Mystery House

The Chairman Says…

Chairman Maxwell

Allez cuisine!

This was quite the week of food in the Iron Chefette Kitchen at Chez Mystery.  As you may recall, Amy and I have a bit of a duel going on, and this week it was dueling salad greens.  CSA box contents:  Kale, green garlic, red romaine, easter egg radishes, spring onions, salad mix (which included pea shoots and edible flowers!), spinach, cilantro, mint, and a sweet little pot of Italian parsley.  I transplanted the parsley to a larger pot and put it in a sunny spot on the front steps.  Everything else went to the chopping block.

Realizing that we couldn’t possibly write up full descriptions and recipes for everything we made all week, Amy and I decided it would be best for each of us to feature our two favorite recipes, along with perhaps a few photos and links to the other things we made.  Let me tell you, a good CSA box like this one goes a long way.

I made I’m-not-sure-how-many side salads (including one with oranges and toasted almonds, which accompanied crab paella for a special dinner) and still had abundant lettuce left to put in sandwiches.  Mint went into mint juleps and marinara sauce.

Mint Julep

Spinach added some brilliant green to a pasta salad for lunches.  The M.E. is not big on radishes, but I’ve been happily munching radish sandwiches for lunch or breakfast, sometimes with a nice, sharp cheddar, other times with just butter and a touch of Maldon salt on homemade bread.  The recent dry weather meant that these radishes were wonderfully peppery, which is how I like them.

Radish & Butter Sandwiches

I tried a recipe for cilantro chutney from the CSA newsletter.  It’s a pesto, really, and was delicious on some grilled halibut.  My stash of pumpkin seeds was too old to use, so I substituted pine nuts.  Yum.  Nice, lively flavor, but it didn’t overwhelm the fish.

Halibut w Cilantro Pesto

Kale went into Callaloo Soup. Very good (even though it was a hot day), although next time I’d use regular coconut milk instead of lite.  It could have used a touch more richness.  There were lots of strong flavors in this soup, but you could still tell how fresh the kale was.

Callaloo Soup

So what about favorites?  The M.E. and I each picked one.

I was torn, but I’d have to say the thing I went the most crazy over was the salad I made for dinner the same day I picked up our CSA box.  It popped to mind when Amy and I ran across the Smoked Trout Lady.  I didn’t remember all the ingredients it called for, but, brown sugar-smoked trout in hand, I did my best to reconstruct it.

One of the most gorgeous cookbooks I own is Rainbow Cuisine, by Lannice Snyman.  My brother got it for me in South Africa.  The photography, by Andrzej Sawa, is lovely, and every recipe I’ve tried so far has been excellent.  The photograph of this exceptionally pretty salad stuck in my mind, and when I heard there were a few edible flowers in the salad mix, I knew I had to make it.  Mine wasn’t as stunning to look at as the one in the book (where is that food stylist?), but two bites and the M.E. — not traditionally much of a salad lover — said, “Amy’s toast.”

Very Pretty Salad

Mpumalanga Salad Platter, adapted from Rainbow Cuisine

mixed salad greens & edible flowers
fillet of smoked trout
avocado (tossed with lemon juice)
raw, unsalted pecans

For dressing:

olive oil
lemon juice
orange zest
red wine vinegar
salt & pepper
dry mustard (Coleman’s)

Very Pretty Salad in Process

You can figure out what to do with that, right?  This made a great dinner with some freshly baked bread and a couple of wedges of cheddar I picked up at the market.  I love buying cheese from a guy who has a picture of the cow from which it came on his table.

Bread & Cheese

The M.E.’s favorite — and I can’t say I blame him; I told you I was torn — was the chicken & green garlic pizza.  This was my own invention, and I think I’d better write it down in my book.

Good Pizza 1

I adapted a crust recipe from James McNair’s Vegetarian Pizza.  It’s easy.

Cornmeal Pizza Crust, adapted from Vegetarian Pizza

1 Tbsp. sugar
1 envelope active dry yeast

1 c. warm water (110 to 115 degrees)

When the yeast is foamy, it’s ready.  I mixed the dough in my trusty KitchenAid, because I wasn’t in a kneading mood.  I either am or I’m not, and I wasn’t.

Combine in mixer bowl:

2 c. AP flour
1 c. cornmeal
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 c. olive oil

Start with the flat paddle.  When it’s well mixed, switch to the dough hook and knead at medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic.  If it’s too sticky, add a bit of flour.  If it’s too dry, add a bit of warm water.

Put the dough in an oiled bowl and let it rise.  If you want to make this crust the day before, just cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge.  When ready to bake, roll it out to the size and thickness you like.  If, like me, any crust you roll turns out looking like an amoeba, get an engineer to do it.  You get remarkably round, symmetrical crusts that way.


marinara sauce (homemade)
fresh mozzarella
green garlic, cut in half-inch pieces and sauteed
3 strips extra-thick cut bacon, cooked and cut into small pieces
chicken breast (about 1 and a half, I think), cooked
salt & pepper for the chicken and the garlic

Put toppings on crust and bake in a 500 degree oven, on a pizza stone, until the crust is nicely crusty and the cheese is starting to brown.

Oh, baby.  Best pizza we’ve ever made.  (We’re having the leftovers tonight, and I can’t wait.)  The green garlic has a wonderful flavor, but if it’s not in season or you can’t find it, you could substitute scallions.

Good Pizza 2

Girlfriend, according to both the M.E. and Dr. Evil (who made sure he got his share of cornmeal crust), you are doomed.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks


  1. * deb says:

    That pizza looks divine! And I’m having a radish sammich for lunch today. I LOVE them!!

    Posted 8 years, 10 months ago
  2. * deb says:

    Oops – can’t wait to see what Amy cooks up!

    Posted 8 years, 10 months ago
  3. * Chris says:

    That salad looks amazing!

    Posted 8 years, 10 months ago
  4. * bezzie says:

    Oh my word those radish sammies look good!!!

    Posted 8 years, 10 months ago
  5. * Cheryl S. says:

    Oh, my. I think I need to go find some smoked trout.

    Posted 8 years, 10 months ago
  6. * Carrie K says:

    Oooh, if it hadn’t been for all the yummy fish, this might have been an even closer race………but the Mpumalanga Salad Platter won the day. (A salad platter that I cut and pasted because I could NOT keep the spelling straigh in my head!)

    Posted 8 years, 10 months ago
  7. * Monica Bhide says:

    Everything looks amazing!! When are the two of you moving here to cook for me!!!

    Posted 8 years, 10 months ago
  8. * Amy says:

    Doomed? Toast?? I think NOT.
    Although I will have to concede on the brilliance of the salad. And, frankly, your Chairman is far cuter than mine.

    Posted 8 years, 10 months ago
  9. * lisa says:

    I wanna eat at your house!

    Posted 8 years, 10 months ago
  10. * marissa says:

    Awesome! Love to see your recipes- always something unexpected and sensational. Thanks for posting!

    Posted 8 years, 10 months ago
  11. * setembrina says:

    that explains why your kitchen looked like my father-in-law was there cooking.
    YOU DID use every pot in the kitchen and then some…
    BTW, Steve hogged all of the bread.

    Posted 8 years, 10 months ago

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