Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Experimentation reaps rewards!

I tried something out today for the first time, and I think it's pretty tasty. I'm debuting it to a friend in a couple of hours, so fingers crossed she agrees with me! This one has a sort of complex genesis that requires some explaining. A few weeks or so back, fair reader, I came across some dandelion greens at the farmer's market and decided to eat this new delicious green leafy thing because I was a bunny in a past life. So I hunted around Epicurious and found a hot oil dressing recipe to play around with. I discovered two things: one, bunny or no bunny, I do NOT like dandelion greens. They're bitter and tough and clearly I'm not doing something right with them, so if you have any suggestions, shoot! The dressing, on the other hand, turned out delightfully, so today I decided to combine it with the fruits and veggie in my fridge, resulting in ...

3 stalks of celery 
2 apples (Fiji, Gala, something juicy and crunchy)
[optional: 2 cups of cabbage -- I'm trying to use up my cabbage]
2 tbsps or so lemon juice (fresh always best, but we all cheat sometimes)

1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup almonds
3 cloves garlic (or, alternatively, you can cheat and use garlic-baked Almond Accents :))
1 cup granola (preferably w/ raisins, cranberries, etc.)
if raisinless granola, 1/3 cup of raisins, dried cranberries, dried currants, etc. 
splash of Sherry table wine
generous dash of salt to be added at the very end

See, the original Epicurious recipe for this dandelion greens dressing called for garlic cloves, sliced almonds, brown sugar, salt and raisins ... I, again, owing to my hatred of the grocery store, thought about my lack of raisins and brown sugar and decided, granola has maple syrup, which is better than sugar, and raisins, BOOYAH. Solutions! (And this, children, is a prime example of how laziness can actually foster creativity.)

So, fair reader, start chopping: if going with cabbage, chop it first, finely, add some salt and scrunch it with your hands to get the juices going (it sounds, I realized today, almost exactly like the sound boots make over freshly fallen snow ....). Next we chop up our celery finely, and then our apples finely -- once you put in your apples, pour some lemon juice over them to keep them from oxidizing, so that they look pretty in your bowl. And pretty it will look: the pale pale green of the cabbage, the slightly darker shade of celery and those milky-golden apples with their red skins.

Now, to the dressing! Fair warning, reader: this literally takes maybe 2 minutes over LOW heat. I burnt my first batch to an utter crisp within 60 seconds flat because I had my flame on high. Take a frying pan, then, with some high-ish edges, heat up your oil: if going with the garlic and almonds separately, start with your garlic for a nice minute or so, then add the rest -- or, if no garlic, just dump in your almonds and your granola. Add a splash of sherry. Cook, stirring occasionally until your raisins/cranberries, etc plumpen in the oil -- this will take about 2-3 min tops because, remember, it's still going to cook a while when you turn off the flame. Allow to cool a teensy bit, stir into your salad and add salt (important: you want to make sure you bring out the savoury in this dish). Your end result, reader? A crunchy, fresh combination of flavors where the sweetness of the raisins and granola complements the lemony apples and balances nicely with the savoury flavors of the garlic almonds that lend depth to the cabbage and celery. And this is how my curiosity towards dandelion greens resulted in a culinary invention, :).

Music: Professor Longhair, Crawfish Fiesta

UPDATE: Friend approved of salad and commented only that it could use some black pepper. I have a weird antipathy to black pepper, except, for some strange reason, in combination with anything tomato-y (tomato juice, sauce, tomatoes themselves). On every single other kind of food I think it tastes horrible. That is only to explain why you won't find any black pepper on this blog and why there is copious use of white pepper instead. I leave it up to your discretion, fair reader :).

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