Darlings! La Diva started out with the best of intentions. I really did. When I planned my weekly menu based on last week's CSA mystery box, I thought I came up with some creative and healthy options and was excited to try out the dishes. But, for some reason, half of the anticipated dishes didn't quite turn out the way I had planned. While the meals were certainly healthy, the taste and texture did not measure up.
Why does La Diva post kitchen failures as well as my (mostly!) successful dishes? So we can ALL learn from MY mistakes! I have realized that even the most seasoned chefs and experienced cooks make mistakes in the kitchen, are victims of poorly written recipes and sometimes, no matter what you do or how hard you try, the actual food might even fail you too! (or your understanding on how to use that food!) If you are a fan of the show Top Chef, you'd have seen the last episode with all of their kitchen mishaps. No cook is immune from sometime kitchen disasters and I post mine eagerly for commiseration and advice from YOU!
Weekly wrap up from Mystery Box 12-12-09:
- Betel Leaf Salad with shredded Carrot : Thumbs DOWN.
Well, according to Farmer Margie and other CSA bloggers, you really need to COOK the betel leaf and use it sparingly (like a condiment) This salad was inedible and the betel leaf added a smoky, medicine taste that just did not work in a salad. BOO! However, after reading comments about the smoky but tasty flavor imparted by cooking the leaf in other dishes reported, an undaunted Diva will give it another shot. (That is if it makes it into the mystery box again!)
- Vegan Thai green curry with stir -fried tofu, eggplant, green peas, water chestnuts and Thai basil: Thumbs DOWN.
I usually make this dish with beef instead of tofu but thought I'd switch it up and make a veggie version in my quest to be "healthier" and "green" by eating less meat. I often cook vegetarian meals and in order to satisfy my big bear-man side-kick, DJ Nevah L8, am conscious of providing the big guy with a satiating meal that will keep him from going back into the kitchen rummaging for more food an hour after dinner. Didn't work this time. While the flavor of the curry was great, I should have listened to my instincts regarding the "mush" factor. In spite of the addition of water chestnuts to give the curry a bit of crunch and texture, the bland, mushiness of the tofu and eggplant combo (even though I stir-fried them both before adding to the curry!) resulted in a less than appetizing main that was not satiating. Perhaps I should have thrown in some sugar snap or snow peas at the last minute instead of regular?
Yum, yum, yum! I always enjoy a good comforting risotto and this combo is a keeper! I sauteed the tougher green chard stems with white onions, celery and garlic before adding the rice and broth. I also sauteed the sliced sausage and add it at the end with the chopped green leaf part of the chard. Successful and satisfying!
The photo makes the dish look better than it tasted! And on top of it, the Brussels sprouts (which I usually LOVE) were bitter too! DRAT!
- Fish baked en papillote with garlic tomato sauce served over braised greens on quinoa: Thumbs DOWN.
SOUNDED like it was going to be good, didn't it? Well, some of it was. The garlic tomato sauce was perfect and I cooked the quinoa in chicken broth for added flavor. But the greens were too bitter to be used in tandem with the fish and I ended up eating them separately instead of with the fish. And for some reason, this batch of flash-frozen tilapia fish I bought from Costco was unusually fishy and the Brussels sprouts were bitter as well . We both hardly ate the dinner.
- Chinese pepper "steak" using chicken breasts but did chicken fajitas instead: Thumbs UP!
Seeing as my weekly menus were just not turning out as expected, I ditched the idea to make pepper steak with chicken and instead did a satisfying stand-by that I knew would get excellent results: chicken fajitas! I make my own taco seasoning and added that to the strips of chicken and stir-fried with onions, red and green peppers and then simmered with a bit of water and thickened with Wondra. Wow. Best dinner all week!
- Vegetable soup: Thumbs UP!
Notice I only posted photos of the dishes that DIDN'T turn out? That's because we ate the good meals too quickly to get in a photo opp while the other crappy meals languished on their plates!
CSA Mystery half-share box for 12-19-09:
- Collard greens
- White turnips and tops
- Green bell pepper (that is huge!)
- One yellow squash and one zucchini
- One very large tomato
- Avocado and grapefruit: Last season I paired the two with goat cheese and pomegranate dressing over yukina savoy for a lovely salad. I have some mixed greens and feta instead but will sprinkle over some fresh pomegranate seeds, yum!
- Parsley and tomato: The parsley will be made into a refreshing tabbouleh salad for my lunch during the week: parsley, bulgur, tomatoes, onion and lemon! I never use mint in my salad but if I had some, I'd toss it in as this recipe does.
- As a fairly "new" resident to the South (ok, I'm goin' on my FIFTH year here in Miami!) I STILL have not made grits and only made collard greens for the first time last season. I thought this recipe looked tasty and all I have to get from the store is a nice ol' hamhock for flavoring. This recipe is from Atlanta chef Hugh Acheson: Collard greens and grits.
- Oh dear, my nemesis THE TURNIP! I say that because I find turnips to be a bit bitter and prefer the sweetness of a parsnip over a turnip and really struggled finding ways to enjoy this veggie last season. But, I vowed this year to be more creative in utilizing this vegetable and found a recipe for turnip gratin! I better use the greens too, Bill over at Tinkering with Dinner is sooo good at using his greens, I'll take a look at what he does with his!
- Green bell pepper: Not sure what to do with this but it's sheer size makes me want to cut it in half and stuff it! We'll see.
- Yellow squash and zucchini: I'm not sure if I'll use these as sides, in a stir fry or in a family recipe called simply Squash Stew! (Ok, my dad calls it some crazy bastardized Sicilian version of Italian and NO, we won't "go there!" "Zucca" means squash in Italian and his name for the stew is nothing like that, crazy Sicilian!) I use garlic, ground turkey (or beef) tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, kidney beans, squash, Italian seasonings and spinach and serve it all over a nice al dente rigatoni topped with freshly grated parmesan. Now that's a hearty winter meal!
What did YOU make with your CSA last week? What are YOUR ideas? Come on, TELL La Diva, I'm dying to know!cooking class, cocktails, parties, cocktail party, Miami, coral gables, events, bartending class, cocktail class, Laura Lafata, Miami Beach, miami cooking classes, bachelorette parties, bachelorette party, personal chef, corporate events, catering, personal chef, party entertainment