Category: Lunch

Kale and Purple Potatoes (with sage and garlic)

Kale and Purple Potato

Kale and Purple Potato

I love earthy greens, and kale has a hearty chew that makes me feel as though I’m really eating something substantial.  The kale was subject to a rigorous yet thick chiffonading (if that’s a word, if not, it is now) as that is not only my favorite cut, but it shows off the nook ‘n cranny-y (another new word) nature of this great leafy vegetable. Kale looks particularly nice as a chiffonade. This is a really textureful (I did it again) dish, and sage and potatoes go together like tall glasses and water, so this simple combination of vegetables makes a great meal or side dish.

Ingredients:
1 bunch kale
1 lb purple potatoes (or any waxy potato), chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
2 garlic cloves, chopped
8 fresh sage leaves (or a teaspoon of dried, if fresh is not available)
2 tablespoons olive oil

Potato, Kale and Sage

Potato, Kale and Sage

Directions:
1. Wash, dry, and cut the kale into any size pieces that you prefer.

2. Heat a pan, add the oil and garlic and when the oil is hot, add the potatoes.

3. Add the potato and cook until soft, 10-2 minutes.

4. Add the kale and saute until soft. The kale will become softer the longer it is cooked. I prefer a little chewiness so I cook it about 8-10 minutes, but if you prefer a softer result, cook as long as you want.

5. Add the sage and mix into the kale and potato thoroughly and cook about 1 minute.

6. Plate and eat!

Couscous Tabbouleh

Couscous Tabbouleh

Couscous Tabbouleh

I’m not going to pretend that this is any kind of traditional tabbouleh. This is *my* tabbouleh. While tabbouleh is traditionally made with bulghur wheat, I have always preferred making it with couscous. This particular tabbouleh recipe has a nice yet subtle lemony flavor, not too strong or tart. I encourage anyone to modify it based on personal preference. I sometimes double the parsley or tomatoes, depending on my mood and what is available, and leave out something if the cat has gotten to it on the counter (he prefers people food).

Ingredients:
1 cup water
1 cup couscous
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium cucumber, seeded and diced
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced (or cherry tomatoes, quartered)
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 medium red onion, diced
2 cups loosely packed fresh parsley leaves, minced
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, minced

(1 cup of chicken stock instead of water is optional for cooking the couscous)

Directions:
1. Cook the couscous by boiling the water or broth and adding it to the dry couscous (or follow the directions on the box if the ratio is different). When the couscous has hydrated, fluff with a fork and let cool.

2. Place all ingredients in a bowl and fold gently to mix, spreading the oil and lemon juice evenly throughout the mixture.

Almost any vegetable will go well with this recipe, so feel free to add anything to your preference (e.g. grilled zucchini is great). This goes down particularly well for a summer meal.

Tourtiere – Quebec Meat Pie

Tortiere

Tortiere

A “Tourtière” is a meat pie from Quebec, and is a classic part of the Christmas/Christmas Eve réveillon and New Year’s Eve meal (It’s also great when you are having a bunch of people over for dinner and you are sick of making “bangers in a cloud”, another great recipe that I will post soon). While meat pies are found in many cultures and parts of the world, the tourtiere gets its name from the the creature from which it was traditionally made, the “tourte,” or passenger pigeon. These days there is no one filling that makes a tourtiere what it is, it may be made from any type of meat, though the most common ones are made with pork, veal, beef, or a combination of meats (if you hunt dove, it might be an interesting way to prepare the bird, similar to the original recipe). In Quebec, serving this won’t turn heads, but in the US, tourtiere is not so common, and you may get some “what the… Meat pie?” type of comments. Ignore them, and remember… Knives are for threatening, too. This dish has a lot of flavor, and this is one of my favorite touriere recipes. When you try this, you will see why this is so popular up north.

Ingredients:
Pastry dough for a bottom and top crust (store-bought is fine)
1 tablespoon light olive or canola oil
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground beef
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, crushed and finely chopped
1/3 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
2/3 cup beef stock
2 tablespoons Cognac
1 teaspoon dried parsley
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried sage
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/16 teaspoon ground cloves
1/16 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/16 teaspoon grated nutmeg

Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Roll out your pastry dough and cut into two equal circles, enough to fit a 9-inch pie pan, and line the bottom of the pan with one piece of the dough.

3. In a pan, heat the oil and saute onion, garlic, celery, and carrot briefly. Add the meat and cook until done.

4. Drain the excess oil and add the stock, herbs, spices, and cognac to the pan and simmer over a low to medium heat for about 15 minutes.

5. Allow to sit for about 5 minutes and then spoon the mixture into the pastry crust in the pie pan and cover with the remaining dough.

6. Seal the pie crust, cut a few vents in the top, and design however you please (if you please).

7. Reduce the heat to 350 and bake the tourtiere for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top turns a golden brown.

8. Let cool for a bit and serve while still warm.

This will easily serve 6 to 8 people and the proportions can be increased to be made in a larger pie mold (or pan).

Striped Salad with Buttermilk Pesto Dressing

Striped Salad with Buttermilk Pesto Dressing

Striped Salad with Buttermilk Pesto Dressing

This explosive salad hails from the depths of a friend’s brain. I believe she had it somewhere and made the recipe her own, but I can attest that, while the salad itself is tasty, the buttermilk pesto dressing is incredible enough to warrant drinking a glass of it as a nightcap. This is a great recipe for using leftover grilled chicken (which I have a lot of in the summer) and is a fairly light salad as well. Substituting ingredients is also encouraged, and there are lots of items that would go well with this dressing. That said, this is how we made it and it turned out better than I wanted (no need to get into that).

All the following ingredients are to be chopped:
2 heads romaine lettuce, arugula, or mixed greens (the arugula is quite good)
Grilled chicken
1 cup cooked Israeli couscous
Cherry tomatoes (marinated in the dressing)
1/2 cup black currants,
pumpkin seeds
Asiago cheese (optional)

Buttermilk Pesto Dressing:
1/2 cup pesto
1 shallot chopped
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup buttermilk
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
Mix ingredients in a blender and chill.

Directions:
1. Dress the salad greens and place them in a salad bowl.

2. Place the chopped items in the bowl, one at a time, in wide stripes.

3. Present the salad to your guests, and after the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ toss the salad and serve.

Garlic Lime Skirt Steak

Garlic lime skirt steak

Garlic lime skirt steak

Inspired by my love of Cuban foods, I make this steak often, and its robust flavor is like a predator with your tongue as its prey. I don’t mean to imply that it is overpowering, but the strong lime flavor blends with the beefiness of the skirt steak, and the combination announces itself clearly upon arrival. Skirt steak is a particularly fatty and flavorful cut, so it holds up well to the lime, and remains juicy even after an assault on the grill and then the pan (if you choose to finish the steak the way I do). This is perhaps the best way to serve this cut of meat and anyone who tells you otherwise is probably a vegetarian.

Ingredients
1 lb skirt steak
3 limes
3 garlic cloves, pressed or grated

N.B. Limes can be difficult to juice so one thing I have been known to do is buy bottled lime juice and use 6 tablespoons of that instead. With the garlic and meatiness of the steak, no one will notice the difference.

Directions
1. Cut the skirt steak into pieces small enough to easily fit in a bowl or plastic bag.

2. Combine all ingredients in a covered bowl or plastic bag and allow the steak to marinate for at least 2 hours (I marinate as long as 8 hours with no problems), moving the pieces around occasionally to ensure that the lime juice gets to all the sides of the steak.

3. Remove the pieces of steak, however there is no need to scrape any of the garlic pieces that stick to them, they are very flavorful when cooked. The meat is then preferably cooked on a grill for maximum flavor, however I just as easily broil the meat in the oven. For those who are not interested in adding to the work load, the cooked meat can be served. However I like to take one additional step.

4. (Optional) Cut the steak into strips and quickly fry them in a pan with a little bit of oil to make them nice and crispy on the edges and then serve.

Serves 2 and goes really well with yuca, garlic mashed potatoes, or plantains (sweet or savory).

This dish goes so well with a Cuban Mojo sauce that it’s just mean not to try it. It’s so good, I sometimes pretend we’re related.