Sunday, April 4, 2010

Cauliflower and Dandelion Green Gratin with Gingery Coconut Milk and Panko Crumb Crust Recipe

From the bench where I sit in the Greenwood Cemetery I can see the Brooklyn Bank building, the working industrial piers of New York harbor, the high rises in midtown Manhattan (and a corner of its namesake's bridge), the obelisk tombstones of Culbert and Lowe and Mac Donald, and engravings on them with sentimental phrases like, “Our Only Treasure”, and, above the graves, thousands of cherry blossoms slowly pushing their way out of winter’s hibernation. It is warm enough to pick up grass blades with my bare toes as I write, and to want to gather my hair up off my neck. Spring is really here, and I am surprised.

I did not expect to feel this warm breeze so soon, and yet, as sure as the sweet, pervasive scent of these magnolia blossoms, the confident yellow wall of burgeoning forsythia marking the edge of a wobbly stone path here, even as sure as the hesitant crocuses that gingerly test the air before unfurling their delicate purple leaves, spring has definitely arrived.

Expectations / impermanence. It’s simple: I did not expect spring, and the impermanence of winter suddenly became evident. And as this perfect day passes, I’ll not hold onto it with slippery fingers. This treasure is today's treasure. Tomorrow holds its own unique beauty.

I read some of Rumi's poems while I was in the cemetery, coincidentally flipped directly to the spring section of the anthology, and connected with the romance of all of this renewal surrounding me. Romantic spring, I'm happy you're here.

"Flutes for Dancing", by Jelaluddin Rumi, with translation by Coleman Barks

It’s lucky to hear the flutes for dancing
coming down the road. The ground is glowing.
The table is set in the yard.

We will drink all this wine tonight
because it’s Spring. It is.
It’s a growing sea. We’re clouds
over the sea,
or flecks of matter
in the ocean when the ocean seems lit from within.
I know I’m drunk when I start this ocean talk.

Would you like to see the moon split
in half with one throw?

and, from "A Great Wagon":

Come to the orchard in Spring.
There is light and wine, and sweethearts
in the pomegranate flowers.

If you do not come, these do not matter.
If you do come, these do not matter.

Cauliflower and Dandelion Green Gratin with Gingery Coconut Milk and Panko Crumb Crust Recipe

Note from Banu: Full disclosure: I actually didn’t really like this week’s concoction so much, but I’m posting it nonetheless because it’s a healthy dish, and who knows? Perhaps this will become someone’s favorite recipe. The bitter dandelion greens are a nice foil for the subtle sweetness of the coconut milk, and the cauliflower and turmeric are a classic combination, and together, provide more protection against cancer than they do alone. This is a fine recipe, it’s just no perfect spring day.

1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets, and blanched in salted boiling water
1 bunch of dandelion greens, chopped, and added to the simmering cauliflower water for the last minute or so of cooking, to just wilt the greens.
1 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, minced
1 tablespoon turmeric root, minced (or you could use powdered turmeric, but use less of it)
1 tablespoon ginger root, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of soy flour (or brown rice flour)
1 14 oz can of coconut milk
Salt and pepper, to taste
Panko crumbs, about 1/4 cup

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heat the vegetable oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onion, and cook until soft. Add the garlic, turmeric, and ginger and cook for a few minutes longer. Stir in the soy flour and cook briefly, stirring constantly. Slowly add the coconut milk and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then let simmer for a few minutes until the sauce thickens slightly. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Combine the blanched cauliflower and the wilted dandelion greens with the sauce. Pour everything into an 8 x 8 x 2 inch (or similarly sized) baking dish, and top with the panko crumbs. Bake in the oven until bubbly and golden brown. (I put mine under the broiler for a few minutes to get a good crust.)

Serve immediately.


Bo said...

It sounds pretty interesting...I would try it!

Ulrike said...

I think it sounds delicious and would love to try it. But what are panko crumbs? I have never seen them in Australia.

Tau-Mu said...

For some reason your post reminds me of the novel Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury one of my favorites growing up. Well, because of the dandelions. I am curious how they taste!

Richard said...

Woohoo a Banu post!! ;)

Banu said...

Bo: thanks. I hope you like it.

Ulrike: panko crumbs are extra crispy Japanese breadcrumbs. Sure you can't find them in Australia? Anyway, if not, regular breadcrumbs would suffice.

Tau-Mu: can you get dandelion greens where you are? they are packed with nutrients, and fairly bitter if not the tender ones of spring, but very nice with something a bit sweet. Early on, I made a dandelion green and dried figs salad for this blog. The post is here:

Richard: yeah, sorry. I've been so busy with the Juilliard shows, but now that they're over I'll have more time for regular blogging!

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