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Crunchy kale salad with peanut dressing

February 8, 2012

In case you’re wondering if I’ve eaten anything besides kale this week, I have.  And believe it or not, I do eat salads that are not kale salads like this one or this one.  It’s just that kale salads are so darn good I have to share them with you.  And, as I mentioned in my last kalicious post, there are umpteen ways to prepare kale.  But, actually, it doesn’t need much more preparation than a quick chop chop, toss with salad dressing, voilá!  And this salad is just that easy, and did I mention incredibly delicious!  Oh, it’s a good one!

This simple salad – kale, carrots, bell pepper, and lightly fried almonds – is tossed with a lightly sweet creamy peanut dressing.  It packs a lot of crunch and is a great way to liven up winter meals that are typically so heavy.

I actually am rush-posting this recipe for a friend which pretty much never happens (here you go darling Melisa) because we ate this the other night for dinner (I guess I am sort of on a kale-kick), and I’ve been craving it ever since and she, understandably, had to have the recipe immediately.  Just print so you can hand it out to friends, they’ll need it too.

Here ’tis:

Adapted from Martha Stewart:

Serves 4 as a side, 2 as a main course

  • 1 large bunch kale, ribbed and finely chopped*
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, thinly sliced crosswise

Garnish:

  • 1/2 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil

Peanut dressing:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup roasted unsalted peanuts
  • 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar or agave nectar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste

Directions:

For the salad: Toss the thinly sliced kale, bell pepper and carrots in a large bowl.

Garnish:  Heat olive oil over medium-high heat and briefly fry the chopped almonds until golden brown.  Drain excess oil on a paper towel and allow to cool.

For the dressing: Puree all ingredients in a blender until smooth and toss with salad and almonds just before serving

*I used a combination of curly green and purple kale, but any variety will do.  The key is to tear the leaves into small pieces, or make thin ribbons as shown here.

The real breakfast of champions, the green smoothie.

February 6, 2012

Believe it or not, you don’t have to hold your nose to drink this. It actually tastes good. I know it’s not pretty and believe me, I’ve gotten plenty of side-ways glances for drinking the stuff. But, I’m telling you, it’s like green crack.

You might be wondering, “Why doesn’t she just braise her greens in butter and bacon and leave well enough alone?”  I won’t deny there are many amazing ways to get your daily dose of green.  You can saute it, braise it, boil it, steam it, chop it, dehydrate it and call it a chip… and you can also blend it raw into a smoothie for breakfast with any combination of fruits and liquids that tickle your fancy.  It tastes awesome and is a really great way to start your day!  This is the kind of stuff that changes lives, people.

It’s my breakfast of choice, and beware, once you start you can’t stop.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 bunch kale, ribbed and coarsely chopped.
  • 1 banana
  • 3/4 cup fresh or frozen fruit of your choice (I love blueberries and peaches).
  • 1 tablespoon whole flax seeds (chia seeds are also great)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (optional)
  • 10 ounces coconut water or orange juice (or liquid of choice)

There is no one recipe for the green smoothie.  You can modify it as you choose with different combinations of fruit, blending liquid, and add-ins.  I’ve made the green smoothie with pineapple, lime and coconut water for an amazing tropical treat.  It can made with other greens as well such as spinach.  Try a dollop of yogurt for added creaminess.  The coconut oil adds an extra dose of the good fats that keep you going all day and help you to feel full.

Directions:

Throw everything in a blender, and blend well.*

*My only advice is this, and it is important:  Blend well, at least 60 seconds.  You want a very liquified green smoothie – no chunks.  Otherwise you will be chewing on your smoothie instead of drinking it.

Homemade Ricotta

January 17, 2012

The other day a good friend, Jenn, came over and taught me how to make homemade ricotta cheese.  I know what you’re thinking.  “Did you just say homemade ricotta, as in the cheeseRicotta?”  Yes, ricotta as in the cheese, and homemade as in made at home on my teeny tiny stove in my teeny tiny kitchen with a half gallon of milk.  Milk, as in the kind you buy at the store.  Sounds unlikely doesn’t it? I gawked too, but Jenn made a believer out of me.  Now it’s all homemade ricotta all the time.

It’s easy too!  You could whip up a batch of ricotta while tomato sauce simmers for your next lasagne.  You could whip up a batch at the last minute before your next cheese and wine party and make a bruschetta of ricotta drizzled with honey and walnuts (wow, that sounds good – the way I amaze myself sometimes, genius I know).

Now that I’m officially a cheese crafter extraordinaire, who knows what’s next.  Mozzarella, gruyere, a smoked gouda….  Once you go homemade cheese, well, you never go back.

I’ll give you step by step instructions below, but here is the basic concept: allow milk to slowly heat to a gentle simmer.  As it heats, add lemon juice which causes the milk to curdle.  Continue to heat to a slow rolling boil, but don’t scald the milk.  Once it has curdled, it will separate into curds and whey.  The curds, which contain all the milk fats, are the ricotta cheese.  The whey, which contains the water and much of the protein, can be reserved for other uses.  Don’t be intimated by words like, “curdle.”  It’s a forgiving process.  Don’t worry about measuring out the lemon juice drop by drop.  This is the kind of recipe you have to eyeball and then add little here, a little there and see how it goes.  Once the milk curdles, you simple stir gently over medium to low heat until it is well separated.  Then, you strain out as much water as you want and voila!  Ricotta cheese.

The more water your strain, the more firm, or solid, the ricotta will be.  To make paneer cheese, strain out almost all of the water until the cheese is very firm, slice into cubes, and fry lightly.

After you’ve made this at home, it seems silly to buy ricotta from the store!  This tastes so much better (not to mention cheaper).


Ingredients:

Half-gallon whole milk

Juice of one lemon

1 teaspoon salt

Directions:
Pour milk and salt into heavy saucepan and heat gently over a medium-low flame.  Stir occasionally to prevent the bottom from scorching.  Heat until milk is about to simmer, stir in lemon juice.  Continue to stir over low flame and allow milk to come to a very gentle boil.  Remove from heat, continue to stir.  The milk should curdle and separate into curds and whey.

Line a strainer with cheese cloth and place over a large bowl to collect the whey*.  Strain curds, and squeeze out excess liquid until your cheese just holds together.  Slice or crumble and enjoy.

*Whey is an excellent source of protein, and although you may discard it for this recipe, you could use it to make smoothies or use it as the water to boil lentils, pasta, etc.

Thank you darling, Jenn!

Green Chile Butternut Squash Soup

January 12, 2012

Oh, this soup will warm you right up!  Got the winter time blues?  Be cold no more, my friends.

Butternut squash is one my favorite winter vegetables, and I love a good butternut squash soup – you know the soup – pureed, creamy, a hint of spice.  Fabulous without a doubt, but we almost never see variations from the tried and true.  This is one that gives your favorite butternut squash soup a run for it’s money!

This soup is hearty, a meal all by itself.  Blackbeans, corn and a medley of vegetables compliment heat from green chile and the mild sweetness of the squash.  It’s the thing to make on a cold winter day.

Ingredients:

1 medium Onion, Chopped Coarsley
2 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 rib Celery Branches
2 medium Carrots, Peeled And Chopped
2 cups Butternut Squash, Peeled And Diced
1 cup Chopped Green Chile*
1/2 cups cooked black beans, or 1 can (15oz) black beans
1 cup Frozen Corn
2 tablespoon(s) Olive Oil
1 tsp Cumin
½ tsp Smoked Paprika
5 cups (10 ½ ounces) Vegetable Broth
Directions:

Saute onions over medium until soft, add garlic, celery and carrots.  Saute another 5 minutes.  Add butternut squash and spices and fry lightly until fragrant.  Add green chile and vegetable broth, or 5 cups water and 1 vegetable bouillon cube.  Bring to boil, simmer 30 minutes, add black beans and corn.  Adjust seasoning.  Simmer additional 15 minutes.  Serve with chopped cilantro, green onions and feta.

*Green chile (and of course I mean the New Mexican variety, Hatch) can be hard to find outside of New Mexico.  If you don’t visit New Mexico once in a while, and come home with a suitcase full of roasted frozen green, well, I highly recommend a trip to the land of enchantment.  In the mean time, you can find canned green chilies in most grocery stores or you can substitute with roasted, peeled and chopped ancho or poblano which are readily available in most of our great states.

Holy Enchilada! Corn, Bean and Kale Enchiladas

December 21, 2011

I thought about starting this post by expounding on the virtues of kale, being the food of the Gods that it is.  It occurred to me that, however, that you would have to be living in a cave, a cave without internet, to not already know about the profound virtues of this leafy green.  So, because we’re already past that, and because all of us are looking for creative ways to get our daily green consumption, let me tell you about Corn, Bean and Kale Enchiladas from Vegetarian Epicurean, one of my favorite blogs – a must for delicious vegetarian fare.

Holy Kale, these are good!  When I think enchiladas, I usually thing spoonfuls of cheese with red chili.  Not that I have anything against spoonfuls of cheese or red chili, it’s just not something I would make at home, especially when I’m trying to get my daily kale.  These glorious edible specimens, however, are a delicious blend of pinto beans, kale, corn, and squash complemented by a touch of cheese and hint of earthy red chili.

To put it simply, these are delicious.  I made them for dinner tonight, served myself a modest portion, feverishly inhaled them, went back for a less-modest portion and forced myself to slow down, chew, and enjoy the flavors. If I hadn’t set aside a serving for lunch tomorrow, I would have eaten the whole darn thing, and I’m so glad I did because, oh boy, I can not wait for lunch tomorrow!

Adapted from Enchiladas: Corn, Bean, and Kale from Vegetarian Epicurean

Makes approx 4 entree sized servings

Ingredients:

10 oz package frozen kale, thawed and liquid removed (a potato ricer is an awesome tool for this) or 1 large bunch of fresh kale, ribbed and coarsely chopped.

oil

1 large onion, diced

1.5 cups frozen corn

2 medium summer squash (optional – I added these because I had them from the CSA)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 can pinto beans, drained

16 corn tortillas

3 cans- 10 oz Enchilada Sauce (Hot)

6 oz cheddar cheese, grated and divided into 4

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Toast tortillas in oven or in small batches in toaster oven, until lightly toasted but not crispy. Set aside; this will prevent the enchiladas from getting soggy.

Heat oil in large pan. Add onions and cook until they start to be transparent.  Add corn and cook until heated through.  Stir in kale and cook for a few more minutes, until wilted and tender.  Season with cumin, salt and pepper and set aside.

In a small baking pan, lay down 4 corn tortillas (they should fill the bottom – if you are using a bigger pan, use more ingredients.  Lay down beans, a little more than 1/4th the cheese, and most of a can of sauce. Put down 4 more tortillas, half of the kale mixture, more cheese and most of another can of sauce.  Repeat.

Lay down the last tortillas, the rest of the cheese, and drizzle with the last bit of sauce from the cans.

Put in oven and bake for 30-40 minutes until golden on top and bubbling.

Let stand 5-10 minutes (as if!), and then serve.

Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad

November 28, 2011

This is my favorite salad right now – it’s from the November issue of Bon Appétite, a source of inspiration, love, and late-night cravings.  (Thank you, by the way, to my good friends Ben & Jamie for the subscription).

Now, I know what you’re thinking.  Brussel sprouts again?  Didn’t you just tell us brussel sprouts are better fried in butter?  Well, yes, it’s true that brussel sprouts are delicious sautéed delicately in butter, but they are also delicious RAW paired with bitter greens, almonds, drenched in parmesan cheese and salad dressing!  Who knew?  A slightly healthier take on one of fall’s abundant gifts.

Brussel sprouts are a variety of the cabbage species, and because of selective breeding done in the thirteenth century in Belgium, brussel sprouts look like tiny perfect cabbages.  They grow on a heavy stalk and their prime season is late fall and early winter.  On occasion you can find the entire dramatic-looking stalk in certain markets, and if you do, select one with small firm sprouts, as these are sweeter, and avoid ones with yellow, wilting leaves or sprouts that do not form a tight head.

You might never think to pair these two ingredients, especially not raw, but it works, it really works.  It’s kind of like coleslaw/ceaser salad but its really filling and the almonds add this wonderful crunch and nutty flavor.  Love love love it. Make it now!

The shredding is a bit meticulous.  I used a sharp pairing knife to slice the sprouts in 1/8-inch pieces and then shred them into smaller bits.  Alternatively, you could remove the thicker stem from each head which allows the leaves to separate and finely chop the leaves.  Raw kale is best eaten finely chopped or, as shown here, in fine ribbons which is accomplished by rolling a stack of leaves together, as if making a cigar, and then cutting across the role.  This type of cut is known as a chiffonade.

Nevertheless, it’s a fairly quick salad, could be served as a main course, but is also a perfect accompaniment to cut through the rich heavy foods we tend to eat in the fall time.

Bon Appétit!

From Bon Appétit:

  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for seasoning
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large bunches of Tuscan kale (about 1 1/2 lb. total), center stem discarded, leaves thinly sliced
  • 12 ounces brussels sprouts, trimmed, finely grated or shredded with a knife
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2/3 cup almonds with skins, coarsely chopped (I doubled the almonds here)
  • 1 cup finely grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  • Combine lemon juice, Dijon mustard, shallot, garlic, 1/2 tsp. salt, and a pinch of pepper in a small bowl. Stir to blend; set aside to let flavors meld. Mix thinly sliced kale and shredded brussels sprouts in a large bowl.
  • Measure 1/2 cup oil into a cup. Spoon 1 Tbsp. oil from cup into a small skillet; heat oil over medium-high heat. Add almonds to skillet and stir frequently until golden brown in spots, about 2 minutes. Transfer nuts to a paper towel-lined plate. Sprinkle almonds lightly with salt.
  • Slowly whisk remaining olive oil in cup into lemon-juice mixture. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD Dressing, kale mixture, and toasted almonds can be prepared 8 hours ahead. Cover dressing and kale mixture separately and chill. Cover almonds and let stand at room temperature.
  • Add dressing and cheese to kale mixture; toss to coat. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Garnish with almonds.

Apple Upside Down Cake

November 22, 2011

Fall time?  Apples galore?  Need an excuse to make a cake?  I always do….

This cake is a great excuse for no other reason than it is delicious!  It’s moist, lightly sweet, and a breeze to make.  It’s perfect for Thanksgiving.  You can share it with your friends (or not).

It’s great to have a few “everyday” cakes in your arsenal, it’s not a birthday cake or celebration cake.  It’s uncomplicated and there’s no frosting that gets scraped off the top and piled on the side of a plate.  It’s a cake for, well, everyday.  It was my favorite afternoon snack all week, and I might have to make another one because now I can’t imagine an afternoon without one.

A mandolin makes easy work of slicing apples, but it’s not at all necessary.  Don’t worry if you’re slices aren’t perfectly even – they get covered in cake batter and you’ll never know the difference.  You don’t need to core or peel the apples, just remember to to remove the seeds!

Sit down and stay a while….

Adapted from La Tartine Gourmand:

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons butter + extra for cake pan
  • 3 to 4 medium-sized apples
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup blond cane sugar + 2 tablespoons
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (or plain yogurt)
  • 1 vanilla bean, cut in halves, seeds scraped out
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup minus 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup almond flour

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Butter a nine-inch cake pan.

Lightly toast nuts and coarsely chop. Set aside.

In a non-stick frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons butter on medium heat, and add the apple slices with the cinnamon and 2 tablespoons sugar. Toss well and cook for about 4 minutes, or until slightly tender.  Arrange the apple slices at the bottom of the mold.

In a large bowl, mix the sour cream with the sugar. Add the vanilla seeds, and mix well. Add the eggs, and then the olive oil.

Finish with the flour, almond meal, salt, baking powder, baking soda and nuts.

Pour this batter over the apples and bake the cake for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until the blade of a knife inserted in the cake comes out dry. Let the cake cool and then unmold on a rack.

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