Tag: Kale

Kale Stem Pesto

Kale Stem Pesto // Serious Crust by Annie FasslerKale Stem Pesto // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

I often find myself frustrated with how much stuff I put in my compost. I guess I should stop right there and say, at least I have a compost, right? The beautiful city of Portland has roadside pickup every week, making it so wonderfully easy to make more environmentally conscious choices. There aren’t a lot of cities that do that. Anyway, I know I could save some bones and carrot tops and onion tops and parsley stems for stock… But I just don’t do it. I mean, I do sometimes… But not as often as I should. And there’s one thing lately that I have always felt guilty after putting it in the compost: kale stems. Jonah and I eat a fair amount of kale – usually sautéed with butter and garlic or something like that, sometimes in a salad. But I always am frustrated at the toughness of the stems, and wish I could do more with them.

After a little research and looking around, I mostly found that people who do use their kale stems either sauté them with their kale, simply adding the stems first so they cook for longer, or put them in smoothies. I wasn’t really into either of these options, so I made myself a third one. With the all-in pesto in mind, and a container of pine nuts whining from my pantry, I got to work making some kale stem pesto. I wasn’t planning on sharing this pesto here, since the recipe is really improvised, but I got so many comments and questions about what it was when I posted pictures on my Instagram and Facebook, that I thought, why not? This pesto is certainly a product of whatever you’ve got around, which is generally my theory about pesto. Herbs are good, parmesan is good, and other than that, you can kind of go crazy. Nearly any kind of nut will work, any greens, and you can really play until you find some flavors that you like. I didn’t do any measuring here – mostly just throwing in handfuls of this or that – but below is an approximation of what I used.

The beautiful thing about pesto is that it can be a complete reflection of your kitchen: if you just went to the market and have some radish greens, use them. If you don’t have any pine nuts but plenty of pistachios or walnuts, use them. If it’s raining and you want something heartier, add more cheese.

We tossed our kale stem pesto with fresh spaghetti (you can find a recipe here) and topped it with sliced grape tomatoes, which added a really nice juicy brightness. I also like to make a thick piece of toast and slather it with fresh pesto.

Kale Stem Pesto

Ingredients

1 bunch of kale stems, plus probably the equivalent of 1 leaf of kale
1 cup spinach
1/4 cup parsley
~ 3/4 cup pine nuts
Parmesan cheese
Garlic
Olive oil
Salt

Instructions

Fill a small pot halfway with water, salt well, and bring to a boil. Roughly chop kale stems into about 1/2 – 1 inch pieces. Add to boiling water, and cook until stems are easily pierced with a knife. Drain and cool.

In the bowl of a food processor (or blender), combine kale stems, a few small chunks of parmesan, about half the pine nuts, 2 cloves of peeled garlic, and a few glugs of olive oil. Pulse to combine. Add spinach, some parsley, and a hefty sprinkling of salt. The key here is to taste and add. If you want a little more spice, add another clove or two of garlic. If you want it creamier, more nuts, and olive oil. If you want it greener, add more spinach and parsley, or some fresh basil or chard if you’ve got some around.

Miso Creamed Kale

Miso Creamed Kale from Wafu // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

I’ve posted about this miso creamed kale before, in a Weekend Finds post back in October. This recipe was recommended to me by a foodie friend, whose tastebuds I respect. So I was excited when I finally got around to making it. Easy, super flavorful, and wintry (most creamed veggie dishes are, in my opinion).

Miso Creamed Kale

Ingredients

3 Tbl unsalted butter (divided)
1 large shallot
2 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper
1 bunch lacinato kale, stems removed, roughly chopped
1/2 cup shimeji mushrooms with stems or shiitake mushroom tops, sliced into strips
1 Tbl soy sauce
1/4 cup dry vermouth
1/2 cup heavy cream or half & half
1/4 cup white miso paste

Instructions

In a large pan or skillet, melt 2 Tbl of butter over medium heat. Thinly slice the shallot and garlic, and add them to the pan, along with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Turn heat to low, and let the garlic and shallot cook for a few minutes until they’ve got a bit of color. Add the kale, and cook until it’s wilted.

While you’re cooking the kale, in another pan, melt the remaining 1 Tbl of butter over medium high heat. Toss in the mushrooms (whichever kind you’re using), and cook until… well until they’re cooked through and soft. Add the soy sauce to the mushrooms, cook for another minute, and remove from heat.

Increase the heat under the kale to medium high, and add the vermouth. Cook until it is just evaporated, then add the cream/half & half and the miso. You’ll have to do a fair amount of stirring to break up the miso and make sure everything is evenly distributed and combined. Turn your heat down to medium and cook for a couple more minutes, until the sauce is slightly reduced and thickens up a little bit. Top with mushrooms, and serve.

Botched: a meal gone awry

Botched: a meal gone awry // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Well, it wasn’t so bad really. But it was definitely a meal gone awry. Let’s start at the beginning.

Jonah spent Christmas in Minnesota with his family, and I spent it in Seattle with mine. Yet another extended period of not seeing each other (I can’t tell if it gets easier or harder every time…). So when I got back on Saturday, and I told Jonah that I needed to do some blogging but didn’t really have any material at this moment, we decided that, on Sunday, we’d make a big blog worthy meal together. We pulled out cookbooks, and decided on some drunken pork from the Toro Bravo book (the recipe called for juniper berries, which I had received for Christmas), and a kale and white bean crostini from another book we have called Street Food. We went shopping Sunday morning, did a bunch of prep work, and then headed off to the gym.

Fast forward a few hours, we’ve started the cooking. Pork tenderloin has been marinated, wrapped in bacon, skewered, and is ready to grill. Crostini with anchovy butter are in the oven. And then, things start to go awry. We had decided to double the bean recipe from Street Food (one of the three elements of the kale crostini) so that we had beans for both the crostini and to eat with the pork, and possibly even some leftovers. The single recipe, which called for one 14 oz can of white beans, said to cook the onion and jalapeño in a pot, then add the beans, then add 2 cups of water. 2 cups. Let simmer for 10 minutes or so, and then blend with an immersion blender. We were doubling it. Before I added the water, I looked at the pot, looked at 2 cups, and thought, hmm… this seems like a lot of water. And that was only half of what I was supposed to add! I asked Jonah if I should really add so much, and we decided to follow the recipe.

Botched: a meal gone awry // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Botched: a meal gone awry // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

At this point, Jonah goes out to the back deck to grill the pork. And then the grill runs out of gas. I’m sure there were more tanks in the garage, but we were about to be ready for dinner, so we didn’t really want to deal with setting it all up and then having the food be cold. So Jonah came inside and started cooking them on the stove, which was fine, except for the fact that they were skewered, and so the bacon wasn’t getting as cooked all the way around the pork.

Back to the beans. After over 20 minutes of simmering, there was still a crazy amount of water. But we blended it up anyway, and, of course, it ended up being more like bean soup. Shit. At this point we’ve got undercooked bacon, bean soup, and no beans for the crostini or the pork.

After all that effort and work and prep and being prepared! I felt so defeated. I didn’t even want to eat anything. After a few bites (and a few sips of wine), we finally started to laugh at all of it. The pork was perfectly cooked and really good, but the bacon thing was so disappointing – you really wanted the crispiness in there. I think next time I’d try it with something even thinner – maybe a prosciutto or pancetta? As for the beans, here’s what I learned: I need to listen to my instincts. Just because a recipe says to do something doesn’t mean it’s right. I’ve been cooking long enough to know my way around the kitchen, and when something sticks out as not making sense, I should have just adjusted. I felt disappointed in myself for that.

This post seemed appropriate as my first one in the new year. Lessons learned in the kitchen. Listen to your gut. Don’t let your expectations get out of control. Roll with the punches. We’re going to make that bean soup into something stellar. Add a cheese rind and some kale, ribollita style. Always recovering.

(Photos in the post are of the meal before I gave up on it becoming a post.)

Weekend Finds 10:5:13

I’m writing this weekend finds post from my mother’s living room in Seattle, where she has been surprised for her birthday by myself, Jonah, and my older sister (yesterday at about 5) and then again by her mother, sister, brother-in-law, brother, and sister-in-law. I love seeing the absolute joy on her face when she is surrounded by her family. Her boyfriend really pulled off an incredible surprise. How fun.

Now let’s get to the finds!

1. Pok Pok Wings

Weekend Finds // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Pok Pok’s Famous wings with Uncle Ike

The time has come. The recipe for the chicken wings that launched a thousand ships has finally been released, as part of the publicity for Pok Pok’s new cookbook. It certainly seems like a bit of work, but man oh man, if they taste anything like the original, it’s so worth it. And hey, I’m lucky enough to live in Portland, so if it’s too hard, I’ll just drive across town and pay to have someone else make them for me.

2. It’s Pumpkin Time

Weekend Finds // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Curried Coconut Pumpkin Soup

It’s officially October, which means we can officially start obsessing over everything pumpkin. While some people love their pumpkin spice lattes, I am a bigger fan of pumpkin bread, pumpkin soup, and maybe if I get really ambitious, this pumpkin cheesecake.

3. Holiday cocktails

Weekend Finds // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Pisco Apple Sour

Maybe you’re a member of one of those families that all gets together and doesn’t drink at all. I am not a member of one of those families. My family likes their wine. And their cocktails. And occasionally their beer, too. And the holiday themed cocktails are starting to appear. This pisco apple sour and this apple pie cocktail with cinnamon meringue look like a perfect place to start.

4. How to Fry an Egg

Weekend Finds // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
How to fry an egg!

No, it’s not the title of a chapter from How to Cook a Wolf or An Everlasting Meal. This egg frying tip is seriously about to change lives. When you crack your egg into your pan, add a bit of water and a lid – the water will steam the top of the white that’s over the yolk that never gets cooked otherwise. It’s a perfect solution to a serious problem.

5. Miso-creamed Kale

Weekend Finds // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Miso Creamed Kale

A friend of mine recommended this miso-creamed kale recipe from the now shuttered Wafu, a ramen restaurant in Portland. While I wasn’t crazy about their ramen, I was crazy about their small plates. This dish looks delicious and fairly easy to make.