Jo’s Healthy Kitchen – January, 2023 Newsletter

Happy New Year to all!

January is project month – cleaning out my closet, sorting through photos, creating new recipes. In 2023 I want to experiment more with different spices and flavors so you will see recipes using juniper berries, zhoug, za’tar, preserved lemon paste and more. January lends itself to more time consuming dishes – by time consuming I mean the slow cooker not my actual time standing at the stove. Over the years I have gathered some tips about this method of cooking:
– trim the meat of any fat to avoid ending up with puddles of grease in the pot at the end of cooking
– you should still brown onions and sear meat before you place it in the cooker as this increases the flavor.
– before searing the meat toss it in seasoned cornstarch to ensure a good, thickish gravy. This is because the slow cooker recycles steam and the gravy or sauce would remain thin otherwise.
– if you are adapting a recipe for the slow cooker only one-third of the amount of liquid stated is needed.
– for the best result cook on the low setting for 6 – 8 hours
I did all of the above and ended up with a delicious stew and very tender meat.

The other day I visited PALM BEACH MEATS (4812 S. Dixie) with a friend and I had such a memorable experience that I will be forever grateful to her for taking me there (yes, you, Kitty). The first thing that struck me was the fantastic quality of the Wagyu beef displayed in the chill cabinet. The marbling was magnificent. It really was a sight to behold. Eric San Pedro, the owner, was happy to explain Wagyu beef to us – where and how it is raised – and he told us he visits Japan from time to time to study more about this special beef. He happily answered any questions. Then, Emerson Frisbie, one of the two chefs, who is absolutely passionate about what he does, came over and informed us that they run a “series of seasonally inspired eight course tasting menus showcasing global flavors, locally sourced ingredients and innovative techniques” which can be accompanied with wine or non-alcoholic pairings. In addition, there is a small menu of items such as a Wagyu burger, hot dog or Philly Cheese Steak which you can eat in the store or take out. And, finally, there is a gem of a retail section stocked with all sorts of items that you have probably never seen or tasted before, most of them local or from small batch companies. I tasted the best Truffle Sea Salt made locally in Jupiter and I inquired about the mushroom vinegar as I wasn’t sure how to use it. Now I hear that a new product has arrived – yuzu marmalade – count me in for that. The level of knowledge and dedication of the staff shine through. Go visit, it is a real treat and totally unique.

There is a store in Brooklyn called SOLID WIGGLES where you can buy the most amazing and beautifully crafted boozy and non-boozy jelly cakes It is very difficult to describe them as the concept is so different. You can order them and pick them up at their location or they will ship using Goldbelly. Would make a fantastic surprise for a party.

I know that restaurants across the board suffered through covid with many sadly closing their doors for good and I know just from visiting the supermarket how prices have risen across the board. I quite understand that restaurants have to pass on the cost increase to customers but I wonder where this will end. It seems to me that appetizers are now priced in the $20’s, entrees mainly in the $30’s if not the $40’s and I gulped when I saw $13 sorbet. How about wine at $18 a glass? Eating out is rapidly becoming only an occasional treat. I think I might start going out for breakfast – my local diner has a $6.99 breakfast special with a free cup of coffee – way to go!

If you are keen to expand your taste buds consider browsing the Specialty Meats section at WILD FORK or order them online at where you will find alligator tenderloins, ground yak and elk, bone-in goat cubes, ostrich fillets and venison frenched rib back. Suffice it to say that you can find recipes online for all these items. Alligator meat is said to be incredibly lean and healthy – not sure I am brave enough to try it even if it’s supposed to taste like chicken.

Following on from last month’s explanation of what the word ‘pudding’ means, I have discovered THE PUDDING CLUB. Every Friday and Saturday night throughout the year you can have dinner kicked of with a glass of Buck’s Fizz (Mimosa) followed by a light entree and then seven desserts which ALL have to be tasted by everyone and voted on as to which is the best. The event takes place at the Threeways House Hotel in Mickleton, Chipping Camden, Gloucestershire, UK. This hotel is part of a small chain and there are plans to establish the Pudding Club at some of the other hotels. It would make a lovely, unique gift for the pudding lover in your life.

How does cooking make you feel? Is it a horrible chore but something that has to be done; have you circumvented cooking by buying ready meals that just need heating up; maybe going out to a restaurant or ordering in is an alternative. For me, there is nothing better than cooking from scratch whether the recipe be quick and easy or more complicated. I find it incredibly relaxing and I find that nothing tastes good if the process is rushed. In fact I consciously, slow the process down – it’s not a race to chop an onion. Pop some music on in the background. It also helps if you have open plan kitchen so that you can still be part of the conversation.

STONE CRAB season is in full flow here in Florida. They are available to eat from October 15 – May 1 each year. Traditionally, they are eaten with a hot (as in spicy) mustard sauce. They are an absolute must, though a rather expensive one, to experience when visiting Florida and because they aren’t available year round it makes them extra special. If ordering them to eat at home ask the fishmonger to crack them for you as they are rather hard work. The stone crab industry in Florida is well monitored and regulated to ensure that the crab population is maintained and sustained. Usually only one of the stone crabs’ claws, which has to be of a certain size, is broken off in a careful a way so that it can grow back, although the process may take several years (this is a painless procedure for the crab) and no female crab carrying eggs can be harvested.

This takes the proverbial biscuit (an English expression which can mean either incredibly good or bad or astonishing). A restaurant called DOGUE in San Fransisco serves a $75.00 3 course tasting menu on Sundays for dogs – yes, dogs!! The pampered pooch is served items such as chicken skin waffles or steak tartare with a raw quail’s egg and the little cakes are as good to look at as in any patisserie (though I believe they are savory). Cucumber infused water can be provided as a beverage. If the dog so wishes it can host a birthday party for its canine friends. In all fairness, the owner is trying to persuade people to move away from mass-produced dog food and try the benefits of his natural, bespoke meal plans.

LICORICE is a somewhat love it or hate it kind of thing but it seems that one or two manufacturers are passionate about it and want to spread the word and gain a following. Licorice is actually a herb grown mainly in parts of Europe and Asia. Check the packet when you buy licorice as often anise oil is used instead of the real thing. is an American company selling over 50 types of licorice in attractive packaging – red, black or chocolate covered, sour twists in various flavors. Lakrids by Bulow is based in Denmark and produces sustainable licorice from natural sources. They produce quite a few limited edition choices in addition to regular licorice – salty caramel, crispy mint, golden raspberry on the outside with licorice in the middle. They have a lovely heart-shaped box with a selection of flavors – perfect for the licorice-loving Valentine!

You will have heard of pesto but have you heard of PISTOU? Pesto is Italian and contains basil, oil, garlic, parmesan and pine nuts. Pistou is French – Provencal, actually, and is the same as pesto but minus the pine nuts. Pistou is often spooned on top of pistou, which is very confusing as pistou is also the name of a vegetable soup. It can be spread on top of meat and fish and, like pesto, can be served with pasta. I feel it would taste good as a base in a sandwich. If you want to make it yourself Claudia Roden has a good recipe and it isn’t complicated.

What a lovely discovery – POSTCARD TEAS, London – a tea lover’s dream. All the teas sold come with a distinct provenance and are grown on farms of 15 acres or less across Asia. In fact, Postcard Teas is the only tea company in the world to sell exclusively from small farms. The shop has a tasting table where you can try different teas and learn about them and their preparation. Every Saturday between 10.00-11.00am you can attend a tea tasting for a very reasonable price. For a bit of fun you can buy a postcard and address it and it will be filled with 50grams of tea and sent anywhere in the world – rather a nice idea.

BOOK OF THE MONTH – Unreasonable – The Remarkable Power of Giving People More Than They Expect – Will Guidara

Will Guidara was the manager of Eleven Madison Park in NYC – an excellent restaurant. This book is absolutely fascinating, showing the immense attention to detail that the restaurant prided itself on in giving the best experience to its customers. It wasn’t meant to be obvious or obsequious, it was seamless perfection that had been learned down to the core by the staff. Actually, anyone in any kind of service to customers can learn a lot from this book or anyone who deals with members of the public at all. It is all about treating the customer, client, any individual whatsoever with non-judgemental grace and attention to detail.


Visually delicious with stunning food photography. The quote ‘If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen’ certainly applies here – the tension and pressure of working in a restaurant kitchen is well-captured but I am glad to only have a ring side seat. The one thing that struck me though, in these days of post-covid hygiene, is the amount of touching of the food to plate it and the number of times Bradley Cooper dipped his finger to taste something, then licked it and dipped it in something else!

PRODUCT OF THE MONTH – Chickpea Pasta (Banza brand)

This is a great alternative to pasta for those who are gluten intolerant plus, because it is made from chickpeas, it is healthier than regular pasta – it has 50% more protein, three times the fiber and 25% less carbs. Seems a win win to me and it tastes good. I can get it in my local supermarket and there are all sorts of different pasta shapes. Thanks for the suggestion Will and Allison.

And I have to issue an apology to my other son and his wife, Ben and Michelle, for not mentioning that they recommended Marky’s in Miami to me and Wild Fork too!

RECIPE OF THE MONTH – Harissa Tomato Sauce

This is my recipe for a sauce that can be used in quite a few recipes – for my one pot Chicken with Harissa Tomato Sauce, for an updated take on Bolognese Sauce and now I am making Skakshuka which can be eaten at breakfast or as a light lunch or dinner.

1 tbsp. olive oil seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion – chopped
2 large cloves of garlic – grated
14 oz. San Marzano canned tomatoes – broken up
2 tbsp. mild harissa paste
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 cup chicken broth

Place 1 tbsp. olive oil in a frying pan and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
When sizzling, add the onion and let soften and brown before adding the grated garlic.
Cook for a few more minutes then pour in the tomatoes and break them up.
Next comes the harissa paste, tomato paste and chicken broth.
Mix everything together well, bring to a boil then turn down heat and cook for 15 minutes.

How to make an omelet

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