Mystery House

The Iron Chefettes: Battle Greens & Berries!

Maxwell w Artichoke 1

Allez cuisine!

Another whirlwind week of food.  In competition this week:  Red leaf lettuce, spinach, kohlrabi, baby beets, strawberries, garlic scapes and cucumbers.  It was a whirlwind week in other ways, too, so I forgot to take a picture of all the goodies in their pre-cooked state.  (But they were pretty.)  I can’t say I was at the top of my game this week, because I was torn in too many directions and more than a bit stressed out, but we still ate some wonderful things.  So, what did I make?

Well, the lettuce went into lots of sandwiches and salads.  Nothing particularly exciting, but yummy.  Strawberries are exciting, though, when they’re organic and tiny and sweet.  Those monster factory berries from California that are nearly the size of my fist?  Blech.  But these.

Pretty Strawberries

I mixed some of them with blackberries and macerated them with a little sugar and Grand Marnier.

Strawberries w Blackberries

Scrumptious.  I’ll tell you about the other berry thing I made a bit later.  It’s worth waiting for.

I made Cucumbers in Black Vinegar to go along with a pork and spinach stir-fry.  Not bad.  Black vinegar is sort of the Chinese version of balsamic.  It has a deep, rich sweetness.  I think I’d jazz the recipe up just a bit next time, though.  It could have used a tiny bit more punch.

Cukes in Black Vinegar

The pork and spinach dish was my own spontaneous invention, and we liked it.  It was almost one of our favorites for the week.

Pork w Spinach

Lots of scallions, hot little Thai bird chiles, soba noodles….yum.  The spinach was wonderful, with a bright, fresh flavor that really stood out.

Garlic scapes are funny, curly things.  They’re the flower stems of the plant.  Removing them forces the plant to put more energy into making garlic bulbs, and less into showing off with flowers.  At some point, some smart person discovered they were good to eat.

Garlic Scapes

We put some on a pizza, which was similar to another recent pizza, and quite yummy.  Scapes have a mild garlic flavor, and were great in a pasta dish with anchovies and broccoli.  The recipe called for regular garlic, but it was easy to substitute scapes.  Delicious.  If you make this, spend a few cents extra and get the best anchovies you can find — it will make a difference.

Pasta w Broccoli Garlic Scapes

Kohlrabi.  I shall confess right here, to all of you.  I’d never tried it before.  It’s that funky, alien-looking thing most of us walk past in the grocery store.  You really don’t see many recipes for kohlrabi; I found very few even when I scoured my vegetarian cookbooks.  (Don’t let vegetarians fool you — the ones I’ve met aren’t any more well-schooled in unusual vegetables than meatatarians are.  The most notorious and strident vegetarian I’ve ever known, in fact, didn’t even like very many vegetables.)  For example, Deborah Madison’s massive reference, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, only has two basic recipes for it.  That lack of P.R. on kohlrabi’s part sort of led me to think it wasn’t particularly good.  But further digging revealed that kohlrabi can be used raw as well as cooked, and that it’s better than its press.

Having learned that you can use both the bulb and the leaves, I set to fiddling with it.  I cooked the leaves much as I do any other dark, leafy green, with a quick saute in hot oil, followed by simmering in liquid — in this case, a little dry sherry.  I finished it with soy sauce and sesame oil.  You can see a tiny pile of it hiding behind some orange teriyaki chicken wings that the M.E. made.

Kohlrabi Leaves

Not bad.  A bit chewier than collards or kale, but I’d try it again and see if I can come up with the right treatment.  The main part of the kohlrabi turned out to have a nice, mild flavor, and worked very well in an impromptu Asian slaw.

Kohlrabi Slaw

Rice vinegar, sugar, salt, toasted black sesame seeds.  That’s it.  Yum.  I’m converted.  I’ll definitely cook with kohlrabi again.

All right now, let’s get down to it.  The week’s winners.  The first one will surprise you; it surprised me.  Beet greens.  I’m wishy-washy on beets.  I usually enjoy them while I’m eating them, but I don’t love them enough to ever crave them or go out of my way for them.  I could go beet-free for years and never think I was missing something.  I’d never tried the greens, however.  Why, I don’t know.  I’m such a greens girl, though, I might be tempted to buy beets just for the tops, now that I’ve tried them.  They’re sort of Swiss chardy, and really delicious.

I tried this recipe.  My only modification was that I snuck in more bacon than it called for, just cuz.  Who can blame me for that?  It was fabulous.

Beet Greens w Bacon

Sharing the plate there is some murderously good catfish the M.E. dipped in cornmeal and fried.  This was one of our favorite dinners last week, the sort of dinner that you finish and immediately wish you could eat it all over again.  I’m drooling just writing about it.

The other favorite was dessert.  I had enough strawberries to make a tart, and who can resist making a strawberry tart when the opportunity presents itself?

You make a crust (which is easy), and brush it with melted currant jelly.

Strawberry Tart 1

Fill it with pastry cream.  I adore pastry cream.  I could make a vat of it and grab a spoon and go running down the street with it.

Strawberry Tart 2

Top with with berries and brush them with more currant jelly.  If you want the recipe, it’s in Marion Cunningham’s The Fannie Farmer Baking Book, which is absolutely indispensible if you’re going to bake anything, ever.  Buy it.  Find a used copy.  Or at least check it out of the library.  If it can be baked, this woman knows the best way to do it.


Strawberry Tart 3

Yeah, it was that good.

Okay, Amy, whatcha got?


Trackbacks & Pingbacks


  1. * Chris says:

    Is it lunch time yet?! Yum.

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

    Game on, girlfriend. Give me 30 minutes, and we shall see which way the current blows this week!

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

    Your dessert wins hands down. Amy tried to pass off beets in chocolate cake?
    That catfish looks scrumptious. As does the cucumbers in Black vinegar (and the chicken wings and the….everything else). BTW, our strawberries locally are fabulous, I’m not sure what we’re shipping to your way.

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

    Hoo boy. TWO pies? I don’t know if I can decide. I like the way your Thai bird peppers adorn earthworm looking noodles…

    Posted 8 years, 8 months ago
  5. * Guinifer says:

    Yummmmm – catfish.

    Posted 8 years, 8 months ago
  6. * marylou says:

    I have a passel of greens and beets coming in the garden. I forgot about bacon in them. I had Jamaican roomies who made what they called “cook down spinach’ that had bacon in it. Or canned corned beef. Then a kind of biscuit dough fried in the same pan. Very tasty.

    Posted 8 years, 8 months ago
  7. * deb says:

    What happened to the atichoke??? We love them here – all three of us!

    Posted 8 years, 8 months ago
  8. * Jeanice says:

    Puppy doesn’t look happy

    Posted 8 years, 8 months ago
  9. * Laura says:

    Yum yum. Thanks for the entertainment. I must confess that I like to eat kohlrabi about once a year and that is enough for me, until a few weeks ago when I was handed a slice of peeled kohlrabi root with a tiny bit of truffle salt sprinkled on top. It was transforming! Although truffle salt may have that effect on just about anything. Happy cooking.

    Posted 8 years, 8 months ago

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