Saturday, February 5, 2011

CSA week eight wrap-up, week nine start-up plus an important note about the betel leaves

I should follow-up yesterday's post right off the start. I added the mustard-based hot sauce and tried the collard/potato salad cold and it's still mediocre. I still think there's a good idea in there somewhere, though. I'll have to work on it.

Still a lot of greens unaccounted for. I was in a noodly mood this week so I went that way for two out of three. I mixed the peashoots into cold sesame-vinegar noodles after giving them a quick blanch so they had something of a noodle texture too. That was pretty good.

The yukina savoy I cooked way down and mixed into mac and cheese. That worked pretty well, too.

And for the chard, I tried the taco recipe from the newsletter, but I don't think it was nearly as good as the Rick Bayless recipe I made a couple years ago. I had some trouble with it, anyway.

I also made an extra-dilly gravlax so, unless I'm forgetting something, that just leaves the canistel which just got ripe enough to use today. I'll have to see how much flesh I get out of it before figuring out what to do with it.

This week brings plenty more greens even after leaving the lettuce behind. Some other interesting stuff, too, though.

In the upper left corner is curly endive. That's the traditional green used in Italian wedding soup which doesn't sound bad. I thought I might try that.

Below that is kale. Drlindak (Dr. Lindak? D.R. Lindak? Dr. Linda K.?) and have been discussing pairing kale with beans in the comments of last week's start-up post and I'm intrigued enough to give it a try. This isn't actually the proper sort of kale, though, so maybe not this time around.

I'm thinking a green bean/tomato salad for those two, and pairing the mushrooms with the piper betel too.

As for the betel recipe in the newsletter, I came across this quite interesting webpage that strongly warns that betel is the wrong leaf to use. Comparing the photos on that page with what I've seen elsewhere, I'm pretty sure that every time I've had a Thai dish wrapped in a leaf, it's been bai cha plu, not the bai plu we've got. This other page also compares, contrasts and makes the distinction clear, too. Both authors say that bai plu doesn't have any culinary applications; it's used for chewing betel nut and that's about it.

Having tasted it, that sounds about right to me. I'm going to not use mine, and recommend that you don't use yours either. I'm not saying that they're poisonous or anything, just that they taste lousy and you shouldn't ruin a dish by including them. I've made a couple fairly successful dishes using them in previous years, but I'm tired of struggling to make them palatable, particularly starting from the disadvantage of them not actually being food.

Margie, if you're reading this, could you talk to Robert about this? If he's growing and you guys are selling the wrong stuff, that's a problem.

Back from that tangent, there's still the turnips and dandelion greens. Eh, I'll blanch to remove the bitterness and then cook them both up with some fresh pasta and plenty of garlic. Done.


Marian said...

Don't be so hasty to dismiss piper betel leaves! Check out this web site discussing the medicinal value of betel leaves. Apparently they're a good anti-microbial.

billjac said...

Two points: 1) they agree that betel leaves aren't food. They talk about chewing them, not eating them. 2) I'm not particularly impressed with un-referenced claims by an anonymous author on a holistic health website. Show me a peer-reviewed double-blinded study and then I still won't care, but I might believe it.