kale caesar credit Julia A Reed (9)

Kale, Caesar!

kale caesar credit Julia A Reed (9)My favorite way to eat kale is not new or trendy – I like it cooked tender and until it’s ​no longer bright green. But on a hot day or for company or a potluck, kale Caesar is refreshing and a little fancy.

Kale salad is trendy right now, and kale Caesar, specifically, is very Vermont chic.

Raw kale is a nice alternative or addition to lettuce in a salad – especially if you already have kale and don’t want to buy lettuce or salad greens. Plus, making croutons for Caesar salad is a good way to use up stale bread.

For eating raw in salads, choose fresh kale with smaller leaves. The flavor tends to get stronger as the leaves mature on the plant or in your fridge. Have a lot of older kale sitting around? Rip off a piece and see what it tastes like. A braise with plenty of salt, garlic, bacon fat,​ and a splash of leftover wine might be a better choice than a salad.

To prepare kale for any salad, pull the stems off and break leaves into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle them with a little salt and oil and squeeze them with your fists until the leaves get wilted and soft. People call this “massaging” the kale but I think that sounds weird. Add dressing and other ingredients and serve!

Here, we’re going to make Caesar salad with dressing and croutons from scratch. If you prefer, you can always use store bought croutons and/or Caesar dressing, but don’t be put off by the fairly straightforward  process of making your own. You’ll build kitchen skills and have a better end product.

–Bethany Fleishman, Vital Communities’ Transportation Program Assistant and former pastry chef, is contributing recipes this summer for our Valley Food & Farm program.

Photo credits: Julia A. Reed

Kale Caesar Salad with Garlic Croutons
Recipes adapted from Tyler Florence and from Natasha’s Kitchen

Ingredients

1-2 bunches green or lacinato/dinosaur kale

freshly grated Parmesan, or any hard sharp cheese from a local farm

Croutons
2 cups of stale bread, cubed or torn into chunks, crusts left on

2 T unsalted butter

2 T extra virgin olive oil

2 medium garlic cloves, smashed or minced

1 T fresh thyme, finely chopped, or 1 t dried thyme

1/4 t salt

1/4 t freshly ground black pepper

Dressing
4 anchovy fillets or 2 t anchovy pasteblueberry fool credit Julia A Reed (5)

1 clove garlic, smashed or minced

1 lemon, very well squeezed

1 yolk from a fresh local egg (save the white in the freezer to add to scrambled eggs or to make cakes or meringues)

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (or any hard sharp cheese from a local farm)

freshly ground black pepper

salt

Make the croutons first:butter herbs cooking credit Julia A Reed
1. In a small saucepan, heat the butter, olive oil, garlic cloves, thyme, and pepper over medium heat until butter is melted and bubbly. Set aside and let the flavors infuse into the oil. (Wash the kale and pat dry while you wait.)
2. Drizzle the butter/olive oil mixture evenly ocroutons kale caesar credit Julia A Reed (1)ver the bread cubes and toss until they have an even coating of oil.
3. Spread the croutons in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 375˚F for 15-20 minutes until they are golden brown and crunchy. Set aside to let cool.

Make the dressing next:
Blend the anchovies, garlic, egg yolk, and lemon juice for 30 seconds until the mixture is smooth (use an immersion blender in a tall mug or wide-mouth canning jar). With the blender running, pour the olive oil in slowly for the dressing to emulsify it. Stir in the Parmesan and a couple of grinds of black pepper. Season, to taste, with salt and set aside. Refrigerate the dressing if you will not be using it right away.blueberry fool credit Julia A Reed (13)

Assemble the salad:
Pull off the kale stems and break leaves into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle a little salt and olive oil/salad oil over the leaves and squeeze them with your fists until the kale gets
somewhat wilted and soft. Add enough dressing to coat the salad to your liking. Add the croutons and some extra Parmesan and toss the salad well.kale caesar credit Julia A Reed (7)

Eat it now or eat it tomorrow. The kale holds up well with dressing and a night in the fridge, but leave off the croutons until serving.

CreamedSpinach

Mastering Perfect Spinach

When my friend Justin opened a restaurant in Maine, I fixated on his strategy to train kitchen staff: cooks would learn the best one or two ways to prepare each vegetable, so they’d be optimally equipped to deal on the fly with unpredictable supplies of local vegetables and a daily changing menu.

Let’s try this method together – and make perfect creamed spinach like skilled professionals.

Spinach can deserve its reputation, but it’s delicious when done right. Plus, it’s a nutritional powerhouse.

Why creamed spinach, specifically? Because it’s emerald green and perfect with a steak. And because like the names of our great-grandparents, food like this is coming into style again.

Thank you to the New York Times Cooking section for providing me the hankering and the recipe for creamed spinach. And to Justin for helping me make that original recipe more awesome and for taste testing.

–Bethany Fleishman,Vital Communities’ Transportation Program Assistant and former pastry chef, is contributing recipes this spring for our Valley Food & Farm program.

Creamed Spinach
Recipe adapted from The New York Times Cooking section

Ingredients

About 2 pounds spinach (from a local farm or garden – that’s the whole point!)Raw Spinach
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour (gluten free flour is fine as long as it has some thickening power)
1 cup milk (ideally whole, but use what you have)
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Bay leaf (OPTIONAL)
1 clove of garlic (OPTIONAL)
A healthy sprinkle of grated Parmesan or other sharp cheese (OPTIONAL)

Directions

1. Pick over the spinach to remove any debris, tough stems, and blemished leaves.

2. Rinse the spinach and shake dry.

3. Stuff the spinach into a saucepan with a quarter cup or so of water and cook on medium heat, stirring, until the spinach has wilted and turned bright green. You’re doing a combination sauté and steam here. (I like this method because it’s quick, and I have a completely unfounded suspicion that it preserves the most nutrients.)

4. Run the spinach under cold running water until chilled.

5. Grab the spinach by the handful and squeeze out the liquid. This is important to prevent watery creamed spinach.

6. Thoroughly blend the spinach in a food processor or blender. Set aside.Roux

7. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour, stirring with a whisk.

8. Add the milk, stirring rapidly with the whisk. For extra flavor, add a whole clove of garlic (or minced if you like a lot of garlic flavor) and a Bay leaf.

9. Add nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes until it thickens.

2Bowls10. If you used them, fish out the Bay leaf and garlic clove (unless you minced it), and add the cheese (if using).

11. Add the spinach. Stir to blend. Heat
and serve with more ground black pepper.

You’re building your skills: Did you know that the sauce you just made for the spinach is called Béchamel sauce, and is one of the five “mother sauces” in French cuisine? You can use this for the base for cheese sauce and so much more.

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Holidays = Local + Healthy

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy. Well, at least it’s easy when it comes to getting local food and incorporating that into a healthy diet.

Now it is almost winter and the once abundant local offerings of dewy lettuces, ripe berries and fragrant tomatoes at the farmers’ markets have dwindled to practically nothing after the first frost. Add to that the challenge that the holidays can bring when you are trying to eat clean, healthy and whole foods and things begin to look dim indeed.

But never fear, we have strategies. And ideas. And a recipe. Okay, we have two recipes. Because it isn’t Everyday Chef without a recipe (or two)!

Chard

Eat Your Greens

Cabbages, collards, chard, kale and mustards are just a few local greens easy to find this time of year. Incredibly healthy, these greens are frost-hardy and often get a touch sweeter as the cold sets in. Although a bit toothsome for a raw salad, kale dressed with a favorite vinaigrette and allowed to mellow out in a bowl for an hour will be delicious and tender with crunchy, toasted seeds, thinly sliced red onion and chopped apples. Throw in some fresh goat cheese, feta or cheddar and you have a satisfying and beautiful side dish that is fit for the holiday table.

Another trick to bring out the amazingness of these cold loving greens, is to cook them. Cabbage cut in wedges, lightly browned in a tablespoon of olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and then braised in liquid (stock, cider, etc), turns out a melt-in-your-mouth sweet dish that pairs beautifully with roasted meats and vegetables. Try caraway or fennel seeds for an added dimension of flavor. Collards are underappreciated, but when cooked until tender and dressed with onions, salt and pepper, they yield a buttery, tender mouthful that begs for slow cooked beans, a bit of bacon and a cold glass of cider – perfect for welcoming the New Year.

Parsnip

Get Back to Your Roots

By the time the colors on our trees are but a memory and stick season shoulders its way in before the snow, I am ready the quintessential group of winter vegetables in Vermont, root veggies. Root vegetables can be found from your local farmer throughout the winter and well into spring. They store beautifully and when all the fresh eating veggies are long gone under the drifts of snow, we can dig out beets, parsnips, carrots, potatoes, rutabaga, turnips and onions. At Thanksgiving, I like to offer a warm bowl of whipped turnips with sage, a less calorie laden alternative to our favorite mashed potatoes. A regular favorite in our house during the cold months is to chop a variety of root vegetables, toss with sliced onions, olive oil, salt and pepper and then roast on a sheet pan in an oven at 375F until the vegetables are tender. Sprinkle with a bit of fresh parsley and you have a delicious and healthy side dish for roasted meats or to use leftover in salad or soups.

Color Me Squash…Winter Squash That Is

With their gorgeous colors and shapes, thick skins that equate to long storage and nutrient rich flesh, winter squashes are the stars of winter eating. Butternut, pumpkin, acorn, delicata, kabocha, and hubbard to name but a few, can be turned into mashed mounds of orange deliciousness, thick and creamy bisque-like soups, roasted for side dishes or stuffed with a million different things and turned out as a centerpiece on the holiday table. The key to cooking with squashes is to have a sharp and sturdy knife to cut through the tough skin and use a light hand with cream, butter and salt so that the various and unique flavors of the different varieties can really shine through.

Strategize Ahead and Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself

The holidays are meant to be a celebration and food is often central to these gatherings. You may find yourself in a situation where your choices are being made for you and rather than get too caught up in the details, allow yourself to indulge and appreciate the bigger picture of being with others in a joyful way. In the meantime, strategize ahead when you can – eat a healthy meal ahead of your gathering, drink lots of water and keep your portion sizes in check.

And in honor of the recently past Halloween and my family’s ongoing fascination with the zombie apocalypse, remember don’t eat the locals, but DO eat local!

Stuffed Pumpkin

Roasted Pumpkin Stuffed with Many Good Things

Serves approximately 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side dish. Can double the recipe for a larger crowd!

Ingredients:

1 small pumpkin, about 3lbs

Salt and ground black pepper

1 ½ cups bulghur or brown rice, cooked

1 ½ cups chopped apples

¼ cup sharp cheddar

1 clove garlic, minced

1 small onion, diced

1 tsp each dried rosemary and parsley (or 1 T each of fresh, chopped)

pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

4 T shredded parmesan, divided into two parts

⅓ cup of vegetable stock or milk

Directions:

Center the rack in an oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line a baking dish large enough to hold the pumpkin(s) with parchment paper. Keep in mind that you may need a bit more room to maneuver a spatula in case you want to serve the pumpkin on a different dish.

With a sharp and sturdy knife, carefully cut the top ¼ or ⅓ off from your pumpkin, like you are making a jack-o-lantern. Set aside the top. Scoop out the seeds and pulp, leaving a cavity that can be filled. Season the inside of the pumpkin with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, toss together the next 8 ingredients, setting aside 2 T of parmesan. Pour half of the measured liquid on the mixture and toss to coat. Add more liquid as needed so that the stuffing is moist, but not swimming.

Spoon the stuffing into the pumpkin until filled to the top. Any leftover stuffing can be baked separately in a dish. Set the pumpkin in the parchment lined dish and sprinkle the remaining parmesan on top of the stuffing. Put the pumpkin top on and bake until the pumpkin is tender, about 2 hours. About 20 to 30 minutes before it is done, remove the pumpkin top so the stuffing can brown.

You can serve the pumpkin straight from the baking dish or for a more elegant presentation, using a steady hand and a sturdy spatula, transfer the whole pumpkin to a serving dish. Cut into wedges and serve!

Notes: Pumpkin seeds can be cleaned and roasted with a little olive oil. All the vegetable bits, including the pumpkin pulp, can be added to a pot with water, brought to a simmer for several minutes and strained for a delicious vegetable stock.

Cooking Variations:

  • Almost any winter squash can be used in place of the pumpkin, with roasting times varying. Smaller or elongated squashes (like delicata or butternut), can be sliced in half and the cavities filled.
  • Think of this recipe as a guideline and try variations. For example, in place of the bulghur or rice, try pieces of whole grain stale bread. Or dried cranberries or apricots for the apples. Try pairing sage with chevre or mix in feta, mozzarella and swiss. This stuffing also pairs well with cooked sausage or bacon if you would like to add meat and nuts are delicious for additional protein and healthy fats.

 

Whipped Turnips with Leeks and Sage
Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

Ingredients:

4 large turnips, peeled and cubed

2 medium red potatoes, cubed with skin on

2 tablespoons of butter

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 leek, white part only, sliced thinly, soaked to remove sand/grit and then chopped finely

2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage or 1 tsp of dried sage

¾ cup milk

kosher or sea salt and ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

Fill a large pot with the turnips and potatoes. Fill with cold salted water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until tender and soft. About 20 to 25 minutes.

In a small saucepan, combine the olive oil and butter and melt over medium low heat. Once melted, add the leeks and sage, salt and pepper and saute until the leeks are tender and the sage is fragrant, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the milk and bring to a simmer over low heat, infusing the milk with sage flavor.

Drain the turnips and potatoes, reserving about ½ cup of the liquid. Set that aside. Put the vegetables back into the pot they were cooked in, add the hot milk and using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. If needed, add small amounts of the cooking liquid to the vegetables until the puree is silky, but still thick. If you prefer a chunky texture, mash roughly until mixed. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as needed. Serve hot or cold.

 

by Elena Gustavson, RAFFL’s Everyday Chef

220

Drink Your Greens

I have to admit, as much as I love cooking, at just about any time of day, sometimes I don’t do so well in the breakfast department. On mornings when I’m just trying to get out the door and perhaps the kitchen sink is still full of last night’s dishes (and this is more often than not, as I’m not the most efficient dish washer), I’ve resorted to a number of poor choices. Everything from a piece of whatever I’ve baked last – sometimes this isn’t completely terrible (bicottti) other times there’s no hope (cupcakes, pie, cookies) – while some days I just try to fill up on coffee and maybe a spoonful of peanut butter. But continuous consumption of strong, black coffee on an empty stomach will do a number on your digestive tract.

OK, I’m exaggerating a little. I was on a consistent oatmeal run for awhile and on weekends I take the time for eggs or fresh fruit topped pancakes. But for the past couple of weeks or so my breakfasts have consisted of green smoothies.

Before you click away in disgust, bear with me for a minute, especially as I tell you that these fruit and vegetable filled beverages don’t taste anything like spinach. Also of equal importance: they’re filling, as in I can last until lunch without starving.

And unlike some mornings, these drinks provide a healthy source of energy to get me going for the day. If breakfast really is the most important meal, then it makes sense to start off with foods that are actually going to have some nutritional value to offer. It’s also much easier to carry around a smoothie than a bowl or oatmeal, as I’m often walking or driving somewhere.

While a green smoothie isn’t a revolutionary concept, I have enjoyed the enhanced version that Katherine Natalia calls a “green thickie” over at greenthickies.com. Personally, that doesn’t sound like the most appetizing of names, so I’ll just stick with smoothie. But you should really check out the many many smoothie combinations she has posted about, as well as other topics like making your own coconut milk and peanut butter.

Her base recipe – which contains spinach (or any other green you like), also includes grains, nuts/seeds, liquid, bananas and an optional sweetener like dates – is great. It results in a nice blend of flavors and complete proteins. You can then customize with whatever additional flavors you like, as the many suggestions on Natalia’s site suggest.

<!—green smoothie—>

I like that I can quickly make this either in the morning or the night before. The recipe makes two servings, which means I only need to pull out my immersion blender once every other day – saving half of the smoothie in the fridge for the next morning. If you’re still using a traditional blender, that is fine, of course, but I certainly don’t need an extra, multi-pieced dish to wash.

Before I share the recipe, a few thoughts:

    • Frozen berries, if you choose to play around with the recipe, made this really watery. I’d suggest using fresh or well defrosted berries.
    • Surprisingly, I like the taste of the smoothie better with quinoa than oats. I’ve noticed that quinoa also keeps me feeling full longer (perhaps because of the extra protein it contains).<!—quinoa—>
    • Another surprise: Romaine lettuce works really well. Though you miss out on some of the extra nutrients from the spinach. I’m betting kale would be nice too.
    • Give dates a chance. I stocked up on dates awhile ago and then never got around to using them. They are excellent sweeteners, though, in baking as well.
    • Stick with the two bananas. Any less, and the smoothie isn’t all that thick. And I read once that the thicker a beverage is, the more it will tell your mind you’re full. In other words, a thin smoothie may not fill you up as well.

Green Smoothie

  • 2 cups water (or milk or dairy free milk like almond or coconut)
  • 1 cup oats (or grain like quinoa)
  • 2 cups greens
  • 2 bananas
  • 1/4 cup dates
  • 1/4 cup seeds or nuts

Blend everything together and enjoy. Then check out greenthickies.com for more ideas. Let me know what you’ve tried and recommend.

egg-salad-sprouts

Pea Shoots

Have you tried pea shoots? How about sunflower? Shoots are the early growth of the plant at just a few days after sprouting. That’s why you’ll most likely find them out only around this time of year, when farmers are just getting their plants growing. They have tender, sweet leaves and a crunchy stem. And, yup, it’s all edible. What’s really cool about these shoots is that they taste very much like peas and sunflower seeds, but in a fraction of the time it would take for the whole plant to grow. Even better is that they’re super high in nutrients.

So how do you eat them? Easy. On and with anything. Like me, you can stack them on your favorite sandwiches or also like me – with eggs. They’re excellent in a salad or as a salad all their own. Or if you’d like to cook them, try sauteing with garlic and a little soy sauce. A stir fry would be perfect too. However you choose to enjoy them, just make sure you do so soon – they won’t be around for long!

IMAG2814

Chard, Beet & Orange Salad

I’m a big fan of salads that aren’t just plain old salads. Not that there’s anything wrong with those, of course. But salads don’t all have to be a big bowl of lettuce. Maybe you can already figure that out from some of the other recipes I’ve posted. Raw or cooked. Hot or cold. Really, a salad can be whatever you throw together and toss with dressing.

chardbeets

Future Chefs Challenge second-place winner Izabela Woolf with her White and Green Goodness salad. (Albert J. Marro / photo)

Earlier this spring, I was a judge in Sodexo’s Future Chef Challenge where Rutland fourth and fifth graders competed with their favorite salad recipes. With tasty combinations like tortellini salad, southwestern salad, Greek salad and Thanksgiving salad, those talented kids proved the point I’m trying to make. You can find an article I wrote about the event about the event in The Rutland Reader.

The combination of grated raw beets, lightly cooked rainbow chard, bright, juicy oranges and tangy balsamic dressing in this salad is refreshing and simple. It’s a good way to get beet detractors to give the vegetable another try. They’ve probably never had them like this – crunchy and raw, so they might be surprised this time around. At least, that was my experience when I served this for my sister – who actually wanted to keep the leftovers after dinner. And at a recent demo at GE, attendees quickly finished up the entire bowl I made for them and I didn’t hear one beet complaint. Woohoo!

On the other hand, the quick cooking down of the chard takes away some of the bitterness people often encounter when trying the green raw. Yet that aspect is no longer an issue here. All around, this salad will change your preconceptions. Give it a try at your next picnic.

  Sauteed Chard and Raw Beet Salad

  • 3-4 medium-sized beets with the leaves
  • 1 large bunch rainbow chard
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces of goat cheese, crumbled (optional)
  • 1 medium orange, peeled and segmented

For the dressing:

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Peel the beets and either grate them on a box grater or in a food processor. If you’d rather not have your hands stained purple, handle the beets with paper towels or wear gloves. You should have about 2-3 cups grated beets in the end.

Wash the chard. Shake to remove excess water, but no need to dry. Separate the stems and ribs from the leaves either carefully with a knife or by simply tearing by hand. Give the ribs a rough chop. Stack the leaves on top of each other and slice them crosswise into thick ribbons.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and stems and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the leaves of the chard and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the leaves have wilted and taste tender. If the leaves still taste bitter, season with additional salt. Transfer the chard to a large bowl and allow to cool for a few minutes.

To make the dressing, combine ingredients in a small jar and shake until thoroughly mixed.

Combine the greens and the shredded beets, and toss with the vinaigrette. Serve, topping each plate with goat cheese, if using, and orange pieces.

This salad will keep refrigerated for up to one week, but wait to dress and top with goat cheese until just before serving.

Adapted from Elizabeth Passarella at The Kitchn

0091

Kale and Coconut Salad

Happy December, folks. With cookie fests and holiday parties in full blast it’s all too easy to indulge a bit too much. I believe we should enjoy these times without feeling overly guilty and yet, without waiting until next month to eat smarter. And yes, that is actually possible. Sometimes you just need to leave well enough alone – your grandmother’s pecan pie, perhaps – but there are other times we can eat a little wiser while keeping in mind the foods still available to us locally during the colder months..

Hence, the kale and coconut salad. As you might have heard, kale and coconut are two powerful health foods of late we should all consider incorporating more of into our diets.

Kale, an excellent winter green, makes a great salad base while the more fragile greens are out of commission. With just 33 calories per cup and high amounts of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Potassium, it’s no wonder it has it’s own marketing campaign.

Coconut, on the other hand, is equally as impressive. Coconut products – water, oil, milk, flour and even sugar – are beloved by food the health conscious in recent times, despite the high amount of saturated fat. Turns out, saturated fat, in moderation, may actually be good for us – helping do to things like lower bad cholesterol levels while improving the good. Coconut also contains a ton of fiber and a fair amount of minerals and b vitamins. The form in which you eat coconut regulates the degree of nutrition, however, so keep that in mind. For the salad, look for it unsweetened, dried and shredded or flaked.

It takes no time to put this together, making it great to work onto your dinner plate or bring to a holiday party in place of an out of season, less fresh, and nutritious garden salad. This recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks – Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson – I highly recommend checking it and her blog out.

Use any kind of kale, but I like the curly variety – which adds a good amount of crunchy texture after baking. Just rinse, then tear the leaves off the stems and into small to medium sized pieces. You’ll be left with the stalks, which you can save in the freezer for your next pot of stock.

Toss in a bowl with the coconut and some olive oil, sesame oil and soy sauce or tamari.

Then spread it out over two baking sheets.

And put it in an oven preheated to 350F for 15-20 minutes, checking about halfway through. You want to bake it until the kale is crunchy and the coconut golden brown.

You can toss together with some more dressing at this point and serve. If you like kale chips, you’ll really enjoy this salad – great as a side or topped with your favorite protein.

Kale and Coconut Salad

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4-6, as a side

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups kale, torn and removed from the stem
  • 1 cup shredded or flaked, unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. In a small jar, shake together the oils and tamari/soy sauce.
  3. Toss the dressing with kale and coconut in a large bowl.
  4. Spread the salad out onto two large baking sheets.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes, checking and stirring about halfway through. Kale should be crispy and coconut golden brown. Toss with additional dressing if you’d like and serve warm or at room temp. Best enjoyed the day it’s made.
137

Bubble & Squeak

Funny British name. One simple dish. A combination of lightly fried cabbage and mashed potatoes, bubble and squeak is so easy peasy that you can make it completely with leftovers. If you fancy stretching your dollar and see your extra food put to use than tossed in the rubbish, this is the food for you. No leftovers? You can, of course, prepare mashed potatoes and saute up some cabbage and then assemble your bubble and squeak.

If you don’t have cabbage, like this beautiful crinkly savoy here, many other greens can work. Spinach, kale, or bok choy are some good alternatives available now.

Whether already cooked or not, we need the cabbage in small strips to easily mix with the potatoes. Take the leaves, stack them together and roll them up. Slice into strips. If not cooked already, saute in a little oil until tender.

As for potatoes, we want them mashed. If you don’t already have these ready to go, peel and cut the potatoes and boil them until tender. Mash and season as you like. If leftover, you’ll want to heat them with a little butter to soften up.

When the cabbage and potatoes are both ready to go – which, if you made this the day after a roast dinner you could have both readily available – mix them together. Your first time making bubble and squeak, start with equal parts cabbage and potato to see how you like the ratio. You might find you’d like a greater percentage of cabbage next time.

Season with salt, pepper, butter and nutmeg to your liking and give it all a good mix. Add in whatever other leftovers you see fit. If you did make this with your leftover roast ingredients, chopped pieces of meat would be a nice addition. On the other hand, so would chopped cooked broccoli or carrots. Whatever you do – don’t be afraid to make it your own.

Take a serving size of the bubble and squeak mixture and flatten into the bottom of a frying pan coated with butter. A metal spatula will make the job easy. You could make your bubble and squeak into small cakes, or one large piece, depending on if you intend to serve as a main dish or side.

If you think your bubble and squeak has to look perfect, that’s bollocks. It may very well fall apart and that’s just fine. To get a nice browning, cook slowly over low heat and listen. Do you hear it bubbling and squeaking? Yeah, that’s how this dish got its name – from the noise it makes when cooking. Flip and brown the other side when ready.

And Bob’s your uncle! Top with sour cream, yogurt, ketchup – whatever you’d like. A large piece of bubble and squeak, with or without a green salad, is a quick, filling dinner on these cold evenings. Grab a cider and dig in. Cheers!

IMG_0174

Gado Gado: An Indonesian Salad

You probably don’t need another salad recipe. That’s why I’m sharing a salad idea. Gado Gado, which translates to “mix mix,” is made up of surprisingly ordinary ingredients – raw or cooked vegetables, greens, eggs, tofu or tempeh, and peanut sauce are typical.
But with variations throughout Indonesia, there is no one way to prepare the dish or a set list of ingredients to adhere to. In fact, Gado Gado is one of the most popular dishes in Indonesia and I’m betting that’s because of the versatility. Or maybe because it’s just a great way to toss together leftovers.

Gado Gado: An Indonesian Salad

Ingredients

For the salad:
    • Greens
    • Cooked rice
    • Your choice of vegetables, either raw or cooked or a mix of both – such as broccoli, beans, cabbage, snow peas, carrots, or sprouts
    • Protein – tofu, tempeh, eggs, shredded chicken or pork
    • Peanut sauce
For the peanut sauce:
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp. grated ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp.soy sauce
  • Crushed red pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • Salt, if needed

pbsauce

However, a good peanut sauce is at the heart of Gado Gado. It’s probably the one thing you need to pay attention to here. I referenced Mollie Katzen’s recipe in The New Moosewood Cookbookthough based on other peanut sauces I’ve made, the ingredients here are pretty standard.

Just combine peanut butter with soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, water and red pepper flakes in a blender or food processor until smooth.

What I love about peanut sauces is that they encompass so many of our basic tastes – sweet, sour, salty, umami and maybe even a little bitter. It could be why I could put the sauce on almost anything.

Play with the ratios of these ingredients to make the sauce flavored to your liking. It’s easy to up the red pepper, for instance, and transform it into a really spicy peanut sauce if that’s what your feeling. Or increase the sugar for a sweet version. Experiment and customize it to the food you’re putting it on.

I’ve also seen peanut sauces amplified with coconut milk, fish sauce and/or lime juice. You could try adding these in too, but I think the ingredients listed here make a good start.

I used Katzen’s idea here by adding 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric to the rice as it cooked (2 cups rice simmered in 3 cups water until tender, adding more water, if need). The turmeric adds some color, a little flavor, and all of those health claims people are raving about lately. Interestingly, it’s dubbed the poor man’s saffron.

Then add your vegetables to the plate. I quickly steamed snow peas, carrots, and shiitakes. Be creative in your combo and if you prefer a crunch, skip the cooking and enjoy them raw. Next goes the protein. I luckily found a hard boiled egg left in the fridge and I was content with just that. Tofu and tempeh are popular in Gado Gado, though I don’t see why shredded chicken or pork couldn’t work either. If you have it, use it. If you want it, cook it up or go get it. You can put as much or as little effort into this dish and as long as your peanut sauce is good, I don’t see how you can go wrong.

gado

Finally, drizzle on the peanut sauce. Don’t skimp. Toss, or perhaps I should say mix, it all together. If you want, throw on a topping. I chose pea shoots, but chopped peanuts could work or how about some fresh herbs? And that folks, is all there is to Gado Gado.

kale-pesto

Kale Pesto

I diligently planted several basil plants a few weeks ago. A few days later a crazy hail storm arrived. Afterwards, my poor basil plants were diminished to nothing but stems. So I replanted. All along, I was motivated by dreams of pesto. Pesto on pizza, pesto on pasta, pesto on sandwiches and pesto on warm potatoes. Maybe even a bowl of pesto all by itself.

kale-bowl

Basil is a traditional ingredient of pesto, but it doesn’t have to be the only one. Translated from Italian, pesto means to crush or to pound. And if you’re an Italian grandma, you probably do your crushing and pounding with a mortar and pestle – not a food processor. But times have changed, and so should pesto.

Pesto, meet everyone’s darling green vegetable – kale. With kale absolutely everywhere these days, and at an extremely affordable price ($2 – $4 a bunch, on average) it makes good sense to transform a bunch into pesto, as long as you’re using a food processor, that is. I often find myself with more than enough kale and looking for ways to eat it that aren’t just another plate of greens, if you know what I mean.

Unlike kale, basil doesn’t have a strong, prominent flavor. It allows the other pesto ingredients – nuts/seeds, cheese, and garlic to really stand out. I like to change things up with the choice of nuts or seeds too. Pine nuts tend to be out of my price range so I opt for whatever I have on hand. Often, it’s sunflower seeds. I’ve also tried pumpkin seeds, walnuts, pecans and almonds. I think it’s personal preference. In the end, it all gets crushed together and hey, that means pesto, right?

While I’m advocating for kale based pesto today, you should experiment with different herbs and leafy greens.

kale-in-food-processor

Kale Pesto

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 1 1/2 cups pesto

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch (3 cups) kale
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Instructions

  1. Pulse sunflower seeds in the food processor until finely ground.
  2. Add kale, garlic and olive oil. Blend until smooth.
  3. Add Parmesan and blend to combine.
  4. Taste and add more ingredients as needed to reach your desired consistency and taste.
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