Yesterday for dinner I cooked steak with sides of sweet potatoes and chard. The steak was good, but the vegetables were even better. Following the suggestion of Alice Waters (of Chez Panisse), I baked the sweet potatoes in their skins for an hour, then split them and scraped the innards into a bowl, tossed in a pat of butter, the juice of a lime, a handful of chopped cilantro, and salt and pepper.
While the potatoes were cooking, I made chard and yogurt raita. (Alice suggests spinach but chard was what I had.) I chopped my own frozen precooked chard, thawed it over low heat, then let it cool and drain in a colander while dry-toasting a handful of cumin seeds. In a mixing bowl I combined the chard and cumin with a fat spoonful of plain yogurt, the juice of half a lemon, some lemon zest, and salt and pepper. The two vegetable dishes were remarkably delicious as a pair; Alice recommends them alongside a roasted fish, though steak was a pretty good accompaniment too. But alone would also be delightful.
I have never been a fan of sweet potatoes; I dislike their cloying sweetness, which most recipes seem to exaggerate rather than moderate. If you're like me--a sweet-potato skeptic--then you should definitely try the lime and cilantro approach. It's an eye-opener. On the other hand, I love chard in almost any recipe, but I also have a freezer full of it so am always looking for novelty. Thus, the raita was an excellent discovery.
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This week is shaping up to be a crazy one: a new class starting tomorrow, much editing to juggle, Frost Place planning underway (we have faculty!), Tom's birthday dinner to construct, and a whirlwind trip to NYC. I feel as if I have three heads and another one beginning to grow. I guess I will have to get them all matching hats.
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Even if you're not involved in our RIII project, you should check out the poem drafts in the comments on yesterday's post. There's some remarkable work there.