Saturday, April 21, 2012

Eating Wild

Onion grass - picked form my front yard and washed, looks a lot like scallions, but free!

As the weather has turned warm and life has begun to move outside, my urge to eat from the earth right outside my back door has emerged with force. My little garden is not growing much of anything yet, just a few seedlings started indoors, but as I wandered along the sidewalk and yard thinking of dinner, I started to notice food growing wild underfoot. New spring dandelions with their tender green leaves, perfect for a salad, and clusters of potent onion grass just waiting to be dug up from my unkept "lawn".  I hear people talking about foraging for ramps or wild mushrooms, but both of those involve a trip to the woods, (a welcome adventure, don't get me wrong), but not as convenient as my front stoop. So, I rallied my kids and we started digging and cutting, first showing them how to identify the dandelion greens with their distinctive jagged edges, and then the onion grass with it's unmistakable smell. They had a blast picking with me, and were so excited to share the food with our extended family for a special dinner that night.

Dandelion greens - still small and tender - (above)

Onion grass sprouting up in my front yard, the hollow stem and strong onion smell are unmistakable (above + below)

When picking wild plants be sure that you are 100% certain that you know what it is you are harvesting, so that you don't eat something poisonous. These two plants are pretty simple to identify, but please always know what it is you are putting in your mouth before you eat it! Also, be certain that the soil where you are picking is not contaminated or been treated with pesticides or toxic fertilizers.

For dinner we made Broiled Wild Salmon on a bed of french lentils and roasted wild onions, topped with super local dandelion greens and a dijon dressing. Delicious!

Dandelion Greens Salad
Dandelion Greens - large salad spinner full
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
3 tablespoons vinegar
1 teaspoon honey or sugar
1/2 teaspooon salt
pepper to taste
1/3 cup olive oil
  1. Wash and dry dandelion greens.
  2. Finely chop garlic clove. Whisk garlic, mustard, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper together. Slowly drizzle in oil, whisking continuously. 
  3. Toss over greens just before serving. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Roasted wild onions
1 handful of wild onion grass, including bulbs.
olive oil
salt and pepper
  1. Trim roots from onion bulbs and remove any brown or tough parts of stem and grass. 
  2. Toss onions with a drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place onions in a single layer on a baking sheet directly under the broiler for a very brief time until browned but not burned. 
  4. Roughly chop roasted onions and add to any dish.
Note: The french lentils in the photo above were simmered in a large pot of water with a little salt. Once tender, drain the excess water, and toss with roasted onions and a drizzle of olive oil. Adjust seasoning as desired. The salmon was rubbed with olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice and cooked under the broiler, until cooked through but still moist. The fish was prepared about one hour before the meal and served at room temperature. 

Have you found any good wild edibles this spring?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Passover Reflections on Slavery and Racism

I just looked back at what I'd written last year for passover, and thought I'd share The Post with you again. The focus of this piece is not the food, but rather the subject matter of the Passover Seder. Many friends and family told me that they read parts of this post about racism and trauma as part of their Seder last year.  Good food for thought this year again.

And, there are some lovely recipes there as well....

Blessings to all,

Passover a Time for Reflections on Slavery and Racism

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Chocolate Cups for Birthday, Passover or Easter

This fun dessert created for my daughter's birthday last weekend could serve double duty as an excellent Easter or Passover dessert. My little girl has been dreaming up every kind of birthday cake she could think of for her 4th birthday. I knew however, that for all the long hours of baking and assembling I would do, she would just lick off the buttercream, pick the fruit out, and not even touch the cake.  So to make up for the lack of a big cake and all of the birthday dreaming she had been doing, I decided to make these fun homemade chocolate cups filled with whipped cream and berries, a desert perfectly crafted for her.

The cups are made by dipping small blown up balloons in melted chocolate ( I used those tiny water balloons). You can either dip them in straight like I did with the first batch, or dip them in on a diagonal repeatedly to make a tulip shape like the second batch. You can melt your chocolate by chopping it and setting it in a bowl set over simmering water. If you want to learn how to melt your chocolate so that it has a glossy finish check out this video on tempering chocolate.

This project is a little messy. The first two ballons popped a few seconds after we dipped them exploding chocolate all over us. I have no idea why they popped, but the rest were fine, and it just added to the fun of it all.  After dipping, put the balloons in the fridge to chill for 10 minutes, then cut a tiny hole in the top of the balloon, let it deflate and carefully pull out the rest of the balloon.
You can fill the cups with anything you like. I macerated some blackberries and raspberries with a little sugar, and made some flavored whipped cream by blending lemon verbena (one of my favorite herbs) with some sugar and them whipping it into the cream. Mint, vanilla bean, cinnamon, mashed berries, orange zest, even a little thick yogurt and honey would all make delicious additions to whipped cream. This is a desert to have fun with....somewhat remeniscent of easter eggs, and a flourless treat perfect for passover.

A glimpse at the rest of the birthday party:

Quiche for the grown folks

 Fancy decorate cookies my girl had been scoping out in a cookbook for months 
and fresh popcorn, a favorite family snack.

 apple slices with cinnamon & tea sandwiches

 veggie kebabs and a fun paper doll project (or paper ninjas)

 Yes, we covered these lovely treats with gaudy paper umbrellas, and she loved it!

What fun holiday or b-day foods you are making?
Happy Passover or Easter to those of you who celebrate!