Saturday, April 21, 2012

Broccoli with Sesame-Miso Dressing

I'm so excited, I finally succeeded in growing broccoli in my garden! The trick to growing broccoli is consistently cool weather, which doesn't happen often in Albuquerque – it's either hot or cold. The seed packets always say to wait until after frost to plant, but that's not quite right for our climate. Cole crops are quite frost-hardy, so I planted some healthy starts in February, and the main heads are ready to eat now. They are not very tightly packed, which is what happens in warm weather, so I thought I'd better pick them before they bolt. And they are delicious!

This is an adaptation of a Japanese recipe which typically uses green beans. It looks cool when you use black sesame seeds, but it takes some effort to grind them finely enough.

1 pound broccoli, broccolini, or broccoli raab
2 T. tahini, or 2 T. finely ground black sesame seeds
1 t. toasted sesame oil
1 t. miso
1 t. cider vinegar
1 t. honey
1 t. soy sauce
2 T. mirin

Cut broccoli into large chunks; steam until tender. Whisk all other ingredients together. Toss warm broccoli with dressing. Serves 2 to 4.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Cider-Braised Lamb and Turnips

Lamb and turnips are a classic combination. Both are available year-round, but we associate them especially with spring. Braising them in apple cider adds a tangy sweetness. I used a dry hard cider; you could use a non-alcoholic cider, but it would be a much sweeter dish. I like to use the cheapest, toughest cuts of lamb on the bone for stews, because they are very flavorful and become perfectly tender after a long braise.

Large fall turnips, such as the purple-topped variety usually found in grocery stores, are some of the longest-keeping vegetables that would have sustained our ancestors well into spring. They can be bitter, but blanching them for a few minutes helps. Spring turnips are delicate and sweet, and can be used whole in this recipe. It would be great to use the turnip greens as well, but the turnips I had on hand this week came without greens.

1 pound lamb ribs or neck bones
2 T. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion or 2 leeks, minced
1 t. salt
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
1 t. marjoram or thyme
6 whole cloves
2 C. dry hard cider
2 C. water or chicken stock
1 T. cider vinegar
1/2 lb. carrots
2 lbs. turnips with greens

Rinse meat and pat dry. Heat oil in a wide skillet. Brown well on all sides. Remove meat; add onion, salt, pepper, marjoram and cloves. Cook until onions are lightly browned. Add meat back into the pan with cider, vinegar, and water or stock. Cover and bring to a boil, then simmer 3-4 hours, until meat is falling off the bone (or transfer to a crockpot and cook all day). Cut carrots, turnips and turnip greens into 1-inch pieces. Add to the pot and simmer 30 minutes more, until tender. Meanwhile, remove the meat, chop it coarsely and return it to the pan, discarding the bones. Serve with crusty bread to sop up the delicious sauce. Serves 4.

Slow-Cooked Beef Tacos with Radish Slaw

Mmm, tacos. They're pretty much the perfect food. Growing up, I loved Mom's ground beef, cheese, lettuce and tomato variety. But as an adult I discovered the infinite variety of tacos, far beyond anything I'd previously imagined. The use of cabbage in tacos was a revelation to me – it's really refreshing, crunchier and more satisfying than lettuce. 

We have lots of grassfed beef in the freezer from Mesteno Draw Ranch, and the chuck roast was calling to me. This is a really nice spring recipe, adapted from one in RealSimple magazine last year. It's warm and filling on a cold night, but not too heavy, and it makes excellent use of some of my favorite spring veggies. The radish and cabbage slaw really steals the show here!

2 lbs. chuck roast
Salt and pepper
2 C. water
1 small onion, quartered
1 can chipotle in adobo sauce, or a few dried chipotles
1 t. dried marjoram or oregano
1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, grated
1/2 small head of cabbage, thinly sliced
Juice of 1 lime
A few slices pickled jalapeno (optional)
1/4 C. cilantro leaves, chopped
1 green onion, chopped
Corn tortillas (2 per taco)
Sour cream

Season the meat with salt and pepper, and sear on all sides. Place in a crockpot with water, onion, chipotle, marjoram and salt. Cook all day on low (or about 3 hours on high) until meat is falling off the bone. Shred with two forks in the pot, so that the meat is mixed with the cooking liquid.

Toss radishes, carrot and cabbage with lime juice, jalapeno and half the cilantro; season with salt and pepper. Mix sour cream with green onion and remaining cilantro. Warm tortillas on a burner until they get nice little charred spots. Top with shredded meat, slaw, and sour cream. Serves 4.