Friday night haiku, part two

Hunk of hearty bread

Lentil soup, kale chips and cheese

Mason jar of wine

I was fast asleep until the mariachi band and pirates showed up

Happy Sunday morning. I’ve got a cat on my lap, a mason jar full of blueberry smoothie in my hand and this album on repeat.  It’s a strange January Sunday without the Packers, but we can’t win them all. The good news is we finally got some snow and I have a couple of kale recipes that I have been wanting to share with you. They are really more like suggestions, because I don’t have exact measurements, but they are deliciously simple and I think you will enjoy them. And they both pair kale with parmesan cheese, which is a match made in food heaven.

The first one comes via my friends Martha and Dominic, who had us over for a dinner party a couple of weeks ago. In addition to making a kale salad that I inhaled like it was oxygen, they introduced us to Boggle and a riff on the old Telephone/ Operator game that left me laughing harder than I have in a really long time (it involves drawing pictures and folding the paper and then writing phrases and passing the paper around the circle until ‘Mom said you have to take out the compost’ becomes ‘When you grow an afro, then you can have a dishwasher’ and ‘No Jam sessions, cause you’ll wake up the militants’ morphs into ‘I was fast asleep until the mariachi band and pirates showed up.’)

Whether or not you are a fan of party games, I highly recommend this salad:

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Lemon-soaked Kale Salad with Shaved Parmesan

Clean and dry a bunch of kale and tear it into bite-sized pieces. Marinate the kale in lots of lemon juice (Meyer lemons, if you can get them) and olive oil (allow to sit for several hours, if possible). Right before serving, toss the kale with a pinch of salt, slivered almonds, pomegranate seeds and good shaved parmesan cheese. Devour.

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The second recipe is one that I made up last week when I was craving bean soup, and it turned out quite well, if I do say so myself. I like to call it:

White Bean Soup with Kale, Two Ways

Ingredients:

1/2 onion, chopped

1 or 2 carrots, sliced into rounds

Kale, divided

olive oil

2 cans (15 oz.) of white beans (I used Eden Organic Cannellini and Great Northern Beans)

1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes (I like Muir Glen)

Red wine

Water (6-8 cups)

Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Seasonings: Thyme, Freshly ground salt and pepper, Red chili flakes

Directions:

Warm the olive oil (enough to cover the bottom of the pan) over medium in a heavy soup pot. Add the onions and saute until fragrant (about 3-4) minutes. Add the sliced carrots, some of the kale, and thyme and red chili flakes and saute for a couple of minutes. Add some red wine (the rest of that bottle that has been open too long to drink) and the cans of beans (drained). Add the can of tomatoes with their juice and water (6-8) cups. Cook over medium until it just bubbles and then turn the heat to low, partially cover and allow to simmer for 1-2 hours. 20 minutes before serving, pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the rest of the kale on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Bake until the kale is crisp, but not charred (about 8-10 minutes) and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and salt. At this time, check the soup for seasonings and add salt and pepper. To serve the soup, ladle into warm bowls and top with kale crisps, freshly grated parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve with a hunk of good bread (warmed in the oven) and glass of wine. Especially good on a cold, winter evening.

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I hope you enjoy these recipes. To mis-quote Richard Gere from “Pretty Woman:” ‘I’m high on kale, can’t you tell?’ Cheers.

It’ll be a bleu Christmas, part II

Blue cheese, affectionately referred to as bleu at my house, is the starring ingredient in what has become a mainstay in our dinner repoirtoire: Fettuccine with gorgonzola.

The recipe that I have been using comes from this fabulous cookbook, a gift from my sister a couple of Christmases ago. It’s ridiculously easy to prepare and even ridiculously easier to eat. It’s a great meal for this crazy and hectic period in our lives between Christmas and New Year’s, the winter solstice and Boxing Day, cocktail parties, yoga classes, coffee dates and drinks at the bar… If you catch yourself at home and needing to fix dinner, give this one a try. I like to serve it with a salad of mixed greens, spinach and arugula with a simple vinagrette of stone ground mustard, freshly squeezed lemon and olive oil, and a baguette or hearty loaf from Madison Sourdough Co. Yum.

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This receipe comes from Deborah Madison’s “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone”

Fettuccine with Gorgonzola

Serves 4*

1 garlic clove, thinly sliced

8 ounces Gorgonzola, broken into chunks

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup cream or milk

Salt and freshly milled pepper

12 ounces fettuccine

Start heating a large pot of water for the pasta. Meanwhile, set a large bowl with the garlic, cheese, butter and cream over the pot. As the water heats, the butter and cheese will soften. Don’t worry about lumps of cheese- the heat of the pasta will smooth everything out. When the water comes to a boil, remove the bowl and salt the water. Add the pasta and cook until done. Drain, add it to the cheese, and toss everything with a fork and sppon until the pasta is coated with the sauce. Taste for salt, season with pepper and serve on warmed pasta plates.

*Or two, if you are anything like Dan and me (hungry)

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In other awesome news, my end-of-the-year list featuring the best Wisconsin protest pets of 2011 is featured today on dane101.  Here is a sneak preview:

If you are a pork eater, you can find Dan’s list for Madison’s best meals featuring pork here. We’ve been invited to Merchant tonight so that Dan can try the pork pozole (I will be indulging in the golden beet borscht, thank you) so there may be an update to that list coming soon. I also discovered what surely will be my dad’s new favorite blog, a beautifully-photographed celebration of the day’s most important meal, breakfast.

I fully intend to indulge in a healthy breakfast tomorrow morning before my yoga class and coffee date, but only after my evening run, visit to Merchant and beers with my sister at Natt Spil. It’s a fun time of year.

Cheers.

 

 

Ashley’s sayonara breakfast

Happy heat wave.

This afternoon as I sat idling in sweltering contruction traffic on Willy Street my eyes were drawn to the sign posted outside the gas station that stated: “Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.” Pondering this, I decided no truer words have ever been spoken. At least not today.

It’s been a week since Dan and I rolled up in my dusty car after 23 1/2 hours on the road from our trip to Wyoming. I’ve got loads of stories and even more photos, I’m not even sure where to start. So I’ve decided to begin at the end, with Ashley’s breakfast.

Ashley was one of our two lovely hosts when we were in Jackson and she made us a delicious breakfast of egg sandwiches with truffle aioli and arugula the morning that we had to skip town. The truffle aioli made the sandwich and I intend to pick up a bottle of black truffle olive oil as soon as I win the lottery this week (maybe from the aforementioned gas station).

Forgive me for not having the exact recipe, but all great recipes are meant to be experimented with and modified (for example, I asked Ashley to hold the bacon on my sandwich.) Any way you slice it, it’s going to be delicious…

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Ashley’s sayonara egg sandwiches with truffle aioli

Ingredients:

English muffin

egg

arugula

black traffle infused olive oil

mayo

cheese (optional)

Directions:

Fry an egg over medium. Mix together a small amount of truffle olive oil (maybe a tablespoon) and a couple of tablespoons of mayo (to taste). Toast an english muffin. Spread the truffle aioli on both sides of the english muffin. If you feel so inclined, slice a piece of white cheese and place on one side of the muffin. Place the egg and a layer of arugula (the spicer the better, says Ashley) on the muffins. Make into a sandwich and eat. Enjoy.

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I’ve got to run (into a lake), but stay tuned for more stories, recipes and photos from Wyoming… Until then, stay cool.

The luck of the Kashubs

I’m not Irish, but I am a Kashub. And I am also about a week behind with this post. Time to get caught up and stay up. But back to St. Patrick’s Day…

The weekend before St. Patrick’s Day I listened to a voicemail from Jimmy, a dear (Irish) family friend. Jimmy said that my (Scandinavian) mother had called him up to tell him that I would be all alone on the holiday and would they invite me if they were going to do anything to celebrate? To tell you the truth, I had not yet pondered my alone-ness on St. Patrick’s Day (Dan was on the road with Clovis Mann), but when faced with this apparently sad reality, at least according to my mother, I realized that, indeed, I would be alone on this day of all days. And so this is how I found myself trotting down the bike path on a warm, muggy almost-Spring evening last Thursday wearing my cowboy boots and favorite green top and swinging a brown paper bag containing a block of Kerrygold Irish cheddar cheese from the Willy Street Co-op.

Upon arriving at the party, I was delighted to find a warm group of family friends and a selection of delicious appetizers, including olives, grapes, crackers and cheese, and, of course, beer. The soda bread was out of the oven and the cabbage sat waiting on the counter for its’ turn.

The dinner menu included corned beef for the meat-eaters and vegetarian-cooked potatoes, carrots and cabbage (with a side of horseradish) for those of us who avoid the meat. The soda bread, with butter, was hearty and delicious. Dessert included lime popsicles, various flavors of green-shaded gelato and sherbet and cookies. We talked about politics (how could we not?) and St. Patrick Days past (I couldn’t make some of these stories up if I tried…). It was a lovely evening. Thanks to my hosts- and my mother- for inviting me.

Transcendent eggs

Okay my friends, this is going to be a quickie because I have a Packer playoff game to get ready to watch, but I made something so delicious for breakfast this morning (afternoon technically) that I feel that I need to share it right away. I don’t think that I have ever seen Dan so excited about something that I have made to eat before- he even declared that it transcended eggs and cheese and became a “miracle.” Whoa.

My mom got this recipe from her college roomate and it is called “Baked Roquefort Eggs.” My mom would make them for me when I was growing up when I begged her to… they are not the healthiest, but so delicious!

Ready to go into the oven

Here is how my mom wrote the recipe in the cookbook that she made for me about 10 years ago: “You need an oven proof dish- custard cup size. I put about a tablespoon of butter in the dish. Add 1/4 teaspoon spaghetti sauce seasoning. Then I put this in the oven briefly until it melts. Then crumble bleu cheese or roquefort cheese (amount is your choice) into the melted butter. Crack the egg and add it to the dish. Put a little more butter on the top (optional), salt and pepper and let it bake 10-12 minutes in a hot 450 degree oven. The 12 minute time will give you a hard yolk. This is good with toast.”

When I woke up this morning I knew that I wanted to make these for breakfast- Dan gave me four custard-size dishes for Christmas for the purpose of making these eggs- but I had neither bleu cheese nor spaghetti sauce seasoning. Instead of running to the store, I decided to adapt the recipe. My first instinct was to use a hard parmesan cheese that I had purchased at the Willy Street C0-op. Then I grabbed a softer white cheese and pondered that for a moment before finding a container of shredded parmesan that my mom had left behind in our refrigerator. Upon discovering that the shredded cheese was from Illinois I disgustingly put it back in the fridge- you do not use cheese from Illinois on Packer game day. Searching further I opened some moldy-looking feta (when my mom comes for Christmas from Oklahoma she brings the contents of her refrigerator to merge with our fridge here and always leaves me some goodies behind), threw it away and returned to my original plan of the Wisconsin parmesan cheese. It was a good call. Instead of the spaghetti sauce seasoning, I found some Country French Vinagrette seasoning from Penzey’s Spices. Other than that, I followed the recipe exactly as written (except I used about half the amount of butter).

Ready to eat

We enjoyed these eggs with a piece of whole wheat toast, as my mom suggested, and coffee. Cue Dan declaring the bit about these eggs transcending food. Yum. I am off for a quick run to burn off some of that butter and then it is Packer time. Go Pack Go. Happy Sunday!