Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mediterranean Kale

Our family is relatively new to greens; collard, kale, mustard. Neither I, nor my husband, grew up eating the stuff. However, you can call us converts now.

Having researched the nutritional values of kale and other greens, I was amazed to learn that they are considered superfoods. Kale has very high amounts of vitamins K, A and C; it is a good source of manganese, fiber, calcium and many other vitamins and minerals; all with very low calories (36 per one cup serving). Added to this powerhouse of nutrition, kale as well as collards are known to prevent the occurrence of various forms of cancer, they aid in eye health and they have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. What is not to like about this food?

This summer, I have been buying bunches of kale from my local farmers market, of course organic or "better than organic" as some of my farmers say. Looking for creative recipes, I ran across one that sounded delicious in one of my new cookbooks, Eating Local. Looking through another coookbook my mother loaned me, Mediterranean: Food of the Sun, I realized that this type of recipe is traditional in Italy, Spain and many others. In Spain, it seems to be made with spinach. The traditional recipes also call for pine nuts, but as I didn't have any on hand, I did without.

Serves 4

2 Tbsp raisins, golden if you have them
1/4 cup hot water
1 1/2 lbs or a large bunch kale, any variety
3 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 large shallot, chopped
sea salt

Put raisins in a small bowl, add the hot water, and let soften 10-20 minutes-until plump.

Rinse kale well, removing all traces of dirt, bugs, weed seeds, etc. **Remember, organically produced food may not be the prettiest, but it is so much better for you.

Put a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat.

Remove and discard (in your compost) the tough center ribs from the kale. I do this by laying the kale on a cutting board, folding the leaf in half along the rib line, and slicing the rib clean off with a sharp knife.

Add kale to the boiling water and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and immediately run cold water over kale until it is cool. Drain and press or squeeze out excess water. Chop coarsely with a sharp knife.

Heat a large stainless steel pan over medium to medium high heat. Add the olive oil and heat until hot, about a minute. Add the garlic and shallot. Saute for about one minute, stirring with a wooden utensil. The shallot will be tender while the garlic will turn golden and slightly crisp. Add the kale and drained raisins. Cook, stirring, 1-2 minutes; until kale is coated in olive oil and the whole is hot throughout. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pancake Crepes with Raspberries

This is not a true crepe, rather my experiment with a pancake recipe forgoing any rising agent. True crepes have a large liquid to flour ratio. I have had crepes before, however, I do not prefer them. I love a good pancake and so do my sons; we make them frequently around here. I have, for some time now, wanted to see what happens when you leave out the chemical rising agent (baking soda, baking powder) when making fluffy pancakes. Our home has increasingly become a chemical free zone as we have replaced our usual grocery store products with, from-nature-as-God-had-intended, natural and organic products. I read food and product labels religiously and even if there is one thing objectionable in the mix I will not buy it.

Anyhow, back to my recipe. These pancake crepes turned out so well, I will be making them all the time in the future. As sometimes happens with fluffy pancakes, these are not dry or pasty, nor do they require one to douse the whole bottle of maple syrup on top. These come out moist, tender and sweet.

Makes six 5" pancake crepes:

1 large free-range egg
1 cup all purpose, unbleached organic flour
3/4 cup milk, non-homogenized
2 Tbsp organic sugar
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp pure vanilla
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon

Beat the egg in a medium sized glass, ceramic or metal bowl until fluffy. Beat in remaining ingredients until just smooth. Do not over mix; too much mixing will give these a gummy texture.

Heat a stainless steel pan over medium heat. When the pan is heated up, add a small swirl of olive oil, turning pan to coat the bottom. Let oil heat for a few seconds.

Pour pancake crepe batter onto hot pan until roughly 4-5 inches in diameter across (or the size you prefer.) Cook cake-crepe until edges are dry and only the middle seems uncooked. Flip and cook on other size for a very short time, until golden on bottom.

Watch cake-crepes carefully. Stainless steel pans cook more efficiently, so it may be necessary to turn down the heat a bit to avoid burning the cake-crepes.

If not serving cake-crepes as they come off the pan, hold in a pre-heated warm (200°) oven, in a single layer on a towel covered cookie sheet.

Serve hot, with a drizzle of pure maple syrup and a few raspberries on top.