For the last two weeks I’ve had the latest issue of Food & Wine sitting on my kitchen table. It’s not that I haven’t read it – I have – but I don’t allow myself to keep the back issues and so I hate to recycle it until I’m absolutely done with it. I keep going back through it to make sure there isn’t one more recipe to cut out or one more restaurant review to make a note of. As a result, I’ve been staring constantly at a large front-cover photo of chicken salad with Green Goddess dressing. With predictable results.
I have actually never made Green Goddess dressing. I mean, ever. So this was sort of a duh moment for me, as I realized that I had fresh herbs all over the place, garlic and anchovies ready to hand, and a tub of sour cream in the fridge left over from our Monday night enchiladas. There was no reason at all not to make this. And I had the perfect vehicle for the dressing: a large bag of perfect, slender green beans from Blue Heron Farm. I cut the beans in half, blanched them in boiling salted water and drained them, then got to work on my dressing.
We managed to slip out of town for a day last weekend, and spent a happy afternoon in Vancouver, B.C. It’s strange that we can live so close to Canada, but make it up there so seldom. Every time we go, we tell ourselves “We should do this more often!”
This time we took advantage of the opportunity to get some good Chinese food. Skagit Valley is a pretty good place for many kinds of food, but good Indian or Chinese restaurants are just not happening. Vancouver, on the other hand, has amazing Asian food of all possible kinds. I wanted to find a place with good noodles, and according to the Chowhound boards, Peaceful is one of the top spots.
When we walked in, it was still early in the day, and the place was mostly empty. We quickly emptied our first pot of hot, weak tea and enjoyed being in out of the rain while we studied the rather huge menu. Everything looked fabulous, which made things difficult. We finally settled on an order of the Peaceful beef rolls, a plate of cumin lamb noodles and some Szechuan stir-fried string beans, then settled in and watched the restaurant fill up. Continue reading
I thought about titling this post “Pesto and Green Beans: Two Great Tastes That Look Disgusting Together” but that might have put people off. It’s true, though – you take these gorgeous beans (I happened to have a mix of green filet and yellow wax beans – beautiful), cook them until they’re perfect and tender with just a hint of snap, and you mix them with freshly made basil pesto – and it looks terrible. The pesto turns brown and hides the bright color of the bean – but fortunately, it tastes amazing.
Everyone knows how to make pesto now, don’t they? Continue reading
We found these gorgeous pink fingerling potatoes at the farmer’s market last week, and couldn’t resist. I realized as I was taking their picture that they’re actually kinda fleshy looking, so it’s just as well they lost their color after cooking. They were good, though – I halved them lengthwise, tossed them with olive oil and Marlunghe herbed sea salt (thanks, R&G!), and roasted them at 400° for about half an hour. They were crispy and salty on the outside, chewy and sweet on the inside, with a hint of savor from the sage and rosemary in the salt.
Potatoes like that need some good accompaniments, so Jon roasted a pork tenderloin and made a exceptionally yummy pan sauce with white wine, butter and reduced apple cider, and I tossed some blanched green beans into a pan with minced shallot and a few fresh tomatoes.
It was very, very, very good.
Of course these weren’t the first green beans we’ve eaten all summer, but they were the first picking from Blue Heron Farm, and they were lovely. I wanted to let them shine as much as possible, so all I did was blanch them, then saute them with olive oil, lots of garlic, prawns and a little white wine. I served them on soft polenta, and the flavors were really bright and fresh.
Polenta isn’t usually the first starch I think of, but I’m always happy when I make it. This batch turned out particularly well. I let it cook long enough to get really smooth, then I beat in a nugget of butter and nothing else – no cheese or cream. I poured it out into soup bowls and let it set, then put the shrimp and green beans on top. Mmmmm. Continue reading
This little book is a powerhouse of Indian cooking. It’s small, it doesn’t lie flat, it has no pictures (except a few line drawings), and it’s far from comprehensive, but this one book revolutionized Indian food for us. Not right away, though.
It was a gift from a friend many years ago, after I had already given J a copy of Yamuna Devi’s Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking, and we felt (rather smugly) that we had everything we needed for cooking Indian food. But if you’ve ever used the Devi book, you may have noticed that her ingredient lists are enormous, her instructions are tiresomely exact, and she puts a somewhat intimidating weight on the history and context of the food. We had the book, but I mostly used it to make flatbread and hot yogurt drinks to go with our Patak’s Curry Paste concoctions. Spice Kitchen sat on our shelf, unappreciated.
Then one day we opened it. Continue reading