Sunday, June 2, 2013

Strawberry fields for about an hour

© 2013 John Houser III
We picked strawberries yesterday at Lohr's Orchard yesterday and pulled in a pretty size able haul. 11.5 pounds when all was said and done and it looks like a lot of berries in the picture but after washing them off they seemed to have multiplied like wet mogwai. These are a few of the phone pics I took. The "good" pics (from my camera) I'm going to save for the strawberry recipes to follow in the next few days. Requests?


© 2013 John Houser III

©2013 John Houser III

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Kale floret pesto

Since posting my kale floret recipe last week I have made the dish a few times again. I still find it delicious but I had a thought while packing up the leftover kale mixture: "This would probably make for a good pesto base!" Do I yell in my head? Yep.

So the next day I put together a very easy pesto in the food processor. I served it over Cavatappi pasta (it's a fun shape) with a side of pan con tomate (recipe found here). If you were wondering the fresh clove of garlic in the recipe is to give the pesto brightness. The cooked garlic in the kale doesn't have that kind of punch.

The hardest part is making the pasta and, well, if you can't do that then get in touch with me and we'll start private lessons on how to boil water.

Kale floret pesto

Makes enough for 1-1lb box of pasta

1 cup of the cooked kale florets (recipe  found here)
1/2 cup washed parsley- stems and all
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup grated Grano Padano cheese
1 garlic clove- minced
juice from 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1- one pound box of shaped pasta (I used Cavatappi)

In a food processor, combine the first seven ingredients. Pulse in the food processor a few times to get the food starting to break up and mixed. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while continuing to pulse. You can keep pulsing it until it is smooth, but I prefer mine a little chunky (as you can see below).

© 2013 John Houser III

Immediately after draining the pasta, return it to the hot pot you cooked it in and stir in the pest. Stir until pasta is coated and combined with the sauce. Taste and re-season with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve while hot (hopefully with pan con tomate).

© 2013 John Houser III

Make it and let me know what you think.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Kale Florets

©2013 John Houser III
I was at the farmers'market last Sunday in a terrible mood. I'm not the most jovial person in the morning and when the market is as packed as it was it makes me cranky. Between cursing people out for being in my way (why do they stop in the middle of the walk ways to talk???) and reassuring my son that we will be getting donuts I was out of sorts. It was at Latte da while getting tea that we ran into a friend who hipped me to my new favorite spring vegetable. "have you ever heard of kale florets?" I looked at her like she was speaking in Valyrian. I was intrigued. I had never heard of kale florets in recipes or even in passing while reading. I made my way quickly over to the Gardener's Gourmet farms stand (of course I thanked my friend before I ran away) and asked the guy behind the table if he was out. They were not out, on the contrary there was a huge pile of the stuff sitting there unloved. Walking away from the stand with two bunches of the florets (at $2 a bunch!) I was remembering my back and forth with the attendant:

Me: "wow, these look great! How do you cook them?
Guy: " just chop them, up and cook with garlic and olive oil"
Me: "sort of like rapini?"
Guy: "exactly slugger!"

Ok, he didn't call me slugger, but for how Pollyanna I felt writing that exchange I took a little creative license to feel better. 

So, I had a frame of reference on how to cook this mysterious vegetable and all I needed to do now was apply the flavors I add to rapini to the kale florets and see what happened. 

It turns out that kale florets taste nothing like rapini. They are much more mild in flavor (similar to broccoli) but with the crunch you get with rapini. Paired with garlic, spring onions and chili flakes the florets make for a fantastic healthy dish. The key to this dish is to shock the florets after blanching them in boiling salted water (the water should taste like the sea). Blanching sets the color of the florets and keeps them from turning gray. 

©2013 John Houser III
©2013 John Houser III

Kale florets with garlic, spring onion and chili flake
1 bunch Kale Florets- chopped into 1 inch long pieces, washed
5 cloves garlic -minced
4 spring onions thinly sliced
1 dry chili pepper crushed (or chopped) into flakes
Olive oil
1/2 tsp Salt
1/8 tsp ground black Pepper
Salt for blanching water (1/2 cup per 1/2 gallon of water)

©2013 John Houser III
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil (it should taste like the sea). Blanche the kale florets in the salty water for one minute then put them into an ice bath. 

In a pan (or the wok) over medium heat, drop in a glug of olive oil and a small pat of butter (1/4" thick). When butter is foaming add the garlic, onions and red pepper flakes. Top with salt and pepper. Cook until soft then add the florets. Cook florets until heated through and serve immediately.

2013 John Houser III
You could add pasta to this dish to make it heartier. Mix in hot pasta and add cheese to bring it all together. If its too dry add a little of the pasta water. Season to taste with more salt and pepper. I have done this with bow tie pasta and it came out wonderfully. Just remember to cook the pasta all the way through, no al dente bullshit. 

Find it, make it and let me know what you think. 



So since writing this I have bought more bunches of kale florets and made the dish again a few times. I have found that depending on where you buy the florets from they might be woodier than from other places. The bunch I bought over the weekend was way more woody that the bunch I bought last week. They were also taller so maybe the farm that I bought from last week cut them higher up to keep from me having to do it. To separate the inedible from the edible just treat them as you would asparagus  Try to snap the stem between your fingers. If it snaps, it will be edible, if it bends then it is too woody and you should cut them up a little higher. Remember though, you're never going to be able to get all of the woody parts out so don't go trying to kill yourself doing it. I have found that the cooking process does soften even the woodier parts up enough to be eaten. Here is a picture of the amount of woody stems I had to separate from the edible parts.

Check out the next recipe for what to do with the leftover kale floret mixture (if you have any).

Cheers (again),