Lamb and Green Beans

by Anne Maxfield on July 28, 2016

Accidental Locavore Trimmed Green BeansIf the idea of a lamb and green bean stew seems a little much for the extreme weather, you might want to think twice.

At my CSA, green beans are ripe for the picking.

And it cooks pretty fast.

Ditto cleanup.

So give it a try!

Accidental Locavore Lamb and Green BeansLamb and green beans recipe:

Serves 4:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¾ pound boneless lamb, cut into ¾” cubes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, or 1 cup fresh, seeded and chopped
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 2” lengths

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan on high heat. Add the lamb and brown on all sides.

Reduce the heat to medium-high, add the onions and cook until they’re golden brown. Add the spices, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the beans to the pan, and simmer until they’re crisp-tender about another 10-15 minutes. Serve with rice pilaf or couscous and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Prepping Lamb and Green BeansMy verdict: Growing up, this was a family favorite that my mother made fairly often. The Accidental Locavore isn’t sure where/how she always had a sweet spot for Middle Eastern food, especially Armenian, where this supposedly hails from.

I hadn’t even thought about lamb and beans in years but when I was picking green beans at the farm, suddenly I just needed to make it. It was really good, especially with fresh-picked beans and local lamb and comes together in under an hour. I always add more allspice, because it’s a flavor I love.

Going against tradition (and not really feeling like messing with pilaf), I served it with some couscous, which is always the quicker/lazier/healthier(?) way to add something to soak up all the delicious sauce!

Frank loved it too and we ate it all up so sadly no leftovers…

If you want the original cookbook, Word of Mouth, which it comes from, it’s still available on amazon.com or possibly there are still copies under my mother’s bed.

 

 

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The Lechon Party

by Anne Maxfield on July 25, 2016

Accidental Locavore A Plate of LechonPossibly lechon is as traditional a July 4th dish as a hotdog.

After all, the Philippines, where lechon, or roast suckling pig is the national dish, celebrated their independence (from the US) on July 4th.

Our friend Zhu Zhu decided that a dinner featuring lechon, or roast suckling pig, would be the perfect way to celebrate the holiday weekend.

We met at the Purple Yam in Brooklyn where a large table had been set up in the back garden. It was an eclectic, fun and hungry group as is usual with Zhu Zhu’s gatherings.

Once everyone arrived, out came a beautifully golden brown pig.

Accidental Locavore LechonThe chef/owner of Purple Yam, Romy Dorotan presided over the careful carving of the pig. He encouraged everyone to dig in while the pieces of skin were still crisp.

There was a big bowl of yellow rice and two sauces for the lechon.  One was a liver sauce which uses the pig’s liver and bread crumbs. It’s rather like a thinned down pâte and went well with the pork. The other choice (and my preference) was a soy sauce with ginger and chiles.

Accidental Locavore Lechon SaucesThe skin was paper thin and crispy like a delicious potato chip. If you got a piece that had a little fat attached, it was heaven! I ended up with one of the ears, and feeling just a little guilty (it’s my dog’s favorite treat), gave it a try. All I can say was that it was great-more crunchy skin!

The Accidental Locavore has never had lechon before, so I have nothing to compare it to, but this pig was perfectly spiced, the meat had great flavor and was so tender it melted in your mouth. A high standard for future lechon and definitely worth a trip to Brooklyn!

As I was writing this, I wondered–lechon is the national dish of the Philippines, then what is the national dish of the US?

Google it and you’ll find it’s…nothing. What would be your choice for our national dish?

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Chinese Broccoli: What Is it?

by Anne Maxfield on July 21, 2016

Accidental Locavore Chinese BroccoliHave you ever had Chinese broccoli?

Me neither.

Also known as gai lan, it was one of the choices at my CSA recently and feeling brave, the Accidental Locavore tried it. It looks like just the leaves of broccoli, but bigger, with a little bud in the center.

Since it was Chinese, something Asian seemed to be appropriate.

Because I was trying to get Frank to like it, a recipe from the NY Times with anchovies seemed like it might work and conveniently this serves 2:Accidental Locavore Cooking Chinese Broccoli

  • 1 pound Chinese broccoli, rinsed and trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • ½ teaspoon minced garlic
  • 8 anchovy fillets, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine
  • ¼ cup chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons Vietnamese fish sauce (more or less to taste)

Split the large stalks of broccoli in half lengthwise. Add the oil to a large sauté pan on high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the garlic and anchovies and cook, pressing on the anchovies with a wooden spoon until they dissolve and the garlic lightly browns.

Add the Chinese broccoli and toss in the sauce to coat. Pour in the rice wine and let it reduce for 1 minute. Add the chicken broth and fish sauce, bring to a boil, cover and steam until almost tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Uncover and cook at a lively simmer until the broccoli is tender and the sauce has evaporated slightly. Serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Chinese Broccoli With ChickenMy verdict: This would have been really good if the Chinese broccoli had been cooked through. What was weird was that it didn’t seem to matter what size the stalks were, some of them were perfectly cooked and others were way too crunchy. Even time in the microwave for the leftovers, didn’t seem to make a difference. Odd.

However, the parts that were cooked until tender were delicious (and yes, Frank liked the cooked parts, too). I’ve been using Red Boat fish sauce which happens to be Vietnamese, but I’m sure Thai fish sauce would work just fine. Go easy with the fish sauce and taste before you add all of it in. Broccoli rabe and regular broccoli would work also. For more acid, I did add another splash of  rice wine vinegar. Serve it like I did with some jasmine rice and grilled chicken thighs.

So, if you see Chinese broccoli, grab it and try this and let me know what you think.

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My Nice

by Anne Maxfield on July 15, 2016

I cried myself to sleep Thursday night.

I cried because my happy place will never be the same.

Nice, with its endless stretch of azure water– a view unbroken, unspoiled.

Soon to be marred by security devices.

Which will be deemed necessary, but will protect nothing.

Accidental Locavore My Nice Pebble

The sound of the famous Nice pebbles (one of which sits in front of me now) tumbling in the sea.

Muted.

A view that I would close my eyes and picture when I needed to sleep after a tough day.

Changed.

Shadowed by the spirits of the dead.

Accidental Locavore Green and White Tulips

Suddenly, I understood what makes people leave flowers.

I want to go and leave flowers.

I want to leave flowers, not at the site of the massacre, but by the American Consulate where on September 12, 2001 the French had placed flowers and a sign that read “Aujourd’hui nous sommes tous Américains” (today we are all Americans).

Tears ran down our faces and we’ll never forget it.

I want to go to Nice and comfort the people who have always been so kind to me.

Accidental Locavore Nice Building

I’m crying for a place I’ve wanted to make my home since the first time my feet hit the pavement of the vielle ville.

Since I first laid eyes on the incredible colors….  Of the buildings – that yellow with a touch of ochre (never duplicated here). The amazing azure of both sea and sky. The brilliance of red peppers and deep purple artichokes. I’ve needed to live there.

Accidental Locavore Red Peppers in Nice Market

Is it hate that drives someone to mow down hundreds?

Or a testosterone-driven need to leave in the ugliest way possible?

Kill indiscriminately.

And leave a legacy that will last.

If we let it.

Accidental Locavore Promenade des Anglais NiceI’ll be back in Nice.

Will I stay another month or longer?

Will I live there someday soon?

How long will it take before I can close my eyes and see the long stretch of beach without seeing horror?

And most importantly, will it still be my happy place?

 

 

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