Question: What is hearts of palm?
Answer: Hearts of palm come from the tender inside of the thick stem of the Oreodoxa oleracea palm tree. The plant can grow to more than 100 feet tall, but is cut down when about three years old, according to the "Woman's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery," (Fawcett Publications: 1966). Canned hearts of palm are sold in most supermarkets.
Hearts of palm have a bland, delicate taste. They are often used in salads, but the above publication also included this recipe for an entree accompaniment:
HEARTS OF PALM WITH BUTTER SAUCE
2 (14-ounce) cans hearts of palm
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
Place hearts of palm and liquid in saucepan. If hearts are very thick, split lengthwise. Add 1 tablespoon butter. Simmer 15 minutes.
Melt remaining butter in small saucepan. Continue to heat until butter is lightly browned. Add lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon parsley.
Drain hearts of palm and serve with butter sauce and additional parsley. Makes 6 servings.
Q: I have been holding on to a recipe for a coconut cream cake for several years now because it calls for coconut cream pudding, which I have been unable to find in the market. Can you tell me where it can be found?
A: We checked with General Foods, which makes Jell-O brand pudding and pie filling. Unfortunately, although they still make the coconut cream flavor, it is no longer available in Southern California. Have any relatives or friends in another part of the country who might send you a couple packages?
Q: A while back you ran a recipe calling for fructose as one of the ingredients. Where does one buy it?
A: Fructose is available in the dietary food sections of most supermarkets.
Q: I eat a lot of raw broccoli but find that peeling and using the stems is a bother. Can you tell me whether there is a difference in the nutritional value of the florets and stems. Also, what is the proper way to clean broccoli when it is going to be used raw?
A: Genieve Ho, Family and Consumer Sciences adviser, UC Cooperative Extension, did not have published figures but told us the darker green portions of broccoli are higher in nutrition. This means the florets would be more nutritious than the stems.
As for cleaning broccoli, "Fresh Produce A to Z" (Lane Publishing, 1987: $6.95) advises, "Rinse. Cut off and discard base of stalks, leaving about 3 1/2 inches of stalks below florets. Peel bottom few inches of stalks, if desired. Cut stalk and florets lengthwise into spears."
Address questions on food preparation to You Asked About . . ., Food Section, The Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053. Personal replies cannot be given.