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Posts Tagged ‘Garlic’

A new item in our boxes this morning!

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Bok choy!

Cultivated in China since ancient times, bok choy is found in soups and stir-fries, appetizers and main dishes. Bok choy’s popularity comes from its light, sweet flavor, crisp texture and nutritional value. Not only is bok choy high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C and calcium, but it is low in calories.

Years ago I had a wok when we were on a Chinese food kick. We even made our own egg rolls, but it’s been a long time since I’ve cooked with bok choy. I scanned several recipes, looking for a quick recipe which would let this veggie shine, and I found this one. I’ve tweaked it to make the spices fit the 8 oz. bag in my CSA box.

WHAT YOU NEED:

1 slice bacon, chopped

olive oil

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1 small clove garlic, minced

scant 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

8 oz bag bok choy

salt to taste

WHAT YOU DO:

Wash and prep bok choy. I filled a bowl with water, swished around to dislodge any dirt, and then broke the stems off. Wash carefully to remove trapped dirt.

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Wash carefully to remove trapped dirt.

Recipe reviewers said to cook the stems separate from the leaves as they take longer, so I did that. I cut the leaves away and stacked them to slice. I made a separate pile of the stems.

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stems and leaves

I chopped the stems into fairly large pieces. I rolled the stack of leaves and cut ribbons.

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chopped!

I chopped the onion and minced the garlic while the bacon fried until crisp. Remove bacon pieces to drain, saving bacon grease. The recipe says to remove most of the bacon grease and add olive oil. I chose to use just smoky bacon grease for more flavor.

To the hot bacon grease, add red pepper flakes, onion, and salt and cook until onion begins to tender.

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Sauté red onion and red pepper flakes.

Add minced garlic, stirring to keep garlic from burning. Now add the bok choy stems, stir, cover and cook for two minutes over medium heat. Next, add the sliced leaves, cover and cook for 2 more minutes.

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Add leaves after cooking stems for 2 minutes.

Remove lid and check for tenderness in the stems. You want them to retain some of their crispness. At this point, I added the chopped bacon and cooked for 2 more minutes with the lid off. At the end of that time, the bok choy was tender crisp!

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Bacon-y Bok Choy!

Some reviewers said the red pepper flakes made the dish too spicy. I didn’t find that to be the case, but adjust to suit your taste.

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CHORIZO & KALE SOUP

I have a growing list of recipes using kale, so when I read Farmer Ray’s email about chorizo being available now, I knew I wanted to try this recipe in my file. I grew up (in South Texas) eating chorizo for breakfast, so I was curious about tasting a Tennessee version of this classic. The original recipe calls for chourico which is the Portuguese version of this spicy sausage.

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Chorizo from Rose Creek Farms!

WHAT YOU NEED:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 medium white potatoes, peeled and diced

2 medium onions, chopped

4 to 6 cloves garlic, chopped

1 pound kale, coarsely chopped

Coarse salt and pepper

1 (15-ounce) can garbanzos (chick peas) drained and rinsed

1 can diced tomatoes

1 pound diced chorizo, casing removed

1 quart chicken broth

WHAT YOU DO:

The original recipe calls for adding raw chorizo to the soup. My childhood memory of chorizo is the pool of orange grease on my plate of scrambled eggs, so I wanted to eliminate that fat in my soup. I sliced open the casing, removed the meat, and cooked over a low heat while I prepped the other ingredients.

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The casing slips right off.

Once the chorizo was cooked, I set it to draining and then wiped out the pot so I could sauté the onion and garlic.

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Draining off that orange fat!

Another title for this blog post could be: “FREEZER HANDY COOKING!” I reached into the freezer for frozen chopped onion, blanched potatoes, and homemade chicken stock. I love having these items prepped and ready to go!

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Blanched, diced potatoes!

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Homemade chicken stock!

I added olive oil to the pot and sautéed the green onions from this morning’s CSA box and  more onion from the freezer. Once they were tender, I added the garlic. I do believe garlic is the best flavor enhancer you can use! I use a lot!

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Peeled and ready to be chopped!

While the onion/garlic are sautéing, prep the kale by washing, de-stemming and chopping. Set aside.

Add potatoes to the onion mixture and stir. Season with salt and pepper, but go easy on the salt if your chicken broth is salted. Add kale, stir, and cover pot to wilt greens, about  2 minutes.

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Allow kale to wilt down before adding remaining ingredients.

Add beans, tomatoes, chorizo, and broth to the pot and bring soup to a full boil.

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These go in last.

Reduce heat back to medium and cook 5 to 10 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender. The original recipe suggests serving soup with hunks of crusty bread and butter. This soup is similar to the Zuppa Toscana version using Italian sausage, but the addition of diced tomatoes of this Portuguese version puts a spin on it. I plan to freeze this soup in one serving portions for a quick lunch sometime in the future! (Have I mentioned how much I love having a freezer stocked and “ready-to-go”?) 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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COLLARD GREENS: a method

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I did not grow up eating collards or much of any such “greens,” but with age come knowledge and a change in palate. The last few years have brought an explosion of information about “super foods” and “greens” such as collards are included in that list. We get unique health benefits from collard greens in the lowering of cholesterol and cancer protection.

Collard greens have been eaten for at least 2000 years, with evidence showing that the Ancient Greeks cultivated several forms of both collard greens and kale. The name “collard” is a corrupted form of the word “colewort” – the wild cabbage plant.

They are available year-round, but are tastier and more nutritious in the cold months, so we are enjoying collards in their prime! Let’s cook some!

WHAT YOU NEED:

Collard greens

Fat (butter, smoky bacon grease, olive oil)

Onion

Garlic

Liquid (water or broth)

Two large bowls

Large pot/skillet with lid

WHAT YOU DO:

Fill one bowl with cool water and submerge collard greens. Swish around to loosen any trapped sand/dirt. Remove the tough center stem.

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Tough center stem has to go!

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I hold stem in one hand and run my other hand down the length, stripping away the leaf. Place the leaves in the second bowl. Don’t worry about water on the leaves; it will help in the steaming process. Discard the stems. I toss them in the kitchen compost bucket for our garden compost pile.

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de-stemming process

Next, slice the leaves to help them cook more quickly and to make them easier to eat. I grab a handful, roll them up into a bundle as best I can, and slice into thin ribbons. I then cut across the length. It took me three bundles to chop up two bags of greens.

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Roll and slice!

Set aside while you prep the other ingredients. I read that chopped greens need to sit for at least 5 minutes to bring out the health-promoting qualities, so you’re doing a good thing by waiting!

In a large pot or skillet, slowly heat some type of fat. I prefer the fat I render from the smoky Louisiana sausage I cook for my Cajun husband, but any type fat will do. I used about a heaping tablespoon. Some recipes will suggest using ham hock.

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Smoky sausage fat adds flavor!

Chop onion and add to hot skillet. I used the green onions from the CSA box. Once the onion begins to soften, add chopped garlic and stir.

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Increase the heat and add the chopped greens, stirring to coat with the fat and to distribute the onion and garlic. Salt and pepper to taste.

Now it’s time for some liquid. I used chicken broth, about 6 ozs. Stir, bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and set timer for 10 minutes. At the end of that time, I checked and I still had plenty of moisture, so I re-covered, set the timer for 10 more minutes and checked again. Greens were done! They were tender but not mushy, just the way I like them. Test yours and cook longer if you prefer more tender, but remember, if you turn off the heat but leave the lid on, they will continue to steam for several minutes. Overcooked collard greens will begin to emit that unpleasant sulfur smell, so don’t overcook!

We love collard greens with pork chops or hamburger steak and some type of bean or pea (pinto, black-eyed peas, field peas) and of course, CORNBREAD to soak up the “pot liquor,” that nutrient-rich collard broth.

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Delicious and nutritious!

In domestic refrigerators, fresh collard leaves can be stored for about three days; once cooked, they can be frozen and stored for greater lengths of time.

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Kale with pecans, beans, and rice

Hubby walked in with the CSA box this morning, and I was ready to go! With Farmer Ray’s Friday “heads up” email, I knew I would be working with Red Russian Kale. With just a few steps, lunch was soon on the table!

The key to making a plain green vegetable worthy of an entire meal is adding something with protein or fat (preferably both). Nuts work perfectly, as do any kind of beans or lentils. The basic recipe calls for pecans, which are wonderful, but you could use just about any kind of nut. I read the recipe reviews, and I incorporated some of those ideas, too.

 WHAT YOU NEED:
1 bunch kale or chard
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 garlic clove, minced
Olive oil
Sea salt to taste
½ cup cooked beans
Cooked rice

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basic ingredients

 WHAT YOU DO:

While you are prepping the green ingredients, toast the nuts in a dry skillet over low heat. Shake every few minutes. I set a timer for 5 minutes, so I wouldn’t forget about them.

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Toast nuts over low heat in dry skillet.

Next finely chop the garlic. Did you know that chopping garlic actually makes it healthier? Who knew? Scientists have long suspected that the active ingredient in garlic is a substance called allicin. A recent study from Queen’s University showed that it is actually a decomposition product of allicin that has the most potent antioxidant activity. Released from plant cells when they are damaged, alliinase is what gives garlic (and onions) their strong odor and is thought to be a self-defense mechanism for these plants. When garlic is crushed, alliinase becomes active and begins creating allicin. As allicin is created and breaks down, the antioxidant potential of garlic is dramatically increased. Optimal antioxidant levels are created about 10 minutes after garlic is crushed. I’m going to start prepping my garlic first! 

Wash, stem, and chop kale. It’s quick to stack the kale leaves, roll, and slice into ribbons. It’s okay if your greens are still wet; the water will help them steam.

The original recipe didn’t call for onions, but since I had so many gorgeous fresh green onions, I threw in some of those as well.

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chopped and prepped!

Remove the toasted nuts from the skillet and heat a little olive oil in the pan. You don’t need much – just a sheen to sauté the onions a minute or two. .Add your chopped greens to the pan, sprinkle generously with sea salt and toss with tongs. Cover. I cooked over low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring often and adding about a tablespoon of water.

 Next, push greens to the side and add a bit more olive oil to briefly sauté the garlic. Be careful! Garlic becomes bitter if burnt!

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Briefly sauté minced garlic.

Stir to incorporate all ingredients. Now add the beans. The reviewer suggested adding  chickpeas, but I didn’t have any. I pulled up the NI for chickpeas and compared it to the cans of great northern beans and cannellini beans I had on hand. They are all very similar in protein, fiber, carbs, etc. I decided to go with the cannellini beans.

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Great source of protein!

Add the toasted pecans.

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LOVE the crunch of toasted nuts!

 One recipe reviewer said that if you would like a little more substance, serve it with brown rice, lentils or quinoa. I steamed up a pot of basmati rice with veggies that I had in the pantry and served the kale mixture on top of a serving of hot rice.

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Bulk up this recipe with rice!

Hubby sprinkled his liberally with Cajun Chef Hot Sauce and dug in! I topped mine with parmesan cheese. And lunch was a done deal!

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Topped with parmesan cheese!

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“PAR-COOKING” KALE

It was a bit sad to pick up our last CSA box on Saturday, but I know the land (and our Dirt Farmer) needs a time of rest and refreshing!

We had our grandchildren over for pizza and a holiday movie, so I used all the lettuce and carrots in a salad. I wanted to use the kale in a big pot of Rose Creek Farms’ Potato Soup, but I just did not have time to do that! I fretted over when I would have time, and then, eureka! Why couldn’t I “blanch” the kale, freeze it, and then make the soup once the holiday frenzy is past?

I know that blanching stops enzyme actions which can cause loss of flavor, color and texture. If vegetables are not blanched, or blanching is not long enough, the enzymes continue to be active during frozen storage causing off-colors, off-flavors and toughening. Blanching involves submerging the vegetable in boiling water for a specified time and then “shocking” with cold water to stop the cooking process.

After thinking about it, (and after labeling my bags!)  I decided that what I had done was more of a “par-cooking” than a true blanching. I had seasoned the kale with onion and garlic during the process, and I had not submerged/shocked the kale. But, regardless of what you call it, I now have two bags of kale in my freezer – all ready for sausage/kale/potato soup when the mood hits!

WHAT YOU NEED:

Kale
Onion (I used red)
Garlic
Olive oil

WHAT YOU DO:

Prepare kale: wash, de-stem, and chop. I chopped mine finely because I don’t like a mouthful of string-y kale in my soup.

Sauté red onion in a little bit of olive oil. When translucent, add garlic and stir to prevent burning.

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Sautéed red onion and garlic

Add chopped kale and stir well.

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Add chopped kale to the skillet!

Cover and steam for about 5 minutes. I had to add water to one of the two batches I prepared. I’m guessing one type of kale has more moisture than the other.

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Cover skillet to trap in that steam!

Allow to cool and then bag in a freezer storage bag. Label well and then chill in refrigerator before freezing. This will prevent ice crystals from forming.

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Ready for the freezer!

When ready to make that pot of soup, just pull out your par-cooked kale and have at it!

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It’s become somewhat of a game to come up with new ways to incorporate kale into my recipes, but it actually hasn’t been that difficult. I don’t know if it’s just that I’m aware of kale now, but it seems to be everywhere! Last night I was flipping through the latest Williams Sonoma catalog and saw a recipe for Butternut Kale Strata to bake for Christmas morning. I’ll be trying out that recipe soon. This week I’m using this recipe from Southern Living. I love pizza. I love blue cheese. I’ve grown to love kale, so it was a no-brainer to try this recipe.

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Skillet Kale Pizza

WHAT YOU NEED:

1 pound bakery pizza dough (I used ready-made canned)

1/2 cup sliced red onion

1 garlic clove, sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

4 cups firmly packed coarsely chopped kale

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary (I used dried)

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons plain yellow cornmeal

1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

1/2 cup (2 oz.) shredded fontina cheese (I substituted smoked provolone)

1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

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Main ingredients for Skillet Kale Pizza

 WHAT YOU DO:

Preheat oven to 450°.

Prepare kale: wash, de-stem, and chop. The recipe says to chop “coarsely” but I didn’t want big chunks of kale, so I chopped it finely. One bag of kale yielded exactly 4 cups!

Cook onion and garlic in 1 Tbsp. hot oil in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, stirring often, 2 minutes or until onion is tender. Add kale and rosemary.

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Chopped kale joins sautéed red onion and garlic.

Cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes or just until wilted. Stir in vinegar. Add salt to taste. Transfer to a bowl.

Prepare dough: Roll dough to a 14-inch circle on a lightly floured surface.  I used a store-bought pizza crust. I usually use this recipe and make my own dough, but a ready-to-go store version helped in this busy holiday season.

Wipe skillet clean. Reduce heat to medium. Coat skillet with 2 tsp. oil; sprinkle with cornmeal.

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Cornmeal keeps dough from sticking.

Arrange dough in skillet, gently stretching edges to cover bottom and sides of skillet.

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Fit dough into cast iron skillet.

Cook over medium heat 2 minutes. Remove from heat.If you don’t have an oven-safe skillet, use a regular pizza pan or cookie sheet. Precook in hot oven for about 5 minutes before topping with kale mixture.

Top with kale mixture and cheeses.  The original recipe calls for fontina cheese, but it is quite pricey at $7.59 for 9 ozs. I researched and read that smoked provolone is an acceptable substitute, and much more affordable at $3.39 for 8 ozs.  I weighed out 2 ozs. on my digital scale; I could just as easily have read serving info and determined how much each slice weighs, but I like using my digital scale!

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Love my digital scale!

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I sliced and chopped the cheese slices.

Brush edges of the dough with remaining 1 tsp. oil.

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Ready for a hot oven!

Bake at 450° for 12 to 15 minutes or until crust is golden. Sprinkle with red pepper. (I actually forgot this step, but the pizza was still delicious!)

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Cheese melted into kale!

I really enjoyed this pizza and served it with creamy tomato basil soup made with summer tomatoes. The two cheeses melted down into the kale and the crust was crispy! If you prefer a softer crust, I would reduce the time on the stove-top before popping into the oven.

 

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Another perfect head of cabbage in the CSA box presented an opportunity to try a recipe I got from my sister-in-law years ago. I discovered I’ve been missing out on an easy and delicious one-pot meal!  Bake some hot cornbread to sop up the juices and you’ll be in comfort-food zone on a cold, wet evening.

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WHAT YOU NEED:

head of cabbage

1 lb. ground beef

1/2 lb. breakfast sausage (bulk, not link or patties)

1 onion, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 can Rotel tomatoes

WHAT YOU DO:

Brown ground beef and sausage. When nicely caramelized, add chopped onion and bell pepper and cook until transparent. You don’t need to add much salt/pepper because of the soup and tomatoes.

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Add onion and garlic to caramelized beef/sausage.

Add garlic and stir to prevent burning. Turn off heat and elevate skillet to drain off fat. While this drains, give the cabbage a rough chop and place in bottom of a greased oven-proof casserole dish.

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Elevate skillet to drain off fat.

Remove fat from skillet. If there isn’t much, I use a paper towel to soak it up.

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Paper towel absorbs fat.

Stir in soup and tomatoes. Mix well. These two ingredients provide the moisture (and seasoning) for the cabbage to absorb.

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Tomatoes and soup provide moisture.

Pour meat mixture on top of cabbage.

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Meat mixture on top of cabbage!

Cover with lid and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove lid, stir well, and cook 30 more minutes, without a lid. Serve with hot cornbread!

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Cold weather comfort food!

 

 

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