Two Ways with Kale and Cheese

Friday, 28 December 2012

A couple of days before Christmas we made a trip to the supermarket.  We knew it was going to be a fairly horrible experience and we were not wrong.  There’s something about Christmas, the big meal and the fact that pretty much everything shuts for a day that makes us go a little crazy.  People were barging around the supermarket with heavily loaded trolleys.  Politeness was left at the entrance to the car park.  Every man for himself was the mentality.  Under these circumstances we all seem to stress buy things we don’t really need, just in case, heaven forbid we should run out and not be able to buy that vital item.  This year, I stress bought kale.  I’m not even going to attempt to qualify that.  So this week, while I’m enjoying a few days off work I’ve been making lots of kale creations.  I was going to make this two separate posts but then I thought, how much kale can people really take?  Not everyone is as obsessed as me.  Better to do it in one hit.

I use hard goat cheese here, it’s my favourite and tends to be my go to cheese these days.  The flavour is quite strong but you can substitute any hard cheese you like.

Twice Baked Potatoes with Kale and Goat Cheese inspired by River Cottage Veg Every Day! by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Serves 2

2 large baking potatoes

Handful of kale, finely chopped and briefly sautéd to wilt.

Knob of butter

Goat cheese, grated

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven Gas Mark 6, 200°C, 400°F.  Wash and dry the potatoes.  Bake in the oven for about an hour or until they are crisp and yield easily when tested with a fork.  Once cooked allow to cool slightly for handling.  Cut your potatoes in half and scoop the flesh in to a bowl.  Add the butter, kale and cheese and mash together.  Season with salt and pepper.  Return the flesh mixture to the potato skins and top with more grated cheese.  Place the potatoes on a baking tray and return to the oven for a further ten to fifteen minutes until the cheese is melted and turning golden and the potatoes are heated through. 

Kale and Goat Cheese Frittata
Serves 2, using 9 inch skillet.
Handful of kale finely chopped
3-4 large eggs
Fresh Thyme or other herb such as basil or parsley
Olive oil
Goat cheese, grated (as much as you like).
Heat the oil in the skillet over a low heat and add the kale.  Sauté until wilted, about two to three minutes. Meanwhile whisk the eggs with the herbs and season to your liking.  Once the kale is wilted add the egg mixture and make sure it evenly coats the pan.  Sprinkle some of the cheese across the top.  Cook on a low heat until the egg has begun to set.  This should take about ten minutes.  When almost done sprinkle the rest of the cheese generously across the top of the frittata then finish the cooking off under the grill to brown the top.  Serve with a green salad.  *I think you could take this up a level by sautéing some finely chopped onion and garlic before adding the kale to the pan.  The beauty of a frittata is you can throw in what you like and make it your own.

Happy Christmas!

Monday, 24 December 2012

It’s never too late to make mince pies.  Recipe here.  Happy Christmas x

Christmas Granola

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Breakfast gets a bit ignored at Christmas.  It’s all about the turkey, the roasted parsnips, the brussels sprouts and the Christmas pudding.  Who needs breakfast when there are boxes of Quality Street and mince pies to devour?  I am here to plead the case for eating a good breakfast on Christmas day.  To start with, it’s usually a day when lunch turns up late, I mean really late.  You need fuel to get through the wait. Mince pies are not the right type of fuel.  Perhaps more importantly, opening presents requires muscular strength.  It’s no good if you are hopped up on sugar, you will fade too fast.  Breakfast will protect you against tummy rumblings during the Vicar’s sermon.  It will soak up the port you are working your way through while you cook.  It will make you a more pleasant and patient human being.  Breakfast is your friend.

I’ve made you some granola.  I added spices to it, just to make it extra special and Christmassy.  It has oats for soluble fibre and slow release energy, nuts for protein, cranberries for vitamin C, coconut for a host of vitamins and minerals.  It will see you through.  You can thank me later.  Enjoy with natural yoghurt, milk or just to snack on during the day. 
150g (5oz) gluten free oats
25g (1oz) coconut flakes
50g (2oz) pecans
50g (2oz) whole almonds
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cocoa powder
Pinch of nutmeg (optional)
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp unrefined brown sugar
1 ½ tbsp coconut oil, melted
Handful dried cranberries
Preheat oven to Gas Mark 5, 190°C, 375°F. Line a baking tray with baking parchment.  In a large bowl combine all the dry ingredients apart from the cranberries. Add the oil, syrup and sugar last. Mix well and spread evenly across a baking tray. Bake in the middle shelf of the oven removing every ten minutes to toss granola ensuring all sides are evenly toasted. Bake until golden brown (about 25 minutes). Remove from the oven and add the cranberries. Let it sit on the hot tray until cool then transfer to an air tight container.  Keeps for about two weeks.

Kale and Red Cabbage Pesto

Saturday, 15 December 2012

I hate to put this out there but we don’t really like garlic in our pesto.  I know it’s all wrong but I always find it overwhelming and so does my husband.  Perhaps we’re vampires...?  I’ve been making pesto with kale for a long while (recipe with garlic here) but in this particular version I had some red cabbage to use up and thought I’d try chucking that in to the mix.  I find making this with hard goat cheese packs a big enough flavour punch to make up for the lack of garlic.  This is a hearty, chunky pesto that mixes perfectly in to hot pasta.  Feel free to mix in whatever vegetables or meat you like.  I was having an avocado day when I made this.
Serves 2
I tend just to throw this together without weighing anything out so take this as an approximation.
1 bunch of kale (about 2-3 leaves), finely chopped.  I used cavolo nero
½ cup sliced red cabbage
1oz toasted almonds chopped
1oz hard goats cheese or parmesan, grated
Zest ½ lemon (optional)
Approx 50ml or 2 – 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Blanch the kale and cabbage in a pan of boiling water (about 2-3 minutes).  Drain and run under the cold tap to cool.  Use a kitchen towel or a clean tea towel to squeeze out any excess water.  Place the kale, cabbage, almonds lemon zest and cheese in a food processor and blend until they come together in a kind of chunky coarse paste.  Add the olive oil in a stream with the machine running until a smoother consistency is achieved.  Mix with hot pasta.

Carrot and Ginger Soup

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Thanks to my daily commute in to London I am bombarded by cold germs through winter.  Sometimes it feels like every person on the train is coughing or sneezing.  This week it was me.  The healthy ones give the sickly ones a subtle look of derision.  Sizing each other up, should I sit next to you?  Are you going to cover your mouth when you cough?  Quite often, on packed trains there isn’t the luxury of choice.  You sit where you can or you stand.  Every time I have a cold, like the one I’m suffering with at the moment, I bust out this soup recipe.  It’s quick and easy to make when you can’t face much cooking.  Carrots are packed full of vitamin C and ginger is superb at easing congestion and mucus as well as being good for your digestive system.  This soup gives you a warm glow from the inside out, much like the ready brek kid. I’ve been making this soup for so many years I don’t know where the recipe came from.  I carry it around in my head.

Serves 1 (easily doubled, tripled etc.)
Olive oil for cooking
200g carrots, peeled, and chopped in to discs
1 shallot
250ml stock of your choice (I used gluten free chicken stock)
½ tablespoon fresh ginger peeled and finally chopped or grated.
In a saucepan sauté the shallot in olive oil for about 5 minutes until translucent.  Add the carrots and ginger and continue to sauté for another 5 minutes.  Once the ginger is becoming fragrant add the stock.  Place a lid on the pan and simmer for 10 minutes then remove the lid and simmer for another 5-10 minutes until the carrots are soft.  Turn off the heat and allow the soup to cool slightly.  Once cool enough pour the soup in to a blender and blend until smooth.  Return the soup to the pan and reheat until piping hot.  Serve in your favourite bowl with toasted gluten free bread.

Gluten Free Banana Millet Muffins

Monday, 3 December 2012

These muffins proved to be a godsend last weekend as we faced a six hour drive to visit family.  On long road trips where I’m not driving I tend to do the following things.  1) Talk so much that my husband checks I’m ok if I’ve fallen quiet for more than five minutes.  2) Fall asleep, usually with my head back and mouth open catching flies.  3) Complain that I’ve hurt my neck because I’d fallen asleep with my head back at some weird angle.  4) Thinking about food and when I can next eat something we’ve packed for the journey.  In this case, these muffins were foremost on my mind.  They made a great breakfast when we faced the return drive on a dark Sunday morning.  More importantly they did a good job of keeping me quiet for a few minutes on the road.  I adapted these from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day, one of my all time favourite cookbooks.  I had a batch of over ripe bananas to use up and decided to turn her millet muffins in to a banana version.  These muffins contain some wonderful healthful things.  I made them with brown rice flour, they are sweetened with honey, contain natural yoghurt, a bit of butter, a kick of lemon zest and crunch from the millet.  They are light and airy.  The bananas add a little extra moisture which in gluten free baking is always helpful.  They are the answer to road trip boredom.

Recipe adapted from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson

Makes 12 Muffins

225g (8oz) Gluten Free flour (I used brown rice flour)

60g (2oz) raw millet

1 teaspoon gluten free baking powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt

225ml plain yoghurt

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

100ml unsalted butter slightly melted

100ml honey

Grated zest of one lemon

3 ripe bananas, mashed

Preheat the oven Gas Mark 6, 200°C, 400°F

Butter a 12 cup muffin tin and set aside.  In a large bowl mix together the flour, millet, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt.  In a small bowl or jug mix together the eggs, yoghurt, butter, honey and lemon zest until smooth.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry until the flour is just incorporated.  Gently stir in the bananas.  Spoon the batter in to the muffin pan until all of the mixture is used up.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the muffins are golden brown and beginning to crack on top.  Leave to cool in the pan for 5 minutes then turn the muffins out on to a wire rack to cool completely.