Super Kale Salad – You’ve Gotta Try it to Know if You Like it

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“One of these days, I’m going to teach you how to cook,” I offered, as playtime wound down and I begged off to go start dinner.

“Okay, Mimi, what can I do?” my four-year-old granddaughter quickly returned.

As she helped wash the kale, she surprised me as she spontaneously put a piece in her mouth to taste it. It didn’t make it past her palette, but I was impressed that she tried it. She’s a picky eater. Usually it takes rewards (AKA bribes), withholding her favored foods (AKA threats), and other such crazy antics to get her to try something new.

“Don’t put it back in the bowl if you don’t like it, put it in that side of the sink.” She promptly took me up on the suggestion and spit it into the sink. Following her lead, I tried a piece, too, straight from the colander.

(Ever done that?)

Together, we agreed kale tastes pretty nasty by itself.

“Well, it will taste much better once we get the dressing on it,” I reassured her, knowing full well she didn’t believe me.

She watched as I chopped it finely, asking “What else can I do, Mimi?”

“You can help me squeeze the lemons to make the dressing!”

She remembered squeezing lemons for lemonade last summer. What a memory, I marveled. I wondered if neural pruning would snip that memory as she passes through this critical phase of brain development.

“Be careful, now, hold it down so it doesn’t squirt in your eye.”

All proceeded nicely with this process until she dropped the lemon into the juice, and, wouldn’t you know it?  A drop of lemon juice splashed right in her eye. 

Several blood-curdling screams later, as we washed her eye and gave her a towel, she ran upstairs to change, apparently more mortified that her pirate outfit got wet than that her eye suffered a shockIng sting.

Assured she was fine, I peeled and diced the garlic, crushed it with salt using the end of tongs (the pestle is missing from our mortar and pestle), added the oil and lemon juice and tossed it into the diced kale.

Adjusting for taste with a few dashes of bread dip seasoning made for a simple but powerful transformation. I could have added more to this simple salad, but for tonight, it was enough.

Hubby reminded me at dinner that he likes my kale salad better than any we’ve had in restaurants. Hmmm, I guess I should post it on my recipe blog, then, thought I. It was a bit too late for a lovely photo, as we had almost devoured it by then. Here’s what was left:image

Unfortunately, as anticipated, granddaughter wouldn’t try it again, so she didn’t get to experience the transformation from Yucky Kale to Super Kale salad. Instead we heard the usual, “I don’t like that!,” and it was a little more difficult for me to try persuading her with the old “You don’t know if you like it unless you try it” response.

Kale really is a super food; you just have to find ways to bring out it’s best side so it gets past your inner picky eater. Here’s the recipe, in case you need it spelled out. Experiment with additives, changes, to suit your taste:

a bunch of dark green leafy kale (remove spines, dice, enough to fill a large salad bowl, there’s some shrinkage when dressing absorbs)

2 lemons (juice of)

4 cloves garlic

1 -2 tsp salt

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

bread dip seasoning

Directions:

crush garlic with salt

add oil and lemon, stirring into the crushed garlic and salt blend

pour over kale, toss

season to taste with bread dip seasoning (a few shakes)

toss again and set aside

flavors improve as salad rests in dressing while dinner cooks

toss again just before serving

Enjoy!

If you would like to read more on the amazing qualities of kale, here you go:

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/11/06/kale-benefits.aspx

For a different sort of fare, see:

joantwarren.com

Garlic and Rosemary Lamb Rib Chops in Cabernet Demi Glace

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Here’s one from Christmas 2013 that I have been meaning to post. I apologize for lack of photo, next time I make them I’ll add one!

This past Christmas, my sweetheart and I found ourselves having Christmas dinner alone. Did we feel lonely? Not particularly! We’ve been blessed with so many great family dinners, we chose instead to spend the evening enjoying each other’s company over a quiet dinner. This meal was enhanced by enjoying lamb rib chops that were the best we’d ever had. The amazing thing about them was that I made them, recipe and all! We both decided this is our new holiday specialty. Family, be prepared, you will taste them at some point in the future!

These are reminiscent of Garlic and Rosemary Lamb Chops in Cabernet Demi Glace that we had once at a Stonewood’s Restaurant, but could not find a recipe for, and they don’t seem to be on the menu anymore. They often serve their ribs with mint jelly, of which we are not big fans.

Ingredients:

2.25 – 2.5 lb lamb ribs, meaty (6 ribs usually)

2 T minced garlic

2T fresh or 1 T dried rosemary

1/2 c olive oil

1/2 c cabernet sauvignon

1 T coarse sea salt

1/2 T (yes, tablespoon) coarse ground pepper

1/2 t dried thyme

2 T butter or margarine

1 c chicken or beef broth

1/4 c Half and Half

dash dried mint

Preparation:

Crush garlic and rosemary together with salt, pepper and thyme (mortar and pestle style)

mortar and pestle

-Add oil to make a paste

Cut ribs apart and trim extra fat (leave some for good flavor and texture)

Smother/rub the garlic/oil mixture onto chops, mainly on meat areas

Set aside to come to room temperature, about 45 minutes to an hour

Heat a small amount of oil to medium high in large skillet, add chops and cook about 5 minutes each side, turning to brown evenly and check the temperature

At 125 degrees F, remove chop to warm spot

Discard all but about 2 T oil mixture from pan

Add wine to the pan and cook, scraping pan, to reduce by one half

Add broth, dash of mint, and reduce by one half again (5-10 minutes)

Incorporate butter, then Half & Half, adjust seasoning to taste.

Serve rib chops with about 1 T Demi Glace atop each one

These are great with garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus.

Close enough to heaven for us. Enjoy!

For another sort of fare, visit my other blog at

joantwarren.com

Quickie Caribbean Chicken Soup

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A Surprisingly Delicious Soup Created from Memories of Pollo Tropical’s Caribbean Chicken Soup
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Hubby has a cold and really wanted a hearty chicken soup for dinner. It was late, we didn’t feel like driving 30 miles to Pollo Tropical for his favorite Caribbean Chicken Soup, so I searched the web for a recipe for same. Finding nothing, I decided to improvise. A quick trip to Publix and in about an hour we had a tasty soup, plenty for four very large bowls. The result: one happy hubby, one blogging wife, and now, you too, have the option to experience the pleasure!
Ingredients:
1 Publix rotisserie chicken, Mojo flavor
1 small calabaza squash
1 green plantain, on the ripe side

Happy Plantain, about this ripe!

Happy Plantain, about this ripe!

1 medium sweet potato
1 small package frozen yuca
1 cup frozen sweet baby peas
1 cup frozen sweet and white corn
1/2 cup diced onions
1-2 tablespoons garlic (minced, fresh or jar)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried cilantro
2 packets Badia Sazo’n Tropical (con culantro y achiote, with annatto and coriander)

This stuff

This stuff

1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cartons chicken stock (7.6 oz each, College Inn, Bold Stock, Rotisserie Chicken flavor)
Juice of 1/2 lime and 1/2 orange or tangerine
2-4 cups of water
Directions:
Cut the calabaza squash into several large pieces and scoop out seeds and strings. Place skin side up on plate and microwave 5-8 minutes (this step makes it a lot easier to skin and cube)
Meanwhile, saute’ onions and garlic in oil in a large soup pot, until golden brown
Peel and cube plantain and sweet potato
Add these to the onion to saute’ briefly, stirring occasionally to prevent burning
Add the broth, frozen yuca, peas, corn and seasonings and bring to boil
Cut up the chicken breasts and leg meat, discarding skin (or, if you can’t resist, have a taste of the skin before you discard it)
Save the wings for tomorrow’s lunch
Add chicken pieces to the boiling mixture
Keep soup at a lightly rolling boil, stirring occasionally.
Remove the calabaza from microwave and using a knife and fork, carefully (it’s hot!) cut the flesh away from the skin, cubing it as you go and slipping the cubes into the soup
Remove the large chunks of yuca from the soup with a slotted spoon
With a fork and knife, slice these lengthwise into quarters, remove the center spine, then cube the yuca, and return it to the soup (you may not need all the yuca, you decide)
Let cook until the yuca cooks all the way through, tasting and adjusting seasonings/water amount as you wait, adding water as needed to keep enough fluid to stay soup instead of a stew
Ladle into soup bowls and serve with French or Cuban bread slices. Cures what ails ya.

For a different kind of fare, visit my other blog at

joantwarren.com