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How to: Make Kale Chips

30 Dec

How to Make Kale ChipsGuess what. You have ONE day until New Year’s resolutions begin. One more day to live it up before it’s back to salads and the overcrowded January gym for you. I hope you enjoy it!

I will start the January detox one day early for you, with Kale Chips. If you have not yet tried Kale Chips, SPOILER ALERT: they are not chips. They are kale. Kale that has been baked until crisp.

How to Make Kale Chips-12

Kale Chips are a super-healthy, super-crunchy dish that you can make with two ingredients: a bunch of kale and a bit of extra virgin olive oil. I recommend a pinch of salt as well, but that is up to you. And they are super-easy to make.

Step 1: Select the kale. I use lacinato kale for every kale recipe I have made. I prefer its texture to that of curly kale. If you “don’t like kale” but have only tried curly kale, why don’t you give lacinato (aka dinosaur aka tuscan) kale a try. It looks like a darker, thicker romaine lettuce (but you buy it in a bunch rather than in a head). If you don’t know if your local grocery store carries it, just call first. It is always at my local Whole Foods, farmer’s markets, and a few other stores I frequent – but it’s not everywhere all the time.

How to Make Kale Chips-5Step 2: Wash the kale. I have been washing my leafy greens in a large baking dish recently – they fit perfectly, and I just fill the dish with water and shake/scrub the greens in the water, drain, and repeat a few times. How to Make Kale ChipsOf course, you can also tear them first and use a colander (I just find the leaves are just a bit long to fit in the colander whole).

How to Make Kale Chips-2Step 3: Tear the kale into chip-sized pieces. The chips get VERY crisp and flaky, so I prefer to make them bite-sized so there aren’t kale shards all over the floor and couch. I recommend somewhere between the size of a peanut and a saltine {Note: saltine and peanut shown only for scale and size purposes!} It takes a little longer to make them small, but I think they crisp up better that way, and it’s worth it. Keep in mind that the chips will shrink when they bake. The smaller they are, the more they will shrink, because they will curl more. Oh, and don’t use any tough stems, just the leafy parts.

Satine comparison - Kale chips

Peanut comparison - Kale chips

Step 4: DRY the kale. Use as many paper towels if you need to, but the kale needs to be as dry as you can get it before you add the oil in the next step.

Step 5: Place the kale in a bowl and drizzle 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil (per bunch of kale) over the torn leaves. Use your hands to massage it in and cover all of the pieces.

Step 6: Spread the kale on a baking sheet in a single layer, and sprinkle VERY lightly with salt, if using.

How to Make Kale Chips-4Step 7: Bake for 15 minutes at 350. I have read some recipes that say you have to use very low heat, in the 200’s; others say very high heat, in the 400’s! So I go in between, at 350, and if they are not crispy at 15 minutes, I stay close by the oven and give them a few more minutes to do their thing. I find about 15 minutes works, and I also don’t need to flip them.

When the Kale Chips are done, they should flake to the touch and crumble if pinched. Kale Chips will keep up to a week in an airtight container – that is, if they aren’t eaten before then. You can just keep the container on the kitchen counter, but I accidentally refrigerated a batch once, and they held up fine!

How to Make Kale Chips-11

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How to: Make Pumpkin Puree

29 Sep

Pumpkin Puree-8

The changing of the seasons from Summer to Fall is more than breathing the crispness in the air, pulling out sweaters and boots from the back of the closet, and paging through pictures of friends’ kids on Facebook dressed like small animals. Although I do love all of those things!

I also love the first sugar pumpkin of the season. Slicing off the top, chopping it in to pieces, roasting the seeds, and pureeing the flesh and baking away. Pumpkin recipes abound in this season, and I try to keep a bowl of pumpkin puree in the fridge so I am always ready to try something new or make a trusted favorite.

Here is how to do it in under 15 minutes! Start with a sugar pumpkin. Sugar pumpkins are also called pie pumpkins, and they are much more manageable than the jack-o-lantern sized. A regular knife will make short work of a sugar pumpkin – they are about 6-9″ in diameter.

Sugar Pumpkin-1

Slice off the top of the pumpkin using a chef’s or santuko knife, and discard the stem. Chop the rest of the pumpkin in to chunks – size is not important. I find it easiest to work with the pumpkin when the pieces are not very round – it makes it easier to slice out the pulp and seeds. I use a serrated knife for that task. {You can separate the seeds from the pulp and save the seeds to roast!}

Sugar Pumpkin Pieces-8

Sugar Pumpkin Pieces-7

Place the chunks of pumpkin on a microwave-safe plate, skin side down and flesh side up. Cover with saran wrap and microwave for 8 minutes, or until the flesh is soft. Be careful when removing the saran wrap – it will be steamy under there!

When it is cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh off of the skin into a food processor using a spoon. Add a few Tablespoons of water, and process until smooth. That’s it! It should keep in the fridge for a week or two, or in the freezer for a few months. One sugar pumpkin will make approximately 1.5 c of puree.

Pumpkin Puree-1

If you like this, you may also like:

Pumpkin Curry with Shrimp-47 Cup Food ProcessorRicotta Cheese_015_

Fresh Ricotta Cheese

15 Jun

Image

al·che·my [al-kuh-mee], n.

1.  a form of chemistry and speculative philosophy practiced in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance and concerned principally with discovering methods for transmuting baser metals into gold and with finding a universal solvent and an elixir of life.
2.  any magical power or process of transmuting a common substance, usually of little value, into a substance of great value.

That is how I feel about making fresh ricotta cheese. In honor of this post, I am adding an “alchemy” tag, for those recipes where something truly common is transformed into something of great value … something magical … maybe short of “elixir of life,” but hang with me, you never know.

Would you believe you can make fresh cheese that will be ready to eat – start to finish – in under 15 minutes? I promise you can!

Use fresh ricotta cheese in lasagna, on pizzas, or serve with some cinnamon and fresh fruit for breakfast (that is, if you have any left after you taste one bite of the fresh, warm finished product).

You will need cheesecloth to make this recipe, which can be easily found at any kitchen store, most grocery stores, or of course, online.

Ingredients:
– 1 quart (4 c) organic whole milk
– 1/2 c heavy cream
– 1/4 t kosher salt
– 1.5 T fresh lemon juice
How do I make it?
  • Place a large strainer over a larger bowl, and line the strainer with two layers of cheesecloth. My strainer sat very close to the bottom of the bowl, so I crumpled a few balls of tin foil to separate them.
  • In a dutch oven, slowly bring milk, cream, and salt to a rolling boil over moderate heat. Stir often with a wooden spoon, scraping the bottom. You do NOT want the milk to scorch.
  • Once the mixture is boiling, add the lemon juice, then reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring constantly, until the mixture curdles, about 2 minutes.
  • Pour the mixture into the lined sieve and let it drain for a few minutes. Pick up the cheese cloth that has caught the curds and place in a smaller bowl. and chill, covered. (You can discard the liquid in the large bowl.)
  • The ricotta will last a few days in the refrigerator.

Yep, that easy!

Original link: http://www.cherryteacakes.com/2011/07/neapolitan-spinach-pesto-ricotta-pizza.html

Updates:

1. Be sure to use fresh lemon juice to get maximum curd-age (lesson learned from loyal friend and commenter, Holly).

2. I tried this with organic skim milk (still with the 1/2 c heavy cream) this morning – with great results! The curds were a bit bigger, and it tasted just as delicious. Do not get me wrong, the whole milk version was probably a bit richer, but the skim would be perfect to mix in to a dish like pasta or lasagna if you are looking for something lighter (I usually am). I could tell it was lower-fat in the same way that you can tell frozen yogurt is not ice cream – does not stop me from eating and enjoying it!

How to: Roast Asparagus

7 Jun

 

How to: Roast Asparagus

I blinked and almost missed it: asparagus season! Asparagus is a spring vegetable, which is something you may only realize if you frequent local farmer’s markets – in grocery stores, it is pretty much always in season. In honor of this unique vegetable, let’s fire up the oven!

Preheat the oven to 400 or 425 – anywhere in there works! To prepare the asparagus, you have to trim off the stalky ends. Take one piece and pinch the flat end between your thumb and fingers. Using your other hand, pinch the stalk about three inches away, and then bend the stalk until it snaps. Discard the small broken ends (or boil to make stock – which we will discuss another day!). By the way, if you have not washed the asparagus yet, now is a good time. I sometimes wait until I have snapped off the ends to do so – seems like a waste to wash something I will not be using.

If your asparagus are particularly thick, use a vegetable peeler to peel off a little of the bottom of the stalk. I would not recommend this for asparagus that is super-thin – just not necessary at all!

Lay the asparagus in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with 1 – 2 T extra virgin olive oil – you do not need much, because the next step is to roll the asparagus in the oil to coat it a bit.

Roast in the top third of the oven for 10-15 minutes. At 8 minutes, shake the baking sheet to turn the asparagus; keep an eye on them after that. They are done when they turn a bright, deep green. They are best a bit crisp, but don’t hesitate to try one to see if they are done to your liking!

 

How to: Roast Garlic

29 May

How to: Roast GarlicFor the occasion when raw garlic is just a bit too edgy, try roasting it. Roasted garlic takes on a completely different flavor. It is sweet and rich, and great in dips like hummus in place of minced garlic, or spread directly on a steak. If you are having a small dinner party, place a few roasted heads of garlic around a warm baguette fresh out of the oven and let your guests serve themselves! I often take advantage when my oven is already on, and roast a head or two of garlic while baking something else. It will keep for a few days in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.

To roast a head of garlic, first remove the extra papery layers by pulling at them. Hold it with the root side down, and just use your fingers and thumbs like you are massaging it, pushing the paper from the top down toward the root. You do not have to remove them all, but it helps in the next step to remove some.

Turn the head on its side, and using a serrated knife, carefully slice off the tops of each clove. Make sure you get them all!

Place the garlic, cut-side up, on a square of aluminum foil. Drizzle a few drops of extra virgin olive oil on the open cloves, and seal the foil. If you are making more than one head of garlic at a time, seal them in separate foils. Place in a small baking dish or on a rimmed cookie sheet and roast at 375 for 45 minutes. If your oven is already cooking a higher heat – anywhere up to 425 – that will work out too. It is done when the cloves are soft and darken – carefully open the foil and take a peek to make sure.

When you are ready to use the garlic, just pop the cloves out using a small knife (I use one that came with a set of small cheese knives), or if you are using the whole head, just squeeze it!

Garlic

20 Apr

Garlic

How to: Make Spaghetti Squash

17 Apr

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I will start this post by stating outright that I love my pasta, and I am not going to pretend that spaghetti squash is a flawless substitute for noodles. It is, however, healthier. I am no health expert, but I can perform a mean internet search of “spaghetti squash,” which leads to all sorts of calorie and nutrition factoids.

While there are several ways to make spaghetti squash, I prefer roasting it. To do so, preheat your oven to 400. Prick a whole spaghetti squash with a fork in several places, so it can release steam as it cooks. Place the whole squash in an oven-safe dish, such as a casserole dish or 8×8″ pan, and roast until the squash collapses a bit and turns black and blisters in some places – about 45 minutes. {Perfect timing to make a sauce to go with it – I recommend topping it with something hearty like Meat Sauce, or something smooth and bright like Spinach – Walnut Pesto.}

ImageLet it cool – it will be too hot to handle for a while. Once you can use your hands, cut it “around the equator.” Scoop out the seeds with a fork and discard, and then use a fork to loosen the “spaghetti strands” from the skin into a bowl. That’s really all there is to it!

The texture is a bit like angel hair pasta, but a little firmer. I wish spaghetti squash came in fettuccine-style, but I will take what I can get in the produce section.

How to: Roast Peppers

15 Apr

While roasted peppers are easily found in stores and are great in a pinch, if you find fresh peppers at a decent price, it is more cost-effective and healthy to prepare them yourself. They will also taste fresher – and there is no substitute for that!

Turn on the broiler in your oven and set a rack 4 to 5″ below. Cut peppers in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place pepper halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; flatten with hand. Place in the oven and broil 8 – 12 minutes or until the skin is mostly blackened and blistered (keep an eye on it – broilers work fast!).

Roasted Red Pepper - Blistered

Use tongs to transfer the peppers into a zip-top plastic bag (and seal), or a paper lunch bag (and fold over); let stand 10 minutes. This process will loosen the skin. Peel off skins and chop or slice the peppers as you need them for your recipe.

Red Pepper Final

You can use this method with any pepper you would like; red bell peppers are the most common in popular recipes.

How to: Peel and Seed a Tomato

9 Mar

As soon as I learned this technique, I immediately didn’t know how I had ever used a raw tomato with seeds before. This technique requires a few minutes of prep time, but I find it is worth it for some dishes. All you need is a tomato, a serrated knife, and a small pot filled with water deep enough to cover the tomato. You should also have a bowl of ice water, ready in the sink.

Start the water boiling, and slice an “X” in the bottom of the tomato with the serrated knife.

Tomato with X

Carefully place the tomato into the water with the “X” facing up. When you see the skin of the tomato start to split, remove the tomato from the water with a slotted spoon and submerge it in the ice water.

Tomato Peeling

As soon as it is cool enough to handle, peel off the skin, and slice the tomato in half and then quarters. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon or your fingers.

Tomato Final

That’s it! The tomato is now ready to chop and use in recipes.