Monday, October 28, 2013

Kale with Balsamic Bacon Butter and Quinoa

I've made this dish about five times in the last month.  It's one of the few foods coming from my kitchen lately that I actually cook.  I am in the middle of a very busy photography season and I am swamped with a capital s.

Things here are cray cray.

This dish is pretty straight forward and simple, but BIG on taste.  Seriously.  If you  think you don't like kale, you should try it like this.  Yes, I could have added more bacon, more balsamic, etc, but you can if you want.  I am too rushy rushy at this time in my life and I need simple.  I loooove the caramelized onions in it.

Here are my notes:

--The shredded kale is found at Walmart by the salad mixes.  Love, love, love this new find!  Pre-washed, pre-shredded.  Yes, please.

--Those big globs above are the bacon balsamic butter that comes in the bag with the kale.

--I eat this cold too, right out of the fridge like a salad.

--Put as much onion as you want.  Put as much quinoa as you want.  Sometimes I just make a batch of quinoa which is 1 cup dry quinoa to 2 cups water, and sometimes I cook more.  It's not baking, it's throwing stuff together in a pan.

--I keep saying that toasted nuts would work well in this.  I'm thinking pine nuts.  What do you think?

Kale with Balsamic Bacon Butter and Quinoa 

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium to large onion, chopped
2-3 teaspoons minced garlic
1 (10-ounce) bag shredded kale with balsamic bacon butter (found by the salad mixes)
1/4 cup water
3-5 cups cooked quinoa (1 cup quinoa yields 3 cups cooked) 
Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper

Place the extra virgin olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion when butter is melted.  Cook until golden brown, about 10 minutes, stirring often.  Add the garlic, then add the bag of kale with balsamic butter.  Add a 1/4 cup of water to the skillet and place a lid on top.  Cook for about 10-12 minutes until kale is tender, stirring several times.  Remove from heat and stir in the cooked quinoa.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Sourdough Croutons

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I have been dreaming of making a cream soup since the spring when I won a shopping spree at the Viking store for a recipe contest.  One of the items I chose was an immersion blender, which had been on my kitchen wish list for a long time, and I've had it sitting in its unopened original box in the pantry since April, just waiting for soup season.

The other night I got soup fever, not because there was a chill in the air, OH NO NOT HERE, but because I realized it was the middle of October and I haven't made much soup yet, if any.  So I put together an awesome cauliflower soup and took out my new immersion blender and the thing wouldn't even turn on.  Bummer.  So I went to get my regular blender, which I hate dragging out for hot soups, and when I picked it up, the entire bottom was cracked and I had to throw it away.  So I am basically blenderless.

Life is hard sometimes.

What I finally did was take a potato masher and break it up into tiny chunks, which we all loved.  This soup was wonderful and I really think the croutons added so much, so don't skimp on those.  My four year old grandson made a tiny pig of himself eating a bowl.  That made me happy.

Here are my notes:

-Soup is so easy.  This is super simple and you could add bacon, herbs, different cheeses, etc. to jazz it up but honestly, it was delicious like it was.

-I did measure as I went along, but the measurements are approximate.

-My soup was not watery, but you may want to decrease the water a little if your cauliflower head is small.  Mine was a nice big one.  And I didn't salt or pepper it before I roasted it, but you could.

-Almost all my soups start out with onions, garlic and celery.  I think celery gives great background flavor for soups.

-You could use milk instead of cream.  I would use whole milk though, and not fat free.

-You could use canned broth or stock, or do like I did and use chicken base which is my new favorite staple.  I discovered something about myself recently.  I hate to unwrap bouillon cubes.  I get my chicken base at Sam's club.

-You could certainly puree this is you have the proper equipment.  I don't. :(

-The sour dough croutons.  They are good.  Make them.

Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Sourdough Croutons

1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped, or equivalent from jar of minced
6 cups water 
6 bouillon cubes or 6 teaspoons chicken base
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 heaping tablespoon all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper to taste
Sour dough bread cut into small cubes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place the florets on a large baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.  Toss using hands to cover evenly, then bake for 30-40 minutes stirring a couple of times until tender and golden brown.  

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and celery and cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes, stirring several times.  Add the garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, then add water and the chicken bouillon or base.  Add the cauliflower.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes.

Stir in the heavy cream.  Toss the shredded cheese with the flour in a small bowl, then slowly add to soup while stirring until melted.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Turn off heat.

At this point, you can do several things.  Eat soup like it is.  Or you can use a potato masher to mashed cauliflower into tiny bits which is what I did.  You can also puree with an immersion blender or regular blender.  Serve soup topped with sour dough croutons.

To make croutons, place the sourdough cubes on a large baking sheet, then drizzle with olive oil and toss to evenly coat.  Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown, placing under the broiler if necessary.

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