December 19th, 2012 § § permalink
It’s hard to talk about a salad. The leaves will inevitably wilt by the time I can think of something clever to say. Sometimes, their simplicity is betrayed by a lengthy narrative. I can only talk about a salad by how it found me.
This salad found me by way of a random recipe – or rather, a suggestion of a recipe I saw online, a glimpse of potential that manifested in a complex and comforting wintry dish: chunks of pistachios and honeyed dates with crisp watercress support a warm and gingery mix of pears and parsnip. I think it’s a contender for my Christmas dinner.
I’m currently obsessing over watercress. There were some bags of baby kale at Whole Foods the last time I was there but I hesitated to buy it because the bag would require me to eat nothing but kale salads for the remainder of the week. I’m kind of a flimsy salad devotee. For me, a salad necessitates some warm soup, or crusty bread, or a heavy pasta. Or all of the above. God forbid someone serves me iceberg lettuce.
One day I’m going to enjoy eating iceberg lettuce again but I think I am too underwhelmed with my history of terrible salad bars and equally depressing “house” salads.
Ginger Pear and Parsnip Salad
2 small parsnips, cut into strips
1 small pear, sliced thinly
1 ts finely grated ginger, I used my trusty Microplane
1 TB olive oil
1 bunch of watercress
2 ts chopped pistaschios
4 dates, deseeded and chopped
3 ts olive oil
1 ts sherry vinegar
Salt & Pepper
+ Mix oil and vinegar in advance.
+Heat olive oil in a skillet and brown the parsnip with 1/2 of the grated ginger until they are tender to the fork. Remove the parsnip from the skillet and repeat with the pears. Do not overcook, unless you like your fruit soft. I prefer them a bit on the crisp side so I cooked it on medium heat for only about 3 minutes. Place the parsnip back into the pan to keep them warm while you mix your salad.
+Toss the watercress, pistachios, and dates in dressing and season with salt and pepper to taste. Put warm parsnip and pear on top and serve immediately.
December 12th, 2012 § § permalink
Granola. The word crunchy comes to mind, like walking on fresh fallen snow-covered leaves.
Breakfasting on granola is a contemplative effort because granola doesn’t try to please, it definitely doesn’t sound pretty, and it certainly is not polite. I have resisted granola because I am vegetarian, partially because I don’t like to be placed into comfortable categories that makes me “like to eat” certain fares. I’m talking about you kale! However, I did make this granola. Worst yet, I even gave some of it away – jars of it in tidy boxes by means of jet fuel . I think that makes our relation at least amicable?
I used to think granola was a specifically summer thing. It’s refreshing with cold milk and not nearly as comforting as warm Irish oats or creamed wheat. However. However, I think warm milk is amazing. Also, there’re all sorts of milk that deserves experimentation and attention, like flax milk, or rice milk and almond …. I digress.
Granola. This granola, my granola, comes from a series of experiments and standing in grocery aisles staring at plain cereals. How I came to bags of puffed millet I can’t exactly recall but I think it was in Atlanta in some organic grocer, the kind that carries seeds that most people feed to birds. I put those in my granola too. I like birds.
This recipe is “safe”. I’ve thrown in many things and it comes out perfectly well-adjusted to its new composites. I like to think that when it’s time to clean out my pantry of all the grains, all the nuts and seeds, and all the dried up bits of fruit, I can make something like this to share and eat on mornings when I don’t feel like poaching eggs.
inspired by The Splendid Grain
1 c pistachio
1/2 c pepitas ( I like the raw green looking kind)
2 c puffed millet
1 c rolled oats
1/2 c sunflower seeds
1/2 c flax seeds
1/2 c hemp seeds
1/2 c honey (Can use maple syrup if vegan, but granola will be less clumpy)
1/4 c refined sesame oil (this has more nutty flavored than the heated oils)
1/2 ts vanilla sea salt
1/2 ts ground cinnamon
1/2 ts ground cardamom
1 ts almond extract
1 ts orange extract
1 c dried raisins or dates
+ Preheat oven to 320F
+ Mix the wet and dry mix in separate bowls. Combine the two mixes an spread onto a large cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
+ Place into heated oven and stir every 10 minutes. The granola is done in about 25-30 minutes. do not overcook. You should have a crumbly sheet of granola.
+ Toss the dried fruit on top of the granola and allow to cool completely before storing in an air tight container.
August 29th, 2012 § § permalink
Consider yourself lucky if you ever get a chance to eat a French Charentais melon because they are absolute perfection. Charentais are unabashedly sweet – the kind of sweetness that puts other fruits to shame, because we all know fruits have egos the size of Texas. Circa 1920 from the Poitou-Charentes region of France, these highly refined cantaloupes were developed to be free of warts and blemishes typical of European orange melons. They are rarely cultivated in the US and do not ship well due to their delicate nature and short shelf life. It’s worth growing if you have a green thumb and a bit of dirt. The famous French poet, Antoine Girarde de Saint-Amant, had these words to say about the Charentais:
It is better than the beloved apricot, better than strawberries and cream, better than the Holy pear of Tours or the sweet green fig. Even the muscat grape I love is bitterness and muck compared to this divine melon.
O sweet grassy snake, crawling on a green bed. It is Apollo’s masterpiece. The brothels of Rouen will be free of the pox… tobacco smokers will have white teeth… I will forget my love’s favours before I forget you-
O fleur de tous les fruits! O ravisant MELON!
Doesn’t this guy look like a sea creature? The seeds remind me of Nemo…
How was I lucky enough to get a Charentais?
My melon came from the kiwi farmer at the Civic Center Farmer’s Market. Get this, the kiwi vendor disappears for months, then shows up last week with the best peaches of the season: Cling peaches with the texture and flavor of mangoes (that’s only a slight exaggeration). As I was standing there eyeing the cling peaches and begging for kiwis, a couple walked up and said… “Hey you are our kiwi guy!!!” - we all welcome the return of the kiwi farmer because everything he sells is spectacular, hence this Charentais. This farm stand is also where I got those amazing French Sugarplums… have you roasted some yet?
Most people (that eat meat) pair cantaloupes with prosciutto but I find the combination too overpowering for this particular specimen of exquisite melon. I choose to serve it chilled and shaved with a bit of fresh ricotta, a drizzle of honey, and pistachios. Then, I melt onto the floor from happiness.
Option number two would be Charentais melon with fresh Burrata cheese, a sorrel infused oil, and julienne mint. I usually get my burrata from AG Ferrari, who recently told us that the FDA has been “cracking down” on products… I don’t even know what that means, but I think I need another burrata retailer. For now though, I like the balance of ricotta and honey.
This would be perfect for a quick refreshing breakfast or a delightful end to a heavy meal (like the pizza I had today)… I used my ceramic vegetable peeler for these.