Thursday, 30 April 2009

Green like Envy, Popeye, and Mustard

For some reason, today it's hard for me to begin writing. Maybe it's because, like my last post, I have spent so little time in the grocery store, in the kitchen, or at my kitchen table. The past two weeks have, in fact, been all about exploring what other people cook, in city restaurants, in Santa Cruz cabins, in thrown together Mission picnics.

There's been pizza at Delfina: thin, crispy crust that holds its own against four cheeses, tangy tomato sauce, and one crispy basil leaf that permeates every saucy dripping bite with freshness.

There's been crispy chicken and black bean noodles at San Tung, sided with a mustard green and pork soup that is the ideal combination of slippery dark greens, spicy broth, and thin delicate slices of meat.

There's been limoncello gelato, frozen homemade brownies, chocolate dipped halva bars, and a ginger banana bread that nearly made me keel over it was so good.

I think the only thing that's kept me going as a healthy-sized person who has yet to collapse under the weight of all that food has been the juice.

One of the great thing about visitors is the gifts they bring with them. Especially if the visitor knows you well enough to bring exactly what you want: cookbooks, custard, and heather beer.

I still haven't had time to read through my new books, but I have checked in on the juice section. It's a British book, so some of the ingredients are a bit hard to come by here. I've been skipping over the recipes that call for elderflower cordial, red currants, or "full fat jersey milk."

But those that call for ingredients that can be found for under fifty cents at the Chinese market down the street, those caught my attention.

Ian and I made several, including one with the above ingredients mixed with some green melon. That particular one ended up being a little strong for us, the bite of the watercress not quite tempered enough with the sweetness of melon and apple.

But after several tries, we felt we were real juicing experts. The size of the fruit or vegetable, the pressure applied to each piece as it went through the filter, the switchbacks between leaves and juicy chunks of fruit - we had the whole process down. And we weren't shy to declare our favorite's.

Ian's was the exotic flavored one: sweet pineapple, green cilantro, and a good hunk of ginger. The flavors were bright and almost floral, with a bite from the ginger that sealed the syrupy pineapple flavor perfectly into the tangy cilantro.

My favorite was a juice called Popeye's Secret. A handful of spinach, a juicy honeydew melon, sage leaves, and some parsley. At first, I was dubious. But anything with spinach in it I'm willing to try (spinach: the miracle cure for all), and I had stashed some purple sage leaves from my parent's garden in the fridge. The end result was not only a beautiful shade of green, but was so delicious we both slurped it up in moments. The spinach, except for the color, disappeared into the flavor of the honeydew, and the whole thing was gently spiked with an herbal element from the sage and the parsley which, even though we knew what had gone into the juice, kept us staring into the cup long after it was gone, transported into the world of those odd and compelling flavors.

Popeye's Secret
adapted from Super Food, Super Juice, Super Health by Michael van Straten

1 honeydew melon, deseeded, peeled, and cubed
1 small bunch or very large handful washed spinach
sage leaves, 4-8 depending on size and preference
parsley, 8 or so sprigs

In a juicer, juice everything.

Serves 2.

Ian's Choice
adapted from Super Food, Super Juice, Super Health by Michael van Straten

1/2 pineapple, peeled and cut into chunks
1 small bunch cilantro (or coriander, if you're British)
1 large nub ginger, peeled.

In a juicer, juice everything.

Serves 2.

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