Tangled Branches: Satiated

riveting tales of how we sustain ourselves

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ants on a Tree

Today's NY Times has an article about the renaming of Chinese dishes so as not to frighten the Olympic visitors. "Ants Climbing up a Tree" should now be called "Sauteed Vermicelli with Spicy Minced Pork". But, um, isn't vermicelli literally "little worms" in Italian? Is that less scary?

We had this very dish last evening at Sichuan Village. Very tasty, whatever they call it, but the rendition we were served last night had too much sauce if you ask me. It was more like "Ants Swimming in Chili Sauce".

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posted by Entangled at 6:39 PM 0 comments

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Mojito Salmon and More Swiss Chard

As much as I'd like everyone to believe that I only serve freshly-prepared local sustainable organic food, that really isn't the case. So, when Mojito Salmon showed up at Trader Joe's a few months ago I eagerly put it in my shopping cart. And we liked it, but I said to the spouse "This sauce would be really easy to make. It's basically a green Mexican salsa with extra lime juice and mint added. You just have to cook some salmon in any way you like and top it with the sauce." I'd been intending to verify my theory and last evening I finally got around to it. Success!

I opened a jar of Arriba Roasted Green Salsa (we're still a few weeks away from harvesting ingredients for fresh salsa), placed about half a cup in a bowl, cut up a lime and minced some spearmint leaves and started tasting. I think I ended up with somewhere around 10 large mint leaves and the juice of about a third of a small lime to the half cup of store-bought salsa.

For the salmon, I rubbed a large fillet (enough for two people) with olive oil, ground black pepper and a small amount of soy sauce. We grilled the salmon, spooned the sauce over it, and had a nice dinner.

Other than the mint, there was one more garden component to the meal. I'm still thinning the Swiss Chard, so I sauteed some green beans, chopped onion and coarsely chopped Swiss Chard. Seasoned with salt and a couple of spoonsful of the same Arriba Salsa (minus the lime and mint).

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posted by Entangled at 8:29 AM 0 comments

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Spicing Up Swiss Chard

This post is as much for my own notes as anything else. I've been searching for ways to tame the earthy flavor of Swiss Chard. So far the most satisfactory experiments have involved one of two things - making sure the chard is not the main ingredient and sticking to spicy Asian-inspired dishes.

Last night's dish was good enough to write down for future reference.

1 clove fresh garlic
equal amount of ginger root

Chop fine in mini-chopper (or mince with a knife).

3 green onions, "onion" part sliced thinly crosswise and "leaf" part sliced thicker
2 small russet potatoes (may have been better with a more waxy, shape-holding potato), peeled and cut into approx 1/2 in dice
Swiss Chard thinnings, stems sliced thinly crosswise and leaves sliced into about 3/4 inch strips
a few small Bronze Fennel sprigs, finely chopped

Heat about a tablespoon of cooking oil on medium or medium-high heat in a large skillet. Sizzle ginger-garlic mixture briefly (try not to let it brown), then add 2 dried red chiles (broken in half) and 1/4 tsp turmeric. Sizzle that a few seconds and add potatoes, green onions, and bronze fennel. Stir until potatoes are well coated with spicy oil, add 1/4-1/2 tsp. ground cumin, 1/4-1/2 tsp. ground coriander seed, 1/2 tsp. salt and a small amount of water. Cover, turn down heat to medium-low, and cook until potatoes are almost cooked through.

Add sliced Swiss Chard, and 1/2 tsp. brown sugar, 1/4 tsp. garam masala (or cinnamon - the Bantry Bay garam masala I had on hand tastes mostly of cinnamon anyway), and a spritz of lemon juice. Let this cook until the Swiss Chard is wilted, adding more water if necessary. There should be a little liquid left in the finished dish, just enough so it's not dry.

I served this with grilled salmon topped with Green Chutney. The Green Chutney was some I made last fall (when fresh chiles and coriander/cilantro were plentiful) and put into the freezer in single-serving containers. Basically, it was a couple of green chiles, a good handful of coriander leaves, a few spearmint leaves, with lime juice and salt to taste, all chopped fine in the mini-chopper.

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posted by Entangled at 8:17 PM 0 comments