Weeknight Kitchen: Spring Leek Soup with Sage

Apr 27, 2016

Serves 4

When orchardist Eliza Greenman walks through a field of apple trees and gazes upon a pocked array of blemished and buckled fruits — scarred from fighting fungus, heat and pests — she feels a little thrill of joy. "I'm absolutely infatuated with the idea of stress in an orchard," says Greenman, who custom grafts and grows pesticide-free hard cider apples in Hamilton, Va. These forlorn, scabbed apples, says Greenman, may actually be sweeter.

Picture a dusty, nomadic herdsman around 5000 B.C., trudging with his mare somewhere in Central Asia, and pausing to quaff a refreshingly tart yogurt drink from his gourd. Fast-forward to the present day, and it seems all you need for your daily dose of friendly flora is to wander into the kitchen and pop a breakfast burrito in the microwave.

Editor's note: This week, to mark the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death, we will be running a series of stories examining the links between food and the Bard.

Anyone who has ever spent Thanksgiving with family knows that the table is a great place for drama. We talk, we shout, we love, we fight — or sit in silence and seethe. And we're all stuck there, gnawing on our turkey legs, playing out our usual roles, unable to just walk offstage.

That is the very idea William Shakespeare exploited to fill theaters.

Weeknight Kitchen: Shanghai-Style Poached Salmon

Apr 18, 2016

Serves 4

Here, I am taking liberties with a classic Shanghai-style braised whole fish by using salmon fillet cut into individual portions. The salmon is first cooked in water that has been simmered with ginger and green onions. Before it is fully cooked, almost all the liquid is drained off and the fish is basted in a sweet vinegar sauce and cooked through. I like to serve this dish with steamed jasmine rice, spooning some of the sauce over the rice.

· 4 salmon fillets, about 6 oz [170 g] each, skin and pin bones removed

Sweet Vinegar Sauce

If you melt at the creaminess of full-fat yogurt, read on.

A new study finds the dairy fats found in milk, yogurt and cheese may help protect against Type 2 diabetes.

Los Angeles is home to the largest Thai community outside of Thailand. This week, Thai-Americans are celebrating the traditional three-day water festival called Songkran to mark the new year. And many of them regularly shop at LA's landmark Bangkok Market, the first Thai food store in the U.S.

Hunting down that obscure Vietnamese place that serves up bánh bao exactly like you'd find in Hanoi, or an Indian joint with dal just like the one you had on that trip to New Delhi, is a not uncommon pursuit in these food-obsessed days. But our culinary hunt for "authentic ethnic" food can be a double-edged sword, says Krishnendu Ray.

Recently, we started a conversation about food and race. Specifically, we wondered out loud, who gets to cook — and become the face of — a culture's cuisine?

Our question was prompted by a recent Sporkful interview with Rick Bayless, who has faced criticism over his long career. Although he is an Oklahoman with no Mexican ancestry, he has become one of the most prominent ambassadors for Mexican cuisine in America.

So, maybe your Instagram pics of #delicious #foodporn never look nearly as scrumptious as the real thing.

Don't despair — it's not you. It's just that your food is too real.

Beekeepers flock from all over the country to California every February and March to watch billions of honeybees buzz around the state's almond trees. Eighty percent of the country's commercial bees visit the Golden State each spring.

So I went to check out the scene at an almond orchard at the California State University, Fresno, in Central California.

"Really, the key is to stay calm around bees, because if you're afraid, then your body physiologically changes and they can sense that," beekeeper Brian Hiatt tells me. "They literally can smell fear."

Bubble Tea Is Back — With A Vengeance

Mar 22, 2016

Whether you call it "boba" or "bubble" tea, the Taiwanese beverage that allows you to chew your drink is back with a vengeance. It first got its start in the 1980s, after an inventor thought to pour tapioca pearls into a glass of iced, sweet tea. Though Asian communities have been drinking boba tea in the United States for many years, the texturally exciting drink is finally reaching a wider audience.

And boba isn't just back — it's playing ambassador to a whole host of other foods and trends.

Take a look at the next box of strawberries you find in the store. Depending on where in the country you happen to be, it may have come from Florida. But it won't for much longer.


A version of this story first ran in March 2014.

The first day of spring is cause for a celebration, especially after the winter many of us have been having. But it's hard to top the 13-day festivities of the Persian New Year, Nowruz.

Nowruz, or "new day" in Persian, is an ancient festival that marks the beginning of spring and celebrates the rebirth of nature. And naturally, it has a lot to do with fresh, green foods just beginning to poke out of the ground that remind us winter is not, in fact, eternal.

You wouldn't expect a Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic to take you to the sort of place that's wedged between a 99-cent store and a boarded-up meat market.

But that's exactly where I sat down for lunch with Jonathan Gold — at a downtown Los Angeles eatery called El Parian.

Serves 4

Lilli chatni, or cilantro chutney, will most likely be found on every Gujarati family’s kitchen table at dinner time. I make it regularly and always keep a jar of it in the fridge. I love eating it with samosas, on bread, with cheese, or whatever else is happy to sit underneath it while I carry it into my mouth. But when there’s some left over, it also makes for a magnificent curry when combined with chicken.

Julia Ward Howe is renowned as the poet who woke up one night in an inspired state to pen the lyrics of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," the song that would become the victorious psalm of the Civil War.

But what few know is that the writer, reformer and mother of six who wrote those stirring words – "Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord" – was adrift in a lonely war of her own, against a husband who sought to control every aspect of her life, from what she wrote to what she ate.

Want to mark this St. Patrick's Day with something beyond the usual corned beef and cabbage (which aren't so traditionally Irish anyway)? Why not mix up your menu with a tasty tray of blaas?