Makes 4 burgers
I have been fretting lately about my city’s inexcusable lack of interesting food inspired by German cuisine. For those German bars that serve up pretzels with eight separate mustards, ich libe dich, but sometimes I need to swoon over more than your flat palettes of yellows and browns. I’m not expecting anything like The Generator (although, Philadelphia, you’re not doing so badly, yourself), but, come on, Germans were some of the earliest immigrants to the Pacific Northwest, and yet we struggle to incorporate their food traditions into our own, insisting on keeping them separate from the others, like some black sheep we don’t want mingling with our prized flock. We hide them in stained-wood bars, below the sidewalk, or at the bottom of menus.
Well, not today. It’s sunny today, so I decided to barbecue. In the fridge are jars of curried sauerkraut I made back in December when the green cabbage was sweet and crisp. But, since January, I’ve hardly touched the stuff. You see, I too have been struggling to incorporate the German food into my diet, even that one that’s insanely good for you. I guess that fermented cabbage never sounds good with black beans or salad or pizza.
Then it hit me: I was making the same excuses as my city. Well, guess what? Sauerkraut is not meant for only sausages and potatoes! And, if you give me a chance, I’ll show you why…
For those who find themselves with but a handful of salmonberries, this recipe is a great way to extract and extend their wonderful flavor. This is an effective way to make use of those salmonberries that have begun to bruise and turn to mush in the refrigerator. Use this vinaigrette as a base. The addition of garlic and mint, for example, may be most welcome, while others may prefer a pinch of chile flakes and cumin. For an example, see our pairing with cured salmon and fennel.
Garlic scapes, or garlic spears, represent the birth of a flower. They whip out of the tall garlic plant, curling and facing downward in crane-like grace, awaiting the moment of bloom. As a gardener and cultivator of garlic bulbs, I carry the painful duty of decapitating them, forcing the energy of the sun back underground. This difficult act obliges me to make what use I can from the heads, as I would an animal, such as a pig. Coupled with my recent attraction to Japanese flavors, I attempt to–and, pardon the pun–give a bit more body to these severed heads.
Makes 4 servings
Miso has such a magical, enlivening taste. This soup, made with the simplest stock (dashi) and seasonal ingredients, is a refreshing purifier for the spring.
Sometimes beets come in a bunch at the market, a 2-in-1 kind of deal. My drive to use the entire part of the plant or animal, where appropriate, one day brought a beet green to my mouth. Very similar to chard, the beet green has a pleasant, earthy and slightly bitter flavor raw. It is good enough to chop up into a salad. So I shaved the raw beet into a salad of its own greens and served it to my family. They had never eaten beet greens. All they could say was that the lettuce was so flavorful.
And while the beet greens are flavorful raw, when braised momentarily with a bit of wine, onion and garlic, and tossed with roasted almonds and fennel, they really come alive. Plus their brilliant green, coated in a glossy finish, is such a pleasing experience to the eyes. As you gardeners get ready to pull your beets, or as you beet buyers begin to see the bunches, consider doing your senses a favor with this one.
These are very popular tapas served in bars along the northern coast of Spain. Usually they are stuffed with either ham or shrimp or, simply, the mussels themselves. Even for those poor people who are adamant about disliking mussels will find these little things delicious.
This dish, like so many of my dishes, is inspired by the verdant and bewitched land of Galicia, the northwest province of Spain. The streets of coastal Galicia, from cities, like A Coruña and Santiago de Compostela, to small towns, like Ribadeo, are filled with pulperías, or octopus restaurants. These cephalopods are caught in the rías, the canals that flow through the land into the Cantabrian Sea and Atlantic Ocean.
Here in Seattle, octopus isn’t as popular. Even though our own ocean-connected water, the Puget Sound, harbors some of the largest octopuses in the world, they are only really served at the Asian restaurants and, occasionally, at more mainstream restaurants like Coastal Kitchen or Golden Beetle. Commercial octopuses here come from Japan, the Philippines or China. Only by accident do fishmongers have Puget Sound octopus. Because they are a protected species, they can only legally be sold if caught by accident; that is, if they get mixed up with other fish being caught. But that is so rare.
For those unfamiliar with salmonberries, or those who have had unexciting or unpalatable experiences with them, this recipe is for you. The natural tartness of the berries is sweetened by the sugar, heightening the pleasant qualities of their overall flavor. For sweeter berries, add more sugar. Pair with ice cream, cheese, pastries and baked goods like scones or soft breads. Or eat them as I prefer: by themselves with your sticky fingers.
Since nettles are weeds, they are also a free and prolific source of food. Right now they are concentrating their energy in producing seeds. Regardless, their phenomenal nutrient content still makes them worthy of consumption. They are one of the highest plant-based protein sources around. They are loaded with calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K. Nettles also have detoxifying properties, making them great for your kidneys and adrenal glands. Not to mention, they are absolutely delicious.
This smoky nettle pesto is a great way to cook with nettles late in their season. The leaves have adopted a subtle bitterness and the overall flavor of the leaves is slowly dissipating. You still get to taste the essence of the nettles with this, but the roasted nuts and smoked cheese–variations of aging–really complement the nettle’s complex and quiet flavor, as the plant enters its new cycle.