Potatoes, artichoke hearts and chard

Potatoes, artichokes and chard

I feel like I have a mild case of the doldrums. Some combination of time flying too fast and my creative energy running way too slow has me feeling a little meh and blah. There’s so much I want to do and make, but I feel like I’m cabined, cribbed, confined by saucy doubts and fears. And they’re not even important or reasonable doubts and fears, for heaven’s sake! But there’s probably nothing duller than hearing somebody talk about their doldrums, so I’ll talk instead about something bright and inspiring, that can shake a person out of such a state. Bill Traylor, of course! I think his drawings are remarkable – so pure and vital and strange and perfect. I read once that he uses a “high singing blue” in his drawings, and I’m completely enamored of this idea. A high singing blue! I was looking around for some of his drawings, and I’m very excited to find that somebody is making a film about him! Here’s a preview, which also has plenty of examples of his drawings…

Of course I don’t understand the whole story of Bill Traylor’s life, but he had more than his share of cares and worries, and what did he do? He drew! It feels as though he didn’t over-think and fret about finding the right tools, and make a fuss about his grand projects: he sat and drew what he saw, and what was in his mind, and what he drew was beautiful and fervent.

Your song for today is this one about Bill Traylor by French double-bass-and-string-oud-band Off Duo (omg, another double bass and string oud band?). I just love it!

Meanwhile, I’ve got to get myself back some balance, some perspective. I love day-to-day life. I love the small things we do every day with the boys. I love watching them play, and draw, and build things. I like the creativity we call upon every day, and – for me – a big part of that is cooking. We eat to live, and we cook crazy things to keep our minds alive! And as dumb as it sounds, I find potatoes inspiring! They’re like a blank canvas, or a blank piece of re-used cardboard. We got some from our CSA, and a bag of dirty potatoes is a source of endless possibilities!! In this dish I wanted to combine the sweet crispiness of fried potatoes with the earthy softness of sautéed chard. The strongest flavoring here is rosemary, which is perfect with potatoes, and seems so summery and mysterious.

4 or 5 potatoes diced into 1/3 inch chunks
3 T olive oil (+ 1 T + 1 T)
2 t fresh rosemary
1/2 cup artichoke hearts (I use canned in brine) drained and roughly chopped
1 big bunch chard, washed, stems removed, chopped quite fine
1 big clove garlic
1/2 t red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1 cup broth or water
1 T corn meal
salt and plenty of pepper

Put a pot of salted water on high heat. Once it starts to boil, add the potatoes, and boil for about five minutes, till they just start to soften. Drain them well.

Warm 3 T of olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the rosemary and the potatoes. Cook till the potatoes are golden and crispy – about 15 minutes. Use a spatula to scrape them from the bottom of the pan if they start to stick. Set them aside on a plate, and season with salt and pepper.

Warm another tablespoon of olive oil in the same pan, and add the artichokes. Stir and fry them for about 5 minutes, till they’re warm and starting to brown a bit. Set them aside.

Warm the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in the same pan. Add the garlic and pepper flakes. When the garlic starts to brown, add the chard. Cook for a minute, then add the corn meal and the broth. Cook till the broth is reduced and the greens are soft and wilted, but still bright. The pan should be fairly dry.

Pile the greens in a shallow bowl, scatter the artichokes over them, and the potatoes on top of that.


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