Tatsoi salad with roasted pear and walnuts

tatsoi

I picked up a few heads of tatsoi at the Monkhoods Nursery stand at the Rhinebeck Farmers Market on All Saints Day – which also happens to be Daisy’s Birthday. I’ve never cooked or eaten this before and interestingly, while I was buying it a couple looked at me, exclaiming how pretty the greens were and asked how I was going to prepare them. I said I had no idea, but I’d figure something out. And after a brief stint online googling “tatsoi recipes” and then “tatsoi salad” because what I needed to accompany the cream of mushroom soup that Dean was making for dinner was a salad. There arrived several pairing of tatsoi with pears. The pears I bought from the market that day were still underripe. So I cut them up and roasted them.

Ingredients:

2 small heads tatsoi, washed, dried
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 Bartlett pear, medium cube
few whole walnuts
Pecorino Romano, or parm or blue cheese or manchego
olive oil
apple cider vinegar
salt
pepper

Method:

Roast the pears in a medium ramekin with a few dots of butter on 400. Put the walnuts in a separate ramekin and roast those as well. The walnuts will be ready faster than the pears. The pears are ready when they are not totally collapsed and, while it seems stange to apply this terms to roasted pears, but they are al dente.

Pile the larger tatsoi leaves on top of one another and slice horizonally across the stems into 1/4″ slices. Slice the little leaves the same width. Add to salad bowl

Heat up the olive oil and add the garlic, let it simmer gently without coloring for a minute. Turn off the heat and let it cool slightly then add a pinch of salt, a dash of cider vinegar, maybe a little more salt and some pepper, whisk.

Pull the walnuts out of the oven, chop up.

Pull the pears out of the oven and sprinkle a little salt on them.

Add dressing to tatsoi, toss, add pears and walnuts and toss. Add salt, pepper, additional vinegar to taste. Grate pecorino on top and serve.

Roasted apple sauce

apples
I mentioned Leslie Land’s intensely delicious roasted tomatoes in the ragu recipe. Well, I decided to see what would happen if I used that roasting method for creating a savory apple sauce. It worked, with the added bonus of being a beautiful pink-tinted color – providing you are using red-fleshed apples.

Heat oven to 375

  • Slice apples into quarters for small apples and then halve the quarters if they a monsterous apples.
  • Line a jelly roll sheet with parchment and spread a little butter on it
  • Add the apples packing them in there fairly snugly
  • Dot apples with butter
  • Sprinkle a little salt on them
  • I the apples are tart, drizzle some maple syrup on them

Load into the oven and cook until they are all mushy and easily collapsible. Then on the larges hole setting on your food mill, run the apple sauce through it.

For a Chunky Sauce

  • Peel and core the apples before you put them on the sheet
  • When they are fully roasted, crush them up with a fork.

Greens, specifically purple kale and beet greens, sauteed with garlic

greens, kale, purple kale, beet greens, garlic, sautee
There are many ways to prepare sauteed greens and many of them are terrific. When I am tired and just want to get some food on the table, this preparation is for me the no brainer. But I will say that you have to keep in mind, there are many different greens out there and they vary in consistency. Some of them can be washed and sauteed, some need blanching and then sauteeing or other method of cooking. When I am at the Rhinebeck Farmer’s Market, I tend to pick whatever looks best to me at the moment. Sometimes, I have never heard or cooked with that particular variety before.

I needed to use up the beet greens fast, but there were not enough to make a good side dish. So I combined them with the left over purple kale from the pasta dish published earlier. I think one of my major cooking breakthroughs happened with I figured out that I could cook the kale for a while and then add the beet greens and they’d come out each cooked the right amount. I think that breakthrough happened when I was cooking different root vegetables for a mashed dish.

Method:

  • Clean your greens and strip them of all really tough parts
  • Boil water, add hefty amount of salt
  • If you are using the stems, add those first
  • After 6 minutes, add the leaves
  • Let it come back to a boil
  • After 3 minutes, add the beet greens
  • Let it come back to a boil
  • Drain
  • Let cook
  • Squeeze out excess water
  • Chop up into little pieces

In a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat, sautee a couple of cloves of garlic in olive oil for about 1 minute. Add the greens and salt and pepper. I add some red pepper flakes. Taste. Maybe add a little liquid to continue the cooking and tenderize. Add a little but of Vermouth or white wine. Or add a little vinegar or spicy vinegar if you want it to be spicier. It is done when you taste it and it tastes good.

By all means, do not brown or burn the garlic. It is horrible then. I did that the other night to the broccoli rabe and it was really terrible tasting. I seem to have a bad time with broccoli rabe though, it is like a predisposed inability to focus on it when it is cooking. And I love the stuff. This method works really well for broccoli rabe… if you’re not me.

Mom’s Persimmon Pudding

persimmonpans
Come Christmas, Mom would make steamed persimmon puddings. As a kid, I was unimpressed by the dark pudding that looked a lot like dark chocolate but tasted like something a grown up would eat. And indeed as a grown up, I learned to love Mom’s persimmon pudding and finally started making them myself. Who knows where this recipe originated, I just know that she made it ever since I could remember.

BM’s Persimmon Pudding
2 Puddings

2 c Persimmon Pulp
2 c Sugar
4 T Butter
2 Eggs, beaten
1 c Whole Milk
2 c Flour
2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Cinnamon (or combination of allspice, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg)
4 tsp Baking Soda (dissolved in 4 Tsp hot water)

Preheat oven to 350º. Grease or butter 2 small (4-5quart) steamed pudding mold with lid. Cream butter and sugar. Add the following ingredients one at a time once each ingredient is thoroughly mixed in: persimmon pulp;  egg, then milk. Dissolve 2 tsp baking soda in 2 Tsp hot water. Add to wet mixture. Sift together flour, salt and cinnamon and gradually stir into wet mixture until just mixed. Do not over mix or the puddings will be tough.

Pour into prepared steamed pudding mold. Secure lid and place in a roasting pan inside the oven. Fill the roasting pan with hot water until the water comes up approximately 1/2 up the sides of the roasting pan.

Cook for approximately 1-1/2 hours. Check to see if done by inserting a toothpick into the cake. If it comes out clean it is finished. Let cool for 1 hour and then remove from pan and eat with hard sauce.

Hard Sauce Recipe

1/2 c Butter, softened
1 to 1-1/2 c Sifted,powdered sugar
3 T Brandy

Beat sugar until soft and fluffy. Gradually add half of the sifted sugar. Then add the brandy one tablespoon at a time, then continue gradually adding sugar until totally incorporated. Taste and add more brandy if desired. Chill until ready to serve on warmed persimmon pudding.

A Ragu Sauce inspired by M Hazan

fixinsforragu
I had left over ground beef from my burger night. I normally make a meat pie, but today, I decided to try out a ragu sauce. I pulled out The Essentials of Italian Cooking to review the process that Marcella uses to cook her Bolongese sauce. It is very easy process so I set out making a ragu that has the ingredients available to me in my refrigerator and pantry. Oh, but don’t cook this unless you’re home for a day of rest and reading. It takes about 5 hours total from start to finish.

1/2 c chopped onion
1/2 c chopped celery
1/2 c chopped carrot
1/2 c chopped fennel bulb

1 T olive oil
2 T butter
3/4 lb ground beef
1 c whole milk
1 c white wine
1-1/2c Summer roasted tomatoes with garlic and olive oil*

Fresh or dry pasta of choice

Saute the onions in the butter and oil until transluscent then add the carrots, celery and fennel. Cook for several minutes and add the ground beef along with a hefty amount of salt and cracked pepper. Cook until the meat is no longer pink, add in the milk and simmer until the milk disappears. Add wine and simmer gently until it also disappears.

Pass the tomatoes through a food mill, then add them to the sauce. Get them simmering and then, turn the heat low, low, low so there is just a little bubble happening.

Check on it over the next three hours. If it starts drying out, add some water. But keep cooking for the 3 hours and make sure the water has evaporated entirely before you eat it.

Cook your pasta and add it to your sauce.

*Roasted tomatoes

I use Leslie Land’s Intensely Delicious Roasted Tomotoes recipe for canning my tomatoes. I vary it a bit though, sometimes I cook on the grill instead of in the oven.

The Good Burger

groundbeef
I like burgers that are big, medium rare and full of flavor. But I’ll eat a burger that is really, really rare and like it a lot. How I like my burger affects how I cook my burgers. For those who don’t like their burgers as bloody as mine, there is a how to at the end of the recipe. I like half-pound burgers served on Elis brioche rolls. Most important on the method side is having a cold burger patty cooking on very, very hot surfaces. My add-in amounts vary – you need to experiment with your own taste.

Basics:
Organic grass fed ground beef from your local farmer friend
Salt
Pepper
Grapeseed oil for drizzling prior to cooking

Add-ins level 1:
Garlic, fresh crushed,
Wosterchire, dash per ½ lb
Soy, dash per ½ lb
Panko flakes
Egg, optional depending on the fattiness of the beef, you also may not need an entire egg in which ase you need to beat it and add a couple of tablespoons to bind the leaner meat together.

Add-ins level 2:
Any of the following to mix in to the beef mixture
Minced jalapeno, minced shallots, minced, red onion, cilantro

To top it
Blue cheese
Other cheese
Carmelized onions
Pickled onions
Pickled peppers
Avocado

Rules to follow:

  • Gather your toppings first, cook, chop, crumble
  • Get all your ingredients prepped prior to mixing up the burgers
  • Your burger patty should look like a bialy not a bagel or baseball
  • Make sure your patties are cold and your cooking surface really hot
  • If cooking inside, there will be lots of smoke. Do not be afraid, have a fan ready

As mentioned above, whether cooking on the grill or stovetop or broiler, make sure the surface is really hot and the burger patties really cold. If you’re cooking them in the broiler, heat a cast iron pan several inches from the broiler for 15 minutes prior to cooking the patties.

Chill a cold metal bowl in the freezer for 5 minutes. Add your beef, salt, pepper and all the add-in ingredients you’ve selected from Level 1/2. Note if you need egg, definitely use panko flakes if you’re using the egg, add 1-2 tablespoons Mix with your hands until blended and form patties approximately 1/2lb burger meat per person. form the patties by creating a disc shape and putting a slight indent into the middle = like a bialy, not a bagel.

Sprinkle salt and a little oil on the top and this side is the side that goes down on the hot surface.

Chill the burgers if you’re grill is not ready or you didn’t follow the earlier instructions to have all the other things ready by the time you’re ready to put the burgers on the grill, under the broiler or into the skillet.

Cooking:
Get out of your mind time. That really can mess up a good burger. You need to have the really hot surface and the really cold meat connect, form a good crust on that first side. Get down and look at your burger. By crust, I mean that your burger meat is going to connect together and tighten and cook and seal in the juicy, not cooked meat inside. Once your first side has that crust formed, flip it. Add your cheese. Wait and check for the crust on the other side. Pull off the burgers sooner rather than later.

For the guests who like them a little more done. Cook them on the first side the same way, then leave them cooking on the second side longer and if you can move them off the really hot part of the grill then do so. A minute or two should do.

Orecchiette with Purple Kale, Walnuts & Blue Cheese

purplekale

Toward the end of the day, I sometimes stand in front of the open refrigerator staring in. Vacant mind, no thoughts, nothing seems to go together. Sometimes I wonder, why did I leave the culinary comfort of New York City? That is when you close the door and stand there for a little bit. Then you reopen the door and look back in with a more investigative approach to the contents. Because, let’s face it, you live in the middle of nowhere, with few good restaurants, you’re broke so you can’t go to those restaurants anyway and you’re not going to get into the car and drive 20 minutes to get anything, oh, and, you have no cash so you can’t order a pizza because they don’t take checks. Gives you a whole new resolve…

Ingredients

Orecchiette (or other pasta shape)
Olive Oil
Purple Kale, washed
Onion, small dice
Garlic, minced
Red pepper flakes
Walnuts, toasted and chopped
Blue Cheese, crumbled

Slowly sweat the onions in olive oil. After about 6 minutes, add garlic, cover. Let cook on low heat.

Boil water, salt it. Add kale. Stir. Remove kale with slotted spoon after about 8 minutes. Drain into bowl. Admire the lovely color of the water. Chop it up into little bits and add to the onions and garlic. Salt and add red papper flakes to taste.

Add pasta to boiling water and notice how the pasta disappears into the dark purple water. Stir and cook until al dente, around 10-11 minutes. Drain, add to pasta gently tossing. Add to plates, top with blue cheese and walnuts… in that order. Serve and eat.