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


Tour the Santa Monica Farmers' Market with Amelia Santa Monica Farmers' Market Tour Santa Monica, CA
June 11, 2014
9 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.
Farmers' Market Tour
Cooking Experiences at La Cocina Que Canta Cooking Class and Retreat Tecate, Mexico
September 6 - 12, 2014
Rancho La Puerta

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 from Out …

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 7 would …

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 raspberries, radishes, …

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 Faith, who …

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 is symbolized …

3 Baby Steps to Virtuous (Delicious) Food in 2014

Parsnip Puree Soup What if your New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier and lose X-number of pounds simultaneously made planet Earth healthier too? How great would that be?

We typically fill January with lofty me, me, me self-improvement goals, hang all else, that are doomed to fail because of their unspecific grandiosity. Sorry to be so harsh, but you know perfectly well what I’m talking about.

The key is baby steps. After six weeks of too much sugar, salt, fat, and liquor, here are my top “incrementals” that will take me (I hope) from wish to reality:

Eat out less. Sorry, dear chef friends, this month I’ve got to tighten my belt in all manner of ways. It’s just too …

Cheese-y Holiday Inspirations from My Readers

AOC Cookbook I am so hungry! Thanks to everyone who left comments about their favorite cheeses and how they serve them in last week’s blog post. And special thanks to those of you who got hyper-specific with names and farms.

Everything in moderation, I know, but your ideas sound so delicious that I want to indulge in them all. From Gruyere-enriched roasted root gratins to schmears of homemade ricotta with jam for breakfast, your comments take us from holiday cocktails through brunch. The addition of cheese to a dish or buffet instantly raises the “specialness” factor, perfect this time of year. Here, right back at you, are a couple of my own ways with cheese:

Shiitake Mushrooms with Young …

Holiday Q & A and Book Giveaway with Suzanne Goin

AOC Cookbook Suzanne Goin is an acknowledged leader of contemporary ingredient-driven cooking in California…OK, the country… alongside Alice Waters and Nancy Silverton, both of whom she worked with. Suzanne’s four L.A. restaurants with wine expert Caroline Styne– A.O.C. Wine Bar and Restaurant, Lucques, Tavern, and The Larder–explore different facets of the chef’s love for Mediterannean flavors and her appreciation for the local growers who raise the exceptional ingredients she uses. Suzanne is a passionate fundraiser for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation to combat pediatric cancer. Her first book, the award-winning Sunday Supper at Lucques, is still a best-seller, and if that isn’t enough, even the President has come to dine.

Now in the long-awaited A.O.C. Cookbook,  …

Thanksgiving Recipe Rescue Guide

Corn Pudding, photo courtesy of Epicurious We all know Thanksgiving dinner is first about the sides and then about dessert. Vegetarians, try not to be too smug when you remind us that the produce side of the menu is the most interesting.

Yes, most meat-eaters have a turkey, but when asked what our traditional holiday favorites are, only 30% of us list the bird first. I’m not making this stuff up. Logician and Thanksgiving expert Ian Dengler spent years studying our holiday habits. When Ruth Reichl wrote about Mr. Dengler in 1990, she quoted him as saying 95% begin by mentioning turkey. By the time I interviewed the food historian in 2000 for my American Thanksgiving presentation at the Slow Food Salone …