Friday, July 22, 2011

New riff on something great

So many people are a fan of kale chips these days, and I am certainly one of them. I first read about them in the February 2009 issue of bon appetit magazine, and instantly wanted to try them. I fell quickly for these crisp green leaves. Baking the kale slowly at a low heat with olive oil, salt, and pepper condenses the brisk, vegetal flavor.

But friends, I am here to tell you--do not limit the making of these chips to kale. Today, I made them with beet greens, and the results were superb. They have the same great crispness as the kale, and though more delicate (a little less mineral, and you can taste the beet), still bring ballsy flavor.

The best thing about making chips with beet greens is that you're probably not going to use the greens otherwise. Kale, sure, you'll saute it or throw it in a fritatta. But beet greens? Not so much. To begin, if you buy any beets other than the classic red--say golden--the greens don't taste good. But in chip form they do. Truly! Plus, different kinds of beets have different colored tops, so you get fun, multi-colored chips.

So, jump on the head-to-hoof bandwagon, only in veggie form. Buy beets from a farmer with the tops still on and crisp up those greens!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Squash Interpretations

There's a saying, "You eat with your eyes," that I think is really true. Food tastes better to us when it looks beautiful. I don't mean pretty. Chef David Tanis talks in one of his cookbooks about pretty food versus beautiful food. Pretty food is when you go to a restaurant and everything has been piled on top of each other to fit neatly in a perfect square on the plate and then the plate--not the food, but the plate--is drizzled with balsamic reduction. Lovely, pretty, but not beautiful.

Beautiful food is when the elements of the food are allowed to shine. Scattering something with a few pomegranate seeds seems luxurious, but it is also real; pomegranates
are a natural, edible jewel. Cooking a while fish, as I recently did for the first time, is beautiful. The presentation is simultaneously simple and special.

Color in food amazes me. Take, for instance, these two interpretations of patty pan squash. I had a yellow patty pan, a food that is naturally a bright, vibrant yellow. Thrilling that something like amaranth microgreens exist with their shocking burgundy threads. A salad of the two is a surprise and a great way to "eat with your eyes".

But take the same squash. Slice into thin slivers and arrange, overlapping on a plate, as if the squash is fanning itself out. Marry with pieces of basil, a lemon-Siracha-oliv
e oil dressing. Yellow and green is a more classic color combination, but the dressing brings a pink-orange note that glides across the white squash flesh. This is fresh food that is as good as it can possibly taste, but then made even better through its beauty.

Monday, July 4, 2011

American Pie

Happy 4th of July! To me, 4th of July has always been about having a brunch picnic with my family and watching fireworks. This year, neither of those are happening (though last night I saw fireworks go off here and there). So, what does 4th of July mean when the traditions are taken away? I think it's all about remembering things that make America America. Not the principles and ideas like liberty and capitalism, but the real tangibles, the fun(ny) things like cookouts and cut-off jean shorts, and those little embroidered aprons worn by 50s housewives.

And as they say, what's more American than apple pie?...maybe a cherry pie with star crust! Here's to celebrating in style!