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From the Market to the Table: Cooking Best with Fresh

Cooking with Master ChefsIn COOKING WITH MASTER CHEFS, Julia Child visits sixteen nationally acclaimed master chefs in their own kitchens. Each chef demonstrates distinct techniques, regional recipes, and culinary tips which guide home cooks through their favorite recipes. Expertly preparing each dish and teaching with passion along the way, the master chefs offer the viewer a unique and inspirational learning experience.


Tricks of the Trade

While a finished recipe may look perfect on the cover of your favorite cookbook or magazine, attempting to mimic the dish can be a frustrating battle – a battle that often begins in the aisles of the market. The vegetables you need may not look so fresh, or, perhaps, that one key herb is impossible to find. Next time you’re preparing to whip up a masterpiece, try a different approach: Go to the market without a list and let the ripest produce of the season dictate its own destiny.

  • If you have access to a farmer’s market, start your hunting there – they stock whatever the growers have most recently produced.
  • Supermarket shopper? Look for falling prices and overstocked bins – this often indicates the produce is a booming crop and in its prime season.
  • Consider the seasonal essentials of traditional feasts, like corn on the cob for July Fourth and tubers at Thanksgiving – these celebrations began before serious refrigeration was common, so the elements are usually perfect at this time of year.
  • Remember a few general rules: Springtime’s for asparagus and autumn’s for butternut squash. Don’t look for peas in November and steer clear of the tomato trap in January.

Picking the premium piece of produce is your job, not the farmer’s. Use all of your senses – more than just sight. Since there are many ways of chemically enhancing fresh produce, color alone is not enough.

  • Pick fruits and vegetables that attract your attention with their aromatic smells. This is often a good sign that the produce is in its peak.
  • Carefully handle the prospective peach or tempting tomato to make sure it feels firm but yielding to the touch.
  • Look for bruises or pockmarks and make sure your choice has the brightest coloring of its kind.
  • Remember that some of the most delicious organic produce may be irregularly shaped but should not be overlooked.

After you’ve reaped your market harvest, you may notice that the few extra minutes spent eyeing the eggplant or ogling those onions pays off in the kitchen as you create an original and effortless dish.