Tag Archives: swiss chard

SOULMATE SAUCE: THE BEURRE BLANC

After two weeks in a cramped hotel room, numerous mediocre restaurant-catered meals, and one 11-long hour train ride from NYC to Montreal, I was really, truly ready for a simple, home-cooked meal.

One speedy trip to the market later, we had a small fish fillet — I already forget what it was; was it perch? — which we lightly dredged in flour and seared quickly in a pan with smoking hot butter and lemon. I was craving huge bowls of fresh vegetables, so I contributed two super simple side dishes: roasted beets with chopped parsley, and sauteed swiss chard with fried garlic, bacon, shallots and lemon. Not to be outdone, my boyfriend made a remarkable beurre blanc from scratch. The resultant creamy, tangy, velvety liquid was one of the most powerfully delicious sauces I’ve ever had in my life. Vivid notes of sweetness, tart, vinegar, salt, cream, and fat, all in perfect balance.

Also: another NEA fellow, Sophia Ahmad, wrote a great little wrap-up detailing our two weeks at Columbia. I miss the chaos of NYC already. Read it here!

FREQUENT VARIATION

“COOKING” FOR EVERY OCCASION

Dinner in bed: Cilantro + basmati rice + red onion + lime zest + pat of butter. Rainbow chard fried with browned garlic + red pepper flakes + baby fennel + chopped bacon + lemon squeezes over all.

Picnic sandwiches: Smoked turkey + cheddar + baby arugula dressed in lemon + broiled bacon + warmed baguette + spicy mustard.

Movie snacks: “Jojos”. Quartered and roasted potatoes + smoked paprika + olive oil + leftover scallions + plenty of sea salt. More than you think you need. Roast until tender, fluffy and crispy. Always better with skins still on. Serve with homemade aioli or sour cream or ranch. (Note to self: find homemade ranch dressing recipe.)

Far too lazy to cook: Boston lettuce + tender carrots + dates + chopped almonds + basil vinaigrette.

Comfort food: Softened heirloom tomatoes + braised chickpeas + red onion + garlic + hot sauce + penne + parmesan from a can. (Don’t judge.)

Mooching off of your best friend: Roasted cauliflower in a cast iron skillet + broiled (homemade!) elk (shot by her mom in Idaho!) sausages + baby potatoes + red onion. Cucumber + feta + carrot hexagons + romaine + her famous oregano dressing. Unbelievable.

SPRINGTIME CAN KILL YOU

Kudos to the Potato Perspective, because when I was at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning I picked up a sack of super ugly purple-black potatoes at only $1/lb. An old grizzly gent had artfully (not) arranged a mess of root vegetables on a huge wooden table – potatoes of all stripes, grubby parsnips, knotted carrots, dingy beets, all mixed together, all a dollar a pound. But once washed and scrubbed of grit, the papery, thin medallions of potato looked so special.

In a skillet fried at low heat with a big pat of butter, tubes of green onions and smoked paprika they turned a less appetizing rusty brown color. They were still rich and creamy, particularly when paired with a fast saute of spring vegetables: chiclet-sized bites of asparagus, ribbons of leftover swiss chard, and diced sweet onion flash fried at high heat with olive oil and lemon. I was tempted to throw the entire mess into a pot and puree into a creamy soup but I was hungry and so it was.

smile around the face

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this simple summer meal had four parts, each of which shone in their own unique way. it is partly cobbled together ingredients from my fridge and partly farmers market purchases, and all of it was extremely fresh, healthy and delicious. each dish was equally easy to make, as the intensity and freshness of the ingredients  necessitated minimal cooking time.

oh, and: eating pork chops fresh off of the grill is my new raison d’être.

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the first stages of grilling (plus shot of  my new beloved rachel comey sandals, natch). you can really see how verdant the (slightly bastardized) chimichurri sauce is. it was so simple to make: 3 cups of cilantro, packed (including stems) + 3 cloves garlic + the juice of 3 limes + salt + black pepper + cayenne pepper. gave that a few pulses and drizzed in about 3 tsp good olive oil until the sauce formed. the milky-green marinade had a consistency of a semi-runny pesto and smelled FANTASTIC. don’t be put off by how acidic the marinade tastes raw. that’s how you know you did it right. the chimichurri flavors really mellow out on the grill, and the pork can stand up to the acids like the trooper it is.

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when the asparagus came off of the grill, the butter and natural sugar in the stalks had caramelized to delicious effect. after only a few minutes, the char from the grill created unspeakably succulent flavor & they weren’t overdone at all. salt and black pepper was all these little guys needed. we chomped on these as an appetizer while the rest of the food finished.

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check out those (haphazardly placed) grill marks! this little grill gets realllllly hot so everything was cooked entirely on the perimeters of the bbq. these were probably on the grill for 15-18 minutes, or until the internal registers at about 160 degrees.

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i remembered to take a photo of my plate when i was halfway done eating, oops. i just have to stress how unbelievably juicy the chops stay. pork chops have a tendency to dry out in the oven or on your skillet, but this created an awesomely juicy center and crispy, charred crust. highly recommended.

as for the swiss chard, i sliced it into supple ribbons and threw it in a very hot iron skillet with 1 red onion, diced. i left the ribs of the chard in – their shockingly magenta color and crunchy texture make them just as appealing as their leafy counterparts. after a few minutes of high heat stirring, i dumped in about 2 heaping tbsps of apple cider vinegar, a generous pinch of red pepper flakes, and lots of freshly cracked salt and pepper. i let it cook down (another 5 minutes or so) and then stirred in 3 cloves of finely chopped garlic. so healthy it hurts.

the pesto was homemade from garden trimmings and frozen over the winter. after a simply dethawing, we threw in 1 lb of rotini pasta and combined when done.

and that’s it! probably the most perfect summer dinner, ever — especially when enjoyed with a chilled, very good bottle of chardonnay from penguin bay from an earlier weekend excursion. eaten on a blanket in the grass outside admist the catepillars and 2 very energetic retrievers made for a pleasant evening indeed.