Sunday, May 13, 2012

Great Garden, Green Goddess!

Hi, stranger!

Long time no see.  I've been in the kitchen, cooking up a storm, and in the garden, planting and pulling weeds and tending to my worm farm, aka my compost bin. I've been building the compost heap since around March of last year, and slowly but surely, it's turning into a happy place for worms, which have been slithering around there for many months now.

I can't remember when, but quite some time ago, I found a lone worm squirming around the raised bed, and I picked the little bugger up and tossed it into the compost bin.  The rest is history.  Now, it's worm city in there.  And in case you didn't know, where worms hang out, soil is happy.  Happy soil = happy garden.  And to my great delight, that's just what we've got growing!

We planted our raised bed and a bunch of things in pots around the middle of April, with a scoop of this wormy goodness added to the soil beneath each plant, and I can hardly believe it - everything is growing like gangbusters! Just under one month later we already have not only squash blossoms, but actual squash which will no doubt grow to the size of large buildings before we know it!  And also, all 4 of our tomato plants already have blossoms, as do the padron peppers, and the herbs are going crazy and the kale is prolific.  I attribute it to the compost. And this long stretch of very sunny days has certainly helped, too.  All of it is a very happy making combination.

April 16th, 2012
May 13th, 2012

Speaking of happy making... the latest culinary obsession around here is Green Goddess Dressing.  It's something I never gave much thought to until I stumbled upon the recipe and lovely photos of it at the Tastespotting blog.  I always had a vague inkling that it was an herby, creamy sort of affair, but beyond that, Green Goddess was a bit of a mystery.  But when I saw the recipe at Tastespotting and saw that it featured anchovies, I decided I had to try it, especially since I still had some fancy spanish anchovies that had recently been given to me as a birthday gift.

As the Tastespotting article mentions, the original recipe hails from the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, and that version, as well as many others, use some sort of dairy ingredient - be it sour cream or mayo.  This version uses avocado to make it creamy, and although I admit I've never tried any other version, I'm sold on this one.  It's absolutely bursting with flavor from the anchovies plus garlic and shallot, all of which add depth, and there's brightness from the herbs, plus a velvety silkiness from the olive oil and avocado.  It's heavenly just slathered on a baguette, or drizzled over any kind of vegetable or grain.  Haven't tried it on fish yet but I'm sure that'll be coming soon.  I think this might be my new favorite condiment/sauce/reason for living!

Without further adieu, here is my adaptation.  I used less considerably less honey, muscat vinegar instead of white wine, and I did what I often do when a recipe calls for raw garlic:  I poached it first for about ten minutes in boiling water, just to mellow it ever so slightly.  I hope you'll soon be slathering this on something delicious to make it even more so, and sharing it with someone you love!

Green Goddess Dressing

1-2 garlic cloves
½ ripe medium avocado
2 tablespoons Muscat vinegar (or white or red wine vinegar)
1 small shallot, finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
2-3 oil packed anchovies
2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
¾ cup olive oil
about ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
salt and pepper to taste

Put the garlic cloves in a small bowl and cover with boiling water.  Let sit for about 10 minutes, and then drain. (Or better yet - save the poaching water to use in your next batch of stock!) Run the garlic in the food processor or blender until finely chopped. You will have to keep stopping to push the bits back down toward the blades.

Add the avocado, vinegar, shallots, anchovy, lemon juice and honey and pulse until fairly smooth.

With the food processor or blender running, drizzle oil through feed tube. Add herbs and process until combined. Transfer mixture to a bowl or jar.

Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.

Cover and chill at least 3 hours (dressing will separate if not chilled).

Drizzle over everything you can think of, and enjoy!