What to do with the first spring greens of the garden

February 25, 2010

White Beans and Broccoli Raab

The weather has been extremely cooperative, with cool nights, warm to hot days, and enough rain collected in buckets to water this year’s crop of fast-growing greens. I was able to pick some broccoli raab, or rapini, and use it in a simple, hearty dish.

I got the recipe from Bryanna Clark Grogan, although I just searched now on her site and was unable to find it. I think I may have asked her last year for it because I wanted to know what to do with the broccoli raab I was growing for the first time. The recipe is called White Beans and Rapini. You can find a link to her site on the right.

If you ask her nicely, she’s likely to share the recipe with you. Bryanna is extremely generous.

The Basic Idea
Saute some onions and garlic in toasted sesame oil, which adds a lovely flavor and aroma. Bryanna adds it to replace pancetta in a meat-eater’s version.

Add some cooked beans. So far I’ve tried white and pinto. Both were delicious, but the pinto had a bit more pinto flavor–duh!

Also add a touch of salt and some chopped broccoli raab, or rapini. I didn’t have that much, so I also added some Japanese mustard cabbage greens, a variation of bok choy. Saute until the greens are wilted. That’s it!

Both the mustard and the rapini have a slightly bitter flavor which offsets the somewhat creamy texture of the beans, and the sweet crunch of the onions. The bitterness will become more pronounced if you let the greens get bigger and older before picking them. But I wanted to sample from my garden before the bugs, slugs, and diseases beat me to it!

At any rate, it’s a simple, quick, and delicious dish that you don’t really need a recipe for. Use your judgment and let your taste buds decide.

Give the dish a try, and you’ll see why it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite go-to recipes. (Thank you, Bryanna!)

Popcorn Lover’s Eye Candy, or How to remind yourself to eat healthy snacks

February 22, 2010

Looking for a unique gift for a popcorn lover? Get him or her this popcorn design cool mousepad/ mouse mat.

Gimme Popcorn Popcorn Lover Mouse Pad Mat mousepad
Gimme Popcorn Popcorn Lover Mouse Pad Mat by alinaspencil
See more Popcorn mousepad Mousepads

This design features a picture of popcorn kernels flying about, with the words, “Gimme Popcorn.”

Looks good enough to eat. In fact, it’s a great way to remind yourself to eat healthy snacks. Did you know popcorn is a whole grain, full of fiber, with no cholesterol?

*Don’t like the white background? Click on “customize,” then “color,” “background,” and choose from the dropdown menu.

Don’t like your choice? Hit “revert” to try again.

How to add interest to your rice

February 12, 2010

red cargo rice

Red Cargo Rice

I find it hard to eat plain rice any more. I’m not a rice snob; I can still eat rice at every meal! I have just gotten used to variety.

But if you think rice is boring and want to know how to make rice more interesting or flavorful, here are some ideas.

Try these tips for a change of pace with rice:

My favorite: mix half brown and half white rice, or two thirds brown and one third white. This way you get whole grains from the brown, stickiness from the white. I HATE rice that falls apart, white, brown, or otherwise!

Red Cargo Rice
Found in Asian groceries or anywhere you can find imports from Thailand. Here in Honolulu, I can find this at Marukai, the local Asian Grocery, and in Chinatown. It looks like brown rice that has a red-dirt kind of tinge to it. Sold in vacuum-packed, rectangular plastic bags.

Barley looks like brown rice but adds a fabulous chew. I like to do 1 part white, 1 part brown, 1 part barley and cook in the rice cooker as you normally would.

This does tend to fall apart more than white/brown or other rice combinations, but I love the chewiness.

Fragrant rice
Try adding one part jasmine, basmati, or other aromatic rice to any other combination. The fragrance while the rice cooks is reminiscent of popcorn, nutty and mouth-watering.

I can find brown jasmine rice at Marukai, the Asian Grocery, and in Chinatown, also sold in vacuum-packed, rectangular plastic bags.

Are you confused about the different types of rice?
What’s the difference between long and short grain? Which rice to use for fried rice? Find out more about thedifference between rices at this post here.

How to keep your knife sharper longer

February 2, 2010

I watch the food shows a lot. One thing that irks me to no end is watching people use their knife to scrape food off a cutting board. This dulls the knife prematurely. Knives are for cutting, not scraping.

Instead, try this quick and easy method: flip the knife over and scrape with the spine. It’s works just as well, and your knife will stay sharper longer.