Happy St. Patrick’s day. As far as I know, I’m not Irish in any way, so I probably have no right to celebrate St. Patrick’s day, but that hasn’t stopped thousands of green-beer-drinking Americans, so why should I let it stop me? Actually I don’t have any Ceilidhs planned, but I did spend some time Reading Yeats’ poems today, in keeping with the situation. I’d never noticed how preoccupied Yeats is with growing older, but now that I’ve started to become more preoccupied with the subject myself, it seems that his poems are suffused with memories and regrets of youth, and fear of growing old and of bodily decay. Many of them are filled with sadness and disappointment, and though they’re beautiful, they’re not easy to read. I love this one, though. I love the idea of thinking in a marrow bone.
A Prayer for Old Age
God guard me from those thoughts men think
In the mind alone;
He that sings a lasting song
Thinks in a marrow-bone;
From all that makes a wise old man
That can be praised of all;
O what am I that I should not seem
For the song’s sake a fool?
I pray—for word is out
And prayer comes round again—
That I may seem, though I die old,
A foolish, passionate man.
Colcannon is, I’m told “An Irish dish of cabbage and potatoes boiled and pounded.” I made this with kale, rather than cabbage, but they’re both brassicae, so I think that’s okay. Basically this is mashed potatoes with kale, cheese, eggs and herbs mixed in, and then baked in olive oil till they’re crispy outside and soft inside. You can use any herbs you like (or no herbs at all). I used tarragon, rosemary and basil, because I like them and that’s what I had. I made an olive hazelnut sauce to eat these with, but the boys actually at them with catsup!
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.
So, kale and artichoke hearts and tarragon pesto layered with sharp cheddar and thinly slice potatoes. A meal in a dish. I suppose it’s a little like lasagna with potatoes instead of pasta. It was very comforting and warm, but tarragon, artichoke hearts and sharp cheddar added some brightness. If you don’t have tarragon pesto, you can use regular old basil pesto, or you can just add some herbs as you like them to the ricotta.
Here’s Hey Hey by Big BIll Broonzy, my new favorite.
You know the seasons are changing because I just composted the last of my CSA produce. They’ve been in the vegetable drawer for a few weeks now. They seemed very precious, because they were pretty golden and peppermint striped beets. I had something very special planned for them. But never quite special enough, so I kept waiting and waiting. Until they were unusable. I have fun keeping up with the CSA veg, but there’s something liberating about buying whatever sort of vegetables you please in the grocery store. I try to stay mostly seasonable, but, let’s face it…nothing is growing in NJ in winter. I try to keep with a wintery mix of butternut squash, cauliflower, greens, mushrooms, fennel, things like this. And then I combine them all in a big beautiful enchilada!! These enchiladas have a lot of flavors, but they all go very nicely together. It’s not as complicated to make as it might sound, because you can roast squash, boil kale, and make a sauce all at the same time. I used goat cheese inside the enchiladas, because I love the flavor with butternut squash, and because I thought it might make for a lighter texture than wads of melted cheddar or jack. There’s melted cheddar on top, though! Wouldn’t feel like enchiladas without some type of melty cheese! I apologize for the picture, I know it’s not one of the best, but it’s really hard to take an attractive picture of an enchilada!!
Here’s Tom Waits with Time. I think I’ve probably posted it before, but it’s just that good!
So…kale! We got some kale from our CSA, and some red peppers, and some eggplant and of course, some more tomatoes! I decided to boil up the kale, and treat it like lasagna noodles. I washed it and removed the stems, but kept the leaves long. I boiled them for about twenty minutes, so they were quite soft, but still bright, and not falling apart. And I stretched it out like lasagna noodles, layering it with ricotta, roasted peppers, fresh tomatoes. I had some leftover eggplant anyone can love, so I added a layer of that. It was delicious, but if you don’t have it, or have time to make it, this dish will still be very delicious! I broiled a red pepper, let it steam in a covered bowl, and then removed the skin and seeds. you want to be sure to let it sit for a while, and discard any moisture that collects. As with any lasagna that contains vegetables, you want to be sure the veggies are quite dry before you add them, or the lasagna will form a broth. This broth happens to be quite tasty, though, so if you have some bread to sop it up, you’re golden!
I’ll make something more special tonight, but in the meantime, here’s a dish that reminds me of a special meal we had on vacation long ago. We used to go to upstate New York every autumn, and we’d eat at a restaurant called The 1819 House. It was just our kind of place. They served something they called vegetarian paella, and we’ve been having different versions of it ever since. Here’s one version, which I call…vegetarian paella. And this new version has kale, chickpeas, artichoke hearts and olives, in a sweet/salty broth made with white wine, orange juice and tarragon. All of the flavors blend nicely, so you can’t tell where one begins and the other ends. As David said, you don’t really taste the orange, you just taste a sunny, summery flavor.
Malcolm and I went for a walk yesterday morning in the seashore mistiness. Everything was vividly green through the haze. We pilfered a lambs ear from the abandoned train tracks for Malcolm to plant in the back yard. Someone passing asked Malcolm if he likes lambs ear because it’s soft. “No,” he said matter-of-factly, “Because it smells like goat’s cheese.” That’s my boy!!
It’s been nice cooking weather. Lots of exciting produce – fresh and tender and new. But it’s not too hot to cook it yet, and if you’re lucky the day stays warm long enough that you can eat outside. The peanut sauce in this recipe was inspired by barbecue sauce. I find barbecue sauce fascinating. The mix of flavors. The fact that it often contains tamarind, which seems like an unexpected ingredient in a very American food. I thought a peanutty barbecue sauce would be tasty. So that’s what I made. The black beans are roasted separately, with their own complementary spices. They have a nice texture, not crispy, like roasted chickpeas, but pleasantly firm. They go nicely with the kale, which brings its own assertive texture to the bowl.
Here’s Beastie Boys with Peanut Butter and Jelly. I love it! I love them!
They have three kinds of greens – chard, kale and spinach, they have very green olives, and they have pistachios, which are green nuts! They also have ricotta, mozzarella and lots of herbs. I’m especially pleased with the texture of these. You never know how it’s going to go with greens and ricotta. Will they be watery and runny? Or mushy? This was perfect, though. Juicy, almost, but not soggy. It occurred to me that these were like large, baked, crispy ravioli, and in that spirit, I added a little semolina flour to the dough. (If you don’t have semolina flour, just leave it out. Or add 1/4 cup regular flour to replace it. Either way. )I made a sauce to go with these with roasted red peppers, almonds, tomatoes, paprika and chipotle. It turned out very spicy!