Monday, May 28, 2012

So happy Naked Cow Dairy is back

We had leftovers tonight, but dinner was made sooo much brighter with sliced Orange Blossom tomatoes from WOW Farms in Waimea on the island of Hawaii. I just added a pinch of sea salt, splash of extra virgin olive oil, basil chiffonade and a sprinkle of Naked Cow queso crumbles. UNBELIEVABLY good!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

When Push Comes to Shove

What's your favorite pickle? DON'T tell me you don't like pickles, 'cause then I can't talk to you!

My favorite pickle is the large garlic dill served with the hot pastrami at Carnegie Deli in NYC. I haven't been there in years, but my tastebuds remember it.

Why pickles? Every culture has them. They serve as a contrast to rich food. An example is the lightly pickled cucumbers in the BBK - smoked pork with Carolina vin - at Whole Ox Deli. In homestyle Japanese food, tsukemono - which means "pickled things" is always an accompaniment to the meal, as necessary as rice. Pickles can be savory or sweet, anything from nasubi (eggplant) to daikon (radish).

I didn't realize until this past Christmas Eve dinner with family, that one cousin's memory of our grandmother was the takuan (sweet yellow radish pickles) she made. And that the takuan served to stretch out meals that were meager in meat. Grandma was very frugal, and guavas from her trees became jelly, jam and juice. Orange peels were saved, sugared and eaten as candy.

Each of us prefers pickles of different kinds. For me, takuan needs the zip that comes from either a pinch of dried chili flakes or bit of fresh bird chili provide. Pickles can be as fiery as South Asian lime chile, or as soft as our family friends' cabbage tsukemono.

But, I was jonesing for that wonderful pickled mustard cabbage that's served with Mama Le of The Pig & The Lady's coconut water braised pork shoulder "Thit Kho Trung". I could eat it EVERY DAY, it is THAT GOOD. And I don't even like mustard cabbge! The pickles are a bit salty, a little tangy, with the edge of the mustard cabbage, but provide a zip in contrast to the rich pork and fragrant jasmine rice. 

I looked online, and one version had 4 ingredients, another 8! Here's my recipe:
Wash well and chop into 2-in. pieces 2 lbs. mustard cabbage and 1/2 sweet onion sliced and immerse in boiling water for 20 seconds. Remove and drain. Measure 4 to 5 cups of the water and add 1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons sugar, 3-1/2 to 4 tablespoons salt, an inch of ginger, peeled and chopped and combine all until dissolved. Put all of this in a non-reactive container (I used a plastic bowl with cover) with a plate on top of the greens as a weight before you cover it. Leave it out (don't refrigerate) overnight. In the morning, taste for saltiness. If too salty, you can pour off the salty water, boil an equal amount and add to the greens. Transfer to jars and refrigerate.

She Has Not Been Cooking

More like assembling. She made:

Salsa topping for salmon, consisting of local vine-ripe tomatoes, a black plum, red onion, garlic, cilantro, local Mandarin orange and Sudachi lemon. The last two from a kind coworker who shared the bounty. The orange was a bit fibrous and the lemon very tiny, more like a lime.

The salmon was cut into serving pieces, sprinkled with one of those ubiquitous local seasoning blends of coarse salt, garlic and spices, and sauteed.

This was served with baby bok choy zapped in the microwave and sesame oil, shoyu, oyster sauce and sesame seeds stirred in. And quinoa.

The DH liked all of this very much, even though he was made to help by stirring salsa and cooking the salmon. And we have enough leftovers for another dinner!