New ingredient discoveries: collards' English cousin, cavolo nero, and blood orange juice
Here's a few random bits and pieces I've been cooking lately, with varying levels of success. (I know, right - with an introduction like that, you can't help but muster the enthusiasm to read on!)
As you may know, I'm English, so I'm always discovering new food traditions from over the other side of the pond. One of them is the idea of collard greens. I've been reading about collard greens on American vegan blogs and how much people have been singing their praises (I've always fancied the collard wraps on Food Feud in particular), and always wondered where I could get some of them.
Then I worked out that collard greens are not some exotic food stuff I'd have to have imported from across the Atlantic. Turns out spring greens are a very close relative to those collards, so with my new discovery in mind, I've been revisiting all those collard recipes I fancied.
One of them was this recipe from the New York Times which is just a stew of collards with carrots, onions, molasses and black eyed beans.
I've cooked it a million times since first discovering it, and I've adapted it to this so simple it's-almost-not-a-recipe recipe: chop up onion, put in pyrex dish with a bit of oil and put in an oven preheated to 200C. When the onions are softened, add a chopped carrot, half a chopped yellow pepper, a finely chopped chipotle pepper, a teaspoon of blackstrap molasses, and barely cover the whole lot with vegetable stock. Cover and cook til the veggies are fork tender. Then, mix a heaped teaspoon of cornflour and a dessertspoon or two of water, then pour mix into the stew and stir well. Put back in the oven for a few minutes then serve it all up.
It's mix of broccoli, spring greens, avocado and (not in the original recipe but in mine!) fennel, in a perky ginger, soy, and blood orange dressing.
For a wintery salad, it was really full of flavour - zingy citrus and irony greens, with a creamy avocado to smooth it all out on top.
Here's the recipe on the Telegraph site: it's a simple one, with the sauce made with blended cavolo nero, olive oil, pine nuts and garlic. The original recipe calls for parmesan too, but I subbed that with a bit of nooch, and chucked in some chick peas for good measure.
Only, when I served it all up, it had no taste at all. I added some white miso and chilli sauce to try and liven it up a bit, but to no avail - it was like pesto only with all the flavour knocked out of it. Dammit.
Oddly enough, when I defrosted a portion of pasta that I'd frozen earlier for lunch, it was all reassuring and bouncy - some crazy alchemy rescued it in the freezer. Magic!
So, three new ingredients, three successes (you think it should be two and a half? Fair point!) I will never pass a new brand of greens without giving it a salute - and chucking a bunch in my shopping basket.