Radish Greens

 

Keep and cook the greens from those radishes, for a bright accent vegetable - www.inhabitedkitchen.com

No, I didn’t know you could eat radish greens, either, until a couple of years ago!

To begin with, of course, I never even saw radish greens in grocery stores… Radishes came completely naked in little plastic bags. I did know, in theory, that they didn’t actually grow that way… but you sure couldn’t tell from the produce section. And while some greens are quite edible, indeed vegetables in their own right – such as beet greens or turnip greens – some are too tough or fibrous, and some may have mild toxins (rhubarb – and I always heard carrot, though I’m seeing that argued. I won’t eat carrot greens, though, until and unless I see something more definitive than I have so far.)

Keep and cook the greens from those radishes, for a bright accent vegetable - www.inhabitedkitchen.com

Well, it turns out that radish greens are routinely cooked and eaten in India. Many of the dishes that we are used to seeing made of spinach – Saag Panir, for example – are actually made from any assortment of a variety of greens, including radish. Now, they are a bit sharp tasting, so they are generally used (so far as I can tell) either in a mixture with other greens or in a dish with other flavors to mitigate the sharp flavor – dairy, for example.

But meanwhile… the other greens are barely sprouting, but radishes grow very quickly, so I got a big bunch, including greens, from the farm market. And I will use them for my annual How To Cook Greens post. I like to write this, just as a reminder of method, a refresher, and, of course, for those who weren’t reading one or two years ago…

So – here are my most basic directions for cooked greens. I use this method for all but the toughest – I do not like collards cooked this way, or the sturdiest curly kale in late Fall and Winter. They really do need a long simmer. But most kale and most mustard greens do better with light cooking, to my taste, at least, than with simmering… and this is far and away the better method with anything else I’ve had to cook.

Keep and cook the greens from those radishes, for a bright accent vegetable - www.inhabitedkitchen.com

The first thing to really understand and remember is that, especially if you get them straight from the farm, greens tend to be muddy or sandy. Big commercial outfits actually have factories where they wash them – but that adds a day or two to the time they take to reach you. I’d rather get them fresher and wash them myself! (And they still really do need some washing – the machinery doesn’t get all the dirt, and they’ve sat around, and been handled, and – wash your vegetables.)

I usually cook the whole bunch at one time, I find it easier. And while you can separate leaves and wash them individually (and I do occasionally for a specific reason) I normally find it most effective to chop the bunch first, and then wash the chopped leaves. Most of the time, for most greens, I do keep the stems – but you may want to cut them out if they are woody, for instance, or even if you want to use them for another recipe (as you can with the thick stems of chard.)

Keep and cook the greens from those radishes, for a bright accent vegetable - www.inhabitedkitchen.com

Now, here’s the key part – you can’t just drop them in a colander and run water over them. That won’t remove all the grit. The most effective method is to fill a sink – or a large bowl – with water, put the greens in the water, slosh them around, and then lift them out, leaving the dirty water behind. This was, in fact, a particularly muddy batch – I suspect it was harvested on a wet day – so you really see how much can be left! When the water is this dirty, I repeat the process, until I get a clear bowl. Then I put them in a colander or strainer, or even a salad spinner, and let them drip dry.

Keep and cook the greens from those radishes, for a bright accent vegetable - www.inhabitedkitchen.comYou don’t want them completely dry – you’re going to cook them in the water clinging to the leaves – but you want only a little bit there. Take a large pan – fry pan, saute pan, wok – and heat just a little oil in it. Then add your chopped, washed leaves. Stir them around – I find it is easiest with tongs – so that all the leaves come in contact with the oiled pan. They will start to wilt pretty quickly.

Keep and cook the greens from those radishes, for a bright accent vegetable - www.inhabitedkitchen.comAt this point, cooking will depend on your individual greens, your own taste, and sometimes, how you plan to use them. If you are cooking spinach to add it to something else that will cook more, you can stop now. If you are cooking something hardy like kale or mustard, you may want to continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for as long as ten minutes. The radish greens were in the middle – they’re not a tender green, but they were going to be further cooked so I didn’t want to overcook them.

Depending on your vegetables, though, you may find liquid collecting in your pan. Some of this may be from the leaves, if you didn’t get them dry enough, These were actually pretty dry, though – this liquid cooked out of the greens. You can boil it away, discard it, keep it for stock, serve it with the greens… there isn’t usually very much.

In this case, I left most of the liquid and some of the greens in the pan, and added them to the dinner I was cooking. Most of the radish greens I removed and drained – and used in my next batch of egg muffins. They were wonderful in them – there’s enough going on with the egg and ham that the sharpness of the radish was an accent, not annoying.

 

 

 

WIAW 66 – Yes, More Biscuits…

What I ate Wednesday - a day of gluten free whole food.  www.inhabitedkitchen.com

Well, I was still knee deep in biscuits – but now that I’ve posted the recipe, I think I’ll give them a rest. They’ll be back, but maybe not for a week or three. (The fact that Rich was away for  lunch every day, and often late for dinner, meant that I ate almost all of them… normally he’d have shared the sampling!)

What I ate Wednesday - a day of gluten free whole food.  www.inhabitedkitchen.com

Breakfast – yesterday’s biscuits, split and toasted, to be sure I could. And cheesy eggs…  I’m pulling away from the bean breakfasts a bit, need to work on more options. I may go back to a protein shake, in the hot weather, especially as fruit comes in  – we’ll see…

And now I’m in salad season! Well… as soon as I got the salad greens, we had a couple of cold days when soup was welcome – but now we’ve swung hot again. Allow me a moment to be an old curmudgeon, and complain that I remember the days when we had a real Spring in New York – when it gradually warmed, with bright shiny warm days… Cool in the morning, and you’d carry your jacket home. Not this swing from cold to hot to cold to hot…  I just read a piece saying that the writer had never seen Spring in New York. I have, and lovely ones – but not recently.  (You kids don’t know what real weather is… grumble, grumble…)

What I ate Wednesday - a day of gluten free whole food.  www.inhabitedkitchen.com

Anyway… The market is now full of lettuce – that shot up. You get these long stems with leaves an inch apart, because it grew so abruptly! But lettuce, and radishes and scallions – and I still have carrots, and, well – I thawed and marinated some frozen broccoli (because lettuce and radishes aren’t really enough vegetable for me.) Added some cooked chicken – I have to remember, now, to always have some cooked meat handy – and cheese, and serve with the biscuits I’d just made. Maybe I will keep making biscuits… they go nicely with salad, which needs some stand alone bready object. (And if I’m eating muffins with breakfast all the time… I do want some variety.)

What I ate Wednesday - a day of gluten free whole food.  www.inhabitedkitchen.com

And dinner. Pork chops browned and braised in chicken broth, then frozen vegetables and cooked brown rice heated in the same broth. Rich was late again (this gig will last another month or so) so I cooked the chops and held them, and heated everything else when he walked in the door. Sometimes you just need to be able to do that.

And now I’m dancing over to Jenn at Peas and Crayons for her WIAW party…  where everyone seems to be eating salads!

 

 

 

 

 

Whole Grain, Gluten Free Biscuits

A tender delicate gluten free biscuit - all whole grain, no added starch. www.inhabitedkitchen.com

Well, I’ve been working on the gluten free biscuits… On and off, I’ve been working on them more than a month! (I’ve eaten more biscuits this month than in the previous 10 years… possibly the previous 20!) And the really cool thing is that none of them have been bad… in fact, they’ve all been better than any I’d made in the previous 10 years (possibly the previous 20…) but… I thought they could be better.

OK – lets go back to the beginning. I was never a good biscuit or pastry baker – I’m a bread baker, I have too heavy a hand. I waken that gluten… I bake lovely light bread, but fine cobblestones and roofing tiles, instead of biscuits and pie crust. It was bad enough with white flour, but whole wheat? I came up with some astonishingly tough material. (NASA should talk to me…)

A tender delicate gluten free biscuit - all whole grain, no added starch. www.inhabitedkitchen.com

So, OK, good – baking this stuff without gluten should be a breeze, right? I used a recipe a friend gave me using brown rice and oat flour, and… well, those biscuits weren’t tough – they were sandy. They collapsed in a shower of crumbs, and were gritty. Not as easy as I thought…

So, now… returning to it… I know More Things (and suspect or think even more.)  I know that rice flour is notoriously gritty. (I don’t know why so many recipes call for it and then complain about that… I suspect it’s a leftover from when it was hard to get any other gf flour.) I know that, cooking with wheat flour, even when you’re standing on your head to avoid wakening the gluten, you are still using its sticky quality to hold your dough together – so if you bake without it you need something that also provides that stickiness. I know that people are convinced that you need vast amounts of starch – tapioca starch, potato starch, others – in gf baking, but I think that much of that is to achieve the light and fluffy quality of commercial products that I never liked to begin with… I need whole grain for a variety of reasons – and I have preferred it for most purposes for years. I think I can bake without added starch…

The starch may also help with the stickiness, though. As do binders, such as xanthan or guar gum and psyllium husk – and, for that matter, flax and chia seeds (though to a lesser degree.) I’ve learned, though, that other flours can also help… ones that themselves have a sticky quality. Sweet rice flour, for instance – also called glutinous rice flour, and actually neither glutinous nor sweet – the rice has acquired those names because it is very sticky, and is used a lot in sweets in Asia. Masa harina does, too – and I use it in the corn muffins for that precise quality – it gives a nice tender crumb.

A tender delicate gluten free biscuit - all whole grain, no added starch. www.inhabitedkitchen.com

I also know that, even without the gluten, I need to handle the dough lightly, because a key to flaky biscuits is solid bits of butter (or other shortening) that are not melted into the dough. I decided to use buttermilk instead of plain milk, because that’s a classic… With wheat, the acid may slow down the development of the gluten and keep them tender. (You sometimes see a splash of vinegar added to pastry to accomplish that.) I have no idea it if adds anything other than flavor to gf baking, but… it does add that, so I decided to go for it.

So then I proceeded to overthink this. (My friends will tell you this is not surprising or in any way unusual…) I tried different flour blends. I tried binders. The texture was wrong, and I wasn’t getting the two inch high biscuits I was seeing elsewhere…

A tender delicate gluten free biscuit - all whole grain, no added starch. www.inhabitedkitchen.com

Then I realized those recipes were telling me to pat dough out one and a half inch thick (or even thicker…) But I was using my mom’s biscuit cutter, which is only three quarters of an inch thick. Those biscuits weren’t really rising more than mine – they were thicker to begin with… and, well, I didn’t feel the need for that. (If you do, then make them thicker… and bake them a few more minutes.) I’m making a small recipe – partly because there are only two of us, partly because that’s what fits in my mini processor… and partly because I’d rather experiment small. (It does double or even triple nicely, for a larger family. Just use a larger bowl!) And, well – the binders weren’t actually adding much – and…  I tried skipping them.

I stripped the recipe down a bit – and got what I think is a winner. No gritty rice flour. No added starch. I do use masa harina, which is corn. If corn is an issue for you, I did get decent results with sweet rice flour – try that… That was also a shade fluffier, which some may prefer. (I do think the masa harina helps the browning, though, so they may not look the same.) And no binders, which (depending on how I used them) alternately seemed to do nothing, or make the texture a bit bready.

A tender delicate gluten free biscuit - all whole grain, no added starch. www.inhabitedkitchen.com

Start with three tablespoons of butter, cut in small cubes, and pop in the freezer. Put it there at least fifteen minutes to harden. I left it as long as overnight (if I wanted biscuits in the morning) and it was fine.

Take the processor bowl, and weigh in fifty grams of millet flour, fifty grams of sorghum flour, and forty grams of masa harina. (All together, the equivalent of a cup of flour, if you’re comparing to your old recipes.) I seem to be using that ratio a fair bit – the millet is light and bland, the sorghum adds a mild and pleasant flavor – and the masa harina keeps it all from falling apart… Add half a teaspoon of salt, and one and a half teaspoons of baking powder, and whir the whole thing briefly to mix. At that point, if the timing works, you can stick that in the fridge, too, to chill – probably only worthwhile if you have a hot kitchen.

A tender delicate gluten free biscuit - all whole grain, no added starch. www.inhabitedkitchen.com

And now you start working quickly. Pull the butter out of the freezer, add it to the processor bowl, and whir very briefly. You do not want to blend it smooth, you absolutely do want to still have little visible bits of butter. (I think you can see it in the picture?) Flaky butter gives you flaky pastry. Then pour in half a cup of cold buttermilk (don’t take it out until you are ready for it) and just barely whir it to start mixing it – again, you do not want it smooth, because that will work the butter into the flour.

A tender delicate gluten free biscuit - all whole grain, no added starch. www.inhabitedkitchen.com

If you have a handy dandy marble slab like this, go ahead and use it – but you don’t really need it (though it helps keep the dough cool, especially if you can chill it first.) I did several batches on wood, and it worked fine.  I put a sheet of waxed paper down on the board or slab so that I don’t have to add flour to prevent sticking, and dumped the rough dough out onto that – I do recommend that.

A tender delicate gluten free biscuit - all whole grain, no added starch. www.inhabitedkitchen.com

Work the dough just enough to bring it together. Use your fingers, not the palm of your hand, or use a spatula or other tool. The goal is to avoid warming it with your hands. Once it is all together, put another sheet of waxed paper over it, and then gently roll it smooth, to the thickness you want. Peel back the paper and cut the biscuits, with a quick downward motion (don’t twist the cutter.) Cut as many as you can, then pat scraps together, roll again – you’ll probably have to just pat the last ones into a round themselves. I got variously 5 or 6 biscuits from this recipe, depending on how thick I cut them. Put them on a baking pan, crowded up against each other – that helps them rise a little.

A tender delicate gluten free biscuit - all whole grain, no added starch. www.inhabitedkitchen.com

Now – bake them in a 425° oven for 15 minutes or until fully baked. Preheating that oven can be tricky… I did these in a countertop oven that heats quickly and does not heat the kitchen badly. If I were baking in my regular oven, though, which heats the whole kitchen, I would cut the biscuits first, and pop them in the fridge while heating the oven, rather than try to cut biscuits in a 90° room… If you can get far enough away from your stove, that may not be an issue, but I cannot. You also have the freedom to set them up ahead of time, and bake them right before dinner… (as long as that is double acting baking powder.)

A tender delicate gluten free biscuit - all whole grain, no added starch. www.inhabitedkitchen.com

In general, one confusing thing I’ve found about gluten free baking is that things don’t brown the way wheat does – awkward if browning has always been one of your cues that something is baked…  This batch did develop a nice delicate brown – but some of the others did not, so don’t count on it. The biscuits do rise a little, enough that I can split them, and they have a good tender crumb.

All in all, once I’d done it a few times, it was much easier to bake the biscuits than describe the method. And what I ended up with (undoubtedly at least partly because I practiced, but also because I do think this is a good recipe) were absolutely the best biscuits I’ve ever made in my life. Which means I can start using them in other recipes – shortcake, and pot pie, and fruit slump, and sausage gravy, and…

A tender delicate gluten free biscuit - all whole grain, no added starch. www.inhabitedkitchen.com

 

Whole Grain, Gluten Free Biscuits

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 5-6 biscuits

Whole Grain, Gluten Free Biscuits

Tender, delicate, gluten free biscuits - all whole grain, no added starch, no gums. Enjoy biscuits with gravy, or shortcake again!

Ingredients

  • 3 T butter
  • 50 g millet flour
  • 50 g sorghum flour
  • 40 g masa harina
  • 1/2 salt
  • 1 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 c buttermilk

Instructions

  1. Cut butter in small pieces and place in freezer for at least 15 minutes. (Longer is fine.)
  2. Weigh the dry ingredients into the work bowl of a food processor. Blend.
  3. Add the butter from the freezer, blend very briefly, until butter is just barely cut in but still in pieces.
  4. Add buttermilk, and blend very briefly.
  5. Turn out onto a piece of waxed paper, and just work the dough enough to pull it together. Cover with more waxed paper, and roll out.
  6. Use a biscuit cutter or other round cutter to cut biscuits. Roll scraps together for the last - work the dough as little as possible.
  7. Bask at 425 for 15 minutes or until done.
http://www.inhabitedkitchen.com/2015/05/whole-grain-gluten-free-biscuits/

 

Tender delicate gluten free biscuits- all whole grain, no added starch or gum.  www.inhabitedkitchen.com

A Simple Spring Dinner

Fresh spinach and a filet of fish, ready in about 10 minutes - www.inhabitedkitchen.com

It’s here! Spring has (finally) arrived! It’s been unseasonably cold, then unseasonably warm, then chilly, then downright hot… and now we’re going in to Memorial Day Weekend at 60° – the farmers must be going crazy, and I hate to think how this is confusing the plants… But I got to Greenmarket this week (I didn’t, last week) and the Spring vegetables were in!

I didn’t get a lot – Rich has a crazy schedule this week, so the asparagus and strawberries will wait (and, around here, they’ll just get better over the next few weeks… only a few stalls had them yet.) But I have salad greens – I’ve been wanting salad, the days it was 85°!

And a lovely big bag of spinach. Finally, something fresh and green…

Fresh spinach and a filet of fish, ready in about 10 minutes - www.inhabitedkitchen.com

Rich had yet another day of coming home very late to dinner. Usually I cook something that will hold over well, and reheat it when he gets in – but that didn’t feel right with the lovely fresh greens. But spinach cooks in just a few minutes… and then I thought… I had some tilapia filets in the freezer. Instead of holding dinner for him, how about making one so easy and quick that I could cook something fresh for each of us, without it being a hassle?

Well – I set up the rice cooker – I didn’t mind keeping rice warm…  and I took the fish out of the freezer to thaw. I’d actually put together a packet of four very thin filets – two each – which would cook even more quickly than if I had one larger one for both of us, as I more often would. And of course it thawed very quickly.

Fresh spinach and a filet of fish, ready in about 10 minutes - www.inhabitedkitchen.com

When I was ready for dinner, I cut the spinach leaves into manageable pieces, and used a salad spinner to wash and dry enough for one serving. Usually I leave greens a little damp, so the steam will help cook them, but not spinach – it is too tender. I decided to use butter for flavor, instead of oil, and melted just a little in the pan, then added the spinach. I stirred it around until is just started to soften, then pushed it all over to the side, melted a touch more butter, and added the fish.

Fresh spinach and a filet of fish, ready in about 10 minutes - www.inhabitedkitchen.com

When I’m cooking meat – a chop, steak, other slice of meat – I usually brown both sides quickly on high heat, then lower the light, cook it until it is cooked more than halfway through, then turn again to finish it. Fish is more delicate, though, and can fall apart when cooked – so I left it on the first side about two minutes, then turned it, and cooked it the rest of the way without disturbing it. I would give a thicker filet more than two minutes, but the principle is the same – I want to turn it while the center is still raw, so it will hold together.

Anyhow, I turned it as soon as the first side was done, stirred the spinach around some more. Fish and spinach were done about the same time (Don’t count on that – a larger filet will take longer, or you might prefer the spinach cooked more or less than I do. There won’t be more than a few minutes difference, though.) I removed each from the pan as ready, and put it on a plate with the cooked rice.

Fresh spinach and a filet of fish, ready in about 10 minutes - www.inhabitedkitchen.com

Then I deglazed the pan. That sounds fancy, but really  it’s very simple. There was a little browned butter and juices from the fish and the spinach stuck on the bottom of the pan, and I don’t want to waste flavor… so I poured in just a tiny splash – maybe a teaspoon for the one serving – of champagne  vinegar. I chose that because it’s a little milder than the other wine vinegar I have on hand – I did think of using rice vinegar, which is still milder. (Or you can use a little wine, if you have it on hand, or just broth or even water, though I prefer the acid of the vinegar.) I just let it boil and stirred it around, scraping the pan, so all the goodness came up into the liquid, and then poured it over the fish and rice. The vinegar smells very strong when boiling – it may seem too strong, then – but I really didn’t taste the acidity at all… just a bit of a perk of flavor.

Fresh spinach and a filet of fish, ready in about 10 minutes - www.inhabitedkitchen.com

And a friend had just been talking about nutmeg, which reminded me – it’s lovely in spinach, and works nicely on a mild white fish, and I tend to forget all about it… You can get it ground, and you can get whole nutmegs and a grater – but I have this nifty jar of broken pieces that lets me grind it fresh with a bit less fuss… and the fresh ground has so much more flavor than anything that’s been sitting around already ground. I really used just a little, a few grinds, rather like pepper.

So there it was, and it was lovely, and I ate and enjoyed it all. Then I washed more spinach, to be ready. When Rich finally got home at 10, I put the pan on the stove, and his dinner was ready in the time it took him to put his things away and wash up…  nice and fresh, not warmed over. And that is worth something.

Sharing at Gluten Free Fridays

A Simple Spring Dinner - Fish Filet and Spinach

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 1 serving

A Simple Spring Dinner - Fish Filet and Spinach

Fresh spinach and a filet of fish, ready in about 10-15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 oz. fresh spinach leaves
  • Butter
  • 5-6 oz. filet of tilapia or other mild white fish
  • 1 t champagne vinegar
  • nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Chop spinach coarsely, and remove root ends and, if desired, stems. (These were tender enough to keep.) Wash carefully to remove sand, then dry.
  2. Melt a little butter in a pan, Add the spinach, and stir lightly until is starts to soften and shrink a little. Push it to the side.
  3. Add more butter if needed. Place the filets in the pan. Cook about 2-3 minutes, until the outside facing the pan is cooked but the center is still uncooked, turn over. Cook another 3-6 minutes, or as needed to cook through - be careful not to overcook.
  4. While fish is cooking, stir spinach occasionally. Remove from pan when done to taste. Remove fish when done.
  5. Add vinegar to pan and deglaze. Pour over fish.
  6. Grate nutmeg over fish and spinach.
  7. Serve at once.

Notes

This is a single serving - it can be increased, or can be made one serving at a time if people are not eating at the same time.

http://www.inhabitedkitchen.com/2015/05/a-simple-spring-dinner/

WIAW 65

Biscuits and ham!  www.inhabitedkitchen.com

And we’re here again!

You may notice a certain sameness to my meals the other day… I’m knee deep in biscuits, right now. I have this unshakeable (so far) conviction that I can make a gluten free whole grain baking powder biscuit that is good. The fact that everyone tells me that I need to add a ton of starch to make a biscuit does not discourage me. This is at least partly based on the fact that my rejects now are better than any biscuits I ever made with wheat – even white pastry flour –  in my life… And I’m stubborn.

So, anyhow – I had this ham, and I’m baking biscuits, so I’m eating ham and biscuits…

Biscuits and ham! www.inhabitedkitchen.com

For breakfast I ate biscuits from the day before, split and toasted, with fried ham and eggs. (I do prefer my eggs cooked until solid, but even I don’t eat them that cooked, usually – I was distracted.) Yes, the biscuits were a bit flat for splitting. I’m working on that…

Biscuits and ham! www.inhabitedkitchen.com

Lunch was – more biscuits – and ham. And another one with cheese which I seem to have missed photographing. I’m realizing the recipes I see tell you to pat your dough an inch or even an inch and a half  thick – my mom’s biscuit cutter is only three quarters of an inch high. Maybe they aren’t really rising more than mine… if they’re twice as high to begin with…

Ham and cheese www.inhabitedkitchen.com

Dinner – after a couple of batches of biscuits, I didn’t use the oven… This is basically the ham and cheese casserole but not baked… just assembled in the pan. Baking is nice for texture and flavor, but this is OK… and easy… (There is ham in there. I have no idea why you can’t see it.)

I don’t even eat biscuits much – Northern girl, here – but my shortcakes are biscuits (not spongecake – that’s not a short cake!)  and they are useful components of other recipes. Back in the day, they were one of the few commercial convenience foods I really did use – those pop it cans? Maybe half a dozen times a year, but they were really handy – and they’re no longer an option for me.

All right, then – Jenn’s What I Ate Wednesday party has floated over to Arman’s Big Man’s World (which in turn has floated here to New York City!) Come see what everyone is eating!

 

What I Ate Wednesday 65 - biscuits and ham! www.inhabitedkitchen.com