Tag Archives: kale

Kale Chips, Or, Why Pho Girl Can’t Quit This Blog

This is my 100th post.

I’m writing about kale. Which I suppose is a bit like toasting your fiftieth anniversary with a mug of lukewarm green tea. Make that decaf green tea.

I haven’t blogged anything in about a month. Because when I am on the cusp of something significant, like a 100th blog post, I work myself into quite a state trying to think of something earth-shattering to share.

Well, here it is: kale chips are delicious. Beet green chips, not so much.

If you haven’t made them, kale chips are quick, easy, healthy, and crispy. Simply wash a head of kale and pat dry, remove the hard ribs, tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces, set them on a cookie sheet, drizzle with a little olive oil, and sprinkle with a bit of kosher salt or other seasoning of your choice. Slide the cookie sheet into a 300-degree oven for about 15-20 minutes (keep a close eye on your kale), and before you know it, you’ve got kale chips.

Now, I’ll admit that no one in the house cared for these the first few times I made them. They’re crunchy but not sturdy. They’ve got a brittle quality that makes you want to give them a calcium supplement. They get stuck in your teeth. The rest of my family is not interested. The only way I can get my people to willingly eat their kale is by making this potato, kale, and sausage soup.

Boy, aren’t you all just rushing to the market to buy kale for this recipe? But you should. These are worth a try. Several tries. There’s something satisfying about them that I can’t put my finger on, because it’s too busy working in concert with my thumb to pluck kale chips off the cookie sheet.

Now, here’s where I get into trouble. I often get it in my head that if I can make one thing that’s tasty, then I should be able to turn a like item into something that’s even more tasty. So after roasting a batch of beets, I decided to try to make beet green chips as opposed to sauteing the greens.

I realized that something was amiss when my kitchen began to fill with the aroma of what I can only imagine cooked grass clippings would smell like.

There aren’t enough wilted chips in the world, if you ask me. And yes, I tasted them. I lived to tell about it, but just barely.

Which brings me to the whole point of this post: why I can’t quit this blog. I have a love/hate relationship with this blog. I love to share stories; I hate the pressure of trying to come up with new, interesting material. I love it when you tell me that something I’ve written made you laugh or was tasty. I hate feeling like a fraud when I share recipes–I’m not a gourmet cook.

I know, can you believe that? No formal culinary training or nuttin.’

And yet, I persevere. Because you need me. Someday you’ll get it in your head to go rogue in the kitchen, and then you’ll say to yourself, “Wait a minute. I don’t want to pull a Pho Girl.” I am a living, breathing cautionary tale. Who else is going to be honest with you? Who’s not afraid to let what happens in the kitchen out of the kitchen? Pho Girl, that’s who.

Kale Chips

Ingredients:

1 head kale (it cooks down quite a bit; 1 head makes a light snack for 2 or 3 people)

olive oil for drizzling

kosher salt for sprinkling

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash the kale and pat dry. Remove the ribs and tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces.

2. Arrange on a cookie sheet and use olive oil and salt to season.

3. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until kale has cooked down and is crispy to the touch. Remove from oven; cool before serving.

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Potato, Kale and Sausage Soup

I’ve been making this meal for Nacho Man almost longer than any other meal…except my spaghetti sauce.

Which he dumped about a quarter bottle of ketchup into the first time I served it to him.

I married him anyway. And continued to cook for him.

We love this soup. It’s perfect for cold, wet weather, it’s got lots of color and texture, and it’s got meat. Meat! This is a big plus for Nacho Man, who won’t eat those pureed squash soups that I love because they remind him of baby food. Which I’d like to point out to him have the same consistency as ketchup.

Take one pound of mild Italian sausage and brown both sides of the casings in a soup pot on medium-high heat. Take them out of the pot and slice them.

They won’t be cooked all the way through. Put the slices back in the pot and brown both sides until they are cooked through. You might have to slice one open and eat it to make sure it’s completely cooked. Just sayin.’

You could remove the sausage from the casings and have crumbled sausage in your soup, but I like the bigger pieces. I think they balance the potato and kale. But to each her own.

These chicken sausages from PCC have only 3 grams of fat per serving. If you’re using a super low-fat sausage, add a little olive oil to the pot to prevent sticking. If you bought yourself some Jabba the Hut sausages, wipe the excess fat out of the pot after you’ve browned the meat. You want some fat for flavor, but you don’t want to feel like you’re swallowing Vaseline.

Gross. Almost as gross as dumping ketchup into homemade spaghetti sauce.

Add 3 cloves of whole, peeled garlic that you’ve mashed up a bit to the pot, along with a pinch or two of red pepper flakes. Saute each side of the garlic for about one minute.

Then, add 4-6 cups of stock or stock-water combo to suit your taste. If you have a little dry white wine, you can use it to deglaze the pot before adding the stock. Mmmmm.

Add 3 medium red potatoes that you’ve scrubbed well and sliced. Half a teaspoon of dried oregano would be good here, along with some salt and black pepper to taste. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pot, and simmer until the potatoes are fork tender.

Meanwhile, take a head of kale and remove the hard stems. Tear or cut the leaves into bite-size pieces, then rinse well. When the potatoes are done, add the kale to the pot.

It’s going to look ridiculous, kale-heavy, totally out of proportion. But it cooks down a lot. All that’s left to do now is stir the pot gently until the kale is blanched and cooked to your liking. Then, see if you can find those hunks o’ garlic, remove them, and serve up some soup.

I like to sprinkle a little more red pepper flakes and freshly grated Parmesan cheese on my soup. Everything’s better with Parmesan cheese.

Like homemade spaghetti sauce.

Potato, Kale and Sausage Soup

serves 4

Ingredients

1 pound pork or chicken mild Italian sausage

3 medium red potatoes, scrubbed well and sliced

1 head of kale, hard stems removed and torn into bite-size pieces

3 cloves of garlic, peeled and gently mashed but still whole

4-6 cups of low-sodium stock or stock-water

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

red pepper flakes to taste

salt and pepper to taste

freshly grated Parmesan for garnish (optional)

Directions

1. Brown sausages in a large soup pot. Slice and brown insides. If using low-fat sausages, add olive oil to prevent sticking. Wipe out excess fat, if any.

2. Add garlic cloves and red pepper flakes. Saute garlic one minute per side.

3. Add stock or stock-water combination, oregano, salt, pepper, and potatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until potatoes are fork tender, about 15-20 minutes.

4. Add kale and cook until done to your liking. Remove garlic and serve. Garnish with Parmesan cheese if desired.

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