Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Year, New Possibilties

Well, I'm a bit late on the Happy New Year Ra Ra! and the resolution this and holiday that train, but I hoped if I got it in before the week was over it might still be considered timely. I realize that by now everyone is well and truly tired of the holiday season and wants to move on to Mardi Gras and spring and new things. I do too, but I've got these cabbage and blackeyed pea photos on my phone and they are really nice things to eat at any time of year so I'm going to share.

On New Year's Day, I always try to do the traditional good luck thing but this year I was bored of Hoppin' John and braised cabbage, so I went a different route. Inspired by the cold bean side salad (usually served alongside pork rillette and various other dishes) at Tartine, I ad libbed a little black eyed pea salad with a red wine vinegar dressing. For the cabbage, I went with a chilled salad as well, using a NY Times recipe from a few years back for savoy cabbage slaw with applesauce vinaigrette and mustard seeds. They were both wonderful.  The bean salad is simple and delicious.  The slaw is so much better than you might think (and also makes surprisingly good leftovers).  I served them both with seared pork chops and it was a lovely meal.  Recipes, below.



I have to stop using my iPhone to take food photos. The white balance is terrible and my kitchen is nothing but yellow light at night. Sorry 'bout that, folks.

As for new year's resolutions, I'm going to keep it simple this year and rather than try to reform my hopeless ways, I am resolving to expand myself and do some things I've never done before, but think that by now I really should have. In some cases, it's unforgivable that I haven't yet. In 2011, I plan to:

Eat:

1. a muffaletta at Central Grocery - I've had them at lots of places in NOLA but never there, and really, what kind of muffaletta lover do I think I am if I haven't, right?.
2. turtle soup at Commander's Palace - When given the choice, I always go for new generation restaurants over the old traditionals, so I have a huge gap in my NOLA restaurant experiences. This seems to be a glaring one.
3. boiled crawfish at Hawk's in Rayne, La - Happily, my brother in law lives very close to it and we have plans for this spring.

Cook/Make:

1. Butter - I (oh so briefly) met Chef Daniel Patterson of Coi Restaurant in San Francisco several years ago (and had the pleasure of dining at Coi, which if you ever have the opportunity to do, DO!) and later watched him make butter in this fun video. Epiphany! Homemade butter! I've wanted to do it ever since, at least once, and now that I've gotten a stand mixer for Christmas, I intend to. Just look at it! All yellow and beautiful. Imagine lacing it with fleur de sel and spreading it on fresh bread with radishes. mmmm.... I'm not sure the reality can live up to my bucolic fantasy but we shall see.

2. Marshmallows - Another project that required a stand mixer to do, and one that I think I only need to try once or twice to appease the desire. The sticky clean up factor will probably prevent too many repeats, but I do want to sink my teeth into very fresh marshmallow. 2011!

3. Madeleines - Got the pan. Gonna make the treats. More than once. Need to put the pan to use and not let it collect dust in the back of the cupboard.

Do:

1. Learn to shuck oysters - This requires an leap of faith on my part. I am trusting that this year, my rheumatoid arthritis will be treated into remission and I will have the ability to bend and twist and bear weight with my right wrist again. Once I can, I plan to celebrate by learning to shuck and then eating a minimum of a dozen oysters on the half shell with champagne. It just seems right.

2. Plant some container herbs and tomatoes - This one borders on the "yeah right" type of resolution, since I say I'll do this every year and don't, but I might as well try again this year. Perhaps you can help me stick to it by reminding me when the time comes that I need to get those plants going.

3. Visit some of the River Road plantations - I never have. Might as well learn a bit more about the history of Southern Louisiana. I've always perceived the plantations as too tainted by the horror of slavery to make it enjoyable for me to visit for pleasure, but maybe by shutting the entire idea out, I am allowing myself to be ignorant. Maybe I could learn a thing or two. And eat a thing or two along the way.

That's that.

The recipes:

Black Eyed Pea Salad

1 lb frozen black eyed peas (precooked), thawed
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 small red onion, diced
2 TB fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped (optional)
drizzled olive oil, to taste
red wine vinegar, to taste
salt and black pepper to taste

Mix gently and serve cold or room temperature.  That's it.  It's delightful.

Serves 6


Savoy Cabbage Slaw with Applesauce Vinaigrette & Mustard Seeds
Adapted from Jeremy Fox, Ubuntu, Napa, California


FOR THE VINAIGRETTE:

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon applesauce
1/3 cup olive oil

FOR THE SALAD:

4 cups savoy cabbage, sliced as thinly as possible (store was out of Savoy by the time I got there, so I used half green and half Napa)
1 large bunch red radishes
3 or 4 Granny Smith apples
1 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
Salt and black pepper to taste.

1. Make vinaigrette: In a bowl, mix together mustard, salt, vinegar and applesauce. Slowly whisk in olive oil a little at a time until dressing emulsifies. Set aside.

2. Make salad: Put cabbage in a large bowl. Using the shredding blade of a food processor or a box grater, shred radishes until you have 1 cup. Add to bowl.

3. Core apples and shred in food processor or with box grater until you have 2 cups. Put shredded apple into a bowl filled with lemon juice and 2 cups water, to prevent apple from browning.

4. When ready to serve, gently squeeze water from apple, add to cabbage and toss slaw with vinaigrette. Add mustard seeds and toss again. Sprinkle walnuts on top of slaw. Season with salt and pepper.

Serves 6

2 comments:

Laila,  January 5, 2011 at 2:06 PM  

Mmm, both of those salads sound wonderful! It's funny, I always tell visiting people to get a muffaletta from Central Grocery but have never actually had one myself. Nor have I had the turtle soup at CP! And I've never heard of Hawk's, thanks for the tip. Sounds like a delicious year ahead!

NOJuju January 5, 2011 at 2:16 PM  

Laila, I think I first read about Hawk's in Real Cajun, Donald Link's cookbook and then my brother-in-law confirmed that it was damned fine crawfish eating. Apparently the purging process make them unparalleled for sweetness and freshness. I can't wait to be the judge of that for myself.

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