Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Kitchen Sink Greens Part 2: A Recipe Appears

Greens do not need a recipe. Accordingly, this rather exhaustive list is not so much a recipe as it is a set of notes. No measurements have been given, because none are (or should be) used. Greens should not be about an intensity of focus. Cooking them is really about throwing a bunch of stuff in a pot and letting it simmer until it is delicious. This is the essence of the recipe, and greens may be cooked as simply as that. If one wishes to incorporate these techniques into the cooking process, however, something that is already delicious will only get better.

When I made these greens for the brunch in March, I utilized several different approaches towards the cooking of greens, involving flavors and techniques from several different green-friendly cultures. The oil infusion is drawn out of the standard Indian approach towards spices. The liquid mix—tossing together wine, broth, and brown sugar—is second-generation American. The reservation of the pot likker was drawn from the south; and the uses that it is put to, found in the third installment to come, will be French and Portuguese.

Fusion is nothing new, of course (white guys with dreads and 3-inch ear plugs are collecting social-security right this moment), but greens are so direct, happy, and non-confrontational that they are a great opportunity to practice these techniques. This dish will always be satisfying, but when you get something just right it will let you know.


Notes on Equipment.

Large cooking device: This can be a pot, saucepan, or a dutch oven. Make this as big as you can.

A large bowl: You will want somewhere to put and move your heaps of greens. This should also be used for reserving the pot likker, so it should be large enough to handle…

A colander. A large mesh sieve will do as well.


Kale (get twice as much as you think you’ll need, as it cooks down)
Collard Greens
Onion (1 onion per big bunch of kale or collards)
Garlic (as much as you like)
Raisins (optional)

Brown Sugar
Cinnamon Stick


  • 2 parts Tumeric
  • 2 parts Cumin Powder
  • 1 part Coriander Powder
  • 1 part Garam Masala
  • 1 part Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 part Smoked Paprika
  • ½ part Ginger Powder


  • Red Wine
  • Rice Vinegar
  • Dry Vermouth
  • Hot Sauce
  • Vegetable broth

Cooking Suggestions:

This recipe takes place through 4 steps: Prep, Infuse, Wilt, Simmer, Drain.



  • Rinse the greens for grit: This can be done by hand, in a colander, or by waving them through a large bowl of water. Dry if you wish.
  • Prep your workspace. Greens will take up a lot of space, so make sure to have an extremely large container to deposit them into. You will want a large bowl for the greens, a medium bowl for the stems, and a small trash bowl for the iffy bits.
  • Strip the leaves from the stems. One easy way to do strip the leaves is to draw a paring knife along the stem on each side. With kale, it is often easy to pull the leaves from the stems in pieces.
  • Chiffonade: Spread the leaves flat in a stack, like you’re about to roll a cigar. Roll them up, and tuck the edge under, where it will be held by the cutting board. Slice your tube o’ greens into thin strips. If you’re doing this with a flat-leaf green, cutting the tube at an angle will give you grade-school thunderbolts.
  • Chop the Stems: Gather together a handful of the stems. Chop off the cruddy ends and discard. Chop the stems reasonably short, in 1/8th inch segments.

Onion and Garlic

  • Cube the onion into 1/8th inch size: there’s a billion ways. Look out for future notes on my favorite onion techniques.
  • Mess up the garlic: You have three options—press, mince, or mash. If you want mashed-up garlic and don’t have a press on hand, you can grind the garlic across the cutting board with the flat of the knife, dragging the spine of the knife against the cutting board.

Spice Blend

  • Throw all the powders together into a small cup or shot glass—they will all go in together.
  • Crack the cinnamon in half, and leave it on hand. It’ll go in first.


  • Mix everything in the liquids header together. Dissolve the brown sugar into it, and stir. The taste should be that of a balanced vinaigrette. Keep it in a glass (with a spout, if possible) on hand by the stove.
  • If you are including the raisins, drop them in the liquid to plump.


1. Infusing Oil

  • Heat your huge pot to medium. Add the butter and the ghee (the oil) in equal parts. Wait until they are liquid.
  • Drop in the onions. Cook them until they begin to turn translucent, then scoop them out of the pan or scrape them out to the sides. You don’t need to be precise and get every one, but the oil needs to pool at the bottom of the pan free of onion. If there is little oil left, add some more to the pan.
  • Drop in the cinnamon stick and the garlic. Once the smell of cinnamon wafts out of the pan,
  • Throw in the spice powders. Stir vigorously to combine with the oil. Once the smells start coming up (10 to 30 seconds),
  • Incorporate the onion back into the pan. Stir to coat the onion with the spice-ghee.

2. Wilting the Greens

  • Take two generous handfuls of greens, and throw them into the pot. The pot should not overflow, but you should no longer be able to see the bottom
  • Stir lazily, tossing the greens every minute or two, until the greens have turned bright and their volume has decreased.
  • Pull them out of the pot, and repeat for another generous clump. If you’re feeling cavalier and you have a really big pot, don’t bother pulling them out—just add more greens.
  • Once all the greens are wilted,

3. Cooking the Greens

  • Throw all the greens back into the pot. Pour the liquid mixture in there.
  • Cook, stirring occasionally, for as long as you want. Add in salt and pepper to adjust the flavor. Taste often.
  • You can pull the greens out early, when they have just turned a darker green and still have a bite to them—then the flavor will be light on the outside, with the distinctive greens bitterness. Or you can wait until they melt down soft and lose a little color—then you’ll have a full incorporation of flavors with a little less green presence.

4. Draining the Greens

  • The greens should be cooking in a nice pool of liquid by then. This is the pot likker, and it is spectacular and amazing. Its got a significant portion of the nutrients of the greens, all the flavor of the spices, and a deep savoury richness to boot. The pot likker is half the reason to make greens this way, so make sure to reserve it.
  • Put a colander over a wide pot or bowl. If you are using the same bowl that housed the raw greens, don’t forget to rinse it out.
  • Put the assemblage in the sink (this may get messy).
  • Pour the greens into the colander. Spill as little as possible. Check the level of pot likker. If the level is below the bottom of the colander, leave it in the bowl. If it comes above the bottom, place the colander on a wide plate or bowl with a lip.
  • Let the greens drain for 2 minutes.
You now have both greens and pot likker. The greens are ready to serve, if you wish to reserve the pot likker for another task—it will taste fabulous paired with stock as the base for a soup, or as a stock replacement in sauces. For the ultimate greens dish, however, the pot likker should be turned into a sauce on its own, to be paired with the greens. These options will be the subject of the third post.

Greens are really meant to share the plate, so they will taste best when paired with protein and carbohydrate. Cheese and meat will mix well with them. Neutral carbohydrates will also appreciate them: think about grits or polenta, or thick hunks of bread. A poached egg will do wonders when cracked into a bed of these greens. Your mouth will love you.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Kitchen Sink Greens Part One: An Ode to Greens

Greens have always been magical foodstuffs to me. They make me understand why creationism is so popular. Just like chicken, tangerines, and potatoes, they seem to be designed specifically for human consumption.

Greens grow best during the winter. Way back when—back when the world was still tied to the seasons—this was a godsend; all that nutrition coming in a handy package, growing just when we needed it most. We may be able to get mangos in February, but even now greens seem a little miraculous. When all the produce we’re eating is shipped up from the southern hemisphere, we can still get greens fresh—even if they’re not always at the greenmarket stands, they’re growing out of the ground six stops out of grand central.

Greens tell us when they’re done by sight and smell and sound. But they’re durable cookers, too—we can forget about them for a while, and they’ll still come out pretty much fine. We can decide, like I usually do, to throw in something halfway through cooking that really should have gone in first, and they’ll roll with it. They even make their own gravy. Whatever made greens made them right.

Accordingly, greens are utilized in a legion of cuisines. The Iberian peninsula is way up on greens, which means its pretty big in Mexican and Brazilian cooking as well. Indian cuisine loves greens, and its mutual. Their slow cooking methods are just what greens want. I borrowed stuff from all of them on the way to this dish. An obscene amount of greens come out of Southeast Asia. While the flavor profiles of those greens tend to be a little bit different, a little imagination translates pretty much any recipe into a greens-friendly one.

In Part Two, a recipe of sorts appears.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Brunches Get Major

(The small image is distorted, click for better quality.)

Credit where it's due.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Better Than a Halftime Show

Allright ya'll, time for my first post.

As we all know, Im not really a cook. Not that I'm unable to (tho I always joke so) but that time restricts me. So with that, why the hell am I on this thing??

My expertises lie elsewhere :-)

based well on a movie that apparently I auditioned for recently, I thought I'd introduce a drink to our mix.

-2 1/2 oz Pomegranate-infused Sake (explained below)
-2 1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
-1/2 oz Chambord

For Pomegranate-infused Sake: Take one liter of Sake in a clean closed jar/bottle, add the seeds of two Pomegranates and Infuse it for about a week, keeping it away from sunlight and shaking every couple of days (for an instant method, just use 2 1/2 oz Sake and 1/2 oz Pomegranate Juice......if you wanna cheat).

For Cocktail-Combine ingredients in a shaker with Ice. Shake and Strain into Martini Glass. No Garnish necessary but if you want to top with tiny umbrella or prince guitar, then thats great presentation.

I've yet to try it, but the Pineapple/Pomegranate/Rasberry mix with the sake style bite will be more than enough to let you party like its.......its......damn, I can't figure out a good Prince reference

Saturday, April 07, 2007



The other dessert that everyone looked forward to every Passover was my mom's spongecake. (Again, it looked way better in person, my camera is fucked.) In fact, when my mom wouldn't attend a seder she'd send a cake with me, because everyone wanted the spongecake that badly. Following is the recipe as written by my mom (with some changes of my own):

Passover Spongecake

12 eggs
juice and grated rind of an orange
grated rind of half a lemon (I missed the "half" part and did a whole one, it tasted fine)
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons oil (canola or some such)
pinch of salt
1 cup matzoh cake meal
1 tablespoon potato starch

First off, separate the whole dozen eggs' yolks and whites. Beat egg yolks, juice, rind, oil and 1 C sugar. Set aside. Wash beaters thoroughly. Then beat egg whites until stiff but not dry, with salt (to hold them together, also using a bit of the lemon's juice for this won't hurt) and mix in additional sugar. (Make sure you do this in a big bowl, a dozen egg whites will get HUGE, as we learned.)

(My mom adds that the lemon and orange should not be skinned with a zester, but that the coarse-hole side of a cheese grater is the best option. She even theorizes that the coarsely grated rind, and often use of a huge freakin' orange, are why her spongecake is so especially loved by our local community.)

Fold egg white into egg yolk mixture thoroughly. Use long, gentle motions with a rubber spatula, down one side of the bowl, across the bottom, up the other, getting the yolk mixture up from the bottom of the bowl and into the whites without breaking down the whites excessively. When you think you're done, check the bottom of the bowl because you'll probably find a pool of yolks there still.

Mix the cake meal and cornstarch together and fold into the egg mixture a quarter cup or so at a time. Use the same technique and once again, when you think you're done, you probably aren't.

Scrape into an ungreased angelfood cake pan.

(Eli note here: What's most important is that it's an angelfood pan with the spire in the center--because
that way the cake can cling to the cylinder, since there's nothing to make it rise--and that it come apart into two pieces--my mom's actually isn't springform, but mine is.)
(Beautiful ain't it? Mine is actually wider and shorter than my mom's, which I thought would cause a problem. The cake came out looking different, but it was still delicious and cooked all the way through. Continuing on...)

Push a long knife or metal spatula straight down through the batter to the bottom of the pan and then holding it vertical, pull it all the way around the pan to collapse any air pockets. Bake for an hour at 325°.

Remove from oven and invert immediately, setting the tube over a ketchup bottle or some other bottle with a slender neck so that air can circulate all around the pan while it cools. Most pans have tiny legs but they are not enough. Let the cake cool completely before you remove it from the pan.

(So yeah, it'll just hover upside down for a few hours, always goofy lookin'.)

To remove it from its pan, simply run a long, thin knife (preferably serrated breadknife) around the edges until you can separate the two parts of the pan. The cake will stay with the cylinder. Then do the same thing again, running the knife around the cylinder and underneath the cake until it can come free.

Friday, April 06, 2007


The Passover Torte, or "The Dessert", or "IT" was always a major part of the holiday for me growing up. A friend of the family (Carol Delton, respect) made it every year, and it was the sort of thing everyone always looked forward to. Three whopping layers of meringue, chocolate, whipped cream, and nuts that would inevitably fall apart when someone tried to cut slices from it, and always tasted incredible. For years I entertained the thought of giving it a shot, and so I finally did.

I failed.

The original recipe is as follows:

PASSOVER TORTE aka THE DESSERT,” aka “IT,” as in “Are you making IT?” “I love IT!” “I look forward to IT every year!”
(recipe as transmitted by Freda Delton, z’l, 1932-1998; Carol Delton’s comments below; read the whole thing through and meditate on it before you attempt IT!)

1 ½ cups egg whites (approx 10 large eggs)
½ tsp salt
2 ½ cups sugar, divided (too much, reduce)
3 cups whipping cream
2 cups slivered almonds, toasted
8 squares, 1 oz each) semi-sweet chocolate (or 8 oz chips)

Beat egg whites with salt until they stand in peaks.
Add 1 ½ cups sugar gradually and continue beating until stiff.
Trace three 9 inch circles on brown paper (or parchment paper), placed on baking sheets.
Fill in the circles by spreading beaten egg whites.
Bake at 250 degrees for 2 ½ hours. Cool.

Melt 7 squares of chocolate and spread on cooled layers.
Let stand until chocolate is firm.Beat cream until thickened. Continue beating and add remaining sugar gradually.
Gently fold in almonds. Frost top of layers with cream.
Shave one square of chocolate and sprinkle over top. Place in freezer
Cuts best when frozen.

But I ran into a few snags, myself. As has already been shown by Simon and my little adventure a few posts prior, beating egg whites properly is really difficult. On Monday I went through a whole ten eggs (and good eggs too) that never even got to the stiff point they were supposed too, they simply jumped right ahead to goop. I was not happy. So with the NEXT ten eggs I was incredibly careful, and I found a tip online about putting in a few drops of lemon juice (or anything acidic) to help hold them together.

This worked quite well and I got some perfect egg whites out of it. Unfortunately, I wasn't used to quite so many as ten, and so when I was pouring them from the mixing bowl I discovered that there was a whole third of egg whites at the bottom that were still liquid. Oops. So I ended up with only two layers of meringue instead of three... not the end of the world at a small seder.

But, as you can see, the meringues didn't quite come out right either. Here the one on the right is at least kind of whole, but once I tried to separate it from its paper it came entirely into pieces. I would have freaked out, except that I was overjoyed that they even tasted and felt like meringue. It's all about the small victories. So, once I had a big plate of meringue pieces I figured... what the fuck, let's dump chocolate on them anyway. After all, Carol had given me the great advice that the secret to making it come out good is to not worry how it'll look.

By the way, I melted the chocolate chips in a wide bowl that sat nicely on top of a pot of boiling water, using the steam's heat. Every now and then I'd pour a little water into the bowl to keep the chocolate from clumping too much.

Anyway, at this point I put it into the freezer to solidify the chocolate, Peter whipped the hell out of some whipping cream, and I mixed in the sugar and almonds, and spread it all on top. Since what was supposed to be three layers was really only one this left us with an abundance of sweetened, almond-filled whipped cream... no one complained. The whole thing went in the freezer for the rest of the day, and when it came out, I'll be damned if it didn't taste great. It sure as hell didn't come out like it was supposed to, but it was all held together pretty well and it was enough for six people to all have at least two slices. Good times.

Borscht and Macaroon Recipes

With the two dishes I made for the passover, while I followed recipes, I also did a fair amount of improvising. I made a test batch of the macaroons the weekend before we got together, and they turned out a bit too sweet for my liking. They also didn't stay together as well as I would have liked. So, the night I made them for y'all, I altered the recipe just a bit. IT went something like this:

About 2 egg whites
1 entire bag of shredded coconut (roughly 2.5 cups)
4-5 tables spoons of flour
3-4 table spoons of sugar
A pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Mix the dry goods together thoroughly, sugar included. Whisk the eggs till they become light in color and texture. Mix both the wet and dry ingredients together. Form the macaroons and place them on a well greased baking sheet. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until they become brown around the edges.

You can add more or less sugar to the recipe depending on how sweet you like your macaroons. I personally enjoyed them a little less sweet, with the whipped cream Eli made.

Borscht is an interesting dish, in that I am pretty sure you can make it however you want, so long as it's served cold and contains a shit-ton of beets. I made it the way my mom makes it, with whole slices of beets in the broth, but it is also common (maybe more common) to find the beets shredded. Anyway, here is how my borscht making went down:

6-8 medium sized beets
1 large onion
1/4 cup of lemon juice
3-4 table spoons of brown sugar (Used light, but dark would be tasty I'm sure)
4 cups of water

Cut the stems completely from the beets. If you like, you can include them in the soup later. I chose not to. Clean the beets well, scrubbing them with your hands. Place the beets in a large pot, and completely cover them in water. Boil them for about 15 minutes, or until they are close to being completely cooked (you should be able to poke one with a knife with little resistance). While the beets are cooking, prepare the remainder of the ingredients. Prepare the onion however you like. I elected to thinly julienne them, a task made more enjoyable by my new knife (thank you again Simon and Peter). You can also cut the stems and leaves of the beets now, should you want to include them int he soup. Once the beet are done boiling remove them from the pot,saving the water, and slide of their skins. This is fairly effortless at this point. Slice the beet however you would like. Again, I elected to slice them into roughly 1 centimeter thick discs and half discs, but whatever works. Add your 4 cups of water to the beet broth you have made. Also add your beets, onions, brown sugar, and lemon juice. Bring this mixture to a boil and immediately reduce to a low boil/simmer. Cook another 20 minutes, or until the onions and other vegetables, should you choose to add them, are cooked through. Add salt to taste.

Chill before serving, and garnish. There are many garnishes that are traditional when it comes to borscht. The most popular being hard boiled eggs and sour cream.

Word, now its everyone else's turn.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Passover 2007 continued...

Here are some of the pictures I took. Recipes to come.

You should all be embarrassed.

Passover 2007

Ahh, the Passover seder, that wonderful meal in which we stuff ourselves and recline languidly while recounting a story of slavery, oppression, plague, woe, and dead children. All in all I was pretty happy with how our seder came out, especially considering none of us had ever led one before. It was good to see that my slapdash haggadah (prayer book) didn't entirely suck, and it felt great to stumble through pages and pages of Hebrew again... reminded me of my childhood.

Of course, the food was spectacular. I wish I'd gotten more pictures of it all, so by all means those who took pictures put up what you got. Peter's deviled eggs were wondrous, as was Jen's tsimmes, and Blake's macaroons, and really everything. So for God's sake let's start upping some recipes, I'll throw up my two desserts pretty soon too.

The whipped cream gets some lovin'.

Ashkenazic charoset in all of its winey, Manischevitz-ey glory.

God wants us to recline, who are we to argue?

My desserts... looked alot better in person, I have a shitty camera.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Mistakes Were Made

“You just can’t fuck up eggs! You cant!” –Elijah Kinch Spector

Eli and I were working on a dry-run for IT, the pesach dessert. It involved beating egg whites into peaks, and the first time around we failed miserably. The eggs were overbeaten, and we were left with three cups of goopy sweetened egg-froth.

This egg-froth was greenmarket in origin, so we didn’t just want to throw it out. But we just didn’t know what to do with them. We beat the egg yolks and folded them into the whites, and then added some melted chocolate. Still nothing. After staring blankly at the froth for a while (taking copious samples for inspiration) we came up with a couple of plans:

1: throw it in the oven.
2: drink it.

The first option turned into an accidental soufflé. The second turned into a cocktail.

Chocolate-Egg Froth Base:

5 eggs
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ c sugar
1/3 c bittersweet chocolate

  • Separate the whites from the yolks.
  • Overbeat the whites until they reach the consistency of whipped cream.
  • Beat the yolks, and fold them into the whites.
  • Melt chocolate.
  • Temper chocolate with 1/3 of the meringue. Fold the chocolate mixture into the rest of the foam.

Definitely a successful mistake:

Accidental Souffle:

Chocolate-Egg Froth Base

  • Preheat oven to 265.
  • Pour the foam into baking dishes: ramekins, or a small casserole dish. Place the dishes on a cookie sheet, and the cookie sheet in the oven.
  • Bake until its done. The time will depend on the size of the dishes, but they should take at least 30 mins. You will know when they are done by the smell. Too little time in the oven, and the middle of the soufflé will be a little goopy. Too much, and it will smell a little eggy. In either case, it will be delicious.

Louis XIV drank this when he chased ribbon-pigs:

Cloches de Pâques:

6 parts Chocolate-Egg Froth Base
12 parts milk or cream
1 part Coffee Liquor
1 part vodka
Splash of Crème de Menthe

  • Pour milk, coffee liquor, vodka, and crème de menthe into small glass. Pour froth on top. Mix lightly with a spoon. Drink, and try not to think about your arteries hardening.

Note: This recipe was made with Greenmarket eggs, which are (presumably) not subject to the environmental stresses of industrial eggs. The likelihood of salmonella infection is negligible to begin with, but it is virtually non-existent in this case. Use either farm-eggs or organic eggs for this recipe (it will taste better), and don't worry about it. If you really want to worry about something, worry about auto accidentsthey're a lot more likely to hurt you than salmonella is.