Everything and the Kitchen Shrink: Answers to your questions about nightshades, pluots

As the Kitchen Shrink, I am frequently asked fascinating questions – everything from how to perform damage control on a NASCAR-tire-textured Thanksgiving bird to advice about hosting a migraine and Prozac-free dinner party for impossible to please guests. To me every question is brilliant as it takes a lot of courage and curiosity to ask it.

Question: What are nightshades and are they safe to eat?
Answer: Nightshades or the family of plants in the genus Solanum have many members including tomatoes, potatoes, sweet and hot peppers, pimentos, paprika, cayenne and eggplant along with their poisonous cousins (belladonna and tobacco) and weedy plant siblings. Of course, you should only consume the edible nightshades not the toxic herbs and shrubs. The bipolar tomato, which is actually a fruit but has a vegetable lifestyle, is loaded with lycopene. Sweet peppers are packed with more vitamin C than an orange, while cayenne pepper is a powerful antioxidant. My fave, the eggplant or “aubergine” contains an alphabet of vitamins including A, B, C, E and K along with folate, calcium, iron and potassium.

Now the bad news. A nitrogen-based substance has been found in all nightshades. These alkaloids are a natural insect repellent for the plants, but can affect the nerve-muscle and joint function in sensitive people. Although cooking lowers the alkaloid content by about 50 percent, those folks with arthritis, I’m sorry to say, should steer clear or moderate their intake of nightshades.

Do you have any tips for saving money at the supermarket?
Leave your hubby (and kids) at home. Also, be committed to taking along a shopping list and follow it religiously. Don’t get seduced by tempting demo samples and treats at the checkout. And never go to the market hungry.

I’m going on vacation for a month. Can I freeze my canned foods?
Canned foods are already in a vacuumed and preserved environment and have long shelf lives. The contents are safe for a year or more as long as the can is not badly dinged or bulging. No need to freeze. My husband has put Coke cans in the freezer for a quick chill and has sometimes forgotten about them. The next day I have a frozen Coke shrapnel surprise from the exploded can. Don’t try this stunt at home. Cans live in dry, dark and cool cupboards – not freezers.

I’ve seen a lot of new fruits and vegetables at the supermarket like “pluots” and “aspiration.” Are these real or man-made?
Old MacDonald has converted into Dr. Frankenstein. Weird cousin fruits and vegetables are the product of crossbreeding by professional plant breeders. When seeds from two different fruits or veggies are paired and bred, a hybrid is created. The marriage of asparagus and broccoli produced “aspiration.” Broccolini is not an immature broccoli, rather the product of blending broccoli and Chinese kale. The pluot is the cross-pollinating of three-quarters plum with one-quarter apricot, resulting in a super-sweet, glabrous complexioned hybrid. Seed companies are having a field day with oranges too. The blood orange, so called because of its ruby pulp, is a cross between an orange and a pomegranate. The Cara Cara is a double-cross – a navel orange/blood orange combo.

I thought it would be fun to experiment with these crossbreeds so I’ve concocted a light and luscious hybrid risotto with broccolini and zest of blood orange. With a glass of wine in hand, watch the summer sun slip away, kick back and “veg” out.

Hybrid Risotto
(Serves 4)
- 1 cup of Arborio rice
- 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup of dry white wine
- 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
- 4-5 cups of hot chicken broth or vegetable stock
- 1/2 small red onion, diced
- 4 ounces of chopped broccolini
- Zest from blood orange
- Sea salt and cayenne pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet and saute the onions and broccolini until tender. Add the rice, coating the grains with the oil. Stir in the wine over medium heat until absorbed. Add the remaining liquid a cup at a time until absorbed, stirring constantly. Season with salt and cayenne if desired. Remove from heat. Blend in the cheese and garnish with the orange zest. Bon appetito!

Related posts:

  1. Everything and the kitchen shrink: What’s bugging you this summer?
  2. Kitchen Shrink: As hungry as a horse – or a jockey
  3. Everything and the kitchen shrink: The ABC’s of back to school lunches
  4. Everything and the kitchen shrink: The Beijing breakfast of champions
  5. Everything and the Kitchen Shrink: Mussels on the beach

Short URL: http://www.delmartimes.net/?p=3516

Posted by symnspolo on Sep 4, 2008. Filed under Archives. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply

Archives

Facebook

Bottom Buttons 1

Bottom Buttons 2

Bottom Buttons 3

Bottom Buttons 4

Bottom Buttons 5

Bottom Buttons 6

LA JOLLA NEWS

RANCHO SANTA FE NEWS

RANCHO SANTA FE NEWS

RSS RANCHO SANTA FE NEWS

  • New Rancho Santa Fe Library Branch Manager welcomes community input
    Rancho Santa Fe Library’s new Branch Manager Haley Kwon has been charmed by the village’s “sweet, down-home” character, the simple pleasure of visiting the local library and people’s enjoyment of a slower speed of time. “It’s a small town and the library is a place for people to connect,” Kwon said. “People have a different sense of time here, they come in t […]
  • Robotics booming at Rancho Santa Fe School
    By Karen Billing At R. Roger Rowe School, 44 percent of first graders are participating in the robotics program this year. The school is fielding 44 robotics teams, including 31 percent of second grade, 23 percent of third grade, 35 percent of fourth grade and 39 percent of fifth grade. In the middle school, there are two FIRST LEGO League (FLL) teams and fi […]
  • Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices honored with Stevie Gold Award
    Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices was recently named Startup of the Year in the 2014 American Business Awards, earning the brokerage the Stevie Gold award. The award was presented at the Fairmont Millennium Park Hotel in Chicago, Illinois. “Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices is among a select few organizations to be entrusted with the Berkshire Hathaway name,” co […]