Sun 28 Mar, 2010 05:11 pm
Have you ever been at a friend's house where you were served something you didn't think you would like and discovered it was very good? How about at a restaurant? Ever order something you weren't sure of, then learned how tasty it was?
I had lunch at Cafe Martin in Shelburne Falls, MA. I generally avoid too many carbohydrates . . . they make you feel odd and I really can not eat that volume of food . . . so, rather than french fries, I ordered what was called vegetable slaw.
When it arrived, it was obvious that raw broccoli was its main ingredient. Raw broccoli?! It was grated rather than chopped. I tasted it. It was terrific. I ordered serving to take back to my son because I couldn't believe it raw broccoli could be so delicious. My son eyed it suspiciously. He tasted it and I saw his eyes light up. I have since made it several times.
The problem is broccoli is difficult to grate. I was not going to get another food processor but since grating broccoli by hand wastes so much, I have changed my mind.
Yes, I had Chili Rellenos in Mexico once that was surprisingly good - I got hooked on it and spent the next two years perfecting the recipe.
Ditto with Pad Thai.
Ditto with Veal Marsala.
In Mexico, near Zihuatanejo, we went to a little hole in the wall. It was a favourite haunt of the locals and my friend alike. Most of the food was recognizable but then they brought out a tray of Percebes or goose neck barnacles. You must peel the rubber hose like shell and take the scary tips off, then you are left with skinny, rubbery noodle thingies... It was surprisingly good considering it looked like a dish of alien fingers. Yummy - believe it or not.
I love all three of those, but they don't surprise me.
Barnacles.. they would.
Chili Rellenos can be time consuming to fix. Worth it though. Most "haute Mexican" cuisine is as demanding as haute French.
They're pretty scary looking critters! I had an appetizer of all sorts of shell fish in France that I loved.
I made an odd dish with broccoli myself. Simple enough, pasta with broccoli sauteed in butter or olive oil in which an anchovy or 2 or 3, depending on the volume of the rest of the ingredients, was smushed, along with garlic and chili flakes. I usually add some white wine to that and cook it down - before adding the broccoli and then finally the pasta. But, that night I had no white wine and added some tablespoons of marsala instead. That's weird, as marsala is raisin-sweet. The dish tasted good, I might do it again on purpose.
I have to admit that I have trouble imagining marsala in that dish but maybe the sweet cuts the salt and strong. I love anchovies!
I went to Slidell, LA, after a hurricane, about 1970. We ate in a Cajun restaurant. It was totally foreign to me, but I ordered seafood gumbo, since nothing on the menu seemed appetizing. Lo and behold, I ordered a second helping of that awful stuff. One of the best things I ever had.
plainoldme, some supermarkets sell a packaged broccoli slaw mix. It would be in the produce section near the packaged salad mixes, or the packages of precut vegetables, or ask the produce manager if they carry it. It's just the shredded fresh veggies, you add your own dressing. Saves a little time and work.
Many years ago I tasted some curried goat at a party where everyone brought a different ethnic dish associated with their own background. I like curry, but had never tried goat before. I loved it. Now I continue to enjoy it at Jamaican restaurants.
Some friends of ours gave us one of these
for Christmas and I was skeptical that a) I could even do it and b) would it be worth it.
a) I did it...it's easier than it looks (lol)
b) Sooooooooo worth it!! I now make both savory and sweet when we have guests...so fun!
I went to one of the butchers in Boston's Haymarket once and came home with goat. Wanted to just hassle my kids a little. As I had never cooked goat before, I looked through cookbooks that suggested goat can be substituted for most lamb dishes.
When you think about, you can substitute almost any meat for almost any other. Anyway, what ever I made was delicious. We liked it and the cost was so low that I bought goat a couple of times after that at McKinnon's market in Davis Square, Somerville, MA. For those of you who live in the Boston area, McKinnon's is a great place to buy inexpensive meat.
I have always been tempted by those pans but I always thought that I would be too eager to turn the little pancakes and end up with a mess. They have been featured in some wonderful recipes over the years, particularly one in which the pancakes are filled with Nutella. I would imagine a savory filling would be nice to serve along side a soup . . . or even in a simple soup like tomato or chicken broth.
Speaking of simple soups, go to chef Michael Chiarello's home store's website: www.napastyle.com
and click on the recipe section. He makes a nice tomato soup using canned tomatoes that can be put together quickly. Add a spinach salad or a grilled cheese sandwich and you have a great Saturday night supper.
The Boston Museum of Fine Arts has three restaurants, offering three cost and formality levels of dining. The cafeteria, in the basement, was originally quite bland but about 12 years ago or so, the Museum improved the quality of food there. I had a dish of roasted fall root vegetables once that was the best roasted veggie dish I ever had. I am not a fan of parsnips but somehow the chef managed to make even the parsnips acceptable . . . although I preferred the potatoes, rutabagas, carrots and turnips!
I have to backtrack on that strange broccoli dish of mine. I think I didn't add my usual chili flakes that I often use when cooking with anchovies - though I'm sure I added garlic. I practically put garlic in my coffee. I knew I didn't have white wine, had the marsala out on the counter.. and remembered that there is a common italian recipe for spinach sauteed with raisins (which, again bring to mind marsala) and olive oil or butter.
Like you, plainoldme, I often use olive oil with a bit of butter. I think of them very unmedically as vying fats in my arteries... and besides, I like the taste of the mix.
Spinach and Swiss chard are both cooked with raisins from time to time. I like the traditional French method of cooking chard, blanching it first in water to which some flour is added. It makes a real difference but is time consuming.
I like the taste of the mix as well . . . plus, your fry pan won't scorch if it has some olive oil in it.
Something that I thought I would never like . . . and can not imagine how to do . . . are vegan bake goods.
There is a vegan restaurant in Florence, Mass that has beautiful cupcakes. They are also the best tasting cupcakes you can imagine. They are large, so I limit myself to about four each year. Moist and flavorful, it is hard to imagine that they were made without eggs and dairy milk.
The people who run this restaurant are great cooks. I had an 'omelet,' made with vegetables and tofu that was delicious.
When my daughter went to the Cambridge School of Weston, she brought home a friend one weekend. I had forgotten the girl was coming until she and my daughter walked through the door. Fortunately, I was making a potato soup and hadn't added the cream as well as corn bread made without eggs and with olive oil (both from a French cookbook) as well as some sort of meat and salad as the second course. Anyway, before I added the butter and cream to the soup, I asked whether there was something about her diet that I forgot. she was grateful because it was the first time she had been a guest in someone's home since going vegan that she could eat what amounted to a complete meal.
Not long after that, a friend of mine told me a story about a friend of hers who spent the week over Christmas and New Years in Iceland. There were two guests in the hotel that New Years Eve and the other was a vegan. The vegan proposed since it was NYE that they dine together. "At least, we can share the wine." They did. My friend thought spending New Years in Reykjavik with a vegan was funny.
My daughter went to Smith where vegans fall out of the cracks in the walls. She thought they generally knew nothing about nutrition and ate appalling food which tended to be full of salt and sugar. She briefly worked at a Moroccan restaurant and felt if more vegans followed a Mediterranean diet, they would be healthier and less crabby.
I like chard too. In fact, my best attempt at ossobuco, aka osso buco, involved swiss chard since I didn't have any celery for the gremolata.
i have Swiss chard and sweet potato cravings, which I interpret as needing iron and vitamin A. Besides, chard is so beautiful that I have to buy it.