UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH KALE

Before I urge you to go massage a kale (I admit it does sound a little naughty), let me tell you that not in a million years I would think this step to be necessary. In fact, I used to go into compulsive eye-rolling while reading recipes that call for “massaged kale”. I was not the only one, the lovely Kelly from Inspired Edibles had this to say about the process:

When I first encountered the term ‘massaged kale’ I found it not only pretentious but kind of silly too.
Had kale been elevated to such a precious status that it now required massaging?
I couldn’t just eat the stuff, I needed to pet it too?

I could not have said it better. But, surprisingly enough, she decided to give it a try, and was blown away by the outcome. You should definitely stop by her site to read about her experience.  I was skeptical, but after her endorsement, I dimmed the lights, put some music on, and fully engaged in the role of masseuse.

KaleSalad

MASSAGED KALE SALAD WITH FRESH APRICOT & SPICY SKILLET CHICKPEAS
(slightly modified from Kelly’s Inspired Edibles)

for the salad:
1 generous bunch kale leaves, washed and torn into smaller bite-sized pieces
1 (15 oz) chickpeas, thoroughly rinsed and dried
6 fresh apricots, sliced
1/3 cup shaved almond, slightly toasted

for the spice mix:
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp curry powder
pinch smoked paprika
pinch of ground cinnamon
sea salt to taste

for the Massage Oil (aka salad dressing):
2 Tbsp olive oil
juice of one lime (about 2 Tbsp)
1 tsp honey
sea salt and coarse black pepper to taste

Warm a dry skillet over medium-high heat and toss chickpeas in warmed skillet for about two minutes to remove any residual moisture. Be sure to shake the pan and/or stir the chickpeas.

Sprinkle the chickpeas with seasonings of choice. including salt and pepper.  Stir seasoned chickpeas to mix the spices. After about two minutes, drizzle a little bit of coconut or olive oil over the seasoned chickpeas and toss to combine. Keep stirring the chickpeas and adjust seasonings as desired. When the chickpeas are well saturated with flavor, remove from heat and reserve.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine salad dressing ingredients and whisk well.

Place kale pieces in a large mixing bowl and drizzle with dressing. Simply use your fingers to work the oil/dressing into the kale leaves – watch and feel the color/texture transformation. After only two minutes your kale is beautifully seasoned and softened and all set to eat. You will also find that it’s easier during the massage stage to remove any excessively hard pieces from the center rib of the kale. The leaves will fall off the rib quite easily and your fingers will be in place to feel it happen and facilitate the process.

Place massaged kale in large serving bowl, or on individual serving plates, and dress with seasoned chickpeas, fresh apricot and almonds.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Doesn’t that look pretty amazing?
I wish I could massage my face in the morning and have that type of improvement!

ingredients2

 Even though the star of this show should be the kale, I have to say I fell in love with Kelly’s skillet chickpeas. In fact, I’ve been making them this way quite often, varying the spices according to my mood. Those are better than roasted, with the added bonus of being ready in minutes, and without turning the oven on.  I had a hard time not munching on half of them before assembling the salad.

chickpeas

I suppose this recipe will please even hard-core kale haters.  The massage mellows down the harsh texture of kale, bringing it closer to a butter lettuce, but with a more assertive taste.  Of course, joining fresh apricots with the incredibly tasty chickpeas made this salad a complete winner!

I hope you twill try it either as we did, or using different spices and fruits.  I think fresh peaches or even strawberries could be fantastic substitutions.

Kelly, thanks again for another super creative and fun recipe!

ONE YEAR AGO: Black Berry Cherry Sorbet

TWO YEARS AGO: Asparagus Pesto

THREE YEARS AGO: Chocolate and Chestnut Terrine

FOUR YEARS AGO: Under the spell of lemongrass

FIVE YEARS AGO: Greens + Grapefruit + Shrimp = Great Salad!

LEMON PISTACHIO LOAF

Where is that “PLEASE MAKE ME” folder when I need it so badly?  This recipe from  Homesick Texan is fabulous. Lisa calls it Lemon Bread, I took some liberties with her recipe and decided to change it to loaf. To me, bread immediately brings the thought of yeast, and a drier crumb.  This is very moist and tender.  I also used pistachios instead of pecans, because one of our graduate students is nuts about pistachios (sorry, lousy pun). We like to keep our students happy, because happy students do great experiments. Or so we hope… ;-)

LemonPistachioLoaf1

(made on May 18th – blogged on August 17th)

LEMON PISTACHIO LOAF
(slightly adapted from Homesick Texan)

for the loaf:
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 + 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup pistachios, chopped coarsely

for the glaze:
6 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cups granulated sugar

Heat the oven to 350°F and grease and flour a 9×5 bread pan, lining the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.

Stir together the buttermilk and the baking soda and set it aside. Cream together the butter and sugar. Beat together the eggs and slowly add to the creamed butter. Stir in the buttermilk and then slowly add the flour. Mix until a smooth batter is formed. Stir in the lemon zest and the pistachios.

Pour in the batter and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool the loaf in the pan on a rack for 30 minutes.

As the bread is cooling, mix together the lemon juice and sugar for the glaze. To apply the glaze, tear out a sheet of foil large enough to contain the loaf when wrapped. Remove the loaf from the pan by running a knife along the edges and gently tapping it out onto the sheet of foil.

Spread the glaze evenly over the top of the loaf and on the sides. The glaze will be runny, just make sure to contain it all when you wrap the bread with the foil.

Place in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours. Serve cold.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

 LemonLoafEdited

I am sure Lisa’s original version is amazing too, but when I saw the bright yellow-green color of the cut pistachios in the loaf, and how well their taste combined with the acidity of the lemon flavor, I was glad I used them.  Of course, for weeks I’d seen packages of shelled pistachios at the grocery store, but they disappeared the moment I wanted to make this recipe.  I had to buy whole pistachios and shell them, one by one.  A labor of love, but worth it.

This would be perfect for brunch, to take to a potluck, or to brighten up the morning of your co-workers.

ONE YEAR AGO: Roast Beef French Dip Sandwich with Green Pea Pesto

TWO YEARS AGO: Asparagus Pesto

THREE YEARS AGO: Chocolate and Chestnut Terrine

FOUR YEARS AGO: Under the spell of lemongrass

FIVE YEARS AGO: Greens + Grapefruit + Shrimp = Great Salad!

 

HEADED TO COLORADO!

Summer is almost over, we’ve worked very hard this year, so it’s time to recharge our batteries.  In a few hours we will start our drive to Silverthorne, for a five-day much-needed break. We intend to play some golf, hike, run, relax just the two of us.  The Bewitching goes on, maybe I will be a little less prompt answering comments and visiting blogs…

Silverthorne

(image from Wikimedia)

 (comments are shutdown for this post)

BEST THING I EVER MADE: CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

If you don’t watch FoodTV Network, you may think this is my own statement. Not the case. Best Thing I Ever Made is one of the shows I continue to tape, hoping that at some point they will air new episodes. Unfortunately,  not much luck in the past year or so.  What I love about it is that they ask chefs to share their recipes for the best thing they ever made in a certain category, like Family Recipes, Crowd Pleasers, Cheese, or this particular episode, Sweet Endings.  I didn’t know Elizabeth Falkner, but was immediately smitten by her smile, energy and aura. Instead of a super complicated recipe that required you to find beet sugar smoked on the hills of Himalaya, hers was one of the simplest formulas ever.  It’s a lot more about technique than anything else.

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CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES STRAIGHT UP OR WITH NUTS
(recipe from Elizabeth Falkner)
.
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) butter, softened but still cool
3/4 cup (6 1/4 ounces) firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (4 ounces) granulated sugar
1 large egg (1 1/2 ounces by weight)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups plus 3 tablespoons (7 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped the size of chocolate chips, or bittersweet chocolate chips (about 1 1/2 cups)
3/4 cup (3 ounces) chopped walnuts, optional
.
In a large bowl, using a wooden spoon, cream together the butter and brown and granulated sugars until smooth but not over mixed. (I do this by hand, but if you use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a handheld mixer, beat on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes, and then scrape down the sides of the bowl before continuing.) Add the egg, vanilla and salt and stir just until combined.
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Sift in the flour, baking soda and baking powder and stir gently just until combined. Add the chocolate and nuts if using and stir just until evenly distributed throughout the dough. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or overnight.
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Position the racks in the upper third and lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
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Scoop up 1-inch balls of the dough with a spoon or mini scoop and set them 2 inches apart on the prepared pans. Bake the cookies, rotating the pans after 7 to 9 minutes, for 13 to 17 minutes until the cookies are golden brown. If you like a very soft cookie, bake them for 13 minutes. If you like a crisp cookie, bake them for 17 minutes. Transfer to racks and let cool.
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ENJOY!
.
to print the recipe, click here.

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Comments
: I always make cookie dough using my Kitchen Aid mixer, but watching Elizabeth mix hers by hand using just a fork seemed like so much fun, I gave it a try.  It was not as hard as I anticipated, and made it easier to judge when the butter and the sugar were properly mixed together.  Two things are important in this recipe: cutting the chocolate in uneven sizes, and refrigerating the dough, the longer the better, overnight is perfect.  The larger chunks of chocolate will melt in your mouth in a way that no chocolate chip will do. Of course, use the best chocolate you can find and afford.

I made the cookie dough after dinner, left it in the fridge until lunch time next morning, baked the cookies and took them to our department still warm from the oven.  They were inhaled quite quickly, which I think is a nice compliment to Ms. Faulkner…   ;-)

ChiefCookies
Flour, sugar, egg & butter: $5.00

Trader Joe’s Bittersweet Chocolate: $6.50

Unexpectedly including your dog in a food blog shot: PRICELESS…

ONE YEAR AGO: Farofa Brasileira

TWO YEARS AGO: Thai-Inspired Pork Tenderloin

THREE YEARS AGO: A yummy Brazilian cake: Bolo de Fuba’

FOUR YEARS AGO:  Summer’s Tomatoes

FIVE YEARS AGO: Leaving on a jet plane… 

LIGHT BRIOCHE BURGER BUNS

This recipe came up in a google search for hamburger buns, together with a gazillion others, but its title  – Possibly the Best Hamburger Bun Ever - made me stop searching, roll my sleeves up, and go to work.  It was the perfect excuse to inaugurate my heavy-duty pan featured recently at “In My Kitchen“.   Brioche, as everyone knows, is a very rich bread made with butter and eggs, but some versions – often called “Poor Man’s Brioche” – cut back a little on those ingredients for a slightly less decadent bread, but still quite buttery and luscious.  Made into a bun shape, these will take any humble hamburger to a whole new level…

BriocheBuns

 

LIGHT BRIOCHE BURGER BUNS
(from Parsley, Sage, and Sweet, originally via Comme Ça restaurant)

Makes 8 4-inch to 5-inch buns

1 cup warm water
3 tablespoons warm milk
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs, divided (one will be used for glaze)
3 cups bread flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Sesame seeds and/or poppy seeds (optional)

In a measuring cup, combine one cup warm water, the milk, yeast and sugar. Let stand until foamy, about five minutes. In the meantime, beat one egg.

In a large bowl, combine both flours with the salt. Add the butter to the flours and salt and rub into the flour using your fingers or a pastry cutter, making crumbs, like you would a pie dough. Stir in the yeast mixture and beaten egg until it forms a dough. Scrape dough onto clean, well-floured counter or board. and knead, scooping the dough up, slapping and turning it, until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Alternatively you can use a Kitchen Aid type mixer, for 5 minutes in medium-low speed.

Shape dough into a ball and return it to bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 to 2 hours.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using dough scraper or sharp knife, divide dough into 8 equal parts. Gently roll each into a ball and arrange two to three inches apart on the lined baking sheet. Cover loosely with a piece of plastic wrap lightly coated in nonstick spray and let buns rise in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours.

Heat the oven to 400 F. Beat remaining egg with 1 tablespoon water to make an egg wash, then brush on top of buns. Sprinkle with sesame seeds pressing them in gently to adhere. Bake, turning the sheet halfway through baking, until tops are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments: What a nice dough to play with!  Smooth, soft, tender, and very responsive. To get that amazing rise from the first couple of photos it took less than 90 minutes, and only one hour was needed after shaping to stick it in the oven. As you can see, this bread is quite easy to prepare on the spur of the moment. I admit that sometimes it’s nice to resort to commercial yeast. I shaped two buns a little smaller, the baking pan from King Arthur accommodated both sizes without any problem.

 

Sliced

The day I baked them we had pork burgers that turned out very tasty: ground pork, chorizo, green apples, a few spices.  The detailed recipe will be in the Bewitching soon.   Leftover rolls were frozen and absolutely perfect after sitting at room temperature for 15 minutes and spending 5-10 more minutes in our small Breville oven at 300 F.

snapshot444

 

 I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting event….

ONE YEAR AGO: Sourdough Blues

TWO  YEARS AGO: Headed to Hawaii

THREE YEARS AGO: A yummy Brazilian cake: Bolo de Fuba’

FOUR YEARS AGO:  Hidden Treasure

FIVE YEARS AGO: Avocado Three Ways

SPINACH AND CHICKPEA CURRY

This recipe was published in a recent issue of Fine Cooking magazine, and it called my attention because I absolutely love chickpeas. My dear Mom would have a shock if she read my blog. I would not touch chickpeas with a 10-foot pole when I was a child. Actually, I would not touch them until I was about 30 years old.  Then, I fell in love with hummus without realizing what went into it.  Once I became aware of the true nature of hummus,  I decided that by crushing those strange-looking grains, and mixing them with a ton of other stuff, their evil nature was neutralized.  From the tasty dip to trying the actual beans many years more passed.  But now you have me here, enjoying chickpeas in every possible way, roasted, sautéed, braised… Go figure.  This is a very nice way to prepare them, by the way. For a recipe that comes together so quickly (start to finish will be less than 20 minutes), the taste is surprisingly complex.  The amount made was enough for our dinner and two lunches for me and me only.  I did not even offer to share.  It was better on day 2, and outstanding on day 3.   Make this and you will thank me…

SpinachChickpeaCurry

SPINACH AND CHICKPEA CURRY
(slightly modified from Fine Cooking magazine)

3 Tbs. canola oil
1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh ginger
1 Tbs. curry powder
1 tsp. garam masala
1/8 tsp. cayenne
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 14-1/2-oz. can diced tomatoes
1 tsp salt or to taste
7 oz. (7 packed cups) baby spinach (I used less)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (optional)

Heat the oil in a 12-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallot, ginger, curry powder, garam masala, and cayenne, and cook, stirring often, until the shallot is softened, 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in the chickpeas, tomatoes, and about 1 tsp. salt. Add the spinach by the handful, stirring to wilt it as you go. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the spinach is completely wilted and the flavors have melded, 4 to 5 minutes more. Season to taste with more salt, if needed. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cilantro.

Serve with the yogurt on top, if so desired.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Served

I should have changed the name of this recipe to “Chickpea & Spinach Curry“, because mine definitely was chickpea-heavy. I used all the spinach I had leftover from a huge bag, but clearly more would have been better. Spinach: the ever-disappearing leaf… We enjoyed this tasty curry with my default chicken thigh recipe that has been on the blog since its beginning.  It is one of Phil’s favorites, that and my Chicken Parmigiana. are on the top of his selected list of frequent requests. You know, partners of food bloggers suffer a strange fate: rarely a dish is made again, no matter how great.  We are always in search of the next best thing.

Back to the curry, though.  I can see it served over couscous for a completely vegetarian meal, satisfying and super delicious. On day 2, I had some chicken to go with it, but on day 3 the simple couscous was my whole lunch, with half an avocado to round-up the meal. Sort of India meets Mexico. The hot curry with the cool avocado was a surprisingly nice match.

ONE YEAR AGO: Sautéed Zucchini with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Basil

TWO YEARS AGO: Orzo with Heirloom Tomato Relish

THREE YEARS AGO:  Headed to Brazil!

FOUR YEARS AGO: The Rhubarb Brouhaha: Revelation Compote

FIVE YEARS AGO: Love me tender…

IN MY KITCHEN: AUGUST 2014

Once more I join the virtual party started by Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, sharing with you what is going on in our kitchen these days.

In our kitchen… A special gift.

SourCherries

Sour cherries from a friend’s backyard.  We went there, climbed on ladders, and came home with a nice load of freshly picked fruit.  We will share a recipe for what we did with them soon. Local food at its best!

In our kitchen…

cheese

A cute ceramic cheese platter with little chalkboards to write the names of the cheeses being served…   It was on sale at ideeli.com…  On a side note, ideeli.com is a place that offers special 24-hour sales of all sorts of unique items, from clothing to shoes.  I love their customer service, if something doesn’t fit right,  returning items is absolutely hassle-free.  Aren’t these shoes something?   Ok, forgive me for stepping out of the kitchen…

Now, back to cooking….

hamburgerpan

A special pan to bake hamburger buns, sold by King Arthur Flour.  I am not too wild about kitchen gadgets with limited purposes, but this thing is amazing.  Very high quality, sturdy, makes the size of buns I like, not gigantic, with a nice shape.  And, you can use it for many other items, like single quiche-type concoctions, pies.

 In our kitchen…

gadgets

Three items from the bargain bin at Bed Bath and Beyond…  I’ve been flirting with this large scoop for a long time, but bravely resisted until they were on sale. I used to have a silicone whisk multi-colored, but it broke last year. It was nice to replace it, even if this red one is a tad too discreet for my taste.   ;-)

 

In our kitchen…

IcecreamKeeper

A special container for ice cream.  It seems small, but it holds the exact amount of ice cream or sorbets we make in our Cuisinart. The shape is perfect to scoop out a ball of sweet frozen deliciousness such as this apricot-passion fruit sorbet made by my beloved husband. Available at amazon.com (the ice cream container, not the husband).

 

In our kitchen…

brownsugarcomposite

A box to store brown sugar. I love it!  Finally a decent way to deal with brown sugar, keeping it loose, and making it easy to scoop out the amount you need.

In our kitchen….

CoconutOil

I suppose coconut oil is a very trendy ingredient, as I see it in recipes everywhere. I decided to get a bottle and was surprised by how much I like it. Very delicate flavor.

In our kitchen….

SunbeamPaprika

The morning sun shinning through the window, surprised me with a very nice effect on a bottle of paprika left on the counter top.  It was a wonderful sight to start the day…

In our kitchen….

crackerscomposite

Snacks, a winner and a loser. The winner?  Crunchy Coated Black Edamame.  Hard to stop nibbling on those, they are spicy, salty, we love this stuff!   The loser?  Hummus crisps.  The concept seemed brilliant.  Eating those feels like punishment.  No one deserves it. Sawdust compressed into rounds would likely taste better.

 

In our kitchen…

SpinachBreading

A new take on breading for pork or chicken cutlets…  too simple to actually compose a blog about it, I  added to the food processor a little panko, a little Parmigiano cheese, and… ready for this?  Fresh spinach!  Used that to coat pork chops.  The inspiration came from Giada de Laurentiis, she used it to make baked chicken nuggets for a kids’ friendly meal.  I love the way this turned out, and intend to use it often. Plus, it’s a great way to deal with a little spinach leftover in the bag. Just a handful is all you need.

 

As usual, I close this IMK series with a message from our faithful furry friends…

 

Chief thinks Mom’s cooking is the best in the world!  Nothing like a little leftover couscous to spice up a bowl of dog food, and start my day right.

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Although it does make me a little sleepy….

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As the weather warms up, Buck is the only one of our four-legged friends who can keep up with our running and long walks. That dog is resilient, to say the least.  In one of these walks, we reached a farm where Buck made a new friend.  A big friend, curious, and surprisingly gentle.

Buck_Cow22

Oscar is not interested in long walks or getting up close and personal with bovine creatures. He thinks a much better activity is snoozing close to Mom while she exercises, then jump up at the end to give her a hug. Still a little groggy, but happy to comply.

snapshot(37)

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  I wonder how many words a video is worth?  I’ve got two to share with you today. If you want to see how excited Buck gets by the perspective of going for a walk, click here.

And, you can also see him  showing off his abilities as he learns a new trick.  (You may have to increase the volume a little for this one). Not bad for a rescued dog who was abused for 5 long  years, don’t you think?

compositeWell, friends… it’s time to say goodbye.  
It’s been so hot outside, what we really love the most is just chillin’ out with mom.
See you next time!

 

If you want to see kitchens from other food bloggers, or add your own post to this great virtual party, visit Celia’s site by clicking here.

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Jerusalem: Pasta with Yogurt, Peas, and Chile

TWO YEARS AGO: Edamame Hummus in Cucumber Bites

THREE YEARS AGO:  Headed to Brazil!

FOUR YEARS AGO: Twice-Baked Goat Cheese Souffle

FIVE YEARS AGO: Golly Moses: She’s  a Muffin!