Coconut Kale, Simplified

by Caroline

As I’ve probably mentioned before, my mom is an excellent clipping service, regularly sending me articles and recipes from the New York Times. Sometimes she makes the recipes first herself but more often, since she is cooking for two and I am cooking for four, she sends it to me to test and see if it’s worth her effort. Usually my sister is included in the recipe exchange, too, which was particularly helpful recently, when Mom found the recipe for grilled coconut kale, and Libby made it, but suggested stir frying might be just as good, and easier. I’m here to report it is.

Now kale is something that, like many greens, cycles in and out of favor with my kids. Right now, Ben likes it best raw in salad and Eli won’t touch it. But this, like Lisa’s recent braised celery, was a modified success, and I’m encouraged to keep it in the repertoire. You might find that even kids who insist they don’t like kale like it this way, tender and sweet with coconut milk. And come summer, maybe I’ll even grill it; but this time of year, I’ll stay out of the rain and make it on the stove top.

I’ll link to the original recipe, but I’m also typing it in as I did it, cut down to a more family-sized amount (1 bunch of kale rather than 3).

1 bunch kale

1 13.5-ounce can coconut milk

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne

1/2 teaspoon mild paprika

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice.

1. Wash the kale thoroughly and cut out the stalks. Cut the wide leaves into strips the width of the small leaves.

2. In a large pot set over a low flame, heat the coconut milk until it is thoroughly mixed and just lukewarm. Transfer to a large, nonreactive bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Stir in the kale, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

3. Remove the kale from the refrigerator and stir to make sure the leaves are well covered in marinade. Toss in a saute pan and cook over high heat for 2-3 minutes, then cover and lower the heat. Cook until tender, another 6-10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Adapted from Vij’s Restaurant, Vancouver, British Columbia.

Eli’s Elegant Broccoli

by Caroline

I won’t claim to take as much time with presentation as Lisa does, but Eli is either paying more attention than I thought to my small efforts or he is simply reading this blog. The recipe he invented yesterday (with production assistance from Tony) shows he’s as careful with style as substance.

The plan was for our regular rice with tofu and vegetables. I don’t make dinner often under even the best of circumstances; now, after a week locked into a bad head cold, I was just on the sidelines, listening, as Eli chatted about developing a new recipe for the broccoli. His first idea was to serve the cooked spears dipped in beaten egg. Tony balked. Eli cried. I thought about various other nice things into which one can dip one’s vegetables. There was a long conversation on the couch during which Tony successfully distracted Eli from his recipe long enough to return to cooking. We thought the recipe was forgotten, but I should have known my tenacious child would find a way to make his recipe work.

Dinner approached, and then Eli said, “I have another idea for my recipe!” I held my breath.
But in the end, it was OK.

Eli’s Elegant Broccoli

Prepare one head of broccoli by separating the spears and steaming lightly. While it’s cooking, melt a couple tablespoons of butter and let cook until it browns very slightly. Add a sprinkle of brown sugar. Serve in a shallow bowl with the broccoli spears surrounding it.

Now our proud boy wants to write a cookbook; I think we will.

Yeasted Pumpkin Bread

by Caroline

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of quick breads. Especially during the school year, rarely a week goes by that I’m not turning our extra bananas/apples/pears/pumpkin/summer squash into a batch of muffins or a loaf of bread for snack. But this recipe by Stephanie Rosenbaum for a yeasted pumpkin bread caught my eye recently, and it’s terrific. You can add pumpkin pie spice (or your own blend of cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg) for a nice breakfast or tea bread, or leave the spices out for a fabulous sandwich bread. Another time, I will write at greater length about working with yeast and why I don’t think it’s so hard; in the meantime, I suggest you just dive in and bake this bread.

Here’s the recipe, straight from Bay Area Bites:

Yeasted Pumpkin Bread
You can go sweet or savory with this bread. Reduce or remove the brown sugar altogether and leave out the spices for a more savory bread; add sweet autumn-y spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves to make it more of a breakfast or teatime treat. Cinnamon can be a little overwhelming, so try experimenting with just a couple, like nutmeg and cloves. Pregrated nutmeg quickly loses its punch, so try grating a fresh whole nutmeg using the fine holes of a box grater or microplane. The flavor difference is quite amazing.

Makes: 2 loaves or 2 dozen rolls

1/4 cup warm water
1 package (2 1/4 tsps) active dry yeast
2 cups roasted, mashed pumpkin or other winter squash
2 tablespoons pumpkin-seed, walnut, or other vegetable oil
1/2 cup warm milk
2 large eggs, beaten
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice, or a mixture of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and/or cloves, optional
1/2 cup cornmeal
3 cups whole-wheat flour
3-4 cups unbleached white flour
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup hulled pumpkin seeds
Egg glaze: 1 egg yolk beaten with 2 tbsp water

1. In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over water. Let stand for a few minutes, then whisk to dissolve.

2. Mix pumpkin, oil, milk, eggs, brown sugar, salt, spices if using, cornmeal, and whole-wheat flour into yeast mixture. Beat with a wooden spoon to make a thick batter.

3. One cup at a time, add white flour, stopping when you have a soft but manageable dough. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface.

4. Wash, dry, and lightly oil the bowl you were just using. Now, knead the dough with gusto for 10-12 minutes. Sprinkle over small amounts of remaining flour as needed; dough will tend to be sticky. Use patience and a dough scraper, and resist the temptation to dump in a whole bunch of flour to make it behave one and for all.

5. When dough has become smooth and elastic, return the dough to the oiled bowl. Swish around and turn over to make sure the whole ball of dough is lightly coated with oil. Cover bowl with a clean dishtowel and let rise in a warmish place until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.

6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Pat into a large, flat rectangle. Sprinkle with dried cranberries and 3/4 cup pumpkin seeds. Roll up dough, rolling and kneading gently to distribute cranberries and seeds throughout dough.

7. Divide dough in half, and shape each half into a round or rectangular loaf. You can also shape dough into small round rolls.

8. Place loaves or rolls on a parchment-lined or lightly greased baking sheet. Let rise until nearly double in size, about 1 hour.

9. Preheat oven to 375°F. Brush loaves or rolls with egg glaze. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds. Bake for 20-25 minutes for rolls, 30-35 minutes for loaves. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack.

Pumpkin & Black Bean Tacos

by Lisa

It may be almost Halloween, but we have other important things to think about these days, too.

This very quick game night meal was inspired by Caroline’s Giant Enchildas and these pumpkin tacos from Sunset Magazine–which sound terrific to me, but I just didn’t have all the ingredients in my pantry.

For this very seasonal meal–pick your team or your holiday, or both–you need:

  • 1 can pumpkin1 orange
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • salt
  • 1 can black beans, cuban style or homemade Cuban black beans
  • Shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • Taco shells or soft tortillas
  1. Heat pumpkin, juice of 1 orange, cumin, cayenne, and a pinch of salt.
  2. Heat black beans.
  3. Top warm tortillas or soft taco shells with a generous spoon of pumpkin, sprinkle with shredded cheese, and top with a tablespoon or so of beans.
  4. Serve with a side of your favorite slaw or salad.

Eat, pray, dream

Roasted Cauliflower with Olives & Capers

by Caroline

The deeper the Giants play into the post-season, the more excited my family gets. I stuck to my promise to make caramel corn for the pennant games, and this weekend (despite the approaching candy-bonanza of Halloween) I will make It’s-Its to cheer on our World Series chances. But a family has to eat dinner, too, and we can’t eat black bean and sweet potato enchiladas every day. When I found an orange cauliflower in our CSA share last week, it seemed like a sign, so although the cauliflower loses its orange tint when you roast it, I’m posting this recipe again; it’s a great dinner, it’s black and orange(ish), and it’s easy to prep ahead of time and pull together, if you need to, between innings.

Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower

1 large head of cauliflower

1/3 c pitted olives, very coarsely chopped (or more, to taste)

2-3 tbsp capers (again, more or less depending on how salty you like things)

1 pound of pasta

olive oil

freshly ground black pepper, grated Parmesan cheese, and chopped parsley to taste; toasted bread crumbs would be a nice addition, too, if you happen to have them

Preheat the oven to 400 and put up a big pot of water to boil.

Break the cauliflower up into bite-sized florets (this is the most time-consuming part of the recipe). Toss the cauliflower onto a large baking pan, with the olives and capers, and drizzle a couple tablespoons of olive oil over the lot. Roast, stirring once or twice, for about 20 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender and starting to brown a bit around the edges. You can do this much ahead of time and then leave the cauliflower out until you’re ready to cook the pasta. The cooled cauliflower will warm quickly if you toss it with the drained pasta in your still-hot pasta cooking pot.

Toward the end of the cauliflower-cooking time, boil the pasta. When it’s done, drain, reserving a half cup or so of the pasta water. Toss the pasta back into the cooking pot with the roasted cauliflower, olives and capers. Add some of the pasta water if it seems too dry. Serve with lots of freshly ground black pepper, grated cheese, a sprinkling of parsley, and some bread crumbs.