Archive for January, 2011

January 27, 2011

what’s in season wednesday

brussels sprouts are the feature of this edition of what’s in season wednesday. a versatile vegetable with belgium origins (approx. 16th century), brussels sprouts are extremely good for you – one serving has more vitamin c than 3 whole oranges! about 75% of our nation’s brussels sprouts are grown in california. brussels sprouts have a notoriously bad reputation, but if cooked well and seasoned just right, brussels sprouts are a wonderful, delicious and nutritious side dish to any winter meal.

a beautiful cold season crop – the peak season runs september to february -brussels sprouts are lucky to be in the same family as the famously nutritious broccoli, cabbage, collard greens, kale and mustard greens. they really are just tiny versions of cabbage.

it is best to steam your sprouts, or roast them for an extra crispy texture and flavor. i’ve even had them fried buffalo style, and they were delicious. boiling/overcooking brussels sprouts is a bad idea because it will significantly reduce the amount of sulforaphane, which is believed to prevent cancer. they are also a great source of indole-3-carbinol, believed to block the growth of cancer cells.

to make delicious chili-powder brussels sprouts:

try to buy sprouts still on the stalk when possible. they’ll be fresher, and its fun to cut them off. sprouts already removed from the stalk work fine too. wash them well, and slice them in half. in a large fry pan heat up 1-4 tablespoons of butter (depends how many sprouts you have, and how much you like butter) and add sprouts. put a lid on the fry pan and steam for about 10 minutes.

next add flavor… season the sprouts with salt, pepper and chili powder. the chili powder is key here – i discovered last winter that brussels sprouts come alive when spiced with chili power, the combination is delicious. how much you add depends on your spice/heat tolerance. i add a lot! continue to steam on low/medium heat until sprouts are cooked well – tasting is the best method to determine if they are done. they should be slightly crisp, but easy to chew. if you have overcooked your sprouts they will be bitter and have a bad after taste (hence the bad reputation!). chili-powder brussels sprouts are simple and reheat very well so make extra!

nutritionally speaking: excellent source of vitamins a, b6 and c, great source of manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin, thiamin and very high in dietary fiber. low in saturated fat, sodium, and no cholesterol

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January 24, 2011

last night’s dinner – a collection of sides

sometimes a great meal can be found in a bunch of side dishes. too often its assumed that a meal must have a meat portion or fish portion, but some delicious meals can be made out of a collection of what would usually be considered sides!

last night’s dinner was just that. kale, rosemary roasted butternut squash and onions, and trader joe’s vegetable rice came together extremely well.

sauteed garlic and kale
kale is the king of nutrients! use an entire bunch of fresh kale. as its cooked it will wilt and one bunch can easily be eaten by 2-3 people (and it is great re-heated for leftovers). while heating 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, wash and chop the kale into smaller strips. add kale and stir every minute or so. add diced garlic and shallots after about 5 minutes and cook for another 12-15 or so. taste the kale to see if it is done – it should be cooked and easy to chew, but still slightly crisp.

rosemary roasted butternut squash and onions
first step, selecting a good butternut squash – the squash should feel heavy, and the skin should be firm and clear, no large indents or bruises. the skin should be a yellow/gold/orange color and when you tap the squash you should hear a hollow sound.


second step, preparing the squash.  peel away the skin of the squash with a traditional peeler until the orange flesh of the squash is visible – usually 2-3 layers under the skin. next, scoop out the seeds and flesh. chop the orange flesh of the butternut squash into cubes. in a large bowl add chopped onion,  a few diced garlic cloves, 2-3 diced shallots, lots of rosemary, 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper. mix together well to coat all ingredients with olive oil and bake in the oven at 350 for about 25-30 minutes.

although there are many dishes that could be included with the two above to make a complete meal i used trader joe’s vegetable rice to tie it all together. if you haven’t had this rice yet (and live near a tj’s) you have to pick some up on your next shopping trip -its in the frozen food section. in addition to being delicious and simple to prepare, i think it adds a healthy, warm and comforting food to bring the entire dish together.

nutritionally speaking – excellent source of vitamins a, b6, c, e, and k, manganese, copper, iron, calcium, dietary fiber, lutein, and potassium.
rosemary is an anti-inflammatory herb that increases circulation, stimulates the immune system and improves digestion. in addition, both garlic and onion have properties that help prevent colds and winter illnesses, and help strengthen the immune system.


January 12, 2011

broccoli leek & potato soup

i made this soup in those dreary weeks between the end of fall and the beginning of real winter. it is a perfect pick me up soup; delicious, hearty and warming from the inside out. i love this recipe because it really showcases the leeks, which often do not get the praise and attention they deserve, and it has a rich creamy texture (with very little cream!). in addition, this recipe uses both broccoli florets and stems to reduce food waste and increase nutritional value.

nutritionally speaking – excellent source of vitamins A, B6, C, K, riboflavin, and folate and significant amounts of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, iron. low in saturated fat, and very low in cholesterol.


broccoli leek & potato soup:

  • 2 baking potatoes – peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 large broccoli bunches
  • 4-5 medium to large leeks – white and light green parts only
  • olive oil – about 2-3 tablespoons
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic – chopped small
  • 3 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup of light cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • bread (for croutons)
  • parmesan cheese for garnish

directions:

1) peel baking potatoes and chop into 1-inch cubes. cook in boiling water until a fork easily goes through one of the chopped pieces. set aside once cooked.
2) meanwhile, separate broccoli stems from florets. slice the stems into small coin-like pieces (sometimes it is recommend that you peel the outside of the stem, i do not bother with this step unless the outside of the stem is very thick). break the florets into small pieces and steam both the florets and stems together in a vegetable steamer. set aside once cooked.
3) clean and prepare leeks. chop off the darkest green ends of the leeks which are often slightly damaged or worn. cut off the white bearded bulb at the bottom. all you should have left are the white and light green parts. separate the leeks length wise and run under water to remove the dirt between the leaves. some leeks are really dirty – there is nothing wrong with this (usually those are the best locally grown leeks!) just clean them well. once clean slice thinly.
4) in a large fry pan heat olive oil and add garlic. add leeks and cook on medium heat to “sweat” the leeks, stirring often until they begin to soften and are fragrant – usually about 5-6 minutes. add about 3 cups of vegetable broth and cover, reducing the heat to medium-low. cook another 8-10 minutes.
5) mix cooked potato, cooked broccoli and leeks in a large bowl, and transfer the mixture in batches to a food processor (a blender also works) and puree until smooth.

6) as each batch is pureed, return to a large sauce pan on the stove. then add light cream, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, chives and parsley.  reheat about 5-10 minutes.
7) serve with shaved parmesan cheese and home made croutons *

*croutons can be made with almost any type of bread, stale bread works best. chop into cubes, add a small amount of olive oil, salt, pepper, fresh or dried herbs of your liking, toss and bake in a toaster oven or oven for 10-15 minutes until crunchy.

January 12, 2011

Welcome!

Welcome to Kale and Hops!

I’ve started this blog to explore my love of food and photography. My goal is to showcase healthy, fresh and simple recipes, and share my adventures in the kitchen with you.