Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Garlic Scape Pesto

My tomatoes and garlic are like two ships passing in the night: as the toms happily put out new shoots in their roomy pots, the leaves on the garlic plants start to droop and turn brown.  They were putting up scapes like crazy a few weeks ago, so I made garlic scape pesto.  I grow German Extra Hardy, a hard-neck garlic.

Garlic scapes are that central curly-cue thing, and they are completely edible and delicious.  If you let them keep growing, they will turn into a pretty garlic flower.  But I want garlic, not flowers, so I had to behead the flower buds in service of a higher purpose.  And I am very purposeful about my garlic.

The pesto itself was easy to make: just the cut-up scapes, a little olive oil, salt, pecans, and some nutritional yeast as a thickener/umami flavor (it's a good sub for parmesan cheese).  Blend blend blend in the blender.  Pesto!  This turns into an awesome crust when schmeared on some pork and slapped on the grill.  I can vouch from experience.  It's pure garlic though, so figure out how much you can handle before you go crusting willy-nilly, okay?

I've also used garlic scapes in stir-fries.  Each year's crop of garlic only produces as many scapes as bulbs (although this year one bulb put up two scapes and I am wildly curious about what is going on down below) so there wasn't a whole lot I could do with my yield.  I'll try something new next year.

Curious about what's in that bulge?  Me, too.  Look!  A beginning flower!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Late Spring Cilantro Beef

Hi all!  So, I became a 3L (pending the passing of the finals, but here's knocking on some wood) and started a new job working for a judge in very rapid succession.  I'm way behind on posts---on everything in life that fell by the wayside while I was teaching myself about those there agencies that control basically our every interaction with the government, actually.  So give me a bit of time to check things off the life to-do list and the posts will trickle back in.  Aside from simply loving my job after only a few days there, I am also thrilled to come home and not have any homework to do at night.  We'll see how long that lasts.

The U of M community garden is back and full of little seedlings (looks like we've got Fairy Tale eggplant and leeks coming our way soon!) and lots of fresh green leafy things.   This was the haul last Sunday morning:

Clockwise from top, that's curly-leaf lettuce, several varieties of basil, a mix of sugar snap and snow peas, cilantro, red-leaf lettuce, spinach, and several varieties of sage.  I love having so many fresh herbs at my disposal.  

To figure out what I should cook, I got down The Produce Bible a cookbook that Mama L, my friend Jessica's mom, gave my for my birthday last year.  It takes individual fruits, veggies, nuts, and herbs as its starting point and gives blurbs and recipes for each.  It is pretty awesome, and probably Williams-Sonoma-approved.  Anyway, this was the entry for cilantro.  I give it three and a half out of five forks---a solid dish, especially made with the rib-eye steak that was also a gift to my broke self from Mama L, and harvested from their very own grass-fed Number 14 steer.  It doesn't get any more local than that.

Cilantro Beef (not a very creative name, she added parenthetically)
Adapted from The Produce Bible by Leanne Kitchen

3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger (I used powdered and eyeballed it)
2 large handful cilantro stems, roots, and leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 lb lean beef filet, thinly sliced against the grain
(the recipe calls for 2 red onions, 1/2 a red bell pepper, and 1/2 a green bell pepper, which would annoy me because, dude, then you've got extra half-peppers lying around.  I used one yellow onion, sliced thin, and the remaining sugar snap and snow peas)
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 large handfuls of cilantro leaves, extra (Leanne takes a liberal hand with the cilantro; I did not for the running out of it, but am sure it would be delish)

Hello, # 14.

It's easiest to slice meat when it is still somewhat frozen.  I let my steak defrost on the counter and little bit and then sliced it.  And look at that quality!

Combine the garlic, ginger, cilantro, oil, and beef in a large, nonmetallic bowl.  Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

Heat a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan or wok over high heat, add the meat in three batches, and stir-fry each batch for 2-3 minutes or until the meat is just cooked.  

Remove meat from the pan and keep warm.

Heat 1 tablespoon extra oil in the pan, add the onion and cook over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes or until slightly softened.  Add the peas and cook, tossing constantly, for 2-3 minutes or until they are glossy, but still crisp.

Return the meat to the pan along with the lime juice and extra cilantro.  Toss well, then remove from the heat and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Serve immediately.