The End of Winter’s Kale

Today I harvested the end of winter’s kale from the garden…

20130508_201051I was shocked and impressed with how much I was able to collect (despite today’s rain!)….IMG_20130508_184349 (2)I turned all of the kale into pesto, plus some Kale Pesto White Bean Dip.
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Kale Pesto (adapted from Food Fanatic)

What You Need

  • 7 cups kale (stemmed, washed, and packed)
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, to taste
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese

What You Do

  1. Remove stems from kale and wash thoroughly. If you are picking the kale from your garden, beware of aphids and aphid eggs on the kale – to clean, wash with hot water!
  2. Add kale to food processor along with the garlic, walnuts and parmesan cheese.
  3. Pulse 5 or 6 times to get everything chopped up.
  4. Turn the food processor on and slowly add the oil while the processor is processing.
  5. If you added ¼ cup of oil, you will end up with thick, spreadable pesto. You can stop here or if you desire a thinner consistency to use the pesto as pasta sauce, continue adding oil (about an additional ¼ cup) until the pesto reaches the consistency you want.
  6. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 week (OR you can make the sauce in bulk and freeze it for later).

I am ready for spring and summer vegetables, what about you? 🙂

Tasty Dips

This weekend, I hosted some friends over for dinner and was excited about an idea that came up in conversation a couple weeks ago with my boyfriend: expanding dip options from hummus, eggplant, and cheese spreads. So, I tried two new ones using cannellini beans and red lentils. Both were wonderful. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to snag any photos while cooking them — so you’ll have to trust me on this one.

Kale Pesto White Bean Dip (from Annie Eats)

What You Need

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup walnuts (I didn’t have any – so I omitted them, but next time I will include them)
  • 1½ cups kale leaves, stemmed and chopped
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 cups cannellini beans, drained (2 15 oz. cans)
  • 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

What You Do

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the garlic, walnuts (if you are using) and kale.
  2. Pulse until finely chopped.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. With the processor running, add the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice in a steady stream through the feed tube until smooth.
  4. Add in the Parmesan, salt, and pepper and pulse until combined.
  5. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add in the beans, the remaining 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and the balsamic vinegar.
  6. Process the mixture until completely smooth, scraping down the bowl as needed.  If necessary, pulse in additional olive oil to achieve a smooth texture.
  7. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Transfer to a serving bowl, drizzle with olive oil, and top with a sprinkle of chopped walnuts.  Serve with pita chips, fresh veggies, etc

Curried Lentil Dip (from Frontier Natural Products Coop)

What You Need

  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled, cored, and diced apples
  • 3  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

What You Do

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the lentils and water to a boil.
  2. Lower the heat and simmer until the lentils are soft and most of the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet and sauté the onions, apples, and garlic with a dash of salt for about 5 minutes on medium heat.
  4. Add the raisins, curry powder, and the garam masala, if using, and continue to sauté for 10 minutes, until tender.
  5. In a food processor or blender, pureé the cooked lentils and sautéed onion mix with the coconut milk and lemon juice. Add the salt and adjust to taste.
  6. Serve at room temp or chilled.

I served the dips with pita chips, a veggie plate, and rice crackers. The best part — I have plenty left-over to enjoy all week.

Backyard Fall Hangout and the Onion Tart

Last week, a friend of mine visited from FL. Before her arrival, I promised her the crispness of fall and told her to pack a sweater. Of course, when she arrived — it was well over 80 degrees. After a couple hot, summer-like days, we were relieved that we got a taste of fall weather over the weekend. To celebrate the season, and her visit, I hosted friends over to my house for a fall-cookout and fire in the backyard. We had grilled summer squash and eggplant as well as roasted winter squash – a bridge between the two seasons.

I also made an onion tart – from a recipe that I’ve been eyeing for the last three weeks. It was amazing! Perfect as an appetizer or side dish for your festivities this October.

Onion Tart (from TasteFood)

What You Need
– 1 cup all-purpose flour
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut in 1/4 inch cubes
– 3 tablespoons ice water
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 2 pounds yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 2 tablespoons port wine (I used the red wine open and leftover from earlier in the week)
– 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
– 2 ounces finely grated Gruyère cheese (I used parm, but I think other cheeses would work here- I’m thinking of trying goat cheese next time)
– 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, plus extra for garnish
– 1 egg, slightly beaten

What You Do
1. In a food processor, combine flour, salt, butter, and water. (Note: you can also do this with a folk)
2. Pulse until it resembles coarse meal, with some pieces of the butter apparent, adding another tablespoon of water if necessary.
3. Form into a ball and flatten.
4. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour.
5. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a deep skillet or pot.
6. Add onions and salt. Cook onions, stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown, soft and squidgy, about 30 minutes.
7. Add port wine and cook, stirring, 2 minutes.
8. Remove onions from heat and stir in the pepper. Cool slightly.
9. While the onions are cooling, roll out the dough to fit in the bottom and up the side of a 10-inch round tart tin.
10. Sprinkle half of the cheese over the bottom of the tart.
11. Spoon onions into the shell and spread evenly.
12. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon thyme over the onions.
13. Brush the exposed crust rim with the egg wash.
14. Sprinkle the tart and crust with the remaining cheese.
15. Bake in a preheated 375 F. oven until the crust is firm and golden and the onions have turned a rich golden brown, without blackening, about 30 minutes.
16. Remove and cool slightly. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature garnished with thyme sprigs.

Here is the tart before it went into the oven!

We ate it so quickly there are no “after” shots.

Peanut Noodles

Warm peanut noodles! It is one of my favorite appetizers at a Chinese restaurant I go to with my family up in New Jersey. I’ve tried to make it at home before and it was terrible. My roommate made a great one and told me the secret: adding in hot water to get the sauce just right! I’ve finally made it myself based on Bittman’s recipe.

Peanut Noodles (adapted from Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian)

What You Need
– 12 ounces long Asian noodles (I used pad Thai noodles) or fresh Chinese egg noodles
– 2 tablespoons sesame oil
– 1/2 cup peanut butter
– 2 tablespoons sugar
– 3 tablespoons soy sauce, or to taste
– 1 teaspoon minced ginger, optional
– 1 tablespoon rice or wine vinegar
– Hot sesame oil or Tabasco sauce to taste
– 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more
– 1/2 cup hot water
– At least 1/2 cup minced scallions for garnish

What You Do
1. Depending on the noodles you are using, follow the directions on the package. But, usually: soak for 30 minutes.
2. Drain noodles.
3. Add boiling water and let soak for 5 minutes.
4. While noodles are cooking, whisk together sesame oil and paste, sugar, soy, ginger, vinegar, hot oil and pepper in a large bowl.
5. Thin sauce with hot water, so that it is about the consistency of heavy cream; you will need 1/4 to 1/2 cup.
6. When noodles are done, drain.
7. Toss noodles and sauce (there are other things you can add here like chicken, tofu, or cucumbers- be creative).
8. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary (the dish may need salt), then garnish and serve.

This dish is good cold, warm, or even hot!

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

For my roommate’s birthday yesterday, we had a wonderful potluck/cookout. I was excited to make spinach and artichoke dip. I found the best recipe in my 2010 Food and Wine Cookbook. I’m thinking of making this as an appetizer for Thanksgiving. It is very easy to make but more sophisticated and yummy than other spinach dips I’ve tried making. Enjoy!

Spinach and Artichoke Dip (from Food and Wine)

What You Need
– 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
– 1 small onion, finely chopped
– 3 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
– 16 ounces marinated artichokes, drained and coarsely chopped (I used a bit less, just one 14 ounce can, but next time I’d try for a little bit more)
– 1/4 cup dry white wine
– Two 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
– 12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
– 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
– 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
– Tabasco

What You Do
1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering.
2. Add the chopped onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes.
3. Add the artichokes and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned in spots, about 5 minutes.
4. Add the white wine and cook until nearly evaporated.
5. Add the spinach and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
6. Add the cream cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano and lemon zest and season with Tabasco.
7. Cook, stirring, until the dip is creamy, about 2 minutes.
8. Transfer to a bowl and serve warm (the recipe says you can serve it at room temp but it is much better warm!)

I served the dip with crackers, chips, and bread. The recipe calls for spiced pita chips that would be delicious as well. The dip is great, so it doesn’t matter what you serve it with really.

I hope you are all starting to think about your Thanksgiving menu and turkeys. I am going to be going to a pre-Thanksgiving party the Sunday before Thanksgiving and have been challenged to find a local MD turkey farm that will allow me to pick up our turkey on the Sat. before Thanksgiving. At the Farmer’s Market in Greenbelt, I found it: Ferguson Family Farm. I’m looking forward to working out the logistics for an early pick up of our truly farm fresh turkey.

I love this season!

The best thing to do with tomatoes

Also while visiting NJ, my sister and I prepared my favorite appetizer for my mother while she was at work. This is an amazing recipe from Food and Wine and I was shocked that it was not on my blog available for you to try. I love this! I could eat the whole thing myself. It takes patience to wait for the bruschetta but it is worth it. Try to get the two varieties of honey, but it is not a deal breaker if you can’t. I’ve made the recipe many times with only clover honey.

Honey-Tomato Bruschetta with Ricotta (from Food and Wine)

What You Need

– 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
– 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
– 2 tablespoons clover honey
– 2 teaspoons thyme leaves
– 1 teaspoon kosher salt
– 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
– 12 baguette slices, cut 1/2 inch thick on the bias
– 1 cup fresh ricotta (8 ounces) (see my post on how to make it)
– 1 tablespoon buckwheat or chestnut honey (unfortunately, I only had clover so I just used 3 tablespoons clover honey)
– 6 basil leaves, thinly sliced or torn

What You Do

1. Preheat the oven to 300°.
2. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. In a large bowl, toss the tomatoes with the olive oil, honey, thyme leaves, salt and pepper.
4. Scrape the tomatoes onto the prepared baking sheet and turn them cut side up.
5. Bake the tomatoes for about 1 hour and 25 minutes, until they begin to shrivel and brown. Let cool.
6. Preheat the broiler.
7. Spread out the baguette slices on a baking sheet.
8. Broil for about 30 seconds on each side, until the edges are golden brown.
4. Spread the ricotta over the baguette slices and top with the slow-roasted tomatoes.
5. Lightly drizzle the tomatoes with the buckwheat honey, sprinkle with the sliced basil and serve with additional buckwheat honey on the side.

This is a great dish to share with family and friends while tomatoes are at the peak!

Homemade Gefilte Fish

Passover has been wonderful so far. The greatest accomplishment of the Seder was the homemade gefilte fish. My mother and I had a lot of fun preparing this recipe. We also learned a lot in the process. We were worried if the fish would smell bad (it did not), if we would have to deal with fish heads (we did!), and how difficult the process would be. It took under 45 minutes of active preparation. Mothers, aunts, and grandmothers preparing gifiltefish for days is part of Jewish legends. I’ve heard stories about ladies who kept the fish in the bathtub to make sure that it was fresh! With the help of a fish counter and food processor, ours did not take the same amount of time– but it was fantastic. Try it yourself and serve with horseradish. Don’t be scared, it was fun. I will definitely be doing it again next year.

Sweet Style Gefilte Fish (Polish Style) (Adapted from Kosher Express)

What You Need (Broth and Gefilte Fish)

– Fish Bones from fish store
– 3 Carrots
– 2 celery ribs
– 3 small onions
– 3 teaspoons salt
– 1/3 cup sugar
– 1 pound carp, ground
– 1/2 pound whitefish, ground
– 1/2 pound pike, ground
– 2 eggs
– l medium minced onion
– l large minced carrot
– l stalk minced celery
– 1/3 cup matzo meal, about
– 2 1/2 tsp. salt
– 3/4 tsp. black pepper
– 3/4 cup sugar (I didn’t use this much this time, but next time I will)
What You Do
1. Start with making the fish stock by covering the fish bones, carrots, celery, and onions with water.
2. Add about 1/3 cup sugar and 3 teaspoons salt into the water.
3. Bring to a boil and then simmer while you prepare the remainder of the gefilte fish.
4. Ground the fish if it is not ground. The fish counter prepared the fish (we actually had a pound of each fish) but they would not grind it for us. Also, I had to take off some of the remaining skin. I then cut the fish up and used the food processor to grind the fish. Recipes call for adding water during this process to make sure that the fish remains the right consistency- I didn’t need to.

5. Mince the carrots, onion, and celery.

6. Mix together the ground fish and vegetables.
7. Add the eggs, matzoh meal, salt, pepper, sugar (don’t be scared, use it all!).
8. Chill, for easier handling, then shape into balls, using wet hands (re-dip as necessary) to form balls.
9. Add fish balls to the fish stock (with all the goods in the stock– including the fish bones and heads!) and simmer covered for 2 hours.

10. Chill well.

11. Enjoy with boiled carrots and horseradish.
This is me looking “smug” (as my mother said) with a great sense of accomplishment– homemade gefilte fish!

Spanakopita

A friend of mine had a pot luck dinner party last night. I was excited to think of starters to bring and had an interest in figuring out how to use filo dough. So, I came up with the decision to attempt spanakopita. It was a fabulous success. Most of the mini pies (with the exception of two) were gone by the time I left the party. One of the guests even had four of them! Also, it wasn’t as hard to do as I had expected. I’m sad I don’t have any pictures to share, below is a photo from google (I swear mine looked just like these). I really need to get a new camera.

Here is what I did:

Spanakopita (from the Food Network)
What You Need
-1/3 cup olive oil
-2 pounds spinach, washed and drained
-1 bunch scallions, white and green parts, chopped
-1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
-Salt and freshly ground black pepper
-1/2 pound feta cheese, crumbled
-2 eggs, lightly beaten
-1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
-1 pound filo pastry sheets
What You Do
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large saute pan, add half of the spinach and saute until spinach wilts, tossing with tongs, about 2 minutes.
2. Remove spinach and squeeze out excess liquid, then chop roughly.
3. Repeat with remaining spinach, using 1 more tablespoon of olive oil. (My pan wasn’t big enough to do it in two batches, I needed to do four.)
4. Pour off any liquid from the pan, and add remaining olive oil.
5. Add scallions and saute until soft, about 2 to 3 minutes.
6. Add the spinach to the scallions, along with the parsley, salt and pepper.
7. Cook over low heat for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove from heat to cool. (This part can be done ahead and kept refrigerated).
8. Stir the feta and as much beaten egg to moisten the cooled spinach mixture.
9. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
10. Brush a baking sheet with some of the melted butter.
11. Unroll the filo dough on a flat surface.
12. Using a sharp knife, cut the filo into 3 by 11 inch strips.
13. Use a pastry brush to brush a strip of filo with melted butter.
14. Place a small spoonful of spinach filling 1 inch from the end of the pastry.
15. Fold the end over the filling to form a triangle, then continue to fold up the strip in triangles, like folding up a flag.
16. Continue with remaining strips of dough, placing filled triangles on the baking sheet. (The recipe instructs you to keep all items with filo covered with a towel to avoid becoming brittle, I didn’t do this and it turned out fine).
17. Brush the triangles lightly with butter, then bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden and crisp.
18. Serve hot.