May 23, 2012 § 4 Comments
I’ve been wanting to write this post all winter, but I needed to wait until parsley season. I didn’t know parsley had a season until I started making Parsley Sauce. When you eat tablespoons of Parsley Sauce straight off the spoon you notice that sometime around October the quality of parsley takes a dip. And one necessity for this recipe is a decent bunch of parsley. But very soon farmers market tables will be covered with big fat freshly cut bunches of the stuff , and parsley will be selling cheap. The time has come. I am here to tell you about Parsley Sauce, The Wonder Condiment. I became enamored of Parsley Sauce when I realized my six year-old would eat anything coated with it.
ME: Sweetie, I see that you’ve stripped the chicken of all of it’s delicious crispy skin. Now will you please eat the bland, bare meat?
ME: Why don’t you dip the unappealing meat into an emerald green pool of nutrient-rich Parsley Sauce?
HER: …scarf scarf scarf scarf….
Drizzle it on roasted meat or vegetables. Stir it into risotto. Add a dollop to soup. Dip bread in it. Drink it from a mug. There’s nothing fancy about Parsley Sauce – it’s mostly parsley & olive oil. But there are two ingredients that make people cock their heads after a taste and wonder ‘What is that..?” It’s tarragon & fennel seeds. They don’t make a fuss, but they somehow boost the parlseyishness of Parsley Sauce. Another selling point: Parsley Sauce will keep in the fridge for three weeks or more. And you can freeze it. The Wonder Condiment in name and deed.
May 1, 2012 § 2 Comments
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? For my family, it was definitely the egg. We are the beneficiaries of friends’ and neighbors’ super-productive hens. It seems like right now my urban farmer friends have more eggs than they know what to do with, so they put those eggs in my greedy little palms. Each February I consider getting chickens, but by May I realize I can have many delicious eggs and no chickens at all. I’m such a lucky freeloader!
I may have a hard time figuring out what to do with hard-boiled eggs, but super-fresh fried eggs fire me up. They are magnificent on fried rice, smashing in a tortilla with some salsa & cilantro, and splendid on pasta. My favorite egg/pasta combo used to be spaghetti carbonara, but that recently got bumped. Now I think frying a small egg and laying it on top of pasta is perfect. The runny yolk becomes a golden, silky sauce. The texture of the crisped egg white is lovely with bites of pasta. This version is all about springtime, with English peas and arugula, but the dish will be easy to reinvent in the autumn with sturdy greens. As long as the chickens are still laying, this will be at the top of my weeknight quick dinner hit list. If you can manage to boil the pasta, cook the veggies and fry up the eggs simultaneously (and I know you can), dinner will be ready in a flash. Ka-pow!
April 24, 2012 § 3 Comments
For my family, the surest sign of Spring is mangoes. Heaps of perfectly ripe mangoes, delivered with love by my mother-in-law each week. So many mangoes. My children love them, which is why their Lola (grandma) brings mangoes by the dozen. But, like all precious things that suddenly arrive in immense quantities, mangoes become a bit less desirable as time passes. Consumption slows and I am faced with a fridge full of fruit that is on the brink. It’s the saddest thing in the world to toss them out, and this year I won’t let it happen. Each time I cook I will ask myself: where do mangoes fit into this meal? Can I add cubed mango? Pureed mango? Dried mango? Because we have 17 of them, and they’re not getting any younger. Last night I came up with a delicious idea, a meal where mango was perfectly at home, I think. My daughter felt otherwise and asked for salad without mango. I didn’t serve her mango at dinner, but she had to eat three for breakfast. We all need to contribute in this household, young lady. « Read the rest of this entry »
April 11, 2012 § Leave a Comment
I am a woman who loves dyeing eggs, but hates eating them. In my family we don’t have the fine motor skills to dye blown out eggs, so we end up with heaps of hardboiled eggs each Easter. I’ve never been able to stomach deviled eggs, egg salad sandwiches, or (shudder) plain old boiled eggs with salt. Mercifully, I have found a recipe that I don’t just tolerate in order to rid my fridge of dozens of stinky boiled eggs. I love this recipe. In the future, I may boil eggs just to make Sauce Gribiche. It’s delicious spooned onto toasts or over grilled meat. It will be a knockout drizzled over the spring vegetables that are just about to burst forth. Roasted asparagus with sauce gribiche… the very thought makes me crave a boiled egg. Unthinkable. « Read the rest of this entry »
March 30, 2012 § 2 Comments
Last weekend I did something that I hadn’t done in a decade (such a shame). I boarded a plane alone. That plane took me from Seattle, over the clouds, to the desert. It was my first trip to Arizona, a place that may be the exact opposite of the Northwest in March. Green, wet evergreens were replaced by looming red rocks and dusty scrub. Instead of low, heavy clouds there was vast blue sky. And that blazing sun. I expected to feel sad to say goodbye to the sun and to return to a certain fate of months more of rain and gray in Seattle. But when the plane descended through the clouds we were treated to an amazing view of Mount St Helens (I think). And in just another moment we were over Lake Washington and my very own Seward Park, a dense forest right in the middle of my Emerald city. Oh crud, I realized. It’s happened. I’m a Seattleite. Next thing I know I’ll be buying rain pants.
The truth of the matter is, I’ve adjusted to the constant drizzle and Seattle’s eternal spring that spans from February to July. With that weather come many traditions I could not easily let go of: digging in our soggy garden, late afternoon fires, and big bowls of steamy soup. Of course, I will still complain about the weather. Because I’m cranky like that. « Read the rest of this entry »
March 20, 2012 § 3 Comments
I love most types of shopping, but I particularly like shopping that presents a challenge.
This could be choosing a paint color that my husband and I agree on, or stalking treasure at Goodwill, or finding a butcher block that is the exact same height as my kitchen counter (I know it’s out there).
Another scenario that thrills me: roaming around a grocery store that is stocked with food from far off lands.
There are risks, both to my pride and to my palate. If the market is small I might get awkward attention from regular shoppers – a grumpy stare from an old man, or a smile from a woman who wonders what the heck I’m going to do with the unfamiliar ingredient that I’m holding in my hand. I usually wonder what the heck I’m going to do with that ingredient, also. Sometimes it turns out that what I’m going to do is make a dish that tastes perfectly awful (I can’t seem to make pickled gooseberries work for me). But more often, I’ll take home an armful of inexpensive, lovely foodstuffs and learn a thing or two about a thing or two. And I thought you might want to learn, also.
Introducing Food From Far-Off Lands, wherein I explore a foreign food market, ask embarrassing questions to patient store clerks, and present recipes for you to try at home. If you visit the stores that I write about, you get to skip the ‘embarrassing questions’ part. You will stride into the store and ask with authority: ‘Where are the salted duck eggs, Madam? I am using them for tonight’s noodle dish. Thank you very much.’ « Read the rest of this entry »
March 13, 2012 § 1 Comment
In a recent post I went public with my vow to use the food that I have on hand. I promised to waste less, to depend on my wits and create memorable meals with the dregs from my fridge, yadda, yadda, yadda. Alas, alack! One look in my over-stuffed refrigerator reveals that I have some work to do. But I’m not giving up, and I have a delicious solution. Fried rice is the perfect vessel for those little bits of leftovers. Truly greater than the sum of its neglected parts.