Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I Do Not Think it Means What You Think it Means...

     When I was in college, I went to an art show during which the artist gave a long speech detailing her inspiration behind each piece.  She used the word "serendipitous" a lot.  Like a whole lot.  Like maybe she had just learned the word and enjoyed how it felt in her mouth.  It became clear that what she often meant was "spontaneous."  It didn't detract from her work, it was just a funny little quirky thing that makes people human.  And it made me think of Princess Bride, and that's always a good thing.  The meal I served last night was genuinely entirely serendipitous.

     Wilson Fish Markets is our favorite place to buy fish.  They catch it and sell it almost immediately.  Last week, my family feasted on a coho salmon the leftovers of which became salmon cakes.  They will stab each other with forks for salmon cakes made with Wilson fish!  This week, the market was super busy and by the time I got there, all they had left was smoked salmon.  I thought, why not?  So I picked my guys up a section of maple smoked salmon.  Serendipity.

     Whitehorse Meadows Farm specializes in blueberries.  Especially things made out of blueberries!  They are new to the market this year.  I've got a bag of their frozen blueberries in my freezer that I'm judiciously doling into smoothies and a couple of weeks ago I bought some of their Blueberry Mango Chutney.  This little lady here, serendipitously suggested serving it with fresh salmon, which of course, I had just bought from Wilson.  My husband said it was a perfect pairing.  Since he was first introduced to Indian food in the late 1990's he has been looking for the perfect mango chutney.  He said this was the closest thing he's ever had to the original one he fell in love with all those years ago!  I do believe they have found a loyal customer!

     Maharlika Farms is a great place to get unusual produce like long beans, and Chinese okra as well as the normal market produce fare.  They also carry chicken and duck eggs.  She is always ready with a recipe for unusual ingredients.  She looks at you a little suspiciously and says, "You know how to cook this?"  I love it.  She wants everyone to appreciate her produce to the point of making sure they prepare it properly.  She's the one who taught me how to cook Chinese okra, something I will be forever grateful for because that stuff is awesome!  It was finally ready this week and I bought some.  For the dinner I had planned for today, I was thinking I'd like some long beans, but she was out (busy market and all) so I settled for regular green beans instead.  Serendipity.

Maple Smoked Salmon with Blueberry Mango Chutney and Cilantro Green beans

And so begins the winding and serendipitous tale of the cilantro green beans:
     When I was plating this up for pictures, I thought the beans needed a little something to fancy them up a bit.  (Now, here's a little food photography secret for you: Not everything you see in pictures is what you think it is.)  When I was plating it and deciding it looked boring, I thought a little dill would be the ticket since it typically pairs so well with beans and fish.  But I didn't have any dill.  As it happens though, in my garden, I am growing cilantro for the first time.  You may know how much I disliked cilantro when I first started writing this blog, but recipes like the Thai Curry Soup and Garlic Herb Sauce have been slowly changing my palate over the last couple of years.  When cilantro is about to go to seed, the leaves change and become frilly, delicate little things that look a lot like dill leaves.  So I thought, "Well, it looks like dill, it'll probably taste OK, I'll just tell 'em it's dill."  I don't like doing that sort of thing, because usually what you see is exactly what you get in my photographs, so I hope you'll forgive my momentary lapse.  After I did my shoot, I started thinking... Hmmm... cilantro might actually be pretty good with the curry in that blueberry chutney... So I tasted the beans.  And I didn't hate it.  And I tasted them again.  And I liked it.  And I tasted them again and I ate the whole thing with my fingers before I even put the plate on the table!  Cilantro goes really well with green beans!  Who knew?  And cilantro green beans apparently go super well with maple smoked salmon and blueberry mango chutney!  My husband loved it!  So there you go, if it hadn't been for you lovely people out there in Internetland, I literally never would have made this!  SeRenDIPityyyyyyyy! And here it is...

Cilantro Green Beans
1 lb fresh green beans
1 sprig cilantro seed shoot (or two regular cilantro leaves), minced
1 pat butter

Wash and prep green beans (all I did was pinch off a few stems).  Steam beans until tender but not smooshy, about 5-10 minutes.  Plate and top with a little butter and sprinkle with cilantro.

I hope you have a serendipitously wonderful day today full of spontaneity and inconceivable deliciousness!

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