Friday, April 22, 2011

More dandelion greens

I share my CSA box with a friend. She was telling me how she needed to cut the bitterness in the dandelion greens from this week's box. I told her that I used yogurt on top of my dandelion stuffed crepe to cut the bitterness, as well as, a bit of cider vinegar in the greens recipe. She made me think, though, of all the ways I could cut bitterness, or make it more a part of the recipe itself.  Bitterness can be mitigated by anything smooth and creamy, like cream cheese, cream, milk or even potatoes. This got me thinking about how to fix my last bunch of bitter dandelion greens. My friend said she used pine nuts and lots of butter in her recipe, but I went a different route.  I sautéed cubed pancetta in oilive oil and butter, threw in diced calcot onions, added the chopped greens and 1/2 c vegetable broth, covered the pot on a low flame for 15 minutes.  Then when I removed the lid I added 1 cup of boiled, diced creamer potatoes.  I peeled some and left the skin on others. (strictly out of laziness, I peeled the ones whose skin came off easily) I stirred it all around for 4 minutes, added 1/4 cup grated Parmesan and served it alongside Dorie's carrot salad from Around my French Table. The whole preparation was fast and the dinner was comforting and no more bitter than was pleasing to my palate.
 Point to remember: potatoes mitigate bitterness.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Dandelion Greens

I have been cooking these last few weeks even though I have been absent from this blog.  Important activities have kept me away. I have been to the Sunday farmer's market at Fort Mason, as evidenced by the lovely bouquet of sustainably grown ranunculus pictured above. I have cooked Heidi Swanson's multigrain pancakes from her new and wildly popular Super Natural Everyday.  The batter seemed very runny, but I trusted Heidi, and the pancakes were very tasty.  I like to make a batch of pancakes in the morning and eat them throughout the day. For lunch I'll heat a couple with cream cheese on top. I love cream cheese, my current favorite is Nancy's cultured cream cheese.

Some of my culinary creations have been simpler though.  I made one of my quick and tasty comfort foods, English muffin pizzas.  These I made with Rudi's spelt English muffins, with Annie's organic ketchup, a friend's bruschetta topping and manchego cheese. The result made me very happy. I tried the English muffins toasted but they were mushy and plain, so they became the base for these pizzas.  Under the broiler they came out crunchy and satisfying. 

Last night I went into the kitchen intending to cook a bunch of dandelion greens simply, maybe just sauteed in olive oil. Before I knew it I was tossing in soaked dried shitakes and porcinis, pancetta, cider vinegar, calcot onions and cubed mango.  I stuffed the greens into amaranth-cornmeal crepes from Heidi's previous cookbook.  My husband was pleasantly surprised with what I placed on the table before him. He said "I thought you were tired". But I explained that one thing led to another and the recipe just put itself together.

Dandelion Green Stuffed Crepes
 For the crepe batter use the quinoa and corn flour crepe batter recipe in Super Natural Cooking or any other crepe recipe you can find.  I substituted amaranth flour for the quinoa because I had it on hand and did not have any quinoa flour.
1 bunch dandelion greens, washed and cut in 1 inch lenghts.
1/2 cup diced pancetta
1 -2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup dried mushrooms of any kind soaked in boiling water for 20 minutes and diced
1-2 calcot onions or green onions, sliced into small pieces
1 cup vegetable broth or water
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 cup mango, diced small
12 slices manchego cheese, thinly sliced with a vegetable peeler
Greek yogurt  to top crepes

Heat olive oil in  frying pan. Toss in pancetta and cook until crisp. Add mushrooms and onions and cook for 5 minutes, but don't let the mushrooms burn.  Add greens and broth or water, and vinegar, season with salt and pepper bring to a simmer. Lower heat to med low, cover and cook for 10-15 minutes checking every five minutes to be sure there is liquid remaining. Remove lid and cook until liquid evaporates.
Turn off heat and add mango.
Heat another frying pan and grease with butter. Pour in 1/4 cup crepe batter ,swirl to coat pan with batter. Pan should be over medium heat. When batter no longer looks moist, flip crepe over in pan with spatula.  Add 1/3 cup greens mixture to cover half  of the crepe, top with 3-4 slices cheese and flip over the other side of crepe.  It will look like a half circle.
Let heat for 30 seconds. Remove to an oven safe platter and keep warm in very low oven until all crepes are cooked.
Top plated crepes with 1 tablespoon yogurt.

Tomorrow I plan on baking Nigella Lawson's Lemon Polenta Cake. And work on my cookbook pile.