Friday, June 6, 2008

I find myself

I find myself here north of Beantown, visiting with one of my oldest, dearest friends, ensconced in her home, a place of consuming, cossetting beauty and great warmth.  Tomorrow, we will head into the city to explore with the short people, plans to include the MFA, the Museum of Science, the Boston Children's Museum, and the US Constitution.  Do you think we can pack it al in?  If not, we will still be mad with joy to be here, and to be with our dear ones.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Week one, continued, oh the joy

I have lamented before my fear of frying. Sadly, it often extends to stir frying, which is lamentable, given that one of my few complaints about my new home is the paucity of Asian food options. Why I won't stir fry is a mystery even to me--it's true that I don't have a wok, and I think that's one of my self-created obstacles. The other, I fear, is all the prepwork that a good stirfry usually entails. Tonight, in my quest to enjoy my beautiful baby bok choy, I threw caution to the wind and opened up the gorgeous (but not oft-used, in my kitchen) Hot Sour Salty Sweet: A Culinary Journey through Southeast Asia by culinary world travelers Naomi Duguid and Jeffrey Alford .

I adapted their recipe for Thai Stir Fried Greens with Noodles to reflect what I had on hand, and came up with a delicious, light supper. The original recipe calls for rice noodles, as well as meat (preferably pork) or pressed tofu. Lacking all of those, I made the stir fry anyway, and ate mine atop some brown rice; the H ate his straight, as a thick soup. Either way, delicious.

Thai Bok Choy Stir Fry

3 T neutral (canola, grapeseed) oil
2 T minced garlic
1 lb firm tofu, sliced into half inch by two inch (roughly) batons
4 cups baby bok choy, rinsed, base ends trimmed off
1 T fermented black bean paste
1 T soy sauce
1 T Thai fish sauce
1 t agave nectar
2 T rice vinegar
1 T corn starch, dissolved in 3 T water
1 1/2 c. chicken stock

Cut the bok choy into roughly even pieces by cutting across the entire bok choy to separate the leaf and stem ends into pieces of roughly equal lengths. Then cut the stem pieces into 1/4 inch wide slices (cutting along the length of the slice, not dicing across it.)

Heat the oil in a heavy, deep frying pan (or, ahem, wok) over high heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until it begins to turn golden brown. Add the tofu, and sear over high heat until it begins to brown.

Add the bok choy and stir until it begins to soften and turn bright green, and is just starting to become tender. Add the black bean paste, soy sauce, fish sauce, rice vinegar and agave, and stir to combine. Add the stock, and then the corn starch. Stir, and cover to raise temperature for a minute or so . Remove the cover and cook until the bok choy is tender to your taste and the sauce has thickened. Serves 2 very generously, or 4 over rice or noodles.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Week One

This week's loot included 2 bunches of bok choy (right there, in the foreground;) 2 bunches of spring turnips, tiny, almost tranlucent ivory; 2 bunches of brilliant radishes; a pound of mixed lettuces, red and every green imaginable; and the treasure (as far as this arugulamaniac is concerned,) half a pound of baby arugula.

Now--how to eat it all? The radishes look just lush, which means they might want to be eaten in the traditional French manner, with butter and salt. But I also love radishes shredded or mandolined into matchsticks atop a green salad, with my special vinaigrette. The turnips...hmmm. I fell in love with a turnip gratin published in Gourmet last year, but these are such babies. I might put them into a refined chicken soup, with homemade stock, shredded chicken, carrots, celery and...not much else. The arugula I will no doubt devour in my favorite way: dressed with just extremely good olive oil, Maldon salt, freshly ground pepper and shaved parmesan. The only mystery (and it's only a mystery because I never cook it for myself) is the bok choy. Any suggestions?

The House Vinaigrette

1/3 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 T champagne vinegar
1 t dijon mustard (or more to your taste)
1/4 t lemon oil
a pinch of Maldon salt
a few grindes of good pepper
a pinch of herbes de provence (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a glass jar with a screw-on lid, and shake to emulsify.

Turnips, bok choy, arugula, oh my!

It's official. I love my new CSA.

Picture of the bounty will be up soon, along with links to recipes. I have to go bury my head in a bowl of the most luxuriously peppery arugula I've ever tasted.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Tomorrow, tomorrow

Tomorrow is the first day of summer, no matter what the calendar says. That's because it's my first CSA pick up of the season, and I cannot wait to see what's in store (or, more precisely, in bag.) Stay tuned for the rundown, as well as some discussion of cookbooks you shouldn't live without--and some I no longer want to live with. Anybody interested in some trades? Inspired by this, I'm thinking it's time to weed out the titles that I don't use, but others might enjoy...stop back later this week for details.