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Posts tagged ‘Chard’

New Favorite One-pot Meal (+ an Egg)

Lots of chopped greens, onions, garlic, harissa and a bit of bulgur turn into a heavenly pot of goodness after an hour of gentle steaming. 

A friend of mine raved about this dish at a dinner party the other night. It took me a week to finally make it and then I made it twice in a row–the second time to take to another dinner party where it was happily devoured. It’s a humble, somewhat subtle dish that is perfectly suited to any climate that has an abundance of hearty greens (chard, kale, mustards, etc. ). And I can’t wait to play around with other spices and toppings. But for now here is more or less the way it was conveyed to me and I believe it originated with Paula Wolfert, so no wonder it’s a keeper. Please report back and tell me how it works for you and if you adapt it.

After its hour-long steam it’s ready for lemon, a fried (or poached) egg, more harissa and Greek yogurt.

Moroccan Bulgur with Greens
–inspired by Paula Wolfert 

This takes time to cook but putting it together is quick and just involves a bunch of chopping. It is delicious with a fried or poached egg and extra harissa and some Greek yogurt. And if you like lamb, it’s a perfect accompaniment to lamb in any form. Harissa is a Tunisia hot chili sauce whose main ingredients are piri piri (type of chili pepper), Serrano peppers and other hot chili peppers and garlic, coriander, red chili powder, and caraway as well as some vegetable or olive oil. It is most closely associated with Tunisia, Libya and Algeria but recently also making inroads into Morocco according to Moroccan food expert Paula Wolfert. I particularly like the brand Mustafa’s Moroccan Harissa which is very flavorful and not too crazy spicy.

1 large onion, finely diced
1 leek, carefully washes, sliced in half lengthwise and then finely chopped (or more onion if you don’t have any leeks)
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch de-stemmed and chopped chard
1 cup bulgur
3 tablespoons. olive oil
2-3 teaspoons (or more to taste) harissa (see headnote) I used 4-5 teaspoons but with other brands that might be too much.
Black pepper, freshly ground
Sea or kosher salt (at least 1 teaspoon)
Lemon juice
More harissa and Greek yogurt for serving

Add everything but the lemon juice to a deep heavy, lidded pot. (Le Creuset is great). Mix it all together with a spoon or your hands. Add 1/2 cup water and mix thoroughly again.

Take several paper towels and lay them over the bulgur mixture, tucking them gently into the sides. Cover the pot and cook over very low heat for about an hour or so. Resist the urge to remove the lid since the steam generated is a critical factor. I typically start with high heat to get things going, then, when I sense the presence of steam and can start to smell the dish, reduce it significantly.

When it is finished, remove the paper towels, taste and, if necessary, continue to cook with the paper towels intact again.

Squeeze a lemon over the finished bulgur and top with more harissa and Greek yogurt or a poached or fried egg.

It makes me hungry just writing this caption. The lemon juice is important to brighten everything up a bit but if you don’t have a lemon extra harissa will probably do.

Getting Comfortable

My son started preschool  a few days a week a little more than a year ago. I used to pick him up late afternoon and would invariable find him with a teacher, observing the other kids playing and clean as a whistle. His school has an enormous outdoor garden and play area and most of the other kids would be chasing each other over and around every structure and plant or digging in the sand-box and muddy from head to toe. He liked school but for many, many months seemed overwhelmed by the outdoor play time and just quietly watched and waited for me to come get him. This is no longer the case. Now he’s so occupied with his friends he often doesn’t want to leave. He wants to add one more room to his stick house or finish collecting rocks and yes, he’s dirty from head to toe and grinning from ear to ear.

Pristine beginning. . .

In the kitchen this evolution usually takes just a few hours–from clean, organized and quiet at the beginning of class to messy, colorful, and animated by the end. I won’t stretch this metaphor too far but the ease and joy I observe in many of my students as they get comfortable chopping and stirring and tasting is remarkable. And the more we experiment and adapt in class the more fun it seems to be. Students generate ideas on how to adapt a dish to suit their child’s or partner’s taste or how to personalize it in some other way.

Full and happy . . .

The "dirty from head to toe" part.

Cooking is as much art as science and I still find myself grinning from ear to ear when I concoct something edible and maybe even memorable out of a few very basic things I have in the house.  And luckily most weeknight meals don’t result in the above level of mess, especially when you have some pre-cooked beans on hand, some tortillas in the fridge and a few sundry items. I’ve been having some neck and shoulder trouble these days and find myself making the simplest possible meals. The below creation was just such a meal. It came together by default but will certainly come together on purpose in the future. I sautéed some Swiss Chard and scrambled some eggs when it had just softened. A bit of  grated sharp cheddar on a whole wheat tortilla was the bed for the eggs and greens, and then I topped it with pinto beans and chickpeas and a drizzle of hot sauce. I briefly warmed the whole thing in a skillet, then folded it up–10 minutes, at most.

Two-bean, egg, cheese and chard burritos

If you’d like a chance to get more comfortable in the kitchen and get your hands on lots of spring greens and other produce you can join me for one of  the new classes I just posted.

Happy Cooking and Eating!

Cabbage, etc.

"Clean out the fridge" winter lunch

It’s taken me a year and a half to articulate what exactly it is I’m trying to do with my business–Cook With What You Have (through the classes I teach, this blog, etc.).  The name really speaks for itself and even the words I used to describe the business/approach/philosophy at the outset are more or less the same ones I would use now. But these words, these ideas, are really sinking in in a more profound way than they did when I started this (ad)venture. They are sinking in thanks to my students, my neighbors, my chef friends, strangers in the grocery store and at the farmers markets, . . . And yesterday’s lunch!

Two kinds of cabbage and chard . . .

Yesterday’s lunch was a result of various factors: 1) the previous day had seen two birthday parties (one with kids from Ellis’ school and one with family members) laden with treats of all kinds, but plenty of sweet ones. 2) yesterday was also Superbowl Sunday and I knew there would be lots of heavy foods, and 3) I needed to clean out my fridge to make room for the new haul from Sunday’s Hillsdale Farmers Market run.  I found 1/4 of green cabbage starting to brown around the edges, and 1/2 a red cabbage with similar signs and 1/2 a bunch of slightly wilty chard. After a rinse and a trim they looked much better (as do I:)!) and 10-15 minutes in the saute pan with a little olive oil and salt, they were damn near perfect.

So the above paragraph illustrates theme one of CWWYH (Cook With What You Have). Use what you’ve got. Now theme two (really en elaboration of theme one) would manifest itself as follows: If you like/have eggs on hand, scoot that cabbage over and fry a couple of eggs in the same pan. Serve them on top of the veggies sprinkled with good salt, drizzled with good olive oil and a few grinds of pepper. If you like/have bread on hand, toast a piece and dig in. If you like/have sausages in the freezer (like I do for just these occasions), slice one up and brown it and mix in.

Theme three might be considered the analytical part of the above story. Cooking can be fun, quick, delicious, cheap and not scary at all if you have things in your house you like, are not afraid to use salt and fat and taste the food as you’re preparing it. A little creativity can go a long way in making every day meals not so daunting.

And don’t get my wrong. I love cookbooks and recipes and food that’s a bit more involved than the above, but what we (collectively) seem to sometimes forget or not realize, is just how easy and fun and tasty food can be on the fly. And we get better and better at tossing things together like this if we have fresh produce on hand, experiment with ingredients we (our children, partners. . . .) like and are confident enough to look at a recipe and use it to our advantage rather than be enslaved by it.

Happy Cooking & Eating!

Katherine

P.S. Apropos fresh produce and local farmers (here in Oregon) there is a bill in the Oregon Legislature that will clarify and provide sound standards for on-farm production of items many of us love and rely on. Below is testimony by Anthony Boutard of Ayers Creek farm on the matter and an email for the committee administrator of House Bill 2336 in case you’d like to weigh in in support of this very well-crafted bill.

Committee Administrator, Liz Puskar:  liz.puskar@state.or.us

Testimony of Anthony Boutard in Support of HB 2336 Before The House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources 2 February 2011

Chairs Jenson and Clem, members of the committee,
For the record, my name is Anthony Boutard. My wife and I own and manage Ayers Creek Farm in Gaston, Oregon. We are small family fruit, vegetable and grain farm. We sell to grocery stores, restaurants and directly to the public. I served as a member of the committee’s working group that put together HB 2336.

At the outset, I want to thank my representative, Matt Wingard, for chairing the working group. He kept us on task and working productively. I also appreciate the contribution made by the staff of the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) and the representatives of the Oregon Farmers’ Market Association (OFMA).

Over the last two decades, agriculture in Oregon has seen a marked increase in venues for selling agricultural products directly to the consumer. Farmers’ markets, community supported agriculture (CSA), and buying clubs have increased without a clear place in the regulatory structure. Historically, roadside stands selling produce, eggs and honey have been exempt from licensing, but these new venues stretch that definition. It is essential that the legislature provide statutory guidance on this issue, and I am grateful that the committee is doing so. As a farmer who sells directly to consumers, as well as processors and large retail stores, I believe this bill provides a balanced and sensible regulatory approach to direct marketing.

The bill identifies foods that, from a food safety perspective, are regarded as either non-hazardous, or minimally hazardous, and that can be safely produced by the farmer, and sold directly to the consumer without licenses or inspection. With the help of ODA staff, these definitions are also tightly drawn. Foods that pose a greater hazard, such sprouts, low-acid canned vegetables and fruits, and baked goods, are not included and must be processed in a licensed facility. It must be stressed that farmers’ market rules still prevail, regardless of licensing requirements. These organizations will still determine who can participate in the market, and what they can sell.

With its provisions regarding preserves and pickles, this bill provides room for innovation at the small farm level. New ideas invariably start at this level whether it is in some one’s kitchen or garage. Oregon’s craft brewing industry developed after laws prohibiting the brewing and selling of beer in the same establishment. Allowing farmers to try out new products at a small, manageable scale is an important step in fostering innovation. HB 2336 also includes a provision that allows the ODA to expand the list of foods that can be prepared at the farm, consistent with food safety. With the $20,000 annual limit on sales of these foods, the bill set up a clear threshold where the farmer must shift into a licensed facility.

I urge the committee to pass this bill with a “do pass” recommendation. The lack statutory clarity has festered too long and all of parties involved, the ODA, the farmers, and farms’ market organizations, need the guidance provided by this bill.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify in support of HB 2336.

Anthony Boutard
Ayers Creek Farm
Gaston, Oregon

The Best Soup

I wish I managed to assemble blog posts with beautiful photos that illustrated the step-by-step process of each dish, but on second thought that’s not often how my cook-with-what-you-have nightly cooking unfolds so I might as well keep it realistic. And with a tired and hungry pre-schooler underfoot, photos often just don’t happen. So I’ll keep enjoying those beautiful blogs and offer you something else–a slightly more slap-dash account of meals I think are worthy of sharing and other stories.

Cilantro, White Bean and Bread Soup with Poached Egg

Whether this is the best soup or not, it is my current favorite soup. It’s a slightly unusual combination of things and comes together into one of the most satisfying and complete meals, warming body and soul on these cool, stormy evenings.

It is basically stewed leeks with white beans, veggie broth, chard and pureed cilantro served over toasted bread you rub with garlic and then top with a poached egg (that you poach right in the soup). The bread and the egg take this dish to its exquisite level. However, I’ve enjoyed leftovers of this soup without bread or egg and just a generous drizzle of good olive oil, very much.

 

Cilantro and White Beans

 

Two things that make this soup especially good are good beans and homemade veggie bouillon. The former I talked about in my last post and the latter is easy to make. As you all know I’m a bit evangelical about this veggie bouillon. I’m actually considering making it in quantity to sell so stay tuned. It has made my daily cooking easier, better, more economical and definitely more fun. You can certainly  use any stock or broth or even water and beans (dry or canned) from the store to good effect. Just make it! It’s a wonderful antidote to the sweet richness of the other foods this time of year.

 

Soup in Process

 

Finally, my Kitchen Fundamentals, Pantry Stocking  30-Minute Dinners series is filling up quickly so if you’re considering it for yourself or as a gift, let me know asap.

Happy Cooking and Eating and Celebrating!

Katherine

Cilantro Bread Soup (Acorda)

–loosely adapted from Tea & Cookies

serves 4 (with plenty of leftovers) or 6

1 cup dried white beans (cannelini, great northern, Ayers Creek white beans of any kind, Rancho Gordo Marrow beans . . . ) or 1 14 oz. can of cannelini or other white beans

2 tbs olive oil

2-3 leeks (about 2 cups, chopped)

5 large cloves garlic

6 cups home-made veggie bouillon or veggie or chicken stock

2 cups packed cilantro

one large bunch chard, stems removed, coarsely chopped (about 4 cups)

sliced crusty bread (4 slices)

4 eggs

salt and pepper, to taste

good olive oil for drizzling

Cook the beans in water with one clove of the garlic until soft. (See bean cooking instructions here) Drain and set aside. You could also use canned beans.

Trim and clean the leeks. Cut in half, lengthwise, and slice in 1/4 inch slices.

Heat olive oil in a large pot. Sauté the leeks in olive oil until limp. Add three cloves of garlic, minced. Continue sautéing until the garlic is soft but not brown about 2 minutes, lower heat as needed. Add four cups of the stock and bring to a simmer. Add the beans and continue to simmer for a minute or two. Add the chard to the pot and cook for a few minutes. Blend the cilantro with the reserved 2 cups of bouillon in a blender. Add the cilantro mixture and season with salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a rapid simmer. Crack eggs into soup, cover and let poach about 5 minutes until the yolks and whites are just set.

While eggs are cooking toast the bread slices and rub with remaining garlic cloves. You can rub one or both sides of the toast with garlic–depending on much you love garlic. Lay the bread in the bottom of a soup bowl. Ladle the soup over. Top with poached egg. Drizzle with good olive oil and grind some pepper over the top.