Cutting Down on Salt? Kale Salad to the Rescue

A kale salad low in sodium, but big on flavor and texture. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

A kale salad low in sodium, but big on flavor and texture. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

 

When I was diagnosed with high blood pressure years ago, it wasn’t necessarily a surprise.

That’s because it runs in my family, unfortunately.

What was a revelation, though, was just how much sodium lurked in so many foods I’d enjoyed without a second thought.

Check the labels on things like instant oatmeal, blue cheese, and even Dijon mustard, and you’ll be astonished.

(Graphic courtesy of the American Heart Association)

(Graphic courtesy of the American Heart Association)

Nowadays, I always read labels. And I wisely use flavor boosters such as good vinegars, lemon juice, herbs, spices, and toasted unsalted nuts to give extra oomph to dishes that are moderate in sodium.

That’s why I love this kale salad. I know — can you stand another kale recipe? I think you will when it’s as simple to prepare and satisfying as this one.

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Take Five with Ming Tsai (The Sequel), On His Bay Area Connection, The First Dish He Ever Cooked, and The Only Food TV Show He Watches

Chef Ming Tsai preparing sliders at his Macy's Valley Fair demo. (Photo by Moanalani Jeffrey)

Chef Ming Tsai preparing sliders at his Macy’s Valley Fair demo. (Photo by Moanalani Jeffrey)

After interviewing celeb Chef Ming Tsai five years ago by phone, I finally had the chance last Thursday to spend time with him face to face, when I hosted him at his cooking demo at Macy’s Valley Fair in Santa Clara.

The 51-year-old James Beard Award-winning chef-owner of Blue Ginger and Blue Dragon in Massachusetts, star of “Simply Ming’’on PBS, and member of Macy’s Culinary Council, is also the ambassador for Family Reach, an organization that offers emotional and financial assistance to families with a child or parent afflicted with cancer.

More than 100 adoring fans turned out to watch Tsai cook salmon salad with citrus and pine nuts, shiitake and parmesan sliders, and almond-oatmeal cookie ice cream sandwiches.

Tsai is no stranger to the Bay Area, having been a sous chef at Silks at the Mandarin Oriental in San Francisco way back when. His parents, Stephen and Iris, also live in Palo Alto. His father, a former rocket scientist in Dayton, OH, is a professor emeritus in aeronautics at Stanford University.

After lunching with their son that day at Lyfe Kitchen in downtown Palo Alto, Tsai’s parents drove down from Palo Alto to watch from the front row as their son cooked and captivated the audience with his quick wit.

Tsai joked that after he married his wife and she took his surname, she became her very own major. That’s because she became – wait for it, wait for it, and say it aloud – Polly Tsai.

As Tsai posed for photos and signed copies of his cookbook after the demo, he spoke in Mandarin to some elderly Chinese ladies, and even revealed that his name actually translates from Chinese into “brilliant dish.’’ How apropos is that?

Yours truly working the microphone as Ming cooks up a storm. (Photo by Moanalani Jeffrey)

Yours truly working the microphone as Ming cooks up a storm. (Photo by Moanalani Jeffrey)

The huge crowd that turned out for the demo. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

The huge crowd that turned out for the demo. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

What follows is a short interview I did with him prior to the demo.

Q: How old were you when you cooked for the first time?

A: I was 6. I made my own Duncan Hines cake – vanilla. I friggin’ loved it, taking the mix, adding egg and oil, and boom – cake!

My friends who were all out playing baseball made fun of me. They were like, ‘You’re doing what?’ But then I sold slices of cake to them for 25 cents each. Pretty smart, huh?

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Fire Up the Grill for Korean-Inspired Pork Chops

Juicy, big pork chops get a dash of Korean flair.

Juicy, big pork chops get a dash of Korean flair.

 

Firing up the grill this Memorial Day weekend?

Add a little more heat with “Korean-Inspired Pork Chops.”

This straight-forward recipe is from “Cooking Light Mad Delicious” (Oxmoor) by Keith Schroeder, culinary educator, founder of High Road Craft Ice Cream, and columnist for Cooking Light magazine.

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Upscale Candy, Lobster Galore & More

Gummy Love Bento Box ($60). (Photo courtesy of Sugarfina)

Gummy Love Bento Box ($60). (Photo courtesy of Sugarfina)

Sugarfina Coming to Santana Row

Champagne gummy bears? Twenty-four-karat gold marshmallows? Absinthe chocolate cordials?

Nope, these aren’t your run-of-the-mill candies.

Sugarfina, an upscale candy shop out of Southern California, is set to open in San Jose’s Santana Row in August with those goodies and a whole lot more.

Founders Rosie O’Neill and Josh Resnick set about to create a decidedly adult candy store. That means combing the world for exquisite sweets that appeal to a more sophisticated adult palate rather than a child’s super sugary cravings.

Gold-leaf marshmallow. (Photo by Sugarfina)

Gold-leaf marshmallow. (Photo by Sugarfina)

The 883-square-foot shop will be located next to Donald J. Pliner.

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Waffled Tofu — Wacky, But It’s a Thing

Tofu cooked in a waffle maker. How fun is that?

Tofu cooked in a waffle maker. How fun is that?

 

I admit that my waffle iron sees the inside of a cupboard more often than it does daylight on a countertop.

I drag it out on the rare weekends that I’m energized early enough in the mornings to whip up a breakfast of crisp, golden waffles.

But ever since spying this recipe for “Waffled Miso-Sesame Tofu with Waffled Sticky Rice” on Serious Eats, I’ve been intrigued. So fascinated, in fact, that it actually prompted me to take out my much-neglected appliance to see just what it would be like to cook tofu and sticky rice, of all things, in a waffle iron.

After all, I am a sucker for crispy bits.

The recipe is from Daniel Shumski, creator of the blog, Waffleizer. Yup, a whole blog dedicated to strange and wonderful things you can cook in a waffle iron.

Will It Waffle

He’s also the author of “Will It Waffle?” (Workman), a cookbook that came out last year, of which I received a copy. It includes 53 sweet and savory recipes for things you probably never would have imagined to stick in your waffle maker. How about “Sweet-and-Sour Waffled Shrimp Wontons”? Or “Waffled Chicken Fingers”? Or “Spaghetti and Waffled Meatballs”? Boggles the mind, doesn’t it? Just be warned, though, that cleaning your waffle iron after cooking some of these recipes will take some doing.

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