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Posts Tagged ‘recipes’

Kale, how do I love thee?

One, you start with the letter K. Not many vegetables can make that claim (kohlrabi?).

When I was anemic (severely), you called to me, for you are full of iron. Fe on the periodic table, from the Latin, ferrum, meaning, well, iron.

The most common nutritional deficiency in the world? Lack of iron.

The most abundant element on earth? Iron.

Why do you need iron in your body? So your red blood cells can carry oxygen (O). You need 4 Fe molecules per erythrocyte in order to carry one molecule of O2. This is why anemic folks get out of breath (at least I did).

Wait a minute, twinkly, is this the same iron that we see rusting on playground fences and garden tools?

HELL YES! Would I lie to you?

What do you need to absorb iron so your red blood cells can carry oxygen? Something acidic (lemon or orange juice work well). What can interfere with Fe absorption? Among other things, calcium (Ca). The particulars of this get pretty tricky so if you are interested, you should do some of your own research.

What form of iron do humans most successfully absorb? Heme iron, found in red meat, especially liver, also oysters. You can eat a lot of kale and it will help, but it won’t get you out of a severe anemia.

Kale is in the brassica family. It is a cabbage or cruciferous vegetable, named for the shape of the leaves at its base. You can therefore feel virtuous for eating cabbages, getting to the crux of the matter, as it were.

Here’s my basic kale recipe and how I cook my kale almost always, though I do put it in soups and frittatas and egg-and-cheese strata. Me and the mister just love it this way and I think you will, too:

Get yourself a bunch of lacinito kale (aka dinosaur, Tuscan, or black kale)

But twinkly, can’t I use another kind of kale?

NO. This is my blog and you will do as I say and cook as I do.

Here’s why–

the lacinito kale is beautiful and dark, dark green. Its leaves are firmer than the other varieties of kale. It is darker green, so, even though I’m making this up, it stands to reason that it’s higher in vitamin A and all of the B-complex vitamins. It cooks up crunchier than other kale because it’s leaves are so dang firm. No soggy crap!

That tough stem that all kale recipes tell you to remove? You can leave it. You can leave it in all varieties of kale, but especially with the lacinito kale. Yes, you can trim it at the bottom if it is a 1/4 inch or more wide, but leave the rest.

Okay, back to the recipe:

Ingredients:

appx 1 lb fresh lacinito kale, trimmed at the bottom

appx 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil (you already know your fats should be organic)

garlic, at least 3 cloves (I like the hard-necked garlic when it’s available) ready for a garlic press

half a lemon

some toasted sesame oil and don’t use the Trader Joe’s stuff because it doesn’t have a shaker-top and it’s not too flavorful to boot

sea salt

freshly ground pepper

good set of metal cooking-tongs (you won’t be using a non-stick pan, right me maties?)

Method:

Grab your big bunch o’ kale

Rinse the leaves. Usually kale is pretty clean of dirt, but sometimes does have some little bugs

After rinsing, leave the leaves full of those beautiful, silvery dew drops of water

Cut your kale into a chiffonade. Use a really good, sharp knife–not serrated,’kay?

(chiffonade is French, but your knife should probably be German)

You don’t have to cut it super-fancy thin, but about 1/8″ is good. You’ll need to cut narrow across, not length-wise

Heat about a TBSP of evoo in a large pan on medium heat, or if your stove gets really hot (I have electric, sorry purists), turn that down a notch. Don’t use a non-stick pan because a. Teflon will kill you (the fumes can kill a bird) and leach icky endocrine-disruptors and hormone mimicers into everything and into everyone’s gonads, even fish and especially amphibians and b. your kale will not sear properly and have a tiny crunch to it.

If you are anemic (menstruating ladies, take heed), you can use a cast-iron pan for extra iron

When your oil has a bit of a sheen on it, throw in the kale. It will sizzle and pop. Take a step back and let the dew do its magic.

While the kale steams a bit in the pan, take your garlic cloves and crush them in a garlic press (I DO sometimes slice my garlic, but I prefer the crushed in this recipe). Throw the garlic onto the kale.

Grab up a tong-full of kale and turn it in the pan a few times. Do this until all of the kale gets a turn: fair is fair. The garlic needs to be distributed evenly.

Grab your half-a-lemon and squeeze some of that baby into your pan. Sizzle, sizzle. Do your guests like a lot of lemon? Use more juice. Keep grabbing up the kale and turning it in the pan.

Take the toasted sesame oil and shake shake shake it onto the kale. Now you can also shake your booty. Put on some James Brown. Now you’re cookin’! Maybe five shakes should do the trick. It’s really a matter of preference.

You can put a pinch or so of sea salt (appx 1/4 tsp) onto the kale and grind some pepper on there, too. Salt seems to go pretty far on kale, not sure why, so don’t overdo it; you can always add more after a taste-test.

That’s about all. I like the kale to have a lot of crunchiness and some signs of searing, but I don’t like it to lose its bright hue. You can cook it so it has no searing or you can cook the living hell out of it like our parents’ generation seemed to do to all green veggies.

HIT IT AND QUIT IT!

Would I lie to you?

photo: ©kgfarthing2011

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Last week, I mentioned not only my love for arugula, but also my love for it with a fine, homemade vinaigrette.

I have been making my own dressings for a long, long time, just like you. About 2 years ago, I sampled this version on a friend’s spring arugula and I have not made another type of dressing since. Call it sad, call it funny, call me dull, call me silly, but every time I have the slightest inkling of making another vinaigrette, I default to this instead.

This recipe came to me from the great Lara Radysh. As usual, I’ve tweaked it to be a wee bit twinkly.

Lara Radysh’s Balsamic Vinaigrette (with a few meanderings into twinkly-dom)

2 TBSP prepared mustard

1/2 tsp tamari

3 cloves fresh, crushed garlic

3/4 C balsamic vinegar

2 tsp real maple syrup (no fake crap!)

1 1/2 C extra virgin olive oil (hereafter referred to as evoo)

1/2 tsp sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

Look, I know you’re smart. You can stop right here and just do what you will with the above ingredients. You’ve made dressing before.

On the other hand, here you are, so let’s do it twinkly-style:

You already know about using all good and fresh ingredients, right? Your fats (oils) should be organic, but maybe I’ll post on that later. I’ve switched to organic evoo in the last couple of years and for the most part I stick with that. I am not wealthy, so I don’t go crazy with the evoo, but I do get organic whenever it’s on sale. I really stock up, as you can imagine, because we go through the stuff like mad. You can even find organic evoo at Marshall’s, but it’s not vetted like the American brands, so I don’t know. Maybe it’s not really organically grown. Just don’t put too many fats with pesticides in your body because fat likes to hold on to chemicals.

I try to use the balsamic vinegar that was taste-tested as the best by Cook’s Illustrated. I know that makes me seem like I’m snooty and maybe even more silly than before, but that’s their job, so why not take advantage of it? It’s not even a snooty brand, just Monari Federzoni Balsamic Vinegar of Modena. The price of balsamic has sky-rocketed in the last couple of years (like everything else), so again, I buy huge quantities of this stuff when it’s on sale (a buck or more savings per bottle! not bad). We go through it like piss through a racehorse.

As far as the mustard: use whatever you like best. It should be really yummy. We always have some in the fridge, whatever was on sale. Hubby uses a lot of it, but I don’t touch the stuff. Except in this recipe. I like a stone-ground or a dijon the best, but I’ll use anything but French’s, honey mustard, or spicy.

Now, my doves, even though the ingredients up there are all measured out, the only thing I actually measure is the balsamic and the evoo. I use a lot of dashes and smidgens and tiny pours. You can do the same. Play with it. For instance, you don’t have to use any maple syrup; salt, either. You do have to use the garlic, that’s one thing. It’s not the same AT ALL without that. Or the tamari. You have to use a few shakes of tamari.

Another thing–use a large, glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. The jar I use is an old fluff jar. I don’t even use fluff, but I think I pinched the jar accidentally at a potluck. Who even eats fluff? When I was a kid, my neighbor’s mom would make him sandwiches with fluff and peanut butter. Look, I know it’s a “thing,” but I’ve never eaten one or made one for my kids and I never will. But this fluff jar is great. Don’t use a plastic jar, okay? And make sure your jar can hold this quantity BEFORE you start pouring. Yes, that should have been Step One. Oops.

Put the ingredients in the above order into your jar and turn on some really good dance music. Shake your booty and shake the jar in equal amounts until everything is a saucy mix. Okay, I know that’s silly, but do it anyway. Keep the vinaigrette refrigerated; remove about a 1/2 hour before using (evoo congeals in the cold).

That’s it. You are done. Except that the original recipe calls for “any herbs you have around.” While I appreciate this instruction, and you are welcome to it, I never put any herbs in my dressing. We don’t use it up too quickly, after all. Maybe it lasts 2-3 days, maybe a week, depending on how many salads we eat. I don’t like soggy herbs.

But you know what I love, don’t you? If you’ve been following along here at all, you know I love my herb garden. I love to put any number of different fresh herbs right in with the greens before tossing with the vinaigrette.

I will tell you that my favorite herb, fresh out of my front garden bed, is tarragon. This year, the tarragon is out-of-this-world, the best it’s ever been. It’s huge and full and green and delicious, enough to make me think I may secretly be French. I add a few chopped chives sometimes and also lemon thyme. Those are my favorites. Not much for other herbs in a salad. But sometimes I add some nasturtium leaves and petals. But always put the flower petals on after you toss the salad, right? Yes. Pansies and violets are fun. You can use violet leaves in the spring, they are quite good for you. Don’t forget the arugula if it’s in season. That’s where this all came from. Arugula that’s not local and in-season does not compare, my pets. Fresh arugula too is “out-of-this-world.” Maybe that’s why they call it rocket.

Now I’m gonna use a stock photo of the tarragon because it’s late and it’s the new moon and dark in the garden. Tarragon is in the artemesia family, full of mystery and medicine, ruled by Diana (the moon, again). Did you know that if you look up an herb like tarragon on Google images, you’ll find all kinds of amazing recipes? I am salivating already.

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I am sure that no one in my family shares my love for Garlic Scapes Pesto.

I started making this stuff for the first time last summer on the suggestion of a friend. Previous to that, I would bring home a handful of scapes from my farm share, and with a puzzled expression, not unlike one you might see on the face of a country rube with a piece of straw dangling from his mouth in an old 1960’s cartoon, I would chop a few into a stir fry or onto a fresh green salad, to no accolades and with no desire to do it ever again.

I found many recipes for Garlic Scapes Pesto on the web last year. I credit this one to dorie greenspan with a couple of tweaks by me.

1 C (appx 10-12) garlic scapes, roughly chopped

1/2 C hand-grated* parmigiano-reggiano

1/3 C extra virgin olive oil

1/3 C toasted, slivered almonds

appx 2 tsp fresh lemon juice (squeeze it baby!); additional lemon zest if you like

1/2 tsp sea salt

freshly ground pepper to taste

Put all ingredients, save the cheese, into a food processor and chop until uniformly blended and to your personal preference for smoothness

After you have transferred every last bit of the pesto from the food processor into a glass (or ceramic) mixing bowl, add the grated parm-reg until well-blended

Put the pesto into an airtight container and refrigerate. Use it whenever you want, even on a midnight kitchen raid while you are watching a dirty French movie. I don’t think it will make you fat, even if you eat a cupful all at once.

I have found that the pesto stays fresh for around 4-5 days after it’s refrigerated. If you want to be like twinkly, you’ll double, triple, or quadruple the recipe (see note below) and you will freeze smallish portions for later use. Like next week and the week after because you will never get enough of this stuff. I dare you to try to have even one batch left when the snow flies. But wouldn’t it be loverly if you could make it last that long?

*after experimenting last summer with this recipe as well as with recipes for traditional basil pesto, I have found that adding the cheese into the food processor has a detrimental effect on both texture and flavor. Also, in typical twinkly fashion, I make huge batches of things so as to maximize my TIME SPENT PREPPING/COOKING to FOOD YIELD ratio. I freeze the garlic scapes pesto sans cheese (and so should you).

HOW DO I EAT IT? Well, I eat it on crackers for lunch, every day until it is gone. I eat it on wheat linguine noodles with nothing else or with cooked chicken added. I am eating it right now atop an Ak-Mak. You should do these things if you know what’s good for you and you should write to me with any new ways to eat it that are delicious.

And look, I’m gonna use the same goddamn photograph I used in yesterday’s post. That’s how little I like to work. I didn’t even reduce it like yesterday. God am I lazy.

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Twinkly’s Glorious Granola

6 C rolled oats (I get them in bulk, filling up my huge, glass pickle-jar with the tare weight deducted)
1/2 C chopped, toasted almonds (I use the sliced-variety from Trader Joe’s, though I hate the wasteful packaging)
1/2 C flaked coconut (not shredded, but use what is most texturally pleasant to you)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 C coconut oil
1/2 C honey
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, stir together dry ingredients, taking special care to get the very dry cinnamon all over everything else. I also like to crunch up the almonds into smaller bits (it’s a very satisfying sensory experience to do this with bare hands). In a small saucepan, add coconut oil and honey and heat on medium- low until well-blended. Add coconut oil, honey, and vanilla to dry ingredients. Mix until dry ingredients are coated. Grease a 13″x9″ pan with coconut oil. Spread granola evenly in pan. Bake the whole schmear for appx 30 minutes. Midway through baking, stir granola and turn pan for even cooking. Check frequently in the last 15 minutes so granola doesn’t burn.

Remove from oven, cool, and ENJOY! I eat mine with vanilla yogurt every morning for health and happiness.

NOTES:

Granola burns easily. Either check frequently or lower baking temp to 300 or 325 and increase cooking time.

This is a basic and versatile recipe and you can add almost any yummy addition your heart desires, such as 1/2 C sesame seeds, 1/2 C roasted sunflower seeds, 1/2 C dried fruit. The original recipe called for 1/2 C of toasted wheat germ and 1/2 C of wheat bran, but when I experimented with giving up wheat a few years back, I dropped these ingredients and grew to love it even more without them.
This recipe came to me by way of George Hart (I believe it was his mother’s), with a few tweakings by me. I’ve been making this for over 25 years and have never strayed from its path of righteousness. So much better than that over-priced, store-bought crap. Except for a few kinds of locally-made granola I’ve found–Anatola Granola from Hawaii, something from the little grocery in Germany, and a recent discovery down in Southwest F-L-A.

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