Category Archives: Vegetables

Soft Boiled Eggs and Greens

I have figured out the perfect spring dinner. I think I’ve made it four nights this week. It takes advantage of the best of the spring produce, and is both quick and satisfying.

Soft Boiled Eggs and Greens

For this recipe, I will plug the beautiful eggs I get from The Farm at Sunnyside at the Dupont Circle Farmers Market on Sundays. I also work there a few times a month. Although interestingly, a few weeks ago one of our loyal egg customers gently complained to us that the eggs weren’t poaching very well. We explained that in the winter (this was February, I think), the hens aren’t laying as often, so the eggs we have are a bit older than when turnover is higher. In general, as eggs get older their whites get thinner and spread out more in the water, not ideal for poaching into a perfect little package.

Admittedly, at the time I thought she was being a bit cranky. But next time I went to poach some eggs from the farm, I noticed that she was right. That’s when I started soft boiling, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever go back to poaching. With soft boiling, you get an even more custardy yoke, you don’t have to watch them, just set the timer to 6 minutes and walk away, and they turn out the same every time. You could also easily do six or eight eggs at once, which is much tougher with poaching.

In this preparation (really more of a method than a recipe), you can use any kind of greens. I’ve been using some beautiful kale raab or collard raab, also from Sunnyside. Never heard of kale or collard raab? Some googling around found a nice explanation from growingcurious.typepad.com:

“Raab comes in the spring, from over-wintered brassica varieties. The raab is the flower buds that look like tiny broccoli heads — hence the classic “broccoli raab” that grows from mustard greens (also in the brassica family) and not from a genuine broccoli plant. You can have kale raab, turnip raab, arugula raab, mustard raab, collard raab, and many traditional Asian greens that feature the flower bud. They’re all good.”

A nice trick for peeling soft boiled eggs is to rap the fat end of the egg on the counter, where the air pocket is, and peel up from there. They should peel easily this way.

Soft Boiled Eggs and Greens
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Classic Basil Pesto

In this season of copious basil and fresh summer dinners, the question comes up often: do you have a good pesto recipe? I always balk at this question. Pesto and recipe don’t go together in my mind. You know, a few fistfuls of basil, some lemon zest and juice, some nuts, a few cloves of garlic, cheese if you want it, olive oil until it starts to come together in that softer green emulsified state. It’s just so forgiving and flexible, and can be successful with myriad combinations and ratios of ingredients. But nevertheless, it’s probably useful to have some rough quantities when shopping and preparing, at least until you get the hang of it, so here’s my go at it.

The lemon element is worth discussing since it might not be traditional… I like to add it for two reasons: 1) it helps the pesto to not oxidize and turn brown quite so much, and 2) it brightens up the flavor of the pesto without making it taste lemony, per se. Now, if you’re after that deep sweet earthy richness (who among us is not after that), the quantities here will give you just a shade of brightness without overpowering the richness. If you want more lemon bang, feel free to up the quantities. As I said, this is all very forgiving.

As for salt, go easy, since the parmesan will add some salt, but you just have to do it to taste. Salt, blend, taste, salt, blend, taste, gradually. You’ll know you’ve got it when it stops tasting like garliclemonbasilpinenutsparmesan in a food processor, and starts tasting like pesto.

Basil Pesto
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Sauteed Carrot Greens

This time of year farmers markets are bursting with greens. Lettuce, spinach, chard, fresh herbs. But many of the vegetables in season also come with their own greens– beets, tiny white hakurei turnips, and carrots… bonus greens! I work at a local market on Sundays where many customers ask us to discard the carrot tops. When this happens, in my mind I’m shrieking, “What! You don’t want the bonus greens?!” But, wily forager that I am, I try not to let my excitement show, because after they walk away I take their discarded tops and stash them in a shopping bag, and bring them home to cook them for myself.

As you’ve probably gathered, I am a greens fiend, but I had never cooked with carrot greens. Feathery and tougher than most, I wasn’t sure how best to prepare them, so I started with a standard method: quick blanch and saute, finished with some lemon and olive oil. The lemon and olive oil turn into a warm vinaigrette that I was eating with a spoon as it pooled on my plate. I’ve been serving these along side an egg and cheese sandwich for lunch, but they would also be nice mixed with chickpeas and rice, or alongside a roasted chicken.

A word to the wise, carrot greens carry a lot of sand and dirt, so unless you like gritty bites (the dental equivalent of fingernails on a chalkboard), wash them really well. I generally trim my greens as little as possible, in part because I can’t bear to throw food away, but also because I like the texture differences between the leaves and stems. But with carrot greens, the stems are tough and fibrous even when cooked, so I recommend trimming them right up to where the leaves start.

Sauteed Carrot Greens
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Herbed Potato Salad

I have a thing for fresh herbs. To the point where anything that’s teetering on the edge in my refrigerator will go into the food processor with some lemon juice or garlic, and get whirred into a pesto or a sauce, or just get chopped up and frozen until I can think of something to use it for. By straying from the standard creamy sauce and using a vinaigrette jacked up with lemon and fresh herbs, this potato salad gives me a convenient vehicle for those fridge herbs, and goes over pretty well at potlucks and bbqs and such. Use any combination of herbs you like; I’ve gotten good results with a cilantro-mint-parsley mix. If you use a less tender-leafed herb like rosemary, sage, or thyme, use a smaller amount, and balance it out with some tender leafy ones.

Herbed Potato Salad
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Pizza with Sage Pesto, Kale and a Fried Egg!

I’m back!

I’d like to start this post by giving thanks: for finishing my master’s degree, for the absolutely slammin weather that is gracing DC right now, and most of all, for the fact that I have people in my life that understand that it is not only appropriate, but entirely welcome to bring a trash bag full of kale to my apartment as a gift (lookin at you, here, mom). In this season of greens, I have been embarking on all sorts of different versions of the “greens challenge,” (How much mesclun greens can I eat in one week?? A devastating amount, it turns out). But a kale challenge is a welcome one, being that kale occupies such a vaunted seat in my culinary house.

So, kale, lots of time on my hands, some sage pesto chilling in the fridge, enthusiasm for yeast doughs… Kale Pizza with Sage Pesto and a Fried Egg! No other conclusion was possible. Eaten on my balcony with a good friend, some gin-lemonades, and a stormy weather pattern passing over the afternoon. Feels good to be back.

Pizza with Sage Pesto, Kale, and Fried Eggs
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The summer that lasted until fall

A little piquant relief in the midst of the apple blitz (more to come next week)…. A few days ago, apples and spice cake seemed approps, but it’s darn hot in DC right now. And I bet the local markets are still bumpin’ with sweet peppers, perfect for picklin’.

I have always been an acid girl. When I was a toddler, I liked to suck on lemons and eat raw garlic cloves (incidentally, I was very popular). I assume/hope this isn’t some strange nutrient deficiency, but I have always wanted that little, or big, bite of acid in my food. Lemon zest and juice in sautéed kale, salad dressing with a low oil-to-acid ratio, extra vinegar-y hot sauce. It’s partly a preference, but a balance of the four taste sensations (sweet, salty, bitter, sour) is also what makes food taste good to our mouths. I remember an exercise in my brief culinary training where our instructor passed around tuna with a succession of additions. First, plain tuna. Then, tuna with salt. Then, tuna with salt and mayo (in this case, the ‘sweet’). Then tuna with salt, mayo, and celery (for the bitter). And finally, tuna with salt, mayo, celery, and lemon juice. At last, that final trip around the room with all four elements in place was what tasted ‘right’ to us.

So make a sandwich, turkey or cheese on some good bread. Add some mayo, arugula or watercress, and these quick pickled sweet peppers, which add salt, acid, and a little bit of sweet. I’ve been finding little pints of perfectly-sized sweet peppers at my farmers market, for cheap I should add. Take a bite and enjoy the balance.

Quick Pickled Sweet Peppers
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Sauteed Kale

I hope you haven’t had a dish rack full of kale waiting silently in your kitchen for this next post. Shame on me.

You might think I’m following up a post on decadent chocolate cake (the amount of butter in that recipe, woo!) with something healthy like kale. But I’m really not, because a) I don’t really think that way, and b) this kale is DELICIOUS and you can put enough cheese in it to nullify any health value.

I will take a moment to pat myself on the back (stomach?) and say that this recipe has earned quite a following amongst my friends (ie, want to come over for dinner?… can you bring kale?). This makes me quite proud.

Sauteed Kale
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