Monday, October 19, 2009

Kale, Glorious Kale

Molly Wizenberg's ode to kale in the October issue of Bon Appetit reignited my love for the leafy green and reminded me of a recipe my sister and I tried last thanksgiving. I think she found it on the Whole Foods website (her milk allergy means she's always looking for dairy-free recipes on vegetarian-friendly sites), but I've tweaked it a bit since. Roasting it in the oven really sweetens it, and the garlic gives it a nice little hit o' deliciousness.

I'm feeling like I'm fighting off some sort of flu bug right now, so all the more reason to put kale on the plate. That, and it makes me feel less guilty about the fact that I paired it with one of those ready-in-three-minutes raviolis from the Super Valu.

Super simple kale
1 bunch kale
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sesame oil
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F. Wash kale and remove hard stems. Tear into small pieces and place on a shallow baking tray. Sprinkle with olive and sesame oils, along with garlic. Salt & pepper to taste.

Bake in the oven at 400 F for about 15 minutes, or until the edges are crispy and delicious.

Note the original recipe called for sesame seeds too, which are awesome - but I never have sesame seeds in the cupboard, so, no seeds here.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Banana Bread Weekend

It's a rainy weekend here—one of those days when I give myself permission to forgo my run and laze around for the morning in pjs. I was catching up on my food blogs when I stumbled on Smitten Kitchen's banana bread experiment. Since my blender broke a few weeks ago, I've had a bunch of bananas without a smoothie destination. PLUS I had this funky mini loaf pan I've been meaning to test out (it was given to me by a friend of a friend, who was purging her apartment of her boyfriend's exgirlfriend, one baking item at a time). It was kismet.

I love that she used bourbon in her recipe, though for the second time in a week, I was without the required alcohol in my pantry (last week it was brandy for brandied raisins in this sweet potato recipe.) So this banana bread is booze free, though I'd throw it in next time around.

Otherwise, top marks for this recipe—moist without being greasy and just right the level of spice. Next time I'd add raisins. Never chocolate chips. I've got a hate-on for chocolate in baking.

Elise’s Friend Heidi’s Friend Mrs. Hockmeyer’s Banana Bread, As Jacked Up by Deb
Adapted from Simply Recipes

3 to 4 ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup melted salted butter
3/4 to 1 cup light brown sugar (I used the smaller amount)
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
1 1/2 cup of flour

Preheat the oven to 350°F. With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg, vanilla and bourbon, then the spices. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix. Pour mixture into a buttered 4×8 inch loaf pan. Bake for 50 minutes to one hour, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.

(Because I used these muffin/loaf tins, they were out in a half an hour. Adjust for your tin as you see fit).

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Ultimate Buttermilk Recipe Repository

How many times have I bought buttermilk for one recipe (usually scones) and let it go to waste for lack of inspiration? Nice post from one of my go-to food blogs, Pink of Perfection.

Ultimate Buttermilk Recipe Repository

Shared via AddThis

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

How to cure a salmon, Swedish style

For the ninth year running now, I've been hosting an orphan Thanksgiving for everyone out here without family to celebrate together (and in fact, doors are open for those with family too - I host on the Monday so they can double up on pumpkin pie).

It's a potluck, so everyone brings something awesome: Matt does his cheese ball (recipe to come), I made an awesome maple-syrup-and-rum-soaked sweet potato dish from Bon Appetit, and Melissa Edwards (organizer of the epic 3-day novel contest) brought the star of the show: Gravlax, or cured salmon, Swedish style.

We cleaned the plate, twice, and she generously offered to share her recipe with us. I'm so trying this out for Christmas this year.

A Swedish method of curing salmon. Typically served as part of a Christmas smorgÄsbord.

Two equal-size salmon fillets, skin on (can be a small or as large as you wish. I usually buy a whole salmon and have it filleted at the store)
1.5 cups sugar
3/4 cup salt
2 tbsp white pepper, coarsely ground
2 tsp dill seeds
3 bunches of dill, coarsely chopped

(Amounts are for 6 lbs of salmon. Adjust as needed.)

Remove the pin bones from the salmon with needle-nose pliers. Mix the salt, sugar and pepper together and pat it all over the fillets, applying heavier in the thicker parts and lighter in the thin parts. Pat it into the sides and any cut ends as well.

Sprinkle on the dill seeds, then pile the dill on one fillet. Lay the second fillet over top to make a sandwich with the skin sides out.
Since I make a lot, I usually cut the “sandwich” into thirds at this point. Wrap each chunk tightly in plastic wrap (seal well) or into small ziploc bags with all the air pressed out. Lay them on something that will collect any leakage, and place another flat surface on top. (I usually put them into a cake pan, then put another cake pan on top.) Put it in the fridge, and put some heavy things on top of the upper pan (jars of pickles, whatever you have).

Leave in the fridge for at least 48 hours and up to five days. (It will get saltier the longer you leave it.) Turn the chunks once every day.

When cured, take the fish out of the plastic and scrape off most of the dill and salt film. Wrap what you want to save in tinfoil and freeze. To serve, cut thin slices off the chunk with a fish knife. Serve plain or with a mustard-dill sauce (available at Ikea - or mix honey mustard, canola oil, a bit of vinegar, dill weed and a bit of salt and pepper to taste).

Thursday, October 8, 2009


One lovely September long weekend at my friend Claire's mom's place on the island, Claire & I did some recipe testing for an upcoming issue of Western Living dedicated to retro cookies. All of the recipes are from the 1950s and 60s, so everyone on staff chipped in to test a few out.

When I saw Lebkuchen on the list, I jumped for joy. Yes! Delicious spicy German Christmas cookies that my friend Christina used to make for me when we didn't live 6,000 miles away from each other. I love, love, love them. Lebkuchen=cake of life. Indeed.

This recipe is a little white bread compared to the authentic recipe--no chopped fruit or ground nuts—so it's pretty straightforward to make. I thought it needed an extra kick, so I added chopped ginger. This stuff from Capers is particularly tasty.

After a few taste tests, Claire thought they could use a little more salt, so I added Kosher salt on the second go-around - I love Kosher salt in cookies for the little hit of salt you get with the sweet. We upped some of the spice factor too with cloves and more cinnamon, and added an egg to make them a little more cake-like--and even German Christina thought they were winners. Here's the recipe - and you'll find the rest of the retro ones in November's Western Living!

Lebkuchen (From Western Homes & Living, December 1964)

3/4 cup butter or margarine
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup liquid honey
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 cup chopped candied ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cloves
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup cold strong coffee
1 egg (optional)
Split blanched almonds
1 1/2 cups sifted icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp lemon juice

Using a double boiler, combine butter or margarine, brown sugar and honey, stirring occasionally until butter is melted and sugar dissolved. Pour into a large mixing bowl and set aside to cool.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salts, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Using a hand blender, combine dry ingredients with the cooled honey mixture, alternating with the buttermilk and coffee. Beat in egg (optional). Tightly cover dough and chill several hours.

Divide chilled dough in half and roll out each portion to a 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into rounds with 2 1/2-inch floured cookie cutter. Arrange on greased cookie sheets and decorate each cookie with split blanched almonds. Bake at 350˚F for 15–18 minutes.

Combine icing sugar, vanilla and sufficient lemon juice to make a thin icing glaze. Immediately after removing cookies the oven, brush them with the glaze. Cool completely. Store in a tightly closed container for no more than a few days to keep soft. Makes 4 dozen.