On Tuesday I returned from a deliriously fun and much-needed vacation to Montreal. That evening, I worked my CSA shift in a steamy warehouse. It is a testament to both the friendliness of my neighbors and the agricultural skills of the good folks at Windflower Farms that I do not begrudge my mosquito-bitten legs. I headed home around 8:30–itchy, dripping in sweat, and laden with fresh vegetables.
The rest of the week is a bit of a blur. I did my best to catch up at work, coming home late in the evenings to assemble a quick salad. The heat finally broke on Friday and I seized the opportunity for some actual cooking as well a joyride from my office in the Village to my home in Brooklyn courtesy of Citibike.
I’d invited a friend for dinner, assuming I could piece something together from the odds and ends in my fridge. I had red leaf lettuce, scapes, green onions, basil, and kohlrabi. I also needed to get a move on the meat socked away in my modestly-sized freezer before this month’s share arrived. I threw a block of ground beef into warm water to defrost, poured a glass of Riesling, and got to work on the kohlrabi, which looks like a cross between an alien spaceship and a deepwater sea creature.
Quick Pickled Kohlrabi (or Carrots or Whatever)
- 1 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 10 black peppercorns
- 20 whole coriander seeds
- 2 pinches red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 kohlrabi bulbs (and/or carrots, turnips, etc.)
Combine all but the kohlrabi in a very small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. While you’re waiting, peel the kohlrabi and cut into matchsticks. Pour the hot brine over the kohlrabi and let stand for an hour or so, stirring occasionally. If you have the time, toss it in the fridge to chill.
At some point, I decided to make some rice. I brought 1/2 cup of brown Jasmine rice, just under a cup of water and a pinch of salt to a boil, tossed a lid on, turned the heat down, and let simmer until we were ready to eat. I also rinsed and dried a head of red leaf lettuce.
Justin arrived a little after 7:00, by which time I had polished off the wine. Justin busied himself making a batch of gin cocktails with sweet vermouth and the poaching liquid from my foray into homemade maraschino cherries. I got to work on my best approximation of Larb, a dish that I associate with Thai food, although the internet tells me that it is actually Laotian.
Thai Beef Salad
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil (or some sort of vegetable oil)
- 1 garlic scape (or a couple of cloves of garlic), thinly sliced
- 1 onion (in this case a fresh green onion), cut into slivers
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- juice of 1 lime
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar (or another lime, but I could only unearth a single dessicated fruit)
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon Sriracha or other chili sauce
- 20 leaves fresh basil and an equal amount of fresh mint
- Bring the oil up to medium heat in a cast iron skillet and then add the garlic scape, onion, and beef. Stir frequently, taking care to break up the meat.
- Mix the remaining ingredients, save for the basil, in a small bowl.
- When the onions are wilted and the beef is cooked through, dump the mixture into a bowl along with the sauce from the smaller bowl. Thinly slice the herbs and toss everything together.
I had intended to serve the beef mixture in lettuce wraps, but the lettuce turned out to be more spikey than leafy, so we mounded it on our plates, adding the rice, beef, and additional Sriracha. This would have been even more delicious had I remembered the pickled kohlrabi (blame it on the gin), which ended up making a solo appearance as the second course.
From there, we whipped up a couple of Gibsons with radishes that I pickled during last autumn’s bumper crop and headed up to the roof for some fresh air. Back downstairs and having polished off the vermouth, we moved on to rye mixed with Campari and bitters–or something like that.