Saturday, April 4, 2009

Dandelion Greens and Cookbooks

I subscribe to several food magazines. I’m currently annoyed with one of them since I keep receiving back issues, bills, renewal notices, and finally the current issue of the magazine. (I don’t need a copy of a magazine that had already been removed from newsstands before I ordered my subscription, I paid my bill in full, my subscription does not expire for at least eight months – let me breathe, and why does my copy not come until about two weeks after the magazine hits the stand?) Okay, rant over. On to a magazine that has made me very happy: the May issue of Bon Appetit.

This week my CSA box threw me another curve ball: dandelion greens. I wish I’d taken a photo before I cooked them; they really looked like a weed. And raw, they tasted rather bitter. Serendipitously, I saw an article about spring greens in Bon Appetit the next evening that included a recipe called Chicken and Spring Greens Gratin, and dandelion greens were one of the recommended varieties. I made the gratin last night and it was excellent, though not terribly photogenic. The greens were no longer bitter, and went nicely with the chicken and eggs. You can find the recipe here. The only things I did differently from the original recipe were use whole milk rather than cream, and add extra chicken. I resisted my initial instinct to add cheese to the dish, and I’m glad I didn’t because it really doesn’t need it. Oh, and apparently dandelion greens are very good for you.

The May issue also had an article about California, which mentioned a newly-opened bookstore in San Francisco called Omnivore Books on Food. Mr. Penpen and I had a free day today, so we made the jaunt over the bridge so I could check it out (we also had lunch and took Ms. Ears to the beach for some good off-leash fun, in order to make the trip more interesting for other parties). The store is wonderful, but a little overwhelming. They have everything gastronomical: antique and rare books, popular new titles, gardening, food writing - even fresh eggs. In the brief time I was there, I overheard the proprietor having conversations with a local author and a chocolatier – fascinating! Having this glorious store close to home more than makes up for Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks being closed when I went to New York last year.

I showed amazing self-restraint, and only purchased one book, Bake Until Bubbly: The Ultimate Casserole Cookbook, by Clifford A. Wright, the same man who wrote the recipe for the gratin. With this book in hand, I should be able to handle any future odd greens thrown my way.


Elyse said...

Mmm, I love your use of greens in this dish. How delicious!! And, as for that new bookstore, I may have to BART in to San Fran to checdk it out. Good job showing self-restraint!! (I'm not sure I could've been so restrained.)

Jessica said...

What a fun day you all had! I agree that the May issue of BA is a good one. I'm so impressed with your use of dandelion greens to make a tasty dinner. I've had them mixed in my salad quite frequently but I've never had them any other way.

JoAnn Freda said...

Knowing what I know about you, I'm guessing this is your first contact with dandelions. I've pulled a countless number of these from my gardens over the years (they look like a weed because they are a weed) but I've never cooked or eaten then. You are now officially a more adventuresome and more experienced cook than I. Your dish sounds delicious and I'll have to develop a new attitude toward dandelions.