March 18, 2011

day five

Thankfully, arugula is not Dumb and Dumber.

Everyone told me for years that Dumb and Dumber was the most hilarious movie they'd ever seen. A classic. Slap-your-grandma, laugh-til-you-cry, beyond-words funny. And then I finally saw it, and regretted the utter waste of a good hour and a half.

Chefs do the same dadgum thing with arugula. It's on every the menu at any restaurant with more than two stars, tossed, sauteed, wilted and dressed. If you watch "Chopped" once, you will see arugula used, probably in every course. That stuff is used in nearly every dish on the Food Network, and lauded by chefs as if it is the green of heaven, the Old Faithful of salad.

And you know what? It lived up to its reputation. I couldn't believe it! It's like finally seeing The Shawshank Redemption, and you laugh and weep along with everyone else. Granted arugula may not bring you to tears... but it's so good it'll make you want to eat salad*, and that's saying something.

It's bright and succulent, earthy and somehow rich. I've never tasted a leaf like it!

Day Five: it's weirding me out how well this experiment is going...

*I made mine with a quick dressing of white wine, olive oil, white wine vinegar, and lemon juice. Mwah!

March 17, 2011

day four

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."

Until a couple years ago, cabbages, for me, were never something that should be paired with kings. Sealing wax, I could see. In fact, I imagined the taste was something similar to sealing wax... unspeakably bland and better suited for idiotic soup diets than my kitchen.

Then I discovered the magic of caramelization, and its reliable power to elevate and transmogrify even the most vanilla of vegetables.

Today I picked up a beautiful, firm, pale head of organic cabbage on my daily trek to FRESH. Generally speaking, I'm not one to grab something because of the organic label, but this cabbage was so cunningly displayed, scattered among halves of purple cabbage, the celadon and violet so lovely against each other... and anyone who knows me at all knows I am helpless against the allure of well-placed colors.

The cabbage (after being tossed into the air by my husband like a volleyball -- see below), ended up shredded, sauteed in chicken stock and olive oil, and thrown into a giant pot with rice soup, smoked chicken and asiago cheese. Hearty and warm, and an apt farewell to the winter months.

Day Four: a tasty, albeit safe, success.

March 16, 2011

day three

I'm not going to deny it... I judged a book by its cover. Or rather its title. A vegetable by its title. Or rather its name. Argh, mixed metaphors!

But ruby crescent fingerling potatoes, who could resist? I also stocked up on goat cheese, rosemary-olive oil bread and a smoked chicken, and we ate like French picnickers while watching HGTV.

The potatoes were so delicate and pretty I wanted to treat them simply, so I just cut them in half, tossed them in olive oil and s&p and roasted them for half an hour. My husband's reaction was, "They taste like potatoes." But perhaps my palette is more refined -- no, not "perhaps," but "because" -- I tasted a faint sweetness to the potato's flesh, and the skin was ever so fragile and crisped up beautifully.

Day Three: I'm bound for a failure soon...