Sunday, September 24, 2017

Boiling A Calf in its Mother's Milk

When I was in Hebrew school (for what seems like a million years), there were a series of pictures on the wall. From what I could tell, the series featured images of what we were not supposed to eat... a small image of a pig surrounded by Hebrew letters, a lobster and some other shit. But towards the bottom of the images, there was a calf standing close to a cow and although I was specifically in Hebrew school to learn some of the language, I could not for the life of me make out what that image meant. I had seen my relatives eat red meat and veal and I knew we weren't supposed to eat our young so when I asked my teacher what it meant she claimed that, "we don't boil a calf in it's mother's milk." Still unsure what that meant but likely unwilling to stay in class longer than I had to, it was a few years before I learned that within the Jewish faith, one was not supposed to eat meat and dairy in the same sitting. And while I'm not going to go down the path of whether what's kosher is deemed so for health over religious reasons, the rule does seem to make sense from a nutritional standpoint. However, as my father began to leave Judaism for Eastern religion and vegetarianism by proxy, I began to eat more veggies as well and pretty much proverbially began boiling a calf in its mother's milk on the daily.

While veggies can be better for our hearts and waistlines than a daily T-bone, they can be lacking in flavor when eaten raw or without seasoning. As such I like to drench my veggies in veggie based dressings, essentially boiling a calf in its mother's milk (or dressing). While a trip to the farmer's market can leave us with an abundance of veggies we may or may not need, veggies sauces or dressings can be a great way to stretch such products in unique ways. Below is a bit of a matrix which attempts to pair veggies with a veggie-based dressing that complements it.

Note: When it comes to veggies, if you want to go clean (and boring) the healthiest thing you can likely throw on them is some salt and lemon. However, since you're eating veggies to begin with, I've tried to include recipes below which are a bit more decadent. Enjoy!

Roasted Brussel Sprouts: I loooove Brussels Sprouts. As stated in Food is Family, I'm a brassica kinda girl. As such, particularly in winter when I'm bored with the potato, such sprouts are my go-to. Here, the New York Times provides a recipe which is simple enough to be paired with the more decadent dressing by Heidi Swanson.
An Exceptional Ginger Carrot Dressing Recipe: I love this dressing. I love anything Heidi Swanson puts out. Made with coconut milk, turmeric and brown rice vinegar (among other ingredients), the recipe creates a balance of flavors which provides new dimension to the basic but beautiful brussel sprout. 

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Brown Sage Butter: This recipe seems to straddle both categories of providing a vegetable based dish with a vegetable (or herb) infused sauce. Gnocchi is one of those things on my bucket list to make, perhaps as a weekend project within the fall months. Based on its relatively small list of ingredients and hands-on methodology, it also seems like a good recipe to prepare with kids (or  your boyfriend). And, according to the recipe's creator, not only will you end up with a delicious sauce but will experience some aromatherapy in the process!

Roasted Broccoli: As I've gotten older, I've had to come to the realization that I like (or only have time for) simple foods. And this is not to be meant in the trendy sense of foods that are fresh from the ground and need little seasoning. I'm mean dishes like hummus that can be made from throwing things in a blender and take two minutes to blitz. As such, I don't mind a good (vegetable) roast... throwing things on a sheet pan and doing laundry while they're in the oven. Here, I enjoy broccoli... roasted so that it's a little softer and more flavorful and topped with a lota marinara.


Marinara Sauce: Recently, there was a video on Funny or Die (link here) which featured an "Italian spelling bee". Here, contestants, had to spell, phonetically, Italian words such as mutzadel (a.k.a. mozzarella) and madanad (a.k.a. marinara or, according to the video, the stuff your mother cooks for five hours cooking every Sunday). And while the previous recipe included pasta, I tend to enjoy my marinara on... brussel sprouts. But I also enjoy it on broccoli or brocly raaaab (as it might be spelled in the above spelling bee). Above, I've included Mario Batali's recipe for the sauce because, while it's not as much of a classic Italian recipe as Marcella Hazan's recipe, it includes more veggies (think carrots). And if you're getting tired of all the veggies featured, it's also a great sauce in which to braise chicken thighs.

So there you have it. A few combinations to keep you vegetabundant or such. Not only can such recipes keep the presence of flavor in your diet, they can also be mixed and matched to suit your tastes as fit. And, of course, they're kosher. ;)

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