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Tuesday
Feb192013

KALE + SLIVERED BRUSSELS SPROUT SOBA NOODLES

I typically work on Saturdays, but this past weekend I had the day to myself. The only plan I made was to get up to the farmers market and stop by my grandma's on the way home. I like going to the market alone. I can watch, listen, feel, observe without keeping a conversation or trying to hurry. I collected bags of greens, citrus, deliciously crispy and crazy expensive apples, lots of herbs - my usual loot. Weaving through the people, I swear that every passed mumur was about kale. If that market was any indication, the hype is not passing yet. If I had a dollar for every time I heard the word 'kale', I would have bought more of those apples. So, since I like it, and the general public is still pumped on the dark leafy green, I pulled this recipe from the new Deborah Madison cookbook, Vegetable Literacy, coming out in a few weeks.

The book is serious. It is serious in the beautiful way that the author is comitted to and passionate about her subject. The book is hearty in size (certainly no shortage of information there) and the recipes are quite simple while still offering something unique. The book is divided by broad families of vegetable, and through text and recipes, shows how herbs and complimenting vegetables pair well or can be used interchangably. Heidi wrote a perfect description here. Madison has a long standing reputation in vegetarian cooking, and this book stands as further reference that the woman knows her plant based foods. The front flap says "a masterwork from America's leading authority on vegetarian cooking" - that's really all the introduction it needs.

This recipe comes in two parts in the book. First, I ran across the suggestion in the chapter involving buckwheat, seeing as soba noodles are made of buckwheat flour (at least in part). The recipe suggested tossing the noodles with the kale and slivered brussel sprout salad written in the cabbage family chapter. The thing about me and noodles, is that I like my vegetable:noodle ratio 2:1. I basically like a little bit of noodle in my salad. So when the recipe hinged on the salad recipe that you then toss with noodles, it sounded like I could have exactly what I wanted. The salad on its own is perfect, the addition of noodles classify it as a meal, either way this is a wonderful, quick dish.

KALE + BRUSSELS SPROUT SOBA NOODLES // Serves 4

Recipe adapted from Deborah Madison:Vegetable Literacy

The recipe originally calls for 4 brussels, but I wanted to finish up the bunch I had. I ended up using around 10 and discarding the tough core. There is enough dressing to bulk up the greens here, so the recipe below reflects that change. 

  • 1 bunch tuscan kale
  • 5 tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 10 brussels sprouts
  • 1 plump clove garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds (white or black)
  • 2 pinches red pepper flakes
  • 4-8 oz. soba noodles
  • 4 slivered green onions, for garnish

Slice the kale leaves from their stems and discard the stems. Working in batches, stack the leaves, roll them up tightly lengthwise, and then thinly slice them crosswise into narrow ribbons. Put the ribbons in a large bowl with 1 tsp. of the sesame oil and 1/4 tsp. salt. Massage the leaves with your hands until they glisten.

Discard any funky outer leaves from the brussels sprouts. Slice them paper thin (mandoline works best) then toss them with the kale.

Pound the garlic until smooth in a small mortar (I used a bowl and minced the garlic fine). Stir in the vinegar, remaining sesame oil and soy sauce. Pour the dressing over the greens and toss well. This much can be done in advance and kept in the fridge until ready to serve, or enjoyed alone as a salad.

Bring the water to a boil. When starting the noodles, finish the salad with the sesame seeds, pepper flakes and green onions. Cook the noodles according to package instructions and drain well. Toss the noodles with the greens. The noodle salad can be served warm or cold.

Tuesday
Feb122013

DARK CHOCOLATE ALMOND BUTTER CUPS

George is like a character you'd find in a fiction novel. He has the quirks of someone made up, except I work with him at Trader Joes demo station in my non-fiction life. He has a curly ponytail, thick glasses, wears shorts year-round, loves beer, does not own a car, cell phone or computer, speaks of the internet like it's something from space. He prefers people at work (both customers and employees) to call him "The Sheriff" and when the song Wild Wild West comes on in the store, he does a little dance complete with his fingers shaped like guns drawn from his make believe holsters, and boogies around the sample station. I can't make this stuff up. If you're not familiar, Trader Joes has a sample station where people come to try a product, and I work the morning shifts after George has worked there the night before. He likes to chat, and to encourage the company of other employees to come talk, he always opens a box of the dark chocolate peanut butter cups. It's like pigeons and breadcrumbs - he opens those up and people flock. When I follow his shift the next morning, there are usually a couple left for me. I've gotten so used to it now that I get sad when there aren't any left under the table. The more people catch on to his secret stash, the less there are to feed my habit at 7 a.m. This is probably a good problem, but I set out to make my own anyway. As far as candy goes, I knew I could make them a little more virtuous at home.

Hugh and I are coming out of a hot cocoa and whipping cream phase and now these almond butter cups are the treat of choice. They are the perfect amount of sweet and rich with the dark chocolate, while the salt on top brightens up the morsel just right. If you're still looking for a Valentine's Day gift or treat to share, these honestly could not be simpler to make and they taste charmingly homemade.

DARK CHOCOLATE ALMOND BUTTER CUPS // Makes 12-14 minis or 6 full sized cups

I fiddled around with this recipe based on a current affinity for the dark chocolate PB cups at Trader Joes and applied some tips from Alana Chernila of The Homemade Pantry. You could use any nut butter you choose, but note that the amount of natural oil will vary by type and brand. The honey and powdered sugar help the nut butter sieze up, so use your judgement and add a bit more if needed. It should be firm enough to roll in a ball, press down and easily hold that shape. Because I know someone will ask, I suppose you could use all honey and no powdered sugar, just expect a more tender center.I use these muffin liners. They look nice and peel away beautifully from the candy.

  • 7 oz. dark chocolate (not to exceed 70%)
  • 1/2 cup natural almond butter
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 Tbsp. powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. fine grain salt
  • sea salt flakes for topping

Break up the chocolate and melt in a double boiler (a pot of simmering water with a bowl resting on top). Stir to make sure it is perfectly smooth.

Set out the liners in a mini muffin tin, this helps them hold shape. Spoon about a teaspoon of the chocolate into the bottom. Tilt and twist it around so the chocolate coats the side of the liner and rest it back in the tin. Repeat with remaining papers. Mix the almond butter, honey, powdered sugar, vanilla and salt together until smooth to make the filling. Scoop out a tsp. of the almond butter filling and gently roll it into a ball between your palms. Give it a press down and center it on top of the thin chocolate puddle. Repeat. Spoon chocolate, about another tsp., on top of each almond butter ball to cover completely. You may need to add a few drops more to get the chocolate to level above the bump of the almond butter. Sprinkle a teensy pinch of flaked sea salt on each one and chill in the fridge to set.

They can be kept in a covered container at room temperature or fridge.

Wednesday
Feb062013

MAPLE SPICE DELICATA, FENNEL + KALE BOWL

My oven was down for a few days. Actually closer to a week... even longer if you consider it was only heating up to 300' - max. Something about the gas valve. I cook often, but it'd be dramatic and exaggerated to say I use my oven every day. I go on cooking binges but I can certainly get by without it for a week, no huge deal. From the moment the maintenance guy said he needed to order a part and to not use it in the meantime, all I could think about was what I NEEDED my oven for. We need another lemon loaf. I was out of granola. I've seen all these wonderful photos of homemade bread and while I've tried and failed before, I must try again, immediately. But since he said not to use it and I didn't want to risk the kitchen filling up with gas and blowing up, we kept meals simple and stovetop. I was dreaming up recipes yesterday and Hugh mentioned a theory about creativity actually thriving in confined parameters. Infinite freedom is too chaotic, there needs to be parameters whether it be money, time, space, a theme, lyrics etc. - constraint based creativity. With a bit of googling, turns out a number of people have written on creativity blooming within restriction versus a vast blank canvas. Twitter for example, the 140 character confinement that revolutionized social media.

Fast forward to today, and it seems that the oven hiatus pushed me to try new things. I didn't need to make granola or another lemon loaf. I actually needed to not make those things to get out of a rut. I finally bought a waffle iron after talking about it for two years and made my new favorite chocolate treat that I'll post next week. This all sounds like a complete "first world problem" but you catch my drift. I needed my oven to break down is what I'm trying to say. 

I've had a few delicata squash appetizers in the past few months that I can't get out of my head. One was back in Portland at Clyde Common, an understated pile of roasted delicata with a handful of greens, shaved parmesan and hazelnuts and another was generously bathed in brown butter and topped with crumbled amareti at Mozza. The squash pairs so perfectly with warm and sweet spices and the fact that you can eat the skin makes them that much more attractive. It's honestly past delicata squash time around here, they were gone in a blink. Just as I'd given up, promising to pay closer attention when fall rolls around again, I found a few lonesome ones at a market I don't often frequent. I hope you can find some near you, but some chunks of butternut or kabocha can work here just fine. A warm salad, a side dish, a whole meal if you'd like with the addition of some lentils or a poached egg. I will add some toasted hazelnuts next time, or maybe a sharp, dry cheese. Let me know if you add anything you like. Call it what you wish, but I've been dreaming of this warm, spiced bowl of my favorite squash. 

Speaking of bowls, I wrote a recipe for Wisconsin Cheese showcasing their gorgonzola and they created a video of our process. Have a look if you're interested. 

MAPLE SPICE DELICATA, FENNEL + KALE BOWL // Serves 4

A note on texture. As written, the kale ends up somewhere between a kale chip and sauteed kale - crisp edges and a tender center. If you want it more crisp, make sure your kale is completely dry and add 5 minutes to the baking time. If you prefer it less crisp, take 5 minutes off the baking time, giving it just enough time to wilt. The squash and fennel have some kick, if you don't like too much spice, eliminate the red pepper flakes. 

  • 3 small delicata squash (about 1 - 1.5 lb. total) skin on, halved and seeded
  • 1 large fennel bulb, reserving fronds for garnish
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. Grade B Maple Syrup
  • 1 tsp. whole grain mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
  • salt (smoked or sea salt) + pepper
  • 1 bunch purple kale, stems removed
  • 3 Tbsp. minced red onion

Preheat the oven to 400'. Arrange one oven rack in the upper third and one on the bottom third. 

Slice the squash into 1'' half moons. Slice the fennel down the center, cut out the tough core, slice into 1/2'' wedges. Spread everything on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil, maple, mustard, cayenne, red pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and a few generous pinches of smoked salt and pepper. Toss gently to coat everything, adding another drizzle of oil or maple if it seems too dry. Roast in the upper third of the oven for 35-40 minutes or until the squash is tender and caramelized, tossing the vegetables half way through. 

Rip the kale into large chunks, drizzle it with remaining olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Spread it on another baking sheet. At the 30 minute mark, move the squash tray to the lower rack and put the kale on the top rack. Bake for 10 minutes until the edges are crisp. Add your minced onion and gently toss everything together. Enjoy warm. 

Monday
Jan282013

MEYER LEMON LOAF

The weekends have been full recently. I have taken on a couple catering jobs, there have been house guests, birthdays, baby showers and such. All good things, but full. No glorification of busy here, believe me, I like the fullness, makes the quiet and stillness sweeter. No matter the pace, a little breakfast and coffee is my favorite - it gets my buns out of a warm bed. Usually eggs when I can sit and enjoy, granola when I need to be quick, and now, this lemon loaf keeps reappearing in the rotation.

I am not exactly fulfilled by the tinkering of a recipe, maybe a little bit, but it's either good or it's not - I log it away or forget it. This is the fourth time I've made this lemon loaf. The tinkering part is out of character, the lemon obsession is part of my consitution. Meyer lemons are sweeter and less puckering than a standard, likely Eureka, lemon. I made the original (Deb is known for dependable recipes), then I have been adapting it, to be both dairy and gluten free in the following renditions. Each of them have looked different. Each of them have been tender and moist, an understated sweetness and perfectly lemony. It's just the brightness you need with coffee on a chilly morning.

MEYER LEMON LOAF // Makes one 9'' loaf

Adapted from the Grapefruit Pound Cake in The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

The original recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour. I wanted to play around with some gluten free flours and came out with the amounts below. I realize it may be a high maintenance combination for some of you, and a GF All Purpose blend of your choice would be fine as well. If there is no need for you to make it gluten free, use the unbleached all purpose, but I wanted to give the option for those that prefer or need it this way. The original will pop up in the center, the GF version stays slightly flat on top. My oven is being moody and the temperature has been inconsistent, so mine fell. Tastes fabulous regardless of appearance.

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup whole milk yogurt, buttermilk or coconut milk
  • 2 heaping Tbsp. meyer lemon zest
  • 2 Tbsp. meyer lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. lemon extract
  • 1/3 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 cup natural cane sugar
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • 1/3 cup oat flour
  • 1 Tbsp. flaxseed meal
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • lemon glaze
  • 1/3 cup meyer lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. natural cane sugar

Preheat the oven to 350'. Grease a 9'' loaf pan.

Whisk the eggs, olive oil, yogurt (or alternative), zest and juice of the lemon and lemon extract together well.

In another mixing bowl, combine both sugars, almond flour, rice flour, oat flour, flaxmeal, salt, baking soda and baking powder and mix together. Add half of the dry mix to the wet, stir to combine, add the rest or the dry and stir everything together. Pour the mixture into a prepared 9'' loaf pan.

Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. While the cake bakes, make the glaze. Combine the lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan over low heat and cook until the sugar dissolves. When the cake is finished, let it cool for 10 minutes before inverting (if you choose). Prick holes in the top and pour the glaze over the warm cake. Let the cake cool completely while it absorbs the syrup. I enjoy mine with pom seeds because I honestly can't get enough of them.

Thursday
Jan242013

WINTER GREENS + CRISPY QUINOA SALAD

sprouted kitchen

We had an impromptu dinner at a friends house on Monday. There was a group text started in the late morning to have dinner that evening on a friends patio. They have a gorgeous view and the weather had warmed up a bit. Nothing fussy or elaborate, just grilling up a big piece of salmon, rice and I planned to bring a salad to share. There were chips and salsa. There are always chips and salsa at a backyard dinner now that I think of it. I crave this kind of thing - the patio dinners with friends. Going out to eat is pleasant, but it's meals with people I love that I soak right up - in a home, dirty dishes and all, mine or theirs, all of it. We drank wine, lingered around the table and laughed. I haven't practiced much of my mantra about the communal aspect of food, which is why I'm recently making more of an effort to have people over for dinner, or to gather some way, in any sense of the word. You see, when your identity is defined by cooking and blogging and writing books and recipes, people assume you make really good food all the time. But the thing is, a lot of the time I mess up, and it's not always good, and I've tried my hand at short ribs for Hugh or guests FOUR times and I can't get them right. So passively, I've let my errors every now and then back me into a corner of not having people over as often as I'd like. Some nights we have breakfast tacos for dinner, and you can't have people over for dinner and feed them breakfast tacos... except you CAN! I just learned that this week, inspired by a dinner with people whose company I truly enjoy. I am going to have people over and it doesn't have to be expensive or a grand effort, just an act of generousity with the intention of spending time together over a meal. It's an uncomplicated plan, really.

If you come to my house for dinner, there will be vegetables. I cook them much better than I do short ribs. I know I'm a little spotty when it comes to cooking meat, but I can make salad. I made a big batch of this dressing to have on hand, and then kept everything pretty and simple to go along with a protein of choice. Maybe some grilled shrimp or get a fresh fish filet at the market. The salad is just right - the easy, likeable sort. The perfect salad to share.

sprouted kitchen

WINTER GREENS + CRISPY QUINOA SALAD // Serves 6

When cooking quinoa for this salad, especially to help it crisp up here, you want to use a 1/1.5 ratio of quinoa to liquid when cooking. For example, I cooked 1/2 cup rinsed quinoa in 3/4 cup vegetable broth. You want a drier, slightly undercooked quinoa before you fry it up so it gets crispy. 

  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup cooked and completely cooled quinoa
  • 1 head butter lettuce
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 3/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  •  
  • // meyer lemon yogurt dressing //
  • 1/4 cup meyer lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced or grated
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. dried italian herbs (mine is a mix of oregano, parsley + basil)
  • pinch of pepper
  • 1/3 cup whole milk greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

sprouted kitchen sprouted kitchen

Heat the coconut oil over high heat in a frying pan. Once it's hot, add the cooked quinoa and saute for about 2-3 minutes until dry and crisp. You want the steam to release and hear the crackling, add a bit more oil if needed. Set aside to cool completely. 

Prepare the dressing. Whisk the lemon juice, garlic, vinegar, honey, salt, herbs, pepper and yogurt in a bowl. Whisk in the oil, taste for seasoning and alter as you wish. This can be made up to a week in advance. 

Toss both greens in the dressing to coat, top with the crispy quinoa, hazelnuts and pom seeds and serve immediately. 

sprouted kitchen