combination of Passover herbs for the salsa—lots of parsley accented with mint, garlic or leek chives, or regular chives, and so on. Serve …

Out of the Box Collective Giveaway

Chicken with Kumquats I’m always intrigued by the ways in which entrepreneurial minds figure out how to get local foods to more people. A few years ago, Jennifer Piette started Out of the Box Collective, a Los Angeles-based home-to-kitchen grocery delivery service, that unites busy home cooks with great locally grown and produced seasonal ingredients. Busy is the operative word here; each box comes with a menu and recipes using the foods in the box. Last year Out of the Box asked me to put together a box based on my recipes, and this year they offered the same deal to their subscribers.

Here’s a great opportunity to win a box of locally grown ingredients and artisan-made provisions …

Chasing Almond Blossoms

Almond blossoms Fat Uncle Farms I felt like Helen Hunt in the movie “Twister” as I barreled up Highway 99 to Wasco, CA. Only instead of tornadoes, I was looking to catch an almond orchard in full bloom. I’d heard for years about the unusual beauty of this winter flowering, but as with a midwestern storm, a sighting–if you don’t live on an almond farm–is dependant on the vagaries of weather and on being in the right place at precisely the right time.  I was determined that this year I would make every effort to witness the fleeting miracle firsthand.

I was in constant text communication with Nate Siemens of Fat Uncle Farms in Wasco, and we determined that Friday, February …

Secrets of Winter Farmers Markets, Part 2

Portland Farmers Market

Last week, I wrote about Siena Farms and their approach to maximizing the growing and selling seasons DESPITE being in a cold climate. Here’s a sampling of winter markets in other parts of the country. I’ve been to all of these–maybe not in deepest winter, but definitely during shoulder seasons.

The photo above is what February looks like at the Portland Farmers Market. The 22-year-old market has 250 vendors over six sites.

Not cold enough for you? How about the Mill City Farmers Market in Minneapolis? Susan Dietrich was the first one to write in last week to cheerlead for the MN markets that offer  potatoes, onions, carrots, shallots, cabbage, beets, parsnips, rutabagas, frozen …

Secrets of Winter Farmers Markets, Part 1

Turnips Siena Farms Raise your hand if you think farmers’ markets and “buying local” are only for summer. How many of you live in California and think that? I’ll get to you later.

A summer-only mindset is a missed opportunity for farmers and shoppers alike. Shoppers, what do you think farmers do the rest of the year? Farmers, why limit yourself?

Even in the coldest climates, there are intrepid growers who realize summer’s way too short a selling season to sustain a farm and are figuring out how to provide better local ingredients through the “slow season.”

Siena Farms Click to continue reading…

Tuscan Kale Pesto

Kale Pesto Bruschetta People: Basil pesto is for summer, when the herb has soaked up the sun and is fragrant as all get out. Oh, and much less expensive. I’ll agree to a winter basil pesto on one condition: proceed IF you preserved last summer’s basil in olive oil.

How many of you did that last September? Right–me neither. In winter, make pesto from kale. Its earthy flavor is perfect this time of year as a topping for bruschetta with ricotta and parmigiano-reggiano (above), as a seasoning for soup, or stirred into pasta (bottom). I first learned about this version from expat author Faith Willinger in the late ’90s. Back then, Tuscan kale, the variety shown below, was a rarity in the U.S., and …

Tu B’Shevat: Vegan Meals are an Ancient Tradition

Almond blossoms Fat Uncle Farms

Sometimes old and new come crashing together to remind us that there is nothing new under the sun. It’s Tu B’Shevat today, a minor Jewish holiday with big meaning.

Tu b’ what? The name simply means the 15th of Shevat on the Hebrew Calendar, the date chosen by the ancients to calculate the age of trees and for purposes of  taxing the past harvests and predicting the next. The 15th just happens to fall on the full moon, a sort of biblical link to current interest in biodynamic farming practice.

In deep winter, but with days already getting longer, Tu B’Shevat offers a pre-dawn glimmer of the growing season to come. The holiday …