Posts tagged kale

Roasted Pico Burger + Kale Chips: the verdict

It was a burger I had been aiming to make for ages, and never got around to it for some reason.  It looked right up my alley: a burger patty seasoned with chili powder, cumin, and coriander – smoky, spicy, slightly sweet.  Top this burger with a roasted pico de gallo and you’ve pretty much got my number.  To be honest, I found it pretty underwhelming though, and I do feel that it’s because I took too many shortcuts in the recipe – and I undersalted everything!  It’s pretty rare for me to do that, but for some reason lately, as I think I’ve mentioned, I’ve become salt-shy.

Now, that being said, it definitely did not stop us from virtually devouring the burgers.  However, I think following the recipe more to the letter in this case is really the right move.  In addition, I think preparing it on a grill instead of stovetop/broiler would have been a good move, and next time, we will definitely do that!

Roasted Pico Burger (makes 2)

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz. lean ground beef
  • 1/4 c. beer (I used low-sodium chicken broth)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. coarsely ground pepper
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 jalapeno (I used a poblano because I really love the flavor, but next time I think I would use the jalapeno, or one of each!)
  • 1 red onion
  • 1/2 c. cilantro (I omitted – don’t unless you actually hate it.  It’s integral to the flavor of pico de gallo; I just forgot to buy some.)
  • juice of one lime
  • 2 slices chesse of your choice
  • 2 burger buns

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, combine beef, beer, chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce.  Form into two patties, making them slightly wider than the width of the bun, because they will shrink somewhat during cooking.  Make a small indent in the center of each burger – burger patties tend to swell upward when they cook, and this will keep the thickness even.
  2. Preheat the broiler or a grill.  Halve and seed tomato and jalapeno.  Slice onion thickly (or cut into wedges) On a rimmed baking sheet, broil the veggies until charred, about 15 minutes.  Alternatively, cook on grill about 10 minutes.
  3. Chop the vegetables and transfer to a bowl.  Add cilantro and lime juice, then salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Cook the burgers over medium-high heat for five minutes on each side.  During the last few minutes of cooking, melt a slice of cheese over each.  If you are cooking them in a pan, the easiest way to do this is to place the cheese slice on each patty, add 1/4 c. water, and put the idea on the pan for a minute or two.
  5. To serve, place burger patty on the bottom bun, top with pico de gallo, and add the top of the bun.  Serving with sour cream or guacamole would be fitting if you like them.

To serve with these burgers, I opted to make kale chips.  I know many people have already done a write-up on these, so I’ll keep it brief.  Ultimately, the verdict was that J was not convinced nor converted to the kale-lovers camp.  I was captivated by the thin and crispy texture, which absolutely shatters in your mouth, making the most fantastic crunching sound.  Of course, you then have thousands of tiny pieces in your mouth.  The taste I found passable, but still pretty bitter.  I decided that, if what I wanted was something crispy and salty, they would do just fine, and I would feel virtuous eating them.  If I really wanted potato chips… I think I would stick with potato chips.

Kale Chips (makes about 2 cups)

I attempted to make these into salt and vinegar chips, as it’s my favorite flavor of potato chips, but I couldn’t really taste the vinegar.  Maybe I should dial up the amount?

Ingredients:

  • 1 smallish bunch of kale
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. vinegar
  • salt, to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Rinse and thoroughly dry kale.  Chop or tear into small pieces, about the size of potato chips.  Toss with olive oil until well-combined, and then spread onto a baking sheet.
  3. Sprinkle vinegar over the kale – in the future, I might even spray it on with a spray bottle to ensure even coverage.
  4. Place baking sheet in the oven, and bake, checking every 5-10 minutes or so, until crispy.  Mine took about 15 minutes, I think.
  5. Sprinkle well with salt, and pepper, if desired.
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Souper Soup + Crumbly Fruit

As I previously mentioned, the vegetal arch-enemy in this house is kale.  The dark, curly, purple-green-black, leafy thing is one of a very few vegetables that we agreed would never grace our dinner table (along with lima beans and brussels sprouts, 99.9% of the time).  We both find it unredeemably bitter.  Enter our CSA membership, and last week’s veggie box, in which we found a small, pretty-looking bunch of our least favorite vegetable (not to mention the two bunches we got this week!)

A friend of mine suggested a kale and chorizo stew as a favorite way of hers to eat this vegetable, and I opted to give that idea a try.  Now, developing recipes on my own is not something I am particularly inclined to do, usually because it comes out funny.  People spend hours developing recipes and testing variations (have you ever read an issue of Cook’s Illustrated?), and I just didn’t see the point of improvising.

That being said, I have been teaching myself to cook in a more formal sense for six years now, and I consider myself more an intermediate than amateur cook, so occasionally I do branch out and just throw some stuff together.  I have found that stirfries, soups, and even casseroles are the most forgiving, and so whenever I feel the urge to experiment (or, more likely, the laziness to avoid looking up a recipe), I make do with my own knowledge.  This is one such example.

White Bean Stew with Chorizo and Kale (4 servings – about 2-cup servings)

In retrospect, I suppose that this stew really didn’t need chorizo, ham, and white beans, but on the other hand, it is a pretty filling and very healthy soup.  It would be even healthier, of course, to take out the sausage, but I think it adds a very important flavor component.  You could do a lot to change this recipe and still keep its basic character – you really want one protein, one leafy green, some aromatics (leek, carrot, onion, celery), and something starchy (beans, lentils, quinoa, couscous, potatoes would all be great in this soup).

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 – 1/2 lb. chorizo or other sausage
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, any flavor
  • 1/2 c. – 1 1/2 c. low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 smallish bunch kale, chopped
  • 1/4 lb. cooked ham, diced
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch, optional

Directions:

  1. Crumble chorizo into a soup pot and cook over medium heat until the fat is rendered.  Since my chorizo was extremely fatty, I removed it with a slotted spoon to some paper towels, blotted it with more paper towels, and washed out my soup pot.
  2. Place drained chorizo back into pot and cook a few minutes over medium heat, then push to the edges of the pot.  Drizzle a little olive oil into the pan, and add the onion, garlic, and celery.  Cook, stirring often, about five minutes, or until getting soft and translucent.
  3. Add tomatoes, and use the spoon to scrape up any browned bits into the tomato juices.  Add as much chicken broth as you like, but at least enough to wilt the kale into.  Simmer a few minutes, and then taste for salt.  Add kale to pot, and stir until wilted, 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add white beans and ham to pot, and cook until warmed through, another few minutes.
  5. If you like your broth to have more of a stew consistency rather than a brothy soup, add 1-2 tbsp. cold water to the cornstarch in a small dish.  Stir until cornstarch is dissolved, and then drizzle into soup.  Cooking for a few minutes should thicken the broth into a gravy-like consistency.  If you like it thicker, repeat with more cornstarch.  If you like it thinner, add a little chicken broth until it reaches your desired consistency.

Also on the menu tonight was quite probably my very best fruit crumble ever.  I have been besieged by the very common problem of having too soupy a texture, when too little thickener was added to compensate for the juices leaked by cooking fruit.  In addition, my crumbly topping often had poor flavor.  This was, in my best estimation, as close to perfect as it gets.  It was very slightly gritty, perhaps because there was a little too much cornstarch, but given the lovely thick texture of the fruit sauce, I would rather too much than too little.

You can really use any fruit or combination of fruit that you like for a fruit crumble, and additional flavorings are sometimes very nice added to the fruit mixture or the topping – vanilla is a classic, also cinnamon, ginger, or almond extract – actually all of those three are very good with peaches and apples, particularly.  As Deb notes, when using different fruits, you may need to adjust the sugar level for sweeter or more sour fruits, and you may need to adjust the amount of thickener, for fruits that release more or less juice during the cooking process.

I should mention at this point that, the last time I went shopping at Whole Foods, I was lamenting the lack of rhubarb.  Rhubarb is a very seasonal fruit, its season as I have observed it being rather similar to daffodils – that is, from late January to late March.  This year, I was actually looking forward to seeing it, but hadn’t, and I was afraid that I would miss it.  Lo and behold, just as I was whining a little that I hadn’t been able to find it, there it was, sitting in a basket, already trimmed and pretty.

We also got some sweet strawberries in our CSA box this week, and so, knowing that strawberries and rhubarb make possibly the most delicious fruit combination ever, went with these to make our crumble.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble (2 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pint strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 1/2 – 3/4 c. diced rhubarb, about 7-8 stalks
  • juice of 1 orange
  • 1/3 c. + 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2/3 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 4 tbsp. butter, melted

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Combine strawberries, rhubarb, 1/3 c. sugar, cornstarch, and half of the orange juice.  Pour into a baking dish – I used a Corning dish, about 7″x7″, so the fruit is in about a single layer.
  3. In the same bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, remaining 3 tbsp. sugar, and remaining orange juice.
  4. Sprinkle topping over fruit, breaking up pieces with your fingers.  Place on the baking sheet, and then into the oven.  Bake for about 30-40 minutes, or until topping is golden brown, and fruit filling is starting to bubble.

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