Wednesday, September 30, 2009

How Do You Solve A Problem Like Kale?

In theory I am a big fan of kale.



I always associate it with a wonderful soup that my Aunt Felicity used to make on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.


I have a very clear memory of my first brush with it. I recall driving up the path to her family's summer home on Martha's Vineyard one Wednesday before Thanksgiving, delighting in the candles twinkling cozily in each window (the house does not have electricity...these things were I'm sure very charming in the 1920s when the property was initially purchased, and I suppose still are for short stays), luxuriating in the laughter of her many siblings and nieces and nephews emanating from the open doorway, and relishing the fact that she met me at the threshold with a heavenly bowl of meat and kale and rich broth spooned over a toasted piece of bread.


I ate it inside by the fire, drinking in the warm, familial atmosphere. I smiled when my Aunt then asked if I fancied going for a canoe ride on the pond in the moonlight, until my cousin informed me that the offer was in fact serious and my smile widened to a grin.


Sadly, this is not the scene that tends to meet me on the average evening in New York when I am trying to figure out what on earth to do with the bushels of kale that end up in my CSA box. Upon my return from work there is no soup that has been simmering away for hours with delectable marrow bones on my stove. No roaring fire, no pond, no canoe. Just kale.


So for a while I braised it, occasionally throwing in a bit of chorizo and potato, but frankly I could never get the leaves to be tender enough to enjoy. I suppose several hours would be required to achieve true tenderness. Plus which I was not coming even remotely close to using up my allotted weekly amount.


But then I discovered the most wonderful thing...kale chips! I have of late been thoroughly engrossed in food52.com, a website run by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs. Kale was a theme of the week a bit ago, and several people submitted recipes for crispy kale chips. Intrigued, and with copious quantities of kale on my hands, I gave the idea a try.


I ripped the leaves apart from the stems. I mashed a couple of garlic cloves with a generous amount of olive oil in my mortar and pestle (although I suppose there is no reason that you could not just chop the garlic and throw it in with the oil), and tossed the kale leaves with the oil mixture. Once spread reasonably flat and in one layer on a baking sheet, I rained a layer of Maldon salt down over the kale and threw it in a 400 degree oven for about ten minutes, tossing the leaves about with a spatula at the five minute mark. Et voila, crispy leaves to accompany cocktails.


Of course you could I suppose get fancy and throw some parmesan cheese or paprika or vinegar into the mix, but why mess with such a good thing? And in case you're wondering, I am, for the first time in months, completely out of kale! Two days early!

17 comments:

wambalus said...

Okay this is weird - I made kale chips for the first time yesterday. Sisterly telepathy?

It was my effort to find some way to like kale.

Laura [What I Like] said...

Robin - That is completely weird! Do you like it now?

Giovanna said...

I've been reading about kale chips all over--I'll have to finally try them.

But I haven't felt pushed--I love kale. I prefer it better cooked--one of my favorite fall/winter one pot dinners is the Dutch stamppot. You put potatoes in a pot, a little water, blanket them with chopped cooked kale (and some browned onions), sausages on top--cook until potatoes are done. Malt vinegar on top.

It's one of those homely peasant dishes that is such a pleasure to eat.

Also, Deborah Madison's book, 'Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone' never lets me down for ideas.

The Townhouselady said...

I loved your story.

I've never been a huge fan which is weird because I love leafy greens. I just might have to try this.

Kay said...

wow...it makes so much sense, yet I would have never thought of that...fabulous!

Jane said...

Thanks for the tip I love Kale. Makes me feel rustic and italian. xoxo

La Belette Rouge said...

I am a HUGE fan of Swiss Chard, spinach and almost any green.But kale? I have only had it once and it was very tough. You have inspired me to give kale another chance.

Laura [What I Like] said...

Giovanna - That stamppot sounds unbelievable, especially with the malt vinegar. I'll have to give it a try!

Townhouse Lady - Do it, I promise you won't regret it!

Kay - I know, right?!

Jane - It is quite the Italian green, perhaps I'll have to give this a try with cavolo nero next!

La Belette Rouge - It can be totally off putting I know, but I implore you, give it just one more chance!

penelope said...

sold. i'm going to try them. i only wish i had a thanksgiving memory as nostalgic as yours to go along with it!

Terry B, Blue Kitchen said...

So funny you posted these, Laura! When we were in DC this summer, our friend Mellen introduced us to the wonders of kale chips. And Marion made them just the other night. But both times, no garlic cloves were harmed--it was all just kale, oil and lots of salt. We'll have to try it with the garlic.

Laura in Paris said...

I think the kale you're looking for, the one you had that Wednesday and that comes back to visit you in your memories ... is no longer for sale! So the new kale, the one you find in the stands and you'll have to learn to like it! (I am not a fan)

My Farmhouse Kitchen said...

Oh, Laura. I LOVE this. I know, I have LOVED spinach forever, but could never get into the kale thing. Always tough. But I too am going to give it a try.....

And I just have to say this....a moonlight canoe ride on a pond on Thanksgiving Eve....

C.T. said...

Kale? I have never ever heard or seen it before. Maybe I have, but...no, can't remember it. But the way you prepare it sounds Abs. Fab. I'm sure I would LOVE it!

French Fancy said...

Hahaha - I first read this as kate - and I couldn't decide if it was going to be Ms Middleton or Ms Moss.

I've not seen kale out here in Brittany but this is not an area that ships much in from overseas - preferring to sell local produce which is naturally in season.

Isn't it seaweed?

Laura [What I Like] said...

penelope - I'm sure you must have your fair share of delicious memories...

Terry - I actually threw some parmesan cheese into the mix the other night and it was delicious!

Laura in Paris - You are of course correct...sad as it may be, you are correct.

My Farmhouse Kitchen - I know, the idea is quite romantic isn't it?

C.T. - It is a truly unattractive vegetable, so you could quite easily have passed it by...couldn't hurt to give it a try, no?

French Fancy - Oh the day I post about either of those Kates...I don't even know! It does look a bit like seaweed doesn't it? No, just a normal green leafy vegetable, grown on land as far as I know...

Amanda said...

Thanks for checking out our site -- glad you found a recipe! - Amanda

Jeremy and Kathleen said...

I LOVE kale chips! I have a dehydrator to make some but it might just be faster to just bake it.

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