by Kerri Conan
There are a lot of things we could do with the purple shiso in our herb garden. My husband Sean and I have tried several: like marinate the leaves whole in a sesame-soy concoction, shred a few into salads and stir-fries, and scrunch several into a jar of carrot pickles. Other ideas we have yet to explore: shiso pesto, tempura, or tea.
But we usually enjoy these sturdy leaves plain, to transport food from plate to mouth, as if you were eating with castanets. (Is this how shiso is often used in Japan? I’ve never been, but whenever the leaves are used to garnish my sushi, it never goes to waste.)
As you may know, markbittman.com was down for the last day or so due to some technical difficulties beyond our control. We’re so sorry for the inconvenience!
Chinese celery with pressed tofu and homemade spice oil might take a little extra shopping, but trust me, it’s well worth the trip.
Readers’ comments to my “waiter there’s plastic in my soup” piece, were varied and interesting. (I wonder if most people are quite as bold and polite as they say they are. After the fact, everything is easy.)
My feelings remain mixed. But a) I did tell the server immediately, and I didn’t think it was my responsibility to then go tell the manager; b) I was the guest of someone else, who didn’t care about the charge, so arguing about that seemed far more trouble than it was worth (and anyway, the right thing for the restaurant to do was to comp the meal, for anyone); c) no, I won’t go there again; and d) yes, I’ve told my friends the name of the place.
by Barry Estabrook
Jim Crow is Alive and Well in California
SB 1121 was hardly a radical-sounding piece of legislation. Among other things, it would have given California’s 700,000 farm workers the right to take one day off out of every seven. Hourly paid agricultural employees would have received overtime pay after eight hours per day or 40 hours per week.
But when the bill landed on Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s desk, he vetoed it, saying that the new provisions would put farmers out of business.
At a midtown restaurant last week, I ordered corn soup.
It was pretty good, except for the pieces of plastic in it. These had the texture of drinking straws, or perhaps shattered plastic fork, or even squid quills – thin, not too sharp, not especially dangerous. They wouldn’t have broken a tooth, but they wouldn’t have been pleasant to swallow; they certainly were not pleasant to find in my mouth. There were two of them. In about four, maybe five ounces of soup. Which means there were probably quite a few of them in the pot.
I handed them to the server: “You might want to show these to the chef,” I said. “They were in the soup.” She barely flinched, then proceeded to ignore us for the rest of the meal. (Quite literally: A runner brought our second courses, and she only asked if we wanted coffee after I’d asked for the check.)
This week on the Today Show I didn’t cook anything (none of the dishes involved any heat, which makes them perfect for Summer). Here’s one of the all-time great salads to get you through the dog days. Serve it with some crusty bread and you’ve got a light meal. Adapted from How to Cook Everything.
Fennel and Orange Salad
Makes: 4 servings
Time: 15 minutes
Among the most underrated vegetables, fennel has celery-like crunch and a widely appealing anise flavor. Combined with orange, it really shines.
1 pound fennel (1 large or two small bulbs)
3 small sweet oranges or tangerines
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, basil, or chervil leaves
1. Trim and core the fennel and cut it into small cubes, 1/4inch or so, or into thin slices (or shave it super thinly on a mandoline).
2. Squeeze the juice from one of the oranges, pour it over the fennel, add salt and lime juice, and let it sit (for up to several hours) while you prepare the other oranges.
3. Peel the remaining oranges and slice into wheels; then slice in half again, removing any pits and tough, fibrous material. Add the oranges and cilantro to the fennel, toss, taste and adjust the seasoning, and serve.