Saturday, January 02, 2010

Recipe 2: Salsa verde

I'm giving myself a D- on this assignment and making myself redo the work tomorrow (or whenever), in punishment for poor preparation and research, even though it turned out sort of good in the end.

The first thing about salsa verde is that I've decided to just call it green sauce because where I come from salsa goes with guacamole and tortilla chips and every time I read the word salsa verde I got annoyed and resentful, and being angry at your food is never a good idea. (Why yes I did read Water for Chocolate, thank you for asking.)

Anyway, the first cock-up was spending $9.98 for basil, tarragon and dill at Pavilions in a hail-mary pass attempt to obtain the tender herb on which green sauce is based. Well, it's none of them, although basil and tarragon can be supplements; the main deal is parsley. Not that Pavilions had fresh parsley anyway. And no I had no one of this stuff in my garden; it's all dead of wintery. I did, however, make the cashier happy by buying dill. He got to smell it and it made him smile. It made me smile, too.

Anyway, back at the ranch, I did Alice's thing of laying out all the ingredients ahead of time so I could see them, I propped up the cookbook behind my brand-new butcher-block cutting board (I am on expensive but probably worthwhile anti-plastic rampage), and set about making green sauce.

The good news is that I had the sense to start preparing the non-tender ingredients first. Parsley (or whatever) was listed first on the ingredients list but if I'd chopped it first, it would have turned black in the time in took me to prep everything else. (Lemon zest stresses me out. I fear pith.)

Things were chopped and cleaned and measured and it all looked lovely, but what I failed to taken into account is that coarsely chopping parsley and coarsely chopping basil (the herb I decided to use in lieu of the missing parsley) gets you two very different-sized results. Basil big, parsley small, blah.

Barreling forward, I mixed it all together as ordered by Alice, but there was no chance in heck that the ginormous basil pieces were going to really integrate with the rest of the goodies. I set it aside to let the flavors marry, again as ordered by Alice, but at that stage in the game I declared the overall project a total failure.

So I made potato pancakes out of the Good Housekeeping cookbook instead.

I grew potatoes for the first time this year, and I've been saving them for a special occasion, but I just discovered they've mostly all sprouted, so they're off to the compost heap where they might just grow into potatoes again. I could replant them, to be sure, but growing potatoes is this whole meshuguna and if they don't grow in the compost pile (which they very well might), I'm happy to let them be worm food.

The red ones all were pretty unsprouty, though (apparently the reds were what are known as good "keepers"), so they got assigned to potato-pancake duty. (Is it a duty or is it an honor?) Naturally, of course, I decide to supplement my meager homegrown potato supply with one from the store, and when I get to shredding that one, halfway through the potato-shredding project, I discover that one is green.

Yes, green. As in, never ever eat a green potato as it is evil and poisonous and has been lying in wait to kill you. For an optimistic few minutes I thought I could pick out the green bits but that was a lost cause and it's not worth risking the baby's health, so...compost pile.

I made do with what I had left, plus some homegrown garlic (no onions in the house) and homegrown rosemary-thyme, and by god, these pancakes are pretty good if I do say so myself.

As a happy postscript, I stuck my finger in the green sauce while waiting for the potato pancakes to cook up, and that too was pretty darn good. It would be overselling it to say it was supermegadelicious (™ Top Chef Gail), but I totally get green sauce now, if for no other reason than capers make everything amazing. So...not a total wash.

Still, I have no idea what one does with green sauce once it exists or what it's supposed to look like (mine looks ridiculous, like green-leaf soup in an olive-oil broth), so after I do remedial homework, I will tackle it again soon.

Next up: Green sauce (this time with new, more regionally appropriate branding), and then after that aolii, aoili, aioli, which I'm going to have to learn to spell before I can cook it properly.

No comments: