Archive for May, 2008

Bok choy? Shanghai-style meatballs. Lion’s heads.

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

Lion's HeadsWith Memorial Day weekend comes the Boulder Creek Festival, and the Farmer’s Market has a very different vibe this day. It’s smaller and many regulars take the day off; some growers skip it all together. Among the visitors there’s more “see and be seen” and less buying than usual.

But the stalwarts are here, and Red Wagon Organic Farm has brought some very pretty bok choy indeed. Bok choy, or chinese cabbage, is related to common cabbage and also to the turnip (who knew?). But what to do with it? In many dishes the leaves are discarded and the stalk is used chopped, like celery, almost as an afterthought. The leaves, however, are delicious as greens, and the weather has turned cold and rainy…  A famous Shanghai-style dish, Lion’s Heads, will fill the bill perfectly.

Basically a stew of meatballs (lion’s heads) and greens (lion’s mane), there are many variations of this dish. In some variations the greens are sautéed first and served fairly dry with the meatballs; I have opted for a brothier, stewier version.

Lion’s Heads – Shanghai-style Meatballs

  1. 1 bunch bok choy (about one pound)
  2. 1/2 pound ground pork and 1/2 pound 85% ground beef, mixed
  3. 1 Tb minced ginger
  4. 1 Tb minced garlic
  5. 2 green onions, minced
  6. 1 egg
  7. 4 Tb soy or tamari
  8. 2 Tb cornstarch
  9. 1 Tb toasted sesame oil
  10. 1 1/2 cups chicken stock

Chop bok choy greens crosswise in 1 inch strips, and chop part of the remaining stalks in 1/4″ slices. I used about half of the stalks. Whisk together soy, sesame oil, and cornstarch. Mix meats together with ginger, garlic, and green onion, then add 1/2 of soy mixture and the egg. Make meatballs. The classic dish calls for 4 huge meatballs, I prefer 6 to 10 smaller ones. Brown the meatballs on all sides in a wok or sauté pan. Choose another pan large enough to accomodate all the meatballs in one layer. Add the stock, bring it to a boil, then add meatballs. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, turning meatballs once. Add sliced bok choy to the liquid, drape the greens over the meatballs, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes more, allowing the greens to steam. Uncover, add remaining soy mixture, stir well, and bring to boil to thicken the broth slightly. Serve in bowls, with rice if desired.


Red Wagon Organic Farm

At root. Turnips are delicious. Who knew?

Monday, May 19th, 2008

TurnipsBeautiful white turnips from Red Wagon Organic Farm were certainly the most eye-catching produce at Saturday’s market, so into the bag they went. I’ve always thought that most of the white root vegetables go through life wishing that they were potatoes: turnips, parsnips, rutabagas, yucca and so on; all can seem sweetish and insipid, and are too often consumed more out of necessity than pleasure. With a closed mind, I’ve never cooked a turnip before, and have only vague memories of eating them, British-style, overcooked and mashed with butter.

Mario Batali to the rescue: a quick web search turned up an interesting recipe on the food network.

Adapted from Batali’s Pan-Roasted Turnips with Poppy and Paprika

This is a great dish: the vinegar and paprika balance the sweetness of the turnips, and the poppy seed adds a nice crunch.

  1. ~1 1/2 pounds turnips
  2. salt and pepper to taste
  3. 3 Tb butter
  4. 2 Tb poppy seeds
  5. 1 Tb paprika, not smoked
  6. 4 Tb red wine vinegar

Remove tops and clean turnips with a vegetable brush. Mario quarters them, but the resulting chunks looked too big, so I halved each again. Season with salt and pepper. Heat butter over medium-high heat until it starts to brown, add turnips and poppy seeds and toss to coat. Cook until nicely browned, add paprika, then vinegar. Serve when vinegar is cooked away. Delicious.

Extra points for anyone who recognizes the serving dish.


Red Wagon Organic Farm

Roast Chicken. Wisdom’s Natural Poultry. Baby Kale.

Monday, May 12th, 2008

Keller\'s Simple Roast ChickenA perfect roast chicken is simplicity itself: start with a beautiful roaster from Wisdom’s Natural Poultry and use a recipe from Thomas Keller. New to the Boulder Farmer’s market this year, Wisdom’s chickens are Colorado-grown, free range, and all natural. They don’t have a web site yet, but here is an interesting and informative article about the family-run operation in Haxun, Colorado. They also raise turkeys, and bring a limited number of fresh eggs to the Saturday market.

Thomas Keller’s Favorite Simple Roast Chicken

Great roast chicken is about tender, moist meat and a crisp skin. Thomas Keller, of French Laundry fame, roasts his chickens very hot and with minimal preparation. Rinse and dry the bird, season the cavity with salt and pepper, and truss. Liberally salt the skin, and roast at 450 degrees for about an hour for a 3 pound bird. Be sure to rest the chicken for at least 15 minutes before carving. Find the complete recipe here.

Baby Kale Sauté

Marcella Hazan has new cookbook, Marcella Says, and in it she insists that greens should always be blanched before sauteéing. I took this to heart, using this technique with baby kale from Red Wagon Organic Farm.

  1. 1 bunch baby kale
  2. 1 Tb garlic, minced
  3. 2 Tb olive oil
  4. soy or tamari sauce, optional

Blanch kale in salted water (2 Tb/gallon), and dry as well as possible, even squeezing out water. Sauté garlic in oil for a minute, then add kale and cook at high heat, slightly browning kale. Add a dash of soy for a little umami, optional.


Wisdom’s Natural Poultry

Red Wagon Organic Farm

Greens dominate. Lamb shanks too. Mizuna salad.

Monday, May 5th, 2008

MizunaMany and varied early greens still dominate at the Farmer’s Market, so I picked out something a little bit kinky: beautiful baby Mizuna from Red Wagon Organic Farm. This spicy green is also called Japanese Mustard, and is often a component of mesclun (mixed assorted baby greens). It’s great on its own, as this simple wilted salad shows.

Wilted Mizuna Salad

  1. 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  2. 3 Tb soy or tamari
  3. 3 Tb toasted sesame oil
  4. 1/4 tsp Szechwan pepper
  5. Mizuna, washed and large stems removed

Heat vinegar, soy, and sesame in a small saucepan but do not simmer. Add pepper to taste. Toss warm dressing with Mizuna and serve.

Michael Symon’s Braised Lamb Shanks In Yogurt Sauce

Michael Symon calls his food “farm driven american,” but he definitely has a Greek thing going on. Wanting to cook with Fage yogurt (2% in this case), I paired the Wilted Mizuna salad with his Braised Lamb Shanks In Yogurt Sauce recipe from a great article about Greek yogurt in the New York Times. Killer!


Red Wagon Organic Farm

Symon Says

Thick, rich. Fage Greek yogurt. Say “FAY-yeh.”

Monday, May 5th, 2008

Fage YogurtFage yogurt will change your life. Like most all Greek yogurt, it is strained to remove most of the whey; the result is thick and creamy beyond belief. Available at Whole Foods in “Classic” (full-fat), 2%, and 0% (non-fat), even the 0% makes all other yogurt seem thin and flavorless. The culinary possibilities are many: use it to replace crème fraîche or sour cream in any recipe, and with a light touch substitute for butter or heavy cream in others.