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Archive for January, 2009

My CSA box last week contained a wide variety of greens: spinach, bordeaux spinach, herbs, kale and collard greens. Collards, a member of the cabbage family and intensely popular in the south, are not a vegetable I’d knowingly encountered before. Apparently Iowa is not suited for growing collards, even though they are a cold tolerant veggie. (Twenty below is unlikely to suit any vegetable…)

The first step in solving a problem is admitting that you have one. I was totally ignorant on how to cook collard greens. I was a bit scared and not sure if I’d like them. All the recipes I was locating on the net were calling for cooking the collards with ham or bacon. Since I wasn’t willing to do this, I asked my culinary lifeline…MOM! Even though she’s not a southerner (unless southern California counts) Mom was able to tell me that you can cook collards just like spinach.

Collard greens with parmesan and walnuts

Collard greens with parmesan and walnuts

Empowered, I washed and cut the shload of collard greens I received. I recently cooked up some swiss chard, so I decided to do the collards a similar way. I sauteed onion and garlic in a mixture of butter and olive oil, salted, and added the chopped collards. It was actually looking pretty good, but as I plated up the green goodness it needed something more. In a flash of brilliance (see how quickly I progress) I sprinkled shredded parmesan on top, then finished it off with some chopped walnuts.

It was so yummy! I became a fan of collard greens today. Who would have thought? Maybe there is a southern lady in me. Now all that’s missin’ is some black eyed peas!

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Little Stuff

Home Made Cottage Cheese

Home Made Cottage Cheese

I’ve been up to little stuff in the kitchen lately.  Last weekend I made cottage cheese based on a recipe from this site. It was pretty easy and made for some decent cottage cheese. I did visit some other sites for help and combined some methods, which I think was the right thing to do. For example, the recipe from the above site just said to add the vinegar. Um, just dump it in or what? Other places said to stir it so I did. I think I’ll do some further experimentation as I delve deeper into the world of cheese making.  I ate some  of the cottage cheese straight up and used some in a pasta sauce along with some spinach. Turned out well and was eaten by both myself and Test Subject Bill.

Tea and crumpets, anyone?

Tea and crumpets, anyone?

Today I made crumpets from the King Arthur Flour website. These things were AWESOME. Even better, they were easy. Now I know what to do with excess starter! All I did was take a cup of starter, throw in some salt, sugar and baking soda, cook ’em up and voila! Brew a cup of tea and you’re practically sitting in the Queen’s parlor. All I did was top mine with butter (although a plethora of toppings would have worked).  I highly recommend this recipe to anyone who has some starter laying around.

I’ve also been experimenting with my new ice cream maker for the last several weeks. I’ve made mint chip, premium vanilla bean and (today) strawberry.  I love this machine way too much. The ice cream is top of the line, and I’m judging based on GOOD ice cream, not crap. I will never buy ice cream again. I would have taken pics of all of them but SOMEBODY (Test Subject Bill) ate ALL the mint chip. If I get a chance tomorrow I’ll post a pic of the strawberry ice cream (a gift from God) after it has a chance to set up a little better. I usually don’t like to buy strawberries out of season because they tend to be hard, not sweet, generally just not good, but I desperately wanted to make this ice cream so I made an exception.  I guess with the added sugar it made up for what the fruit itself was lacking. I can’t wait to make this with real, good, in-season berries in a few months!

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Rye: An Inspiration

I was perusing the latest issue of Vegetarian Times and came across a recipe for Classic Rye Bread. Up to now, I’ve just been doing my same old bread recipe with a few variations so I was ready and open to the idea of trying a new bread. I can’t post the recipe here since I’m pretty sure that would be copyright violation, but I can tell you that you can get a FREE subscription to Vegetarian Times here – all you have to do is download some software to receive your subscription electronically. That’s what I did 🙂

Rye Out of the Oven

Rye Out of the Oven

ANYWHO – it was pretty similar to what I’ve been doing, just a little different technique and ingredients. I also had a good experience this time with rye flour, unlike last time. It took a bit longer because I had to let the “petrin” (like a starter) sit for an hour before really getting started, but really it’s not active time so it wasn’t a hassle or anything. The recipe called for caraway seeds which I wasn’t terribly familiar with but was able to find at Whole Foods. When I opened them up and took a deep breath I thought, “Yeah, that’s what rye bread smells like.”

Rye Cut

Rye Cut

My hard work and patience were rewarded with two beautiful Rye twins. The smell was incredible, the flavor was spot on and it was so moist. Again I made obscene sounds while sampling it fresh out of the oven.  I was such a proud mama!

Apparently I was really excited because I launched into total chef mode after that. I went hog wild in the kitchen prepping all kinds of small plates, tapas, antipasta, whatever you want to call it. I had planned a tapas dinner for tonight but it turned into an all-out around the world sampler.

Kung Fu Around the World Plate

Kung Fu Around the World Plate

To the left, you’ll see the finished product. Provencal Rosemary Almonds (in the little cup), fresh grapes, Manchego cheese (from Costco), marinated artichoke heart (purchased, Cocina brand), roasted red pepper (roasted at home! My first roasted red pepper!), Marinated Mushrooms, Sage Roasted Potatoes, steamed asparagus, smoked salmon (from Fresh Market), garlic hummus in the middle and of course a slice of rye bread. I washed everything down with a nice glass of organic, sulfite-free Syrah.  I totally felt like I should have been in Tuscany. Or Rhodes. Or the south of France. Or…heck, my back deck would have been nice but it’s a little moist out there today. Santé!

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Stuff it

First of all, happy new year from the kung fu kitchen! Hope it’s filled with good eats, peace and happiness!

My first blog of 2009 revolves around stuffing it. In this case, I’ve roasted and stuffed some beautiful shrimp stuffed poblanos. This was the first time I roasted peppers at home. Or anywhere else for that matter. I was a little intimidated, although with a few successes under my belt I was feeling confident. So I cranked up the broiler and went to town.

It took a little bit longer than the recipe stated to broil, and they didn’t get all black like I expected but they looked done enough so I quit turning them and pulled them out to steam. When it was time to peel, I was amazed. The skin just came right off in my fingers. The seeds within were another matter. When I tried to grab them they went everywhere, including other places inside the pepper. So I didn’t quite get all of them but I wasn’t worried. Poblanos aren’t that hot…right?

Shrimp Stuffed Poblanos

Shrimp Stuffed Poblanos

When it came to the creamy shrimp stuffing, I had my sour cream and cilantro all ready. I chopped the green onions and kept them to the side (Bill’s not a fan) then turned to the salsa portion. I had a jug of salsa I picked up at Costco that I was going to use. I pulled it out of the pantry and realized that it said PLEASE REFRIGERATE. Oh, crap. It had been in the pantry for at least a week. I didn’t think it was worth risking food poisoning for jarred salsa, so I improved with a can of Rotel and a can of regular diced tomatoes. It seemed to work out. I tossed in my shrimp, mixed and stuffed. They turned out rather pretty, I think, and not to shabby for a first try.

Stuffed Poblanos with Spicy Black Beans

Stuffed Poblanos with Spicy Black Beans

I served them up with a side of my own special spicy black beans (can of black beans and some chipotle Tobasco), topped with the green onions and some fresh cilantro and it was rather attractive on the plate.

Test subject Bill approved until he came across some of the random seeds that had escaped eviction from the pepper. Then it got a little hot. Then a lot hot. Then I realized my fingers were burning from removing the charred pepper skins. Ok, so maybe I wrong about the heat level. Maybe I just got an extra hot batch of poblanos. But next time I’ll wear gloves and make sure I get ALL the seeds outta there.

Speaking of next time…these were very tasty and had nice presentation. I think with a little tweaking this would be a fantastic dinner party dish. Next time I’ll make sure I actually have salsa (preferably my homemade, mmmm), drain the salsa a bit (it got a little watery), chop up the shrimp a little finer and add some cheese to the stuffing so it holds together better. Also, after stuffing them they go back under the broiler, but mine were toasty on top and lukewarm in the middle after the cooking time recommended in the recipe so I think I’ll go cooler and slower for that part of it. Pretty soon I may have a specialty. Weee!

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