11 June 2012

Cooking one-handed

A bit of a bike accident (entirely my fault, entirely avoidable) led to a rather sudden meeting between my left hand/forearm/elbow and the pavement. While everything heals up, I can use the fingers but not the palm. This makes cooking difficult but, it turns out, not impossible. Lovely weather was had Saturday, mostly wasted on my inability to do fun things like bike or run or climb and my nerdy desire to see Prometheus in the middle of the day. Sunday, magically, was nicer and less painful - a trip to the farmer's market near me was proposed and quickly ratified. The result, later that day:
Before that, however, was a simple picnic in the park with a hunk of bread (not made by me, sadly), some lovely artichoke spread, and a bag of cherry tomatoes. Also spied, and subsequently purchased at the market, were two peculiar items: small brussels and purple green beans. It turns out brussels season just began, again, if Wikipedia is to be trusted. Be prepared for many meals containing them, as I load up on the tiny, delicious ones instead of the late-season large varieties that don't cook properly. The purple green beans, as seen in the photo above, lose their color when cooked at high heat and turn green. This creates a nice effect if you are lazy cooking them, and overcook one side but undercook the other. But, yes, a dual-recipe today.
Blackened Miso-Butter Brussels and Dijon Green Beans
(more of a guideline than a recipe)

early-season brussels (smaller than, say, ping-pong balls)
unsalted butter
red miso paste

green (or purple) beans
seeded-style dijon mustard
chinese five-spice

For the brussels: preheat oven to 400. Wash the brussels and slice each in half, top to bottom. In a small dish, combine equal parts miso and butter and mix. You can add a splash of, say, vinegar or sherry if you wish, but it isn't necessary. Heat a cast-iron pan, large enough to fit all your sprouts, over medium. Spread a bit of the miso butter on the face of each brussels half and place them, face down, in the pan. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the faces have begun to crisp up. Transfer to the oven to finish, another 10 minutes, or until they have reached the desired softness.

For the green (or purple) beans: pluck the tough stems off the end of each and wash them. Heat a bit of oil in a pan over medium-low and add the beans, tossing frequently. After they have some heat, but aren't cooked, add salt (not too much) and a generous dash of chinese five-spice, toss, then add enough seeded-style dijon to lightly coat them. Serve them immediately, before they have completely cooked.

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