Kale Salad with Pine nuts, Currants, and Parmesan

 This is what I made with the leftover kale I had after making Kale Chips. You can, of course, make a billion dishes with kale, two others that I linked on my Kale Chips post. But here's another good thing.
 I actually also made this dish for Thanksgiving, too. See how the leaves look wilted? In my last kale salad, I steamed the kale. Here, it is actually raw. What? Raw? Isn't it, like, hard, and bitter, you know? ...No. Not really. In fact, not at all. The trick? Massage. Oh, yes. This involves some oil and some rubbing and some time to get really personal with your dinner.
Massaging the kale is actually kind of nice. You pick it up and squeeze and toss and rub and turn, and all of a sudden, the kale is supple and a vibrant shade of green. But it still has a bit of a crunch. You can let it sit for an hour or two before serving, to let the olive oil do its thing a bit longer. Oh, and once you get past the whole massage concept thing, you've got to appreciate the flavoring. It just screams soothingly murmurs sophistication. The strips of parmesan give it some licks of salt, the currants add pops of sweet, and the pine nuts confer nibbles of fat. And it's still healthy!

Go on. Dim the lights. Burn some incense. Drizzle that olive oil. You won't regret it.

Kale Salad with Pine nuts, Cranberries, and Parmesan
adapted from Epicurious
serves 4.

note: the currants are soaked overnight to plump. If this is too much work or you haven't planned ahead (my classic problem) just substitute cranberries, unsoaked. This is also very very good.
note note: this calls for one small bunch. Eyeball it. if you're making this with leftover prepped Kale from Kale Chips, you may want to reduce it. But you can also just make the full dressing and only add as much as is needed.

1 tbsps dried currants
3 tbsps white wine vinegar
1 small bunch Tuscan kale
1 tbsp pine nuts
1/2 tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar
1/2 tbsp honey
2 tsps extra-virgin olive oil
dash salt
Parmesan cheese shavings

Place currants in small bowl and add white wine vinegar. Let soak overnight. Drain currants and reserve currant vinegar.
Derib and destem the kale, and tear into bite size pieces. Put into salad bowl. 
Lightly toast the pine nuts. Keep a close eye on them; they burn fast.
Add currants and pine nuts to the kale.
Whisk the reserved white whine/currant vinegar, rice vinegar, honey, oil, and salt in a small bowl. 
Add to salad bowl and begin to massage. This involves gently kneading, squeezing, and tossing. It will make your hands nice and soft. After five minutes or so, the kale should be tender and a brighter green. 
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle cheese shavings over salad and serve.


Original Kale Chips (Sweet and Tangy)

Wait. What? You've never had kale chips? Have I not explained the immense deliciousness and nutritional goodness of kale many times before? Kale chips are better than potato chips, in every sense of the word. They're crunchy, salty, curly, and a hint bitter. And you can eat twenty billion and still feel very, very healthy.
Original flavor stars cashews, red peppers, and nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast has protein and is low fat, and tastes kind of creamy. It comes in yellow flakes that I sprinkle on many things. My granola, pasta, salads... It's yummy. To start this recipe off, you soak the cashes. (This recipe is raw vegan; raw cashews! Though if you don't really care, you can cheat and use roasted, and while I dehydrate the chips at a temperature that still counts as raw level, one can use an oven instead. More on that later.)

The next step is to blend all the other ingredients together to make the sauce.
And, after a serious destemming of the kale and a generous tossing of the sauce, you bake the chips up.
Believe me, this jar was full and I had extra before this picture was taken. I was too busy eating to take any pictures until much after. This again happened with my next batch, lemon-tahini flavor, so I don't think I can post it until I've made a new batch.

 In short, these chips were the bomb. Make them a day before you want them, though, because you have to soak the cashews and de-stem the kale (an awful  momentous task) and, if you're using a dehydtrator, dehydrate all night.

Kale Chips
adapted from love veggies and yoga
makes a real lot, but gets all eaten scarily fast.

note: while I dehydrated these chips, keeping them raw vegan and, I think, giving them that great powdery crunch, you can quite easily adapt this for a normal oven. Bake at 300 F for 20 minutes, flip, and continue for 10 more. Or experiment on your own. The lower the temperature for the longer gets you closer to dehydrator results.

1 medium bunch kale (size varies from bunch to bunch; this recipe works with any size)
1 cup cashews (soaked for at least one hour)
1 medium red bell pepper
juice of half a lemon (2 Tbsp)
1/4 cup (or more) nutritional yeast
1 tsp salt

Wash and destem kale. Put aside.
Chop the pepper and drain the cashews. Add to blender with the lemon, nutritional yeast, and salt. Blend until smooth.
Toss sauce with kale, which should have a fairly thick, uneven coating. You may have extra sauce, which you can put aside and use as dip or for other uses. I'm also someone who loves the bites with an explosion of flavor, so I do a very thick coating.
Put on dehydrator screens (or baking pans if using an oven) and dehydrate at 145 F for 2 hours, and then 118 F for 6 hours-overnight. The longer, the crunchier. If you feel up to it, flip with two hours remaining.
Keeps for over a month in an airtight container, if you can refrain from devouring them all for that long.


Chocolate Truffles

Happy Valentine's Day!
 I have mentioned before that I make food for my frisbee team on a regular basis. This is one of those moments. What is simple, elegant, and irresistable and just screams whispers sexily valentine's day?
 You got it. Truffles. My lovely friend Nina and I gathered in the kitchen near witching hour on saturday and cackled while stirring our cauldron. Uh, wrong holiday. We tenderly rolled these truffles between our gentle fingertips as we crooned softly with dulcet voices. Actually, we sort of did.
 It involved latex gloves. Truffles are basically melted chocolate and cream, but we added an extra-fancy touch (no need to do this if you aren't feeling fussy).
 Once you make and chill the truffles, roll them in a little dollop of melted chocolate so they acquire a thin pure chocolate covering that adds a little crunch when it solidifies.
 These truffles were so sexy. We couldn't take our mouths off of them.
 You drop them in a bowl of cocoa powder for a final coating. I love how the bitterness makes your mouth pucker right before you bite to the creamy center. The really cool thing is why they're called truffles. After dropping them into the cocoa powder, you fish them out with a fork, and it's like you're digging for actual truffles (of the fungi sort) in the ground. I like etymology stories.
We wrapped these up and tied them with fuzzy pink strings and attached tags with pickup lines that ranged from cute ("if I could rearrange the alphabet I'd put you and I together") to really nerdy ("I may look like an ewok but I'm all wookie where it counts") to very frisbee related ("I'd hammer your disc all night long."). Then, today, I ran around manically and flapped my arms like a valentine's fairy and handed these out. The boys were very happy, and so was I.

Make these anytime. Literally, they're just chocolate and cream. How badly could you mess that up?

Chocolate Truffles
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
makes about 60 truffles

note: Don't double the recipe. It doesn't work like that. So these are precious.

1 bag (about 11 oz) bittersweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup heavy cream
unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting

Place about 3/4 chocolate (8 oz) in a bowl and bring heavy cream to a boil in a small heavy saucepan. Make sure your pan is small, so you’ll lose the least amount of cream to evaporation, and heavy, which will keep the cream from scorching. When boiled, pour the cream over the chocolate, which will melt as you stir.

Be careful to stir slowly (don't whisk; you want to incorporate as little air as possible) until ganache is smooth.

Place in fridge until thick enough to hold a shape, about 45 minutes to an hour. Then, take two spoons. Scoop a small amount of ganache onto one spoon and scrape onto another, transferring back and forth until it hold a smooth spherical shape. Drop onto a plate or cookie sheet. Do this for all the ganache (it will look like not enough, but by the end you'll have 60). Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt remaining chocolate (3 oz) in a small bowl and smear some on a gloved hand. Gently rub each chilled truffle to coat lightly with chocolate.

As you finish each ball, toss the truffles in a bowl cocoa powder and dig up with a fork. Shake truffles in a sieve to eliminate excess powder when you're done.

Store truffles in the refrigerator.


Happy World Nutella Day!

That's right. A day for savoring nutella. And no, it wasn't created by the franchise, but by two loyal bloggers six years ago, Ms. Adventures in Italy, and Bleeding Espresso. They designated february 5th the day of nutella, and have created a truly prodigious database of nutella recipes at nuttelladay.com  I have quite happily contributed.
 Nutella Crack Pie. Bam. It's called crack because it's so addicting, not, as my father so sweetly suggested, because it bears a similarity with a certain body part (not really seeing the connection). This is adapted from the fairly famous Crack Pie by Momofuku. I have heard oodles about it, but though I live but a couple miles walk from a Momofuku Milk Bar where I could purchase myself a slice, I have yet to do so. Now I must. To compare. And it will be hard to top my crack baby pie.
 It starts with oat cookies, which you crumbles and line a tart pan with.
 Then comes the nutella filling, fortified to custardy level with 6 egg yolks.
 Into a pan, close-up shot. Crack pie poses like a model.
 Out of the oven, and absolutely irresistible. Into my family's stomachs. Yum.

Nutella Crack Pie
adapted from show food chef
makes one large tart pan worth of thin pie (adjectives, much?)

Oat Cookie Pie Crust:

6 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup plus rolled oats
1/2 cup flour
1/8 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. baking soda
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350F and line a large baking pan with parchment paper. 
Cream 4tbsp butter and sugars until fluffy. Add the egg and thoroughly beat in. Add the oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and beat until well blended.
Spread oat mixture thinly out onto baking sheet and cook for 15 minutes until crisp. Keep the oven on.
While cookie is cooling, dice the remaining butter and add an extra 1 1/2 tbsps brown sugar into a bowl. crumble into pebbles with your fingers.
When the cookie is cool, break into crumbs and add to the bowl. Rub together with fingertips until crumb mixture is moist enough to hold together in a clump when squeezed in your hand. Spread mixture out into the pan and using press crumbs onto the bottom and sides to form a pie shell using the bottom of a glass to help press crumbs down. 

Nutella Custard Filling

2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup Nutella
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla
6 egg yolks

In a mixing bowl, whisk together sugars and salt.
Whisk in Nutella, cream and vanilla.
Whisk in egg yolks and combine well.
Pour filling into pie shell, and bake for 15 minutes, then reduce oven temp. to 325F and continue to cook for about 15-20 minutes until center is not too jiggly.
Cool on a rack, then keep in fridge for a couple hours. This is at its best when served chilled.
Top with powdered sugar if you wish.

Happy World Nutella Day!