Roasted Greens

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The method is not new to FC, but the vegetable is (so new, I am still not sure what the stuff is.) Last Thursday I hit the farmer's market late, already hungry and looking for something to throw together for dinner. I hadn't eaten any vegetables all day and a pile of feathery leafed precut and washed greens caught my eye.

Pepper: "Hey, what is this stuff?"
Vendor: [incomprehensible sichuanese]
Pepper: "How do you cook it?" (The reply is usually a one-word answer - stir-fry, soup, stew...)
Vendor: "Stir-fry!"
Pepper: "How about soup?"
Vendor indicates no.

Strange. Pepper picks off a leaf and nibbles. The clean-breaking leaf and slight bitterness put this in the brassica family. Some kind of kale?

After getting home I piled a few handfuls of greens on a baking sheet and drizzled them with 2 tsp olive oil and 1/2 tsp of salt. I put them in my toaster oven at 180 deg C for ten minutes, or until they started to smell toasty. I have not yet met any green thing that loves to be roasted as much - the feathery leaves darkened, the firmer stems held their shape and got juicy, and the in-between parts got melting soft.

If anyone can help me figure out what the plant is, please leave a comment! My latest guess is young youcai.

UPDATE: Concluded that this is, in fact, baby youcai. (No thanks to another vendor today, who just kept repeating "It's just a vegetable. Vegetable. You stir-fry it. Stir Fry!") Our local supply has already mostly matured past the stage where it can be prepared like this, but I will enjoy it while it lasts.

Eggs In the Middle

Friday, January 16, 2009

Since moving to a kitchen without a flat bottomed frying pan, I don't make Eggs Cooked On Top of Things that often. I've switched to Eggs in the Middle, which lends itself much more easily to the wok.

On the bottom is home fries, or leftover cabbage and lentils, or sauteed celery and tomatoes, or in this case a buckwheat, caramelized onion, and mushroom concoction that didn't quite make the blog (may, with tweaks, in the future).

In the middle are two soft scrambled eggs, cooked in a little butter with some salt and pepper added. I love scrambled eggs but they have a portion perception problem - even soft scrambled tend to cook down and they look like not a lot of food. At the diner where I used to work we always served customers three eggs instead of two if they requested scrambled. Piling the eggs on top of something else makes them look like more.

On top is fresh salsa and chopped olives. You could use cheese (particularly great is salsa/feta combined), pimentón, capers, chopped green onions, or whatever will look nice and not clash with whatever is on the bottom. (I once made home fries with hot peppers mixed in, then put the salsa on top and it was more fire than one wants for one's first meal of the day.) This combination (buckwheat, eggs, salsa and olives) was so good I had to stop myself from making and eating another plate.

Potato, Cheese, and Onion Perogies (well, just the filling)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Perogies have been on my mind for a while, since they have comfort food status in my area of Canada (Edmonton through Northern Alberta), and I knew I would have to make them if I wanted to eat them. I can't remember ever making them at home - we always bought them frozen or had them homemade by an amazing neighbour. I decided to try a basic filling of potato with onion and fresh white cheese (sometimes sold as baking cheese) that is tangy and a little thicker than sour cream. Drained, thick Balkan style yogurt or lebnah would work as well.

Boil 1 kg of potatoes, peeled, until soft and mash. Dice and caramelize one large onion in a little oil. Add 3/4 cup of fresh white cheese and onions to potatoes with 1 tbs salt and 2 tsp of pepper. You will have a generous 1 kg of filling.

Near me is a dumpling and noodle shop where I can always buy fresh three inch dumpling skins, and that is what I used for the wrappers. I definitely encourage this if you have the option; if not, you can use another recipe for the wrappers or use frozen dumpling skins (though they often use an egg based dough and will end up more like ravioli then perogies). Or, dare I suggest, layer the filling in a 9X13 pan between cooked lasagna noodles, cover with more onions cooked in melted butter, and heat through covered in a 350 degree F oven.

Filling the perogies took my unpracticed hands the better part of an hour (notice my not very neat seals). It's a good job for sharing, or something for your hands to do during a movie or game. Each skin held not quite two teaspoons of filling, and I ended up with about eighty perogies, which will serve ten generously. To cook, boil in plenty of salted water until they float. Eat with sour cream and bacon bits, or chopped green onion, or more onions cooked in butter. They freeze well too - don't thaw before cooking.

Apple Dumplings

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

With a bulk box of puff pastry I had lots of material for experiments, and tried a few different treats using apple. My favourite ended up being the simplest - pieces of apple with a sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon, wrapped in the pastry and baked. These are an ideal project for kids.

Take two squares of puff pastry, about 15 cm square, cut into quarters, and roll thin. Peel, core, and quarter two apples. On each square of puff pastry place one apple piece and add 1/2 tsp sugar and 1/4 tsp cinnamon. Wrap each apple piece in pastry square and place on baking sheet, seam side down. Poke a hole in the top of each dumpling and bake for 10 minutes at 200 degrees C, then ten more minutes at 175 degrees C. Watch carefully so that they don't get too brown. Each person you are serving will want at least two.