By Jimmy Polinori – The Culinary Composer Ham has long been the traditional star of the Easter holiday. Though one may assume that preparing a ham properly is an easy task, it’s actually not as straight forward as one might think. Here are six tips to help you present the perfect ham for Easter or any time you feel so inclined to enjoy the tastes of spring. 1. Be selective It’s Easter, not just another Sunday meal. Call your butcher to reserve a good-quality smoked bone-in ham instead of buying from the supermarket. If that doesn’t work, look for online resources that ship overnight. Whether it’s bone-in or partially deboned, order a ham with some kind of bone in it. It will give you a sense of where to take the ham’s temperature to determine doneness, plus, that leftover bone will bring a soup or pot of beans to the next level. Also: Plan to buy at least 1 lb of meat per person so you’ll have plenty of leftovers. 2. Don’t skip the liquid Gently cook the ham with at least 1/2 cup of water, wine, stock, or my favorite, pineapple juice, in the pan and cover it with foil to make sure the ham won’t dry out (until you’ve applied the glaze – then the foil comes off). 3. Throw away that glaze packet If
By Jimmy Polinori — The Culinary Composer My day job requires a vast amount of social media interaction. As I scroll through news feeds from various sources, some of the highest recurring post themes I see pertain to modified foods, chemicals used in processing, and the treatment of animals raised or consumption. More and more people have turned to 100 percent plant-based diets (organic, of course). This trend has come and gone before and the arguments from the meat lovers and muscle bound remain the same. “What about protein?” Protein traditionally brings to mind meat, eggs, and milk. That wonderful food pyramid we were all forced to memorize in school instilled that memory trigger effectively. Though it is accurate that consuming a steak racks up grams up protein faster than a plate of broccoli, the real science is in the percentages. Plant-based foods are rich in nutrients meat and dairy cannot offer and, here’s the shocker, pound for pound, many vegetables carry a substantially higher percentage of protein than the latter mentioned. Don’t believe me? Look at the comparisons below. A 100 percent vegetarian diet isn’t for everyone, but even just tipping the balance a little in the direction of these vegetables will give you plenty of protein and an abundance of plant-based nutrients for energy and health. Broccoli: 45 percent protein Cucumbers: 24 percent protein Mushrooms: 38 percent protein
By Jimmy Polinori — The Culinary Composer Lovers who want to get into the mood for Valentine’s Day know that aphrodisiacs can help spice things up after dinner. An aphrodisiac, as we use the term today, is something that inspires lust. Aphrodisiac recipes have been cooked up throughout the world for millennia. In Europe, up to the 18th century, many recipes were based on the theories of the Roman physician Galen, who wrote that foods worked as aphrodisiacs if they were “warm and moist.” Galen’s theories were not the only basis for concocting aphrodisiacs. Mandrake root was eaten as an aphrodisiac and as a cure for female infertility because the forked root was supposed to resemble a woman’s thighs. This was based on an arcane philosophy called the “doctrine of signatures.” Oysters may have come to be known as an aphrodisiac only by their resemblance to female genitals. Few old medical texts listed oysters as an aphrodisiac, although literary allusions to that use are plentiful. And though it is true that physicians and scientists have expressed their theories on passion igniting cuisine throughout history, the heaviest influence comes from Greek mythology. Aphrodite, from whose name, of course, “aphrodisiac” is derived, was thought to have held sparrows sacred. The ancient Greeks thought sparrows were especially lustful, so they would consume the brains as an aphrodisiac. Thankfully, more palatable aphrodisiacs have been
The January 2014 issue of 5enses features a story about Big Picture Video Production penned by longtime contributor, first-time cover-story writer Jill Craig. The cover, based on a photo by Zack Drake was illustrated and designed by 5enses’ own Jimmy Polinori, creative director and Brain Food columnist. Pick up the new issue of 5enses at more than 225 locations in Prescott, Prescott Valley, Chino Valley, and Dewey-Humboldt on Friday, Jan.
By Jimmy Polinori Let’s face it: The American holiday shopping budget is not what it used to be. Uncertain times lead to conservative restraints at the check-out line. Several years ago, I vowed to remove the commercial element from the holiday season and inject creativity and forethought into the gifts I bestow upon my family and friends. A reduced budget does not have to equate to tacky gifts, nor do you have to be Martha Stewart to impress for less. Each year, I plan a gift basket for every household of family and friends. About $20 per gift basket is more than enough. Forethought is the key to thrifty gifting with taste. Plan to bake inexpensive treats for all your baskets then write down a theme for each household. For instance, if your sister’s family is movie nuts, add popcorn, movie candy and a family DVD to the basket. Spa-themed baskets go over very well, too. Your local Goodwill is an excellent place to find unique baskets for only a couple bucks and 99 Cents Stores are great for picking up fun basket stuffers like tea lights, bath time products, champagne flutes, jars for jams or candies, and more. You can also pick up great ornaments to hang from the basket handles. Find recipes for your gift basket treats on The Culinary Composer Facebook page (Facebook.Com/TheCulinary Composert) It’s also nice to
The December 2013 issue of 5enses features a profile on poultry detective Jerome Welna in a story penned by longtime contributor James Dungeon. The cover was designed by 5enses’ own Jimmy Polinori, creative director and Brain Food columnist. Pick up the new issue of 5enses at more than 225 locations in Prescott, Prescott Valley, Chino Valley, and Dewey-Humboldt on Friday, Dec.
By Jimmy Polinori — The Culinary Composer ‘Tis that time of year again. The smell of turkey and pumpkin pies signifies the start of yet another holiday season. I have always favored Thanksgiving over any other holiday, mostly because it is a simple occasion with little fanfare. Just family and close friends gathered to share in good tidings and to be grateful and gracious. I’ll take that over frenzied shopping, unnecessary credit card bills, and materialistic expectations any time. Continuing with my left-of-norm tendencies, turkey isn’t my favorite part of Thanksgiving. Not by a long shot. For me, the stuffing is the star of this beautiful holiday. It can make or break the meal, in my opinion, and if you were to have me to your home, I would sit in quiet judgment of how you did or did not execute the stuffing. I kid of course, but it’s my favorite part. This month’s recipe, clearly, is for an Italian stuffing that I put on the table every year. Moist, savory, and robust, this stuffing aims to please and may steal the show from the bird. Speaking of the bird, I’ll mention a few helpful tips for a perfect turkey: Avoid the common pitfall of basting every hour. Frequent opening of the oven door does more harm than basting does good. Make a home made herb butter the night before
The November 2013 issue of 5enses features art from the Josephine Michell Arader Natural History Print Collection in a story penned by longtime contributor James Dungeon. The cover — derived from a “California Vulture” (California Condor) by John James Audubon — was created by 5enses‘ own Jimmy Polinori, creative director and Brain Food columnist. Pick up the new issue of 5enses at more than 225 locations in Prescott, Prescott Valley, Chino Valley, and Dewey-Humboldt on Friday, Nov.
By Jimmy Polinori According to food historians, the banana bread we know and love today is a relatively recent creation. American banana recipes date back to the late 19th century, but these were generally just in salads and pies. The earliest recipe titled “Banana Bread” is from 1849 and is a product from a West Indian tradition: “All classes of people in the West Indies are very fond of Banana Bread. When preparing for a voyage, they take the ripe fruit and squeeze it through a sieve; then form the mass into loaves, which are dried in the sun, or baked on hot ashes, having been previously wrapped up in leaves.” Banana Bread happens to be one of my favorite things in life and a trigger food for some sweet childhood memories of family and wonderful occasions. So I set out to create the perfect recipe. To say that my kitchen was wiped-out during the week-long banana bread trials would be a gross understatement. Every spice imaginable lined my counters, dogs were covered in flour, and unsuspecting grocery boys would be sent on numerous missions to locate the ripest bananas in the store. At least three dozen recipes later, I placed into my mouth what I had been intent on producing: perfect banana bread. This recipe garners a product so moist and rich that I’ve often been asked if it’s
By Jimmy Polinori Brunch is a frequent occurrence in my home. Entertaining is one of my favorite joys in life. For a recent Sunday gathering, I decided to try something new and whipped up a large batch of crêpes and surrounded our table centerpiece with fun ceramic bowls we found at the local dollar store. The bowls were filled with all kinds of delicious fillings both savory and sweet. And the concept was a huge success. The word crêpe is French for pancake and is derived from the Latin crispus meaning “curled.” Crêpes originated in Brittany (fr. Breton), in the northwest region of France, which lies between the English Channel to the north and the Bay of Biscay to the south. Crêpes were originally called galettes, meaning flat cakes. The French pronunciation of both words is with a short E as in bed. Crêpe making has evolved from cooking on large cast-iron hot plates heated over a wood fire in a fireplace to hot plates that are now gas or electric heated. The batter is spread with a tool known as a rozel and flipped with a spatula. On Feb. 2 crêpes are offered in France on the holiday known as Fête de la Chandeleur, Fête de la Lumière, or “jour des crêpes.” Not only do the French eat a lot of crêpes on this day, but they also do