The first recipe of the new year. Each week, I will be posting here the ingredients of the week's box and I will be adding the recipes here. Okay, are you ready? Here we go: 2011.
I am cooking my way through bounty. How luxurious.
Full Belly Farms for the first time. Oh sweet Jesus, the kale. Kale this week, kale next week, kale all the time. We didn't know what to do with all the kale. Thus, I began to search out kale recipes. And this recipe from Thomas Keller is a fantastic way to tear through some of it.
Let's learn a little about kale, shall we? Kale is a form of cabbage, which might be why I like it so much. I am a fan of Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower. You know, all the things you were supposed to hate as a kid. I didn't. I loved them. Kale is high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, indole-3-carbinol, and calcium. I cannot even pronounce some of those words, so I am charmed that kale can provide them for me. Kale is a pretty old veggie predating cabbage and thought to have been around for at least 2000 years. (See here). What delights me is that collards, kale's kissing cousin, is a corruption of the word coleworts or colewyrts, two Anglo-Saxon terms meaning "cabbage plants." (I love the sounds of those words. They're almost like playground insults.) Kale itself has a good deal of variety--Scotch kale has curled and wrinkled leaves; Siberian (or Russian) kale has flat and finely divided edges; Heirloom kale (Cavolo Nero, Tuscan kale, Dinosaur kale) has wide, crinkled blue-grey leaves; and Japanese kale is almost strictly ornamental. Kale: it's good for you, has been around for a long time, comes in many varieties and is quite versatile. I imagine you will want to stay tuned as I am sure there will be many more kale recipes this winter.
To start the year off right, I turned to Ad Hoc. I have detailed my own delirious introduction to Ad Hoc here, and to begin this new year, I decided to take on another recipe from this beautiful cookbook. Sometimes I welcome my own willingness to set aside reality, for I made this dinner on Thursday night. A weeknight. A school night, if you will. And as with all Ad Hoc recipes, you need to set aside some time. But it's worth it. The one thing I didn't do is make my own stock, and I can imagine that making either a mushroom of vegetable stock would not only make the soup vegetarian but also make it even lighter and yummier. However, the substitution of boxed chicken stock was just fine.
Keller reminds us to make each of the main ingredients--the potatoes, the kale, and the mushrooms--separately before adding them to the soup base. Such diligence and patience is rewarding because the soup boasts a simultaneous lightness as well as complexity--each ingredient is immediately identifiable and oh-so tasty. Further, the broth remains clear without the starchiness of the potatoes or the cloudiness that can come from kale.
The addition of the garlic puree and the vinegar may seem extraneous, but I tell you, people, they are necessary, necessary components to this recipe. Do not skip them. And enjoy the kale!
One Year Ago: Potato, Leek and Fennel Gratin
Ad Hoc Mushroom Soup with Kale and Potatoes
Serves 6 (about 10 cups)
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced leeks
1 cup diced onion
1 1/2 teaspoons finely minced garlic
1 bunch kale
1 bay leaf
3 thyme sprigs
10 black peppercorns
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
1 1/4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
1 Sachet (see below)
2/3 pound hen-of-the-woods or oyster mushrooms
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup minced shallots
1 tablespoon minced thyme
8 cups stock--mushroom, chicken, or vegetable
5-8 tablespoons Garlic Puree (see below)
1-2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
extra virgin olive oil, for serving
1. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add carrots, leeks, onion, and a generous pinch of salt, and reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook very slowly for about 25 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 10 minutes, or until carrots are tender.
2. Meanwhile, remove and discard the stems and ribs from the kale. Set aside.
3. Meanwhile, make a sachet of the bay leaf, thyme, peppercorns and garlic clove in cheesecloth. Peel the potatoes, quarter lengthwise, and cut crosswise into large pieces. Put the potatoes, sachet, and a generous amount of salt into a large saucepan, add cold water to cover, bring to a simmer, and cook until the potatoes are just tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. Discard the sachet.
4. Trim any woodsy-ends from the mushrooms and break into bit-sized clusters. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add mushrooms, season with salt and cook for about a minute to allow for the mushrooms to absorb the oil. Add butter, shallots, and thyme, and cook for about 6-8 minutes or until mushrooms are lightly browned.
5. Add the stock to the stockpot and bring to a simmer. Season generously with salt and pepper.
6. Blanch the kale in a large pot of boiling salted water until wilted ad just tender. Drain the kale
7. To serve, stir the garlic puree into the soup. Add the mushrooms, kale, and potatoes. Season with salt, pepper, and vinegar. Pour into a serving bowl and drizzle with olive oil.
1 cup peeled garlic cloves
About 2 cups canola oil
1. Cut off and discard the root ends of the garlic cloves. Put the cloves in a small saucepan and add enough oil to cover them by about 1 inch--none of the garlic cloves should be poking through the oil.
2. Set the saucepan on low to medium-low heat. The garlic should cook gently: very small bubbles will come up through the oil, but the bubbles should not break the surface; adjust the heat as necessary and/r more the pan off the burner if cooking too quickly.
3. Cook the garlic for about 40 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until the cloves are completely tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the garlic to cool in the oil.
4. Puree garlic (only the cloves not the oil). Refrigerate the remaining garlic and oil in a covered container. [Use leftover garlic cloves or the oil in vinaigrette, brushed on baguette slices, or spread on toast).