What to do with Purslane

July 31, 2013

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A few random ideas….

Wash well and throw into salad.  They add a crisp, juicy, slightly lemony touch.

Use the leaves instead of lettuce to make sandwiches more interesting.

Make a Moroccan salad 

 Chop and steam the purslane for about 20 minutes until it's wilted and tender.  (If you throw a whole clove of garlic in for each cup of purslane, it will steam as well.) 

Drain the purslane, mash the garlic into the (much reduced) vegetable, and season it with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Stir in a bit of olive oil and serve with olives. If you have some preserved lemons, a bit of the chopped skin is a nice addition.


Make a Turkish Salad

Wash the purslane and pick off the leaves.

Mix enough yogurt to cover the leaves with a clove or two of minced garlic, some salt and maybe some urfa or maras pepper flakes. 


Make verdolagas with salsa verde tacos.

Begin by putting 4 tomatillos into a blender with 1 small green chile, half a small onion and a clove of garlic.  Whirl them into a thin liquid. 

Take a big heap of purslane, wash it well, chop it into 2 or 3 inch pieces and boil it for about 10 minutes. Drain.

Slick a skillet with oil and add the salsa verde. Bring it to a boil, turn the heat down and add the purslane. Salt and pepper to taste. (Diana Kennedy adds cumin as well.) Cook it down until it’s thickened. 

Add some queso fresco if you have it.

Serve wrapped into warm tortillas.  

Or try this even easier version: Steam the purslane, drain it, then put it in an oil-slicked pan with minced garlic, a chopped onion, a chopped tomato and a chile pepper.  Stir in some crumbled queso fresco.  Now stir in a couple of beaten eggs and scramble them very loosely.  Fold into tortillas and eat. 

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Useful Tools

July 30, 2013

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As I experiment with new foods, I find myself using different tools. Lately I've become so dependent upon my spice grinder that I no longer put it away, but leave it sitting on the kitchen counter.

This is what I love about this grinder: it makes short work of grinding achiote for Mexican spice pastes, reducing the hard little grains to powder in mere seconds. It's great with the Sichuan peppercorns I use for Ma Po Tofu (and the handy plastic cover makes storing the excess easy). You can add liquids and whole cloves of garlic when making marinades. When it comes to grinding nuts for tortes, it manages the job in a flash. And then, of course, there are curries, for which it is absolutely essential.

Easy to clean (the cup goes right into the dishwasher), and easy to store (it comes apart so it fits into a drawer), I recommend this little grinder to anyone who's enamored of spices. 



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Conquering the Blues

July 29, 2013

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The blueberries this year are so spectacular that I keep buying them. And well… they're getting ahead of me. Last night I realized that I had to either use the berries fast, or freeze them. So I threw together  slightly different tart.

Unlike the free-form tart I made a couple of weeks ago, this one has a cookie crust. I've never met a tart I didn't like, but I think  that when it comes to blueberries I prefer the crisp, grainy sweetness of this crust to a more conventional pie dough.  

Blueberry Tart in a Cookie Crust

Mix 6 tablespoons softened unsalted butter with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Beat in 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla and a small egg. Add 1 1/4 cups flour and a pinch of salt and mix just until it comes together. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for half an hour.

Roll out, between two sheets of plastic wrap, and put in a 9 inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Don’t worry if it breaks; this isn’t pie dough, it’s basically a cookie, and you can just patch it. Put into the freezer while you preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Toss 4 cups of blueberries with a quarter cup of sugar, 3 -4 tablespoons of flour, the zest of one lemon, a pinch of salt and a little squeeze of lemon juice. Pile into the tart shell and bake for about 50 minutes, until the crust is golden. 



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Things I Love

July 27, 2013

I love to watch people pick up one of these baskets, surprised by its weight.  They look so much like the green paper containers you find at farmers' markets that their cool heft always comes as a shock.

Made of porcelain, these berry baskets are more than merely pretty; berries seem to last longer in them. And I've found they make wonderful gifts: fill one up with fresh-picked produce (apricots, garlic, fingerling potatoes) and suddenly you're the most welcome guest.



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Useful, Meet Pretty

July 26, 2013


Here's the problem with graters: they're ungainly objects that take up way too much space in a drawer. And those sharp edges have a tendency to bite: reach blindly for one and it's likely to draw blood. 

This grater, however, is handsome enough to leave sitting out on the counter, there whenever you need a little flurry of cheese or an accent of onion. It has other attributes as well: it's made of recycled stainless steel and sustainably grown bamboo. On top of that, it's pretty cheap; when was the last time you found something this useful, pretty and durable for under fifteen bucks?


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