April – Grilled Cheese with Prosciutto and Kale

April – Grilled Cheese with Prosciutto and Kale

My garden is overflowing with kale, and unfortunately, it is not my favorite green. I know it’s good for me, full of antioxidants and other vitamins, but I have a hard time getting around to cooking it. Enter some great ideas from two books, An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler and Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Norsrat. Ms. Adler modeled her book after one of my favorite food essayists, M.F.K. Fisher. Her classic collection of essays, How to Cook a Wolf, was written amid the hardships of W.W. II and is about cooking well in spite of lack. The New York Times described it as “spiritually restorative”. Ms. Adlers book is about eating affordably, responsibly, and well. There are recipes but it also contains many ideas to think about in light of our current global situation. I recommend all three of the books, they are essential parts of my library..

Sorry, I didn’t mean to get off on a tangent and turn this into a book review.

So, on to grilled cheese…

Ms. Adler recommends pre-cooking or preparing the greens as soon as you get them into your kitchen from the market or your garden. That way they are ready to finish quickly. Blanching also removes most of the bitterness from kale. So, I took her advice using the blanching instructions by Ms. Norsat. What a fabulous idea! The greens are ready to saute or add to a soup or other dish. A bonus is how much less space they take up in the fridge. You will see her simple instructions below.

Enter Friday night and the complete loss of ambition. Do you ever get like that? I couldn’t think of a single thing I really wanted to cook, and I write a food blog. With no energy to make a quick trip to the market, my husband suggested “Why don’t we just make grilled cheese?” It was a request to make me smile. Grilled cheese is one of my favorites, and not an everyday meal. It’s a special treat because we have cut down on both gluten and dairy, we don’t have either very frequently. This simple Friday night dinner of grilled cheese sandwiches became a special occasion. It was time to take a quick assessment of what was in the fridge and pantry. Earlier that afternoon we had picked up a loaf of wonderful seeded whole wheat bread from Cafe Beaujolais in Mendocino. That already blanched kale added another layer of deliciousness and health. Rounding out my ingredient list was a package of thinly sliced prosciutto I found in the cheese drawer (kale pairs especially well with cured meats according to the The Flavor Bible), and a sharp white cheddar from the UK. It melted beautifully.

The combo elevated grilled cheese to a gourmet treat.

Seed Bread

Just look at that melty cheese!

Grilled Cheese with Kale

I used a panini press but a heavy skillet would work just as well.

To prepare your greens:

  • Wash them if they have just come in from the garden or farmer’s market.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it liberally. Put a half sheet pan or baking dish next to the pot and line it with parchment paper.
  • Drop the trimmed greens (strip off any tough stems) into the pot and bring it back to the boil.
  • Cook until tender, my variety of kale only needed a couple of minutes. Chard may take up to 3 while collards could take as much as 15. Taste a sample to determine when they are tender.
  • Using a sieve or spider to to pull the greens from the pot and spread them on your baking pan to cool.
  • Once cool, squeeze out any excess water using your hands or a dishtowel.
  • Chop them coarsely and store in the fridge until ready to use.

To prepare the sandwiches…

Ingrediens for 2:

  • 4 slices of sturdy bread
  • 4 thin slices of prosciutto or other deli meat
  • 4 generous slices of a good sharp melting cheese
  • about 1/3 cup of precooked kale per sandwich
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • butter or oil if frying in a pan

Method:

  1. Lay out two slices of bread, cover each with a layer of kale (sprinkled with a pinch of red pepper flakes), then prosciutto, then cheese. Cover with the second slice of bread.
  2. Grill or fry until the bread is crisp and cheese is melted.

Sliced sturdy bread

The seeds were deliciously crunchy and flavorful. A green salad rounded out the meal.

Grilled cheese and salad

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. This sandwich would also make a fabulous Saturday lunch, put an egg on it and it could be brunch.

I going to take this idea to the folks at Fiesta Friday, it’s Fiesta Friday #271, hosted by Angie. The co-host this week is Ai @ Ai Made It For You

Come enjoy the posts on food, crafts and gardening.

March – Deconstructed Wanton Soup

March – Deconstructed Wanton Soup

Why is this deconstructed? Because it has all the delicious parts of pork wanton soup, but without the wanton wrappers. Leaving those out makes it both gluten free and low carb. I was inspired by a recipe for egg roll soup and thought…why not wanton? This is a lighter version of regular wanton soup, without the wanton wrappers. It’s perfect when you want a quick, healthy, vegetable laden and warming bowl of soup for lunch or a light supper.

Deconstructed Wanton Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound of ground pork
  • 1 tablespoon of neutral oil like grape seed
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 cup of shiitake mushrooms, stems trimmed and sliced
  • 1/2 bunch of scallions, sliced white and light green portions
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of fish sauce
  • 2 baby bok choy, rinced and sliced thinly
  • 6 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil for drizzling when serving
  • chopped cilantro for serving

Method:

  1. Heat the 1 tablespoon of neutral oil in a large stock pot or saucepan over medium heat and sear the ground pork until browned.
  2. Add the carrots, garlic, ginger, mushrooms and scallions. Saute until softened and fragrant.
  3. Add the chicken broth, soy sauce, and fish sauce.
  4. Bring to a simmer and add the bok choy, cook until softened, about 5 minutes. It should still be bright green. if the white stems are large, add them first and cook for a few minutes before adding the tender greens.
  5. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  6. Serve with a drizzle of sesame oil and a sprinkle of cilantro.

Deconstructed Wanton Soup with Wantons

If you want a heartier meal for dinner, extra bulk can be added with a few steamed wantons. A request from the husband when serving for dinner. I found the lighter version perfect for me.

I think the folks at Fiesta Friday would enjoy this, especially anyone wanting to cut down on the carbs. Angie hosts Fiesta Friday and this week her co-host isJhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook. It’s Fiesta Friday #270. Click the link to read interesting posts about cooking, crafts and gardening.

December – Spiced Chickpea and Chicken Stew with Coconut and Turmeric

December – Spiced Chickpea and Chicken Stew with Coconut and Turmeric

This recipe originally appeared in the NY Times without the chicken. I wanted something heartier for a visiting friend who had driven 3.5 hours to visit us up on the coast. This was the perfect dinner after a long drive on a cold and rainy autumn evening. The coconut sauce is amazing, you really need something to soak it up. Serve it with lavash or other flatbread for dunking if you have some. Not having those in the cupboard, I served it over brown rice. I consider this comfort food as well as (somewhat) health food. It is a soupy stew and could also be considered a thick soup/

Without the chicken, this recipe is vegetarian and vegan. A delicious option if you have a dinner party with mixed eating preferences. Add the chicken to only a portion of the soup, a deli chicken would be easy and perfect. I had some sous vide chicken thighs in the fridge and added them at the end. The recipe also called for adding greens (kale or spinach), which I forgot to purchase at the market. So the picture doesn’t have greens. I am definitely making this again and will add them next time and take a picture. With the addition of a half-can of chickpeas, the leftovers were delicious the next day.

I consider this a pantry meal, most of the ingredients are already in my pantry and available for a quick meal. If you have greens and mint in your garden you are already perfectly positioned. No chicken, no problem. The original recipe didn’t include chicken. But check your freezer for a lone chicken breast that might be hanging around. Defrost it in the microwave, cut into cubes, and add it once the coconut milk and stock come to the simmer. If you have any salad greens in your fridge, use them as greens. Maybe some baby spinach? Arugula would be fine as well, shredded romaine…why not. If it is a cold and wet night, who wants to go to the store?

Spiced Chickpea Stew with Coconut and Turmeric

Spiced Chickpea Chicken Stew with Coconut and Turmeric

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 (2-inch) piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric, plus more for serving
  • 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 (15-ounce) full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 bunch of Swiss chard, kale, or spinach – stems removed, torn into bite sized pieces
  • 1 cup mint leaves, chopped for serving
  • Lime slice for serving
  • Optional whole fat plain yogurt for serving
  • Steamed rice, toasted pita, lavash or other flatbread for serving

Method:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion and ginger. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until the onion is translucent and starts to brown a bit. That will take about 3-5 minutes. Be careful the garlic doesn’t brown.
  2. Add turmeric, red pepper flakes and chickpeas. Season with salt and pepper again. Cook, stirring frequently, until the chickpeas start to sizzle and brown and fry a bit in the spices and oil. I had to add a tiny bit more oil at this point. They will start to soften and break down, becoming brown and crisp. It will take about 5 to 8 minutes.
  3.  Remove about a cup of chickpeas and set aside.
  4. Add the coconut milk and stock to the remaining chickpeas in the pot. Bring to a simmer, scraping up any crusty bits that have formed at the bottom of the pot.
  5. Add your chicken if using.
  6. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the stew has thickened slightly and the flavors have come together., about 30-35 minutes. Taste and see if you need to add salt and pepper.
  7. Add greens and stir, making sure they are submerged in the liquid. Cook long enough for them to soften, which will depend on the type of greens you are using, about 3-7 minutes. Spinach and chard will soften much faster than kale.
  8. Divide among bowls and add the reserved chickpeas and mint, a wedge of lime, and a sprinkle of red-pepper flakes if desired. A dollop of whole fat yogurt with a dusting of turmeric would be nice as well.

 

Sous vide boneless chicken thighs

Spiced Chickpea Stew with Coconut and Turmeric

The recipe was adapted from the NY Times article, A Creamy Stew That’s Hearty and Virtuous.

I am bringing it to Fiesta Friday #253 to share with Angie and the gang. Click on the link to see all the wonderful ideas for holiday food, crafts and decorating. I am excited to be a co-host for the virtual party this week with Mila @ Milkandbun

I think the folks at Souper Sunday at Kahakai Kitchen will enjoy it as well. Follow the link for other soup, salad or sandwich ideas. Perfect for a casual Sunday dinner.  .Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post.

October – Black Bean Chili in the Electric Pressure Cooker

October – Black Bean Chili in the Electric Pressure Cooker

I could have called this Instant Pot Black Bean Chili, that brand of electric pressure cooker has taken the internet and Pinterest by storm. But my electric pressure cooker is not an Instant Pot, although it works exactly like one. I got it before the craze hit, and it sat in the garage for several years, sadly unused. I was still terrified by the memories of my mothers old pressure cooker sizzling on top of the stove. I was afraid it was going to blow up at any moment, as children she gave us so many warnings to stay away from it. That fear has dissipated, modern electric pots are much safer. But I pull it out mainly for soups and stews, cold weather foods. During the summer it goes back into storage. I just can’t get behind all the Instant Pot recipes on Pinterest that don’t actually save you any time. I’d rather cook things on the stove, grill, or in the oven. There are additional flavors added with those methods. Why go through the trouble of pulling it out of the cupboard and having it take up space on your countertop? Just my rant.

But, beans are a different story and this recipe is a definite time saver. Why? Because you cook the dried black beans from scratch along with the chili. That’s right, no soaking. The whole thing, start to finish, takes an hour. You end up with both perfectly cooked black beans and a delicious chili. Now that is time saving! Even better, it is vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and delicious. All good, eh?

Personally I think this is a perfect meal for Halloween night.

I combined and modified two recipes into one for this dish. The first comes from A Pinch of Yum for instant pot pumpkin walnut chili and the second from Well Plated for Instant Pot Black Beans.

This recipe makes a lot, well over two quarts, so you will have plenty to share or stick in your freezer for nights you don’t want to cook. I love having that kind of meal insurance.

The Pinch of Yum recipe calls for adding 2 or 3 14-ounce cans of black beans at the end. 1 can of black beans is about 2 1/2 cups; 1 pound of dried black beans makes about 5 – 6 1/2 cups of cooked black beans. So I used 1 pound of black beans from the start, adjusting the liquid measurements. Well Plated called for 3 cups of water or broth to a pound of black beans. Using that recipe I found the beans were cooked perfectly, but a little dry to my taste. I wanted something more soupy. Adding a little extra liquid to the Pinch of Yum chili recipe adjusted for that.

There were some other modifications, I left out the bulgur wheat and the pumpkin in the Pinch of Yum recipe; mainly because I wanted something gluten free and didn’t have a can of pumpkin in the pantry (I may try that next time). Feel free to add a 14-ounce can of pumpkin puree at the end, please let me know how and if you like it. Everything is coming up pumpkin in October and November.

I did add the chopped walnuts for texture, they add a meatiness as well as extra protein to the chili. You only need to a salad for this to be a complete meal. Do use some of the recommended finishing options though.

So here goes!

Black Bean Chili

Ingredients:

  • 1 28-ounce can of chopped fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 poblamo peppers chopped
  • 1 red pepper chopped
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped
  • 2 cups of walnuts, chopped
  • 1 cup of red lentils
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder, mild (or hot if that’s how you like it)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound of dried black beans
  • 8 cups of water

Method: 

  1. Rinse and pick over the black beans to make sure there are no small stones, drain.
  2. Dump everything in your pressure cooker and give it a stir.
  3. Set it to cook for 35 minutes once you get to high pressure.
  4. Let it release naturally for 25 minutes.
  5. Then release the rest of the steam.

Thin it out with extra water if it seems too thick. Check for salt.

Be sure to dress up the chili and finish it with shredded cheese, avocado, lime wedges, sour cream or plain yogurt, chopped cilantro, crumbled tortilla chips. Let your imagination go wild.

That’s all!

 

Black Bean Chili

Black Bean Chili

Black Bean Chili

This week I am co-hosting Fiesta Friday on Angie’s website. My partner co-host is Deb at Pantry Portfolio. 

Come join in the fun by checking out the posts by a group of talented cooks, gardeners and crafters. And please add your own, read the instructions for posting in order to be considered for the picks of the week.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone and thank you for reading.

May – Lentils and Roast Cauliflower with Almonds and Dates

May – Lentils and Roast Cauliflower with Almonds and Dates

This is a wonderful vegetarian or vegan main dish, or a side dish for a large party. It’s perfect when you have folks with different dietary needs, also being gluten and dairy free. And because it is served at room temperature, you can make it several hours ahead. It will only get more flavorful as the lentils absorb the tahini sauce. What more can you ask for? On one platter you have your greens, roasted vegetable and starch/protein. The dates add a sweet note while the almonds add crunch and even more protein.

I served this to a large gathering, the leftovers the next day were still yummy (and didn’t last long).

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Lentils with Roast Cauliflower, Chopped Dates, and Almonds

The original recipe came from Food and Wine, but it came to me about a year ago via one of the members of my book club. It’s been hanging out just waiting for the right time to make it.

I have given two measurements for the spices. The original recipe used the smaller amount but I found it was not sufficiently spiced for my taste. Cauliflower is quite mild and can absorb a lot of flavor.

This recipe serves 6-8

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup beluga or green lentils, rinsed and checked for small stones
  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into 1 inch florets
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin, briefly toasted in a dry frying pan
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • pinch of cayenne or red pepper flakes
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
  • 10 dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cups loosely packed arugula or baby spinach

METHOD:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the almonds on a pie plate or sheet pan and toast for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown. When cool, coarsely chop.
  2. Increase the oven to 425 degrees F.
  3. Meanwhile heat 2 cups of water in a saucepan, bring to a boil and add the lentils. Simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and cool.
  4. Prepare the cauliflower. On a rimmed baking sheet toss the cauliflower florets with 1/4 cup of olive oil, the spices (cumin, cinnamon, ginger, salt, pepper. Roast until tender and slightly browned, about 20-25 minutes. When cooked to your liking, remove from the oven and cool.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk the tahini with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil until smooth. Add the lemon juice, honey or maple syrup, and 2 tablespoons of water.  Mix well.
  6. Add the lentils to the bowl and toss to coat.
  7. On a large platter lay a bed of the lentils, top with the roasted cauliflower, dates, almonds, and sliced onion. Sprinkle the arugula or baby spinach on top and serve.

 

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