Monday, September 26, 2011

Kale Chips

Thanks to Kiersten, who submitted a query about including more leafy greens, especially kale, in her diet. Our immediate thought was . . . kale chips!

These are easy, quick, and delicious. We have found that kids usually like them, too.

Start with one bunch of clean, dry kale. Any variety works, though we prefer curly leafed varieties.

Preheat oven to 375.

Remove the stems and tear remaining leaves into ~ 2 inch pieces.

Place on a cookie sheet and gently rub olive oil evenly onto leaves, coating them completely but lightly. We find it easiest to drizzle a small amount of oil over the leaves and then gently toss with our hands, adding more oil if needed.

Spread kale out in one layer. You may need to get out a second cookie sheet.

Grind some black pepper over the leaves and then add a very small amount of salt (~ 1/8 teas. per cookie sheet). You may need to add more when the kale is done, but the kale reduces enough during cooking that adding what seems like the right amount of salt first will make for very salty chips.

Bake for 10 minutes or so, then remove and stir up kale, again spreading it out in a single layer. Bake another 10 minutes. Stir. Repeat until the chips are crispy, ~ 20 to 30 minutes.

These can be kept in an air-tight container for a few days, but they probably won't last longer than one dinner. Experiment with adding other spices (garlic powder, paprika, etc.).

Thursday, September 22, 2011

not-so-hidden squash pasta carbonara

Thank you to everyone who has sent in requests!  I've started with: "My family of four consists of a vegetarian, a celiac, a picky child, and a child who will eat most things as long as they are not spicy at all. Have you got a recipe for that? If not, anything with pumpkin or squash would be good."  I usually like to approach food by thinking expansively about what I love and what is delicious about an ingredient or a dish or an idea, but lately that's gotten me into a rut.  I've become familiar enough with our local, seasonal offerings that there are two or three ways to prepare everything that I bring home from the CSA or the farmers' market or my back yard  that I know I love and find delicious, and then I can't think beyond those.  Any creativity I might retain is further mutilated by the thousand little concerns about lack of time and fear of the showdown with my culinarily unadventurous and picky son.  No wonder then that I'm suddently attracted to the restrictive model.  Though in fact this recipe requires modification at every step to be gluten-free and vegetarian, and my picky son didn't like it at all (he doesn't like squash; I thought hiding it in pasta would work.  It didn't.  When he looked at the food on the plate, he was delighted.  The first bite, he gobbled.  On the second bite, he looked concerned.  By the third bite, we had a showdown.  If I'm lucky, he learned something about how to politely decline food, and I learned that it's not so much the look or the idea of squash he doesn't like, but the taste.)

Like most great Italian dishes, this one is inspired by a recipe of Marcela Hazan's ("Carbonara Sauce"), but makes such significant changes that it's a different suace entirely.

Squash Pasta Carbonara
serves 4-6

1 lb. bacon
4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 large eggs
1 cup freshly grated romano cheese
1 cup roasted squash
black pepper
1 box pasta

Start with roasting the squash.   This can be done up to three days in advance.  Cut a winter variety squash in half and remove seeds.  Set, cut-side-down, on a pan lined with tin foil.  Bake at 350 for about an hour.  Scrape insides out of the "shell" and set aside. 
     Heat pasta water.  Cut bacon into 1/4" pieces and saute until just crispy.  Smash garlic cloves with flat side of knife and remove skin and cook in with bacon.  (obviously, if you're vegetarian, skip the bacon part but do saute the garlic in olive oil and then warm the cream in the pan).  Meanwhile, mix the eggs (lightly beaten), grated cheese, roasted squash, pepper and salt.  Add cream to bacon and stir; reduce to very low heat.
     Cook pasta according to directions (I like spaghetti or penne for this sauce; and of course if you're gluten-free use a gluten-free pasta).  Drain but not too well, so there's still a little hot water in with the pasta.  Pour immediately into squash mixture and then add bacon. 
     Serve immediately, with extra grated cheese on the side.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Reader Participation Requested!

Hello Friends.

Keja and I have been posting new recipes to this blog for three years now - sometimes frequently, and, if you still follow us of late, sometimes not very often. The reason for our blogosphere silence of late is two-fold: we have been working this summer to prepare our recipes for their original intent - a cookbook; the other reason is that we have run out of ideas.

So, we now throw the ball to you, gentle readers. Do you have cravings, beloved dishes grandma made that you don't have a recipe for, questions on how best to use the 18 squash you just got from the CSA? Well, we can help! Send us your recipe request as a comment to this post and we will do our best to rise to the challenge and provide you with a delicious recipe.