Pancetta, Rosemary, Potato Frittata

It’s 7:30 a.m. on a Saturday and Roo and I have been up for an hour.

“Are you the elderly?” you ask.

No, we’re cat owners.  I mean, he’s the cat owner.  And today we woke up to the cries of Stinkee (she’s the black cat in the header), pawing at our door.

At first I thought it would stop, but the cries eventually became distressful.  The pawing sounded like she trying to claw her way into the bedroom, and like a horrible good girlfriend, I shook Roo awake to have him see what was wrong.

“Love. Love. LOVE!”

{inaudible mumbling into pillow}

“Love, there’s something wrong with Stinkee.”

mew mew mew paw mew paw paw paw mew mew

Roo opened the door to find Stinkee, like a mentally-challenged Lassie, circling outside.  We eventually figured out that this was her trying to tell us that Evil Monkey was trapped in the guest bedroom.

Just as an aside, here’s another example as to how “helpful” Stinky can be.

(“Helpful” as in helping Evil Monkey finding her way into my oven.)

With all of us being awake so early, I felt that there was enough time to make one of Roo’s breakfast favorites: frittata.  Why not start our day with kitty drama, only to indulge in eggy, cheesy goodness with a crunchy potato-pancetta-pseudocrust.

I guess I can forgive Stinkee waking us up so early.

Ingredients

9 large eggs

15 ounces low fat ricotta cheese

1/4 cup swiss (I used Jarlsberg) cheese grated

1/4 cup cheddar grated

1/4 cup low moisture part skim mozzarella grated

1/4 lb pancetta (two 1/2 inch wide slices, cut from the round you get at the deli counter at the market)

4 potatoes (I used red russet) peeled and diced

2 tbsp dried rosemary (I love rosemary, you may not like it so…herby.  Start with 1 tbsp)

4 cloves of garlic minced (I love garlic, you may not be such a huge fan.  Start with 1 clove)

1/3 cup of flour

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 stick (4 tbsp) salted butter melted and cooled

3 tbsp olive oil

Equipment

1 very large saute pan (I use a 12″ pan)

Whisk

1 large sized bowl

Potato peeler

Sharp knife

Spatula

Place the oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350F.

Peel potatoes and cut into a medium dice, about 1/2 inch wide.  Pour olive oil into saute pan over medium-high heat.  When the oil starts to shimmer, add potatoes.  Stir potatoes occasionally so they do not burn.  While the potatoes are browning, add eggs to the large sized bowl.  Whisk until homogeneous.  Add ricotta, swiss and cheddar.  Add melted butter and stir to combine.  Add flour and baking powder in two increments, stirring till just combined.  When potatoes have browned, add garlic and rosemary.  Cook till fragrant, about 30 – 60 seconds.  Remove from heat.  Pour contents of the large bowl into pan, over the potatoes.  Immediately place pan into oven and bake 50 – 60 minutes.  The frittata should puff up, middle firm to the touch, with the edges slightly pulled away from the pan.  When a knife is inserted in the middle, it should come out clean.

Barley Risotto (with Kale)

I’m procrastinating going home today because Roo’s friend Hancock (aka Footpenis), and his girlfriend going to spend a few days with us.

Why would this make me want to stay at work?  The girlfriend is one of those that I deemed had, “bitch face,” at the wedding we went to a few months back.

This could be one of those times where I could put my “big girl pants” on, cook a lovely dinner with a happy (yet creepy, because fake happy = creepy) face, all the while making great conversation because I’m the perfect half-asian hostess.

I am not the perfect half-asian hostess.

I’m the neurotic poodle that sits in the back of the room and eats her own hair in a frenetic state; like I’m drowning, and the hair is my air.

And even though some, some may find the poodle adorable, most want to smack it across the nose with a rolled up piece of newspaper.

But lucky for you, my neuroses, I mean, procrastination, means I can actually write up the barley risotto recipe that I promised I would get to.

See, procrastination can work.  Although, it’s been four days since my last post because of procrastination. But never mind that.

Adapted, quite a bit, from Food and Wine

This barley risotto is delicious just by itself.  Although, I implore you, the greens make this dish So. Much. Better.  The barley has a slight chew and the kale is incredibly tender.  Those two mixed in a creamy sauce makes this my “go to” cold weather dish.

Ingredients

3 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth

1 medium onion, diced (I love onion)

1 – 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced (and I also love garlic)

1 teaspoon dried thyme (this may be too “thymy” for some, so start with 1/2)

1/2 cup pearled barley

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 bunch of kale (optional), leaves ripped off stems, into bite sized pieces

Equipment

Sharp knife

Large saute pan (one with tall sides)

Spatula

Medium saucepan

Ladle

Over medium-high heat, pour 3 cups of chicken broth into a medium saucepan.  Cook until it simmers, then remove from heat.

Add olive oil to a large saute pan and place over medium-high heat.  When the oil starts to shimmer, add onion and cook till translucent.  Add thyme and garlic, and cook till fragrant (about a minute).  Add barley to the whole mix.  Still stirring every so often, cook until the barley starts to pick up a bit of golden color.  Ladle in one cup of chicken broth.  Stir until the almost all the liquid is absorbed.  Keep adding the chicken broth, one cup at a time, until you have one cup of warm chicken broth left in your medium saucepan.  If you opted to use kale, add both the kale and the last cup of broth to the saute pan.  If you do not wish to use kale, add the final cup of broth, and again, stir, until the almost all the liquid is absorbed.

Serve immediately.

Almond and Panko Crusted Chicken

With an unexpected extension of winter, come meals that try to satisfy that umami craving I just can’t shake.

As well as wanting to spoon whoever or whatever is in my vicinity.

It seems winter brings out our need for creature comforts. I love to sit on the sofa and read an old favorite or two.  They’re easily found in their special spot on the bookshelf; pages dog-eared, almost torn it’s so well-read.  A good cup of tea is the only requirement, steeped with milk, and sipped while your feet are curled up underneath you.

Today I reached for an standby  – A Homemade Life – and paused.  Piled on top of it were three issues of Cooks Illustrated that I  never got to.

I received a complimentary subscription to Cooks Illustrated after contributing (due to the brilliance of the Alec Baldwin promo) to NPR this year.

I finally decided it was time to start reading them, despite the stigma.  I always thought of America’s Test Kitchen and related brands to be directed towards grannies sitting at home, knitting some horrid pastel afghan for their soon-to-be unlucky relative.  But, I a secret to share with you:

I love ATK.

Despite Chris Kimball’s freakishly small hands.

I cannot believe I waited this long to get into Cooks Illustrated, because they are incredibly insightful.  And with this new found knowledge of various kitchen equipment ratings to articles trying to find the best possible way to make a certain recipe (chewy fudgy brownies? yes please!), I was able to make a dinner, that I think is my new winter favorite.

I’ll share the first half of it in this post, the second (barley risotto with wilted greens), is still in the works.  But seeing how I love to procrastinate as much as I enjoy eating cake for breakfast, it may take another day (or more) for me to get around finishing it.

Adapted Just A Little, from Cooks Illustrated

.

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts

A fork

2 pinches of coarse sea salt

1 large egg

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

1/2 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup whole almonds

3/4 cup panko

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (I love it spicy, but if you hate the burn, I mean, flavor, start with 1/8 teaspoon)

2 tablespoons olive oil

Equipment

Food processor

1 small bowl

Whisk

4 plates (or 4 pieces of aluminum foil with the edges folded up so that they are able to keep the contents from expelling onto your work surface)

1 medium skillet

Spatula

Cookie sheet lined with non-stick aluminum foil (you can also use a wire rack, to ensure the bottom of the chicken is also crispy, but a lot of people don’t have this piece of equipment, including myself)

2 paper towels

Place the oven rack into the middle of the oven and preheat to 350F.

Place four plates on a table in a row, with the intent to hold your ingredients in the following order: 1) chicken breasts, 2) flour, 3) egg with mustard, 4) almond/panko crumb mix.  At the end of the line, place the cookie sheet lined with non-stick aluminum foil.

Place the chicken breasts onto the first plate.  Poke the chicken breasts multiple times with the fork.  Season with one pinch of  coarse sea salt per breast.  Put back in the refrigerator, until it’s time to coat them.

Add flour to the third plate.

Put almonds into the food processor and pulse 3 seconds at a time, about 10 times.  Be sure to keep an eye on it, as you do not want almond butter.  What you’re looking for is a coarse ground.  My food processor is old and the blades are a bit dull, so yours may take less time to grind the almonds down to the desired consistency.  Cooks Illustrated instructed 20 one second pulses, but the grind was no where close to where it needed to be.  Again, my food processor is sad and old.

On medium heat, add olive oil to a medium skillet.  When the oil starts to shimmer, add ground almonds and panko crumbs.  Stir until golden brown, about 5 – 7 minutes.  Take off heat and add thyme and cayenne pepper.  Stir to combine, then pour contents of pan onto the fourth plate.

Break the egg into a small bowl and whisk until homogeneous.  Add dijon mustard and whisk in.  Pour contents of bowl onto the first plate.

Take the chicken out of the refrigerator and place at the beginning of your plate line.  Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel.  With one hand, dip one chicken breast into the flour, taking care to cover both sides.  Shake the excess off, then dip the chicken into the egg mixture, making sure that the whole chicken is covered with your adhesive (egg).  Hold the chicken breast up, above the plate containing the egg mixture, and allow the excess to drip off.  Finally, coat the chicken breast with the panko/almond mixture.  Place the crusted chicken onto the lined cookie sheet and repeat the previous steps with the second chicken breast.

With the other hand (hopefully still clean) place the chicken into your preheated 350F oven and bake until the temperature of the thickest portion of the chicken is 160F.  In my oven, it takes about 30 minutes.  But I have an oven from the 60s.  And she’s cantankerous.  Very.

The first time I made this chicken,  I baked it for twenty minutes (per Cooks Illustrated instructions).  The first time I checked the temperature it was around 140F.  I placed it back into the oven and baked it for another 7 minutes.  The second time it still wasn’t at 160F, so I waited another five minutes.  Thankfully, around thirty minutes from the start it was ready.  But, again, my oven is a terror.  She lit on fire the first time I asked her to broil something.  True story.

Green Bean Salad with Pickled Red Onions and Fried Almonds

I have been anxiously waiting spring’s arrival and with that there have been cravings for something bright.  Lemon blueberry cakes have been nibbled on with lady grey tea in hand, various fruit smoothies have been blended after dinner, and I even made my own Limoncello for the first warm night we have; ready to be corked in a month!

But tonight I needed something acidic.

Perhaps it’s because I’m half Japanese, but I love bright, acidic flavors. Pickled cucumbers, pickled plums; it all gets piled atop a little bowl of white rice.  Luckily for Roo, it didn’t come down to me sitting on the floor (because everything is tastier when you’re not sitting in a chair), eating bowl after bowl of white rice topped with mysterious pickled items.  I think if he found me with my back against the wall, belly bloated, with bits of rice in my hair, that that would be a deal breaker.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

One pound green beans

1 medium red onion (this gives you a lot, if you don’t think you’d like a lot of onion, go with 1/2)

1/2 cup red wine vinegar (I’m an acid addict.  If you’re weary, start with a 1/4 cup and adjust to taste)

1/4 cup water

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar (I used raw cane sugar)

1 tablespoon coarse sea salt (I used Diamond, if you have something finer, please use 1/2 tablespoon)

1/3 cup whole almonds (I realize that whole almonds are a bit pricey. I have used slivered almonds, and these also work)

1 tablespoon olive oil

*Keep your olive oil around if you want to balance out the acidity of your salad (about 2 tablespoons)

*Keep your salt around for boiling your green beans

Equipment

A very sharp knife

Tongs

A Cutting board

A large pot (that can fit your pound of green beans and about eight cups of water)

A sautè pan (medium sized, does not need tall sides)

Two large bowls

One smaller bowl (like one you use for eating cereal with)

A heat resistant (ie not plastic) plate (covered with one or two paper towels)

In a small bowl, combine red wine vinegar, water, sugar and salt.  If you started with 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, whisk the ingredients together and taste.  If the acidity is sufficient, leave it.  If not, adjust to taste.

If you’re using a whole red onion, cut it in half, then slice (both halves, one at a time) very thinly.  If you’re only using half an onion, great, you can skip a step and start slicing it thinly straight away.  Add the onion slices to your small bowl with the pickling solution.  Let it sit for at least a half an hour.  I usually let it sit for an hour (as it takes me about an hour to finish cooking dinner).

Put about 6 – 8 cups of salted (I add a few tablespoons) water into your large pot and bring to a boil.  Wash your green beans and trim the tails.  Add the green beans when your water is at a rolling boil.  Cook 4 – 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare your ice water bath in one of the large bowls (I add about 10 – 12 ice cubes to a large bowl of water, filled halfway).  If you don’t want to use an ice water bath, then cook the green beans a minute less, since they will continue to still cook when you remove them from the boiling water.

After 4 minutes, turn the burner off, and remove the green beans from the pot with your tongs, into the ice water bath.  After all the green beans have been “bathed,” drain the green beans into a colander.  They can hang out in the colander until you assemble the salad.

Over medium heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil into a sautè pan.  When the oil starts to shimmer, add the almonds.  Roll the almonds around the pan (if whole 2 – 3 minutes, if slivered, ~1 minute) until coffee (black, no milk) colored.  Be careful to not let the almonds sit in the oil for too long in one spot as they will burn.  Remove the almonds from the pan, and move to a plate lined with one or two paper towels to pick up any excess oil.  Season with a pinch of salt (if desired) and let cool.

After an hour (or at least thirty minutes) of the pickling solution working its magic on those red onions, you can assemble your salad.  Plate the salad by picking up a mound of green beans with your tongs.  Add the pickled onions (don’t forget about the pickling solution, it’s delicious!) and top with the fried almonds.  I will admit that I grabbed a handful of the almonds (sorry Roo) and spooned about two tablespoons of the pickling solution on top of my salad.  If you find it too acidic for your palate (the pickling solution alone), you can mellow it out with a tablespoon (or two) of olive oil.

Bitter Greens Pizza

It was Halloween weekend and a six hour drive from Boston to Philly.  The drive down was kind of perfect.  We were on our way to a wedding (his friends) and it had been a while since we took a mini-vacation for ourselves.  We talked about prior relationships, about how we love Coldplay’s album, A Rush of Blood to the Head, and we laughed about embarrassing childhood memories.  To couple that with stopping at practically every Starbucks we encountered, the six hours in a car wasn’t so bad.

Yet, with each state line we crossed, I became more anxious.  I had never met his best mates from college before, so I started thinking the usual “crazy.”

“Will they like me?”
“Will they think I’m pretty?”
“Will they think I’m funny?”
“What about their girlfriends!?!”

I’ll be the first to admit it, women secretly compete with each other.  There may be some ladies out there, completely adamant that we do not. But trust me, we do.

When we meet each other for the first time, we compare ourselves to each other.  First, it’s looks, then the list can vary amongst women.  With me it’s: career, personality, clothing, then it gets incredibly trivial (if it hasn’t already), nitpicking at things like, “wow, your laugh is REALLY annoying. Stop finding everything I say funny. Stop.”  I mean, who hates someone that finds you funny?  I do, if you laugh sounds like a bag of wailing cats.

Strangely enough, I didn’t exactly hate my time there.  I actually had a bit of fun, and ending up liking all of the wives.  The girlfriends on the other hand, not so much.  Perhaps it’s because they all knew each other prior to the wedding, but as I explained to Roo, they all had, “bitch face.”  And to my surprise, he later admitted, “yeah, it’s true.”

But it wasn’t the girlfriends that ruined our weekend.  It was something that was my fault, but in reality (after talking about it a day later), a giant misunderstanding between the both of us.

It was the night of the reception, and a bit of alcohol was consumed.  I had said something rude to Roo before we went to bed, and unfortunately, it was blown out of proportion.  Way, way out of proportion.

The car ride home was utter hell.  He didn’t talk to me. The whole six hours.

I was pretty much convinced due to my lack of self-editing that we were going to break up.  It made me angry, then sad, and then we were back in Boston; pulling into the Whole Foods so I could buy groceries to make dinner with.

I ran inside, not knowing what I was going to cook.  I randomly grabbed a few things, and before I knew it, we were back in our apartment.  He was on the couch, and I was sitting at the kitchen table looking at a paper bag filled with god-know’s-what I grabbed.

Perhaps it was the mood I was in, perhaps it’s because we had the whole weekend to indulge and my liver was crying out for antioxidants, but what I whipped up that night was Bitter Greens Pizza.

It’s a dish that I saw on Anthony Bourdain’s show, No Reservations.  He spoke about this spinach pizza (go to 11:30) that was made by Jim Lahey at Co.  At Co they call it the “Popeye,” but to me it will always be, “Bitter Greens.”

It was exactly what I wanted: bite from the spinach, a little salty from the pecorino, but coated your tongue nicely with that melty gooey mozzarella.  And when you’re sad, really really sad, it’s kind of perfect to make you feel just a little bit better.

Adapted from Jim Lahey at Co

I’m going to be the first to tell you that I have no shame that I buy pizza dough at Whole Foods.  It’s under $2, and I make two pizzas (about 10″ each) with it.  I have made pizza dough before (courtesy of Artisan Bread In Five Minutes a Day), but I just didn’t taste the difference.

For those of you who would like a homemade pizza dough recipe, this one is great.  But, I’m a bit lazy.  And when I want pizza, I want it now.  Whole Foods pizza dough makes me live that dream.

Toppings:

Olive Oil

2 cloves of garlic thinly sliced

1/4 cup swiss cheese grated (I use Jarlsberg)

1/8 cup pecorino cheese grated

1/8 cup mozzarella grated (I used low moisture since it’s what I had in my fridge)

1/4 pound fresh spinach with tough stems removed (about a half a bag of the pre-washed spinach you find at your local grocer)

Put your pizza stone in the oven on the middle rack.  Preheat your oven to as high as it’ll go before broil.  On our’s it’s 550F.

Throw a half handful of all purpose flour down on a square of parchment paper that will be about the size of your pizza stone.  If you have a pizza peel, prepare your pizza on that.  Otherwise, if you keep forgetting to purchase a peel until you make you pizza, like I do, parchment paper it is.

Add a couple splashes of olive oil onto the dough.  Stretch out the dough manually with your hands.  I find that working the dough this way results in 1) not having the pizza dough fall on the ground when I attempt to throw it, 2) it doesn’t get overworked.  Note: your pizza will NOT be round.  But that’s ok.  Your goal is to make the crust as thin as you can be stretching it out manually.  According to Jim Lahey, 12 is the magic number (skip ahead to 13:40).

Arrange your swiss cheese, pecorino, mozzarella around your pizza so that with every bite you get a combination of all three cheeses.  Throw your slices of garlic about your pizza as well, with the same principle in mind.  Top your pizza with the spinach.  It’ll look like a giant mound of leaves on top, but it’ll wilt down after spending time in your hot hot oven.

Slide your pizza onto your stone in your oven.  If you’re using parchment paper, bake for five minutes, then remove the parchment paper from underneath the pizza so the stone.  By that time, the dough will have partially baked and will release easily from the parchment paper.  You want to remove the paper so that the dough can form and excellent crust by baking on the stone.  Bake for an additional five minutes.

If you’re not using a stone, bake for a total of ten minutes.

Around the ten minute mark, I start peeking into my oven to see where the crust and toppings are in the brown/burn stage.  I like it to be super brown (ie almost burned), it takes about an additional minute after the first peek for the pizza to be done.  But your tastes (and oven) might be drastically different from mine.  Keep an eye on your pizza as it will bake quickly at this temperature, and take it out when it reaches your liking of crust color.

Place on a cutting board to cool.  Cut with a serrated bread knife (seriously, who needs pizza wheels?) in a sweeping motion and serve.

I highly recommend eating the pizza by folding it in half so that the spinach is surrounded by cheesy garlicky goodness.  But you may think that’s not classy.  This is Liz Lemon Nights.  We’re classy like wine out of a box.  And night cheese.

Obachan

When the earthquake in Haiti occurred last year, I took a moment to think about those who had lost their homes and loved ones, but went back to my everyday life of grad school.  I didn’t check the news obsessively to see what was being done, how the survivors were coping, or how this was effecting the large Haitian population in Boston.  Instead, I studied for a final exam that was worth the majority of my grade, panicking about what essay question was going to be asked.  And when that exam was over, I went out for drinks with my friends, and we agreed to send a check to the American Red Cross in aid of the earthquake survivors.  Check sent, conscience clear, on with life.

Today was different.

I woke up this morning to hear that an earthquake occurred in Japan.  Earthquakes are quite normal in Japan, but what was measured at an 8.9 magnitude stopped me from pressing “brew” on my Keurig.

I am half Japanese.  And not your, “hey, my great-great-great aunt twice removed is Japanese so I’m going to call myself ‘half,'” but my mother is literally ‘off the boat.’  I’m what we call in Japanese culture “Nisei,” second generation Japanese American.  Needless to say, hearing about the earthquake on WBUR concerned me. And before they finished the story, I was on the phone with my mother to see how my grandmother was.

And then the tsunami hit.

For some reason, when I heard that an earthquake occurred, I just didn’t think of a tsunami being a possibility.  Perhaps I was tired.  Maybe I was pre-coffee.  But when I was told that it had happened, I was floored.

I feel like to write about what I baked the other day just doesn’t have a place right now on the internet.  Not when I have friends and family that are experiencing crisis, in the country that is very dear to my heart, and part of my heritage.

I can only hope that your loved ones are safe, warm and have full bellies.

If you would like to donate in aid to the crisis in Japan, Google Crisis Response is an excellent place to start.  One can even donate directly to the Japanese Red Cross, which in my opinion, is better than donating to the American Red Cross, as the funds will be specifically used in Japan.

*The above photo is my mother and grandmother at the Chrysanthemum Festival last year.

Lemon Yogurt Cake with Blueberries

It’s a Sunday and the weekend is nearly over.  And to get me through the work week, I need breakfast cake.

Yes, breakfast cake.

I realize that we’re freshly out of the New Year and people may have some reservations about eating cake for breakfast.  But I’m in the belief that if it has fruit in it, it’s good enough for breakfast.

I found a recipe for French Style Yogurt Cake last year on one of my favorite blogs, Orangette.  She made this cake during a hot summer night, when she really shouldn’t have been baking because her apartment felt like the inside of an oven. But when friends are invited to dinner, one feels compelled to provide a dessert.  Or, at least I do.

Unfortunately, it’s not even close to summer yet.  Boston hasn’t been able to escape the chill that’s blown in since this winter, like that creepy uncle that’s overstay his welcome at the family dinner party.  And I’ve been wanting winter to leave, probably well before the first of three blizzards we’ve had this year.  With that wanting, came the cravings of the season that I felt was so far away.  Bright notes of citrus, the tiny bit of grit you get when the seeds of (probably) too many blueberries rub against the roof of your mouth, and a something light (that you can’t exactly put your finger on) from the yogurt.

I love that this cake is incredibly adaptable, and allowed me to create flavors to almost convince me that summer may just be around the corner.  And if I turned the heat up, in my apartment.

Adapted, ever so slightly from Orangette

Dry Ingredients

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour (if you don’t have whole wheat flour on hand, you can use all purpose flour)

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp lemon zest

Wet Ingredients

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1 cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs

1/2 cup olive oil

To add at the end: 1 cup frozen blueberries

Equipment

2 large bowls

Spatula

Cake pan (I use a nonstick 9″ wide, 2″ deep springform pan)

Preheat your oven to 350F.

Butter and flour your cake pan, or, because I’m lazy, line it with parchment paper.  Thankfully I haven’t had my cake stick (yet) to the parchment paper, so I have been able to avoid that buttering and flouring mess!

In one bowl, mix your flour, baking powder, and zest till combined.  I don’t sift my flour because I’m lazy and haven’t found it necessary for this cake.  Do what you like.

In another bowl, mix your yogurt, sugar and eggs until well blended.

Add in two increments, your dry ingredients to your wet, until just combined.  Add your oil and keep mixing until fully incorporated.

Pour half of your batter into your lined (or buttered and floured) cake pan.  Take your blueberries and disperse it evenly on your first layer of batter.  Pour the other half of your batter over the blueberries.

Bake the cake for 25 – 35 minutes.  Orangette suggested 30 – 35 minutes, but my oven is rather small (and dangerously hot) so it takes about 25 in mine.  When a knife is inserted into the cake’s center, it should come out clean.

Cool the cake completely and devour.

But I’ve been known to eat the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven.  Shame.

Braised Kale

I love kale.

But, I’ve never known about it until this past fall.

I guess I’m a late bloomer?

It was a random facebook status update by my friend, Anina, that peaked my interest. I’ve always passed by the “greens” section at the market, wondering what people did with chard, kale, and what the heck is escarole?!  It looked like lettuce, but not.

With Anina’s help, she suggested I make the Plain Jane recipe from Orangette, but add red pepper flake.  After that, I was hooked.

To anyone who has experienced the horror of frozen, chopped spinach, boiled to death, I urge you to just try.  Please try.

Roo was, well, hesitant when I placed this down in front of him.

He loves prosciutto, has never turned down an egg, but the greens.  The greens were making him question why I was calling this “dinner.” But he tried it and now is a believer.

In fact, when I told him we were having rib eye and rosemary potatoes for dinner yesterday, he asked what were we “having for veg?”  I told him he could choose between kale or green beans, and he picked kale.

Yes.

What I love about this recipe in particular is that the greens are simmered in stock.  This adds a certain richness to the dish (and rids the greens of its bitterness).  The leaves still have texture, and to place a poached egg on top is amazing.

There’s always something about cutting into a runny egg that makes my eyes open wide.  I love watching the yolk as it slowly makes its way down the little mound of greens.  And to swirl it up on your fork, being sure that the prosciutto gets caught up in it, makes this dish a regular in our kitchen.

Adapted from Orangette

I’ve used red chard, green chard, red kale, green kale, dinosaur (lacinato) kale…  Roo prefers kale, I love chard.  Choose what you like.  Do it.

Ingredients

Olive oil (about 4 tbsps)

2 bunches (approx. 1.5 pounds) of (insert green)

1 large onion (don’t like too much onion?  Grab a small one. )

red pepper flake (I use teaspoons. But to start, try a half teaspoon)

garlic cloves (I use four to five. Start with one or two.)

2 cups low sodium (chicken) stock or broth (And please use low sodium.)

Equipment

large sautè pan (I like one with tall sides to keep everything in)

spatula/tongs

salad spinner (this investment will change your life!)

I tend to be a little “rustic,” as Roo puts it, when I prep my greens.  I literally hold the long stem of the plant, then start plucking away the leaves in bite sized portions.  If there any parts that seem wilted, tear them off and throw them away.  The cats actually hover near my feet to get any dropped leaves, and if I miss the garbage bin, they always beat me to picking it off the floor.

…our cats are weird.  But that’s another blog post.

Place the leaves into a salad spinner, and taking the inner basket, wash the leaves well.  I’ve had a problem in  the past with kale bringing grit into whatever dish I was adding it to.  Thankfully with the purchase of the salad spinner, I haven’t had the issue since.  Chard has never been an issue, but just be sure to rinse and dry whatever you’re prepping by hand, well.

Spin your spinner.  When it stops, take the inner basket out with your leaves and set aside.

Splash about 4 tablespoons of olive oil into your pan.  Set your burner on medium.  As your oil heats, dice your onion.  When your oil starts to shimmer, it should be hot enough for you to throw your onion in.  Sometimes, when I’m unsure, I like to take a piece of onion with my tongs and dip it into the oil.  If it sizzles, or if (because you have your “greatness” playlist playing too loudly on your iHome in the background) you see bubbles start to form around the onion, then you know it’s hot enough.

So, throw your onion in.  Stir occasionally, and chop your garlic.  When your onion becomes golden brown, throw in your garlic and red pepper flake.  Stir until aromatic.  About 30 seconds – 1 minute.

Throw in your (insert green).  I do this in batches.  I like to throw in a handful at a time, using my tongs to get the greens covered with the hot onions, garlic, and oil to help it wilt.  When all the greens have been incorporated, add your 2 cups of chicken stock.  It should read about halfway up your greens.

Simmer until the the greens are no longer bitter, and tender.  It should take about 30 minutes.  Also, the stock should be reduced more than half.  There is usually barely any left.  However, cooking times vary.  There have been times when I tasted the greens after thirty minutes, it tasted great, yet there was still about a cup of stock left.  I decided that it was just going to be a soupy dish.  A soupy delicious dish.

So don’t freak out of if your greens taste great and you have too much liquid left in the pan.

To serve I would place a mound of greens on a plate and top with a poached egg.  And prosciutto.  And if you’re feeling really awesome, grate some fresh Parmigiano Reggiano on top.

When I first made the original recipe from Orangette, it said that it served four.  But believe it or not, it serves one hungry Roo and LLN.  I have also been known to polish off an entire bunch (3/4 to 1 lb) of greens myself for dinner.

But we’re gluttons.  I mean, sexy.