Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sauteed Purslane with Garlic and Balsamic Vinegar (Page 573)

RECIPE #1011

  • Date: Friday, August 14, 2009 -- 9pm
  • Location: Palo Alto, CA
  • Kitchen: Emilee and Brian's Apartment
  • Fellow Chefs: Matty, Chris, Brian, and Emily
  • Dining Companions: Emilee, Alison, Nick, Jamie, and Alex W
  • Recipe Rating: B-

I was hanging out at Emilee and Brian's place last week, lamenting the fact that I can't find some of the ingredients I need for recipes remaining in The Book. I started listing things I can't find, and at some point I mentioned purslane. Brian jumped in with, "You need purslane? There's some growing as a weed in my garden." I thought he was kidding, but he was serious and I was ecstatic! In the years since I started this project I haven't seen purslane once at a grocery store or farmer's market. Luckily Brian had some Pigweed (aka Purslane) sprouting up amongst his beautiful tomato plants. He picked me some puslane and Matty, Emilee, and Chris helped me prepare it. Picked at a different point in the season I am sure it would have been easier to prep. But as it was, it had tiny seed pods on it which contained very small seeds. For both flavor and textural reasons all those seed pods needed to be removed before I cooked the purslane and that was no small task. Even with four of us working on it, it was time consuming to get off all those little pods. Once the purslane was ready though, the recipe was very simple. I minced some garlic, and cooked it in olive oil. I added the purslane and cooked until it wilted. Then I tossed it with some balsamic, salt, and pepper. This recipe wasn't great. The flavor was ok -- purslane has a slightly sour flavor to it, which the balsamic complemented pretty well. I didn't like the texture though. The recipe said to leave in stems thinner than 1/8 inch, but I found myself wishing I had removed them all. Had I done that, however, there wouldn't have been much substance left to the dish. This dish wasn't any more special than a standard leafy-greens-cooked-in-garlic dish, but with more textural problems than if the dish had been made with, say, spinach. It wasn't terrible, but I wouldn't make it again.

This recipe isn't online.

As I am inching towards the end of this project, people have started to ask me, "Is there anything good left in The Book?" I have made 1012 of the 1293 recipes in The Gourmet Cookbook, and I can definitely say that there are some promising recipes left in the 281 I have remaining. It is also the case, however, that many of the recipes that I have left are recipes that I have put off for one reason or another. A few of those reasons are as follows:
  • Ingredients I can't find. Example recipe: Sauteed Salsify with Garlic. If anyone knows where to get one's hands on salsify I would love to know!
  • Ingredients with very short seasons. Example recipe: Shad Roe with Lemon Butter. Shad roe is only available in a short window of time, and is certainly not available in the small Midwestern town in which I live. This was the second spring in a row when I didn't manage to be in a big city during the shad roe season. Next year!
  • Equipment I don't have. Example recipe: Poached Salmon in Aspic. This recipe required a 24-inch long fish poacher, which I just don't have.
  • Recipes that are crazy expensive. Example recipe: Classic Foie Gras Terrine. Eventually I will certainly shell out the cash for the 1.5 pounds of Grade A foie gras called for in this recipe, but I haven't talked myself into it quite yet!
  • Recipes that don't sound too delicious. Example recipe: Crispy Sweetbreads with Parsnip Potato Puree, Braised Endives, and Port Sauce. Can't you just imagine me inviting friends over for dinner? They ask, "So what are we having?" If the answer, "Thymus glands," alone wouldn't scare them off, the answer, "Thymus glands with parsnips," would be sure to!
  • Recipes I have promised to save for certain friends. Example recipe: Molasses-Cured Pork Shoulder Bacon. Essentially every man I know has requested to be present for the cure-your-own-bacon adventure!
  • Recipes that are ridicuously unhealthy. Example recipe: Santa Fe French Toast. This French toast has heavy cream instead of milk in the soaking mixture, and is deep-fried instead of pan-fried. Crazy! I have put it off due to how insanely unhealthy it is, but I think I am finally going to make it for dinner tonight!
So, yes, many of the recipes that I have left are ones that I have postponed for a reason. But there are also some easy, delicious-sounding recipes on the horizon. For example: Brandied Sour Cherry and Pear Tarlets. I am sure the next year will be just as delicious as the last couple have been!


mike hill said...

Save the nasty sweetmeat one for me. I've been curious to try that for a while. Oh, and that French toast. We can make a day of it!

You should update your wishlist with some of the other hard to find things.

Daniel Mellis said...

I too, would enjoy feasting on thymus glands and parsnips.

Teena said...

It's good to know I have some support for the delicious thymus glands.

I will update the wishlist soon.