Sunday, May 15, 2011

Eating from the Garden: Spring

Remember that chard that was going to need its own zip code soon?  We ate it.  It made me kind of sad to pull it up since the colors were so vibrant, but it was living where the tomatoes have been rotated this year and it was time to plant the tomatoes.  I chopped it up with about a 1/4 cup of chives from the garden, sauteed it in olive oil with garlic, salt, and pepper, and once it was wilted, added about 1 1/2 cups of vegetable broth to "braise" it in until the accompanying polenta was ready.  After a productive-but-exhausting day in the garden, it was a warm bowl of goodness.

I've been doing all kinds of cooking lately, but for some reason have photographed none of it.  Of course, when I look at the photographs on the blogs I enjoy I realize that my missing photos are no great loss.  Still working on that light-and-positioning thing for food...  I hope that since the food tastes good, though, it doesn't really matter if the photos are magazine-worthy or not; as long as the combo of ingredients is enough to make people want to experiment, that's (mostly) good enough for me.

We've been on a rhubarb kick around here lately, since the garden is being generous on that front.  I first planted rhubarb because I thought it was pretty, and had ideas of making strawberry-rhubarb pies with it.  Strangely, I've made nary a one...but I have made Oatmeal-Rhubarb Breakfast Porridge and Peach-Rhubarb Crisp.  I've also made a garden salad with roasted rhubarb, and today made Rhubarb Snacking Cake with Walnut Streusel.  The first three recipes are from this month's Eating Well magazine, and they were big hits.  The snack cake is from Cooking Light, and is a pan-full of moist, sweet goodness...but it has almost two cups of sugar, so I wouldn't boast that it's "light" even if it did come from that magazine.  (I'll post links to the recipes below.)
You can just barely see it, but the bits of rhubarb add a spring-green color to the cake (the rhubarb I'm currently growing is primarily green; I've got a red plant on order, though, because let's be honest--it's gorgeous).  Not ordinarily a color I'd want with my cake...but a long, gray winter makes me more flexible about uses of color.
The above egg picture is from a recipe I made weeks ago, and never posted.  I also have sorrel in my garden, and it is one of the earliest things to start rearing its lovely, verdant head in spring.  As the first green I can eat out of my own garden, I have to say I'm pretty fond of it.  I grew it on a lark; read about it in a catalog and thought, "Why not?  If it's good enough for the French, it's good enough for me!"  Then it came up, and I thought, "Okay, what the hell do I do with this?"  A search led me to this baked egg dish.
It's easy and delicious, and it makes a great presentation if you're having company.  You might have to grow your own sorrel, though, because I've never seen it in markets anywhere.  I'm thinking you could substitute spinach.

Baked Eggs with Sorrel
serves 2 (but is easily multiplied)

1 tbsp butter, for ramekins
2 cups chopped sorrel
2 large eggs
2 tsp heavy cream (but I've also used skim milk, and even cream cheese, in a pinch)
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tbsp chopped chives

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Rub the insides of two ramekins with the butter, and divide the sorrel between them.  Bake in the oven until the sorrel is completely wilted, about 5-8 minutes.  (It will be a camouflage green and almost look like something has gone horribly awry.  Not to worry.)
2.  Crack an egg into each ramekin, and add a teaspoon of cream to each.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until the eggs are set to your taste; for firm whites but still moderately runny yolks (how I like them) bake about 10 minutes (start checking at 8, though, because it's a different dish once the yolks set--not bad, but different).
3.  Remove from oven, sprinkle with chives, and enjoy.

Rhubarb-Sour Cream Cake with Walnut Streusel

Eating Well rhubarb recipes


Missie said...

I find the comment about a "red rhubarb plant" interesting. Chuck's dad is a rhubarb farmer, and we would get roots from him. The green and red plants were the same- the difference is how they are grown. To get a red stalk, the plant must be grown in the dark. I'm wondering if they genetically engineered a red plant that can grow outdoors because of how it is favored for it's color. Or if they are a bunch of lying bitches. Definiiely keep me posted on this development! :)

Christine said...

Hey Missie--yes, I think they've created a red plant. I'll let you know for sure next spring, though. :)
Rhubarb farmer, eh?
I bet they don't have to do standardized testing...

Missie said...

I can't wait to see pictures next spring. I'm curious how the reds compare. The plants from Chuck's dad would be the deepest, most scarlett red. They looked fake. And they would have almost no leaves, and what little there was would be white.

And because I know you're all about experimenting with greens- rhubarb leaves have a toxin in them, so no sauteeing those up!

Maddie starts her SOL's tomorrow.