Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011 II: Turkey Pot Pie from Leftovers

The reason I enjoy hosting Thanksgiving is that I love to cook.   But as much as I love preparing the staples for the annual feast day, I love even more repurposing the leftovers into something completely different from its original turkey day incarnation.  And this year I got big mileage out of my 18 pound turkey as my guest list dwindled from the expected fourteen down to just nine people, two of whom are barely 13 years old and not big eaters.  The best way to illustrate the meal and leftovers is with a PowerPoint slide actually:

 Thanksgiving Redux: How one meal was reinvented into six different incarnations (click to enlarge)

We always have a ton of vegetables at our table so soups, pot pie, shepherd's pie, etc. are a natural progression from the Thanksgiving meal.  Because I cut the backbone out of my turkey I had the back plus the neck to make turkey stock for the gravy.  There was so much stock, however, that Mom didn't use it all for the gravy, and I didn't even have to use any turkey bones to make the vegetable soup the next day.  In fact it's Sunday now, and I've just cleaned the carcass enough to make stock that I will freeze in ice cube trays for future use in soups and sauces that call for chicken stock.

From the diagram it's clear that the turkey pot pie was the catch all for the most ingredients and that the turkey itself was used in the most dishes.  No surprise there at all.  For some reason, it didn't occur to me to put any cut up turkey into the vegetable soup, probably my body telling me to keep things as light as possible the day after the big day.  I have to say though that as the primary cook, I had no time for breakfast as I was so busy from the moment I got up, so calorie wise I probably ate less on Thanksgiving than usual, even with pie and ice cream for dessert.  Certainly I was nibbling and tasting in the kitchen, but my other T-Day strategy was to fill my plate with vegetables on the first go round and then go back for turkey and stuffing and gravy.  Then we always take a walk after dinner and before dessert.

Missing from the menu side of the list are steamed broccoli (my aunt's must have vegetable), apple pie, and black pepper ice cream.  I gave my sister the vegan all of the broccoli to take home, but I wish I'd made it into a pureed soup of broccoli and potatoes.  That would have been so easy to have simply made in the blender and would have used the potato gratin that had been made with cream and spread the calories into a healthy soup.

My other imperative post Thanksgiving is to eat down the fridge as much as possible.  Leading up to the big day my fridge was packed with ingredients, then with leftovers.  I'm loathe to throw food away so even the meatballs my aunt insisted on making will probably be made into minestra mariata.  My freezer was quite packed to begin with, so some of the dishes, like the gumbo used a quart of creole sauce I'd made and frozen at summer's end, and the chilaquiles will be made from frozen homemade tortillas that didn't turn out so successfully.  I'm also going to use some fresh black beans that have been waiting patiently to be cooked.  The gumbo and chilaquiles are a good reminder that the leftover reincarnation should be something so dissimilar from the original dishes that the meal in no way feels like leftovers at all.

I've blogged on other occasions about chilaquiles and gumbo, so today I'll give the breakdown on my pot pie.  It works on many levels, one of which was preparing it in the same casserole dish that I'd used for the potato gratin, meaning I didn't even have to wash nor dirty another baking dish!  I'd also used frozen pie pastry from earlier in the year with the chocolate pecan pie.  There was a smidge leftover that was just right for topping the pot pie.  Since this dish is made of leftovers and who knows what you may have on hand, the instructions are more about the assembly and don't really contain precise measurements for some ingredients.  Everything is already cooked basically, so just taste your combination and adjust the seasonings as necessary.

Turkey Pot Pie

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl combine
leftover veggies from Thanksgiving,
cut into similarly sized pieces if necessary (i.e. green beans should be cut to about an inch to fit on a  fork.  Large pieces of squash or fennel should also be fork sized.  I used carrots, brussel sprouts, radishes, turnips, sweet potatoes, fennel, green beans, mushrooms, scalloped potatoes, etc.)
a cup or two of cubed leftover turkey and
enough leftover gravy to moisten the mixture
(you may have to heat the gravy to loosen it enough to mix with the veggies).  Season to taste with
salt and pepper and
a couple tablespoons of chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, thyme, sage, etc (optional)
Pour the mixture into an appropriately sized casserole or baking dish so that the veggies almost reach the top rim.  Roll out a
portion of pie dough*
to cover the casserole.  The rolled out dough needn't completely cover the vegetable contents.  Bake your casserole in the oven for 45 minutes, checking at 30 minutes and rotating to ensure even browning.  When the gravy is bubbling and the top is nicely browned (whether using pie crust or mashed potatoes), your pie is ready.  Let cool slightly for maybe 10 minutes then dig in!

In lieu of the pie dough you could also make a shepherd's pie using  leftover mashed potatoes.  Warm slightly in the microwave to loosen the potatoes then top the vegetable and turkey mixture with a spread of mashers and dot with small pieces of butter.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011 I: Canned Cranberry Quince Chutney

So the first Sunday in November this year was one of those watershed moments in my evolution in food appreciation.  Brian and I attended a barter fair out at Mountain View Farms in Purcelville, VA, and not only did we get to visit one of our favorite farms from our local farmers market, we got to meet other like minded farmers and non farmers alike who are just plain into locally grown food. What is a barter fair you might ask?  Well, quite simply it's like a farmers market where the producers trade amongst themselves rather than using cash to buy from each other.  Kind of quaint in that it hearkens back to a time when communities quite willingly helped each other out by trading goods and services rather than selling for cash.  Indeed, Shawna, one half of the Mountain View Farming couple, was taking names and email addresses for people who would be willing to "deposit" time into a barter services "bank" where you could get an hour of someone else's time if you have some skill that you are willing to give for the same amount of time.

For us, we got drive out to the Virginia countryside on a beautiful sunny afternoon as the sun was setting this first day of eastern standard time.  We arrived at dusk, set ourselves up in the farm shed next to all the other producers and I got a quick lesson in Marketing 101.  I found out first hand what it's like to make and produce food that will appeal to others and how important presentation is to the whole deal.  I learned immediately that people who grow their own food and raise their own chickens don't want to consume marshmallows at all, even homemade ones made with real vanilla beans!  Although, popular with the kids, Brian had smugly and correctly predicted the marshmallows would be a no go, but he still worked hard at moving them off our table!

What proved to be very popular were my home canned jams and chutneys, all made throughout the year from produce I'd get in season at the 14th & U Farmers Market.  I buy and can throughout the season so that I can make an occasional batch of my favorites to give away at Christmas or as hostess gifts when we're invited somewhere for dinner.  This year as I've been traveling so much to and from California, I completely missed my usual canning of peaches, blueberries, and green beans, but I still had the following to offer:
And what we traded for in exchange!  I feel like I received way more than I gave: canned items such as mushrooms in oil with lemon peel, pickles, Cambodian style kim chee, cherry jelly, hot sauce, and asparagus; produce such as garlic, rhubarb, and fresh herbs; a five pound chicken; homemade sourdough bread; cilantro pesto; and beef bones for making stock.  In fact, we hosted our good friends for dinner and featured many of the items we'd received as well as some of my own canned products we'd kept for ourselves.

With the home canning, it turned out that for once I was ahead of the curve on a food trend. We were listening to Marketplace Money on our drive home from North Carolina post-Thanksgiving last year and heard some sardonic commentary on how home canning is the new raising-your-own-chickens-for-the-fresh-eggs! I may have been late to the table on locavorism and making my own homemade ice cream, but I started canning in 2006 and haven't looked back since!*

My first canning experience came about under somewhat sad circumstances actually. After my father's funeral around Labor Day in 2006 I stayed with my mother for another week and a half after everyone else had gone back to their normal lives. I'll never forget that end of summer feeling that hits the air in New Jersey much sooner than it does down here in Washington, DC. Wanting to occupy my time besides going to the gym or watching TV (I couldn't concentrate enough to read), I cracked open a cookbook I'd happened to bring with me, Amanda Hesser's award winning The Cook and the Gardener. This is a cookbook for reading, organized as it is by month with recipes and stories of Ms. Hesser's stint as a cook at La Varenne, Anne Willan's cooking school in France. The gardener in the title was a crusty old Frenchman whom Amanda had to win over to get him to share both his wisdom and his garden's bounty.  In fact, if one wanted to learn to cook seasonally, this is about the best cookbook I could recommend because it's not organized by course, but rather by month, and basically what's in season in France is also in season in the northeastern U.S.

Now, I don't even find the thought of canning at all daunting anymore. And, as Nigella Lawson says, if the process of doing something gives one pleasure then its pursuit is worthwhile for its own sake.  Some things have turned out better than others, but many items get special mention every year from various friends who've enjoyed a jar of something that they've shared or recently finished.  And I'm not about putting up enough of anything to make it through the winter.  We still go to stores and buy at the farmers market through the winter, although I haven't bought a jar of jam in over five years.  So if I get seven jars of something (enough to fully utilize my home canning basket insert), that's plenty for this home cook.  And really, canning is not something you have to constantly attend to if you have good, heavy duty pots and pans that don't scorch, such as All-Clad, Le Creuset, or Staub.  I would recommend buying or borrowing a canning set, which I received from my mother after she watched me attempting to can using her stockpots and kitchen towels that summer, as recommended by Ms. Hesser on page 177 of her cookbook.

Below is the cranberry quince chutney recipe from Food & Wine last year.  This proved to be my most popular offering, so I'm glad I'd doubled the recipe.   The quince conserve is also delicious and makes use of a fruit most people are not so familiar with, but you may be able to find at your local grocery store in the fall.  In fact I just saw some rather small but healthy looking quince at Harris Teeter yesterday when I went for my Thanksgiving shopping extravaganza.  For detailed home canning instructions I'd go to Ball's website for more information.  I've provided some shorthand instruction based on my years of experience, but you definitely want to be overly cautious, well prepared, and sanitary when canning food that is not going to be refrigerated, especially when you're giving it away to other people!  Of course many things that can be canned can also be frozen or refrigerated.

Cranberry Quince Chutney

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 star anise pod
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 3 quince (8 ounces each)—peeled, cored and finely diced
  • 1 Granny Smith apple—peeled, cored and finely diced
  • One 12-ounce bag fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins (or equivalent amount of dried cherries, cranberries or, apricots [chopped])

In a large saucepan, heat the oil. Add the onion, ginger, garlic, allspice and star anise and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add the sugar, vinegar and 1 cup of water and bring to a simmer. Add the quince, apple, cranberries and raisins and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until thick and jammy, about 25 minutes. Discard the star anise. Serve the chutney warm or chilled.

Makes about 3 pints.  The chutney can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks or canned as follows:

Canning Instructions
  1. Wash your water bath container and lid with warm, soapy water.  Rinse thoroughly and then fill with enough hot tap water to cover the tops of the jars by an inch.  Cover and set over high heat to bring to a boil.  It will take a while. 
  2. Meanwhile, wash the bands, lids, and jars in warm soapy water and let air dry on a clean towel or clean dish rack.
  3. Fill a tea kettle with water and also bring it to a boil then keep on a simmer.
  4. Prepare the recipe according to the directions and let cook for the needed time.
  5. Meanwhile, place the empty jars in the rack and set above the water bath. (Always sterilize an extra smaller sized jar or two in case your recipe makes more or less than estimated.  You might not have enough to fill a pint but enough to fill a 12, 8 or 4 ounce jar.)  Fill the jars with the hot water from the tea kettle and slowly lower into the waterbath and cover.  Jars filled with liquid will easily immerse into the water bath.  Empty jars will float and move around annoyingly.  You can use tongs to control the immersion, just be careful of getting too close to the hot water.  Let the jars stay immersed as the water boils, which will sterilize the jars.
  6. Place the lids in a small saucepan and cover with an inch of the simmering water.  This will soften the rubber seal to complete the actual canning.  Home canning kits come with a magnet for easy removal of the lids from the hot water.
  7. As your recipe nears doneness, place a ladle and and a canning funnel (if using) in the boiling water bath for sterilization.
  8. When the recipe is ready, uncover the water bath, raise the rack of jars above the boiling water.  Uncovered, the water will likely stop boiling but that's OK, just keep the burner on high.  Lift a jar from the water bath and empty the water back into the water bath.  Place the jar next to the stove, insert the funnel, and using the sterilized ladle, fill the jar leaving a quarter inch of head space (i.e. a quarter inch of empty space between the top of the food and the top of the jar).
  9. Place the funnel into a clean coffee mug or something similarly sized.  Using a clean paper towel, wipe the top of the jar clean of any food residue.  This residue is what could spoil even if you canned properly so it's important that the top of the jar where the seal forms is CLEAN!  Remove a lid from the simmering water and place on the jar.  Screw on the band without overly tightening and set aside.
  10. Repeat filling the jars until you've used up all the chutney.  Any partially filled jar can be refrigerated rather than canned.
  11. As you remove the last jar from the water bath, replace the lid to bring the water back to a boil.  Place the canned chutney back into the rack and lower into the boiling water.  Let process in boiling water for 15 minutes.  That is, if the water isn't boiling when the jars are immersed, don't start the timer until the water is at a rolling boil.
  12. Remove the processed jars from the water and let stand on a cutting board or your counter.  Listen for the lids' popping sounds as the seals are formed when the jars start to cool.  This can take several hours but usually occurs within minutes of the jars coming out of the hot water.  If the lid does not seal, i.e. you can push it down but it pops right back up, then the jar will not seal and it should be refrigerated.  Otherwise, label your jars, store in a cool place, and impress your friends with your homesteading talents.

*Actually that sentence is not entirely true. As soon as I started hitting the Dupont Circle Freshfarm Market in the summer of 2005 following a pivotal trip to Switzerland, I became a locavore, perhaps a bit late to that party, but then locavore wasn't Oxford's word of the year (therefore making it passe) until December of 2007. And making the homemade ice cream certainly coincided with my then newfound farmers market dedication. I mean blueberry cheesecake ice cream is as good a way to preserve fresh bluebrries as jam, no?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Rick Bayless's Caldo de Pollo Ranchero

Caldo de Pollo Ranchero
A perfect fall soup, garnished with Thai purple basil and asiago! (Con permiso!)
The homemade tortillas were NOT successful, but make for attractive styling.  Besides, that's what chilaquiles are for!
I believe that the designation of "ranchero" in the Mexican kitchen means "ranch or farm style" in the sense that the dish is simple and rustic and could easily be prepared to serve a crowd of ranch hands at the end of a hard day's work. Rick Bayless's Caldo de Pollo Ranchero is as much chicken soup comfort food as any mom's could be, and it's a wonderful dish for early fall when summer vegetables are available but on the wane and the temperatures start to drop.   Indeed with the last corn, green beans, and summer squash for the year, this soup was my kiss goodbye to summer 2011.

Just in case I may have thought my uppity self in charge of that determination, Mother Nature weighed in giving Washington, DC and the whole northeastern part of the country this past weekend an abrupt taste of what's in store for winter.  An October snowfall that was a dusting in the city, left greater accumulations out toward the Shenandoah and up to a foot of snow in northern New Jersey where my mother lives and left tens of thousands of north-easterners without power for Halloween!  Of course, no wintry mix is going to deter yours truly from hitting the farmers' market.  Indeed, since attendance was so sparse, my 12:00 saunter down to the market revealed to me what I've been regularly missing out on: an abundance of offerings that are usually seen only by the pre 10 am folks!

I loved Rick Bayless's Mexico: One Plate at a Time and the PBS series that featured the recipes. It was a rather highly scripted production with Rick starting the episodes in the U.S. and then seeming to bop down to Mexico to put the food in context and then heading back home to complete the preparation. Rick really wanted to teach the genius of la cocina Mexicana, not just demonstrate a bunch of recipes adapted for the American palette. For that reason, his cookbook is not necessarily for weeknight meals (though there is Mexican Everyday), depending on the recipe. Usually I reserve a Sunday afternoon to embark on one of his culinary adventures, and the result is always worth the effort.

However, the reason I went to this dish for lunch following my market trip was that 1) I didn't have to make my own chicken stock as the first step and 2) I had leftover roasted chicken as well as braised cabbage and carrots from the previous night's dinner that simplified the preparation that much more.  In fact, the recipe I'm presenting here is surely an adaptation of Rick's because I used what I had on hand, which is not what is in his list of ingredients in all cases.   I've embarked on the soup to nuts preparation, usually when I've been away from my own kitchen but since we're talking about making chicken soup, it's certainly enough to capture the spirit of the recipe, especially when one's main goal is to get something hot and delicious on the table on a cold day.  Surely it's hard to go wrong here if you're using what you like/have on hand.  If you'd like, please compare my truncated version to the whole enchilada, which is blogged about over at The Gluttonous JD, a Chicago law student with a passion for all things food.

My mental image of how this dish would have been eaten has a bunch of men in cowboy hats sitting around a fire and being served up bowls of this soup in enamel coated metal bowls. Because the chicken meat is not torn from the bone and the corn is not cut off the cob, you might have to eat this dish with a fork, knife, AND spoon plus your hands. For eating indoors or with company, you might want to tear the chicken off the bone and cut the corn off the cob, but of course that is up to you.

Incidentally, the importance of sharp knives was brought home when I was cutting the kernels off the cob for this soup.  My usual tip is to prop the husked piece of corn on one end and cut corn off part of the cob that is touching the board, then flip the cob over and cut off the rest of the corn.  This usually results in less corn on the counter and more on the cutting board.  However, the cause of corn flying all over is actually very simple: the knife is dull.  Now you may have just given the blade a few swipes on the sharpening steel, which is helpful and hones the blade, but it's not nearly as good as getting your knives professionally sharpened.  I got all three of my Wusthof knives sharpened for free at Sur La Table during an October promotion, but the normal price is just $1/inch, so for less than twenty bucks I could have had this done years ago!  The knives are almost scary sharp.  They cut through onions, tomatoes, baguettes, etc. like a dream.  With minimal pressure, the knife will slip into whatever's being cut and then the weight of the blade does the rest.  Those corn kernels fell neatly to my cutting board like I've dreamed of, with nary a one on the counter.

So what follows is my simplified  adaptation of Bayless's Caldo de Pollo Ranchero.  Please refer to the The Gluttonous JD if you'd like to make your chicken stock from scratch to start this recipe.  Otherwise take a little help from the store and use a rotisserie chicken and prepared chicken stock to get this recipe going in the fast lane.

Caldo de Pollo Ranchero
adapted from Rick Bayless's Mexico: One Plate at a Time

2 quarts of chicken stock
into a five to six quart soup pot and bring to a simmer over medium to medium high heat.  As the liquid comes to a simmer, add
1 large onion, finely chopped (reserve a quarter to half a cup for garnish if you're OK with a raw onion garnish, otherwise put all the chopped onion into the pot)
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram (I used a teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (again, I used about a teaspoon)
1 pound of tomatoes, half inch diced (I've also used a 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes with their liquid in a pinch)
1 pound of small new potatoes, halved or quartered to be of uniform size (I used about a pound of assorted small red, purple, and yukon gold potatoes halved and quartered for a very attractive presentation)
2 to 3 carrots, peeled and cut into half inch rounds and
kernels from two large ears of husked corn.
2 teaspoons of kosher salt and
fresh cracked black pepper to taste and
simmer for about 25 minutes until the potatoes are tender.  Then stir in
half inch cubed pieces of cooked chicken (skinned breast and/or dark meat if you have it) and
1 cup of chopped, blanched green beans (I also had leftover half a head of braised cabbage that I added as well).  Let simmer for a few minutes then taste and adjust the seasonings of salt.
Garnish as you please with
chopped scallions, chopped onion, sliced rings of jalapeno, chopped cilantro, queso fresco, etc.  (I went very nontraditional and used purple basil, pickled jalapeno, and fontina, pictured above.)
Buen provecho!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

"Massaged" Kale Salad

 Massaged Kale Salad
Photographed in the nick of time! 

My but it's been a long time since I've blogged here! Seems I only get to blogging once Thanksgiving arrives then I get too busy over the remainder of the holidays! Not that I haven't wanted to post a recipe or two but with work travel and our trip to France this past summer, I've been pouring my time and energy more into Yelping reviews of places I've been rather than blogging about meals I've prepared. But then something happens that knocks one's socks off because it's such a simple recipe, uses an innovative technique, tastes delicious, and what do you know, it's also chock full of superfoods and is also incredibly healthy.

The epiphany happened at this past Saturday's farmers' market at 14th & U right in my own little neighborhood at my favorite farmers' market. A local blogger was giving out samples of a salad she'd made with ingredients from right there at the market that day, the name of which is intriguing enough on its own—massaged kale sounds so intimate—but then of course it also tasted like something you'd definitely want more of, probably going back until the serving dish is empty, because why not? One can't really overindulge in a superfood salad, right?

Looking at the kale salad, I thought the greens must have been blanched or something. They still looked curly but had gone from that ashy green of fresh kale to the forest green of flash cooked kale. Ah, but in actuality, there was no cooking involved whatsoever, unless you count toasting the nuts in the oven, which I didn't bother with myself, and I don’t know if the nuts used at the market had been toasted at home and brought with or just chopped up on the spot. The kale itself had gone from raw to looking cooked by being massaged with salt until the point that the salt wilted the kale enough to eliminate its raw toughness.

So the massaged kale salad looked appealing, but then I got hit with a wallop of deliciousness with the apples, nuts, dried fruit, and a touch of goat cheese. There’s something about cruciferous vegetables (anything in the cabbage family including kale, chard, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kohlrabi, et al) and their affinity with sweetness like that found in apples and dried fruit. In fact, one of the versions of cooked kale I like to make has the same ingredients—minus the goat cheese—and I believe that dish is Catalonian in origin. The flavor profile of the kale salad then was something familiar though its raw texture was completely new to me. I have to wonder if this recipe arose from the raw food movement actually. Hmmm…

There's also something inherently pleasurable for me in using my bare hands in the kitchen, whether it's kneading bread, making meatballs, or fluting a pie crust. Now I can add massaging kale to that mix of tactile kitchen pleasures and learning through the sense of touch when a certain food becomes "ready." The original recipe recommended a five minute massage, so I set my timer and got in there with my hands. Truthfully, the kale had reduced to one half to one third its original volume in about 2 minutes, but I kept going another thirty seconds because I couldn’t believe that raw kale had changed so dramatically in so little time. The salt really did its magic! I used two teaspoons of salt, which may have been too much and the reason the greens transformed so quickly. Perhaps with just a teaspoon of salt the massage would have taken longer, but I’ll find out next time.

Using salt for a quick pickle of raw vegetables is a technique I first experienced in a cooking class in Japan, where we made a carrot salad whose first step involved salting julienned carrots for a bit until the carrots would become soft. Readers of this blog may remember my favorite coleslaw recipe involves softening the cabbage with salt for up to four hours as one of the first steps after the shredding. Even making preserved lemons is another way of letting salt, one of the most ancient preservatives in the world, do its thing. So the concept of wilting the kale with salt instantly made sense to me. I just couldn’t believe how simple it actually was. Next time I’ll probably rinse the salted kale in my salad spinner to eliminate some of the lingering saltiness.

I was so struck with tasting this salad at the market that I decided on the spot to make it for lunch. Having forgotten to buy lettuce at the farmers’ market, I actually used the salad on a smoked turkey sandwich in place of the lettuce—it was “salad” after all. But then we finished off the rest of it because it was just that good. Fortunately I had the presence of mind to take a picture of my plate because I knew a blog posting would be in the offing.

Of course it’s the massage technique that is the star of this recipe. For that reason, one shouldn’t get caught up in the particular ingredients of the recipe in any case. You’re just making salad—or kale slaw if you will—so put in what you like and have on hand. Instead of dried cranberries as in the original recipe I used pomegranate seeds, since I had half of one left over from making a fruit salad earlier in the week. Any nut would make this salad sing, and already planning to serve for a dinner party I might make it with toasted pine nuts. Indeed with its colors, the salad seems like a perfect dish for Christmas with the greens, the dried cranberries (or pomegranate seeds in my case) plus the apple. I defy anyone not to love this dish that is both delicious AND healthy!

Massaged Kale Salad

With great thanks to A Bikeable Feast and Ibti for making this salad at the market and opening up a whole new world of cruciferous salads/slaws to me! Here is my heavily annotated recipe, written thusly to encourage you to make this salad with whatever you may have on hand that you might enjoy as part of this salad.

Ingredients for four servings
  • a handful or two of nuts or seeds, toasted (optionally) and chopped if necessary (I used almonds and didn't toast; pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, or sunflower seeds would not need to be chopped obviously; flax seeds are too minuscule to use here)
  • kale, tough stems removed, leaves chopped, rinsed, and dried somewhat (it's hard to say how much kale to use here. I usually buy kale and other greens tied and bunched together and I know that two bunches make 4 cooked servings. However, I started with one bunch for this recipe which filled my salad bowl before I started the massage. So the best measure might be "a decent sized salad bowl full of raw chopped kale.")
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, a bit more if needed (two teaspoons was too much because a bit too much saltiness got into the kale, although the massage time was cut in half from Ibti's 5 minute recommendation. Then again that could have been because of my man hands.)
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 -2 tablespoons vinegar of your choice (I used plum wine vinegar, but again, use what you like/have on hand. Apple cider or balsamic is recommended in the source recipe, but sherry or another wine vinegar, etc. would work just fine.
  • half a medium red onion, diced or sliced thin (to take the sharpeness out of raw onion, cover the sliced onion for ten minutes with vinegar or with water and a teaspoon of sugar; rinse, then pat dry lightly. Onion flavor, yes, onion breath, no! Or just use a sweet onion like a vidalia.)
  • One medium apple, cored and diced or cored, quartered and thinly sliced crosswise into quarter circles (kohlrabi or pear would make an apt substitution here, or go exotic and try a fall fruit like persimmon)
  • a handful of dried cranberries (any dried fruit will do here: chopped apricots, raisins, dried cherries, etc.; I happened to use fresh pomegranate seeds actually)
  • a few turns of fresh cracked pepper (you probably won't need any more salt)
  • a few pieces of goat cheese (or chunks of feta or shavings of a hard cheese like parmagianno or manchego) to garnish
  1. (Optional) Toast the nuts or seeds of your choice on a cookie sheet or in an oven proof skillet in a 350 degree oven for 5 to 8 minutes, longer if they're large pieces like walnuts. Set a timer but let your nose be your guide. If you can smell them, they're a minute or two from ready. I prefer toasting in the oven to the stovetop because they require less attention and you don't have to keep moving them around in the pan. Once when toasting pumpkin seeds they went past toasted and I thought I smelled bacon cooking before I realized the seeds were in the oven. They were still edible even on the dark side of toasted.
  2. Sprinkle the teaspoon of salt over your kale and toss lightly to distribute. Again set your timer for 5 minutes and then get in there and massage the kale by squeezing the cut pieces to soften and allow the salt to wilt the kale. ( I wonder if the same effect could be achieved by drizzling the salt over the kale and then just let it sit on the counter for a few hours to macerate. Hmmm...) Very quickly the kale's color will change to a forest green, the pieces will soften, and the volume will reduce by more than half. Your salad bowl that was once heaping with greens will be reduced to a few large handfuls of greens. For me this transformation took about two minutes. But if you're reluctant to manhandle your greens or better yet, if you've got the kids helping you, let it go the for the full five!
  3. Optional step: Rinse the wilted kale. Taste the wilted kale and if you think it's a tad salty, give the wilted greens a rinse in cold water and spin dry in your salad spinner. You do have one don't you? You really should if you want to dress any salad properly and shaking in a kitchen towel is far less effective. Because I used the two teaspoons of salt, there were two tablespoons of very salty liquid that I poured out of my salad bowl after the massage, so the rinse would have been a good idea had I not been so hungry and impatient.
  4. Drizzle the olive oil and vinegar over the greens, add the remaining ingredients except for the cheese, and toss to combine and thoroughly dress every leaf of kale.
  5. Serve on individual plates and garnish with the cheese of your choice, or leave the cheese out to make it vegan.
  6. Devour with the full knowledge that not only are you eating something delicious, it's also damn good for you!