Recipe – My Favorite Kale Salad

Salads made with kale became a bit trendy a few years ago and many restaurants still have them as a menu fixture. Kale salad can range from the downright awful – chunks of raw kale tipped straight from the supermarket bag, stalks and all and completely inedible – to the sublime.

Really good kale salads are dense, soft and satisfying. The sort of salad that even after five minutes of eating, the pile on your plate has magically remained the same size.

This version is one of my favorites. You can add finely minced onion, all sorts of fruit dried or otherwise and toasted nuts give it crunch and substance.

The trick is to work the chopped kale with a little sea salt in your hands to soften and transform it to what seems like a semi-cooked state before adding everything else.

Kale salad tastes even better on day two, so make extra.

Note: have you ever thought of roasting kale in the oven?  Kale crisps are incredibly simple to make and a great way to get kids of all ages to eat their greens – recipe below. They make a delicious, healthy appetizer or snack that won’t stick around for long one you’ve offered them up (but don’t serve them outside if it’s remotely breezy as they’ll float away before you can say “yum!”)

Kale Salad with Toasted Pine Nuts, Currants & Parmesan

KALE SALAD

(4 servings)

Ingredients:

1 bunch of kale, rinsed and torn into small pieces, stalk and tough ribs discarded – or a 5 oz (140g) packet of tender, baby kale

1 level teaspoon of sea salt

1/3 cup (80ml measure) of lightly toasted pine nuts (toast them in a dry skillet and watch like a hawk as they can burn in a nanosecond)

¼ cup (60ml measure) of dried currants

¼ cup (60ml measure) of extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

½ tablespoon of clear honey

1/3 cup (80ml measure) of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Action:

Chop the kale leaves very finely then tip them into a large bowl with the sea salt and work it with your fingers, massaging the kale until it wilts.

Transfer to another bowl, discarding any green liquid.

Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice and honey and add this to the kale along with everything else, except for the grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Let it sit at room temp for 20 mins then adjust the dressing to taste and finally add the cheese.

Give it all a good final toss, cover and chill in the fridge for 1 hour and up to 2 days.

OVEN BAKED KALE CRISPS

Ingredients:

1 bunch of kale, rinsed, tough stem and ribs removed, leaves torn into bite sized pieces

1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon of sea salt

Action:

Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C

Line a cookie sheet or shallow roasting pan with baking parchment

Pat the kale dry and toss it with the olive oil, making sure every piece is well coated. Add the sea salt and toss again.

Arrange the kale on the baking sheet and bake for 10 mins, or until the edges have turned a light golden brown. Serve immediately.

Posted in Made in Under 30 mins, Salads & Appetizers, Vegetables / Vegetarian | Leave a comment

Recipe – Quick Raspberry Freezer Jam

Any jam that can be whipped up in under 30 minutes is fine by me. I love the tangy sharp sweetness of fresh raspberries and paired with a warm croissant (and a blob of creamy mild goat cheese on the side), this is my idea of breakfast heaven.

You can make this jam with strawberries or stone fruit but as the title suggests, it needs to be kept in the freezer as it doesn’t have the shelf life of regular preserves. You’ll need an assortment of small, seal-able freezer-proof containers. That way you can defrost just enough whenever it takes your fancy.

Quick Raspberry Freezer Jam

Raspberry Freezer Jam

RASPBERRY FREEZER JAM

(Makes about 12 cups so adjust for lesser quantities)

Ingredients:

14 cups (3.4 liters) of crushed raspberries, strawberries, blackberries or whatever you prefer (crushed with a potato masher or blitzed briefly in a blender)

2.5 cups (600 ml measure) of organic cane sugar

The juice of 2 lemons

2 level teaspoons of sea salt

4 level tablespoons of powdered pectin

Action:

You’ll need a large heavy saucepan for this.

Put all the ingredients in the pan, stir to mix and slowly bring it to a boil. Let it bubble away, stirring every minute or so for 20 minutes. Take it off the heat, allow to cool then transfer the jam to sealed freezer-worthy containers.

That’s it!

Posted in Cookies & Edible Gifts, Desserts, Made in Under 30 mins | 2 Comments

Recipe – Buttermilk, Lemon & Lavender Sorbet – and a Buttermilk Chocolate Sorbet

If you have an ice cream machine, here are two delicious sorbet recipes that contain buttermilk. Buttermilk adds a hint of richness which makes a nice change from the single dimension of a regular sorbet.

Despite it’s buttery flavor, buttermilk is clean-tasting and almost devoid of fat, so the intense flavors of lemon and lavender (and chocolate) can really shine through.

I wouldn’t necessarily serve them together but as I’d dusted off the ice cream machine in preparation for summer use, I felt compelled to make them both  – and when a 17-year old taster proclaims them to be absolutely delicious, then you know they’re good.

I like to use powdered buttermilk reconstituted with water but fresh buttermilk will also work well. Either way, both of these sorbets make a really impressive summer dessert  and take no time at all to make, provided you have the machine.

I recommend making the mixture for the lemon and lavender buttermilk sorbet the day before, because dried edible lavender blossoms are rather grey-looking but once they’ve had an overnight soak in the mixture, they revert back to their pretty purple flower color.

Note – if you can’t find edible lavender, the lemon buttermilk sorbet is quite wonderful without.

Buttermilk Sorbet with Lemon & Lavender – and a Chocolate Buttermilk Sorbet

BUTTERMILK, LEMON & LAVENDER SORBET

(Makes approx 6 cups/1.4 liters)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (120ml) of freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 3 lemons)

The finely shredded zest of 3 lemons

2 heaped teaspoons of dried edible lavender blossoms

2 cups (470ml) of fine white sugar

4 cups (950ml) of buttermilk

Action:

Gently dissolve the sugar with the lemon juice, zest and lavender blossoms over a very low heat, stirring frequently. Once the sugar has completely dissolved, take it off the heat and add the buttermilk, stirring well to blend, then transfer the mixture to a bowl – cover and chill overnight in the fridge.

When you’re ready to make the sorbet, just tip the cold mixture into the ice cream machine and process until it’s done. Transfer the sorbet to the freezer in a sealed plastic container to firm up completely.

BUTTERMILK CHOCOLATE SORBET

(Makes approx 4 cups / 950ml)

Ingredients:

5 fl oz (142ml) of half & half or very thin cream

4 oz (114g) of *vanilla sugar

6 oz (170g) of very good dark chocolate chips (about 70%) or chocolate cut into small chunks

2 cups (474ml) of buttermilk

Action:

Gently dissolve the sugar in the thin cream (or half & half) over a low heat then bring it to a simmer. Remove it from the heat and add the chocolate pieces, whisking until the chocolate is completely melted.  Add the buttermilk, whisking to blend thoroughly.

Proceed as above.

*Vanilla sugar is easy to make; just add a split vanilla pod to a fairly large, screwtop glass jar of fine white sugar and let it absorb the flavor for about a week. As you use the sugar, just add some more – the vanilla pod will keep doing it’s job for ages.

 

 

Posted in Desserts, Gluten Free Desserts | Leave a comment

Recipe – Fig and Gorgonzola Pizza with Caramelized Shallots

A fabulous pizza where the sweetness of dried figs and caramelized shallots complements the smooth, tangy unctuousness of the Gorgonzola. The only thing that takes a bit of time to prepare are the onions and they can be made in advance and kept in the fridge or frozen for several months.

Other than that, you can whip this up in under 30 minutes, especially if you buy a raw ready-made pizza crust.

I make a batch of caramelized shallots/onions a couple of times a year and store them in small containers in the freezer. Defrosted and gently re-heated, they make a perfect topping for steak, burgers, grilled salmon; beaten into mashed potatoes, folded into an omelet or used as a topping for bruschetta. Caramelized onions (onion jam) takes approximately 45 mins to 1 hr, although the actual prep time is about 5 mins.

Non-vegetarians can add shredded prosciutto for an even more decadent pizza.

Pizza with Fig, Gorgonzola & Caramelized Shallots

FIG and GORGONZOLA PIZZA with CARAMELIZED ONION

(Serves two hungry people or 6 as an appetizer snack)

Ingredients:

For the caramelized onion that can be made ahead –

8 oz (227g) of shallots, red or yellow onions

2 oz (57g) butter

1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon of honey

2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar

A sprig of fresh thyme

*A raw pizza crust, approx 12ins across (I used a ready-made thin raw crust…don’t feel guilty using shortcuts like this when you have such fabulous toppings)

6 oz (170g) of Gorgonzola diced or sliced – however you prefer

4 oz (113g) of soft-dried black mission figs, stalks trimmed and halved lengthwise

Sea salt, freshly milled black pepper

Action:

Starting with the shallots/onion, slice them very thinly across in rings then sauté over low heat in the warmed olive oil and melted butter, until soft and translucent; approx 5 mins.

Add the honey and vinegar – season to taste with salt and pepper. Throw in the thyme sprig and cover with a tight fitting lid (or use heavy duty foil if you don’t have one). Cook on a very, very low heat for about 45 mins to an hour, stirring occasionally. If they look a bit dry along the way, add a tablespoon of water. Once they’ve become glossy, jammy and meltingly tender, crank up the heat to rapidly boil off any residual liquid. Remove the thyme stalk and set the onions aside to cool (once cooled you can freeze them or store in the fridge for a week).

For the crust ( in my case, made by someone else) – pre-heat the oven to 400F /200C. Arrange the raw crust on a baking sheet, brush lightly with olive oil and bake for 5 mins (can be done ahead).

Pile on the toppings and finish with a drizzle of olive oil. Bake until the cheese is bubbling and the edges of the crust are golden, approx 10-12 mins.

Notes:

The toppings’ quantities are only meant as a guide. Use more or less, at will.

Fresh figs, mozzarella and caramelized onions make a lovely, milder-tasting alternative if fresh figs are in season (which isn’t often in Colorado). Simply snip the stalks off and split them lengthwise into 3 slices per fig as they’re much larger than dried ones. Buffalo mozzarella is best if you can get it.

You can also use figs of the calimyrna variety but they won’t be as darkly dramatic as black mission figs.

 

Posted in Made in Under 30 mins, Pasta, Vegetables / Vegetarian | Leave a comment

Recipe – Linguine with Crab, Fresh Herbs, Lemon & Chili

One of the best things about pasta is that you can create something quite luxurious in a matter of minutes and this lovely seafood dish is no exception. If you can’t get hold of fresh crab, use the best quality jumbo lump crab meat you can find, often found in cans or vacuum packed.

One the other hand, I recommend you stay away from anything called ‘krab’ – it may look like the real thing but I wouldn’t feed it to my cat, if I had one.

Experiment with different herbs such as mint or parsley. I particularly like tarragon but you don’t want to overdo it. Feel free to adjust the amount of chili and lemon as well…

Linguine with Crab, Fresh Herbs, Lemon & Chili

LINGUINE WITH CRAB, FRESH HERBS, LEMON & CHILI

(Serves 2)

Ingredients:

8 oz (227g) of linguine

4 tablespoons of butter, divided

2 tablespoons of olive oil, divided

1 medium shallot, minced

1 clove of garlic, crushed

1/2 – 1 teaspoon of dried chili flakes, to taste

1 -2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice

2 heaped teaspoons of finely grated lemon zest

1/2 cup (20ml) of dry white wine

Freshly ground black pepper

8 oz of shelled crab or jumbo lump crab meat

1/3 cup of fresh tarragon and chives, mixed

Action:

Cook the pasta according to instructions and set aside 1/2-1 cup of the cooking liquid. While the pasta is cooking,  heat 1 tablespoon of butter with 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a deep skillet or saute pan and sweat the minced shallot until it’s soft (3-4 minutes), then add the garlic and chili flakes. Cook for a couple of minutes more, then add the white wine, and bring the heat up to evaporate it.

Tip the cooked pasta into the pan with the shallot and garlic, adding 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water.  Toss the pasta around to coat for about 1-2 minutes then add the remaining butter, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, half of the herbs, a good grind of black pepper – and finally the crab.

Keep tossing the pasta until the butter has melted and transfer it to a warmed serving bowl with the remaining herbs scattered over.  Finish with a little extra lemon juice sprinkled over if you like.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Fish & Seafood, Made in Under 30 mins, Pasta | Leave a comment

Recipe – Classic French Apple Tart

Or perhaps I should call this my lazy version of a classic French apple tart as I used a jar of organic sugar-free apple puree for the filling, because I couldn’t be bothered to peel and cook a load of apples – and the jar was sitting on my shelf.

That said, I did make the pastry from scratch, using my all-time favorite dessert pastry (pâte sucrée) recipe, that’s a doddle to make if you have a food processor and is well worth a little effort.

These quantities below will make a single tart or six individual ones if you prefer. You’ll need a fluted loose-based tart tin(s).

French apple tart is absolutely delicious served cold with cream or crème fraîche and both the filling and pastry can be made ahead.

French Apple Tart

French Apple Tart

FRENCH APPLE TART

(Serves 6)

Ingredients for the filling:

3 cups (700ml) of organic unsweetened apple puree

The finely grated zest of an orange

1-2 oz (28-57g) of sugar depending on how sweet your tooth is

1 oz (28g) of butter at room temp

2 Golden Delicious apples for the topping

For the pastry:

1 and 2/3 cups (400ml measure) of all-purpose (plain) flour

2 tablespoons of fine white sugar

Pinch of salt

5 oz (142g) of chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Approx 3 tablespoons of iced water

1 large egg yolk

1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

For the glaze:

2 tablespoons of good apricot jam

2 tablespoons of water

1 teaspoon of lemon juice

Action:

Make the pastry first. Whizz the sugar and flour in a food processor then add the egg yolk, 2-3 tablespoons of iced water and the vanilla. Pulse until it forms a clump, adding tiny amounts more water if you think it needs it. Scoop the pastry out, form it into a ball then flatten it into a disc. Wrap it in cling film and chill in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hrs or overnight. You can also freeze it at this point.

For the filling, combine the apple puree, butter and orange zest in a heavy pan and cook gently together until slightly thickened, stirring all the time. Set it aside to cool.

When you’re ready to assemble the tart(s), roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and drape it over the fluted pan, pressing it gently into place. Trim off the excess, using it to fill in any uneven parts, pushing into place with your fingers.

Return the tart to the fridge for another 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 400F (200C).

Fill the tart with the cooled apple. Thinly slice the unpeeled apples and arrange the slices on the surface of the tart. Bake for 25 minutes or until the pastry is tinged golden brown and the apples are soft.

While the tart is baking, heat the apricot jam, water and lemon juice until the jam is melted and syrupy – strain this over the cooked tart as soon as it comes out of the oven, using a pastry brush to spread the glaze evenly.

Allow the tart to cool completely before serving. If you don’t want to serve it with cream, a scoop of really good vanilla ice cream would be quite perfect in an all-American way.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Desserts | 4 Comments

Recipe – Turkey Meatloaf with Tarragon & Lemon Zest

An incredibly simple recipe for ground turkey (or chicken), this meatloaf is much lighter than the beefy version.

Fragrant with tarragon and lemon zest, it’s delicious whether eaten hot or cold making it great picnic fodder, which may seem a bit optimistic for late April  – but as today is warm and sunny, eating outdoors seems to be just around the corner.

I like to serve turkey meatloaf with boiled baby new potatoes and a green salad.

Turkey Meatloaf

TURKEY MEATLOAF WITH TARRAGON & LEMON ZEST

(Serves 6)

Ingredients:

1.5lbs (750g) of ground turkey

1 shallot, minced

1 clove of garlic, crushed

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 cup (250ml measure) of dried breadcrumbs

1/4 cup (50ml measure) of Dijon mustard

2 heaped tablespoons of chopped fresh tarragon

1 tablespoon of finely grated lemon zest

1 tablespoon of tamari or soy sauce

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Red pepper strips for decoration (optional)

Action:

Preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Oil a loaf pan (8″ x 4″ / 1.5 liter).

In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together, combining well.

Arrange strips of red pepper on the base of the pan then pile the turkey mixture on top, pressing down lightly to even it out.

Bake for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and allow it to rest for 15 minutes before turning it out to slice. Otherwise you can cool it entirely in the pan if you’re serving it cold.

This will keep covered for a couple of days in the fridge or wrap it well in foil to freeze.

 

Posted in Poultry | 1 Comment