Friday, June 29, 2007

Vegetables with Herbed Hemp Seed Filling

Lush bouquets of herbs, some quite new to me, are in my current CSA delivery. Summer savory is an herb I have not had the pleasure of using until this week. It is nicely sharp and peppery and seems to go well with white beans, cheese, and the filling below. If you don’t happen to have any, you can make the recipe without, and if you have no fresh oregano, use half a teaspoon dried. I happened to see these perfectly spherical tomatoes and zucchini at the Tompkins Square farmers’ market and thought they would make snazzy containers for this dish.

Zucchini and Tomatoes with Herbed Hemp Seed Filling

4 billiard ball-size globe zucchini or 4 smallish regular zucchini

4 billiard ball-size tomatoes

¾ cup hemp seeds, lightly toasted

½ cup grated parmesan (about an ounce)

3 cloves garlic

½ cup minced parsley (leaves from half of one small bunch parsley)

leaves from two sprigs fresh oregano (or ½ teaspoon dried oregano)

leaves from 2 sprigs summer savory

salt

black pepper (7 turns, about 1/3 teaspoon)

olive oil

Cut lids out of the tops of the tomatoes and zucchini.You will have best results if you cut into the tops of the of the vegetables at a sharp angle to remove cone-shaped sections. These mini-berets will be the lids for the stuffed vegetables. Remove and discard the tomato seeds. Use a melon baler or small spoon to scoop the insides out of the tomatoes, and set the pulp aside. Scoop out the zucchini pulp and set it aside in a separate bowl. Salt the zucchini pulp lightly. Salt the insides of the tomato and zucchini cups as well.

Smash the garlic cloves and add about ¾ teaspoon salt. Mince the garlic and salt together with the leaves of the parsley, oregano, and savory. Drain the zucchini pulp and mince the zucchini and tomato together. Combine the chopped pulp in a bowl with the hemp seeds, parmesan, minced garlic and herbs, and pepper. Add about one tablespoon of olive oil so that everything holds together nicely. Mix mix, toss toss.

Blanch the zucchini cups and lids for about two minutes in boiling water. This is so they will bake up to the same tenderness as the tomatoes.

Drizzle a bit of olive oil onto the bottom of a baking dish into which all the vegetables should fit comfortably. Spoon the filling into the tomato and squash cups, top with their little yarmulkes, place them in the dish and drizzle on just a bit more oil. Into the oven at 350f for about 40 minutes.

Weekend Herb Blogging is back at home this week at Kalyn's Kitchen. Read her Sunday roundup to plan an herb-filled holiday.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

כינעזער קרױט מיט מאַסלינעס און ניס

דאָס קרױט האָט אַ כינעזער ייִחוס, אָבער דער רעצעפּט נישט.


כינעזער קרױט מיט מאַסלינעס און ניס

10 װעלשענע ניס

1 בינטל כינעזער קרױט (באַק טשױ)

מאַסלינע בױמל

1 רױטע פֿעפֿערל

5 צײדלעך קנאָבל

5 גרױסע גרינע מאַסלינעס (איך האָב גענוצט „טשעריניאָלע” מאַסלינעס)

זאַלץ צום טעם

בראָט אָפּ די ניס אין אַ װאַרעםען אױװן 15 מינוט. קאָכט'ץ דאָס קרױט אין געזאָלצענע װאַסער 5 מינוט, און צעשנײַדט'ץ עס אױף שטיקער. װאַרעמט'ץ אָן בױמל אין אַ גרױסן אײַזערנעם פֿענדל און גיט'ץ צו דאָס פֿעפֿערל און דעם קנאָבל. נאָך אַ פּאָר מינוט גיט'ץ צו דאָס קרױט, עס זאָל פּרעגלען אַ 10 מינוט. גיט'ץ צו די אָפּגעבראָטענע ניס.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

La Vignarola Part Two: Sensuous Artichoke Stew

La vignarola has four major components, spring onions (not leeks or scallions, but the immature bulbs of regular onions), artichokes, fava beans, and peas, or English peas, as they are now called to distinguish them from snow peas and sugar snap peas and possibly other new peas we have now. Those sugar snap peas are great fun, but is it right that they have completely taken over peadom, at least from the vantage point of the Union Square Farmers’ Market? I understand that if you live in parts of Italy, or in the San Francisco Bay area, these ingredients are all at the peak of their season at the same time (is this true?). Here in New York, we have the spring onions up to about now, peas and favas just starting, and local artichokes, if we get them at all, very late in the summer. You don’t hear much about east coast artichokes, but when we get them, they are just the best things in the world. Since spring onions are the hardest to come by, this is the moment to seize, vignarola-wise.

This is a slow, slow food. You need to shell the peas, shell and possibly decorticate the beans, and do that thing that you do to artichokes. Then you will be standing there and stirring for a whole long-old time. This is a contemplative dish in method and technique, and oh, is it the most delicious, complex, soothing and yet stimulating combination. You will notice that other than salt, la vignarola has no seasonings; the vegetables taste like themselves, and like the time you took to prepare them.

La Vignarola

½ pound English peas (3/4 cup shelled peas)

¾ pound fava beans (3/4 cup shelled and decorticated beans)

Three large artichokes

Two spring onions, or other onions

1/3 cup wonderful olive oil

1 medium head lettuce (traditionally, you would use romaine—I used Grand Rapids lettuce this time)

salt

(You will add about a cup of water as the dish cooks)

Shell the peas and the beans. If the beans are more than three quarters of an inch long, decorticate them as well. Trim the artichokes to remove the leaves and fuzz. See Sam’s landmark post for step-by-step artichoke preparation instructions. Slice the artichoke hearts into half-inch wedges and drop the wedges into a bowl of acidulated water as you work. Chop the lettuce.

Slice the onions into thin half-moons. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, and add the onions. Cook the onions over very low heat for several minutes until they are utterly relaxed. Add the other vegetables and about half a teaspoon of salt. Cover the pot and continue to cook the vegetables over very low heat. You will need to stir every twenty minutes or so, and add small amounts of water as they begin to stick. Cook until the beans are tender, about an hour and a half, possibly longer.

Marcella Hazan, whose recipe I adapted, calls this “a rather murky dish” that does not look very impressive. She provides a lush photo of the mise en place, but no shot of the finished dish. Even so, I think it has its own loopy appeal.

This, surely, is the colorless green people are always talking about.
Other healthgiving foods, slow and fast, are to be found at Sweetnicks.
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Monday, June 25, 2007

נאָר אמונה

Lavender אַװנדע

די װערטער האָב איך געפֿינען אין סדר זמירות לשבת קודש וּיום טובֿ פֿון קרית װיזניץ, בני ברק תשס"ג (2003). איך האָב אָבער, קײן מאָל נישט געהערט אַ ניגון צו דעם. װער האָט דאָס אַ מאָל געהערט?

נאָר אמונה, נאָר אמונה אין בורא כּל עולמים

נאָר אמונה, נאָר אמונה אין בורא כּל עולמים

טײַערע ייִדן, הײליקע ייִדן, האָט אמונה, האָט אמונה אין בורא כּל עולמים

װעט אײַך גוט זײַן, װעט אײַך גוט זײַן

הײַנט און אַלע מאָל; אױף דער װעלט, און אױף יענער װעלט.

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Twice-Wilted Lavender Bok Choy With Cilantro

Since bok choy (báicài) literally means “white vegetable,” I should probably just call it “lavender choy” or use whatever is the Cantonese word for lavender—can anyone help with this? This luminous lavender choy is from the miraculous Deb Kavakos at Stoneledge farm, home base of my CSA collective. Have a closer look at those fat juicy stems!


We have lots of these greens this week, so I wanted to try something just a little different. Kenneth Lo has a recipe in Chinese Vegetable and Vegetarian Cooking (London and Boston: Faber and Faber, 1974 and 1995), for “Three Fairy Salad” in which you wilt bok choy once in salt, and a second time when you pour on hot oil. That’s all the cooking it gets, and it turns out to be just right. The traditional recipe would include radishes as well as the cabbage, and if you had some of those lavender “easter egg” radishes to go with your lavender choy, that would really be the bee’s knees.

Twice-Wilted Bok Choi

Not entirely raw, but not quite cooked, this cool preparation is just the ticket for rainy summer days like this.

1 large bunch bok choy, about one pound

1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt

oil (grapeseed, peanut, or other, about 2 tablespoons))

1 onion, sliced

2 dry red chiles, or more, to taste

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

4-6 sprigs cilantro, minced (about 2-4 tablespoons)

Cut the bok choy up into 1-inch pieces, and sprinkle with salt. Rub the salt into the leaves with your hand and leave it to rest in a cool or refrigerated place for three hours or overnight. Heat oil in a skillet and cook the sliced onion and chile pepper pods until the onion is quite soft and a bit golden. Pour the onions and chiles with their oil onto the bok choy and add the sesame oil and minced cilantro. Serve cool or chilled.


See Paulchens’s Food Blog for other cooling herbal creations.
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Friday, June 22, 2007

Serving Up Marco Pierre White


And the whole psycho-chef craze. Here's Tom Jaine's assessment from the Guardian:

[W]e are soggy enough to allow the whip-hand of exploitation to chefs in their kitchens as if the ends of fancy cooking ever justified the means adopted by abusers such as White or the abused-turned-abuser Ramsay (described here as reduced by MPW to a blubbering wreck). These braggadocio chefs have it mighty wrong. Years ago, Lord Nelson showed our hang'em and flog'em Royal Navy the way of compassion and today there are many kitchens turning out the best of food where dysfunctional personalities do not rule.


Not sure how I feel about bringing the navy into the discussion, but maybe that is the point.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

White Beans and Thyme

Thyme, basil, curly parsley, tarragon, lemon thyme, and a mild type of mint.

This gorgeous herbal bouquet was a gift from the Girl and Boy of the Limberlost, to whom I send heartfelt congratulations and all best wishes. So far, I used several sprigs of the thyme in some white beans.
White beans seem to me to be the trickiest beans to cook properly, and if you need firm, perfectly discrete beans, I might not be the best source of instructions. It is usually better to skip the soaking step because of white beans are a bit more fragile and delicate than their red, black, pink, spotted and speckled relatives.

White Beans With Garlic and Thyme

Place beans in a large kettle or slow-cooker and cover generously with water. Salt the water liberally, and add several peeled garlic cloves, several sprigs of thyme and one pasilla chile or other chile.
Cover and cook until done. Cooking times will vary widely.
Some of these beans were just right with pasta, arugula, and tomatoes, and the some were smashing stewed with onions and mizuna greens. They are good on their own, especially with black rice for contrast.

See Rachel's Bite for more of this weekend's herbal endeavors.
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Friday, June 15, 2007

Harry Potter and the Diner of Resolution

This wonderful slice of spotted dick is from Slate.com:

Someone approached the table. Harry looked up, hoping it might be Hermione, but instead it was a pale, sneering young man who for a moment reminded Harry of Draco Malfoy. The man walked past Harry's booth and entered the bathroom. Across the pub, a man with dark eyes laughed with a woman who reminded Harry of Bellatrix Lestrange.

Outside, a frustrated Hermione tried to tether Buckbeak the hippogriff to a street lamp, but Buckbeak was having none of it. He shook his eagle head angrily and pawed at the ground. Hermione sighed; she'd have to start with the bowing all over again.


Read the whole thing here.

La Vignarola Part One: The Mise En Place

English peas, a spring onion, an artichoke, and fava beans. Camera shy: lettuce. Ooooh, I just can't wait.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Red Sails Lettuce and Great Lakes Lettuce from my CSA

I have been looking forward to this for so long, but goodness, I do have a lot of lettuce. Most of it is going into salads (some with homemade vinegar), and I hope to use some to make La Vignarola this weekend. Traditionally, one would use romaine, but I am certainly not about to go and buy any more lettuce. And I'm not even talking about the arugula.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

הײמישע עסיק

נאָך אַ זאַך װאָס איך האָב אָנגעגטרײט צו מײַן געבױרען־טאָג איז אַ הײמישע עסיק. איך האָב דאָס אָנגעהױבן שױן מיט צװײ חדשים צוריק, באַלד נאָכן פּסח. עס איז מיר דעמאָלט אײַנגעפֿאַלן אַז די עסיק װעט זיך זױערן פּונקט צו מײַן געבױרען־טאָג. איך װײס נישט אױב איך האָב אַלצדינג ריכטיק געמאַכט. איך האָב אױסגעמישט װײַן, װאַסער און אָרגאַניש, נישט־פֿילטרירטן עפּל־עסיק, און אַלץ אײַנגעגאָסן אין אַ סלױ װאָס איך האָב צוגעדעקט מיט אַ שטיקל װאַטענע שטאָף. נאָך דרײַ װאָכן איז דער עסיק באַדעקט געװאָרן מיט אַ דיקע װײַסע קאָלדרע פֿון שװאָם. דאָס הײסט אױף ענגליש „mother of vinegar”. איך װײס נאָך נישט צי אונדז האָבן מיר אַ װאָרט אױף ייִדיש פֿאַר דעם. נאָך אַכט װאָכן איז „מאַמע“ פֿאַרשװוּנדן, און אַ סך עסיק האָט שױן אױסגעװעפּט. דער װאָס איז געבליבן, אָבער, איז געװען געשמאַק.



געזײַערט, אומגעזײַערט
Fermented (or risen, for bread dough)

זױער װי עסיק
Sour as vinegar

װי אַ לימינע
As a lemon

װי דער פֿאַרײַאָריקער ראָסל
As last year’s rosl

װי איבערגעשטאַנענער קװאַס
As leftover kvas

עס װערן הײַליק די צײן
It sets my teeth on edge

מען קאָן דערזען קראָקע מיט לעמבעריק
You can see
Krakow and Lemberg

I do not as yet know a Yiddish word for “mother of vinegar.”

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

One Potato, Two Potato

There are a couple of things I just have to do that most folks really can (and do) feel free to ignore. One of these is my practice of cooking the potatoes separately and mashing them by hand in any recipe in which the vegetables are going to get pureed. My reason for this is that pureed potatoes will sometimes take on an unpleasant sliminess because of the type of starch peculiar to potatoes. Unless the potatoes make up only the tiniest part of the recipe, I think it is worthwhile to take this extra step.

One soup that benefits from separately-mashed potatoes is this two-potato preparation. I started thinking of this recipe as a mild white background to provide flavor and color contrast for this nut sauce. It turns out that this soup can stand on its own brilliantly, and maybe you don’t even need the coconut milk, and you might not even need the potatoes.

When I made this last, I was still using canned coconut milk, which worked beautifully. I have since been making my own coconut milk, which is not so terribly difficult, and really makes everything even better, but if you don’t have a coconut handy, use some decent organic canned milk, and the recipe will be almost effortless.

Two Potato Soup Three Ways

2 or 3 tablespoons extra-virgin coconut oil, or other oil

4 medium onions (about 2 pounds) sliced or chopped

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut up (I used 2 large Japanese white sweet potatoes)

½ bunch celery, stalks and leaves

A piece of ginger the size of a grape, or kalamata olive or something like that

salt

2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut up (I used 4 medium Yukon golds) optional

1 ½ cups coconut milk or 1 14-ounce can coconut milk (Thai kitchen organic)

Cook the onions in the coconut until they become soft and translucent. Add the minced ginger, sweet potatoes and celery and cook until a few minutes more, and add salt and water to cover everything well and cook for about forty minutes, or until everything is quite soft. If you are also going to add the potatoes, cook them in a separate saucepan in salted water until soft.

1st way: Puree the sweet potato soup in a blender or using the pureeing modality of your choice. You could just stop here if you want—you will have a delicious soup vividly seasoned with ginger and celery.

2nd way: Add the coconut milk to your pureed soup, and return to heat. You may also stop here, and you will have a very rich, mildly seasoned soup.

3rd way: If you cooked potatoes, mash them or put them through a mill or sieve, and add them with their liquid to the sweet potato soup. The potatoes add a very interesting balance to the other flavors. Serve the soup as is, or drizzle some chicostle-nut puree on top.

Cate at Sweetnicks is almost certainly familiar with all the antioxidant-rich ingredients in this soup, but it is so delicious, I just have to post it anyway. My ongoing quest to stump Sweetnicks will resume next week.

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I Can't Hear You; There's . . . Oh, Never Mind

From Engrish.com. See candy-related Engrish here.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Green Rice

Among the dishes I prepared for my birthday was this green rice, which turned out to be even more delicious that I had imagined, and I had imagined it might be pretty good. I usually like stems, but they won’t work in this recipe, because the greens need to melt into the rice. These are the greens I had on hand, but I think an equal amount of almost any kind of greens would work brilliantly. It is especially good if you have at least some spinach, because of the special affinity between spinach and rice.

Green Rice

Olive oil

2 onions

1 small bunch collard greens (about ½ pound)

1 bunch spinach (about ½ pound)

1 bunch radish greens (about ¼ pound)

2 cups sushi-type rice, or other rice

salt, about four tesapoons, possibly more

Tabasco sauce and lemon juice to taste, optional

Feta, optional

Prepare the vegetables: cut the onions into medium dice; wash the greens and remove the stems; cut the collards into 1/8 inch chiffonade, and chop the spinach and radish greens roughly. Heat oil in a deep heavy pot, and add the diced onions. Coo the onions for several minutes. When the onions have begun to soften add the collards. After another few minutes add the spinach and radish greens, rice, and salt. Stir and cook another minute and add three and a half cups of water. When the water boils, cover the pot and lower the heat. The rice should be done in about thirty minutes. Check a few times to give a little stir, and see if more water is needed. Taste for seasoning. If you happen to have some feta to serve on top or on the side it is even more wonderful.

Ulrike at Kuchenlatein will be rounding up other verdant creations at Weekend Herb Blogging.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Milk Chocolate and Chianti

I know I lost at least half of you as soon as I mentioned milk chocolate, but happy are the few who are still with me. I have been letting go of my old prejudices against milk chocolate ever since working with the amazing Dan Budd at the Very Famous Restaurant. If you are at all milk chocolate-curious, start out with this kind, which is darker than many dark chocolates. I don't know what the temperature in my apartment is , but it was exactly perfect for this chocolate when I happened to be finishing up some chianti from last shabes.
פֿון גאָט אַ פּאר
(fun got a por, a match made in heaven)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Worth The Wait

Cherries

5 days until my first CSA pickup of the season
44 days until Harry Potter
Somewhere in-between--cherries!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

עגראָל און עגקרים


זונטיק האָב איך געזען די דזונדזע־מאַכערקעס אױף דער עלדרידזשער גאַס. געגאַנגען בין איך אין

Egg Rolls and Egg Creams” פֿעסטיװאַל פֿונעם עלדרידזשער־גאַס פּרױעקט דאָרטן האָב איך פֿאַרזיוכט סײַ פֿון די „עגראָל“ סײַ פֿון די „עגקרים.“

איך בין נישט מסכּים מיט זײער עגקרים רעצעפּט.

װי עץ זעט'ץ, מישן זײ אױס די מילך מיטן שאָקאָלאַדן סירעפּ אײדער זײ גיסן אַרײַן דאָס זעלצער־װאַסער, מאַכן זײ אַ ברױנעם שױם.

צו מאַכן אַן עכטן עגקרים זאָל מען בעסער אַרײַנגיסן אין גלאָז שאָקאָלאַדער סירעפּ, און נאָך דעם די מילך, און נאָך דעם דאָס זעלצער־װאַסער, און נאָך דעם זאָלמען אױסמישן די פּינע זאָל בלײַבן װײַס.

While I had a wonderful time at the Egg Roll and Egg Cream festival of the Eldridge Street Project, I cannot endorse their egg cream recipe, in which you mix milk a chocolate syrup together before adding the soda, producing a brown foam.


To make a proper egg cream

add chocolate syrup to the glass first, then milk, and then seltzer, and mix with short sharp strokes to produce a white crown.

Folks are still saying that you need Fox’s U-bet to make egg creams, but Fox’s has not really been Fox’s for years since it has been made with high fructose corn syrup. I don’t know what to advise you—I might try making my own syrup.


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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

I Can't Hear You; There's a Giant Banana Over Texas


The Geostationary Banana Over Texas project proposes placing a giant banana in geosynchronous orbit as an art intervention.
Thanks to Marian the Librarian for this.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Zongzi (Zòngzi ) Al Fresco

Yesterday I happened upon these ladies enjoying the mild weather by preparing zongzi (zong4zi) outdoors on Eldridge Street, and they very graciously allowed me to photograph the process. Zòngzi are made of sticky rice wrapped in bamboo leaves (although outer leaves of corn husks can serve admirably, making a zongzi-tamale hybrid) and filled with sweet red bean paste, or red dates (jujubes), or chestnuts, or, in this case, peanuts (and some folks use meat).

Zongzi are now available all year round, but they are especially suited to this time of year, when we celebrate the Dragon Boat festival in honor of Qū Yuán (Qu1 Yuan2), a poet and activist of the Zhou Dynasty. Zongzi commemorate the rice dumplings thrown into the river by Qu’s supporters after his death by drowning (It is sort of like tashlikh תּשליך. ) The rice is intended to feed the fish, not to feed the poet, as I incorrectly understood when first my valiant students attempted to explain the celebration.

The filling: seasoned raw sticky rice and peanuts
The wrappers: bamboo or other suitable leaves
Take two leaves and form a cone, just as if you were making a paper cone for piping chocolate.
Fill the cone halfway and tamp filling into the tip with a chopstick.
Fill up the rest of the cone and tamp the filling with your thumb.
Fold up the top to close the cone,
and tie it up with a bit of string.
The zongzi will need to be boiled or steamed for about three hours. See recipes here, and here.
See Sweetnicks for other healthy streetside surprises!

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Desserts From Kyotofu

Teatime at Kyotofu New York. Counterclockwise from 1:00: blood orange yokan, green tea chocolate dipped okara cookies, sansho pepper tofu cheesecake, and mini miso choko cake. Camera shy: black sesame sweet tofu. You want to try this place.

Yokan is a sort of Jello-type fruit dessert. Okara is the soy pulp that is left over from the tofu-making process. Who knew it would make such good cookies? Well, we are fortunate that someone did. All of these were lovely, but the star is the miso-chocolate cake. Like coffee, the miso highlights and amplifies the flavor of chocolate. It is not at all salty or musty.