Wish Upon A Dish: March 2012

March 31, 2012

"It's New To You" recipe contest entry - Cabot Cheese Cheddar Croquettes with Tamarind, Apple & Ginger Chutney

Through the wonderful women who host the Recipe Redux, I received free samples from Cabot Creamery of the cheese mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Cabot Creamery Cooperative and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Cabot is asking us to showcase one of their reduced cheddar cheeses in a dish using a vegetable, fruit or whole grain we have never cooked with.

Cabot Reduced Fat Cheddar is:
* Low in Carbohydrates
* High in Protein
* Lower in Fat
* Lower in Sodium
* High in Calcium
* Naturally Lactose-Free
* Naturally Gluten-Free

I narrowed my choice of fruit to tamarind for three very good reasons. A package in my pantry was never opened, I have never cooked with it and it is used world-wide. It seemed like the perfect ingredient and time to use it. I did know tamarind was very sour and used as a condiment in sauces, drinks and desserts, but what I did not know is it is used most in South Asia and Mexico.

Asian foods make up a large portion of diets here in America and you could not get more Americana then a Cabot Cheddar Cheese. I decided to marry the two.

An East Meets West that Ming Tsai would be proud of. What would go better with cheddar than a Tamarind, Apple and Ginger Chutney.

I hope you find this recipe combination as delicious as my taste-testers did and Ming, if you are reading this, I give you permission to use these two "heros" in one of your shows.

Cheddar Cheese Croquettes with Tamarind, Apple & Ginger Chutney
Serving: 3 croquettes served with 1/4 cup chutney

Makes 3 cups chutney

* 1/2 (14oz) package wet tamarind pulp
* 2 cups hot water
* 3/4 cups sugar
* 1/2 tablespoons roasted ground cumin seeds
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
* 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
* 1/3 cup crystallized ginger, minced or 2 teaspoon ginger powder
* 2 gala apples, peeled, cored and diced
* 1/4 each red pepper and sweet onion, small dice
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 2 tablespoons apple butter (optional)
* 1 teaspoon Colemans Dry Mustard

Makes 12

* 6 ounces 50% reduced fat Cabot Cheddar Cheese, grated
* 1/4 cup flour
* 1/4 cup unsalted butter
* 1 cup 2% milk
* 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
* 12 egg roll wrappers

Chutney Directions
1. Break the tamarind into small pieces and soak in hot boiling water for one hour.
Using your hand, squish the pulp through your fingers, breaking up large pieces, until it is all smooth. Strain, pressing the tamarind into the strainer so that all the pulp comes out.
2. Place strained pulp into heavy bottomed sauce pan and add sugar. Heat to a simmer and add the remaining ingredients, mixing well. Simmer for 45 minutes or until the apples are soft and translucent but mot mushy. Taste for adjustments and add more sugar to taste and a pinch of salt.. It should not be sweeter then it is sour.
3. Chutney can be refrigerated for two to three months.

Croquette Directions
1. Melt butter in a small saucepan. When melted add flour and whisk to incorporate. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
2. Add milk and whisk until mixture is a smooth sauce. Remove from heat, add cheese and continue whisking until the cheese melts. Add smoked paprika and set aside.
3. Spray a square 9" cake pan with release agent. Pour cheese mixture into prepared pan and store in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.

4. Cut cold bechamel into 12 squares.

5. Place one egg roll wrapper on board, corner at bottom. Carefully remove one square with spatula and place it at bottom of egg roll wrapper.

6. Brush water on corner under cheese and roll up cheese and press corner down, covering cheese.

7. Roll cheese over itself (2 rolls total) and wet left and right corner. Fold each corner over cheese roll and press.

8. Wet top and roll wrapper all the way up, sealing corner to wrap.

9. Place egg rolls on sheet pan and place in refrigerator until ready to fry.

10. Heat 1" of canola oil in saute pan until wooden spoon, when placed in pan, bubbles immediately.

11. Saute on one side for 2 minutes, carefully turn over and saute other side till golden brown. Remove to a paper towel lined sheet pan with a rack set on top.

Serve 3 croquettes with 1/4 cup chutney per person or platter of 12 with 1 cup chutney.

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March 29, 2012

Not a Lemon, Lemon Cake

I love that you can start your day with one plan in mind and after 20 minutes you have completely changed the direction of your day.
This lemon cake started out as a chocolate bundt. Well, I bought a boxed chocolate cake mix and somehow it ended up as a lemon pound cake. I am blaming this on Ina Garten. Seems the exact time I was reading emails, she was baking this on her Food Network show.
I can not say no to lemon anything. Yes, even when chocolate is a choice. I will grab the lemon every time. Problem with my cake baking, I am not good at it, so when I do see something I just have to take a chance at, it had better be a basic dump cake.
Ina always comes to my rescue. She gets me. Even I can be successful with her recipes.
Hey, want to hear a few food facts?
Why do we eat a sweet after dinner at the end of the day?
Ever hear these sayings?
A sweet treat is a reward for surviving another day? or, Leave the sour day behind with something sweet?
No? OK. Do you know why hotels almost always leave a piece of chocolate on your pillow?
Sounds weird? Think about it.
Is it to wish you "sweet dreams"?, to sweeten the tip or is there really a story behind it?
Some say Cary Grant started the tradition in St. Louis when he tried to woo a woman who was staying there. Every night he would have the staff send up chocolates to her room. I imagine he was successful and I am sure the hotel sold that idea to others, using this story to seal the deal. Others started to do the same thing and voila!! A tradition was born.

Let's get cooking.....

Lemon Yogurt Cake
Courtesy of Ina Garten
Makes 1 loaf
* 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I combined 1/4 cup hi-maize cornmeal + 1 1/4 cups AP)
* 1 tablespoon cake enhancer
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
* 1 cup coconut palm sugar
* 3 extra-large eggs
* 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
* 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 1/2 cup vegetable oil
* 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice + 1/3 cup granulated sugar (for glaze)

For the glaze:
* 1 cup confectioners' sugar
* 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl.
In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it's all incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.
When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar and lemon juice and pour over the cake.

Review: I know my glaze was too thick so it did not run down the sides and since you pour it over all at once, there was no going back. Next time I will forgo the glaze completely and serve with creme fraiche. A good, easy, go to recipe.

March 28, 2012

Stone Milled Rye Bread - Reuben's All Around

I have been planning on making this Reuben sandwich since the day I baked my Mustard-Honey Corned Beef Brisket.

Turns out because Panera's Stone Milled Rye contains whole grain flours it fits right into my pledge to eat a grain a meal for four weeks.

My homemade sauerkraut is as healthy as a vegetable can get and the beef as lean as they come.

We are not a sandwich family nowadays but The Nudge grew up on sandwiches. Six kids taking lunch to school, his mom would slap one piece of bologna and cheese on two slices of Wonder Bread and send them on their way. Not much of a sandwich but for eight years that's what he ate every day.

I remember after we were married we would pop over to do laundry and she would make us a sandwich. Ham and Swiss replaced bologna and American and rye sat in for the Wonder Bread.
One piece of meat, one slice of cheese. Somethings never change.

I guess those sandwiches became a comfort food for him, the memories overshadowing the ingredients. The minute he sat down in Panera's and took a bite out of this sandwich on Stone Milled Rye I could tell he was thinking of all those days, right before his Mother passed, that he would stop by for a lunch visit, grocery bag in hand with deli sliced ham and cheese and a loaf of Beefsteak Rye. Had to be Beefsteak seedless rye or don't bother coming over.

The minute he mentioned that rye bread, I knew I was making sandwiches, and soon. The fact that corned beef brisket was everywhere, made it a no-brainer.
I would make Reuben's.

Rye bread, Russian dressing, corned beef, sauerkraut, Gruyere cheese and mustard. Anyway you make them, it can't be bad.

The construction of a Reuben can go two ways. Open-faced or grilled. In this house it usually means I will be making both.

Excellent, excellent, wonderful and yummy. I love the fresh sauerkraut, just the right amount of sour to balance out the honey braised beef. If you have the time to make the kraut, you can purchase sliced deli corned beef and make these tomorrow.

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March 27, 2012

Lightened Caramel Apple Cheesecake

I have made my share of cheesecakes over the years but I have never tried to lighten them up. I find that fat-free cream cheese just doesn't produce a good baked cake (something about the science of fat).

When I agreed to lighten up a few of Annie's recipes, I wasn't expecting a cheesecake, but once it was chosen, I took up the challenge. You can easily dial-in America's Test Kitchen and find a respectfully good recipe for a low-fat light baked cheesecake. Not what I wanted to do.

What I decided to work on was a uncooked version. A caramel cheesecake mousse with sauteed honeyed apples.

I did not want to use any white sugar and everything had to be fat-free which presented a problem...how to make caramel without it. I remembered Daisy Martinez make a Dulce de Leche in the oven using only sweetened condensed milk. Easy to do and they make a fat-free version now.

I was halfway there. The rest was basic mousse 101.
The end result....a light, fat-free caramel cheesecake mouse with honey baked apple slices served with a 1% whipped cream. A very decadent, creamy but light cheesecake dessert with a substantial difference in the nutritionals.

We adore cheesecake and we did not miss a thing. The Nudge said "best remake yet."

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Mousse
makes 6 servings
* 90g sweetened condensed fat free Dulce de Leche milk (recipe follows)
* 8 ounces low fat cream cheese, room temperature
* 1 apple, peeled and sliced
* 1 tablespoon honey
* 1 teaspoon butter
* 1/2 cup 1% milk whipped with 1 package Dream Whip (makes 2 cups)
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Whip cream cheese with Dulce de Leche. Remove to a bowl.
2. Whip milk with Dream Whip according to directions. Fold 3/4 of the whipped milk into the cheese mixture. Refrigerate both mousse and remaining whipped topping overnight.
3. Melt butter and honey in a non-stick skillet and place the apple slices in skillet in a single layer. Saute for 3 minutes on high heat. Flip over, cover with a lid, turn the heat down to low and cook for 15 minutes.
4. Spoon a few scoops of mousse into a serving glass and top with apple slices and a dollop of whipped topping.

Dulce de Leche
Empty the contents of a can into an oven-proof dish; sprinkle with some kosher salt and tightly cover it with foil.

Place the covered dish in a larger roasting or casserole pan and fill it up with water until it reaches three quarters of the up the covered dish to create a water bath. Bake at 425 degrees F for 60-90 minutes checking every 30minutes on the water level and adding more as needed.

Dulce de leche is ready when it takes on a brown and caramel-like appearance. Remove from the oven and whisk to smoothness. Let cool before storing.

Assembly of Parfait (starting at the bottom):
Graham Cracker Crumbs
Caramel Cheesecake Mousse
Honey Apples
Whipped Topping
Graham Crumbs
Honey Apples
Whipped Topping
Graham Crumbs

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March 26, 2012

Mom's Nutty Granola

I just confirmed a two week Transatlantic Cruise to Europe. In two days we had flights and rooms confirmed. It still hasn't sunk in, I mean, as of Thursday we were still thinking of where to go on our 30th Anniversary.

This will be my 13th cruise (no, I am not superstitious) but only my second time to Europe. This re-positioning cruise is only a few years old and the fact that we leave out of NJ is a big plus. No worries about customs, luggage and not starting the vacation until you spend a day flying. Soon as we get into our room, we unpack and off to explore the ship, find a lounge, have a glass of wine, make a toast and wait for them to get underway. Up to the top deck to wave goodbye to the Statue of Liberty as we float under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. YAY!!

The best part of this is I will actually be meeting second cousins in Rome. We decided to extend the vacation two more days so I can see the Coliseum, have my gelato and hug all my cousins (I may need more then two days for that alone!).
I never thought I would actually stand on Italian soil. I am, needless to say, in seventh heaven.

With 6 full days at sea I will be attending cooking classes, wine tastings and maybe even a painting class. I know I will be playing bocce ball and I will be eating some of the best meals on one of the best cruise lines and taking plenty of notes so I can come home and extend my vacation even longer. It also means I should plan on eating a very healthy diet for the next four weeks.

Starting tomorrow we will TRY to start a four week grain diet. This diet plan includes a grain at each meal, and each meal will be gourmet. No plain dishes here or I would never get The Nudge to participate. I am not designing my own plan, I am following a Food and Wine diet that was developed using existing recipes published on their site created with a Registered Dietitian.

I probably won't use all their recipes, we are not fans of tofu or oatmeal, but I will use a grain in all of the meals.

List of Whole Grains

I am starting the week off with a nutty granola. I like that this granola is more nuts then dried fruits and will make a very nice breakfast over yogurt.

On vacation I eat Muesli over yogurt, so I am truly getting into the European breakfast.

Mom's Nutty Granola
Makes 7 servings

* 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
* 1/2 cup unsalted roasted peanuts (I added cashews)
* 1/2 cup unsalted roasted almonds
* 1/2 cup unsalted roasted pumpkin seeds
* 1/2 cup unsalted roasted sunflower seeds
* 1/4 cup wheat germ (I added bran)
* 1/4 cup Nutritional Yeast (I added this)
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 tablespoon hot water
* 3/4 cup honey
* 1/2 cup vegetable oil
* 1/2 cup raisins (I added mixed fruits)

1. Preheat the oven to 325°. In a bowl, toss the oats, nuts, seeds and wheat germ. In a small bowl, dissolve the salt in the hot water. Whisk in the honey and oil. Stir the liquid into the nuts to coat thoroughly, then spread on a large rimmed baking sheet.

2. Bake the granola in the center of the oven for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until nearly dry. Turn off the oven and prop the door open halfway; let the granola cool in the oven, stirring. Toss the granola with the raisins; store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

I bought a box of 2% milk to go to work with The Nudge so he can eat his granola cereal-style. My first homemade granola. I know, what the devil took me so long?

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March 21, 2012

Honey/Maple - Recipe Redux Challenge March 2012

You can't get a better Whole Food than honey.

While I have 5 different honeys in my pantry I did not know until accepting this challenge that according to the American Dietetic Association, the glycemic index will vary depending on the type of honey you use. Floral honeys tend to have the lowest GIs, so use them to sweeten the foods you eat. According to the Glycemic Index Database, locust honey has a GI of 32, yellow box honey has a GI of 35 and stringy bark honey has a GI of 44. Other honeys release their energy faster and are classed as medium on the glycemic index. These tend to be the commercial blends, clover honey which has a GI of 69 and pure honey which has a GI of 58.

I used honey sparingly as a sweetener and like many, fell into the void of the Agave debate.
Nothing wrong with agave but there have been questions about how natural and organic it really is and there still isn't enough long term research to safely say it is better then honey for diabetics. After learning that there is a honey I can consume as a Diabetic (very low on the GI scale), I found a locust honey on Etsy and used it in the following recipe.

They had wild caught Sea Trout on sale in my market and it looked so good I decided to switch the salmon for the trout. The Nudge liked it better because although it has the same nutrition benefits as salmon it does not have that salmony flavor some people find unappealing. If you are one of them, you must give this fish a try.

I have to say this was one tender fillet cooked to perfection.

The sauce was not overly sweet and the flavors played well with the fish.
Thank you, Recipe Redux, for if not for this honey challenge, I never would have known about a natural and safe sweetener that will literally allow me (and as many diabetics as I can find) the chance to bake sweet things responsibly.

PS - The Nudge thanks you too!!!

Asian Honey-BBQ Sauce
makes 4 servings
* 1 cup pineapple, minced, with any natural juice
* 1/3 cup onion, chopped fine
* 1/4 cup honey (I used locust honey)
* 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
* 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
* 2 tablespoons lime juice
* 2 tablespoons white wine
* 2 teaspoons ginger, grated
* 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch (optional)
* 2 jalapenos, chopped
* 1 clove garlic, chopped
* 1 pound protein (fish, seafood, chicken or pork)

Mix everything (except fish) in a small sauce pan and simmer until it thickens, about 35-40 minutes.

Mussels: Pour sauce into a large dutch oven or wok with a lid and place over heat.
Clean mussels and when sauce is simmering, drop the mussels into the pan, cover tightly and cook for about 5-7 minutes until all the mussels open. Discard any that do not.
Serve in pan or pour into a large bowl.

Fish Fillets: Place fillets into baking pan, spoon sauce over and bake, uncovered for 15 minutes at 425°.

Meat: Cover meat with sauce and roast in 400° oven for 35-40 minutes for chicken, 35 minutes for pork chops and tenderloins.

Serve with sesame noodles, fried rice or pot stickers. Process the sauce and strain for a wonderfully healthy dipping sauce for grilled shrimp and chicken fingers. The kids will love it.

March 19, 2012

Guinness Stout Chocolate Cake with Irish Mist Cream Cheese Frosting

Dessert for the The Nudge must be chocolate. Funny, but this chocolate thingy is recent.
Just like having dessert every night. I don't think he has been able to put his finger on the moment he realized he even had this love affair with chocolate.

Men are a strange bunch, making them think they do things for you when inevitably they are doing it for themselves. How many times have you heard, "well, I thought YOU liked the color blue."

Same with "I order chocolate cake because I thought you liked it and I wanted to share it with you." Ahem!

I am making a traditional Irish dinner this weekend, the steak a no-brainer, but we needed a dessert. I always know that a week before any holiday requiring special foods, there would be gazillions of ideas out there. I just was not in the mood to search a gazillion idea sites.

Somehow I found myself in an on-line newspaper, having clicked on a recipe for a Guinness-Marinaded Rib eye and just as I clicked the "Pin It" button, it hit me. OMG, that's where I can get a dessert without wearing my fingers to the bone.....Pinterest.
Dangerous place, but OH, how intrigued I was. Just when you think, the Internet has come up with just about every conceivable online forum, someone steps up and knocks us over and we all say "now why didn't I think of that?" I was hooked.

Simply Recipes was right there with THE perfect recipe for a chocolate loving man and all on one site. How glorious is that?

The Nudge might not be able to remember starting his love affair with chocolate but I sure can remember when I put my finger on the moment I realized I also had a love affair.....with Pinterest.

Oh, the things I do for love.....

Chocolate Guinness Cake
Makes one 8-9" cake

* 1 cup stout or porter, such as Guinness
* 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
* 1 1/2 cups superfine sugar (just process regular sugar to 30 seconds)
* 1/2 cup ark brown sugar
* 3/4 cup sour cream (I used full fat Greek Yogurt)
* 2 eggs
* 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
* 2 cups all purpose flour
* 2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* Irish Mist cream cheese frosting (recipe below)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 8 or 9-inch springform pan with butter and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.
2. In a large saucepan place the beer and butter. Cook over medium-high heat until the butter has melted. Add the cocoa powder and sugars and whisk together. Take off heat and allow to come to room temperature.
3. In another bowl beat together the sour cream, eggs, and vanilla extract until very, very well combined. Add to the butter-beer mixture and whisk together.
4. In another bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the beer-butter mixture and whisk together until it just comes together. Pour into the prepared pan and give the pan a few short drops onto the counter top to shake the air pockets in the batter to the surface and out of the cake. Bake for 50-60 minutes (mine was done in 45). Allow to cool on a wire rack. Run a knife around the edge to separate the cake from the pan and pop the ring off the springform.
5. Spread frosting on the cooled cake and serve.
After I baked this cake I realized I should have used two round cake pans, so I had to cut the cake in half to put a layer of frosting in between.

Irish Mist Cream Cheese Frosting

* 1/2 cup of butter (1 stick), room temperature
* 8 oz of Philly cream cheese (1 package), room temperature
* 2 - 3 cups of powdered sugar
* 1 teaspoon reduced Irish Mist

1. Reduce 1/2 cup Irish Mist to about a teaspoon.
2. With an electric mixer, mix the butter and cream cheese together, about 3 minutes on medium speed until very smooth. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure even mixing.
3. Add the Irish Mist and mix. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Keep adding until you get to desired sweetness and thickness.
4. Either spread on with a blunt knife or spatula, or spoon into a piping bag to decorate your cake or cupcake.

I am a fool as a baker, but this recipe was foolproof. Make this even if it isn't for St. Patty's Day, your leprechauns will love you.

If you ever want a chocolate cake that will roll your guests eye's and make their socks do the jig, make this cake. I am serious. The Nudge told me he could eat this all week and not get sick of it (which is a miracle in itself, half my baking goes into the garbage can). Maybe he's trying to tell me something, Pinterest just might be MY "Pot O' Gold".

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March 17, 2012

Guinness-Marinated Steak

St Patty's Day in my house. I married the most un-Irish, Irish man I could find. I swear, I am more "Irish" then him.

For example....he refuses to eat cabbage, and if he eats corned beef it's piled high on two slices of rye with a good Dijon mustard. He loves a really good Aged Cheddar but only if its from Canada. He drinks a light Amsterdam beer and would not be seen within 5 miles of a parade.

I firmly believe St. Patty's Day and all the Irishness that surrounds it, is celebrated more by people with no Irish heritage (like me) and the real Irish retailers are simply cleaning up because of that. Excuse me here, need I remind you of Cinco de Mayo?

That aside, if you go to Ireland you will not find a lick of corned beef. But I imagine most of you already knew that. What I love about all this is the story behind how corned beef became an Irish tradition in the United States.

Story has it that a pub in New York never received his delivery of meat for his traditional party after the St. Patty's Day parade (which is also an American invention) so he ran to a local Jewish Deli down the street and bought all the meat he could. So happens, all they had enough of was, you guessed it, corned beef. Long story short....into a pot with the potatoes and cabbage (quickest way to cook it) it easily replaced the expensive bacon usually eaten with cabbage and an American Irish Tradition was born.

Last year I did make an attempt at what might be considered an appropriate Irish-themed meal (but still no corned beef) and cooked a pork tenderloin with a Guinness Sauce. Well, they do eat pork across the pond.

When your other half can not care less about a traditional St. Patty's Day meal and is not fond of Guinness enough to join the ranks of drunk green beer drinkers (that would be I), you simply go to the store, buy a pint of Guinness and cook with it. I can be as green as the best of them.

My contribution for St Pat's this year is a Guinness Steak, mashed potatoes and Brussel Sprouts. Yes, baby cabbage he will eat (close enough for me).
A menu any leprechaun would enjoy.

Never one to waste a half pint of Guinness, a Stumbled on a a Chocolate Stout Cake with Cream Cheese Icing that I think will make us happy we are "wearin'o the green". You think next year I will finally get my Corned Beef Hash?

Guinness-Marinated Steak
* Rib-eyes or flank steak
* 1 pint of Guinness beer
* 2 large red onions, cut into 1/2 inch rounds and skewered through the middle
* 1 5.2-ounce container Boursin cheese, frozen
* Kosher salt
* Freshly ground black pepper

1. Pat the steak dry with paper towels and place in a shallow, nonreactive container. Place onion slices on top of the steak and pour in the Guinness. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours, or up to overnight.
2. Remove the steak and onions from the marinade and brush lightly with oil and season with salt and pepper. Heat indoor grill over high heat until very hot. Place steak and onions on the grill and Cook until the steak and onions have browned nicely, about 6 to 8 minutes, then flip and continue to cook until the other side is browned and the meat is done to your liking, about another 5-6 minutes for medium rare. Remove from the grill, shave a thin layer of Boursin on the top of the steak and onions and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Since I discovered this recipe for sprouts, I make them no other way. Thanks Deb!!

I also grilled a halved heart of romaine lettuce and made a Caesars Salad Dressing (yes, from scratch) and the hot of the lettuce with the cold dressing and interior was a big hit.
I know I will be making grilled romaine all summer, all with different dressings and toppings.

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March 16, 2012

Mustard-Honey Braised Corned Beef

I had no intention of buying a corned beef brisket. Not only am I not a fan of boiled meat, I made this big stink about corned beef not even an Irish food, and if I WAS making a St. Patty's meal it would be made with traditional Irish Pub foods.

As with, in every market across the US, corned beef is on sale and I am sure, in a cabinet, right at the entrance of the store.

What is it about sales that make cooks buy things they really don't need?
And yet, there I was, flipping packages of hermetically sealed, pink hued chunks of meat.
Even worse, I managed to flip one into my cart.

The Nudge had a good time with this, when I had just told him I was not buying corned beef.

I know he laughed all the way upstairs. Well, I would show him.

I am still not making a corned beef. What I am making, is the best mustard braised brisket for Reuben's that he ever tasted, so there!

After I made the glaze and poured it over the meat, I wrapped it tightly with foil in a pan the same size as the meat and placed it in a 170° oven to braise 10 hours.

When The Nudge got up for work, he shut off the oven and when I woke up it was perfectly cooled for me to handle.

I boiled the sauce down to the thickness of an olive oil, sliced the brisket and in a Rubbermaid container it went. The key to any brisket is to slice and store in it's juice overnight so the moisture goes back into the meat and makes it sublimely out of this world.

While I was sneaking the end piece, I was thinking that "this is the best damned corned beef I ever had. I might just have to make this more often."

When The Nudge tells me that he wants this once a month, I will bow my head and tell him "Well, if you insist. For you, my dear, anything!"

Then get up from the table and laugh all the way upstairs.

Mustard Honey Braised Corned Beef
makes enough for a 3 pound brisket

* 1/2 cup country-style Dijon mustard
* 1/2 cup honey
* 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

Mix and spread over fat side of brisket. Wrap tightly in a baking pan with minimum 1" allowable space around the edges.
Bake for 10-12 hours at 175°. Remove and cool to touch.
Slice into 1/4" slices and place in a container.
Boil braising liquid to the thickness of olive oil and pour over sliced brisket.
Store in container at least 1 week to 10 days.


March 15, 2012

Biscuits, Plain and Simple

The other night I had some time to kill before The Nudge got home for dinner and found myself thinking about biscuits. I never think of biscuits. Oh, I might entertain a slight passing moment on a scone or roll, but never biscuits.

These were not only easy, they were perfect.
First time I was in the Joy of Baking site, and wow they have some mighty powerful goodies there. Scares me to death, I might actually want to start baking on a regular basis.

Nah, no chance of that but if I should want a quick bread, biscuit or scone recipe, I will be in there faster then a souffle deflating.

Although they recommend mixing by hand, I choose to use the Ina way with my Kitchen Aide.
As long as you don't over mix, you will be fine.
Remember, I can't bake a lick and if mine turned out perfect, you will have no problems, trust me.

I used a 2 1/2" cookie cutter and if I had re-rolled the scraps I would have gotten 10. If I make these again, and I will, I will use the 3" cutter for larger, English muffin sized biscuits.

A sprinkling of some good sea salt and cracked pepper on top of each as soon as they came out of the oven made them more savory.

These were so good, The Nudge asked for egg and bacon biscuit sandwiches on Sunday and he got them. I am always happy to oblige a happy customer.

Biscuit Recipe
makes 9-10 biscuits

* 2 1/2 cups (325 grams) all-purpose flour
* 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1 tablespoon (14 grams) granulated white sugar (optional)
* 1/2 cup (113 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
* 3/4 cup (180 ml) milk
* 1 large egg, lightly beaten

* 1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs (use pastry blender, two knives, or fingertips). Add the milk and slightly beaten egg and stir until just combined. (The texture should be sticky, moist and lumpy.)

Place mixture on a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough gently until it comes together and is a smooth dough.

Roll out dough to about a 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) thickness. Cut out biscuits with a lightly floured round cookie cutter. Place on prepared baking sheet and brush the tops with the beaten egg and milk mixture and bake for about 10 - 15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the biscuit comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack. Serve warm with butter.

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March 13, 2012

Two for Tuesday - Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

When I was working retail, I managed a million dollar store and I was very good at delegating but the one thing I continue to I stink at is time-management, namely mine.

Not wanting to throw just anything in a pot, I took my time and put a substantial amount of thought into this dish. The whole idea of us doing this is to show people that by making small but substantial changes in the ingredients they usually cook with, they can make a very healthy rendition of a dish I think their family would not object too.

I finally found the time this weekend to finish up my second collaboration with Annie Bakes, which is a healthier version of Chicken Spaghetti Casserole. While the concept of cleaning out our refrigerator to use up all the odds and ends is something our Mommas taught us, I have found we all make different dishes with them.

I make a soup every week and Annie bakes a casserole. I am a soup junkie and Annie's family loves a cheesy casserole. It's all good, but sometimes even good can be better.

If your family is like Annie's and loves casseroles but you would like to lighten them up a bit, you don't have to stop making them, just switch the canned soups to the low-fat, low-sodium ones that are readily available and you can cut the fat and sodium just doing that alone.

Turns out my soup was as thick as a chowder and satisfying, very creamy, tasty and, yes, cheesy. Instead of baking the cheese in the dish, I made a Parmesan crisp, that I floated on the chowder, with a pile of mozzarella on top and baked in the oven until oozy, gooey good.

Annie's Original Chicken Spaghetti Casserole
Serves 6
* 12 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) broken pasta
* 1 can (10 3/4 ounces) cream of mushroom soup
* 1 can (10 3/4 ounces) cream of chicken soup
* 1 cup sour cream
* 1/2 cup milk
* 1/4 cup butter, melted-divided
* 1 tablespoon parsley flakes
* 1 teaspoon garlic powder
* Salt and pepper, to taste
* 2 cups mozzarella cheese-shredded
* 1 cup Parmesan cheese-grated
* 1 cup frozen peas
* 1 medium onion, chopped
* 5 cups chicken-cooked and cubed
* 1 1/2 cups cornflakes-crushed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. In a mixing bowl, combine the soups, sour cream, milk, 2 tablespoons butter and seasonings. Add the cheeses, peas and onion. Stir in the chicken and pasta.

Pour into a greased 9 x 13 dish. Combine the cornflakes and butter and sprinkle on top. Bake, uncovered for 40-45 minutes or until bubbly.

I eliminated the corn flakes completely and got the crunch using a Parmesan crisp. Using less cheese and butter = much less fat.

Sue's Chicken Spaghetti Chowder
Serve 4

* 1 (12oz) package button mushrooms, sliced
* 1 1/2 cups broken whole wheat angel hair pasta, or any soup pasta
* 1/8 cup flour mixed with 1/3 cup chicken broth
* 1/2 cup fat-free evaporated milk
* 1 quart low sodium chicken stock fortified with 1 chicken bouillon cube
* 1/2 sweet white onion, chopped
* 1/2 medium carrot, diced
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 2 bay leaves
* salt & pepper
* 1/2 cup white bean puree
* 2 cups cooked chicken, bite-sized pieces
* 1 Parmesan cheese rind
* 1/2 teaspoon dried whole thyme leaves
* 1 tablespoon dry sherry

makes 4 crisps
* 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese
* 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, grated

Baked 4 piles of Parmesan cheese at 325° for 9 minutes. Cool.
Place 2 tablespoons mozzarella on each crisp and bake at 375° until the cheese melts.

1. Heat stock to a boil and add all the ingredients except the chicken, lowering heat to a simmer for 30-35 minutes until the carrots are soft. Add chicken, remove cheese rind and bay leaves. Adjust seasonings.

Fill 4 bowls with the hot chowder and place one cheese crisp on top of each bowl.

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March 8, 2012

NY Giants Tour

Last year The Nudge got tickets to a Giants game and we always do the tailgating thing. This year after a grilled steak and salad, we found ourselves with a good 90 minutes of kill time so we took off and headed for the stadium.

The new stadium, which houses both the Giants and the Jets, needed a sponsor because it is no longer just Giants Stadium (money talks), so naturally it is no longer Giant Stadium and now it is Met Life Stadium. Just seems unnatural after going there for 30 years to see the new sign.

To kick off the new season, it just so happened, they picked the day we were there to celebrate Met Life Day. Running all sorts of games and giveaways along the bottom level, we stumbled upon a computer game that had you answer questions about the Giants within a certain amount of time. My puter prowess with The Nudge's knowledge of sports was almost a guarantee win and we were actually the big winner and won a tour of the team facilities. Soon after the Super Bowl, we got the Email invite.

They promised us a surprise guest and we each could bring two items that could be autographed. I wouldn't bet on Manning but it would be nice if it was a player I actually recognize (The Nudge wanted a first string player).

The training facility is new, built one year before the new stadium was opened last year. With lots of empty land in the Meadowlands, they really spread the building out. I guess with all those large football monsters you need something substantial.

Twenty feet within the entrance you see this. Who would not be impressed? Four Super Bowls? Only a selected few could boast about that. I grew up with the Giants having lived two miles from the Stadium, and Phil Sims was a neighbor of mine. I knew him before he got married. A scrawny beanpole, just his first rookie year. We played a lot of pool in his newly rented (by the Giants of course) house in Lyndhurst. He holds a special place in my heart and The Nudge thinks he's pretty cool too. He still lives in New Jersey, his boys off on their own football careers.

They played a video of last years highlights leading up to the Super Bowl and then of course, the highlights of the Super Bowl itself. Our special guest turned out to be the current center for the team, Kevin Boothe. He spent about 15 minutes answering questions.
At twenty-six he was still a baby but he looked twice his age. They sure do grow them different nowadays.

After he was done, we were lead down a hall to the weight room. It must be a sight to see when they are all there. Each player has a book with daily goals and are responsible for obtaining them. They will be back around the end of April, first of May to get back into shape but the actual filed practices won't start until June/July.

This is not your average Gold's Gym. Poor hubby, he couldn't even lift the lightest dumbbell there.

The Nudge's wish of standing next to a lineman set this pic up, but I was at the other end of the room so I am sorry the picture wasn't a good one. All of a sudden I hear, Sue, Sue, and a finger beckoning me to take the picture, NOW. I know hubby is only 5'7" but this guy made him look, well, my height. The Nudge said he was laughing so hard because I walked with Kevin to the practice field and I came up to his mid chest and he wished he had the camera for that picture.

This is their video room, where the local Giants interview show is and any interview that maybe, ESPN would like to do on location, and all the films that are sent to the sports channels.

Everyone took a pic of this special locker....THE MAN himself, ole Eli. I bet he has someone clean his locker., men are just not that neat. I had such a good time, taking pictures of the little boys with their dads, who asked me if I would please take a pic of them together. How could anyone say no to that?

Guess you can tell 'who' spends their Monday mornings in this room, going over Sundays highlights, good or bad. Each part of the team has their own room. Offensive linemen, Special Plays, defensive linemen, receivers, like I said, HUGE.

Full sized replica of the stadium field, right down to the turf. I asked Kevin which stadium, besides Giant Stadium, that he loved to play in and his answer was not that well received due to a major rivalry between them, but they all agreed, Jerry Jones missed nothing when he built the new Cowboy's Stadium (which we won in three times mind you).

After the tour, we ended our night with a very nice meal in the cafeteria where the players eat. At any time during the season, they could have 80 monsters piling huge amounts of protein on their trays. They don't stop preparing food until the last player is tucked in for the night.

All in all it was very nice, a small intimate look at a team that has been around for decades. We had our thoughts about wasting our time, but we both agreed, it was a good night and we were glad we did it.
We did find something out that surprised me. Everyone who works for a winning Super Bowl team, from owner to trash man gets Super Bowl ring.
Not bad being this is their 4th one. I would love to cook for this team.

Hope you enjoyed a little slice of our night.

GO G-Men, Big Blue rules!!!!

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March 6, 2012

Two for Tuesday - Scalloped Corn

The Nudge was away all last week. He could not have picked a better time to leave me alone. I have a million things to do and making dinner every night was not one of them.

Since I have been blogging, I pretty much have stayed to myself, not really interested in networking or making contacts. I was all about the diabetic side of life and let's face it, two years ago no one cared about diabetes. Things are finally changing, for the better.

This week I am helping a fellow blogger to lighten up a few of her recipes. I think shes curious to see if healthier foods can taste just as good as the full, fledged caloric counterparts. I am about to prove the later.

She sent me the link for her Scalloped Corn.

Only scalloped dish I have ever made is potatoes but no bread crumbs, no cheese, just butter & cream. To make sure I was even in the right ball park, I checked out a few recipes and sure enough, cheese, eggs, cream, bread crumbs. This would be interesting.

I never ate Annie's corn but if she says its really good, I believe her. I can see from the ingredient list it is buttery, cheesy and creamy.

This was Annie's posted recipe......

Annie's Scalloped Corn
Serves 8

* 3 tablespoons butter
* 1 cup saltine crackers-coarsely crushed
* 1 onion, finely chopped
* 1/2 cup orange or yellow peppers-finely chopped
* 2 cups corn
* 1 can (14.75 ounces) cream-style corn-undrained
* 1 cup saltine crackers-coarsely crushed
* 1 cup half and half
* 3 eggs, lightly beaten
* 1 small jar pimiento-drained
* 3/4 Gruyere cheese-grated
* Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 x8 baking dish or 2-quart casserole; set aside. To make the topping: Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet, add the 1 cup crushed saltines, cook and stir until golden brown. Remove from heat and pour into a small bowl; set aside. In the same skillet, melt the rest of the butter over medium heat, add onions and pepper, saute until tender, stirring occasionally. Add the corn, whole can of cream style corn (liquid and all), rest of the crushed saltines, half and half, eggs, pimiento, gruyere cheese, salt & pepper. Mix well and transfer to the greased dish. Sprinkle with the topping saltines, bake, uncovered, 30 to 35 minutes.

This is my recipe.........

Sue's Scalloped Corn
Serves 8
* 1 teaspoon olive oil
* 2 tablespoons minced red pepper
* 1 package frozen Birdseye Southwestern Corn (about 2.6 cups), divided
* 11 ounce can Mexicorn, drained
* 2 tablespoons masa harina (corn flour or corn meal)
* 1 tablespoon Butter Buds butter sprinkles
* 1 can evaporated skim milk (6oz)
* 1/3 cup fat-free half and half
* 1/2 cup egg beaters (or 2 eggs)
* 1/2 teaspoon each-cajun seasonings, adobo powder and onion powder
* 1/4 teaspoon garlic chili sauce (or hot sauce)
* Freshly ground black pepper
* Salt to taste
* 2oz fat-free cream cheese
* 4 ounces reduced fat Swiss, grated (I used Sargento)
* 1 cup panko crumbs
* 1 teaspoon butter buds
* 1 teaspoon olive oil

1. Saute red pepper in a Pam sprayed non-stick pan until softened. Add the drained, canned Mexicorn.
2. In processor, place 1/2 bag frozen corn, masa harina, butter sprinkles, cajun seasonings, adobo powder and onion powder. Process until almost smooth.
3. Whisk together, egg beaters, evaporated milk, half & half, chili sauce and contents of processor bowl.
3. Add milk/egg mixture back into the saucepan with the red peppers and Mexicorn and gently heat to a simmer, stirring constantly until it thickens. Remove from heat and stir in cheddar and cream cheeses and 1/2 cup panko. Stir until cheese has melted and taste for seasonings, making any adjustments.
4. Pour saucepan contents into a 2 quart or 9"x13" baking pan that has been prepared with a release agent.
5. In a separate small bowl, mix 1/2 cup panko, 1 teaspoon butter sprinkles and teaspoon olive oil. Spread evenly over top of corn mixture, cover tightly with foil and place in a preheated 350° oven for 20 minutes.
6. Remove foil and bake until top is crunchy and browned, about 15 minutes. Cool and serve.

A huge difference in the nutrition facts. Even if you doubled the recipe the only thing that would change is the calories. The percentages stay the same.

This recipe produced a creamy, sweet, substantial casserole with lots of flavor and a little heat.
Would also be good at room temperature making it perfect for a picnic or pot luck.

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March 5, 2012

Creamy Carbonara Spinach Tortelloni

I love Pasta Carbonara and I use this Jamie Oliver version. Lots of egg yolks, pancetta and cream. This is one dish that although is decadent in it's classic form, it can easily be made healthy and still maintain it's "creamy" core.

Two things...buy the best ingredients you can and buy fresh pasta.

Fresh pasta is better for a diabetic than dried, but if you can not find fresh, I would recommend Dreamfield's. As with any pasta, remember to NEVER (and I can't stress this enough) over cook to that gooey, gummy stage. This applies to everyone that eats pasta....when you over cook, not only does it taste like wall paper glue, it causes the digestible carbohydrates to quadruple (bad, bad, bad).

Since I always feel I am splurging when I eat this, it makes a great first course at a dinner party and wait till you hear the comments when you reveal the secret. You must try this version. As long as it takes to boil the water and cook the pasta, is as long as till dinner is served.

Pasta Carbonara
makes 4-6 servings

* 1 pound fresh whole wheat spinach tortellini
* (2) 1/8th inch slices pancetta, diced
* 1/4 cup egg beaters (or 2 egg yolks)
* 1/4 cup fat free half and half (or heavy cream)
* 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
* salt & pepper
* olive oil
* 1 cup pasta water

1. Set a pot of salted water to boil.
2. In a saute pan, add a teaspoon of olive oil and cook pancetta until crisp and browned.
4. Whisk the egg, parmesan cheese and cream in a bowl and add to the pancetta.
Bring to a simmer and it will thicken.
5. Strain the tortelloni, saving a cup of water. Dump the pasta into the sauce pan, stir to coat, adding water to thin the sauce (you will use at least 1/2 cup). Remember, fresh pasta is a sponge and will soak up that sauce faster then you can get it to the table.
6. Serve with extra cheese.

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March 3, 2012

Hi-Maize Cornmeal Cornbread Loaf

I love corn muffins but they are always made with lots of fats to keep them moist. Why is that? Cornmeal, you see, can be very dry. I have tried on numerous occasions to try to bake a recipe I think will 'be the one'.

How many times have you heard that claim?

I want a corny corn muffin in loaf form that can handle a toasting and a smear of peanut butter. Besides a good high fiber cereal, this quite possibly is the 2nd best thing a diabetic would need to start the day off right.

My idea of the perfect cornbread inner is...a pound cake texture (small crumb), moistness (when you press on the crumbs they stick to your finger tip), great cohesion (can not fall apart when you spread something over it) and of course, it must taste like corn.

I believed such a loaf is obtainable but I realize I am going to have to bake it myself. First thing I did was go to the King Arthur site. They have all sorts of wonderful baking ingredients that can make a bad baker like me look like a goddess. They have all new high fiber flours and meals that are a diabetics dream team.

I ordered a whole grain hi-fiber cornmeal, a high fiber flour blend and a box of cake enhancer. Not knowing too much about baking from scratch, this should be very interesting. Every now and then I tend to get lucky but I am very sporadic at best. I hate to admit this but I actually detest the whole process of measuring and creaming and all those steps necessary to making wonderful bake goods and I have absolutely no patience and find myself cutting corners and ruining the whole project.

Lately I have been setting personal challenges in the baking arena, forcing me to use my brain to find a formula that will work for dishes I just can't seem to get right. I do think if this does not work, I will give up on ever eating a healthy diabetic friendly GOOD corn muffin and stick to fruit quick breads.

I am happy to announce my last attempt was somewhat perfectly successful. I say somewhat because it needs to have a little less of a cake-like interior to be my perfect cornmeal cornbread loaf. I had two eggs in this version so I took out 1 egg and added back the yolk only (posted recipe reflects that adjustment).
I also added a small amount of yeast to the batter. It's an old Italian tip for making a polenta cake light and airy as cornmeal can be very heavy.

Held up to the "schmear of peanut butter" test without crumbling and I also tasted it with regular butter. Not too sweet, has a good corn flavor and I had to seriously stop myself from eating more then one slice. Also would be good with a hi-fiber sugar-free fruit spread. Power food at it's best!!

My Cornmeal Cornbread Loaf
Makes 1 loaf

* 1 3/4 cups High Fiber flour blend (you could use white whole wheat pastry flour)
* 1 cup Hi-maize cornmeal
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 cup buttermilk
* 1/4 teaspoon fast rising yeast
* 1/2 cup unsalted butter or 1 ICBINB stick, melted and cooled
* 1 large egg and 1 egg yolk

Preheat oven to 375°. Lightly grease a loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and soda, yeast, and salt.

In another bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together, the milk, melted butter and eggs.
Pour the liquid all at once into the flour mixture, stirring quickly and gently until just combined. Use a spoon because the batter will be thick, just like a traditional skillet cornbread.
Spread the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for 45 minutes, or until the edges start to brown, the top cracks slightly and a cake tester comes out clean with only a minimal of small crumbs sticking to it.

Remove from oven and let cook completely to set the crumb.
Wrap individual slices in butcher paper and freeze for up to 3 months.


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March 1, 2012

Roasted Kale ♥ and the pizza it went on top of

The Nudge calls me impetuous. I like to think of it as adventurous, and for the record, not when it comes to food or fashion.

Hey, I take my food seriously. As for my fashion, well, nowadays I'm happy if I am washed, cleaned and pressed.

Food fads, lately, have hit the the Internet faster then a pop up store.

Years ago with no internet, a new month, a new magazine in the mail, it was a good thing. You made the experience last until the next month, when the new one arrived.
We devoured those magazines, page by page, gently earmarking each recipe. Then the next one was released and the pile of old magazines grows a little more. You'll never make that recipe.

Blogging has taken the place of snail mail magazines. Now it is called bookmarking (as compared to the earmarking of old), I want to know how many bloggers out there have drafts in their editor that will never be published. Dishes you want to make, but never get to cook. By the time you remember it is even in there, the fad is gone, and everyone has moved on to something else.

Such is my history with kale. Was all the rage about a year ago (a year is a long time online). Yes, it is very good for you, since it was discovered that people actually ate it and it's not just a garnish on your dinner plate.

Why have I never tried it before now? Everyone was cooking with kale and all the dietitians and nutritionists have been singing the praises for years now. Comes down to perception, and being impetuous, or not. Just never thought it looked like something I would like. It was crinkly, curly, stiff and dirty and it just did not look appealing to me, plus, there were a lot of other vegetables that looked, tasted and were just as healthy. So there!!

I have been lambasted no more. Today I bought my first bunch of curly kale. Tonight I eat kale, but not in a soup or a braise or a saute.
I am dipping my toes into the bushel of kale with....da ta ta da......chips!

Skeptical right up to opening that oven door, I was sure this wouldn't work. How can simple oil and salt and a low 300° oven transform an ugly, wrinkly, thick green leaf into a miracle food that everyone was gushing over, and I mean BIG gush.

I wasn't happy with just any salt so I changed it up a smidge, using Sicilian Sumac Sea Salt on mine. If you have not ever tried sumac, I recommend ordering a small bottle from Penzy's and while you are there, pick up a bottle Aleppo pepper flakes. Sumac has a bright lemon flavor to it, a burst of bright flavor that is wonderful as a finishing touch to grilled foods or creamy sauces and it was perfect on my Radicchio Scamorza pizza.

I was wrong, I admit it, a skeptic no more. The critics have spoken and they are correct. They are good and tasty, but it's the texture that has me speechless. When you bite down on a chip it just disintegrates in your mouth. It ends up like food powder with a very unique flavor.

I guess you could call them addictive (especially if you want your kids to eat them), but as an afternoon snack? I would much rather eat a bowl of grapes. Good decision on the sumac sea salt and I think cracking them up into flakes and using them like Parmesan is a good thing. I will make these often, especially if I am making something where I would like that crunch. It's like getting a lot of bang for your buck.

I can give you a few pointers: make sure you take the time to cut or tear the leaves into no larger then 2" pieces, keeping them all the same size. If you have a small sheet pan use two or make a double batch. They need to be in a single layer, not touching each other if possible. It only takes 20 minutes each batch so a double is doable.

Make sure you coat the leaves in enough oil and pick a good fruity EVOO, this is not the place to skimp.

Make these yesterday, and make lots.
I hate when I am wrong, and right at the heel of this fad passing I can say I finally jumped right into that water.


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