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Things I haven't tried and need questions answered about

Tahini (not sure what that is)
Hearts of palm (what are those anyways?)
foi gras

probably a few others i might add as i go along.
Basicly i would like it if someone could tell me what these things taste like, what they are, and how you use them....

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  1. Tahini is a paste made from ground sesame seeds. Have you had sesame oil in anything? It's a similar taste, but a texture closer to peanut butter.

    Hummus is ground garbanzo beans (chick peas) with garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and tahini. Think of it as a Middle Eastern bean dip.

    Hearts of palm are the centers of very young palm trees with the bark and outer tough layer taken off. They are usually canned in a light brine. The taste is a bit lemony/salty. I like them in salads.

    I'll let someone else take over now. Hope that helps.

    1. Foie gras is the liver of a goose (or, more often in this country) a duck that has been fed more than it usually would eat (I'm not going to get into any controversy here, it doesn't belong on this site!). It's typically greenish-grey, absolutely enormous, and has a creamy, rich taste. I don't like it. But a lot of other people do.

      Hummus is an incredibly savoury dip made, as weezycom, from chickpeas, garlic, lemon, olive oil, tahini (ground up sesame seeds) and salt. It's enchantingly good -- eat it with warm pita bread. Rip a piece of pita off, scoop up some hummus, you're good to go. It's also great as a bread spread for sandwiches.

      By the way, the same dish made with barbecued eggplants in place of chickpeas is called babaghannoush and has a smoky flavour that I love.

      Artichokes -- they're large overgrown thistles, basically. The artichoke itself is the flower. To cook it, most people trim off the tips of the outer leaves (they're SHARP!) or just use a serrated knife to slice off the top inch and a half or so of a full-sized artichoke. Then you can just steam it until a knife goes in easily into the stem end. You eat by pulling off the outer leaves, dipping the "thick" end into a sauce (often mayonnaise, aioli which is garlic mayo, or butter), then scraping the "thick" end between your teeth. When you get to the tiny soft purple leaves inside, pick them out, and you'll see a fuzzy part -- that's the choke. Use a knife or a grapefruit spoon to get the fuzzy part out (you'll see a dark line on the outside of the artichoke at this point that tells you how deep to dig). The rest of it is completely edible and is called the "heart" -- the best part of the artichoke. The stem is also good -- if you get a long-stemmed artichoke, trim the stem to remove the woody part but leave the long stem on!

      4 Replies
      1. re: Das Ubergeek

        Be prepared with artichokes to have anything you eat with it or after eating it to taste very sweet....wine and artichokes are a very difficult combination.

        Foie Gras? better than butter!

        1. re: Das Ubergeek

          Artichokes are beautiful in dried flower arrangements but I don't get them as a vegetable. I've had them fresh from the fields in Watsonville, Gilroy, Salinas, with nothing on them, with garlic/butter, with mayonnaise/aioli, many ways, it didn't taste great to me and I love vegetables. I'd love to know who the first person is who discovered if you steam these, get around the thistles and pull the leaves off, you get something edible.

          1. re: chowser

            Probably the same one who looked at an egg and said, "I know where this just came from but I'm going to eat it anyway," or the same one who figured out that if you salt olives they become edible.

            I love the hearts, warm, tossed in vinaigrette. I couldn't care less about the leaves.

          2. Hummus - creamy dip (different flavors)

            Artichoke - aphrodisiac

            Hearts of palm - healthy

            Foie gras - caloric, but worth it

            1. If you do decide to try foie gras, make sure you go to a good restaurant that serves grade A whole foie gras. Lower grades tend to be bitter because of the blood vessels. Be sure not to have the cheap kind that tastes like pate. The first time I had foie gras, it just tasted like fat to me, but the second time, I was hooked!

                1. Palm hearts (Bactris gasipies) come from the Latin American tropics and are a sustainable cash crop that, with increasing demand, represent an opportunity for poor farmers. You can use palm hearts where you would otherwise use artichokes and/or asparagas.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    Except that they taste nothing like either food unless all three have been pickled. I'm all for sustainable agriculture but if it ain't a good substitute, move on and find recipes that allow it to shine.

                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                      Demand by the French is driving production increases.

                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                        Do you know what are they using it for/in?

                        1. re: Aromatherapy

                          I thought it was in salads, but on further thought I don't know for certain.

                      2. re: Das Ubergeek

                        Yes, but if you love hearts of palm as much as I do, you can just eat them out of the can as a snack. I don't need to interchange them with anything to find a place for them.

                        1. re: Das Ubergeek

                          are hearts of palm similar to young bamboo shoots in chinese food?

                          1. re: S U

                            Well, sort of... the texture is similar (when canned), but the taste isn't the same at all.

                      3. I can speak to hearts of palm, artichokes, and (surprise) foie gras ...

                        Hearts of palm are a nice luxury salad ingredient--I just toss the can in the fridge when I get it home so they'll be ready to go when I am (I like them chilled).

                        Artichokes are one of my favorite vegetables. The sharpness of the thorns varies a lot--I would cut them off with kitchen shears for company, but for "just folks" I usually leave them on. Be sure not to overcook. I like to save the hearts for a pasta sauce (with cream and thyme) if I can.

                        Foie gras is one of my favorite things in the world. I agree with the advice to eat it at a top-tier restaurant. If you like rich, you'll probably like foie gras. Good foie cooked well = food ecstasy. The farming process is a downer, so if you like being an ethical eater as I do, probably best that you not try it and find out how delectable it really is ;)

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: foiegras

                          Foie gras is a product of one of the most humane farming processes in America today. The ducks are treated far, far better than most chickens and cows.

                          1. re: uptown jimmy

                            Jimmy, that's good to hear, you probably know more about it than I do.

                            If I'm buying the meat, it's organic, and if those standards are followed, the animals are treated better ... but you're right, the life of the average factory chicken is hell. If I had to be reincarnated as an American chicken or cow, I'd hope for a timeslot prior to 1950 or so ;)

                            1. re: foiegras

                              I'm no expert on the subject, but there was an episode of "No Reservations" (Bourdain's show) that dealt extensively with foie gras, and ducks in general. I think they were at one of the two remaining farms in America that still produce foie gras. It all looked pretty darn nice to me. The ducks were completely unafraid of the farm hands, and I think they even reported that the ducks approached voluntarily, even eagerly, to be "force-fed". I think that was the story.

                              1. re: uptown jimmy

                                I believe it was an episode on Quebec. And I disagree with a person who didn't like the fact that foie gras tasted like fat. If you are into fatty things like bone marrow, marbled steaks you will love it. Some fats are delicious.

                                1. re: welle

                                  I think you're right...

                                  The duck operation was amazing. They truly get every last bit of those ducks to market.

                                  1. re: welle

                                    That would have been me -- foie gras is fat, fried in fat, garnished with fat. I just can't stand it.

                                  2. re: uptown jimmy

                                    Well, that *is* good news ... guilty pleasure no more :) And as a dog person, I can well imagine animals who have no problem with unlimited food ...

                                    As for UberGeek, hey--that just makes more for us :)

                                    If you haven't had it, it is rich, but there's no marbling or visible separate fat. There's some similarity to a very pale chicken liver, but if carved & cooked properly, there is *no* liver taste.

                                    1. re: foiegras

                                      Duck tastes far too good for me to worry about them anyway!