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? 🙂

Balsamic Roasted Baby Roots

This recipe from Sprouted Kitchen was a huge hit at holiday parties last year and now that fresh carrots are on our minds again, I thought I’d share and recommend. WebMD also recommends this recipe as a lower cholesterol and lower calorie food and recipe.


1 lb. Assorted Small Carrots
1 lb. Assorted Small Beets
2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar, divided
1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
1/2 tsp. Black Pepper

1 Bunch Fresh Spinach Leaves
1 Large Clove Garlic, minced
2 tsp. Unsalted Butter
1/2 Cup Light Whipping Cream or Whole Milk
1/3 Cup Finely Grated Parmesan Cheese
Squeeze of Fresh Meyer Lemon Juice
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425′ and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

Toss the clean and dry root veggies in 2 Tbsp of olive oil and salt and pepper to coat. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp of the balsamic vinegar in and toss again. Place coated root veggies on the baking sheet and roast on the middle rack for 30-45 minutes, depending on size. You want to be able to pierce a butter knife through the largest vegetable on the tray.

Once the vegetables are roasting, steam the spinach for just a minute or two to cook down. Remove from heat to cool, squeeze out any remaining water and chop well.

In a medium saute pan over medium-low heat, drizzle olive oil over the minced garlic and cook for about a minute. Add the butter if desired (I did not and sauce turned out fantastic). Add chopped spinach and cream and stir to coat. Cook until the spinach absorbs most of the cream. Stir in the Parmesan and a few pinches of salt and pepper. Allow the creamy spinach goodness to cool a bit then transfer to a mini or immersion blender. Give it a few pulses to break it down then add it back to the pan and thin with milk/cream if you wish. Squeeze in a bit of fresh lemon juice to taste. Turn off the heat and cover to keep warm.

When the vegetables are ready, remove to cool slightly and drizzle on the remaining balsamic.

When in St. Louis, Eat Ethiopian Food? Part 2

One of my favorite Ethiopian restaurants is Shagga in Hyattsville, MD. But, now that I know how easy it is to create these dishes myself, I think I might be able to satisfy the craving for these wonderful spices and flavors at home. Here is the run-down on what we prepared and the details about how to do it yourself.

Sautéed Cabbage and Carrots with Turmeric (from Food and Wine Magazine)

What You Need

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium red onions, finely chopped (2 cups)
  • Salt
  • 10 garlic cloves, minced
  • One 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 tablespoons ground turmeric
  • 1 pound carrots, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
  • 5 pounds green cabbage, cored and cut into 3/4-inch pieces

What You Do

  1. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil.
  2. Add the onions and a generous pinch of salt and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, ginger and turmeric and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are fragrant and just starting to brown, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the carrots to the casserole along with 1/2 cup of water and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the carrots are just starting to soften, 7 minutes.
  5. Stir in the cabbage in large handfuls, letting each batch wilt slightly before adding more.
  6. When all of the cabbage has been added, cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is tender, 40 to 45 minutes.
  7. Season with salt and serve.

Spiced Red Lentils (from Food and Wine Magazine)

What You Need

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium red onions, finely chopped (2 cups)
  • 10 garlic cloves, minced
  • One 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 3 tablespoons berbere, plus more for sprinkling (See previous post)
  • 2 teaspoons nigella seeds, finely ground
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 3 cups red lentils (1 1/4 pounds)
  • 1 cup butternut squash puree (we had it leftover-and I thought it might add some nice flavor)

What You Do

  1. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil.
  2. Add the onions and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until they are softened and just starting to brown, about 8 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, ginger, berbere, nigella seeds, cardamom and a generous pinch each of salt and black pepper and cook until fragrant and deeply colored, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the red lentils with 8 cups of water to the casserole and bring to a boil.
  5. Cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the lentils have cooked downand thickened, 25 minutes.
  6. Stir in butternut squash puree.
  7. Season the lentils with salt and pepper.
  8. Ladle the lentils into bowls, sprinkle with berbere and serve.

Timatim Salad (from the Berbere Diaries)

What You Need

  • 1/4 c. canola oil
  • 3 tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. berbere (see previous post)
  • 3-4 large tomatoes
  • 1/2- 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1-2 jalapeño peppers, chopped and if desired, de-seeded for less heat
  • 2 pieces Injera, torn into bite-size pieces

What You Do

  1. Combine the ingredients for the dressing and pour over the chopped vegetables and Injera
  2. Serve chilled.

And for next time, I will try my own Injera. I am so happy to now know the secret of this amazing bread- cooked like a pancake! Teff flour is an ancient grain that is gluten-free and provides calcium, iron and protein. So, now I don’t have to feel so guilty when I fill up on it during the meal.

Injera (from Food and Wine Magazine)

What You Need

  • 4 cups teff flour (about 5 ounces)
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

What You Do

  1. In a large bowl, whisk the teff flour with the water until a smooth batter forms.
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature overnight; the batter will be slightly foamy.
  3. Heat a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat.
  4. Whisk the salt into the batter.
  5. Ladle 3/4 cup of the batter into the skillet; swirl to coat the bottom with batter.
  6. Cook over moderately high heat until the injera just starts to bubble, about 30 seconds.
  7. Cover the skillet and cook for about 30 seconds longer, until the injera is cooked through and the surface is slightly glossy.
  8. Invert the skillet onto a work surface, letting the injera fall from the pan.
  9. Repeat with the remaining batter.

This meal will feed an army! We had so much leftover. If you are just feeding four, I suggest cutting all the recipes in half (excluding the Injera!). Or, if you are like me – enjoy the leftovers for lunch and dinner for days.

When in St. Louis, Eat Ethiopian Food? Part 1

My sister and I love Ethiopian food. So, when my sister moved to St. Louis, we worried she’d have to go without the delightful dishes until her visits with me in D.C. This weekend, as Frankenstorm Sandy neared the East Coast, I left to visit my sister in her new city, hang with her new politically active puppy, Aidan (shown below), and check out the food-scene in St. Louis.

Before boarding my flight, I picked up a copy of this month’s Food and Wine Magazine. While the front featured the expected Thanksgiving ideas, I found the most amazing surprise: A Lesson in Ethiopian Flavors. The feature included not only some of our favorite vegetarian dishes, but also the characteristic Ethiopian Injera Bread. Amazing!

We were able to successfully make a number of great dishes including sauteed cabbage and carrots, spiced red lentils, and timatim salad. We also prepared some sweet collard greens with balsamic, maple syrup, and dates (not Ethiopian flavors, but very yummy). Unfortunately, when we went to the market, we picked up teff grain instead of teff flour and could not prepare the Injera. So, instead, we resolved to try Injera another day and purchased it from my sister’s nearby Ethiopian restaurants (yes, they are there in St. Louis!).

The first step was to buy the ingredients and prepare berbere, a spice commonly used in Ethiopian dishes. While we didn’t find the spice mixture in the store, we found some great recipes and instructions online.

Berbere (from

What You Need

  • 1 tsp of fenugreek seeds
  • 6 dried chilies (I only used 3, because I can’t handle the heat)
  • ½ cup paprika
  • 2 tsp ground ginger (I used fresh)
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 and ½  tbsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp of ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground cumin

What You Do

  1. Combine all ingredients together in a blender.
  2. Mix!!
  3. Store in a jar in the fridge, the recipe makes approximately one cup.

Stay tuned for more recipes from the wonderful evening, as I continue my extended trip here in St. Louis. All flights have been canceled back to BWI, so I will be here through Thursday at the earliest.

Stay safe, dry and warm to all those effected by Sandy.

Purple Potatoes

While we were digging these puppies out of the ground at Willowsford Farm, I knew they would lead to a delicious adventure in the kitchen and spur a little research on origins and nutrition. Here goes!

The All Blue planted, nurtured, harvested and pictured here is one of several heirloom varieties known for their earthy, starchy, nuttiness and antioxidant/flavonoid-rich, nutritional properties.  A staple in South American kitchens, the purple potato has Peruvian origins and is now cultivated throughout North and South America and Europe.

Like other potatoes, they are great roasted, braised, baked, boiled or made into chips and a great veggie for those savory herbs. I chose to roast them with hand-pressed olive oil, fresh rosemary and a culinary lavender and sea salt mix from Lavender Fields in Milton, Delaware.

After slicing the already-fairly-small potatoes into half inch wedges, I tossed them with the oil and spices and popped them into a 375 degree over for about 45 minutes, flipping them a few times along the way. As is common when cooking with fresh, raw materials, I made more than enough to set a few servings aside to be re-heated on a skillet for another breakfast or dinner. Lots of websites and chefs suggest pairing them with pork, poultry, salad greens and cheeses.

A little more about their nutritional value:

  • Contain B-Complex vitamins, particularly B-6
  • Contain minerals: magnesium, potassium, niacin, iron
  • Contain folic acid and pantothenic acid
  • They are anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial and contain the flavonoid: anthocyanin
For more history and recipe ideas, check out the Purple Potato Page on They’ve got links to recipes far fancier than mine!

Oven-Roasted Spiced Beets

With guidance and inspiration from Chef Mike Isabella‘s new cookbook, Crazy Good Italian: Big Flavors, Small Plates, and freshly harvested beets from the farm, I was able to bring fall into the kitchen in a new way: with dry sauteed spices and herbs and oven-roasted root veggies.

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Remove the greens and scrub clean approximately two pounds of beets. I used golden beets but any variety will do.
  3. In a dry saute pan, toast two flaked cinnamon sticks, two tablespoons of coriander and two tablespoons of peppercorns over medium heat for five minutes. Shake the pan frequently so spices toast rather than burn.
  4. Once toasty, move them onto a 9″ x 13″ baking sheet. Chop up and apple and several slices of ginger root and place them on the baking sheet.
  5. Toss the beets in two tablespoons of olive oil and two teaspoons of salt (and a little lavender if you love it as much as I do) and then add them to the baking sheet. Squeeze half of a lemon over everything, toss the rind on the pan too, and cover it all tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for 50-60 minutes (depending on the size of your beets).
  6. After roasting, remove aluminum foil to allow beets to cool before sliding the skin off with a paper towel. Slice the beets, toss with some of the leftover spices and roasted apples, and allow them to cool to room temperature and soak up more flavors.

The dish is a great hearty side item or topping on an arugula salad.  Be sure and take the bulk of the cinnamon sticks and all lemon rind and ginger root remains out of the mix before serving.

BONUS: I put some turnips on the pan with them (and the same preparations) and they were fantastic. They came out with the freshness of bok choy – that made them a great pair with salmon and braising greens – as well as hints of those spicy fall flavors. They only needed 50 minutes of roasting.

Time for Fall Squash: Delicata

Baked/Roasted Delicata Squash

‘Tis the season for hearty veggies! For the past few weeks, we’ve been harvesting and curing acorn, butternut and delicata squash. Carrying heavy baskets and bins of them (and their neighboring pumpkins and sweet potatoes) is a little tougher than say… lettuce… but oh-so-worth-it on a lazy Sunday in the kitchen. The delicata especially.

In an effort to find an interesting recipe to suggest to CSA members and folks at the farmers market, I Googled delicata and found out that there is another way to cook it than the butter boat method I use with butternuts: Roast them up like sweet potato fries!

While preheating the oven to 405-425 degrees (depending on the level of crisp you desire), chop off the ends of the squash and cut it in half vertically. Clean out the seeds and gunk with a spoon, then chop those halves up into half-inch thick smiley-face pieces. Toss them by hand in a bowl with olive oil and a little salt then place them on baking sheets in a single layer. They need 15-20 minutes in there and a flip midway. If you’d like more detailed instructions, find them in this great post, “Better Than Butternut,” on Summer Tomato.

This is some seriously awesome squash! I highly recommend looking for it at a farmers market near you!

Sweet Potato Fries

#39: Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.

One of my favorite Food Rules in Michael Pollan’s compilation.

A few years ago, we explored this rule with a pizza-making party and reported the details in Apples to Apples, Pizza to Pollan. Now, we are taking the rule to a new level:

Eat all the sweet potato fries you want as long as you grow the sweet potato yourself. 

The recipe is simple:

Harvest a few sweet potatoes.Wash them. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Slice and chop the potato into fairly equal fry-like pieces. Toss them in a bowl with the following mixture:

1/4 cup of olive oil + 1 tablespoon of sugar + 1 tablespoon of salt + 1 teaspoon of paprika (or chipotle powder or any spice you like)

Then lay them out on a baking sheet with some space in between piece to ensure they get crispy rather than soggy. Bake ’em for 15 minutes, flip ’em, and then bake ’em for another 15 and viola! Deliciousness.

The only question that remains is: How many sweet potato fries do you think could be made from the 12 inch, 7-pounder my parents just harvested?!


Nearly all my ingredients came from Willowsford Farm

Mid-summer, I often find myself surrounded by fresh veggies but tired of the same old salads, tossing them on the grill, steaming them on the stove or chowing down on them raw.

Lucky for me, Culinary Director at Willowsford, Bonnie Moore, put a perfectly punchy and easy-to-make recipe for Gazpacho in the weekly newsletter: FARMFARE.

The cold summer soup requires no more equipment than knife, a blender. a strainer if you so desire, some refrigeration and the following ingredients:

5 large, ripe tomatoes, halved and cored
2 large cloves of garlic
1 medium-large cucumber, peeled and roughly cut into pieces
1 green pepper, seeded and roughly cut into peices
3 stalks of celery, roughly cut into pieces
1 medium sweet onion, peeled, roughly cut into pieces
4-5 tablespoons of sherry vinegar
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
2-3 tablespoons of breadcrumbs

You begin by squeezing some juice from your tomatoes into the blender so that you have some juice to move things around once all the veggies are in there. The you puree it, strain it if you’d like, and add the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and breadcrumbs to the consistency you like. Toss it in the fridge fora  few hours (or overnight) and voila! The same health benefits of fresh, raw veggies but with a a fresh new flavor.

Recipe by the amazing Culinary Director at Willowsford, Bonnie Moore

Apart from the chilling, the whole process takes less than 15 minutes. Here is a review from my taste-tester/other-half Niko Dramby (who leans to the meatatarian side of the omnivores and did not allow the soup to chill overnight before sampling):


“Sweet, sour AND spicy. Three distinct experiences in one bite. I can see how this is a vegetarian’s delight. I think I’d like to add shrimp to it.”