Monthly Archives: February 2014

Massaged Kale Salad

 

Massaged (and composed) Kale Salad

Massaged (and composed) Kale Salad in its semi-naked state. Confession: the colors are not off- I ran out of red onion. It was still delish.

I’ve been holding out on you. Not on purpose of course. But somehow, in all this time of being with each other, I still have not shared my absolute favorite, go-to, eat-your-greens-and-feel-like-Popeye kale salad. Massaging may seem like an excessive step to take with your kale (I mean really, is it that deserving?), but trust me—it is a worthwhile technique to have in your repertoire.

This recipe calls just for salt in the massaging process. Other recipes call for olive oil alone or with lemon juice or with the entire dressing. Hey, you’re massaging your kale–it’s not going to complain. Massaging makes raw kale way more friendly, and with a batch of massaged kale at the ready, your options for creating quick, delicious, deconstructed meals soar.

As with other recipes, this is more about technique than hard and fast ingredients and proportions. Live loud and large—mix that kale with something crunchy, something creamy and something sweet and the rest will take care of itself.

Before my cousin Danielle beats me to the punch, I urge those of you who dabble in organic produce to buy organic kale. Danielle, the ultimate caregiver (and least righteous mostly Vegan I know) reminds us that kale is among the “Dirty dozen” of produce items that pack the nastiest pesticide punch. Thanks Little Dan, for always having our backs! (and forgive me for all the gratuitous bacon talk.)

Without further ado I give you:

Massaged Kale Salad

Ingredients

1 bunch kale (I use curly because that’s what we get)
1 t salt
1/4 medium-small red onion, thinly sliced or diced
1/3 cup chopped toasted almonds or nuts of choice
1/3 cup raisins, currants or dried fruit of choice
1/2 large avocado, diced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

Method

Soak kale in water to loosen any dirt. Wash individual leaves as you de-stem them (pull leaf away from thickest parts of stem). Shake dry. Chiffonade leaves (stack, roll and slice into thin ribbons) and put in a large bowl. (Edie’s note: Chiffonade if you must, but tearing the kale in pieces works just fine and sort of makes me feel like a Tuscan). Sprinkle salt over kale and, using hands, massage kale for 3-4 minutes. After about a minute you’ll notice a big difference in the leaves – they’ll start to soften and turn a dark green almost as though you were steaming them. When done, drain off any liquid that collects on bottom of bowl (may or may not happen) and set kale aside.

If you are starting with raw nuts…Heat a small sauce pan, toss in whole nuts and toast until nuts start to brown slightly. Shake pan on occasion to brown nuts evenly and to keep from burning them. Walnuts, pecans, filberts or even sunflower seeds are great in this salad too. Remove nuts from pan and give them a rough chop on your cutting board. Add nuts to bowl of kale.

Add diced avocado, onions and raisins to bowl (again, raisins, currants, your fave dried fruit in raisin-sized pieces or whatever you have on hand). Pour olive oil and apple cider vinegar evenly over bowl of goodness, then toss until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed.

Kale salad, post massage, fully dressed.

Kale salad, post massage, fully dressed.

Bring It

One of the many beauties of kale is its indestructibility (if that’s a word). You can bring this anywhere in anything, store it wherever and it will not suffer. I have transported it in everything from ziploc bags to salad bowls to recycled takeout containers and it has survived in backpacks for hours before being enjoyed for lunch or apres ski.

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Winter Fruit Salad

Enjoy this refreshing winter fruit salad après ski?

Enjoy this refreshing winter fruit salad après ski?

Yes, technically it is winter. Yes, our kids are finishing up with winter break.  Yes, I’m still trying to ski.  However, the almost 50 degree weather this past weekend and the sun-baked snow made it feel like spring. And so I bring you what I call winter fruit salad in what I call “winter”.  Alas, it is New England, and so I take whatever weather comes my way – which this week means back to single digit temperatures and more snow.   It also means, I bring to you this yummy fruit salad to brighten your days as you plug along through the remainder of this wonderful season. Besides anyone can make a fruit salad in the summer.  Try making one in February – not exactly high fruit season!  This fruit salad is tropical, spicy, and light.  It is great for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, snacks, and of course, to you can BRING IT anywhere.  Enjoy!

I got this recipe from a great magazine – Cook’s Illustrated. I’ve gotten this magazine for years and I love it. It has really taught me how to cook.  Each recipe goes through the trials and tribulations faced by the person creating the recipe.  By reading the techniques of what to do and what not to do, I have learned a lot (like do not add herbs to this fruit salad unless you want to move into the salsa territory). I wish I went to some famous culinary institute to learn to cook, but for now, this type of learning will have to do.

Ingredients

3 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp grated lime zest plus 3 Tbsp juice (approx. 2 limes)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Pinch salt
12 oz. jicama, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch dice (approx. 1 1/2 cups)
2 oranges
2 mangos, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2 inch dice

Method

1) Bring sugar, lime zest, lime juice, red pepper flakes, and salt to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved.  Remove pan from heat, stir in jicama, and let syrup cool for 20 minutes

2) Meanwhile, cut away peel and pith from oranges. Slice into 1/2 inch rounds, then cut rounds into 1/2 inch pieces. Place oranges and mangos in a large bowl.

3) When syrup with jicama is cool, pour over oranges and mangos and toss to combine.  Refrigerate for 15 minutes before serving.

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A Real Belgian’s Waffle

Waffle love

Ooh La La! A plate full of waffle happiness.

Full disclosure. My grandfather was full-on Belgian. In fact my maiden name, Thys, is like Smith or Jones in the Antwerp phone book. Nonetheless, it’s fair to say the Belgians deserve huge thanks from all of us on this side of the pond for their addictive culinary contributions. No, not eels in green sauce (they still haunt me)—I’m talking about chocolate, beer, fries and of course, the almighty Belgian waffle.

This recipe comes from Sophie, a fellow ski racer parent (and genuine Belgian) who kindly shared her cherished family recipe for “Gauffres Quatre-Quart” AKA Belgian waffles. “My aunt used to make them by the dozens, to be shared with everyone,” Sophie recalls. “We loved when she would stop by!” Sophie humbly claims her waffles aren’t quite the same as her aunt’s, but her family eats them for breakfast, snack and basically anytime. “They are favorites at bake sales, and perfect for thank you gifts! We keep them in a box for a few days—they might dry out a bit, but are still delicious.”

All of the above makes them Bring It all-stars. Sophie thinks any kind of waffle maker would work except, ironically, the very large Brussels waffle makers.

Edie’s note: The original recipe is by weight. Approximate cup measurements are my addition, which worked perfectly when I halved the recipe and used four eggs. 

Sophie’s Gauffres Quatre-Quart

Makes about 20-24 mid-sized waffles, or 12-15 large ones

Ingredients

1 pound salted butter. If using unsalted, I would add some salt
1 pound sugar, or a little less (2 cups)
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
1 pound flour (4 cups)
2 tsp baking powder
7 or 8 eggs, depending on their size

Method

Melt the butter.
Beat the eggs until blended (or foamy if you are ambitious)
Add the sugar and vanilla. Blend in.
Add the melted butter. Blend in.
Add the flour and baking powder, about 1/4 pound at a time.
Let it rest for a few minutes while you warm up your waffle maker. The consistency should be thick on a spoon.

I scoop the mixture with a wooden spoon and place the equivalent of a large egg on the grid. Of course you can put more or less to make different size waffles. I cook each waffle for about 3 minutes until golden. The longer they stay, the crunchier/harder they get. Let it cool down on a rack— that is if you have the patience. We always eat the first one warm.

Et voila!

Belgian waffle with sugar

Sugar? Syrup? Ice cream? Bacon? It’s all good!

More note from a quasi Belgian: These waffles are substantial and structurally sound. They can stand up to strawberries and whipped cream, Nutellla, peanut butter and bacon or whatever you care to put on them. The best part is that they turned out great on my first try with no tweaking, babysitting or special handling.

Touché, Waffle Huts!

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Farro Risotto with Asparagus and Tofu

Grainy goodness with faro, mushrooms, asparagus, and tofu

Grainy goodness with faro, mushrooms, asparagus, and tofu

Before I get into this recipe, let me first say, I’m happy to be back!  I was away with work and family travel for a few weeks and, oh how I missed my food blog and foodie friends. I thought about the posts I would do when I got back, so get ready, because I have lots of ideas.  Also, a big thank you to my blog partner Edie for keeping the posts coming while I was away!

Next, let’s get started with this delicious vegetarian, über grainy recipe.  If you haven’t tried farro, it is a great grain to add to your repertoire with one caveat, it takes a while to cook. It’s not the easy-peasy quinoa that you throw in a pot of water and it’s cooked before you even have time to grab a fork or a spoon. This requires a little more time and effort, so plan ahead.

Next, it is grainy. Did I mention that already? Well, it’s worth re-iterating.  I kept thinking it wasn’t cooked, but in the end I realized, it is just chewy.  You won’t have to try to eat this meal slow because there is no other choice!  I love it and I think you will too.  I added asparagus, dried mushrooms, and of course, cubed tofu (which I seem to add to just about everything!), but you can add whatever you like.

Ingredients

1 oz. dried mushrooms (any kind will do)
1 lb. asparagus
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
5 cups vegetable stock (you can use the water left over from soaking the mushrooms as part of this vegetable stock, plus a vegetable stock – see below)
1 1/2 cups uncooked farro
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz. variety of mushrooms (shiitake, chanterelle, crimini, oyster, porcini), sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tsp fresh thyme
1/4 cup grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Salt & pepper to taste

Method

Place dried mushrooms in medium bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand 30 minutes or until tender.  Drain and coarsely chop.  Use mushroom water as part of vegetable stock if desired.

Toss asparagus in 2 Tbsp olive oil on baking sheet and roast in 425 degree oven for 10 minutes or until tender, stirring half way through.  Cut stalks into thirds and set aside to add to farro later.

Sauté cubed tofu in a little olive oil with the smallest dash of cayenne pepper. Set aside to add to farro later (you can totally skip the tofu if this adds too much work).

Bring vegetable broth to a simmer in a small saucepan. Keep stock warm over low heat.

Heat remaining olive oil in Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add farro and onion; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Add all mushrooms (rehydrated and fresh).  Cook 5 minutes or until mushrooms are tender, stirring occasionally.  Add wine and thyme and cook until liquid almost evaporates.

Add 1/2 cup broth to farro mixture; cook over medium heat for approximately 4 minutes or until the liquid is almost absorbed, stirring occasionally.  Add remaining 4 1/2 cups broth, 1/2 cup at a time until liquid is almost absorbed each time, stirring occasionally. This will take about 50 minutes so you are definitely committed for the long haul, but as stated above, it is worth it.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Once farro is cooked, add in asparagus, cubed tofu, and top with fresh parsley and cheese.

Cooked and ready to CHEW!

Cooked and ready to CHEW!

Prep for adding later

Prep for adding later

Pre-cooked Farro sautéing in oil

Pre-cooked Farro sautéing in oil

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Love and Lagunitas

Love and Lagunitas

How do we feel about Lagunitas? Here’s a clue!

In honor of Valentine’s Day and the Olympics, we want to give a gold medal shout out to a really cool sport and the really cool company that helps keep them flying. The sport is ski jumping. This year ski jumping is especially exciting because for the first time ever (a mere 90 years after the men started), women ski jumpers are allowed to compete in the Olympics.

In Europe top ski jumpers have rock star status. In this country ski jumpers are rarely featured between Olympics. The sport struggles to find funding for the training needed to fly, oh, a football field plus, nearly straight downhill. That’s where Lagunitas, a groovy craft beer company from Northern California, comes in. As sponsor of the US Ski Jumping Team Lagunitas has become more like family than funder. Since they are in Sochi, cheering on the team, we figure we can do our part by cheering from home, while drinking Lagunitas of course. Today happens to be a snow day here, and a Friday, and Valentine’s Day, and the day the men take to the “large” (read crazy) hill, so it seems like a good time to start.

Let’s be real. Valentine’s Day can be amateur night, sort of like New Years Eve, with a lot of undeliverable hype and expectation. What we need are options that maximize togetherness and minimize contrived, awkward and complicated situations.

Here’s a low investment/high return plan. Grab a six pack of the good stuff (might we suggest Lagunitas, which happens to be extra strength) and anything that looks good for dipping. This can be pretzels, apples, dried fruit, veggies, nuts, crackers, bread, cookies—really anything that you like at the store or have on hand. At home, open one of the beers. Make a super easy beer and cheese sauce. While that is warming up make an even easier chocolate dipping sauce.

At your final destination, or when your guest arrives, assemble the remaining five beers into Olympic ring formation. Get psyched. Arrange dips and dippers in easy reach. Turn on TV. Get cozy on the couch and let the Games—whatever they may be—begin.

Lagunitas IPA Olympic Rings

Take a cold one for the team!

I Love You More Than Beer (and cheese) Sauce

From the “The Beeroness” (Don’t you just love her sight unseen?)

Ingredients

2 Tbsp butter, softened (or melted
2 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 cup beer (use Lagunitas IPA for highest score from judges)
2 cup shredded Cheddar and/or Gouda, do not use pre shredded
1 cup whole milk
Salt and pepper, paprika optional (and tasty).

Method

Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor. Process on high until very well blended, about 5-8 minutes. Transfer contents to a saucepan over medium high heat. Whisk rapidly and continuously until thickened, about 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.

Lagunitas cheese dip

Go ahead and get cheesy. It’s all good.

Dip it Good Chocolate Sauce

From Joy the Baker

Ingredients

1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks (ore more)
scant 1 cup heavy cream
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp espresso powder (optional)

Method

Place chocolate chunks, pinch of salt, and espresso powder (if using) in a medium bowl.  In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil.  Pour the heavy cream over the chocolate pieces.  Let rest for 1 minute before whisking.  Whisk until chocolate is completely melted.  They say to serve it warm but it’s good at any temp. This sauce is pretty thin, so it also pours easily over fruit and ice cream.

Chocolate dip

Chocolate dip fantasia. Of course, cookies and ice cream work too.

Note: The potential for extra points abounds here. You can make your own Easiest French Bread Ever to bring to the party, add a round of Snowchis to the mix, or whip up some Cholliesauce for more dipping pleasure. And of course, nobody’s going to object to that box of chocolates that was Plan A!

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Moveable Feasts

    A fine spread for between runs, or really any old time.

A fine spread for between runs, or really any old time.

We apologize for the slight delay in Bring It posts, but due to THE FREAKING OLYMPICS, our nighttime blogging hours are seriously limited. Amidst all the TV watching, however, life, and eating, goes on. We are, in fact, at the height of Bring It season with all the shoveling, snowshoeing, skiing, aprés skiing and general warming up from the cold that’s going on here in the heart of the Polar Vortex.

As mentioned in Lunch Deconstructed, prepping and toting the midday meal can take me down. But a fresh new philosophy has come to my rescue. With apologies to past presidents it goes something like this: “Ask not what you can make and bring for lunch. Ask what lunch you can make from what you bring.” Or, more simply, instead of letting lunch prep bring you down, pack all your favorite food into a bag and figure out what to do with it when you get there. This is a win all the way around. First, you minimize chafe in the morning. Second, you have lots of options for picky eaters and changing moods/appetites. Third, aforementioned picky eaters learn the essential life skill of making their own lunches.

Bringing all of the elements and prep tools sounds complicated, but as I learned recently from Bring It master (and fellow ski racer parent) Pennie Rand, it’s not that tough. You just have to have a kit. Hers is a canvas bag stuffed with a Thermos, jars, loaves, cheese, veggies, fruit and little containers of bonus quelque chose as well as cutting boards, cloth napkins, and stylish wooden knives that make her look like a Scandinavian picnic goddess. She’s like the sport version Ina Garten, who knows that part of the fun of a meal is making it a social activity.

At a recent ski race, when Pennie handed my cold, hungry parents a hearty cracker topped with brie and baby spinach (vs. the bag of day old muffins I had grabbed at Shaw’s on the way to the race), they accepted and nearly teared up. When she followed up with a slice of whole grain bread smeared with peanut butter and Nutella, I’m pretty sure they wanted to trade me in.

This past weekend I got a glimpse of real Bring It pros in the ski lodge during Dartmouth Winter Carnival. By 8 am “Carnie” parents were trouping in with plastic storage bins full of food, and assembling an armada of crock pots on cloth-clad tables. Ski lodges, when they turn a blind eye to such large scale picnicking, are a venue more suited to crock pot warmery than crock pot cookery. Things like meatballs, chili’s and stews, are staples.

When lodges forbid profit-stealing crockpots you have to be a bit more creative. One dedicated ski parent stands hot dogs in a wide mouth Thermos then fills it with boiling water. She fills another Thermos with chili and brings a baggie of shredded cheese. At lunchtime each kid fishes out a dog, puts it in a bun from her kit, tops it with chili and cheese then finishes it off with foraged ski lodge condiments.

It is with no particular fondness or pride that I recall the free saltine/ketchup/relish ski lodge condiment sandwiches from my youth. Comparatively the DIY chili dogs would have been quite a feast. But so would some salami and cheese, a few slices of turkey, avocado and salsa wrapped in a tortilla or pretty much anything dipped in Nutella. As winter wears on, get fresh, be creative and for goodness sake invite everyone to the make-your-own-darned lunch party.

Ski lift lunch

Bringing it, extreme version. The chairlift lunch.

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Olympic Snow Drinking. Let the Games Begin!

Stronger, colder, yummier

Stronger, colder, yummier. The Olympic credo of cocktails.

From Russia with Love…and Vodka.

The following were created in honor of the 2014 Olympics and thirsty spectators everywhere. But they are really just launching pads for your own winter-coping creations. This winter thing is serious stuff. You can either complain about it or embrace it. Being outdoor people, we of course choose the latter, though often we embrace with one hand while holding a frosty cold drink in the other. Really, when you gather round a bonfire with friends and pour something sweet and boozy over snow what can possibly go wrong?

For all the following drinks the set-up is the same:

Fill and pack your desired vehicle with clean snow (or finely crushed/pulverized ice). Mix all liquid ingredients in a separate container (*or mix and store in a lidded container for transport. All these individual recipes can be made in higher volumes, something strongly encouraged on a cold winter night). Pour carefully and evenly over snow. Stir, enjoy, repeat as necessary.

The Snowchi

(A Moscow Mule on snow. The unofficial off-site drink of the 2014 Games)

The Vehicle: For individual drinks, a small soup Thermos (It stays cold and if they think it is borscht you may be able to sneak it through security.) For high volume a sap bucket with the super long straws used in scary communal Scorpion Bowls.

  • ¾ ounce ginger simple syrup (you know you are wondering how to use yours up)
  • ½ ounce lime juice
  • 2 ounce vodka

The twist: No ginger syrup? Make it with 2 parts ginger beer, one part vodka and a splash of lime juice. It will be more liquidy but will do the trick. Feel more aligned with Team Bermuda than Mother Russia? Sub dark rum for vodka. to make it a dark and stormy night.

Snowchis

Snowchis in formation, awarded to the worthy (or thirsty).

Booze-free snow drinks

Our 12-year-old server confirms these are quite versatile. Try straight OJ, or the Polar Vortex sans vodka.

The Polar Vortex

As comfort to all who are freezing their butts off this winter, this elixir is white as snow with a sweet whisper of the tropics.

The vehicle: something clear to show off the frigid Polar whiteness of it all.

  • ¼ cup light coconut milk
  • ½ ounce Maple syrup
  • 1½ ounce vodka

The twist: If you are trying to bulk up for your luge run use half and half or cream for the coconut milk. If you’re in training for your figure skating frock sub Coconut Dream or Almond milk for the coconut milk. It’ll be more slurpee-like than creamy but still effective. Aesthetics of clean white not an issue? Then give dark rum a shot, because we all know that dark rum goes with coconut like brooms go with curling, like Jamaicans go with bobsleds, like Russian judges go with cold hard cash.

*Coconut milk needs some serious shaking to mix evenly, so go with a lidded container and shake vigorously. Small caper bottles (see photo below) are perfect individual to-go containers.

The Alpen Pro

As a nod to après skiers everywhere, a classic rendezvous of bubbly Italian chic and sophisticated elderberry liqueur distilled in the heart of the French Alps.

The vehicle: A plastic champagne glass or something similarly shmancy. Individual servings only, unless you are drinking straight from the bottle.  Above all, keep it classy!

  • 4 ounce Prosecco
  • ½ ounce St. Germain

The twist: Champagne is of course an option here as well, and sabering the bottle will earn you extra points among your bonfire mates.

This whole enterprise might need some exhaustive research to fine tune, but come on— it’s Olympic season and we have nearly three weeks to peak. I know you can all rise to the challenge.

set up for polar vortex drinks

The Set-Up. Some of the fixings, plus a couple of race ready Polar Vortexes to-go.

 

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Wake up to Waffles

waffles hot off the griddle

For the love of waffles!

What’s in a name? A classic, when it comes to Marion Cunningham’s Yeast-Raised Waffles. I was late to discover these, but after much hounding from my kids and far too many waffle huts I found these babies that strike a nice balance between Eggo convenience and professional waffle master taste.  The only tweaks I added are in process, not ingredients.

There are two schools of thought on prep. The original recipe calls for mixing everything but the baking soda and eggs and leaving the batter at room temp overnight. Other versions include the eggs the night before and store the batter in the fridge. One time I added the eggs and forgot to put the batter in the fridge. The waffles still tasted great and nobody died or even got sick. Still, you’d better not tempt fate with that.

Either way you mix them yields buttery, almost sourdough-like waffles (especially if you opt for the original version and leave the batter out all night). These belong with the cardamom blender popovers  and  the yummy muffins in the Overnight Sensations realm because they require minimal effort  in the morning. That said, there is a learning curve involved and each waffle maker has its own sweet spot. Hopefully the notes below will help minimize your trial and error, and maximize your happy waffle moments.

MAKES 20 WAFFLES

Ingredients

1 (1⁄4-oz.) package active dry yeast
2 cups milk (or, even better, buttermilk)
1⁄2 cup unsalted butter, melted, plus more for serving
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. sugar
2 cups flour
2 eggs
1⁄4 tsp. baking soda
canola oil for coating the waffle maker
Maple syrup, for serving

Method

1. Dissolve yeast in 1⁄2 cup warm water; set aside until foamy, 8 to 10 minutes. Add milk, butter, salt, sugar, flour, and eggs; whisk until combined. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate overnight.

2. Heat a nonstick waffle iron. Whisk baking soda into batter. It will become very thin. Pour 1⁄4 cup batter onto iron; let set for 30 seconds.* Lower lid; cook until golden and crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve with maple syrup and butter.

*This took some experimenting and messy overflows but I have perfected the technique for my waffle maker. Brush the bottom of the waffle iron with some oil, pour in the batter, then lower the lid but prop it open with the down-turned bowl (the business end) of a long-handled serving spoon so the top of the iron hovers over the batter. When the batter is starting to set on the top, open the lid, brush the top of the iron with oil and quickly close it all the way to cook the waffle. This assures a super crispy and non-exploding waffle.

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