I know Miss T. is far more creative in her kitchen than I am in my safe, follow-the-recipe-exactly-as-written cooking space. But I have something for today's Iron Chefettes that I bet she does not:
I have the Chairman. Take that, Miss T.
This week's challenge primarily involved greens, being so early in the season. And that's quite fine with me--I do love me some greens. Particularly of the salad variety. Because I love salad, especially when I'm dealing with such amazing greens as these were.
Sometimes I just ate the salad mix; sometimes I added more spinach and some sliced radishes; sometimes I added some diced baby onions; but I always used the same dressing. I just mixed together some good-quality extra virgin olive oil, wine vinegar (mostly red, but sometimes white), a bit of salt and pepper. That's it. But really--with greens this good, it only needs the simplest of dressings.
Speaking of radishes, they seem to have been brought to me by the letter S, for everything I did with them was very S-y. Salad, above; Snack, with Salt:
Sandwich, also with Salt:
There weren't just greens in the usual sense, but some green herbs, including my favorite, cilantro. I used it to make cilantro chutney, the recipe included with our box, with rice vinegar, some of the baby spring onions also in the box, garlic, and unsalted, raw pumpkins seeds.
The chutney was delightful on top of grilled chicken:
(More on the rest of that plate later.) The chutney was also quite divine stirred into canned black beans with a bit of salsa:
Served over scrambled eggs, and once mixed with brown rice. I love black beans with cilantro even more than I love cilantro itself, and that's saying a lot.
Then there was mint. I know one can cook with it, but this week I opted to drink with it.
Deb's Vodkitos. That, I thought, was quite a good use of mint. As was this:
The Splendid Table's weekly newsletter a week or so ago had a recipe for a Citrus-Mint Cooler. It was large-scale, and I didn't really need to make enough for 14-16 people. But the maths were awful darn complicated to break the recipe down that far, so I just improvised: I squeezed a lemon and a lime and mixed the juice with OJ, ice, and mint sprigs. Tasty.
And yes, at the appropriate hour, I tried it with a little vodka. Also tasty.
I mentioned above using spinach in salads. I also used it in this:
Why, yes--more scrambled eggs. This time with spinach and baby onions. And it was HEAVENLY.
But that's not all:
I made Fettuccine and Saffron Butter with Spinach and Roasted Peppers, from Deborah Madison's book The Greens Cookbook. Oh. My. God. It. Was. So. Good. I should have stirred it better, so you could see that I did use a lot of spinach--but by the point it was done, I was in a considerable hurry to *eat* it.
But it keeps getting better. Remember that plate of chicken with cilantro chutney above? That also had another highlight of the week:
Parky's Southern Braised Kale with Sweet Potatoes (recipe below). See, here's the thing--DH was perhaps a bit less excited about all these greens than I was. So I went scouting for someting to feed him that would incorporate the kale, but give him a choice. It's not really the season for sweet potatoes--or in this case, yams--but so what? It did the trick. And boy, does kale taste good when braised with yams and bell pepper and tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. A meal fit for a king (and queen)(and Chairman) indeed.
The only thing that (technically) didn't get used was this:
Behold the little Italian parsley plant, which found a new home near my potted tomato plants. In just a week, it's already doubled the amount of leaves on it, thanks to plenty of rain and sun. Soon I will be using it.
Well...I may not have won this round of Iron Chefettes, but you know, it's been a privilege trying.
Or some crap like that.
Parky’s Southern Braised Kale with Sweet Potatoes
From Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon
Reprinted with permission of the author
3 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed
1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil, such as corn, canola, or peanut
1 red bell pepper, diced
½ onion, diced
1-2 jalapeno peppers, minced (seeds and membranes removed for mildness or left in for extra heat)
2 pounds kale, washed, tough ribs removed, leaves stacked and coarsely chopped (you may substitute any hearty green or combination of greens)
1/3 cup vegetable stock
1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the sweet potatoes, lower the heat, and simmer until just tender, about 25 minutes (alternatively, you may pressure-cook them for 6 minutes). When the potatoes are done, rinse under cold running water, peel them, and cut into thick slices.
Heat the oil in nonstick Dutch oven or very deep skillet, or one that has been sprayed with cooking spray, over medium-high heat. Add the red bell pepper, onion, and jalapeno. Saute for 5 minutes.
Add the kale. It will begin to wilt and grow more intensely green immediately. Top with the sliced sweet potato. Pour the stock over the dish, cover, and braise until the kale is cooked but still bright green, 4-5 minutes.
Grate the rind of the orange; squeeze its juice into a cup. When the kale is done, uncover and add about 1 teaspoon of the grated rind, about 3 tablespoons of the juice, 1 tablespoon of the vinegar, the tomatoes, and salt and pepper. Taste and, if necessary, adjust with extra orange zest and juice, vinegar, and salt and pepper. Serve hot.