A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Chef John Foster: Throw a KISS to Thanksgiving — and sit down to a meal all your guests can enjoy

By this time, you’ve probably read a half a dozen articles on how to present the perfect Thanksgiving dinner. You’ve watched countless shows on the best pumpkin pie, or the new improved side dishes to spice up your holiday tables. I don’t need to tell you about basting versus self-basting, the dangers of stuffing the bird or cooking the dressing separately. If you have...

Chef John Foster: Meal planning takes center stage in the kitchen as holiday season approaches

Holiday meals always present the most obvious challenges to cooks. Pre-planning, prep lists that stretch over two or three days. Multiple trips to the grocery store and multiple carts are standard operating procedure this time of year. So many articles on holiday planning, menus and “new” techniques fill the magazines or websites of the cooking world that the rest of the day-to-day planning is...

Chef John Foster: Herbs, an acquired joy of cooking; used fresh or dry, they matter (though fresh is best!)

Let’s be honest here, no one expected snow to fall before Halloween. True, there wasn’t much in the way of accumulation, but the fact that it got cold enough to see the flakes fall literally sent shivers up my spine. I’m not ready yet to give up on fall and slog through an early winter, but as is always the case with Mother Nature, it seems she has other plans. Now we may be left with hustling...

Chef John Foster: Penultimate party day of summer is upon us — and what pleasant surprises loom

It’s hard to imagine that we are a few days away from 4th of July. The penultimate party of the summer is upon us and we can still find beets and carrots, broccoli and cauliflower readily available in the farmer’s markets around town. Next to the peaches and corn from Georgia and South Carolina are beautiful golden beets from Elmwood Stock Farm, candy onions from Blue Moon Farm, and multiple...

Chef Foster: Get ready for feast akin to Cratchit’s, enjoy the celebration with family and friends

It probably started long before Ebenezer Scrooge sent the boy around to “the poulterer’s” to fetch the big tom in the window at the end of A Christmas Carol. Maybe as far back as the first Christmas, or maybe the first celebration of food and Christmas. I’m talking of course about Christmas dinner, the penultimate familial celebration of the season, sometimes...

Chef Foster: It’s holiday party time; be good to yourself by sticking with some tried-and-true favs

We’ve come to that time of year when people start planning and hopefully executing their holiday parties. Magazines, television shows and even live demonstrations abound as your attention is pulled from dish to dish, appetizer to entrée to dessert, in an effort to impress, titillate and amaze. Somewhere in this tangle of holiday merriment, you hopefully will also feed your guests and give...

John Foster: Sharing insight into grandeur of Ferris Wheel, the restaurant business, success, failure

The restaurant industry has always been an amusement park attraction, for as long as I’ve called Lexington my home. Part funhouse, part coaster, with the unpredictable nature of a tilt a whirl and the grandeur of the Ferris Wheel. More than once I’ve seen fortunes rise and fall, sending seismic shifts throughout our tight-knit community, and into the consciousness of the general public. Empires...

Chef Foster: It’s the time to think about the versatile potato — and here are some tasty recipes

Cold and rainy, dark and gloomy, fall has hit the area in the form of chilly temperatures and heavy rain. I liken it to a good wash after a long summer. A little scrubbing, some fresh clothes, and we’re all tidied up for the holidays. Unfortunately, most of us are still in summer mode, cooking away as though the temperatures hadn’t dropped 30 degrees and it wasn’t pitch black at 7 p.m....

Chef Foster: Channel your inner Pilgrim by making creative recipes using seasonal pumpkins

Inevitably, sometime in October I will be pressed to write about pumpkins. I will talk about their history, the origins, the botanical aspects of the various squash, and finally what you can and can’t do with them. It’s not that I mind doing this, pumpkins are after all the focal point of October, and even fall in general. Pumpkin festivals, along with corn mazes and fall hay rides were part of...

Chef Foster: Soup may not be a cure-all, but it can still be a remedy for what’s ailing us

I’ve got the sniffles and a nagging cough. Not sure if it’s allergies or I’ve finally succumbed to a common cold that’s been circulating through school. The good and the bad of fall wrapped up into one condition for which there is no cure, except? Well you can’t really call soup a cure for anything, but it can be a remedy for a lot of what may ail us. A cure would be too easy, would allow...

Chef Foster: Preserving the sanctity of pasta, one of our oldest and most versatile culinary treasures

Mention the word pasta to someone and they may shrug their shoulders slightly. Yeah, they like it all right but it’s a quick dinner, or a snack for a hungry teenager. The era of pasta as king of the menu is past, and with the proliferation of boxed pastas ready to microwave, it’s taken on a fast food mentality that to me is infuriating. This is an art form in other countries, whether it’s...

Chef Foster: A well-stocked pantry will save precious minutes for your weekend cooking projects

When fall rolls around every year, we anticipate that after the kids are back to school and the days start getting shorter, there will be a brief period of time when things will slow down. A break of sorts as we downshift from summer and gear up for the impending holiday seasons (plural) which seem to start up again the month before Halloween. Often, we find quite abruptly that this is not the case....

Chef Foster: Step out of your comfort zone with fall offerings and experience a new level of eating local

The fall season in Kentucky can become a series of culinary acrobatics, twists and turns that jolt us out of our summer reverie and force us into cooking contortions we haven’t experienced in a long time. Many “pulled muscles” result, some of which can be happy accidents on our menus, while others are quickly tossed and hopefully forgotten. In my many years of seasonal adjustments, realizing...

Chef Foster: Food is the gift that truly keeps on giving — especially when it’s your birthday

I have a September birthday, middle of the month in fact. I feel a bit lucky every time it rolls around, not only because that means I made it another year, but that I get to choose my birthday dinner, no ifs ands or buts. That doesn’t happen very often, maybe an anniversary or sometimes a holiday, but going back as far as I can remember each person in my family, parents included got one day when...

Chef Foster: Raw?! Unlock the culinary range of your peppers through smoking or roasting

I just spent an evening smoking trays of banana peppers to put away for another menu change, and in doing so I’m reminded as to how much more I love peppers smoked and or roasted. Raw peppers to me miss the point. They’re like a bank robber taking the safe with him, and leaving it unopened, all that potential just sitting there. Peppers are the basis for some of the richest most memorable flavors...