The following post was written by my mom, WWW. Thanks, mom!
Last weekend, we celebrated my mother-in-law’s birthday (amazing at 84) and thanks to my time spent trawling old cookbooks for inspiration, it was a huge success. Friday night we had the carrot soup—a big hit. I served the bean tostadas for the birthday party on Sunday and I don’t remember when I have cooked something for dinner that has been more appreciated (Larry’s meat loving and adorable Uncle Harold just called me to tell me this meal was the highlight of his week long trip here from New Jersey!). I now have a new favorite recipe that is easy to make and unbelievably delicious (festive, too!!)
Although exciting (and thrifty) to shop in your closet, it’s also a heck of a lot of fun to buy something new! Larry gave me three new cookbooks for Christmas and three weeks later, two more for my birthday. I love cookbooks, but I don’t often buy myself new ones, so it was decadent to get so many new ones all at once. That’s a lot of material to go through and I get overwhelmed easily so I'm pacing myself. This week I looked at Clean Food by Terry Walters and The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook by Jack Bishop. Both of these books are great and I am picking a recipe from each to feature this week.
I love the way Terry Walters has put together her book, Clean Food. She is a kindred spirit—a self taught cook who believes in eating “all the colors of the rainbow, all five tastes, a varied diet, [and] locally grown, seasonal foods,” the same food values I share. I am so happy to have this book in my cooking library and it already feels like an old friend. One thing she talks about is soaking grains for better nutrition. This is new to me and I want to learn more about it. (Look for a future post on this topic).
I chose to make Kale with Caramelized Shallots since I have LOTS of greens, both in my garden and in my refrigerator. I used one bunch of kale and a combination of greens from my garden (mizuna, broccoli rabe and mustard) as well as my tender second harvest of broccoli and broccoli greens. I cannot say enough good things about this simple yet scrumptious recipe. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but something about the shallots when they caramelize transforms greens into food fit for a king.
You could serve these greens on top of quinoa or polenta for a complete meal. Make a lot because you will want seconds!! I love Terry Walter’s method of plunging the kale into boiling water. It solves cleaning it and softens the kale for a more delicious outcome. If you use other more tender greens combined with the kale as I did, however, just stir-fry them for a couple of minutes with the caramelized shallots before adding the cooked kale.
Kale with Caramelized Shallots
2 bunches kale
6 large shallots, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon coarse sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
Add lemon juice and saute another 2-3 minutes to brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut and remove dried stem ends from kale and submerge whole leaves in boiling water for 2-3 minutes or until tender and bright green.
Remove from heat, drain water, and cut leaves into bite-size pieces. Add kale to pan with shallots and saute for 1 minute.
Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil, season to taste with salt and pepper and serve:
There are so many wonderful sounding recipes in Jack Bishop’s Italian Vegetarian Cookbook. It was hard to choose one, but we haven’t had pasta in ages, so I decided to make the Orecchiette with Two Mushrooms and Rosemary.
Orecchiette (pronounced ō-rā-kē-e-tā) means “little ears” in Italian. This pasta is popular in southern Italy and its shape is ideal for vegetable sauces. It is really fun to make if you have time (Bishop has a good recipe for homemade pasta dough in his book)—a great project to do with children as the shape comes from rolling a small ball of dough and then flattening it over your thumb.
This recipe is easy and it turned out delicious. Don’t be skimpy on the salt and pepper…the sauce needs a lot to bring out the subtle flavor. I added a little extra olive oil at the end, which I tossed in just before serving, and an extra grating of parmesan cheese on top. (I think next time I might add more varieties of mushrooms, too, as the white buttons are a little on the bland side).
Orecchiette with Two Mushrooms and Rosemary
1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
2 T unsalted butter
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves
1 pound white button mushrooms, wiped clean, stems trimmed, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound orecchiette or small shells
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 T minced fresh parsley leaves
2. Place the porcini mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with 1 cup hot water. Soak until softened, about 20 minutes. Carefully lift the mushrooms from the liquid and pick through them to remove any foreign debris. Wash the mushrooms if they feel gritty. Chop them. Strain the soaking liquid through a sieve lined with paper towel. Set aside the mushrooms and strained soaking liquid separately.
3. Heat the butter and oil in a large saute pan. Add the onion and cook over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook until the garlic is golden, about 1 minute.
4. Add the button mushrooms and saute until golden brown and the liquid they give off has evaporated, about 8 minutes.
... Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the chopped porcini and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more to release their flavor. Add the soaking liquid and bring to a boil. Cover and remove from the heat.
5. Meanwhile, add salt to the boiling pasta water and add the orecchiette or small pasta shells. Cook until al dente and then drain.
(This is where I drizzled the pasta with extra olive oil and added more salt and pepper). Divide among individual bowls and serve immediately!
(Add an extra grating of parmesan cheese on top).