Miss Ginsu: About/Bio


A Run on the Food Bank

Riddle me this, reader... It's never taken me more than 10 minutes to complete my annual Community Supported Agriculture program signup. So why did I just return from a CSA signup session that took TWO HOURS?

What's the sudden public obsession with local vegetables? Should I blame Michael Pollan? Mark Bittman? Alice Waters? The recession? The FDA peanut recall? All or none of the above?

Maybe this is the year in which investments in financial markets feel more risky than investments farmers' markets.

Springtime CSA Box

Whatever the reason, I'll tell you this: interest in farm-to-city produce in my neighborhood has skyrocketed this year.

I strolled into my local church basement not long after the doors opened, only to discover a robust room. I was already 48th on the list.

One of the volunteers told me that virtually everyone she'd spoken with tonight had been a signing up as a first-time CSA member.

CSA Lettuces

And maybe I should've been forewarned.

A coworker of mine has belonged to a different Brooklyn CSA for several years, and she told me she was a little late in sending in her signup form this year. Usually that's not a problem.

But her CSA filled up before January. Interest was huge, and she missed the boat. Now she's just a sad, veggie-free name on a long waiting list.

With that kind of tragedy in mind, I should just be grateful to have had options to buy stock in vegetable futures.

But if you're wondering what to do with the veggies of the present... hearty greens like chard, kale and collards and should be your friends right now.

Luckily, our nutritionist at work just gave me an easy, delicious recipe for kale. And since it's from the nutritionist, so you know it can't be bad for you, no?

In any case, I'm sure she wouldn't mind if I share...
Eileen's Crispy Greens (Serves 4)
1 bunch kale
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
Sea salt, to taste

1. Wash the kale well. Strip the leaves away from the stems (save the stems for stock) and cut the leaves into 2" to 3" pieces.
2. In a mixing bowl, toss the pieces with olive oil to coat.
3. Heat the oven to 350°F and spread the prepared leaves across a baking sheet.
4. Sprinkle the leaves with the cider vinegar, then place in the middle of the oven. 5. After 10 minutes, shift the leaves in the pan to help them brown more evenly. Continue roasting until the kale pieces are crisp like potato chips and lightly browned. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with sea salt and serve hot.

So then, what have we learned today?

1. The early bird gets the local vegetables.
2. Even nutritionists know that everything tastes delicious when it's roasted and salted.

Yours in food worship,
Miss Ginsu

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A Wintery Short Rib Braise

I'm always thrilled to find something that's so satisfying and nourishing, it becomes a new addition to the lineup of household favorites. That's a rare occasion.

But I think we have a winner, folks. This is a braise made up of beef short ribs, mushrooms and the hearty winter greens of your choice.

There's a little fuss involved in browning the short ribs before they head into the oven for a slow-cook, but it's worth it for the rich flavor and falling-off-the-bone tenderness.

And beyond great taste, there's five additional reasons I find this dish very compelling:

1. There's almost no waste in the recipe. The veggie and mushroom stems go straight into the pot and it's a good way to use up a bit of leftover wine.
2. Short ribs are an inexpensive — but very tasty — cut of beef.
3. With no spuds, rice, pasta or parsnips, it's a pretty low-carb, low-gi dish. Good news for dieters and diabetics both.
4. I love dark, leafy greens and am always looking for more ways to use them.
5. Ditto that for mushrooms.

And did I mention tasty? I've made it two weekends in a row, and I may make it again this weekend, if that's any indication.

Wintery Short Rib Braise

It's based around a recipe I found in Mushroom Lover's Mushroom Cookbook and Primer by Amy Farges.

I've been using a combination of shiitake and portobello mushrooms, and though she recommends pearl onions, I've substituted standard white or yellow onions sliced into half-moons... I'll admit I have very little patience for the blanching/shocking/peeling process that goes into preparing pearl onions.

Wintery Short Rib Braise (Serves 4)

2 small bunches (about 2 lb) kale or Swiss chard
1 1/2 lb hearty mushrooms: button, portobello, cremini, porcini or shiitake
4 lb beef short ribs
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 Tbsp vegetable or olive oil
1 large onion, halved and cut into 1/2" slices
3 cups beef, chicken or veggie stock
1 cup dry red wine
1 cup diced tomatoes

1. Wash the greens and cut the leaves away from their stems. Cut the leaves crosswise into 2-inch pieces and set aside (pack them in the refrigerator, if you wish). Cut the stems crosswise into 1" slices.
2. Trim the stems from the mushrooms, knock away any dirt and slice the stems into 1/2" pieces. Cut the mushroom tops into wedges (4 to 6 each) and hold separately from the stems.
3. Sprinkle the short ribs with salt and pepper. Over a medium-high burner, heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed stock pot or Dutch oven. Brown each of the short ribs on each side about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the browned short ribs from the pot.
4. To the same pot, add the onion slices, mushroom stems and the stems from the greens.
5. Heat the oven to 350°F. Pour in the stock, wine and tomatoes. Tuck in the short ribs. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover the pot or dutch oven and place on the center rack in the oven. Cook until the beef is tender, about 2 1/2 hours.
6. Remove the short ribs from the pot (the bones may fall away at this point), and heat the liquid to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in the reserved leaves and simmer until tender (about 10 minutes for Swiss Chard, or 30 for kale).
7. Season the sauce to taste, adding salt and pepper if necessary. Return the short ribs to the pot

If you're serving guests, you can do all the work through step #5, cool the dish down and chill it in the fridge, if you like. At that point, it's quick and easy to pull it out a day or two later to finish it off.

You could probably also use a slow cooker instead of the oven for the long-cooking part if you're so inclined.

But in any case, I hope you enjoy this one as much as I do.

To Warm, Homey Meals & Happy Eating!
Miss Ginsu

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