Chiffonading is a posh sounding description for a very simple leafy vegetable dish.
Chiffon is French for rag and is a cooking technique in which herbs or leafy greens such as spinach, beet leaves, basil or kale are cut into long thin strips. This is accomplished by stacking leaves, rolling them tightly, then cutting across the rolled leaves with a sharp knife, producing fine ribbons. Cut out the stems first if they look tough.
I did a column on chiffonading almost two years ago, not that I used that particular word at the time to describe the process. However, people continue to stop me in the street and ask for the kale recipe and I love to share the steps that convert the nutrient rich kale into a delicious addition to your meals.
So…here we go. In a heavy frying pan melt a tablespoon of oil and a knob of butter in medium heat. Toss in a small spoonful of grated ginger and the same amount of chopped garlic. Then add a tablespoon of water. I often add a pinch of sugar if the leaves are coarse. Mix the greens well with the other ingredients and use a heavy lid on the pan. After three or four minutes, on medium heat, pop the lid and the kale should turn intensely deep green and be ready to serve. It will make a delicious addition to your plate as well as a visual treat.
In September, as mentioned in the past column, I visited Powell River in order to experience the annual Edible Garden contest.
I picked up two new ideas from a contestant in Lund, which is north of Powell River. He had cleared a small garden site out of a deeply forested area and was successfully producing a variety of food stuffs and fruit.
He told me one of his secrets for growing great grub was to feed the plants horsetail tea. Now that interested me as I am so enamoured with the new famous chicken dung tea.
He claims that because horsetail has such deep roots it draws up nutrients from the earth that are not available to shallow rooted plants.
To prepare the tea he harvests armfuls of the plant and chops it into smaller lengths. It is then left to soak in a large barrel for a couple of weeks while it gradually turns to a deep green brew.
He then siphons the liquid out of the barrel and uses it in the same way that we traditionally fertilize our plants.
Composting our kitchen waste is a fairly easy process but what to do with the coarse stalks left over from clearing the garden and cleaning out the handing baskets can be a problem. The horsetail farmer made it look easy. He took a big clear plastic sack and tossed in all the garden refuse and small pruned branches. Then he sprinkled in a bit of water, tied the sack up and left it lying on the ground in the direct sun. He claims that by next spring all his scraps will have turned to sod. Now that is a tidy solution and if it works it is actually a brilliant solution!
That’s one I must try.