Friday, September 17, 2010

Recipe Roundup - Eating Carrot Tops and Tomato Leaves

When my life had some semblance of routine and I always had Mondays off (and when it wasn't Adventure Monday), I would take that day to cook all of my lunches and dinners for the entire week, so that I'd only have to cook and clean up after cooking one night a week. Now that I'm done traveling, I'd like to restart this. When it's not Adventure Monday I'm also going to keep track of what I make, sometimes, if not always, in this blog. So here's what was made and how it turned out and where I got the recipe (or if I made it up) this week.

1. Bread. I found this recipe for Sesame No Knead Bread, a more whole-grain adaptation of Mark Bittman's recipe, which I used to make with 100% whole wheat flour once or twice every week. Changes I made were to use semolina flour instead of cornmeal and about half a cup of quinoa flour, simply because I ran out of spelt flour. There are no pictures of the resulting bread. I ate it all. I am still on a quest for the perfect sandwich bread, preferably using no more than half all-purpose/bread flour.

2. Tomato and Fig Soup with Cumin. From Moro East. Ever since I got this book with my credit card reward points, I have been waiting for summer, waiting for tomatoes and figs to be ripe at the same time, to make this soup. The time is finally here. The soup was good and has lasted all week.

3. Pasta. I made this sardine pasta. Boy, it just seems like I have a crush on Mark Bittman, doesn't it? Lacking breadcrumbs, I used semolina flour. Lacking parsley, I used carrot tops. Did you know they were edible? I didn't! More on this later.

3. Roast Chicken of the Week. With Beets, Apples, and Maple-Harissa Sauce. Now that it's cool enough to use the oven, I plan to roast chicken with different vegetables and flavors as much as once a week. Using apples left over from our Cloud Cap Adventure that I still need to write about in its entirety. Sometimes, ideas for recipes start to form in my head, and I fixate on them until I make them or move on to something else. (Note that I still have not made wasabi ginger pear ice cream, although that may have been just a drunk idea.) I wanted to roast the apples with beets, and also maple syrup and ginger, with a chicken on top. On Monday morning, I got the idea to add harissa. The resulting sauce was as follows:
Maple-Harissa Chicken and Beet Roasting Sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
2-3 tbsp harissa (North African hot sauce)
3-4 smashed garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 tbsp ras-el-hanout (North African spice blend, substitute curry powder or a mixture of spices you like)
I rubbed this on the chicken and dumped it in a bowl with small whole beets (unpeeled), apple wedges, and red onion pieces. I stuffed as much of these as would fit into the cavity of the chicken. The rest were smooshed into the bowl around the chicken. I covered it with a plastic wrap hairnet and let it sit in the fridge until I was ready to cook, about 4 hours. I cooked it in a large roasting pan with a rack for about an hour. And? It wasn't like I imagined. The maple-harissa sauce only came through with the vegetables, not the chicken. However, it was really, really good. The roasting pan is a pain to clean, my next roast chicken experiment will be in a tarte tatin pan or cast iron skillet with vegetables in place of a rack. I will risk a soggy chicken bottom to not have to clean that pan.

About those carrot tops. The articles I'm linking to I found as a result of MBF wondering aloud, as we left the farmers' market on Sunday, if carrot tops are edible and how they can be used. One answer is to use them as "poor man's parsley." If you're interested, here are information and recipes from the Carrot Museum. I think next I'll try the carrot top pesto with walnuts. My searching also led me to this New York Times article on eating the leaves of plants from which we normally harvest something else. The article asserts that there isn't really any evidence for the toxicity of tomato leaves (of which I, a botanist, was firmly convinced) and that they are safe, at least in small quantities cooked into tomato sauce. Hmm. There's a recipe, too.

I'm curious about this claim. The NYT article states that the alkaloid in tomato leaves is tomatine, not solanine, the latter of which is the poisonous compound in potato leaves. This isn't in the article, but I thought that solanine broke down when it was boiled anyway. Does this mean boiled tomato leaves are safe?

It's good enough for Chez Panisse, apparently, and cheap enough for partially-employed people like me.

Expect updates on carrot leaf pesto, any cooking that's done with tomato leaves, and actual pictures of food in the future.

1 comment:

Deb said...

I do all of my cooking for the week on Sunday. It makes life so much easier & I eat soooo much healthier if I have choices in my refrigerator. I carry a cooler as a lunch box & get made fun of but I like it. Ha!