Thursday, June 25, 2009

Beet green salads

A few very simple ideas for using those beet greens from the garden.

First, we love them raw in a salad, just like you'd use lettuce or spinach. The young, smaller greens are better to eat raw since the older, larger leaves can be a bit bitter and more tough. On this night we mixed the greens with a basic vinegarette (two parts olive oil, one part vinegar, garlic clove minced, salt, a touch of dijon mustard), some onion slices and walnuts.

Steamed beet greens are an excellent way of preparing the older, larger leaves. After they become tender, add a splash of vinegar, lemon juice and salt for a very fresh dish.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Rhubarb custard pie

One of the best uses for rhubarb. Here prepared by my mother, Constance St.-Pierre, in her own kitchen, for Josh and I a few days before we embarked on a 6-day canoe trip on the Allagash and St-John Rivers in Northern Maine.

Prepare a pie crust: Mix 1 cup flour, 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/4 cup lard with a fork until crumbly. Add cold water slowly, mixing until you have a soft, pliable ball. Roll out a little more than half of it on a floured surface and place in a pie dish.

Wash and chop (no need to peel) about 4 rhubarb stalks, until you have a cup of it. Mix with 1/8 cup of flour, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1 egg and 1 tblsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice.

Pour the rhubarb mix into the pie crust. Roll out the rest of the dough and cover, pinching the edges.

Pour a little melted butter over the crust and sprinkle some sugar over the whole thing. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes then at 350 for another 30 minutes or so.

Josh and I ate the big pieces in the event that they might be our last if we died on the Allagash, and my mother, who as a stomach-cancer survivor is redefining the meaning of senior-citizen portions, ate the little one.
(Note: this is a half-recipe).

Monday, June 8, 2009

Wicked healthy green balls

It’s official: brussel sprout greens need a publicist. Though nutritious, delicious, and just as easy to grow, pick and prepare as collard greens or chard, brussel sprout greens are far from being stars in the garden veggie world. They’re more like Paris Hilton’s older sister (does she have one?) who’s not-so-hot but is smart and has a nice personality. The problem is, for all that brussel sprouts bring to the table, we know only a handful of people who eat them. Over the last few weeks, though, since brussel sprouts are growing like mad in our community garden (at the Brooks School in North Andover), we’ve been getting creative with them, whipping up concoctions like curried brussel sprout greens with tofu, a pesto-esque pasta sauce with the greens, and a supergreen omelet with spinach, collard greens, broccoli, chives and brussel sprout greens all mixed with a few cheeses and spices. And our latest brussel sprout balls!

So much better than blue balls. Start by chopping a few peeled carrots in a food processor with the metal blade until small. Throw in about 10 stemmed and washed brussel sprout greens, ripped in halves or thirds, and process again until very small.

Next, throw in a can of drained and rinsed black beans, a few handfuls of instant oats, salt and pepper and an egg and process. Keep adding oats through the feed tube until the consistency is just a hair away from being dry. Remove the container from the processor and place in the fridge to sit for at least 45 minutes.

With floured hands, form the mixture into balls.

Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a cast-iron skillet and place the balls evenly throughout the pan. Drop the heat to medium-low and cook, turning the balls after about 5 minutes or so. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, checking every once in a while to make sure that nothing is sticking to the pan.

We served these on a bed of baby beet greens from our garden with a simple vinagrette, accompanied by both a curry mayo and a garlic and watercress mayo I whipped up for dipping sauces.
If you don't have ready access to brussel sprout greens, try substituting collard greens, kale or most any other leafy green in their place and let me know how it turns out.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Hash in a flash

If today's explorations in cooking with brussel sprout greens lacked beauty and creativity, it was none the poorer in taste, thanks primarily to the sausage. But then, what dish dripping in a little sausage grease wouldn't be tasty? This is a package of the stuff we got at Appleton farms in Ipswich, MA, already flavored with fennel and other spices; the greens are from our garden.

Once you prep the ingredients, the whole thing shouldn't take more than a half hour to cook.
1 potato, peeled and chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
About 7 or 8 brussel sprout greens leaves
1 package of sausage
Salt and pepper

Heat some olive oil in a cast-iron skillet and sautee the onions and greens until soft. Remove from the pan and reserve. Add a little more olive oil and cook the potatoes over medium-low heat until soft, stirring occasionally. Remove the potatoes from the pan and reserve with the greens mixture. Put the sausage into the pan with the garlic, salt and pepper. Break up the sausage and stir constantly over medium-high heat until the meat is cooked through.

Return the greens and potatoes to the meat and heat through.

Enjoy. Immensely.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

BS Pie

No, not that kind of bs. We're talking brussel sprouts. Brussel sprout greens, to be specific. Since our brussel sprouts must be juicing it up on the sly, we've got a plethora of greens that we're getting creative with.

The ingredients are simple:
Brussel sprout greens, chopped into small pieces
Two medium-sized onions, sliced thinly
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
Salt, pepper, 2 bay leaves and about a teaspoon of oregano
4 eggs
Parmesan cheese
2 cups of flour and 1 stick of butter, cut up into pieces (for the crust)

Heat some olive oil in a cast-iron pan. Sautee the onion and garlic over low heat until translucent. Add the greens and spices and cook until soft.

In the meantime, prep the pie crust. Put the flour and the butter into a food processor with the metal blade. Pulse until the mixture looks like fine crumbs. Add cold water, a little bit at a time, until the dough turns into a ball. Roll out the dough on a floured surface and place it into a buttered pie dish. Shred the parmesan into the crust then cover with the greens mixture from which you should remove the bay leaves.

Serve hot or allow to cool and eat like a pizza pie with your fingers. Serves four.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Beet greens and carrot salad

Tom Robbins once said that the beet, with its feverish, fiery, lusty red, "is the most intense of vegetables." If so, that must make the beet green, with its dark-green leaves and rich red veins, one of the most intense of the leafy greens. Adele and I opted for a bit of intensity with dinner tonight, so we gleaned a basketful of beet greens from the garden this afternoon and brought it back home for a simple salad.

Spread the beet greens evenly in a large bowl. Peel and shred two carrots and place them in a pile in the middle over the greens in the middle of the bowl. Thinly slice about half a small onion and spread evenly over the greens, around the carrots.

The dressing is a creative variation of the most basic vinagrette: In a small bowl, mix a clove of garlic, minced, with a generous amount of salt, and allow to sit for a while. This will bring the flavor of the garlic out. Add about a teaspoon of ground ginger and mix. Add a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar and stir again. Stir in two heaping teaspoons of olive oil and finally, add the zest and juice of half a lime.

We ate this salad with a grilled hamburger topped with some of our very own basil and a basil and garlic mayo that Adele made the other day with - you guessed it - more of our own basil. Makes an excellent, light summer-time meal.