Kale is amazing, so says all people alive with mouths. You have a kale salad and it changes your whole life (here’s the one that changed mine). You feel great, your oxidants are getting zapped or whatever, and obviously your skin and hair look perfect instantly; you’re made entirely of vitamin K and fiber. You’re thinking, “I’m invincible. I will eat kale every day!” So you buy a bunch of kale and then like four days later, you’re thinking, ” Oh @!#&, I forgot we had kale. Now it’s all wilty.”
I’m not saying that this happened to me, but this weekend I did make some kale chips with some slightly wilted kale (pictured). Like kale itself, kale chips are amazing. I have been known to pay ten dollars a box for bombay cheddar kale chips at my local Organic Extortioners, so you know they’re good to eat plain. Kale chips are also great mixed back into raw salads to provide a different texture, like kale croutons. And somewhere I’ve been eating a sandwich that has a spread on it made out of roasted kale, cream cheese, and other delicious things. So you see, not only are kale chips good, they’re practically a staple that you should have around your house at all times, like eggs. Making them is easy – Continue reading →
This is a rustic recipe. By rustic I mean uncomplicated. Its deliciousness is derived from the deliciousness of the component ingredients. I see Joël Robuchon and Thomas Keller telling me to cook every bit separately, to layer each item carefully, to fuss and rearrange. I like a poetic, modern meal as much as the next foodie jerk, but unfortunately for the proponents of needlessly complicating delicious-tasting foods, these gentleman came into my life long after a certain woman named Rita who had her own opinions on the matter.
Ratatouille was introduced to me at Thanksgiving, where it was a staple for some reason I don’t remember. Imagine a table laid out with meats and stuffing and mashed potatoes and gravy and pie; and then imagine a bunch of kids lined up in front of a bowl of slimy vegetables and you will begin to see what my mother wrought in our hearts and minds concerning squash. I still make mom’s version at least once a month. It’s delicious, full of vegetables, has almost no fat or oil, takes no effort to prepare, and even the masters agree: ratatouille tastes better the next day. (It’s also vegan, glutin-free, everything free, but whatever.)
So with all due respect to Ms. Julia Child, who would slap me for putting corn in this dish (and for cursing as much as I do), I present my love letter to summertime vegetables: ratatouille with the vegetables I have on hand, sweet corn, and fresh peas because they’re delicious – Continue reading →
Gooseberries are one of those what-on-earth-do-I-do-with-those? ingredients. They look like grapes but with thicker skins and have the interior of a passion fruit. Gooseberries are tough and tart and usually end up in preserves. I met someone who eats them plain like grapes, and now I do the same. However, blended with sugar and a soft berry, they made a great crisp. Yesterday I made a Raspberry-Gooseberry Crisp. Recipe below. Continue reading →
I was working my CSA shift this morning when I met the first person I’ve ever known to hate cilantro. I’ve heard of this before, of course, but always assumed it was fake, like you can make $4876 a week working from home, or a lie that people tell themselves, like I really don’t like dessert. No, this poor soul was real and she made it into adulthood thinking that cilantro, if not the king at least some sort or duke of herbs, tastes like soap. I mention this story because I love cilantro and I used it to garnish my pan fried buttermilk flounder today. It was terrific and that’s being modest. If, however, you think that cilantro is gross (like Julia Child apparently!), you might want to use that fact as a benchmark by which to gauge how you will probably feel about all of my recipes.
Moving on. Flounder! The ugliest fish you love to eat. I coated my flounder in buttermilk and breadcrumbs and then quickly browned them in a cast iron pan. The fish was fresh from the fisherman this morning and all of the vegetables came off of my farm share’s truck. Summertime! Fresh vegetables! Flounder!
This recipe is inspired by the wonderful things my parents used to do to fish to encourage me to eat it in the dark years during which I was just beginning to experiment with seafood. They would fry flounder and serve it with a cooked kind of chutney, made very similar to this one except using either avocado or mango instead of zucchini. If you have either of those lying around, I highly recommend both variations, especially if you have an annoying child who needs help eating fish.
My love of food and dislike of waste continues. Last week’s CSA fruit was cherries. I love cherries but we got maybe three and a half pounds of them. Obviously no cherry should ever be wasted. In addition to being delicious, they’re also like ten dollars a pound. What to do when they start turning brown and caving in?
Don’t get discouraged. Browning cherries look bad but they taste sweet. They need less in the way of sugar than a nice, firm cherry. If a cherry looks untrustworthy, throw it out, or taste a few to get your bearings with them.
The main hassle of baking cherries is the pitting. However, the nice thing about soft cherries is that you can roll them on a cutting board with your hand and remove the pits very easily. You can use a commercial cherry pitter if you’re so inclined, but I notice that a lot of them look rather like obstetrical devices. I have some friends who use and swear by one of these guys. They make a lot of cherry pies. I still think it’s quite easy by hand: press the cherry on a flat surface until the pit pierces the skin. Then remove it. Try not to be wearing your favorite canary yellow sweater because they do spray.
If you’re looking for coleslaw or broccoli slaw, look elsewhere. If however, you have a bunch of herbs in your fridge after using like a tablespoon in some other recipe, if you’d like something creative to do with kohlrabi tops (yes, you can!) or other undesirable hardy greens, if you like things spicy, try this:
Cooking breeds competition. After last Saturday’s lesson in Italian barbecue, I went out and bought a smoker and a ten pound Boston Butt of Berkshire pork to make some kind of point about southern barbecue being a thing that is also delicious.
Baby celery and smoked gouda salad
Smoked oysters served with broccoli cornbread
Smoked pork butt served with herbal hot sauce and Dad’s Famous BBQ Sauce
Zahra’s Strawberry, Basil, and Cream Cake
Jello and digestifs
Brown the sides of the pork butt before smoking
Smoke some oysters because what the hell?
Herbal hot sauce made with kale, kohlrabi greens, cilantro, and jalepenos
Salad of baby celery and smoked cheese
This sort of thing always happening at barbecues
Smoked oysters served with broccoli cornbread
Pork butt service with potato rolls
Pork buns completed with Dad’s famous barbecue sauce
Table completed with beaker full of iced tea
Zahra’s otherworldly strawberry, basil, and cream cake