Chef in the Kitchen
February is here, bringing us cold weather, the Super Bowl, Chinese New Year, Purim and Valentine’s Day. And don’t forget American Heart Month, too.
Super Bowl Sunday is February 4. It will be played at the US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. So, if you’re going to the Super Bowl or just watching it on TV, be sure you are prepared with plenty of delicious and healthy snacks. Melissa’s is here to help. Our Clean Snax® are perfect for any gathering-everyone loves them. Or try putting a tray of finger hors d’oeuvres together with cut cucumbers, carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes and a little hummous dip. Your guests will be happy and so will their taste buds!
If you do attend the Super Bowl, be sure to look for Melissa’s at the Taste of NFL. We will be supplying all the produce for the event as well as for all the chefs at the event. Should be some good eating!
The next big February celebration is Valentine’s Day. February 14th is the most romantic day of the year. Many couples go out for a special evening filled with good food and romance. Others stay in and prepare a romantic meal at home. Using Melissa’s Crepes for a sweet dessert, fresh berries and cream will set the mood at the end of the evening… While you are enjoying berries in your crepes, try some fresh organic strawberries. Strawberries have always been a romantic fruit. Try them in salads, desserts or simply sprinkled with a little sugar.
Add some real heat to your Valentine’s Day meal by cooking with fresh chiles. Did you know that fresh chiles release endorphins and add a boost in mood and energy? Be sure to make your Valentine’s Day meal HOT by using plenty of fresh chiles.
Another “romantic” ingredient is the Goji Berry. These little berries are packed with nutrition and are considered an aphrodisiac. You will find them dried and you can use them in recipes like you would use a raisin. They are mildly sweet with a little tartness. Try some for a little added romance.
Pomegranates represent fertility and reproduction…. Eating these on Valentine’s Day has couples believing they will start or add to their family in the coming year. Depending on Mother Nature, you will find whole pomegranates or pomegranate arils to use in your recipes. They are perfect to add salads or sprinkle on plates as a garnish to add color.
And last but not least, the most coveted romantic ingredient: Fresh Truffles. Add fresh truffles to your favorite pasta dish, chicken or beef. They are so aromatic and pungent, and will add so much flavor.
Gung Hay Fat Choy!!!
Chinese New Year begins February 16, 2018 and the festival will last until March 2, 2018, about 15 days later. This year is the Year of the Dog.
There are many celebrations and festivities for Chinese New Year which include:
Plants and Flowers:
Every traditional Chinese household should also have live blooming plants to symbolize rebirth and new growth. Flowers are believed to be symbolic of wealth and high positions in one’s career. Lucky is the home with a plant that blooms on New Year’s Day, for that foretells a year of prosperity. In more elaborate settings, plum blossoms just starting to bloom are arranged with bamboo and pine sprigs, the grouping symbolizing friends. The plum blossom also signifies reliability and perserverance; the bamboo is known for its compatibility, its utility and its flexible stems for furniture and other articles; the evergreen pine evokes longevity and steadiness. Other highly prized flowers are the pussy willow, azalea, peony and water lily or narcissus.
The Chinese firmly believe that without flowers, there would be no formation of any fruits. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to have flowers and floral decorations. They are the emblems of reawakening of nature; they are also intimately connected with superstition and with the wish for happiness during the ensuing year.
Oranges and Tangerines:
Etiquette dictates that you must bring a bag of oranges and tangerines and enclose a lai see when visiting family or friends anytime during the two-week long Chinese New Year celebration. Tangerines with leaves intact assure that one’s relationship with the other remains secure. For newlyweds, this represents the branching of the couple into a family with many children. Oranges and tangerines are symbols for abundant happiness.
The candy tray arranged in either a circle or octagon is called "The Tray of Togetherness" and has a dazzling array of candy to start the New Year sweetly. After taking several pieces of candy from the tray, adults places a red envelope (lai see) on the center compartment of the tray. Each item represents some kind of good fortune.
Kumquat - symbolizes prosperity (gold)
Coconut - symbolizes togetherness
Peanuts - symbolizes long life
Longan - symbolizes many good sons
Buddha's Hand - given as gifts to represent good luck and fortune for the year
Mandarin Oranges represent wealth
Chinese Broccoli (Gai Lan) encourages youth and wealth.
Lettuce also symbolizes wealth
Mushrooms represent coins signifying riches and prosperity
Green Onions symbolize brilliance and intelligence
Won Tons are served to guests as a blessing for good fortune
Asian Noodles are served to represent long life...the longer the noodle, the longer the life
Anyone can participate in Chinese New Year festivities. Be sure to celebrate with plenty of Melissa’s fresh fruits and vegetables.
The Jewish holiday of PURIM begins February 28, 2018 at sundown. Purim is one of the most joyous and fun holidays on the Jewish calendar. It commemorates a time when the Jewish people living in Persia were saved from extermination.
There are many traditions on this Jewish holiday; it is customary to give food as a gift to our friends. Men give to men and women give to women… by way of a third party, usually a child. It is also customary to give to the needy; at least two needy recipients, including money, clothes or food. Also, drinking wine and alcohol is encouraged on this holiday.
Purim is celebrated nationwide with traditional food, costumes and parades. A popular cookie made for Purim is called a “hamentaschen”. This triangle shaped cookie is filled with a wonderful fruit filling and can be made with any filling you like. Traditional fillings include berries and nuts.
Try this delicious Hamentaschen recipe from our website.
The last celebration in February lasts the entire month: American Heart Month. Learning about heart-healthy foods will help you feel better and live longer. Start off eating your 10 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. It’s so easy with all the convenient products we offer from vacuum sealed legumes to pre-packed vegetables.
Eating foods that are high in omega-3 vitamins like salmon and tuna, as well as chickpeas, raspberries, walnuts and high fiber foods will help keep your heart in good shape!
February is a great month to celebrate!