Kale with capers, walnuts and fresh basil

Kale, walnuts and capers

Kale, walnuts and capers

Here at The Ordinary, we’ve decided to revive a worship of ancient Greek deities. We’ve been building oracular shrines and temples in our back yard…making little piles of stones for hermes, eating pomegranates for Hera, and worshipping owls for Athena. We’re sending the boys to vacation Zeus camp. I’m kidding, of course, but I have been reading the boys’ copy of D’aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths, and I’m completely smitten. The stories are so rich and strange, and yet so familiar. They’ve got a flood, with one couple building a boat that carries them safely through it. They’ve got people being made from other people’s body parts. They’ve got an all-powerful god who is strangely incapable of avoiding death and misery for everyone around him. The scope and balance of Zeus’s power and his limitations is so fascinating to me. He wants to change certain situations, but he can’t, because it’s against the rules. But which rules? Who made them? Who is more powerful than Zeus, to dictate what he can and cannot do? He can’t stop himself from killing his mortal wife by revealing himself to her in all his deadly, brighter-than-the-sun-glory (he promised!). But he can take her unborn son from her burnt body and complete its gestation in his leg, and he can eventually bring her back to life and give her a home on Mount Olympus. He’s powerless against the jealous anger of his godly wife Hera. In one story, he falls in love with a mortal named Io, and when Hera comes down to investigate, he turns the woman into a cow. She’s a very pretty cow, though, just as she was a very pretty mortal, and Hera is jealous. So she asks for the cow as a gift, knowing that Zeus won’t be able to turn her back into a real girl. She has her servant Argus watch over the cow. Argus has hundreds of eyes all over his body. So part of him can sleep while part of his watches the pretty cow. Zeus sends Hermes down to take care of Argus, and Hermes bores him to death! He tells such dull stories that half of Argus’ eyes close, and then he continues to tell such dull stories that the other half of Argus’ eyes close, and he dies! And Hera puts all his eyes on peacock tails! How can you not worship gods with stories like this?

This is a completely simple preparation of kale, but it’s quite pleasant as well. This time of year I love mozzarella, tomatoes, and fresh basil (I know, I know, everybody does.) This sees that combination piled atop kale that’s tender but bright and tossed with capers and walnuts. A little crunchy, a little tangy, and satisfyingly fresh and green.

Here’s Hermes Tri by Jorge Ben, I think there’s a connection to Hermes the god, but I’m a little confused by the story, since I don’t speak Portuguese.

Continue reading

About these ads

French lentils with roasted beets and walnuts

French lentils and roasted beets

When I was a kid, people used to say, “that was beat.” That meant it was bad. I’m not sure if this was specific to where and when I grew up, or if it was more of universal phraseology, but it was quite prevalent amongst my peers. (When I was even younger, people used to say “feeling crunchy,” when somebody was put down or proven wrong. I’m fairly sure that was specific to my middle school! Ooooooh, feeeeeeling cruuuuuunchyyyyyy…”) So, if something was beat, it was bad. To use it in a sentence, “That party was so beat, because the music was beat, and the people were really beat, too.” I’ve decided to make it my life’s work, my raison d’etre, to bring the phrase back, but as a description of a good thing, and changing it slightly to “beet.” “That party was so beet, man, I never wanted to leave! My job is so great, it’s roasted beet. Awww, they’re my favorite band of all time…they’re golden beet.” Maybe I shouldn’t have been thinking about this before bed, because I had a dream about beet brickle, which I think we can all agree I shouldn’t try to make. I also thought of this recipe, which turned out deeeeeelicious. Totally beet. It’s got french lentils cooked with a little red wine, orange juice and balsamic; it’s got lovely little roasted beets and shallots; it’s got toasted walnuts, for crunch; it’s got fresh basil, sage, and tarragon, for spring-herb-garden-deliciousness; and it’s got tiny cubes of mozzarella, which get nice and melty when they hit the warm lentils.

Crusty bread

We ate it with some fresh black pepper bread, and I’m extremely excited about it. As you know, if you’ve been following along at home, I’ve been trying for some time to make a crispy-crusted bread that doesn’t have a dense crumb. I wanted big airy holes inside. Well…I think I’ve done it! I left the dough very very wet and soft. It was messy to knead, I tell you. And I let it rise the last time, in the pan I baked it in, for well over an hour. Oh boy!! Look at the airy crumb on this baby! It’s soooooo beeeeeeeeeeeeet!

Crusty bread

Here’s LL Cool J (and Adam Horowitz!) with I Need a Beet

Continue reading

Greens with lime, honey & fresh basil

Greens with lime and basil

People come up to me on the street all the time, and they say, “Claire, we love to eat greens, but we can’t be bothered to wash them or remove their stupid stems. Should we just popeye them straight from a can into our mouth?” Alright, so this is apocryphal. It’s never happened and it never will. But if it did…I would be ready with an answer. I have a tip. A cooking tip. This is how I wash fresh greens. Even if they’re filthy muddy buggy greens straight from the farm after a horrible storm. It’s not difficult and it doesn’t require a lot of effort. What you do is fill a large bowl with cool water (a salad spinner bowl and basket is ideal – not because you’re going to spin it, but because it’s easier to dump out the dirty water and replace it with clean). You put the greens in and swish them about a bit. Then you let them soak while you go about your business. In my experience, the bugs will float to the surface, and the sand and grit will sink to the bottom. You dump out all the dirty water, rinse the bowl, and soak again. (This is where a salad spinner comes in handy, because you can just lift the greens right out in the built-in basket.) You swish them around a little bit and then let them soak again. How many times you do this depends on the dirtiness of your greens. Once the bottom of the bowl is grit and sand free after a soak, you’re probably clean enough. Now, to remove the stems, and also check each leaf for hidden bugs – you use your fingers. I find this much quicker than trying to chop the stems off. You pick up a leaf, fold it in half lengthwise (they often do this all by themselves) and pull the stem off from the bottom to as far up the leaf as you need to go to remove the unpleasant spiny bits, using your other hand to pinch the leaf so that you don’t lose too much good green stuff. It’s sort of hard to describe, but try it and it will all make sense. This is a surprisingly quick and easy job, even if you have a large batch of greens. Many of the smaller stems can just be snapped off near the bottom. If you have something with giant fat stems like kale, it’s easiest of all – you just grab the stem and pinch the leafy parts right off. It’s that easy!!

I think this is a really nice way to make greens. It’s fresh, sweet and tart. I made it with half broccoli rabe, half chard. So – a little bitter plus a little earthy. I like to pair a more assertive green (broccoli rabe, turnip, beet) with something gentler like spinach or chard. You could use any green you like with this, and just adjust the lime/honey ratio till it’s perfect for you. This is quick and doesn’t make your kitchen too hot on a summer’s day!

Here’s Outkast with So Fresh, So clean, because this tastes fresh, and your greens are so clean!
Continue reading

Broccoli rabe with ginger, apricots & cashews

Broccoli rabe & apricots

My poor boys. They have an inexplicable 6-day weekend, and the weather is ridiculous. Round-the-clock thunderstorms. When it’s not actually storming, it’s gloomy and threatening, with thick damp air that sticks to your skin, and heavy glowering clouds that seem to crawl inside your head. There’s a perpetual twilight glow. And they don’t care! They’re in their pjs! They had flat pancakes for breakfast! They have a giant pile of legos dumped on the living room floor, they have Star Wars guys, they have each other. This morning they’ve been dividing the universe alphabetically. Malcolm gets Mondays, magic, and medusa, and Isaac gets iron and imagination.

We seem to be heading into too-hot-to-cook weather. I’m not ready! Luckily, this is our first week of CSA season (oh boy oh boy oh boy!). And we got a box full of greens! Kale, spinach, chard!! I LOVE GREEEEEEEEENS!! And the nice thing about them is that you can cook them quickly, and eat them when they’re not piping hot. As it happens, I’d bought lots of greens last week, from the grocery store. (I didn’t buy lettuce, I was expecting a box full of lots and lots of lettuce. Guess what? No lettuce! Lettuces don’t like hail storms, apparently!) So I have a whole lot of greens to cook my way through. It’s a pleasant sort of anxiety.

I’m on record as saying that my favorite way to eat greens is with garlic, raisins and pine nuts. I’ve made it into pies and tarts, and pesto, using a variety of (cheaper) nuts. Here’s another variation. The apricots provide the tart-sweet fruitiness – they’re more assertive than raisins, and broccoli rabe is more assertive than chard or spinach, so it all works out nicely. Red pepper flakes and ginger add a little heat, and fresh basil adds – well nothing’s better than fresh basil! This is a quick and tasty dish, and it would make a meal, tossed with pasta, or on top of basmati rice.

Here’s Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass with Bittersweet Samba, accompanied by the oddest little film, which, according to the youTube poster, was filmed by Robert Altman!
Continue reading

Avocado, olive & basil salad

Avacado & olive salad

[I apologize for posting a couple of times today. We're going away for the weekend, and I don't want to fall too far behind!]

My boys have a book called Mixed-up Animals. Each page has a picture of an animal and is broken into three sections. You can turn a part of the page to line up another animal with the first. In this way, you can make a creature with platypus feet, an armadillo body, and a caribou head. A platadillibou. They’ve also always loved the game exquisite corpse, in which each person draws part of a creature without seeing what the others have drawn. Isaac still gets very excited when the paper is unfolded to reveal a mis-matched monster! This salad reminds me a little of that. It’s part tapenade (olives & capers) part guacamole (avocado & tomato), part pesto (nuts & basil), and part caprese (mozzarella, tomato, basil). I had a just-ripe avocado, and a small bowl of nicoise olives. These got the rusty little wheels turning in my brain, and the rest just sort of fell into place!! So you end up with guacenade. Or tapamole. Whatever you call it, it’s delicious! We had it with some crusty bread, but you could make it into crostini, or serve it with big chips. Or just throw it onto a pile of mixed lettuces and call it a mixed salad!

She’s Strange – she’s got two double heads, two left legs, and her nose looks like the knees of a nanny goat, but Screamin Jay Hawkins loves her!!
Continue reading