Friday, December 7, 2012

Kale again

When my stepdaughter, Aimée, recently shared a kale salad recipe with me, I immediately wanted to eat raw kale. Somehow, this fall, I’ve been feeling like the  “Into the Woods” Witch rapping in the prologue: “Greens, greens and nothing but greens”.

As it turned out, I had an opportunity to make a variation on this salad the very next night. It was simple, a citrus dressing tossed in a bowl of torn up baby kale.

Here is what I did:  SO EASY!!

3 clementines: halved and then juiced
approximately an equal amount to juice of good extra virgin olive oil
½ clove garlic, finely chopped
2 T rice wine vinegar (a  little fresh lemon juice would do)
 some salt, some pepper

As much baby kale cleaned, washed and with big stems removed as you need for you and your dinner companions.  I use my mother-in-law’s way of measuring: 2 or so handfuls per person ( but we are big salad eaters .She planned one handful per person as a side salad quantity.)

Now here is what is important: Toss kale in dressing at least fifteen minutes before eating.  This allows kale to absorb the dressing and to soften a bit. Even though it is young, the baby kale can be sort of chewy.
(If your kale is not really young or picked from your garden, it will be ok. Just let the kale sit longer in the dressing, And be sure to discard of tough stems and ribs.)

 Add some salt and pepper before serving.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Summer Sliders

Oh my gosh are these delicious. If the base of your stack is a garden tomato slice, then you could call these a summer vegetable napoleon. But if you start with a piece of baked eggplant, these become sliders that you can handily pick up to eat!

For two people you’ll need:

2 med very fresh eggplant

a few sliced garden tomatoes (if you don’t have really good tomatoes this is not the dish for you)

fresh mozarrella, sliced in a few slices, however thick it suits you

Some fresh basil, chopped in fine strips

olive oil

commercial bread crumbs. I use unseasoned, but you could use whatever you have

s+p to taste

an egg

Start with quarter inch slices of peeled very fresh eggplant, and dunk them in beaten egg you thinned with a little water. Then dredge in breadcrumbs. Put a fair amount of olive oil on a foil lined cookie sheet and arrange the slices on here. Then, I like to use my Misto to spray the tops with olive oil.. I use the oven and heat it to 375. When they brown on one side flip them to finish. (You could, of course, fry these in a pan)

Make little stacks: a piece of eggplant, a piece of cheese, a little basil, a tomato another eggplant slice, more tomato, basil, eggplant, voila, cute yummy slider. Or start with a tomato base and commit to using a fork. We’ve found 3 stacks each makes a very nice supper.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fry Baby, Fry

I cannot remember the last time I fried anything…I mean actual frying in a least an inch of bubbling hot oil.

It is the Season of the Eggplant around here and after the caponata was put up and the eggplant lasagnas safely tucked into the garage freezer there were still a few small eggplants in the garden.

Dinner was looming.

I had a vision of small golden eggplant cubes, enrobed in a fresh tomato sauce and served up on pasta.

It seemed a no brainer to get busy with the cast iron chicken fryer and heat up some oil. I peeled two smallish eggplants cut them into squares about three quarters of an inch all around, doused them in beaten egg and tossed them in a bag with bread crumbs . Corn and peanut oils are preferred for frying because of their high smoke point, but I had canola on hand, about 1.5 inches of oil total, I’d say. I was frying at approx. 350-375 degrees ( yes I used a thermometer) and did not have any problems.

Because the cubes are small and vegetable, they fry very quickly in the hot oil. They were all I’d hope for and more. The tomato sauce I mentioned was very simple: chopped up 2 or so garden tomatoes, a bit of fresh basil, garden garlic, a little olive oil. And I added a teensy bit of Wondra to provide little body.

The cubes were custardy inside and crisp on the outside. The tomato sauce was velvety and sweet. And this did not take very long. It’s one of those meals where you have to think and make a plan ( do sauce first, heat pasta water, get oil heating, cut up eggplant), but once stuff it prepped it goes very quickly. And completely worthy of the small planning effort.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hail Kale

The good thing about kale is it thrives during winter when nothing else is in the garden. The other thing about kale is it continues right on into the early summer. I am growing Laciniato, an Italian heirloom variety. It is also known as dinosaur kale. It has bumpy, bluish green pre-historic looking leaves.
We love kale for its earthy green flavor and its versatility.  I am sad to see it going by.

We were halfway through eating when the thought came to me to post this easy and most delicious kale dish we had last night.  The “bones” of the dish are from Alice Waters.  I’m sorry we ate the meal before I could whip out my camera.

For 2 people:

About a pound of kale. Remove stem and central vein and chop roughly. Rinse well.
Approx. 1/8 C olive oil
½ large onion , sliced
2 or 3 garlic cloves
1-2 T  red wine or cider vinegar
Pasta of your choice ( I used YDFM Mezzaluna)

Over med/low heat in a large frying pan, cook onions in olive oil til they become medium golden brown.  When these are correct color, boil and salt pasta water. Add a layer of kale to the onions, add some salt, let them wilt, then add the rest of the kale. Stir in the garlic, and mix the onions into all the kale.  Put pasta in to cook.

When kale is wilted and tender enough to your taste, take off lid and let any excess liquid evaporate. Take off heat and add vinegar. Stir in.

Serve kale mixture on top of pasta. A little grated cheese doesn’t hurt. And you could add a pinch of dried red chili pepper, or even a little hot fresh garden pepper.

This could be a really fast meal if you skipped the onions. But they add a very nice sweetness. So if dinner time is crazy, you could think about precooking the onions some other time while you are up to something else and holding in the fridge til you need them.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

winter wonderful-ness

During the warm months, we enjoy something we call “on top of’. This dish is built with a green salad dressed in home made vinaigrette, perhaps some olives or red onion and tomato, whatever looks good from the garden, and a cooked protein, served on top of the salad. Sometimes shrimp, sometimes grilled chicken, sometimes a bison burger.

I constructed a winter version of this recently, using a variety of vegetables I had in the fridge.
I cleaned and cut parsnips and carrots into two inch lengths, cut a few Brussels sprouts in half, threw in a few smallish pieces of garden broccoli and a handful of grape tomatoes. All this was tossed in olive oil and put in a shallow pan in one layer. I pricked a hot Italian sausage and laid this in the pan on the veg and cooked it all at 400 til the sausage was done and the veg were still firm, but no longer crunchy.

After I sprinkled the cooked veg with some kosher salt, I served this with whole wheat couscous under the veg, with the sausage on top. It was a colorful land delicious winter dinner.

Take a look in your veg drawer and see what needs to be used . You’ll be happily surprised at how easy it is to make a really good meal. And if you prefer to forgo the meat, the roasted veg and the couscous stand well on their own.