Kale Chips Revisited

Kale Chips are nothing new, but I had yet to master them. Everyone says they’re “so easy to make,” so you can imagine how I felt when my batch last summer turned out south of mediocre. With a beautiful bunch of freshly picked kale from WSF staring at me, I knew it was time to try again. Also, I had to prepare the kale as a stand-alone dish. Despite its elite status as a super food, some people just don’t like it.

So with a clear head and calm mind, I embarked on my kale chip adventure, pushing aside the rest of the madness in my kitchen. I followed this recipe from the White on Rice Couple. In fact, it was very simple. Their blog has great photos, to boot. See below.

Preparing Kale Chips from Whiteonricecouple.com

I washed, rinsed and dried the kale leaves, and removed the spine (the most tedious part, as pictured above on left). I then put the broken up leaves in a large bowl, drizzled some olive oil, a dash of kosher salt and cheyenne pepper. I used my hands to make sure the oil was evenly distributed on the leaves and  so as not to have to use too much.  I prepared 2 cookie sheets with a layer of parchment paper and then laid the kale leaves on the paper in a single layer. Bake at 300 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

Verdict: Big winner. The kale chips are tasty and crunchy, even slightly addictive. It warmed my heart to hear 2 1/2 year old Sam say, “more kale chips, mommy”

Tabbouli Tabbouli Tabbouli

I just said it 3X because it’s kind of a dirty word in our house. Some people (who will go unnamed) won’t touch it. So instead of putting it on the menu, I made a delicious quinoa recipe on Saturday with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and garlic from our CSA pick-up, along with parsley, chives and mint from our garden, and didn’t utter the 8 letter word. And what do you know? It was roundly enjoyed.

I’ve written about quinoa and its virtues before, so no need to blather on about that. I will say that this recipe from Bon Appetit for Tabbouli-style quinoa was easy to prepare and very enjoyable: crunchy, summery, fresh and healthy. It also lasts a day or two, tasting better on day 2 if you ask me.

Bon Appetit’s Tabbouli Quinoa. My preparation looked the exact same

I prepared the recipe with minimal modifications and it was perfect [used chopped and seeded hothouse tomatoes instead of cherry tomatoes]. Here’s how I know:

  1. Aesthetics: it looked exactly like BA’s photo above (ex the cherry tomatoes)
  2. 2nd Helpings: Served at a casual buffet lunch and discerning guests came back for more (ok, not super scientific, but unless everything else tasted awful…)
  3. The “H” Factor: Hubs liked it

Just call it something else. Chalk up another win for quinoa. I still have to try Rebecca’s recipe before the end of the month.

Comfort Food, My Style: Sole Meuniere and Rice Pilaf

We’ve been back from our trip for a few days, and I am still struggling with a spot of jetlag and general post-vacation malaise. I finally had the itch to cook today, but it had to be something easy, familiar and tasty.  Nothing to boost the spirit like 2 favorite go-to dishes for dinner, and also a guarantee of a no-complaint meal. It’s my version of comfort food, so disclaimer disclaimer disclaimer that this is NOT a particularly healthy, local or nutrient-dense meal. As an aside, I picked up the handy phrase nutrient-dense from my friend Tamara John Mannelly who recently launched a beautiful new foodie blog. Check it out. But now right now as you must continue to read this…

Last night’s menu consisted of a simplified Sole Meunière and a dummied-down Rice Pilaf. And, yes, both these dishes do create a monochromatic palate often associated with fried foods, but like I said, don’t judge. It’s comfort food.

Flounder Meuniere, Rice Pilaf and Heirloom Tomato Salad

In order to spice things up the light brown palette, I sliced up an heirloom tomato (drizzled with olive oil and sea salt) and added it to our plates for color. This one plate meal was delish and hit the spots. No complaints, only clean plates  – guaranteed.

Here’s what I did: prepared a large batch of brown rice earlier in the day, in a nod to nutritious eating, though I knew I’d be doctoring it up later. In a medium sized pan, I sauteed some scallions in a generous pour of olive oil, then added the pre-cooked brown rice, along with salt and pepper and sauteed for 3 or 4 minutes on medium heat. The rice gets a little crispy, and the olive oil and scallion give it a really nice flavor. You can saute red onion, yellow onion, or shallots (or a mix) in place of the scallion. I call this dummied-down Pilaf because it is simpler than a traditional Pilaf, both in preparation, as well as complexity of taste.

Simple Pilaf in the Pan

And here’s my recipe for “Sole” Meuniere. I actually used wild flounder, not sole, because I liked the looks of it on the fishmonger’s counter. You can prepare any thin, white fish fillet in this manner. It need not be the classic French “sole” which can be pricey and hard to find.

Sole Meuniere for 2

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 or 4 tablespoons of matzoh meal (or flour – I like matzoh meal because it has more texture than plain flour and my mom always uses it)
  • 1 teaspoon of savory dried herbs, like herbs de provence, or thyme, tarragon, or any other spice blend you may have on the shelf
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • Small handful of fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley for garnish (no biggie if you don’t have any, but nice for color)
  • 2 fillets of sole (or any other fresh, thin white fish like flounder, tilapia, etc)

Instructions:

On a plate or a piece of waxed paper, mix matzoh meal or flour with dried herbs (you will dredge the fish fillets in this, so use whatever surface is easiest for you). Add healthy pinches of salt and pepper. Heat a large cast iron or non-stick pan on medium high for 1-2 minutes until very hot. Then add 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Once butter melts, but before it turns brown, dredge fish fillets in matzoh meal/flour mixture and place in pan.

The olive oil/butter will spatter, so watch out. Depending on thickness of fillets, cook for 2-3 minutes on each side. You want to make sure that the fillets turn a nice light brown.

Flounder fillets on side 2 – almost ready

You can test doneness by sticking a fork into the fish. They are ready when you meet no resistance. Side 2 will take less than time than side 1. Once the fillets are ready, use a spatula to remove each one and place directly on serving plates. You are now going to make a quick sauce de-glazing the pan. Very simple, not to worry

Using the same frying pan, lower the heat from Medium-high to Medium or Low-Medium depending on your stove. Add the additional 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan. It will splatter again (sorry!), but just step back and let the butter melt. Once melted, it should be safe to get closer to the stove again. Use your spatula to scrape the good bits n pieces from the pan and mix with the butter. Now add the lemon juice, let it sizzle again, mix with the spatula for 10 seconds and you’re ready to go.

Divide sauce between the two plates, pouring directly on the fillets. Sprinkle chopped parsley on top for garnish, if you have it. Serve with lemon wedges if you wish, just serve immediately.

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Like I said, this meal isn’t particularly healthy since it uses a LOT of butter and olive oil, but it is tasty, easy and rewarding. What’s your fave comfort food?

Panzanellamania

I had heard of this Italian dish and it always sounded nice. But we don’t eat a lot of bread so therefore we rarely have stale bread. It never came to be. And it seems silly to buy something just so it could get stale. We’ve made many tomato basil cheese etc salads but the stale, crusty bread hadn’t joined the party. So…..with the perfect storm of house guests last weekend who didn’t eat everything we bought (including a delicious, now hard as a shoe, Berkshire Mountain Bakery baguette), beautiful ripe Wolfe Spring Farm tomatoes bursting with juice, extra roasted WSF garlic sitting around, uneaten boiled WSF corn that was in the fridge for a day or two, fresh parsley, basil, and chives from our garden. I came to understand the true origin and beauty of this dish. Cut it all up, toss it all together with whatever vinegar turns you on (I used white balsamic the first time and it was a little timid. Then, good old supermarket red wine vinegar and it was just right), olive oil, salt and pepper (I also added little bit of minced WSF jalapeño for pizazz and some cubed pressed tofu for protein) let it sit for 10 minutes or so until the bread softens a little in the juices of the tomatoes , vinegar and oil, and BOOM, dinnuh! and lunch, and a snack. I was possessed by this fresh, quick, flavorful assembly of stuff lying around. I ate so much of it. I think it would be great with a little red onion, fresh cheese, anything you have left over that does’t seem too gross to put in. My guess is that the corn is not authentic but I adapted the dish to our region. Even though a dish may be common, tried and true, or part of the popular repertoire, it still feels new and exciting when we discover it, even “invent” it, for ourselves, doesn’t it? I think this is one of the great joys of cooking.

Got Bread?

Fired-Up Fingerlings

The first thing we did with the awesome Wolfe Spring Farm bounty that Deb and Paul so kindly shared with us was to roast the fingerling potatoes. It’s a basic recipe that can be made with a number of different ingredients. Here, we washed the WSF potatoes, pricked them with a fork, tossed them in salt, olive oil, sliced jalapeño peppers (WSF), smashed garlic (WSF), a little lime juice and some fresh lime slices (Stop and Shop, kind of local: Canaan CT) and stuck them on the grille in an enameled metal pan (sourced locally: the New Marlborough transfer station dumptique!). They brown nicely, take on a delicious char and are delicious tossed with some fresh chopped epazote (our garden) when still warm. You could do this with lemons and black pepper and parsley, or any combination of spices and herbs you want.