Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"Asian" spinach

No picture of this one, sorry! I forgot to take one before we gobbled it up. I went to Wilson Farm last weekend for some seedlings, some black beans (Baer's, of course) and to check out what they had for local produce.

I came home with a giant bag of spinach and two bunches of asparagus. (Jon looked at the asparagus and said, "only two? are you serious?" Looks like I'll have to go back.) The first bunch of asparagus I just boiled gently till just tender in salted water and served with a combination of olive oil and butter. Heavenly. I have a plan for the second one, but that will have to wait for another post.

Spinach: that's what I'm writing about today.

1 lb spinach, give or take
1 T toasted sesame oil (or to taste)
1 T soy sauce (or to taste)
2 tsp sugar

Combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl.

Wash and stem the spinach. Spin or blot it dry, but don't worry about getting it totally dry, as it will steam in the moisture left on the leaves. Get out a big pot -- I used a 6-quart stockpot and still couldn't fit it all at once. Fill the pot with spinach, put a lid on it, and put it over medium heat for a minute or two. As the spinach wilts down, put more into the pot, tossing it around with tongs or a wooden spoon. Once it's all wilted, drain it well, squeezing out the moisture so it doesn't make the dressing watery.

Chop the leaves coarsely, then toss with the dressing.

Serve hot or cold. Love that kind of versatility.

I could also imagine throwing a splash of rice vinegar into the sauce, and some hot pepper flakes. Maybe some scallions or minced garlic? Really, the possibilities are endless.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"Wild thing" mini quiches

I was going to call these "weed quiche" but the attorney we had over for dinner advised against it. It's nettles, people!

I keep reading about the edible weeds that grow wild in our gardens . . . we've tried purslane, which I rather like. The burdock is crazy but you can't eat the leaves, only the root, and I haven't managed to dig one up. Their taproots are really hard to pull out and must go all the way to the core of the earth. Lamb's quarters? Haven't seen 'em. Dandelion, check; violets, check. But what about stinging nettles? Finally I found some growing in one of my flower beds. I even proved that it was indeed nettle by (wait for it) getting stung by it. Ouch. Seriously, ouch.

So, what to do? I went to my friend google and learned how to handle it, for one thing. I wore a rubber glove on one hand and wielded scissors in the other. I swished the nettles in a bowl of water to clean them off, and then put them into a small pot of boiling water for 1.5 minutes. Then I fished them out with tongs, blotted them with a towel, and let cool.

3 T melted butter

2 extra large eggs
1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup finely grated cheddar

4 oz mushrooms, diced fine
1 smallish onion, diced fine

salt and pepper

3 stalks spring nettles (could substitute spinach, chard, etc.), blanched (see instructions), stemmed, and chopped fine.

Preheat the oven to 350.

First, saute the onion with a few pinches of salt till softened, then add the mushrooms. Let them relealse their juices and get tender. (I used a little olive oil for the sauteeing.) Toss in the blanched, chopped nettles and remove from the heat.

Next, beat the eggs with another couple picnhes of salt and add the milk. Combine the flour and baking soda in a bowl, then grate in the cheese (that 1/4 cup is an approxiate measurement). Add the egg/milk mixture and then the onion, mushroom and nettles. Grind in some pepper, and mix gently but thoroughly. You don't want any clumps of flour! .

Brush the mini muffin pan (24-muffin size) generously with melted butter. Fill each muffin cup with 1 level tablespoon of the batter.

Bake for 15-20 minutes.