Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Grilled Romaine and peapod salad

The back story. We have decided to grow peas this year. And much to our surprise, they have started producing. Not a lot yet, but the young, tender freshly picked peas were just demanding to be eaten. So, what to do? Peas and mint are classic. Radishes provide a spicy bite, red peppers some extra sweetness, Romaine as a base and avocado/steamed eggs for richness. It all came together remarkably easily. Grilling the romaine really helped. Technically it wasn't grilled, but griddled on the ridged side of the cast iron griddle.


1 Dozen whole young pea pods (if fresh, then no need to blanch, but blanch in hot salty water for 15 seconds if store bought)
1/3 Shallot minced very finely (yes it really is that little)
6 Radishes sliced thinly. 
A bunch of mint (probably around 20 leaves) chopped small.
1 Diced red pepper (1/4 " dice)
1 t white sugar
4 T cider vinegar
1/2 t habanero vodka (or any other hot sauce to taste)
10 T neutral oil
2 T Finishing oil (I used a high quality extra virgin olive oil
1 Avocado cut into 1/2"  pieces
1 Romaine lettuce heart split in 2 pieces lengthwise and lightly oiled and seasoned with salt/pepper on the cut side.
2 eggs steamed like this (for 6:45 instead of 6:30 to get the yolks a little firmer) and peeled like this
Pepper to taste
Coarse sea salt to finish and provide crunch


Make a vinaigrette combining the mint leaves, vinegar, sugar, both oils, hot sauce, and shallot. Leave to steep for a few minutes while you prepare the rest of the vegetation.
Add the red pepper, radishes and pea podsto the vinaigrette and mix thoroughly.
Cook and cool the eggs.
Heat the griddle until it is "rocking hot". A drop of water on it will sizzle like fury. Place the romaine cut side down on the griddle surface and cook for a couple of minutes. You want a nice char on the cut surface. It will hiss and steam a bit. Turning on the vent hood would have been a great idea if I had thought of it soon enough.
Peel and dice the avocados. Slice the eggs in half.
Assemble the salad, pouring the veg laced vinaigrette onto the hot romaine hearts. Add the avocado and egg halves. A couple of grinds of pepper and a few coarse salt crystals finished it off.

Serve with a crisp, cold white wine. We served a Spier 2014 Sauvignon Blanc. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Asparagus and Shiitake

This recipe is (very slightly) adapted from Americas Test Kitchen. The episode was broadcast a week or so ago, and can be found here. Slight modifications included adding some of our "secret ingredient" (aka habanero vodka) for some heat and the habanero floral flavors and poached eggs for added body.. This is a simple (but not necessarily easy) dish. It only takes a few minutes, but you do have to resist the urge to fiddle with it. I don't know how critical the quantities are - I probably had more shiitake than the original recipe called for, but that was fine by me!
The poached eggs are not in the original recipe, but poached egg yolks and asparagus are such a great combination.


14 oz bunch of asparagus (no more than 1/2" diameter) cut into 1 1/2" lengths. Woody bottoms removed
6 oz Shiitake mushrooms sliced into strips the same thickness as the asparagus
1 T Neutral oil
2T Soy sauce
1T finely minced (or grated) raw ginger
2T Dry sherry
1t Habanero vodka
1T Jaggery (indian brown sugar)
1t Toasted sesame oil
2T Water
2 Eggs, poached
2 Scallions (green parts) thinly sliced on the bias for garnish.


Heat the oil in a 12" non stick saute pan over high heat until almost smoking. (Thin wisps of smoke are OK). Add the asparagus/shiitake in a single layer, turn the heat down to medium and leave to fry while you make the sauce/glaze, and start to poach the eggs.
Whisk together the soy sauce, ginger, sherry habanero vodka, sugar, sesame oil and water in a small bowl. 
When the asparagus.shiitakes have been in the pan for 2 or 3 minutes, turn them over to cook on the other side. The idea is to get a little char on the asparagus. When they are charred all over, add the sauce, stir and cook to evaporate. The steam from the liquids will finish cooking the asparagus.
Pile into bowls and serve with a poached egg on top of each bowl.
Maybe garnish with some scallions (green parts).