Sunday, January 7, 2007

Let's talk FOOD.

It's Sunday, and I am not expecting any excitement today. This gives me a chance to write about one of my favorite topics - FOOD!

Carol Schneider is a real inspiration to anyone who likes to cook (and eat). I have incorporated her recipe for Roasted Olives into my "Frequent Favorites" file of recipes, and she showed us another delicious little tidbit for Laura's birthday potluck. If you have wondered how to use fennel (one of the oddball bulbs in the produce section), here is her simple preparation:

Slice the fennel bulb crosswise in thin (no more than 1/4 inch) slices. Separate them and drizzle with good olive oil. Sprinkle on a little salt (maybe an exotic sea salt you got in your Christmas stocking). That's it! Simple, delicious, and interesting.

Here is my other favorite new recipe, from the back of the Trader Joe's 1 pound bag of washed, torn, mixed greens... the very simplest way to buy a good mix of healthy (don't let that word scare you away) greens.

Trader Joe's Simple Greens - Serves 4 as a side dish

1 lb. Trader Joe's Southern Greens Blend
1 clove garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1/2 c. chopped green onions
2 T. olive oil
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup tomato juice
salt, pepper, and marjoram to taste
grated Parmesan cheese

Saute garlic and onion in olive oil in a pot large enough to hold greens. Add vegetable broth and tomato juice. Bring to a boil.

Add greens and seasonings. Cover and cook over low heat for 35 minutes or until tender. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.

FYI, here are the changes I made, some inadvertent:

- I don't keep green onions on hand, so I omitted them.

- Instead of tomato juice, I used TJ's Garden Patch, which I keep around to drink, so it was handy.

- Oops, I didn't read the recipe very well... I forgot the marjoram.

- Also, my usual method for cooking greens is a little different and, since I wasn't reading the recipe very well, I used my "known" method: saute the onion and garlic in the oil, then add the greens, a couple big handfuls at a time, stirring until they shrink way down. Add more greens, and stir until they shrink (I am sure there is a more suitable culinary term for the fact that greens collapse to a tiny fraction of their raw size when cooked). Keep this up until all the greens are sauteed (and therefore fit in your pan!). After that, I added the liquids and brought it all to a simmer.

When I made this while boondocking, to keep the pans to be washed at a minimum, I put four boneless smoked pork chops on top of the greens in the pan after the broth was simmering. They warmed up and imparted a nice smoky flavor to the greens. My Memphis-born husband, Odel, couldn't get enough. This dish would be great with cornbread.

Okay, now I am hungry...

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