Author: Kitchen Shaman

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup for Winter

As the leaves fall and swirl to the ground, the produce shelves fill up with different varieties of winter squash. Acorn, butternut, Kabucha, Pumpkin, and Delectica all call to my inner chef to create and explore the richness of this winter bounty.

I picked up a butternut squash, hoping for a bit of inspiration. Soup was calling to me.

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6 Easy Steps to Cool Down Foods

As a professional chef I learned early the proper food safety handling techniques. I’ve gotten funny looks over the years from roommates and partners for my “crazy whacked out kitchen habits.” It was those whacked out habits that kept them from getting sick. As I work more and more with home cooks, I've discovered many do not know how to take care of their food properly. Keep Your Family Safe!

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Kitchen Klutzes Unite!

Are you a klutz in the kitchen? Don’t despair! June 13th is Kitchen Klutzes Day, a day to proudly celebrate ineptitude with knife skills and controlling the cooking fire.

We all have those moments. That instant when you know you’ve done something wrong, something that will injure you or others. The kitchen can be one of the most dangerous, accident-prone environments, ripe with opportunity to strike -- and for a klutz it holds many challenges.

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Cooking Vegan for Lent: Eggplant Stew

While cooking professionally I worked in plenty of kitchens where meatless Fridays were observed. Friday Fish Frys and tuna salad were items that were prepared in huge quantities. Not being Catholic, I never quite understood the ritual of not eating meat on Fridays, but as a cook, I made the food that I was directed to prepare.

At the Deli, vast quantities of Tuna Salad were consumed. We were located in a catholic neighborhood and owned by Catholics. When working at the Brewery we could count on the owner, glass of beer in hand, laying down battered fish in the fryer. He was also a staunch Catholic.

While I've remained confused and uneducated about the abstinence and fasting rules, I am now cooking for people who observe the Season of Lent. This is a perfect opportunity to introduce them to 100% vegan food, and learn more about this religious observance.

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On the Grill, Nopales Salsa

You may be surprised to learn that cactus is a staple food in certain parts of the world. One variety, Nopales (also know as Prickly Pear or Paddle Cactus) originated in Mexico and is almost synonymous with the Sonoran Desert but has adapted to locales as far reaching as Australia, Tunisia, and the Galapagos Islands.

Check out the video below to see just how easy it is to scale and grill nopales.

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Fearless Cooking with Nopal Cactus

Growing up in the Sonoran Desert I was surrounded by all the spiny, thorny, sharp things called cacti with names like Saguaro, Cholla or Jumping, Organ Pipe, Barrel, and Prickly Pear.

Prickly pear is one of the most prolific of all the cacti and highly adaptable. Like most cacti, once the thorns are removed, it is edible. I knew that cactus could be eaten and, with a grandmother who spent time in Mexico, it would be a natural assumption that I learned how to cook with this plant. As I cooked by her side I was not shown the secrets of how to prepare and cook either prickly pear (the fruit) or Nopal (the leaves).

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Cooking up a Storm: Calabacitas

One of the staple dishes in my kitchen is Calabacitas. The recipe combines squash with chilies and peppers and is not merely delicious, it provides balanced nutrition as well.

Anytime I cook this dish, people in the house -- vegan, vegetarian, or omnivore -- tell me it smells so good.

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Cooking up a Storm:  BBQ Mushrooms

Here's another of the videos of the food I've been cooking for the Spouse and family. In this one I'm making one of our favorite dinners: BBQ mushrooms and caramelized peppers and onions with vegan mashed potatoes. Every time I make this food it's usually gone within a day or two. You might be able to see why when watching the video. So tasty.

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Books by Chef Johnna

  • Delectable Vegan Soups -------------------------------------------------------
  • Things Vegans Fry: Crunchy Comfort Food for Vegans

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