Friday, December 30, 2016

Canederli Tirolesi (Tyrolean Ham-Dumpling Soup)



I sent a picture of this to my friend, and she said, "What is that?" 

I suppose without context, dumpling soup doesn't look all that interesting. But, people, let me tell you that it is not only interesting but quite good and even, wait for it, frugal. Which might be exactly what we need as we start the new year.

So let me set some context because I promise you, this little soup is worth a spin through your kitchen.



Canederli Tirolesi is an Italian speck and chive dumpling soup. But wait a minute, you may be gasping--dumpling soup? That seems more Bavarian than Italian, you say. And you'd be pretty close to right.

You see, this soup originates in Alto-Adige region of Italy. (Think: Ruffle at the top of the boot.) It's merely a whisper away from Austria and Germany, and in fact was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1915. And most of the inhabitants speak German, Italian, and their own Alto-Adigian dialect. And these dumplings, known as Knödel or more specifically Tiroler Speckknödel, are a perfect Italian, Austrian, German way to spend a winter evening.



A few things to celebrate and note with this recipe:
  • I am a fan of juniper-forward speck--that German cold-smoked pork belly--but you can use ham, prosciutto, pancetta, or bacon, as long as you dice it into a quarter-inch cubes rather than slice it. (Also, if you would like a primer on the difference between bacon, prosciutto, and pancetta, see here.)
  • This is a painless and frugal way to use leftover bread. The husband and I love bread, but we never finish a loaf before it goes a little stale and flat. This recipe requires at least day-old bread. It worked just fine with three-day old bread for us.
  • Watch the amount of flour you use at the end to bind the dumplings. Too much flour makes these a bit heavy. You're going for light (but hearty).
  • You can make the dumplings ahead of time. Yay. Super easy supper.
  • Use the best beef or veal broth you can. We, of course, over-salted it a little (I love salt) and it was the perfect accompaniment to the knödel on a cold winter evening.
So, hopefully this was enough context to make you want to use up your three-day old bread, make a candederlo or knödel or dumpling. Or two. Or five.  

With context, it makes you want to snap these right up, right?






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Canederli Tirolesi (Tyrolean Ham-Dumpling Soup)

Adapted from The Country Cooking of Italy

Yield
4-6 Servings

Ingredients
4-6 large slices day-old, country-style bread (about ½ lb), crusts rimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes 
¼ lbs speck or prosciutto (not sliced), finely chopped
6-8 chives, minced
3-4 sprigs Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, minced
1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper
2 eggs lightly beaten
1 cup whole milk
4-6 Tbsp flour, plus more for dusting
6 cups veal or beef broth

Instructions
1. In a large bowl, combine the bread cubes, speck, chives, parsley, nutmeg, a big pinch of salt, and some pepper. Stir in the eggs and then the milk. Set aside for 20 minutes.

2.  Dust a work surface with flour, turn out the dough onto it, and dust the dough lightly with flour. Using your hands, work the mixture into a damp dough. Sprinkle in enough flour to absorb most of the moisture, then form the dough into dumplings, about the size of walnuts, shaping them between two spoons or your hands. Set each aside on the floured surface.

3.  Pour the broth into a pot, season to taste with salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. reduce the hat to medium, then carefully add the dumplings and cook until they are done, about 15 minutes. The dumplings will float when they are cooked through.

4.  Divide the dumplings evenly between 4 warmed soup bowls, then ladle in the broth, dividing it evenly.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Emily Dickinson's Black Cake



There are certainly so many poems by Emily Dickinson to celebrate, but there's one that just won't get out my head:



So there you go. It's winter. It's excruciating. Sometimes the light slants just the right way in winter and, well, you start to contemplate just what it is that will make us stand with the landscape and the shadows and, simply, listen. Even if what we hear or see is just for a moment. Like a held breath. Like a slant of light. And then it goes. 

2016 has been that kind of year, huh?

Well, this post took a turn I was not expecting. That's pretty much what we get with Emily. An opening line that draws us in and an ending line that punches us in the gut.


But I do think she was a little more lighthearted than this. Or at least she was from time to time. And her black cake suggests that girlfriend knew her way around the kitchen. And there may have even been some real joy there.

Let's take a turn away from the existential (although one may argue that the fruitcake is the existential, and who am I disagree?). Admittedly, I love fruitcake. I love sugar and cake and booze. All separately. And even more so together. And Emily, though she may have shrunk from company, knew how to make a great fruitcake for a crowd.


Certainly I am hardly the first to venture into the great Dickinson's Black Cake. If you spend any time looking around, you'll see that Emily's cake has been popular this century. But the most entertaining were these ladies in the library at Harvard, who agonized over citron (I didn't: I'll admit I used candied citron found at my supermarket) and weighed the possibilities of a "receipt" with no measurements regarding the cinnamon, the nutmeg, the mace, or the cloves. 

They also have some Queequeg Spiced Rum in the background of their pictures. I appreciate those who marry all of the 19th century's literary heroes to some form of booze. Emily to brandy. The character from Moby Dick to spiced rum. Nice work.


Her receipt (recipe) is spare and clear. Add a few hyphens and it would read like a poem itself.

Greg Patent, who put together this version of the black cake, scales back from the recommended 2 butter (is that 2 pounds, Emily?), 19 eggs (!), and 5 pounds raisins.  Nonetheless, we find ourselves here with a fruitcake of still epic proportions--enough to make 2 loaves. One to keep. And one to reluctantly give away. Which I did. Because after the new year, I think I have to give up brandy and raisins and candied citron. It's going to be carrots and hummus for me.

Think you're up to the original? Here's a glimpse Emily's requisition:


(You can find the whole manuscript with instructions here.)

And while Emily teetols at only ½ a pint of brandy, I made some modifications. You may begin gasping now and clutching your pearls given my blasphemy.

I justified my actions as such:
  1. There was no way I was whipping all that butter without an electric mixer. And I don't think Emily had an electric mixer. From the get go, I was clearly in muddy, sacreligious waters.
  2. So I might as well soak the fruit in brandy. And brush even more on the outside once it has cooled.
It totally makes logical sense. You're with me, right?


And I'll admit that in addition to the haunting winter poem from Emily,  another thought was on my mind: I kept thinking of visits I have made to authors' homes. I have not yet been to Amherst. However, I have toured Melville's home, where we were invited to ooh and ahh over Melville's quills and glasses. I was a bit jaded, I'll admit. 

However, when I went to Steinbeck's home in Salinas, there was a cupboard with Steinbeck's whiskey. I felt as if this was a man I could get behind. 

So I was thinking about what would be in Dickinson's house. A writing desk, to be sure. Perhaps some delightful curio. But I'll admit that I can think of no object I would want to admire. Instead, I have been thinking about her biceps. Seriously. Try to imaging whipping ½ a pound of butter. Then add 8 pounds of fruit. All without an electric mixer. My only conclusion: Emily must have had strong arms. 


Okay, all pondering of winter light and a poet's biceps aside, let me advise you to make this lovely fruitcake one last time before the holiday season has fully passed us by. The molasses makes this cake dark and sweet and just the slightest bit bitter. The black raisins and currants add a syrupy taste that you cannot get with any other fruit. And the brandy adds just the right kick. There's just enough time to get this cooked before the new year. And the good thing with a fruit cake is--well, it'll still be good come July. 

This is a cake with a little bit of staying power. Unlike the excruciating and exquisite winter light.




Emily Dickinson's Black Cake

Liberally adapted from Baking in America

Yield:
2 loaf cakes, 24 Servings

Ingredients:
4 cups dark raisins
2 cups dried currants
1 cup finely diced citron
4 cups of brandy
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp grated nutmeg
½ tsp ground mace
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
¼ cup brandy or whiskey, plus more for brushing
¼ cup molasses

Instructions:
1. Combine the fruits and brandy is a 2-quart jar with a screw top or a 1-gallon zip-top bag. Let stand at room temperature for at least 24 hours, preferably 2-3 days, turning the jar or bag several times a day.

2. Adjust one oven rack to the middle and one to the lowest position. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Butter two loaf pans. Line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper and butter the paper or liberally butter or "Pam" the baking pans. Set aside. Place a 13x9 inch baking pan half-filled with water on the lower rack of the oven.

3. In a medium bowl, sift the 2 cups flour with baking soda, salt, nutmeg mace, cinnamon, and cloves, and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. On medium-high speed, beat in the sugar, 2-3 tablespoons at a time, beating for about 20 seconds after each addition. Then scrape the bowl and beaters and beat for 5 minutes. 

4. In a small bowl, beat the eggs with a fork. Beating on a low speed, drizzle the eggs into the butter mixture at a slow steady stream, beating until it is thoroughly Incorporated. The butter may look curdled, scrape the bowl and beat for bout 3 minutes; the batter should look smooth and fluffy. Scrape the bowl and beaters well.

5. On low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the additional ¼-cup brandy, beginning and ending with the flour and beating only until each addition is thoroughly incorporated. Beat in the molasses.

6. Scatter a handful of the fruits over the batter and stir them in with a wooden spoon until each piece is well coated. Continue adding the fruits a handful at a time, ensuring each handful is well coated before adding the next installment. The batter will be very stiff once all the fruits are in. Spoon the batter into the prepared pans, and then press down with a rubber spatula to remove any air pockets.

7. Place the pans on the middle oven rack and bake for 2 hours. Remove the pan of water and bake the cakes for another 1-1½ hours, until they spring back when gently pressed and a toothpick inserted int the center comes out clean. Place the pans on a wire rack and cool completely.

8. Run a  sharp knife around the edges of the cakes to release them, and invert the pans onto the counter top. If the cakes don't fall out right away, rap the pans sharply on the counter. Lift off the pans, and peel the paper off the cakes (if you used parchment paper). Brush each cake with a spoonful or two of brandy before wrapping them in plastic wrap and then in foil.  

9. Refrigerate for up 3 months (or freeze up to 8 months). To serve, place each cake with its bottom side up on a cutting board, and cut into thin slices with a sharp serrated knife. 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Nopi's Sweet Potato Pancakes with Yogurt and Date Syrup


It's no secret that I love Christmas (warning, if you go to that link you will receive a shocking display of how my photography has improved in four years). 

I love the music, the tree, the candles, the cards. I even love the hustle and bustle. 

While I do miss my family during the holidays, I don't miss the snow or the cramped flight or the hours in the car (often with snow) as we drive from Chicago or St. Louis to my small hometown in central Illinois. I admit, I have forgotten how to drive in snow.



But I really do miss Christmas morning at my mom's.

My mom would often make cinnamon rolls while we lounged in the living room among wrapping paper detritus and too many presents. It was a matter of time before I would be curled beneath the Christmas tree, usually with my cat (who was the most glorious cat that every existed® --Jujube), looking up at the lights and then falling asleep.

Her cinnamon rolls were classic--Pillsbury, of course. From time to time, she mixed things up and got the ones with the orange icing. But those were blasphemous years. More often than not, she stuck with the standard flaky roll with a swirl of cinnamon and sugar and just a glaze of confectioners sugar icing squeezed from an aluminum packet--and, oh, I loved them. 

For years, I tried to replicate this tradition without employing store-bought fare. I would labor over the dough or try to mix up an icing that was not tooth-achingly sweet. But after awhile, I got sick of burning the edges of the rolls and gave up on finding that utopian icing. No matter what I did, mine were never a match for Pillsbury. And I was left grumpy and hungry and without a nap underneath the tree.

So, I stopped competing.



These perfectly spiced sweet potato pancakes from Nopi are the foolproof antidote to my failed attempt at the cinnamon roll. 

Oh, yes. Yes, they are.


Bursting with pumpkin pie spices (hello there nutmeg and cinnamon) without all the sugar, these pancakes satisfy the need for carbs on Christmas without weighing you down. Plus, Yotam Ottolenghi (London's food guru) and Ramael Scully (Nopi's chef guru) know how to whip up a fluffy pancake that is bursting with flavor. 

When these hotcakes are on the griddle, those smells of homeyness and holidays make you forget there was ever such a thing as Pillsbury. And for good reason, because for a hot second you can convince yourself that these are good for you. From beta-carotene to magnesium with a loop back through pantothenic acid (which I admit I have no idea what that is or why it's good for me), the sweet potato is your Christmas morning corrective for the refined flour, a massive sugar jolt, and the high-glycemic shakes that can be found in a certain kind of cinnamon roll.


And while Ottolenghi and Scully advise a 3-pancake stack, I am going to admit that I can eat only one.  One really good one.




But, let me tell you a secret. 

I scrapped the yogurt and date syrup once the pictures were done. I know! I am a complete charlatan.

You might argue that the yogurt and the date syrup make the pancakes into the perfectly satisfying breakfast that you would come to expect from Nopi.  And you may be right. 

But we had whiskey-barrel-aged maple syrup in the fridge (a hostess gift from a dear friend from Seattle). I wanted to be all virtuous about my pancake, but the siren sound of sweetness (and whiskey, no less) called me. 

What could I do?




A note to those of you who really are considering making these for Christmas morning--or any morning that you don't want to spend tethered to the stove:

You can make up the batter up to the egg whites and plop it in the fridge overnight. But add the freshly whipped egg whites the next morning. Those are what will make these pancakes soar. 

And I recommend making the batter the night before. Because that means you have more time in the mornings. Which means you can sleep later. Or catch a longer nap under the tree.



So while these sweet potato pancakes may never be the Pillsbury cinnamon rolls of my nostalgic Christmas past, but darned if they aren't a great substitute. 

And yes, I did just compare Nopi to Pillsbury.  I am totally losing all of my foodie cred on this post, aren't I? But I am willing to do so--in honor of my mom and Christmas morning.  Come on, are you really going to argue with me when it comes to nostalgic Christmas mornings? Yeah, I am totally losing this fight, aren't I?

May these be the perfect breakfast, no matter how you top them or what time of year you eat them or what you compare them to. 





------

Sweet Potato Pancakes with Yogurt and Date Syrup

Adapted From Nopi

Yield
4 Servings

Ingredients
2 medium sweet potatoes, unpeeled
1½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp grated nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 eggs, yolks and white separated
 cup whole milk
3½ Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp honey
⅓ cup butter, diced, for frying
Coarse sea salt
½ cup yogurt
3 Tbsp date syrup (also known as date molasses)
1 tsp confectioners' sugar, for dusting


Instructions
1. Preheat the oven to 465 degrees.

2. Roast the sweet potatoes for an hour, or until completely soft and browned. Remove from the oven, set aside to cool, and then peel off skin.

3.  Reduce the oven temperature to 360 degrees.

4.  Mix together the flour baking power, nutmeg, and cinnamon in a medium bowl with 1½ tsp of salt.

5. Place the egg yolks, milk, melted butter, vanilla, and honey in a separate bowl and whisk to combine. 

6.  Fold in the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Then add the sweet potato flesh, whisking well until completely smooth.

7.  Place the egg whites in a separate bowl and whisk until stiff (3-4 minutes by hand; 1-2 minutes with an electric mixer).  Gently fold in the sweet potato mixture and set aside.

8.  When ready to serve, put 4 tsp of diced butter into a large frying pan and place over medium heat. When the butter starts to foam, ladle about 2 heaped Tbsp of the pancake mix into the pan. 

9.  Cook for 3-4 minutes, turning once halfway through when the edges of the pancakes are brown and the mixture starts to bubble in the middle.

10.  Transfer to the oven for 5 minutes to ensure everything stays warm while you cook the next batch of pancakes.

11.  To serve, place 3 pancakes in the middle of each plate and spoon yogurt on top. Drizzle with date syrup, and dust with confectioners' sugar. (Or do what I did eventually: serve with your favorite maple syrup.)


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

All-in-One Lamb Salad with Horseradish, Watercress (or Arugula), and Celery



And now for the final entry in my week-long experiment with Food52. Their new(ish) cookbook A New Way to Dinner has been my inspiration for a week of lamb-based meals (although the creamed broccoli rabe (that tried to sell itself as creamed kale) was the hit of the week), and what a week it was.


This is a big, peppery, leftovers salad, and I highly encourage playing around with ingredients.  Have fresh peas? Blanch them quickly and then throw them in. Need to get rid of some waxy red potatoes? Boil them briskly and then slice them into this salad. Truly, I think this tasty salad could just be a gateway to whatever is fresh and in your fridge. Seriously, we're using leftover lamb here. I see no reason to not clean out other parts of your pantry.


As it is, the crisp celery next to the bitter arugula, the piquant horseradish mixed into the creamy buttermilk: friends, this is as perfect for the dead of winter as it is the heyday of summer. This invites playing around, and then digging into a crisp, distinctively pungent, and creamy salad. My mouth is watering as I type this.


Finally, a note on horseradish: if you are lucky enough to have procured fresh horseradish, omit the prepared horseradish in the dressing and grate it over the salad. You are in for a treat. However, the prepared horseradish is just delightful as well. (P.S. Want to know how horseradish got its English name?  I did.  See here.)


Okay, friends, it's leftovers time, and this salad will make you forget that you're eating leftover lamb. Instead, it will feel like the main attraction for the week.  And with that, I am delighted to have cooked a week's worth A New Way to Dinner.  No doubt that I'll be doing this again. And, of course, I will keep you posted. 






All-in-One Lamb Salad with Horseradish, Watercress (or Arugula), and Celery

Adapted from Food 52's A New Way to Dinner

Yield:
Serves 4

Ingredients:
3 cups torn romaine
3 cups watercress or arugula
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
Cubed leftover lamb (about 1 1/2 to 2 cups)
1/3 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp buttermilk
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp grainy mustard
1 Tbsp heavy cream
1 Tbsp prepared horseradish
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Instructions:
1. In a large bowl, fold together the romaine, watercress (or arugula), celery, and lamb. 

2.  Combine the olive oil through the black pepper in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Screw on the lid and shake vigorously until smooth and emulsified. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Store int he fridge for about 2 weeks.  Makes 1 cup.

3.  Add 1/3 cup of the dressing (save the rest for future salads!) to the salad. Toss well and add more dressing as needed. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Hanky Panky (A Cocktail from Amaro)


Ah, bitterness. The anger that forgot where it came from, or so says Alain de Botton. However, you will embrace this bitterness, know only marginally where it comes from, and dismiss anger. For you, my friends, are about to embark on a journey into the bitter and bittersweet world of amari with me.

Amari (the plural of amaro, the Italian word for bitter) are all the rage right now. And there are rules that go along with amari, most notably to be called such, these lovely little liqueurs must originate in Italy (or so some sticklers say).  You can be all snobby about them if you would like (and there are plenty who are decidedly snobby about their amari), but I prefer a more adventurist view. 


Brad Thomas Parsons, who wrote my most recent libation guidebook Amaro and may just be the US's leading expert on amari, is of the same inclusive mindset. He invites Gammel Dansk from Denmark and Unicum from Hungary and Salers from France--all decidedly not Italian--to join the conversation of bitter after-dinner bitter drinks that aid in digestion. Or before dinner drinks to whet the appetite. Or with dinner drinks to complement a meal.  Or just anytime drinks.

But here's the rub: the ingredients in amari are closely held, often family-retained secrets. So while we can wax on about the caramel note or the herbaceousness of any particular amari, we're totally guessing about amounts and combinations. We can approximate and give out theories, and Parsons does just that in Amaro.  The first half of the book walks you through a multitude of amari and discusses history, known ingredients, and tasting notes. And the second half meanders through a labyrinth of cocktail recipes. 


Thank goodness that this book arrived, for I did declare that in 2015 I wanted to have more drink recipes on this here blog. I have certainly fulfilled that resolution.

So I chose the Hanky Panky, mostly because (and I am going to admit something here) I had never had Fernet-Branca. Oh, sure, just about every hipster in the greater Bay Area has slugged down a shot of this with their bartender (apparently this is a thing) or, if your Argentinian, sipped a Fernandito (cola con Fernet), but as is usual, I am the barfly late to the ball. Wait for this: some 25% of the Fernet imported to the US is consumed in San Francisco, and about 70% of all Fernet is imported to Argentina. Quite simply, I believe as a Bay Area resided, I was contractually obligated to figure out what all these people were so fixed upon.


And, friends, I have to tell you I liked it. Yes, Fernet-Branca is a concoction of some 27 international herbs and barks and fungi and spices and roots, including myrrh, cardamom, saffron (so much saffron that the Fernet company influences the price of saffron), galangal, laurel, chamomile, rhubarb root, and aloe ferox (don't worry, I had to look that up, too). 

Yes, it is a bracing, exceptionally bitter, incredibly pine-y, and even menthol-y potable. A writer from the Irish Times says he's heard Fernet-Branca described as “like waking up in a foreign country and finding a crowd of people arguing in agitated thorny voices outside your hotel window." But I always have enjoyed the voyeuristic effect of watching a good argument and have guiltily clamored for more even if I didn't understand what was going on. Plus, F. Scott Fitzgerald mentions it as one of France's "humbler poisons" (yes, it's only a passing glance from Dick Diver on his way to alcoholism and he gets the country wrong, but let's work with it here) in Tender is the Night. 


And I was not disappointed. The Hanky Panky, a variation on the sweet martini or even a negroni, was a drink pulled together by mixologist Ada Coleman at the American Bar in the Savoy Hotel in London in the early 20th century. Coleman said of this this tipple in a 1925 newspaper article:
 The late Charles Hawtrey … was one of the best judges of cocktails that I knew. Some years ago, when he was overworking, he used to come into the bar and say, ‘Coley, I am tired. Give me something with a bit of punch in it.’ It was for him that I spent hours experimenting until I had invented a new cocktail. The next time he came in, I told him I had a new drink for him. He sipped it, and, draining the glass, he said, ‘By Jove! That is the real hanky-panky!’ And Hanky-Panky it has been called ever since.

So here we are, sipping on a bitter drink with a bit of a punch. Let's not worry about where this bitterness came from. Because we have a lot more amari to try, and Parsons is happy to tug us by the arm and guide us into this complicated, often confusing, and ever-so-bitter world. Let's go!



If you want even more information (and I had a lot of fun learning about amaro, Fernet-Branca and the Hanky Panky), see here:



I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.






Hanky Panky

Adapted from Amaro

Yield:
1 drink

Ingredients:
1 1/2 ounces gin (I used the juniper-forward Tanqueray)
1 1/2 ounces sweet vermouth (I used Dolin Rouge)
2 dashes Frenet-Branca
Garnish: orange zest

Instructions:
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine the gin, vermouth, and Fernet-Branca. Stir until chilled and strain into a cold coupe or a cocktail glass. Garnish with the orange zest.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Creamed Kale (and Broccoli Rabe)


Um. I was not expecting this. Not at all. Creamed greens (in the U.S. generally creamed spinach) are those old standbys that no one really admits to making all that much anymore. And it's a shame, for creamed greens are not only good but the can be good for you (if you watch just how much cream you put in them). 

From Food and Wine's Creamed Kale to The Food Network's Creamed Broccoli, lots of people are jumping on the creamed vegetable bandwagon again these days, and I am no exception. However, most of these are very heavy on the cream. Not with this recipe from Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, the founders of Food52.  Instead, this is a bitter mouthful rounded out with only a susuration of cream. As it should be.


As you probably already know given my last couple of posts, I have taken up Hesser and Stubbs challenge to spend my Sunday cooking and then sitting back for the rest of the week. Dinners (and lunches) practically make themselves. 

I started with these glorious lamb shoulder chops and coupled them up with some stuck-pot rice. Now, we have already established time and again on this here blog that I love lamb. And this lamb is good. In fact, really good, especially since it is quite simple to prepare and this particular cut is not hard on the wallet. However, this recipe for creamed kale is what stole the show.  And here's the secret:

It's not creamed kale.


It's really creamed broccoli rabe. In fact, I would say that the ratio that I had (given the 1 1/2 pounds of broccoli rabe my bunch provided and the slightly wimpy bundle of kale that I had) was 5:1 broccoli rabe. And that's how it should be. 

Because the rabe is mouth-puckeringly bitter, which is the perfect accompaniment to toasty rice, unctuous eggs, or gamey lamb. Or, let's face it, entirely on its own in heaping spoonfuls straight from the refrigerator on Monday morning. Not that this happened. (Okay, it happened. And on Tuesday morning as well.)


Now Hesser and Stubbs assure us that this would be a great topping for ricotta gnocchi, but I didn't get around to making that. I would like to be able say that I regret that. But I don't. See also: heaping spoonfuls straight from the fridge.

So, let's pull out this updated dish, dig in, and pucker up, because this is one updated creamed greens dish that is worth trotting out time and again. Let's do this.







Creamed Kale (and Broccoli Rabe)

Adapted from Food 52's A New Way to Dinner

Yield:
Makes 4 cups, enough for 2 dinners as side dishes

Ingredients:
1 pound bunch of broccoli rabe, trimmed
2 small bunches kale, stemmed
4 ounces pancetta, cut int 1/4 inch dice or slices
1/4 olive oil
salt
1/4 cup heavy cream (bah, milk would be fine)
Generous pinch of red pepper flakes
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/3 cup crème fraîche, sour cream, or yogurt

Instructions:
1. Rinse the broccoli rabe and kale in plenty of water, then drain, letting the excess water cling to the leaves.

2. In a large pot or dutch oven, spread the pancetta and cook over medium heat until the fat renders and the pancetta is crispy. You may need to lower the heat as you go. Transfer the pancetta to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. As much as it pains me to write this, wipe out the pancetta drippings (although you could try not doing so. I bet it's good.)

3.  Pile broccoli rabe and kale into the large pot. Pour the olive oil over the greens and season with salt. Place over high heat and cook until the greens begin to wilt, moving them from the bottom of the pot to the top using tongs. When the greens are fully wilted and most of the liquid has been cooked off, add the cream and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute more.

4.  Transfer the greens to a food processor, adding about half of the creamy liquid from the pot. Puree the greens until they are coarse but certainly broken down. Add more liquid if needed (you'll probably need it). Add the lemon juice and the crème fraîche, sour cream, or yogurt.  Puree until a bit smoother, but still coarse  Taste and adjust the seasoning. Then stir in the pancetta. Store in a container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

5.  The day of: Reheat the greens with a splash of water in a small sauce pan over medium-low heat.