Tuesday, May 25, 2010

roasted cauliflower with almonds and raisins

Where o' where have been you all ask, well let me tell you it has been a time of culinary dearth! We are moving in less than a week and the condo has been on the market for just over a week. We have made it squeaky clean, including the kitchen, in an effort to "neutralize" the place prompting Thomas to impose a "no cooking" ordinance (and, afterall, he does do most of the cleaning...).

So, needless to say, there has been very little to post coming out of my kitchen and it has been sad for me. The fridge is looking a little grim as we are trying to limit the amount of dead weight we move out of here.

sad, sad fridge...except for the chinese takeout!

However, I did have a lonely little cauliflower in the fridge, a relic from the last farm box we received before pausing it until the new house and I decided that it was high time to use it. And then an interesting thing happened - as though it was an old standby from my repertoire a recipe formulated so concretely in my head (divine inspiration?). I followed it step by step and I've got to tell you it has got to be one of my favorite new side dishes (plus I almost always have the necessary ingredients in my pantry!).

roasted cauliflower with almonds and raisins
serves four as a side dish

1 head of cauliflower
4 Tbsp olive oil
1-2 tsp salt
1/2 cup roasted almonds (whole or slivered)
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

- set oven to 400 degrees
- cut cauliflower into bite-sized florettes
- toss with salt and olive oil, place on baking tray
- roast for about 20 minutes (until the edges start to turn golden brown - sprinkle with almonds and raisins, return to oven for another 5 minutes (the raisins will get golden and puffy)
- remove from oven and sprinkle with cilantro

Sunday, May 9, 2010

kale-stuffed chicken breast with pecan brown butter

I just want to start off by saying...we bought a house! Needless, to say this is a very exciting time for us and I hope you'll forgive me for being a little more sporadic in my posting. The bestest thing about the new house is the gloriously large kitchen (possibly the largest room in the house - just as it should be), followed closely by the in-house laundry facilities. More to come as the move-in date gets closer.

 the new kitchen!

Now, to the meat (or lack thereof) of today's topic - kale. I have a like/hate relationship with kale, which seems to be rare since most people are firmly positioned in either the "love kale" camp or the "kale's so gross" camp.

It's pretty much that I find it very challenging to prepare kale in a way I that makes me coming back for more. Usually the dishes that I make with kale are ok, but I would have preferred just spinach, if you know what I mean.

All this said, I'm in a bit of an ongoing pickle because kale is often featured in my weekly farm box. Each time it arrives I think, well, what am I going to make with it now, and trust me, I've tried all sorts of things. So, this week when there was kale in the box, it was the last thing to go and I decided that I just had to go for it, so I made up a stuffed chicken recipe and you know what, it was pretty dang, good! I would definitely make this one again (and again and again...)

chicken breasts stuffed with kale, spinach and comte cheese and a pecan brown butter
serves 4

2 chicken breasts, cut in halves (or you can just buy four chicken breast halves)
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
2-3 cloves garlic, minced (depending on how garlicky you like things)
1 medium onion, diced
2 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 bunch of kale (remove the leaf from the stem, discard the stems), cut into ribbons
1 cup fresh spinach, cut into ribbons
3/4 Comte cheese, grated and divided four ways
3 Tbsp butter
1/2 toasted pecans, roughly chopped
salt & pepper to taste

- preheat oven to 325 degrees
- slice a deep pocket into your chicken breast halves lengthwise, making sure not to cut all the way through the breast, but deep enough so that you can open it flat on your work surface
- in a heavy skillet, over medium high heat, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil and add garlic, onion and paprika, heat for 2 min
- add kale and spinach and cook thoroughly, about 8-10 minutes, set aside to cool
- Once kale mixture has cooled enough for you to handle it, scoop a large spoonful onto the flattened breast, using your fingers, press the filling so that it covers the cavity
- sprinkle a quarter of your cheese on top of the filling
-take one side of the breast (one of the long sides) and roll it over the filling (using your fingers to keep the filling pinched in while you roll)
- using kitchen string, wrap the breast a few times, enough to hold its shape without you holding it, and tie it off
- place remaining Tbsp of olive oil into the skillet and heat on high. Add your chicken breasts and brown on each side for two minutes (until golden brown)
- place browned breasts on a baking tray and bake until cooked through, roughly 15 minutes
- meanwhile, melt the butter in a heavy skillet and cook until it gets a light brown hue (this is from the milks solids cooking and gives the butter a lovely nutty taste), add the pecans and saute briefly.
-slice the slightly-cooled breasts into discs. Arrange discs on the plate. Pour equal amounts of brown butter and pecans on each plate