Friday, January 21, 2011

Stuffing with Red Mustard Greens

Stuffing with Red Mustard Greens

After valiantly cooking our way through our leafy CSA box for a solid week, we had used up the bok choy, tatsoi, Siberian kale, broccolini, romaine, arugula, turnip, radishes, and cilantro, but one stubborn vegetable remained. With their shockingly intense horseradish-like flavor, red mustard greens are a fascinating item, but not one that I would want to put in my mouth on a regular basis. The Gastronomer and I couldn't imagine a dish that they wouldn't ruin. Nevertheless, we had come this far and didn't want to waste anything, so I scoured the internet and found this stuffing recipe.

I was rather terrified to taste it when I finished, but was pleasantly surprised when I did. It was truly an excellent stuffing, with plenty of satisfying flavor despite the omission of sausages or the like. The taste of the greens was significantly tempered by cooking, and the raisins (which I used instead of currants) added a nice sweet balance. If you ever find yourself in the possession of some red mustard greens and wasabi is your thing, then by all means use them in a salad--otherwise, this recipe will do quite nicely for a mild alternative.

Recipe by Bon Appetit, November 2009, courtesy of Epicurious.
  • 1 1-pound loaf pain rustique or other rustic country-style bread
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves; 1 pressed, 1 minced
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, divided
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 6 cups coarsely chopped stemmed red mustard greens
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 cups turkey stock or low-salt chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup dried currants
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Cut bottom crust and short ends off bread and discard. Cut bread into 3/4- inch cubes; place in large bowl. Whisk oil and pressed garlic clove in small bowl. Add to bread cubes; toss to coat. Spread bread cubes in single layer on large rimmed baking sheet; sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Bake until slightly crunchy, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Cool slightly, then return to same large bowl.

Generously butter 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat.

Add pine nuts; stir until golden, about 2 minutes. Add to bowl with bread cubes. Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions; sauté until brown, about 10 minutes. Add mustard greens, thyme, and minced garlic; sauté until greens are wilted and tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to bowl with bread cubes. Add 2 cups stock to same skillet; boil until reduced to 1 cup, about 5 minutes. Pour stock over bread mixture and toss. Mix in currants and lemon peel. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Transfer stuffing to prepared baking dish.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake stuffing uncovered until heated through and starting to brown on top, 20 to 30 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes and serve.

Yield: 6-8 servings
Estimated Start-to-Finish Time: Not Given
Actual Start-to-Finish Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Substitutions: I didn't have any lemons on hand and left out the lemon peel--I figured it wouldn't matter too much since 1/2 teaspoon is a pretty small amount of zest to start out with. I also used dried thyme instead of fresh thyme (1/3 the amount) and raisins instead of currants. I used 2/3 of a leftover French baguette we had for the bread and cut down the other proportions accordingly.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Soba with Cilantro Pesto, Tofu, and Pickled Radishes

Soba with Cilantro Pesto, Tofu, and Pickled Radishes

One night last week, I was all set to make mixed herb pesto with the bunch of parsley from our CSA box and the basil I had purchased at Trader Joe's the day before. Suddenly, as I was washing the parsley, something didn't smell right. I brought the bunch a bit closer to my nose. Sure enough, it wasn't parsley after all--it was cilantro! I didn't think basil and cilantro would go together too well, so I went ahead and made the pesto using basil alone. Unfortunately, when I finished I was still stuck with a dripping wet bunch of cilantro without a home. It occurred to me that maybe I could make some sort of pesto with the cilantro as well. A quick search on Epicurious paid dividends, as I came across this Asian pesto recipe, which turn out to be excellent.

The day after I made the pesto, The Gastronomer stir-fried some tofu, prepared a box of soba noodles, and topped the whole thing off with the radishes from our CSA box, which she had brilliantly decided to pickle Vietnamese-style. It was a stellar meal all around.

Recipe adapted from Gourmet, November 2004, courtesy of Epicurious.
  • 2 cups packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons Asian fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Purée ingredients in a food processor until bright green and smooth, about 1 minute.

Yield: Pesto covers about 4 servings of pasta
Estimated Start-to-Finish Time: Not given
Actual Start-to-Finish Time: 20 minutes (for the pesto alone)
Substitutions: I added garlic and extra pine nuts and reduced the amount of olive oil from that specified in the original recipe. If you like your pesto oily, add a bit more.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Braised Turnip Greens with Turnips and Apples

Braised Turnip Greens with Turnips and Apples

Although we appreciate fresh local produce and support small family farms in theory, The Gastronomer and I have a notoriously poor track record when it comes to finding our way to farmer's markets on the weekends. Thus I recently decided it was time for us to try a Community Supported Agriculture delivery program. When Christmas came around, along with the hilarious new Stuff White People Like book, I gave The Gastronomer a present to help us be better white people: a subscription to the South Central Farmers CSA co-op. As part of the gift, I promised that I would take charge of figuring out what to do with the bi-weekly bounty of fruit and vegetables.

I picked up our first box at a local church on the Sunday after New Years. We were excited to open it--I expected to find a variety of beautiful winter produce: apples, oranges, squash, brussels sprouts, kale, etc. What we got was a truly staggering quantity of leafy greens, and little else. The lone elements of color in the box came from a large turnip and a bunch of small radishes. It was a bit disappointing, and quite intimidating trying to imagine how we would ever find a way to use it all.

After a bit of research, we had identified all but one of the vegetables in the box, and had started to come across some enticing recipes. I started my farm-fresh cooking adventure by using the turnip and its greens in this recipe. It turned out to be a really fantastic way to get our vitamins while beginning to make a dent in the pile of greenery on our kitchen table. To reach something close to 2 lbs of greens, I added our entire stash of the mystery vegetable, which looked something like green chard but lacked its thick white stem.To help resolve the mystery of the leaf's identity, I'm breaking with tradition and publishing a Stellar Recipes post with two photos.

Mystery Green

Any ideas?

Recipe adapted from Gourmet, November 2009, courtesy of Epicurious.
  • 2 pounds turnip greens or other braising greens (kale, collards, etc.), tough stems discarded and greens torn into small pieces
  • 1 (3/4-to 1-pound) ham hock, rinsed
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 3 Gala apples
  • 1 1/4 pounds turnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Bring greens, ham hock, water, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to a boil in a large heavy pot. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until greens are almost tender, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel apples and cut into 1/2-inch pieces.

Add turnips and apples to greens with vinegar, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper and cook at a bare simmer, covered, stirring and turning ham hock occasionally, until turnips and apples are tender but not falling apart, about 20 minutes more.

Remove from heat and strain the liquid from the pot into another saucepan. Boil the liquid to reduce it to 1/3 or 1/4 of its original volume, then pour it back into the original pot with the greens. Stir in butter and salt to taste.

Remove ham hock and finely chop any tender meat, discarding skin, bone, and tough meat. Add chopped meat to pot.

Yield: 8 servings
Estimated Start-to-Finish Time: 1 hour
Actual Start-to-Finish Time: 2 hours. It took me forever to wash and tear up the huge quantity of greens--being fresh from the farm, they were quite dirty.
Substitutions: Boiling away some of the liquid was suggested by several reviewers on Epicurious. The dish would have been awfully watery otherwise.
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