Sunday, June 20, 2010

Broccoli Rabe, Turnip and Garlic Spears soup

There's something so exciting and enticing abou finding new ingredients and experimenting with them. On a recent trip to Uwajimaya (an Asian grocery superstore), I found myself in fresh produce heaven. I've always known that they had a wide variety of produce, but I rarely ever go because it's completely out of the way. That ends now as I will definitely be going back as often as possible for new ingredients to try.

I wandered around looking at the different greens and roots and veggies, completely wide-eyed and in awe of the possibilities... I didn’t know where to start! After a minute of daydreaming, I was snapped back to reality by a helpful produce guy wanting to know if I needed help. Not wanting him to know exactly how nerdy and excited I was, I managed to shake
my head and squeak out "I'm fine, thanks" as normally as I could.

What I walked away with ultimately wasn't that exciting per say, but all the ingredients are new to me. I got turnips, garlic spears, broccoli rabe and morels. Garlic spears are the stems and flowers from elephant garlic. Raw they are sharp, peppery and have a strong garlic flavor that will knock your socks off. Cooked, they're more mild but equally delicious. Broccoli rabe (also known as rappini) is a leafy green. It's actually a relative of the turnip, not broccoli, and has a taste reminiscent to broccoli, but more bitter.

This soup tastes (and looks) like spring. It's similar to cream of broccoli, without the cream and the flavors are as green as the soup itself. It has a hint of garlic and a slight bitterness to it, and it's freshness that feels appropriate for the spring-like weather that we've been experiencing here in Seattle. It's tasty hot, but versatile enough that it could also be served cold for a nice treat on a hot summer day. Yum!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Memorial Day Pork Tacos

Admittedly, I have been slacking a little on my blog. Ok, maybe I've been slacking a lot. My goal was to do this once a week and between Memorial Day weekend and a work trip to New York, I (1) haven't been cooking a whole lot and (2) haven't had a lot of free time to blog a whole lot. But now that that's over, I will get back to my once-a-week blogging goal. This will not be like the time I started a diary in the 3rd grade and stopped a week later. I've made Tastespotting! There's no way I'm stopping now.

While I haven't had time to cook a ton over the last two weeks, I have definitely had time to eat. And oh boy, have I been eating! Memorial Day was spent at my friends Kari and Steven's family cabin in the beautiful San Juan Islands in northern Washington. Each person was in charge of a meal and every single person stepped it up this year! From buttermilk blueberry pancakes to BBQ'd oysters to baked ziti and more it was a heavenly weekend with great food and even better company.

My contribution? Pork tacos. I paired it with the 
jalapeno mango slaw. Remember the slaw? The amazing, could eat it every day slaw? This is one of the 101 ways you could use the slaw and it works as well with pork as it did with fish. I prepped it the night before and as suspected, it stewed for 24 hours and the flavors melded, leaving a succulent, sweet side that had a hint of kick without being too spicy for those with sensitive taste buds. A picky eater admitted to being hesitant about the slaw, but tried it anyways and really liked it - something every cook loves to hear!

This carnitas recipe is a favorite of mine - it's easy to prepare, inexpensive (if you have the spices), serves a lot of people and always gets rave reviews. The meat just tears apart and is tender and flavorful and just plain delicious. The aroma kicks in about 20 minutes into simmering and you'll be salivating until you eat. Between the salty goodness of the pork and the sweet tang of the coleslaw, this is a winner of a meal.

Remember my love of good Mexican? Check! My love/hate relationship with cumin? Yeah, it's there too. And even if you don't remember those things, you should still try this recipe. Bon appetite!

The recipe: Carnitas