Micro-ed Chips

Kale Chips

Two of my perennial New Year’s resolutions are to eat more vegetables and try new things. This week, in an effort to keep up both these resolutions, I tried making kale chips in the microwave. Crunchy, light and surprisingly addictive, kale chips seem like the perfect snack for my vegetable-eating-adventure-seeking-New Year’s resolutions.

I tend to use my microwave for three things: defrosting frozen food, reheating leftovers and as a bread box, since I have limited counter space. Like many people, I knew I was underestimating the usefulness of my microwave. I’d heard it was great for drying fresh herbs, so I figured it would work for kale. I was right! After removing the stems and rubbing the leaves with oil, the microwave quickly created bright green kale chips. In fact, any leafy green can be turned into a crispy chip in a few microwaved minutes.

Kale Chips

Makes about 4 cups of chips

Basic recipe:

1 bunch of kale

1 tablespoon of olive oil

Sea salt or kosher salt to taste

  1. Wash and trim the kale. Remove all stem and tear the kale into pieces 2-3” big.
  2. Drizzle the oil over the kale leaves. Using your hands, briefly massage the oil over the kale, coating each leaf evenly and completely.
  3. Place a paper towel on a microwave-safe plate. Lay the kale in one even layer on the plate. The leaves can overlap slightly. If you have a lot of leaves, save some for a second batch.
  4. Microwave the kale for 2 minutes on high heat. Toss the kale around and repeat. At this point check the leaves for crispiness. If they are still limp, continue to microwave for 1 minute at a time until crisp. In my microwave, the kale chips usually take about 4-5 minutes depending on the quantity, but cooking times vary depending on the machine.
  5. Sprinkle the leaves immediately with the salt and cool.
  6. Store the kale chips in an airtight container.

Variations:

  1. Substitute sesame oil for the olive oil and add 2 teaspoons of sesame seeds to the kale leaves before microwaving.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of finely grated parmesan cheese to the leaves before microwaving.
  3. Substitute almond or walnut oil for olive oil; sprinkle with 1-2 pinches of cayenne pepper before microwaving.

Roasted Cauliflower

photo (3)While I love eating cauliflower lots of different ways, time and time again, I return to roasting. As the cool days of fall give way to winter’s chill, the idea of roasted vegetables, flavorful and sweet, warm from the oven, become especially appealing. Sometimes, I just toss the florets in olive oil, salt and pepper before roasting. In this recipe, the mild mustard flavor of the cauliflower is complimented by the sweet-sour of the balsamic vinegar, briny-ness of the capers and the salty umami of the parmesan.

Roasted Cauilflower with Capers, Pinenuts, and Balsamic Vinegar

Makes 4-6 servings

1 head of cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons capers in brine

3 tablespoons pinenuts, lightly toasted

1 teaspoon lemon zest

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)

salt and pepper, as needed

  1. Heat oven to 400 F. Toss cauliflower with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.      Season lightly with salt and pepper.
  2. Spread cauilflower in one layer on a sheet tray lined with parchment. Roast for 15-20 minutes. Add the capers to the cauliflower and continue to roast for an      additional 15-20 minutes or until the florets are tender and brown around the edges.
  3. Remove the cauliflower from the oven. Toss the cauliflower with the remaining      ingredients and serve immediately.

Tune In For Turkey

On Monday, I’ll be appearing on CBS New York’s “Live From The Couch” on TV10/55, between 7:00-9:00 am, giving Thanksgiving turkey tips and answering viewer’s questions. Here’s my recipe for Roast Turkey with Gravy and Cornbread Dressing.

Roast Turkey with Cornbread, Pecan and Sage Dressing

 

I haven’t given a specific weight for the turkey—allow 1 pound per person. Unless everyone you’re feeding has a huge appetite this amount will give everyone plenty and leave you some leftovers for turkey sandwiches the next day.

If you’re concerned about your turkey being dry, brining ahead of time is a great way to help the bird be juicy and flavorful. Just remember a few things: check the turkey label when you buy it– sometimes turkeys come brined (no need to do it twice!); a good brine should be started at least 24 hours before cooking, so you need enough space in your refrigerator to accommodate a large container that can hold the turkey and the brine; finally, the brine can make the pan drippings salty, so be careful when adding salt (or a salty broth) to the gravy.

Don’t overcook the bird. When a thermometer inserted in the thigh registers 165F, the turkey is cooked to a safe temperature, but still juicy. Avoid any temptation you might have to carve the turkey right away. If you do, the meat will not hold the juices and it will be dry and flavorless. Let the turkey rest at least ½ hour before slicing. This gives you plenty of time to make the gravy and bake the dressing.

 

 

1 turkey, giblets removed from cavity, wing tips removed

If brining:

1 gallon water

1 cup kosher salt

¼ cup sugar

3-4 bay leaves

1 tablespoon peppercorns

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

For roasting:

4 tablespoons melted butter

2 cups mirepoix (onions, carrots and celery), coarsely chopped, for filling cavity

8-10 sprigs of parsley and sage, for filling cavity

kosher salt, as needed –only if not brining turkey

 

For the stuffing: (makes about 8-10 servings)

8 cups cornbread, crumbled and toasted

4 tablespoon butter or drippings from the turkey

2 medium onions, peeled and diced (about 3 cups)

1 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans

1/4 cup chopped sage

3 cups turkey or chicken stock

salt and pepper

For the gravy:

3 tablespoons turkey drippings

¼ cup flour

4 cups turkey or chicken stock

Salt and pepper, if needed

 

  1. If brining: 24-48 hours before cooking combine the water, salt, sugar and aromatics for the brine in a pan or container large enough to hold the turkey (I use a large plastic bucket, but many stores sell brining bags). Submerge the turkey in the liquid and refrigerate.
  2. Prepare the turkey for roasting: Heat oven to 375 F. Remove the turkey from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Place the chopped mirepoix and herbs inside the turkey cavity. Truss the turkey by tying the legs together with all-cotton string. Place the turkey on a rack in a roasting pan. Brush the surface with the melted butter. If the turkey wasn’t brined, season lightly with salt.
  3. Roast the turkey: Place the turkey in the middle of the heated oven. Roast the turkey for about 15 minutes a pound. Check the turkey periodically to baste and make sure it  is not browning too rapidly. I like to baste about every ½ hour. Cover the turkey loosely with foil only if the skin gets too dark. The turkey is done when the internal temperature in the thigh is 165F. Remove the turkey from the pan and let it rest at least ½ hour before carving. Pour off the excess drippings in the roasting pan, leaving the 3 tablespoons needed for preparing the gravy. The excess drippings can be used for the dressing, if  desired.
  4. For the dressing: Place the cornbread cubes on a sheet tray. Toast in the oven until the cubes are dry and light brown around the edges. Cool. In a large sauté pan, warm the turkey drippings or butter over medium heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally until they are limp and translucent, about 8-10 minutes. Combine the cornbread, onions, pecans, sage and chicken stock and season with salt and pepper. Place the dressing in a      baking dish. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the dressing is beginning to brown and crisp on the surface.
  5. For the gravy: Place the reserved  roasting pan over medium heat. Briefly warm the remaining drippings in the  pan, then add the flour. Stir the flour and fat together constantly with a  heat-resistant spoon to form a roux. Cook the roux for 3-4 minutes, or until it develops a light brown color. Lower the heat and whisk the turkey stock into the roux. Simmer the gravy, stirring occasionally, for 10-15      minutes. If it is awkward to leave the gravy in the roasting pan while simmering, carefully pour the gravy into a saucepan.  Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.

Countdown to Thanksgiving: Sweet Potato Pancake

There’s only 1 week until Thanksgiving–my favorite food holiday of the year. My Thanksgiving is pretty traditional — turkey, stuffing and seasonal side dishes, but I often like to try a new recipe with the old familiar ingredients.

I love sweet potatoes, but I’ve never been a big fan of the ubiquitous super sweet Candied Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows. This year I decided to make this Sweet Potato Pancake. Quick to prepare, the pancake is shaped by filling a non-stick or cast-iron pan with grated sweet potato and pressing on it as it cooks, until it conforms to the shape of the pan. The natural starch in the potato helps the pancake hold together and gives it a crispy, delicate texture.

The only tricky part of this pancake is the flipping. Its difficult to do with a spatula, so I usually employ a different method: After the pancake is browned and crispy on one side, I slide the pancake onto a plate and invert the empty pan over the pancake. Then, with one confident motion, flip the two over together, returning the pancake to the pan.

I serve the pancake with a dollop of creme fraiche– the French version of sour cream– mixed with a little chile pepper for heat. To me, the tangy-spicy mixture balances the sweetness of the potatoes, much better than marshmallows.

Sweet Potato Pancake with Chile Crème Fraiche

Makes 1 large pancake

3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and coarsely grated (about 2 cups)

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 teaspoons chopped sage

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Clarified butter or canola oil for cooking

½ cup crème fraiche

1 teaspoon minced jalapeno or Serrano chile

1 teaspoon lime or lemon zest

2 teaspoons fresh lime or lemon juice

¼ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  1. Combine the grated sweet potato, garlic, sage, salt and pepper in a bowl.
  2. Warm an 8-inch non stick sauté pan over medium heat. Add enough clarified butter to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the sweet potato mixture and press with a spatula to fit the grated potato neatly in the pan.
  3. Cook the pancake over medium heat, pressing the surface periodically to encourage the potatoes to stick together and help the pancake form. If the pan begins to look too dry, drizzle a little more clarified butter around the edges of the cake. When the bottom of the potatoes are amber brown and beginning to crisp, flip the pancake over. Add a little more clarified butter to the pan. Continue to cook the pancake until the second side is crispy and brown and the potatoes are tender. Remove the pancake from the pan and drain on paper towels.
  4. Combine the crème fraiche, jalapeno, lime zest, lime juice, salt and pepper in a bowl. Cut the pancake into wedges and serve with the crème fraiche.

A Farewell to Summer

Watermelon and Arugula Salad–one of my favorite ways to enjoy the last summer flavors.

As much as I love the fall produce that’s beginning to show up in the market, I usually spend most of September trying to enjoy the last of my summer favorites. Among the new apples, pumpkins and brussel sprouts, my farmer’s market still has plenty of tomatoes, corn string beans and chile peppers. Last Saturday, I was told it would be the last week for watermelons. I couldn’t resist; tonight I used some in a salad, mixed with arugula, red onion, feta cheese and chiles. I love the balance of  fresh, crunchy, sweet watermelon, with the salty feta and spicy arugula. I used a jalapeno this time in the vinaigrette but any spicy chile would be great– I’ve used serranos and habeneros in the past.

Watermelon, Feta and Arugula Salad with Jalapeno-Herb Vinaigrette

 Makes 4 servings

For the salad:

            3 cups baby arugula, washed and dried

            1 cup feta, crumbled

            2 cups watermelon, cubed or cut with a melon baller

            1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion

            1/4 cup toasted walnuts or pinenuts

For the vinaigrette:

            2 teaspoons honey

            1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

            1 tablespoon lime juice

            6 tablespoons olive oil

            salt and pepper to taste

            1 tablespoon minced jalapeno

            1 tablespoon basil or mint chiffonade

1. For the salad: Combine the arugula, feta, watermelon and red onion in a bowl. Add enough vinaigrette to coat the ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Divide the salad between the four plates and sprinkle with the nuts to garnish.

2. For the vinaigrette: Place the honey, vinegar and lime juice in a small bowl. Slowly add the olive oil in a thin stream, whisking constantly. Season with salt and pepper and stir in jalapeno and basil or mint.

 

Taste of the Town

Crab and Vegetable Chesapeake “Almost Summer” Roll

 

Taste of the Town was great! Lots of people turned out on a beautiful day to enjoy all the food offerings. The Chesapeake “Almost Summer” Rolls were a big hit. While the original recipe includes local crab and Old Bay along with Colchester Farm vegetables and rice noodles, I was happy I decided to offer a vegetarian version as well; it turns out that we were the only vegetarian dish at the event.