Friday, July 25, 2008

The Week that Eight my Brain

Sorry for my absence this week--I've had a busy week for everything but cooking, and, apparently, blogging. I worked my second required shift at the farm this week, and again, felt that my contribution was entirely inadequate given how hard the farmers work and how much they give their shareholders. Yes, we pay for the food, but certainly less than retail. This week's haul: field greens, our first broccoli, gorgeous and leafy, onions, loads of cukes, tight heads of cabbage, summer squash, more red potatoes, and eggplant, a Japanese (long and skinny) variety in a deep, deep purple.

I wish I had a great recipe to share, but my big cooking adventure this week, an eggplant and potato curry from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian was a bland bust. In spite of homemade garam masala, coconut milk and lots of fresh garlic (from the farm) and ginger, it was almost flavorless. I found myself salting and salting as I ate to try to find some interest. I did use some cukes in a quick and delicious chopped salad: chickpeas, chopped cukes, tomato, red onion, avocado and olives, with a quick red wine vinaigrette. It made a filling and cool lunch, perfect for the steamy days we've had.

One intriguing possibilty lies ahead, however. When I arrived at the farm to pick up, another customer and one of the farmers were discussing something I've never encountered: a zucchini-based hummus. I'll be experimenting, and I promise to report back.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Greens, greens, greens

I am swimming, happily, in dark leafy greens. Last night, I needed to make dinner quickly and easily, and had three bunches (2 kale, 1 red chard) threatening to wilt in the fridge. I made a red-cooked chicken using this recipe from Mark Bittman's wonderful Bitten blog, some basmati rice in the rice cooker, and this.

Greens with black bean sauce

3 bunches dark greens, tough stems removed
3 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
2 T canola oil
2 T black bean sauce (mine is this, from Guido's)
1/8 t sesame oil
1 c water

Boil a large pot of water and blanch the greens for 3 to 4 minutes. Chard will get quite wilty, while kale will still feel firm, but more tender. Drain in a colander, squeeze to remove someof the liquid, and chop across the leaves in 3/4 inch slices.

Heat the oil in a deep saute pan or dutch oven over medium high heat and add the garlic. Saute several minutes, but don't brown. You just want to soften the garlic and flavor the oil. Add the green and saute for about five minutes--again, don't brown. Add water, a half cup at a time, if the pan seems to be getting too dry. Add the black bean sauce, the sesame oil, and stir to combine. At this point, add the water, if you haven't already. Turn the heat to low and cook ten more minutes, or until tender to taste.

Serve over rice, getting both greens and sauce. I ate this in a deep bowl, with the rice, greens and slices of the chicken all together. Delicious.