Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Chocolate Cake in a Jar

My mom's birthday was two weeks ago. Because we live so far away from one another, we haven't spent a birthday together in quite some time. However, this year to celebrate, I sent my mom a cake in a jar.

She tells me that she is going to make it next week with my littlest niece, just as something to do while my mom is babysitting her. How lovely. This cake gets to be for both my mom and the littlest of our family.

A few years ago a good friend of mine sent me a lovely sage blackberry jam from this cookbook (Food in Jars) as part of a Secret Santa care package. I slathered it on toast, and it was oh, so good. I admit I may have even eaten it with a spoon. Immediately, I started following Marisa McClellan's blog, and while I wasn't ready to commit to canning, I was living vicariously through those who do. I made a mental note to snap up this cookbook if I ever saw it in the used bookstore. Lucky for me, a month or so back Pegasus books had a copy on the shelf. What joy.

While this recipe, which sits squarely on page 215, isn't true canning, it is the perfect introduction to laying food by without the oodles of hot water and specialized equipment required of canning. And it was fun to put it together. Layering the sugar and the flour with the cocoa powder and the instant coffee makes for a pretty little jar for gift giving. Hand write the recipe steps on a cute note card, and voila, a lovely way to celebrate someone, or maybe even two someones, even from afar.

And it has inspired me to do some actual canning as well (more posts to come soon!). (And canning holds a special place in my heart, as my grandmother was a champion canner--as I posted about here.)

A couple of notes: the recipe says not to use Dutch-process cocoa but recommends black cocoa--which happens to be Dutch-process cocoa*. That's confusing. I used regular Dutch process cocoa for this cake, and it was delightfully fine. However, if you choose to search out true black cocoa powder, King Arthur Flour sells it if your local grocery store does not.

*What's the difference between Dutch-process cocoa and natural cocoa powder? Dutch-process means that the beans have been washed in a potassium solution, neutralizing their acidity. For more information, see David Lebovitz, guru of all things dessert related.

The end result (complete with applesauce and two full cups of water--among other wet ingredients added to these dry ingredients) is a spongy cake, a texture much like those Hostess cupcakes of youth. Such a result is not necessarily a bad thing (I'll admit, though, I wasn't a huge fan of the texture), but it was a surprising thing. Consider yourself forewarned. I also thought the whole thing could have been a little more chocolate-y, but that might be because I didn't use the black cocoa, which is known for its intense chocolate flavor. If you try it with the black cocoa, let me know how it goes.

Happily, I made the cake this past weekend as part of our first barbecue of the year (where we had lamb kebabs and sweet potato salad). As the sun began to go down, it got chilly outside, so we moved inside to the living room. I dished up some cake atop a simple raspberry syrup (recipe below as well), and I sprinkled chocolate shavings over the top. We sat around the table and chatted books and movies and trips to Spain and Ireland (my in-law's future and my past, respectively).

While I didn't get to eat the cake with my mom, I did get to eat it with family. And she'll get to eat it with the littlest of nieces.

What a lovely way to celebrate her birthday.  While celebrating with her would have been better, this is the next best thing.


Chocolate Cake in a Jar

Adapted from Food in Jars

Makes 1 1-quart jar, 1 9x13-inch cake

1 1/2 cups (300 g) granulated sugar
2 cups (255 g) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (70 g) cocoa powder 
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 heaping Tbsp instant coffee

Starting with the sugar, layer the ingredients into a clean 1-quart (1-liter) jar. Gently tap the bottom of the jar on the counter or a table before you add the next layer, to ensure that everything will fit. No matter what, it will be a snug fit. Apply the lid and store in a cool place until ready to use or to give.

Attach the following instructions to the jar:

To use this mix:
1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9x13-inch cake pan.* In a large bowl, beat together 2 large eggs, 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce, 2 cups hot water, and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Add Chocolate-Cake-in-a-Jar mix and stir until combined. 

2.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan (batter will be runny). Bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. 

3.  When the cake is cool, top with your frosting or sauce of choice. Peanut butter or raspberry flavors go particularly well with this cake.

*I used two 9-inch round cake pans. They worked fine.

Raspberry Sauce

2 cups

12 ounces frozen strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
juice of one lemon
2 Tbsp Framboise liqueur

1.  Place the raspberries and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 4 minutes. 

2.  Smash the cooked raspberries with the back of a wooden spoon until they are broken up. Add the lemon and Framboise.  Chill.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Skinny Moscow Mule (Or... Moscow Mule Punch)

I did say this blog needs more drinks.

Let's talk libations, shall we?

I couldn't be more pleased about this little cookbook, Punch Bowls and Pitcher Drinks, and its recent addition to my athenaeum of cookbooks. Seriously, I need more books devoted to the cocktail, and this book does the trick. Dedicated not to the single sipper, the recipes encourage parties, crowds, or at least a slow leisurely drink in the backyard with the husband. So far, we have tried three different drinks (including the Strawberry-Meyer Lemon Sparkler with Lavender and the Lychee Mojito Punch) and I cannot wait for the weather to turn cold again (yes, I am already anticipating the December holidays) so I can try the Wassail and Aztec Hot Chocolate and Cranberry Ginger Punch. Lucky for me, because the book boasts a bevy of summer-themed drinks, so I suspect I will be able to bide my time well until then.

One such drink is this take on a classic cocktail, the Moscow Mule. With a moniker like this, the drink seems to have origins in communism, but its story is about as capitalist as it comes. Apparently the cocktail came about because recent appropriator of Smirnoff vodka, John G. Martin, was having trouble moving product off the shelves in the late 30s and early 40s because not many (save pockets of Polish and Russian immigrants) were drinking vodka then (gin was the spirit of choice for the bibulous American). Further, Hollywood bar owner Jack Morgan couldn't sell the ginger beer from the shelves of his English-styled tavern, Cock 'n' Bull.  The two sat down together with another friend to come up with a solution, and as Morgan tells it, "We three were quaffing a slug, nibbling an hors d'ouvres, and shoving toward inventive genius." The story continues that Morgan's girlfriend owned a company that made copper mugs, and she suggested that the drink be served in engraved mugs to make the drink stand out. Thus, the recipe seems to be something like this: acquire an ailing company, down a few drinks with a friend, come up with a new concoction, enlist your girlfriend, offload some unsellable product, make it rich.

Then the marketing got about as American as you could get.  According to boozenews:
"They ordered specially engraved copper mugs and Martin set off to market it in the bars around the country. He bought one of the first Polaroid cameras and asked barmen to pose with a Moscow Mule copper mug and a bottle of Smirnoff vodka. Then he would leave one copy of the photo at the bar and take a second copy to the bar next door to show them that their competitors were selling their concoction. Between 1947 and 1950, thanks to their invention, Smirnoff vodka case columns more than tripled and nearly doubled in 1951."
(All this makes a good story, doesn't it? However, Wes Price, the head bartender at Cock 'n' Bull, lays claim to the recipe as well, and his telling is simply that he was trying to move some inventory in the basement; his recipe caught on, and the rest is history). 

But here comes the twist. Given the red scare of the 1950s, backlash was sure to ensue against the Moscow Mule. Unionized bartenders announced a boycott on the presumed-Soviet import, and Smirnoff had to declare it was not, and certainly had never been, part of the Communist Party (again, according to boozenews):  
"In support, Walter Winchell, [an American journalist], wrote in 1951, 'The Moscow Mule is US made, so don’t be political when you’re thirsty.  Three are enough, however, to make you wanna fight pro-Communists."' 
The drink died off in the 60s with the advent of the hippies who demanded a different sort of brew, but recently it has had quite a resurgence. Nowadays you can find this libation on many a drink menu, and a long list of people are getting behind the craze of updating classic cocktails with a bit of a twist (from Moscow Mules with Cucumber to a Holiday Mule). Even Oprah declared the Moscow Mule to be one of her Favorite Things of 2012, and for $145, you too can have Oprah's personal recipe along with four copper mugs, a bottle of Grey Goose, and a polished aluminum tray. I'd say the Moscow Mule has reached the pinnacle of American success: Oprah.

This little bar book presents a recipe that is far more egalitarian. The drink is as much punch as it is mule. Coupled with green tea and vodka, the diet ginger beer makes a light, almost fruity drink that goes down pretty easy as part of the appetizer portion of the first barbecue of the year. I couldn't bring myself to purchase copper mugs, as they are pretty pricey, and it drinks just as well from a mason jar. Definitely use ginger beer over ginger ale, as ginger beer is a concoction of ginger brewed with water and sugar (whereas ginger ale is basically carbonated water, sugar, and ginger (sometimes relegated to mere ginger-flavored syrup)). While ginger beer is usually bottled quickly to stop fermentation, you can actually buy fermented ginger beer (one of our favorites is Hollows and Fentimans). However, for our purposes, we used Bundaberg, which has a nice diet ginger beer. That said, there are a lot of good ginger beer brewers out there, so choose your favorite.

We were happy as could be as we sat outside in a recently spruced-up backyard, sipping our skinny Moscow Mule punch, nibbling on pita dipped in feta dip, munching on olives and almonds as we waited for the grill to heat up. While we didn't have any recently-purchased vodka companies or unsellable product we needed to move, the husband and a set of the in-laws and I all toasted the Mule and the start of barbecuing season. It's not summer yet, but the punch from my new little bar book brought us one sip closer.


Skinny Moscow Mule (Or... Moscow Mule Punch)

Adapted from  Punch Bowls and Pitcher Drinks

4 servings

2 cups chilled diet ginger beer
1 cup vodka
1 cup brewed green tea, chilled
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger
1 tsp agave nectar
Ice cubes
4 slices unpeeled fresh ginger, for garnish
4 slices lime, for garnish

1.  Combine the ginger beer,vodka, tea, lime juice, grated ginger, and agave in a 1 1/2 quart pitcher.

2.  Fill copper mugs (traditionally) or tumblers with ice. Add the ginger beer mixture. Garnish with fresh ginger and lime slices.

That said, if you need a standard Moscow Mule, it's just as simple. Mix together 2 ounces vodka, 4-6 ounces ginger beer, and the juice from 1/2 a lime. Serve over ice.  (Serves one.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Baked Goat Cheese and Baby Greens

Baked goat cheese is such an easy way to top a salad. In fact, this whole salad is about as easy as one can get for a weeknight dinner, and sometimes, that's just what I need, especially when the spring itself seems to be barrelling along at its own pace, complacently disregarding its own potential easy everyday-ness. Let's insist on easy today, shall we?

Everyone seems to have a recipe for these baked goat cheese rounds, and I urge you to try whichever one catches your fancy. However, you can't go wrong with the tried, the true, the Irma Rombauer. I have a soft spot for Irma, as The Joy of Cooking was my first post (complete with darned abysmal photography). Her work smacks of home, that clear, standard fare of foundational cooking. This salad is not going to win any awards, impress any that you deem worth impressing, or surprise any save those little blessed with excitement in their lives. However, if it's a Monday, you need dinner, and you love soft goat cheese sidled up to tangy vinaigrette, then you, my friend, have found a friend in Irma Rombauer.

Life has been a little hectic around here, and I am counting the days to spring break for no other reason than I have a stack of books on my bedside table, including Jonathan Lethem's Dissident Gardens, Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See, good old John Milton's Paradise Lost (I am five books behind for my book club, but I can catch up!), Nathan Englander's What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank and Joshua Braff's The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green.  Have you read any of these, my highly (and enviably) literate friends? What kind of ride am I in for?  I can finish them all in a week, right?

Other than that, I ran the 5K portion of the Oakland Running Festival, and I ran my fastest race yet. I was 87th in my age bracket. Precisely where was my podium, I demand to know.  Luckily, no one is listening to my demands. Additionally, I have been falling behind in my own cooking (and thus my blogging), and I began a bullet journal as an attempt to keep some sort of order in my life.

Thus, with all of this sweet and slightly hectic mundanity, it seems only fitting to have a simple, highly spring celebratory salad such as this. Gather your favorite greens while ye may, throw together a simple vinaigrette, and warm some goat cheese. That's it.  And you'll be set for the night.

Baked Goat Cheese and Baby Greens
Adapted from  The Joy of Cooking

4 servings

6 cups mixed baby greens or mesclun
1 cup fine dry unseasoned bread crumbs
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup and 1 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
4 rounds fresh goat cheese, each about 2 1/2 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick
1 small garlic clove, peeled
salt and pepper to taste
1/3-1/2 cup red wine vinegar or lemon juice
1 shallot, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Grease a small baking dish.

2.  Wash and dry the greens and set aside.

3.  Stir together the breadcrumbs and the thyme in a small bowl.  In another shallow bowl, pour the olive oil.  Coat the goat cheese first with the olive oil, then the breadcrumbs.  Place the cheese on the baking dish and bake until golden brown and lightly bubbling, about 6 minutes.

4.  Meanwhile, make the dressing: In a small bowl, mash together the garlic and 2-3 pinches of salt.  Add vinegar or lemon juice, shallot, mustard and salt and pepper to taste.  In a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly to create an emulsion, 1 cup extra virgin olive oil.  Taste and adjust the seasonings.

5.  Toss the greens with just enough vinaigrette to coat and divide among 4 salad plates.  Place a round of baked cheese in the center of each salad and serve at once.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Potato Pizza from The Cheese Board

Pizza has always played a substantial role in my life, yet for many years I even reported that I did not like it much. And it’s true that there are pizzas that I don’t care for: those with thick, spongy crusts and pooled oil on the surface. I like crispy, light crusts straight out of a wood-fired oven with a smattering of veggies and rich cheeses on the surface. Lucky for me, such pizzas are easier and easier to come by—from the CheeseBoard and Pizzaiola to Piaci’s and Zachary's*—and are just as easy to make at home, even sans a wood-fired oven.

*Okay, Zachary's is stuffed pizza, but I make an exception for Chicago-style pizza, especially in the Bay Area.

As many of you know, I spent two years of my undergraduate days flipping pies at a pizza shop in central Ohio, so I have a lot of definitive opinions on pizza making. Thankfully, the Cheese Board’s take on pizza falls right in line with my own. Or perhaps, one should say my own way of thinking falls right in line with that of the Cheese Board.

The goal here is to make a crispy, thin crust with just the right amount of sturdiness and crispiness without producing a crust that tastes like cardboard. Then, you have to top that perfect crust with interesting combinations. This recipe provides both. While this potato pizza may seem a little heavy on the starch—what, with dough and sliced potatoes—don’t let starch aversion keep you from making this pie. It has been a perennial favorite from this cookbook, so this posting is one that comes with years of testimonial about its tastiness.

The toppings are simple: thinly sliced Yukon gold potatoes, slightly browned onions, grated mozzarella and swiss, and rosemary. The toppings are savory and smack of the heartiness of winter (if in this case it's the first of the spring--I promise this pizza is great any time of year). Yukon golds are a sweet, waxy potato with lovely yellowed flesh, but if you cannot find them, any red or white skinned, waxy potato will do. The crust is quite easy to make, and the Cheese Board calls for using bread flour. Bread flour has a higher protein content, which allows for a crispy bit of magic to take place (okay, that magic actually comes in the form of gluten development, but let's call it magic). This magic allows for the dough to have even more strength and structure--much needed properties when you plan to load up on toppings (which we, indeed, do plan to do). See here for even more answers to your flour-based questions. However, if you don't have bread flour, don't worry. Just use regular, all-purpose flour. Your dough will be slightly chewier, but it will still be just as tasty.

Everything else is as easy as, well, (pizza) pie.

The last time I posted from this cookbook, the husband had just finished graduate school; he was on the lookout for gainful employment, and unfortunately, the very night we made the four-cheeses pizza, he got an email that a newly created job for him was not going to fly. What followed was an extensive and drawn-out search for a job that finally landed on one some six months later. As I said in that post, after that email, we redirected our focus onto the pizza--well, not the pizza necessarily, but onto just sharing this one meal together. And things did, indeed, work themselves out.

This time around, cracking open the cookbook to page 215 was far more joyful; we made this pizza up in Fort Bragg, at the in-law’s home (I can't quite figure out the light in their kitchen, so I am never entirely pleased with my photographs that I take there). They purchased this little cabin in the woods with the intention of slowly converting it into their retirement home. With new windows and an expansive deck, with newly-trimmed trees to afford a view of the ocean and recently torn down walkway structures, the house is beginning to feel like their home, filled with light and warmth from a cozy, wood-burning stove (which sadly, does not double as a pizza oven).

The husband and the father-in-law spent the morning walking into town for handmade tacos to be procured from the all-purpose room of a local church, while the mother-in-law and I sat overlooking redwoods, sipping coffee or tea and eating homemade bread. Then the husband and I went into town to the shop for the goodies for this recipe, and that evening, we along with a guest up from the Bay Area ate around the table with windows overlooking a soon-to-be rehabilitated garden, filled with deer-resistant plants. The moon was full, but even on such a bright night, the sheer number of stars makes you feel small but cozy.  This recipe from this cookbook, admittedly, seemed a lot better.


Potato Pizza

Three 10-inch pizzas (one can easily split this into thirds, if one is not so inclined for so much pizza)

2-3 Yukon Gold potatoes, thinly sliced
8 tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 sprig rosemary
1 recipe for Yeasted Pizza Dough (recipe follows)
Fine yellow cornmeal or flour for sprinkling
2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Swiss Gruyere cheese
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped

1.  Arrange the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  If using a baking stone, preheat the baking stone on the bottom of the oven for 45 minutes.

2.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Toss the potatoes with 2 tablespoons of the oil, the salt and pepper.  Arrange the potatoes on the prepared pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the slices are almost completely cooked through. Let cool.

3.  Meanwhile, combine the onions and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a heavy medium skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium-low heat for 10-12 minutes, or until the onions are soft and golden brown. Set aside to cool.

4.  To make the rosemary oil combine the remaining tablespoons olive oil and the rosemary sprig in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes, taking care that the oil doesn't bubble. Turn off the heat and let the oil cool in the pan.

5.   To shape the pizzas, transfer the dough to a lightly flowered surface and divide it into 3 pieces.  Gently form each piece into a loose round and cover with a floured kitchen towel.  Let rest for 20 minutes.  Scatter cornmeal over 3 inverted baking sheets or a pizza stone.  Shape each round into a 10-inch disk. 

6.  Mix the cheeses together. Line up the 3 pizzas for assembly. Sprinkle half of the mixed cheeses over the pizzas, leaving a 1/2-inch rim. Scatter the caramelized onions on top of the cheese and layer the potato slices on top of the onions, spacing them at least 1/2 inch apart. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. 

7.  Place a baking sheet with a pizza on the lower oven rack and bake for 8 minutes.  Rotate the pizza to the upper rack, place the second pizza in the oven on the lower rack, and continue baking for 8 minutes.  Then, finish baking the first pizza by sliding it off the pan directly onto the baking stone.  Rotate the second pizza to the upper rack and put the third pizza in the oven on the lower rack.  Bake the pizza on the stone for 4 minutes to crisp the bottom until well browned.  Finish baking the second and third pizzas in the same manner.

8.  Immediately after removing each pizza from the oven, brush the rosemary oil on the rim and drizzle it over the rest of the pizza. Garnish with the parsley.

To make the dough
Three 10-inch pizza crusts

1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 1/2 to 4 cups bread flour

1.  In a large bowl, whisk the yeast into the warm water until dissolved.  Let stand for 5 minutes.

2.  Add the olive oil, salt, and 2 cups of the flour to the bowl.  Using a wooden spoon, mix for at least 5 minutes to form a wet dough.  Pour 1 1/2 cups of the flour onto a work surface, place the dough on top of it, and kneed for about 8 minutes to form a soft dough with a nice sheen; it should be a little sticky, but not too wet.  If the dough sticks to the work surface, rub a little olive oil on it.  If the dough is impossibly sticky add the remaining 1/2 cup flour by the tablespoon as needed.

3.  Form the dough into a ball and place it in a large oiled bowl.  Turn the dough over to coat it with oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.  Or, put the dough in the refrigerator and let it rise overnight; the next day, let it stand at room temperature for 2 hours before proceeding with the recipe.

Sunday, March 15, 2015


Yep, I am giving you a recipe for mashed potatoes. However, these are not just any mashed potatoes. These are colcannon.

"Colcannon?" you ask.  According to Oxford Companion to Food, the word colcannon is from the Irish cal ceannann which literally means white-headed cabbage.  And it's an old dish: one of the earliest Irish references to the dish as a mash of potatoes and cabbages is found in a diary from 1735; it was later introduced to England, where it became a favorite of the upper classes. People, we're eating history when we're eating colcannon.

And it really couldn't be easier to make: Mash kale and steamed potatoes together with shallots, milk and butter.  Sure, it's simple. We need simple.

Let's state the obvious. I am making colcannon because one of my favorite holidays celebrating one of my favorite places to visit is upon us. However, I have done it all wrong. I have chosen the wrong holiday: "In Ireland colcannon was associated traditionally with Halloween festivities, when it was used for the purposes of marriage divination. Charms hidden in bowls of colcannon were portents of a marriage proposal should unmarried girls be lucky enough to find them, whilst others filled their socks with spoonfuls of colcannon and hung them from the handle of the front door in the belief that the first man through the door would become their future husband" (again, according to Oxford Companion to Food, gleaned from this fun website on Irish food).

While I was not hiding charms in the potatoes or filling my socks, I was eating these alongside  traditional corned beef. And I did so in the traditional Irish manner (according to the cookbook's instructions): "Push back of a large soup spoon down in the middle of each portion to make a crater, then put a large pat of room temperature butter into each one to make a 'lake.' Diners dip each forkful of colcannon into the butter until its walls are breached."

Once more, unto the breach, dear friends. Once more.  For Harry, England, and Saint George!

(Sorry.  I got carried away. Is it wrong to quote Henry V when eating Irish food? Captain MacMorris (Shakespeare's only Irish character) would say no.) Forks in hands, people. It's time to breach the walls of your colcannon.

Let's get back on track here and back to the Irish: because I love a good potato poem, I leave you here with section three of the poem "Clearances" by Seamus Heaney (which was voted Ireland's favorite poem of the last 100 years--see, a country that holds a national poll to choose a favorite poem. No wonder Ireland is one of my favorite places to visit):

When all the others were away at Mass
I was all hers as we peeled potatoes.
They broke the silence, let fall one by one
Like solder weeping off the soldering iron:
Cold comforts set between us, things to share
Gleaming in a bucket of clean water.
And again let fall. Little pleasant splashes
From each other’s work would bring us to our senses.

So while the parish priest at her bedside
Went hammer and tongs at the prayers for the dying
And some were responding and some crying
I remembered her head bent towards my head,
Her breath in mine, our fluent dipping knives–
Never closer the whole rest of our lives.



Serves 4-8

2 to 2 1/2 lbs russet or other floury potatoes
5 Tbsp butter
3 lightly packed cups chopped kale or chopped greens (such as sorrel, spinach, broccoli leaves, or even cabbage)
1 1/3 cups milk
4 scallions, green part only, minced
salt and pepper

1.  Put the potatoes into a large pot, with the larger ones on the bottom, and add water to come halfway up the potatoes. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. When the water begins to boil, carefully drain off about half of it, then return the pot to the heat, cover it again, reduce the heat to low, and let the potatoes steam for about 30-40 minutes. Turn off the heat; cover the potatoes with a clean, damp tea towel; and let sit for 5 minutes more.

2.  Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the kale and cook until just wilted, about 5 minutes.

3.  Combine the milk, scallions, and remaining butter in a medium pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for about 2 minutes, then add the greens and stir in well. Remove the pot from the heat, cover, and set aside.

3.  Drain and carefully peel the potatoes, then return them to the pot. Add the greens and their liquid and mash until smooth, leaving a few small lumps in the potatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4.  To serve in the traditional Irish manner, push back of a large soup spoon down in the middle of each portion to make a crater, then put a large pat of room temperature butter into each one to make a "lake." Diners dip each forkful of colcannon into the butter until its walls are breached.