Sunday, April 15, 2012

Braised Kale & broccolini Salad

One more new (at least to me) recipe for the record from tonight's dinner:

Braised Kale and Broccolini Salad Recipe

1 bunch of Kale or Mustard Greens - trimmed and cut into one inch pieces (and all yellow/brown parts trimmed off, as is inevitable when cooking with week old veggies as I did tonight)
1 bunch of Broccolini (or Broccoli Rabe) - trimmed and cut into one inch pieces
Chicken/Veggie Broth
White Wine
Olive Oil
8 cloves of whole garlic
crushed red pepper flakes (or black pepper if you are scared of the red stuff, you know who you are)
salt to taste
Simple lemon salad dressing (recipe below) AKA our house dressing (or lemon juice if you are in a super hurry or just don't feel like it)

Add 4 garlic cloves to a large skillet with high sides along with the olive oil and heat to medium high until garlic cloves are very a slightly golden. Do not allow to burn.
Add half of the chopped greens, and when they cook down (30-45 seconds) add the remainder of the greens and the 4 remaining garlic cloves.
As the greens continue to cook, add salt to taste and pepper flakes, along with a good glug of white wine and chicken/veggie broth.
Bring to low boil, cover, and allow to simmer for about 10-15 minutes on very low heat.
After 10 minutes, check to see how your greens are coming along and if needed, add a tiny bit more chicken/veggie stock and wine. Taste to make sure salt and pepper is to your liking and cook about 5-6 more minutes, covered and on low heat.
After the veggies have reached your desired level of al-dente, add lemon juice or lemon dressing,
and serve immediately.

Lemon Dressing AKA our house dressing
Squeeze a meyer lemon or two (or a lemon + an orange/tangerine) into a small glass jar with lid, and add a pinch of salt, a pinch of cayenne and sugar or splenda to taste. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.
Add EVOO to above, making sure that the amount of oil is no more than a quarter to a third of the quantity of juice - reversing the traditional salad dressing ratio is key to this dressing.
Cover jar, make sure it is tightly closed and shake. Taste and readjust seasonings and Voila - now you have your very own preservative-free, low labor salad dressing that works well on all salads plus braised veggies like the one above.

Channeling Sandra Lee, and going one better?

We were getting hungry for dinner, and I hadn't made it to the Farmers Market or grocery store, so I had to come up with something quick and easy and relatively healthy from the fridge and pantry, and thus was born the Whole Wheat Flatbread Pizza.

Whole Wheat Pita
Spinach - small handful (can sub with Arugula)
1 egg (farm egg if possible) at room temperature
Your favorite melting cheese (mozzarella/pepper jack slices
or brie or goat cheese or cheddar if that's all you have on hand
Crushed Red Pepper (optional)
Cooking spray or butter for the pan
Parmesan for grating (optional)

Preheat oven to 500 or 550.
Spray an oven safe pan with cooking spray (or butter for those so inclined) and heat.
Add the pita and let it crisp a little
Add cheese
Lightly saute the spinach in the space left over the pan next to the toasting pita,
and add a tiny bit of salt lemon juice if you like.
If using arugula or other salad greens, toss with salt and lemon juice and set aside.
As the cheese begins to melt, add the sauteed spinach or raw arugula.
Break the egg on top and carefully transfer pan to oven and turn oven dial to broil.
The egg should cook in a couple of minutes to soft set. You could also skip this step
and add a poached or lightly fried egg with a soft yolk instead.
Sprinkle with crushed red pepper flakes, and grate the Parmesan on top if using.
Transfer carefully (using a fish-spatula or regular spatula) to dinner plate and
eat while warm!

Hope Springs eternal every Spring

I'm finally absolutely sure of one thing and that is that Spring is my absolutely favorite season!
Everyone else I know seems to love Fall and Winter, and the change of seasons but I just don't get it. It's easy for me to hate Winter - I love heat and sunshine and long hours of daylight and hate being cold, so it's pretty much a no-brainer! In my mind, cold and rainy days are good for one thing and one thing only - staying indoors and lazing around all day without feeling a shard of guilt.

I have to admit that Fall in the Bay Area is gorgeous - filled with warm Indian Summer days, but that's small consolation for the end of Nectarine and Pluots Season, shorter days, the falling leaves, and the worst offenders, the end of Daylight Savings Time followed by anticipation of the dreaded advent of Winter. And the litany of sorrows continues: the Christmas carols beginning in October, the forced cheer of the Holiday Season, winter weight gain, dogs who believe that they are going to melt in the rain (but then maybe they are taking their cue from me?) and refuse to go outside. I'd be remiss however to not mention the only saving grace of this season: Cyber Monday scores! Now if I could only find a deal on Louis Vuitton, Fall and I might begin to repair our relationship. Maybe there's a Relationship Counselor out there we could go see?

But I digress..I digress from the hope that is Spring, hope that is spilling out of my every pore as I sit outside in our backyard in the sunshine. All around me are the signs of anticipation: the roses that will be a riot of color by next week, my first real clematis about to bloom, the heady smelling orange blossoms that dream of growing up into fruit. The hope that the tiny green apricots and pluots will survive the squirrels, that the hummingbirds and blue-jays will continue to party it up and feast on the brilliantly pink Fuchsias. The hope that this year I'll finally manage to grow arugula, and lots of it. The hope of a weed-free garden that takes care of itself, the hope that Obama will win in November and that I will actually manage to post regularly to this blog again. And then the hope spills over into dreams big and small: to be thinner, taller, rich(er). To have a perfectly organized closet; that the Supreme Court will see the errors of their current ways, that the conservatives will stay out of my womb, and that of all my sisters; the hope that Palestine and Israel will learn to peacefully coexist. And if I can hope and dream for all that to come true, maybe I can hope to win the lottery too (even though I never play - talk of miracles!). As they say, a girl can always dream!