Spring is in the air. We had some of those April Showers that Bring May Flowers yesterday. Of course this is LA. It doesn’t rain much in April so the same rule applies for March, just without the cute rhyme. Which is fine with me, I don’t really like cute rhymes.
Spring has already sprung here (I do like alliterations) and I have been super busy these past few weeks. I have had my nose stuck in the oven manically working on my cookbook– plus I have been traveling quite a bit. And I have more trips to Arizona and Costa Rica planned this month. So basically I feel I missed winter and all the great things you can find at the Hollywood Farmers Market. So book be damned, I decided to walk my butt down the hill this morning and write myself a good old-fashioned Market Matters post. Gosh, remember when I used to write a Market Matters posts every Sunday? Those were the glory days this little food blog, back when there was time to cook and write whatever I wanted.
But that’s changed. Still, I awoke determined to write a Market Matters post today. But for all my determination what I didn’t have was time enough to come up with an original recipe to feature in that post.
Potlucks can be a lot of fun. Partly because they can be a lot less work than the one cook wonder. Meaning (in theory) that even the host has time to enjoy the festivities. But that doesn’t mean a Potluck Party is without stress. There’s the social pressure. The lurkingly painful doubts in the back of your head. Those little voices that say: “Will this be good enough? Will my friends like my Gramma Jeanne’s braised turnip greens?”
Then there’s the etiquette. Not just the what to bring, but the how to bring it. You need to choose wisely. Many a disaster has befallen a would be potlucker during the drive to the party. Because the challenges of potluck mean you need to choose food that will not only be delicious, but will travel well and stay good after hours of sitting on the buffet line. Slaw is always a crowd pleaser. It has real staying power too. Besides there are so many creative ways to shred vegetables. Try kale, I like to make a garlicky raw slaw with the nubbly variety known as lacinato or dinosaur kale.
There are other great ideas. It all starts this week on The Table Set with a call from a listener in Hawaii, whose weekly beachside potlucks sound like something to envy. So Andy, Nathan and I decided to talk Potluck Party. From the friend who says “bring octopus” to the idea of a Sizzler-style Salad Bar for the home. Even the High Brow/Low Brow dilemma presented by casserole– including two healthier versions of a ubiquitous Green Bean Casserole, plus a trumped up, truffled up Mac N Cheese Pie. But sometimes you want the Low Brow original, so check out Nathan’s Gala Parfait “church lady basement style” casserole cook-off, which includes a recipe for Glorified Rice that should catch attention.
There are also some new features on the show we think you’ll like. So please tune in and let us know what you think. Your comments will be greatly appreciated. Leave them on Homefries Podcast Network or on iTunes.
Since potlucks can make some people uneasy. I also put together a few simple guidelines for a successful potluck here on Sippity Sup. Because, like everything in life, the Potluck Party goes much smoother when a little common sense etiquette paves the way. GREG
It’s the dead of winter most places. But here in Hollywood, our Farmers Market is going strong. Sure, we may not have a lot of the same sorts of fresh produce we enjoy during the other three seasons. But just look around the Hollywood Farmers Market and you’ll see lots of seasonal things to love. Citrus, carrots and fennel thrive here in the cooler months.
Catching my eye today was kale. Where I live kale is a great winter green. I love it in braises and I love it in soups. But for a brief time each winter a slightly different sort of kale shows itself.
Maybe you’ve heard of it. It’s developing a bit of a cult status among chefs in the past decade or so. It has a more delicate leaf with a less fibrous stem than the curly stuff you may be used to seeing.
When I was at the market this morning I was attracted to it right away. It has a pebbly leaf and is dark greenish-blue. It’s an Italian variety that thankfully grows very well in our “Mediterranean” climate in Southern California. In a nod to its origins, it’s most commonly called Tuscan kale, but I have seen it referred to also as black kale, lacinato and dinosaur kale (presumably due to it’s reptilian, crenulated texture).
Tuscan kale has all the great qualities of its sturdier cousin. Most recipes suggest blanching the kale, then reheating it in olive oil or braising it further with a little stock. Which is a great way to go because typically kale is so chewy and so “green” tasting that it really requires a lot of wet heat to be perfectly palatable.