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Carrot Green Pesto

My mom was at the store the other day and bought carrots and made sure to buy ones with the tops still on, knowing I would want them, which I did. Carrot greens are not for everyone. They are a bitter green. But if worked with properly can be quite nice. This time around I had the idea of using them in a pesto. So first I blanched them to take away some of the bitterness. But all alone they still would have been too much. Out in the garden I had some sorrel so I put that in as well. But I needed a nut. All I could find was some pecans which surprisingly worked awesome. The pesto was really good, I was surprised. Might even do it again it worked out so well. To go with it I just had a pork chop with some thyme on it.

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I came home from work the other day late and my only food option was left overs. So I headed to Whole Foods to see what I could get and come up with dinner for myself. The only thing that really stuck out was kohlrabi, which is the goofiest looking vegetable if you have never seen one.

No idea what to do with it I consulted some books and the internet and figured I would blanch it then try grilling it. I also had the last of my king oyster mushrooms and whole wheat pasta from Eataly so I figured I would put them all together into a dish. I pealed, sliced, and blanched them then placed the on the grill. Just cooked the mushrooms in butter then tossed in the pasta and the julienned kohlrabi. The kohlrabi doesn’t have much flavor. Taste like a mix of potato and celery. Over all the dish was okay, nothing mind blowing besides the mushrooms which are fabulous.

Gotta find something else to do with the kohlrabi. Plus it came with the leaves so got those to play with too.

While on my trip to Eataly I noticed one of my favorite mushrooms so had to have it. I have always been a huge fan of edible fungi and a few years ago when I bought a mix of mushrooms at Whole Foods the king oyster stood out. It has a taste almost like a scallop and a pleasant nuttiness. So I figured to keep it simple and cook them in butter, plus butter makes anything taste even better.

Then the meal went awry. I had some radish greens that I figured I could braise a bit and puree to make a sauce to accent the mushrooms. Well I didn’t have enough to get any of the food processors or hand blender in my house to make any dent in them so ended up having to chop up the mixture by hand. Then when I put it in a squirt bottle just the liquid came out, leaving the radish greens in the bottle. A harder squeeze and they shot out like a cannon splattering all over the plate. It was a good idea in theory, they tasted great, but I just didn’t have enough to make a smooth puree.

Threw some wood sorrel on top to add a bit more color. Plus I love how they taste. Gotten collect enough to make a pesto some day, that’d be fucking awesome!

Ever since I saw Daniel Klein make eggs and radishes in episode 9 of The Perennial Plate I have wanted to recreate it. So the other day while I was down at The Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) to fill out my paper work to fully enroll in the August classes, oh yeah did I mention I am starting culinary school in August?, I stopped into Eataly for the first time. This is where I noticed one of my favorite underrated vegetables, radishes, and not just the normal grocery store kind but the petite tasty French breakfast radishes. Instantly I thought to caramelize them with slow cooked eggs like I had seen Daniel do.

So the next morning for breakfast that was my plan. I cracked three eggs into a pan with a chuck of butter and put it on low on the stove, mixing it around to slightly scramble the egg. Then in another pan I got some more butter and started to cook my radishes. Then made myself a quick vinaigrette to put on the limited sorrel my garden has produced.

I put the radishes over the eggs over some toast, I was hoping to have nicer bread but all we had in the house was crappy whole wheat, but it worked.

Daniel was right, the eggs were amazing. I usually hate scrambled eggs, even down to the smell. But these were awesome. I did over cook them a bit and next time I will keep them a bit runny. But awesome, another way to use to all mighty egg.

Really falling in love with foraging. So far don’t know a whole hell of a lot of stuff that I can eat in the woods but am always reading of new stuff to eat. Recently I got Stalking the Wild Asparagus, which is the classic foraging guide. Not as helpful as I thought it would be though. No pictures, just sketches, which makes matching a plant to the drawing a bit sketchy.

So I have only eaten things I was 100% sure were the right thing to eat. Recently it was sassafras. I had heard the word before but was not totally sure it was an actual plant. It was up there with alfalfa. No idea what that looks like, tastes like, or what it is used for, all I know is that he was my favorite Little Rascal growing up. But it turns out sassafras is really easy to identify, and everywhere.

A few minutes into my hike in my favorite park, the Mianus River Park which I no longer get lost in since I downloaded a map of it onto my phone, I noticed a sassafras sapling. Did a quick check in Stalking the Wild Asparagus to make sure I was about to eat the right thing, wiped off the leaf, and stuck it in my mouth. It had a sweet lemony flavor with a slight root beer taste. The leaves are the only part of the plant you can eat, the rest being wood basically, but the rest you can use to make drinks.

So I grabbed a few more plants to bring home, making sure to get as much of the root as possible. This is because sassafras root is the main ingredient in root beer, my least favorite soda after Dr. Pepper. Though I don’t like root beer the flavor has potential and drinking the fake stuff all my life I wanted a taste of the real deal.

I read that the leaves were used in gumbo so figured I would try and cook with them and see what happened. I make a chicken and rice dish and put them in it. The dish was not thought out very much and any flavor the sassafras added was completely covered up by the sausage I put in.

Later in the night though I tried my hand at sassafras tea chopping up the stems and roots and boiling them in water. The water turned a very slight brown color but it had not steeped long enough. It had almost no flavor at all. But the little flavor that was there had a slight hint of root beer with lemon.

The next step now is to make actual root beer with the stuff. Just gotta go into the woods and get a lot of sassafras root.

I was first introduced to ‘nduja through Kimberly Belle’s blog. Then I finally got my first taste when I bought two from Boccalone one a San Francisco trip over new years and absolutely loved the stuff. I finally found it on Arthur Avenue at Calabria Pork Store in the Bronx the other day. It had most likely eluded me for so long because they had spelled it phonetically, that spelling nothing like the real one. But I got tired of just spreading it on bread.

I figured since it was spreadable, Boccalone’s much finer than the one from Calabria Pork Store, it would fall apart and add its slightly spicy sausage flavor into a dish. In a braise it is wonderful. Even throw some into a tomato sauce. Imparts great flavor.

Tonight since mom was going out I was put on dinner duty. Digging through a fridge in need of stocking all I could find for dinner was chicken breasts, parsley, and onions, hardly a flavorful meal. But then I spotted then ‘nduja, this would turn it around. Seared the breasts in olive oil and butter with the onion, parsley, and garlic, then added some water and ‘nduja and let it simmer. It was quite the hit and mom on her way out kept grabbing bits off the table. A boring meal saved by ‘nduja!

Pork Ragu

I know its been a while. With the end of the year I have not really been cooking anything of value. Been a lot of just rice, pasta, and eggs. But today I decided I would make something. So went to the butcher shop in search of a cheap cut with a lot of flavor. I left with pork neck.

At home I browned onions then seared the pork neck. Then I added some water and tomato paste, since I didn’t have any sauce on hand. Let that braise for three hours until the meat fell apart. Then added carrots, carrot greens, and some pinto beans. I boiled some fresh whole wheat pasta before adding it and some of the water it was cooked in into the pork ragu to finish cooking.

It came out awesome. Pretty hearty too. Not the most springy of meals but something for this cool rainy day.