When David was growing up, his family dinners were very predictable. Thursday was meatloaf night, Friday was spaghetti. Perhaps as a reaction against that routine, he refused to cook us the same dish twice for dinner. Each night was a new recipe, with results that ranged from the spectacular to the inedible. One constant was that we rarely ate before 10:00 at night as David forged his way through yet another unfamiliar recipe. By the time dinner was finished, David was usually exhausted and cranky, the kitchen was a disaster area, and I was ready to go to sleep.
While I appreciated his efforts and loved the variety, too many nights of gnawing hunger and late nights forced me to suggest that David create a repertoire. Not the strict schedule he grew up with, but a collection of tested recipes that he could draw from when planning dinner. For our restaurant, we use a software program called Living Cookbook to store our recipes. When the chefs (inevitably) lose a recipe or it gets covered in grease, we just print out a new copy.
For the house, we decided to go low-tech. We purchased a binder, and David filed all his favorite recipes inside. We still set aside several nights each week for experimentation, but we have a few nights each week to enjoy our favorites and spend the rest of the night relaxing. This routine has been complicated somewhat by the vegetable garden. Other than eggplant (which is always in supply right now), it's hard to know what will be ready from the garden each night. So the key has been to keep the kitchen well stocked with basics (which for us means things like tofu, feta, couscous, onions, and spices) so that we can harvest each night and design the dinner accordingly.
Sometimes this means edamame on the side, other nights we have fresh snap beans or senposai. Even though we have introduced a bit of regimentation to the schedule, we still have amazing variety thanks to the garden. Last night is a perfect example. From the garden we harvested cucumbers, tomatoes, dandelion greens, arugula, lima beans and (of course) eggplant. David decided to make a salad, with some cooked vegetables on the side. The result: a garden pu pu platter with Jerusalem Salad (part of the repertoire) using the dandelion greens, arugula, cucumbers and tomatoes, plus sauteed eggplant and crunchy lima beans on the side. The eggplant harvest was a combination of thai long green, rosa bianca, cloud nine and black beauty. Each kept its color, making for a beautiful side dish in shades of green, purple and white.
The baby limas were also a mixture of varieties -- Dixie Butterpea, Fordhook 242, Henderson's Bush, and White Dixie. David prepared Crunchy Lima Beans -- crunchy on the outside, still soft and creamy on the inside. Easy to prepare, with a flavor that can't be beat.
Crunchy Baby Lima Beans
1-2 cups fresh lima beans (removed from pods)
2 Tbs olive oil
- Boil salted water. Add lima beans and blanch 3 - 5 minutes.
- Drain in a colander and run beans under cold water to stop the cooking process.
- Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add lima beans, sprinkle with sea salt, and saute until they are slightly shriveled and dry-looking on the outside (about 5 minutes). Remove immediately to avoid over-cooking. Serve right away.