Thursday, April 13, 2006

Tradition goes South with a Green Day Update

I’m not much of one for tradition, but for some reason, we eat greens today. We started doing this when we lived in Munich. Because the day is known in Germany as Grundoennerstag – or Green Thursday, the day before Karfreitag (Good Friday). Munich, being in a very Catholic area, eats a lot of greens on Grundoennerstag. People make greens at home, restaurants serve greens, company cafeterias serve it too. It’s one of those traditions everyone sort of follows along with, although I would guess that most people don’t really know why they are doing it – aside from it’s apparent association with Easter.

The internet is ambiguous about why the day is known as Grundoennerstag – i.e. why Green Thursday. The implication is that the Grun (green) part of the word does not reference the color ‘Grun’, i.e. Green, but comes from an old high German word gr(e)inen (= klagen, weinen, trauern), meaning basically mourning, or crying. Which makes some sense as a tie in to the actual origin of the Easter celebration.

Eggs laid on Grundoennerstag are supposed to bring luck, so everyone eats eggs as well. Ours of course were laid days, weeks, who knows, how long ago, but we pretend they will still have some luck in them (maybe that’s why we never have luck?!). You’d pretty much have to have your own farm to know when the egg was actually laid (lucky farmers!).

So on this day, every year, we all ate overcooked creamed spinach with a fried egg on the side. And boiled potatoes to round out the meal. Actually, with some nutmeg and salt, not all that bad.

Well, you can only eat so much overcooked spinach. And as I said, I’m not really one for those kinds of tradition. But the food idea holds some promise.

Today, we’re going to take that tradition on a trip to southern California. Instead of overcooked spinach, lightly wilted dandelion greens. Instead of greasy fried eggs, cheesy (also greasy, I guess) egg custards. With a spicy tomato cilantro sauce. And instead of boiled potatoes, Mexican-style pancakes made from Masa Harina corn meal.

Except for the stems of the dandelion being very tough, the meal was very good. The spicy salsa did a nice job of tying the creamy eggs to the garlicky greens. And the Masa pancake was just great. A real treat! Maybe the start of a new tradition?

Grundoennerstag Egg Custards in Tomato Cilantro Sauce on Wilted Dandelion Greens with Masa Harina Pancakes

Serves 4 to 6, depending on number of teenagers present

Dandelion Greens in Garlic Butter (recipe follows)
Egg Custards (recipe follows)
Tomato Cilantro Sauce (recipe follows)
Masa Pancakes (recipe follows)
Cilantro, chopped, for garnish

Arrange ½ of the dandelion greens in the bottom of 4 large shallow soup bowls. Run small sharp knife around sides of each custard dish to loosen. Unmold 1 custard atop center of the dandelion greens on each bowl, and peel off paper. Ladle some of the tomato cilantro salsa over and around the egg custards in each bowl. Place a Masa pancake decoratively to the side of the egg custard in each bowl. Sprinkle with cilantro. Serve. Enjoy!

Dandelion Greens with Garlic and Butter

2 pounds washed dandelion greens
8 cups salted water
4 cloves garlic, mashed or minced
1/4 cup butter
salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cut washed dandelion greens into 2 to 3 inch long sections, blanche a few seconds in the salted water till wilted, drain and refresh under cold water.

Drain the greens and dry them with a towel. Place in a large mixing bowl.

In a large sauté pan melt butter and add garlic, sauté a few minutes to release the garlic oils. Add the mixture to the dandelion greens and toss lightly to coat well, season to taste with salt and fresh cracked black pepper.

Egg Custards

8 large eggs
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 cup finely chopped ham (I actually used finely chopped roast chicken - leftovers again!)
1 cup grated cheese, such as Emmentaler
1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 300°F. Generously butter eight 3/4-cup custard cups. Line bottoms with parchment or waxed paper. Whisk eggs with cream in large bowl to blend. Mix in ham, cheese, and salt. Divide mixture among cups. Place cups in 13 x 9 x 2-inch metal baking pan. Add enough hot water to pan to come halfway up sides of cups. Bake until custards remain firm in center when gently shaken, about 55 minutes.

Remove custards from water.

Tomato Cilantro Salsa

2 lb tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 small fresh green serrano chile, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon sugar, or to taste
1 cup water
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro plus additional for sprinkling

Purée tomatoes, garlic, chile, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, and 1 cup water in a blender until smooth, then pour through a medium-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing hard on and then discarding solids.
Heat 1/4 cup oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then carefully pour in tomato sauce (it will splatter). Stir in cilantro and briskly simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until sauce is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in salt and sugar to taste, then reduce heat to low.

Masa Pancakes

1 1/2 cup Masa Harina (corn tortilla mix)*
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups buttermilk
3 eggs
3 tbsp oil
oil for frying

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread Masa Harina on heavy baking sheet. Bake until fragrant and golden, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Cool Masa Harina.

Sift Masa Harina, flour and next 5 ingredients into large bowl. Whisk buttermilk, 3 eggs and 3 tablespoons oil in medium bowl to blend. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and whisk just until blended (batter will be thick).

Lightly coat griddle with oil. Heat over medium heat. Working in batches, spoon scant 1/2 cup batter onto griddle. Using spoon, spread batter to make 4-inch-diameter pancake. Cook until bottom is golden, about 4 minutes. Turn and cook until second side is golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer to baking sheet; place in oven. Repeat to make 8 pancakes total, brushing griddle with oil as needed.

Tags : : : : : : : :


Post a Comment

<< Home