braised greens

also known as “the green thing”. having been given unutterable amounts of homework, and having been under the misapprehension that there was no such thing in this degree (it most certainly wasnt what it looked like in the brochure), and having then been exposed to a lively debate between americans in paris about why the gravel in the gardens of the tuileries is dusty, i decided i needed to move away from the books and return to the kitchen. this recipe was something i found in gourmet traveller and it was one of those things which seemed to elicit expressions of interest from ordinarily disinterested parties. dinners proper hasnt been done for so long that there was a lot of debate, hesitation, fear, uncertainty, hurdles, obstacle, and even some unpleasantness along the way. but its easy and delicious and though it was suggested that the cos lettuce could be substituted with a more elegant green vegetable, i am quite sure that its perfect how it is. thats pretty much all i have to say about this but the problem is, when this post is up, its back to the books. so ill tell you a quick story – a new bakery opened up around the corner from me. its done everything right, it drew me into its buttery web with its french name, its promise of pastries baked twice a day, its baker rolling out his dough at the front counter for my viewing pleasure, its staff crouching in the back alley with a cigarette in one hand and a cup of tea (in a glass) in the other in the early hours of the cold winter morning, evoking images and dreams of all i hope to be. but, and theres no gentle way of putting this, they are shit. from the outside their pastries look exquisite, layers of golden brown flaky pastry wrapped around a still warm, and so melting stick of chocolate. almond croissants with the perfect crisp looking almondy top. but bite into it and its doughy. there, i said it. doughy and uncooked. their bread stinks. and they are a sham. but why? why why why? how is it that they have so much right and yet underneath the surface its so wrong? dont they care? dont they love their pastries? arent they artisan? dont they realise the world shattering disappointment they have caused. and because of their appearance, they have me returning regularly because surely the last croissant, and the one before and the one before that were aberrations. each time i leave with what should be a little brown paper bag of heaven in my cold, frail hands, the promise of perfection is cruelly and unusually shattered, replaced only by a doughy aftertaste and a profound sadness for all that could be and all that never was. i cry out (internally, not yet audibly), i wish i knew how to quit you, but there is no response. only silence. the silence of baker that just doenst care.

unhappiness aside…here is the recipe for something that made things feel somewhat better and to some extent was able to fill the void between dreams and reality.


2tbsp olive oil

375ml stock (chicken, or vegetable…as you wish)

40g butter

2 garlic cloves finely chopped

2 cos lettuces quartered

400g peas (baby, and probably frozen)

250g sugar snap peas (snow peas will do if your supermarket is crap – but at least it doesnt claim to be anything other than what it is) halved lengthways

first, in a fry the garlic in the olive oil. the recipe also fried off a shallot but i didnt want the onion taste to interfere with what i was trying to do. once soft, not burnt, add in the butter and cook til foaming. then add the stock and cook for about 5 minutes until it has reduced by half. if you subscribe to the school of ‘peas and mint’, add a sprig of mint here and even some lemon rind. then add the lettuce and cook until it has just wilted (about 3-4 mintues). then add the peas and cook for another 2-3 minutes until they are just soft. season. remove from heat and eat while its hot.


10 Responses to “braised greens”

  1. 1 anniespickns August 7, 2010 at 10:50 am

    This looks very interesting. I would have never thought of putting braised lettuce in a dish, but this looks tasty!

  2. 2 Matthieu August 7, 2010 at 11:06 am

    yeah it looks interesting but it is much nicer to eat with the additions of haloumis and a bed of cous-cous. i love bed.

  3. 3 jo August 8, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    well you’re no good on the skypephone but you are a whiz in the kitch!

    i had lettuce in my soup tonight.

  4. 4 JJ August 11, 2010 at 9:44 am

    new york — generally speaking — is a good looking, artisan sham, and it pains me so. but those braised greens! i’ve wanted some for days, real talk. and what of the gravel in the gardens of tuileries?

  5. 5 pose August 11, 2010 at 11:16 pm

    i simply would like to inform that you have a minor following (roughly 37 of them) of 20year old trendies from east brunswick. they claim to be in love with you.

    to them, as i’m confident they’re reading this, post a comment because reading without contributing is kind of like looking through someone’s window without announcing your presence (in a creepy, arrestable way.) show yourselves!

  6. 6 schlepseleh August 12, 2010 at 10:33 am

    pose – thank you. i get a bit scared when you say 20 year old trendies because they are a discerning class of people and i fear i may never be good enough. but fear and self-doubt aside, i thank you for bringing this to my attention. and i should also say i, while i appreciate any and all comments, i also fully understand creepy, arrestable voyeuristic behaviours. they’re the best kind.

    jj – there have been a number of different, yet no less illuminating, explanations for the excellent and timely question of the dusty gravel in the tuileries:

    “I’m pretty sure it goes back at least to the early 18th century. Have a look at Laurent Turcot’s Le promeneur parisien au XVIIIe siecle, which has lots of interesting material about the Jardin des Tuilloeries, including about gravel.”


    “It seems to have been a good surface for leisure activities:

    Transactions of the Illinois State Horticultural Society (1880)- Page 229: The ground [of the Tuileries Gardens] is chiefly graveled, to afford place for the children to play and idlers to lounge, and for the military concerts furnished here free to the public two or three times a week.”

  7. 7 smoo August 13, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    I’m pleased to see that greens have generated such enthusiasm and learned comments. Greens are preferable to gravel anyday.

    • 8 JJ August 14, 2010 at 2:15 am

      i went to a diner this morning. they served me something not unlike gravel and made me pay them five dollars. i like greens too.

  8. 9 jo August 14, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    snow you raised the timely issue of the void zwischen fantasie und wahrheit.

    need i refer you to my high school yearbook quote, which broaches the subject eloquently?

    ‘dreams can be deceiving, like faces are to hearts
    but serve for sweet relieving, when fantasy…
    and reality…
    lie too far apart’

    – f. apple

    no regrets on choosing that one, no sir.

    and in a cosmic twist of fate jj, this evening i was NOT charged for my slice of carmine’s pizza.

  9. 10 fw August 28, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    I come to this blog to learn, not to wallow in the mutual hyperbole of the correspondence tail. Today’s has some serious learnin in it. Init? So ta.

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