healthy food

Soup for When you are Sick

Everyone knows you're supposed to have chicken soup when you're sick. 

However, recently, when I had a cold that lingered and lingered and really needed soup I didn't feel like going out to buy a chicken. Or peel carrots. Or rinse the fresh dill.

I didn't feel like doing much of anything frankly, but I did want homemade soup.

So I made some from what I had in the house.

It was an amazing dish. Hearty, tasty, nourishing. Also EASY. 

I did feel much better the next day.

The recipe is extremely forgiving, so here it is with a bunch of ways you can vary the recipe depending on what you have in your house.

Freeze some for the next time you don't feel great and need some soup. Or want some wonderful, thick and filling dish for dinner.

Soup for When you are Sick

  • 3-4 meaty marrow bones
  • water
  • one package of bean soup mix or vegetable soup mix (I used Manischewitz but any is fine)
  • one large onion, chopped or sliced
  • one cup of split peas (green or yellow)
  • 3/4 cup lentils
  • 1/2 cup any whole grain (such as farro, barley, wheatberries, kamut)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the bones in a pot, cover with water (about 8-10 cups) and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and skim the stuff that comes to the top for about 10 minutes. Add the whole package of soup mix, the onion, split peas, lentils and whole grain, plus salt and pepper to taste. Partially cover the pan and simmer for hours, stirring occasionally, until the dried vegetables are very soft. I sometimes add more water if the soup is too thick.

Additions:

  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced
  • 4-6 soaked and chopped dried shiitake mushrooms, coarsely cut
  • Frozen corn kernels and/or lima beans (add about 1/2 hour before soup is done)
  • Whatever else you like (I sometimes add chicken bones in addition to meat bones)

Makes about 6 servings of soup (you have to fight over the bones or make it with 6 bones)

 

Minestrone

Here’s what’s cooking: Minestrone Soup. 

Because it’s winter and even though it hasn’t been particularly cold in my neck of the woods, it gets dark early and the wind still blows a big chill.

So, soup.

Minestrone is a wondrous choice for so many reasons. It’s thick and filling, colorful and inviting, nourishing and nurturing.

Also, I can make it ahead, which I am doing today, for my New Year’s Eve dinner.

And it tastes so, so wonderful.                                                                                                   

Minestrone Soup

  • 3-4 ounces beef bacon** 
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 medium cloves garlic
  • 3 carrots, sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 2 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into bite size chunks
  • 1 small zucchini or yellow squash, cut into bite size chunks
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1 cup cut up green string beans 
  • 28-ounce can Italian style tomatoes, including juices
  • 8 cups stock (beef, chicken or vegetable) or water
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup elbow macaroni
  • Parmesan cheese, optional**

If you include bacon, place it in a soup pot over low-medium heat and cook for 5-6 minutes or until crispy. Remove the meat and set aside. Drain most of the fat. Add the olive oil. Raise the heat to medium. Add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, carrots, celery, potatoes, zucchini, peas, corn and string beans and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the bacon pieces, if used, tomatoes, stock, parsley, basil, oregano and salt and pepper to taste. Cover the pan partially and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the beans and macaroni and cook for about 10 minutes or until pasta is tender.

Makes 8 servings

** If you make the soup without bacon, serve it sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. 

Kale and Farro Salad with Avocado and Marcona Almonds

Kale is a big deal these days. Everyone knows that.   So I wasn’t surprised the other day, when I went to lunch with my friend  Liz Reuven  at the  Rive Bistro  in Westport, to find a Kale and Farro Salad on the menu. We shared one, along with Tuna Nicoise.  The salad was delightful, the kale fresh and bright green. The chef had added bits of dried apricots and crunchy marcona almonds and doused it all with sherry vinaigrette.  I kept thinking “I have to make this salad.”  The next day I went to my daughter Gillian’s house and guess what she had for lunch?  Mmmm hmmm.  Kale Salad with Farro . She included avocado, not apricots and sliced carrots, not almonds.  The kale was bright green and crisp, the avocados smooth and rich and the carrots nicely crisp. Gillian also added some fresh mint, which was a wow, because it calmed down the kale, which can be bitter, and made it a perfect summer dish.  I kept thinking “I have to make this salad.”  So I did. A little of this one, a little of that one. I decided to nix the apricots and the carrots, but use avocados and marcona almonds. I had some scallions, so those went in too. Plus that wonderful mint.  You should make this salad.  Here’s the recipe:      Kale and Farro Salad with Avocado and Marcona Almonds   1 cup farro (or use wheatberries or spelt)  2 cups water  3 cups chopped fresh kale  1 avocado  2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint  2 tablespoons olive oil  juice of one large lemon (about 3-4 tablespoons juice)  1/3 cup chopped marcona almonds  Place the farro and water in a saucepan and bring the liquid to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat, cover the pan and cook for about 25-30 minutes or until the farro is tender but still chewy. Drain any water that has not been absorbed. Place the cooked farro in a large bowl and let cool. Add the kale and toss the ingredients. Cut the avocado into small chunks and add to the salad. Add the mint. Pour the olive oil over the ingredients and toss to distribute them evenly. Pour in the lemon juice and toss. Add the almonds, toss once more and serve.  Makes 6 servings      

Kale is a big deal these days. Everyone knows that. 

So I wasn’t surprised the other day, when I went to lunch with my friend Liz Reuven at the Rive Bistro in Westport, to find a Kale and Farro Salad on the menu. We shared one, along with Tuna Nicoise.

The salad was delightful, the kale fresh and bright green. The chef had added bits of dried apricots and crunchy marcona almonds and doused it all with sherry vinaigrette.

I kept thinking “I have to make this salad.”

The next day I went to my daughter Gillian’s house and guess what she had for lunch?

Mmmm hmmm. Kale Salad with Farro. She included avocado, not apricots and sliced carrots, not almonds.

The kale was bright green and crisp, the avocados smooth and rich and the carrots nicely crisp. Gillian also added some fresh mint, which was a wow, because it calmed down the kale, which can be bitter, and made it a perfect summer dish.

I kept thinking “I have to make this salad.”

So I did. A little of this one, a little of that one. I decided to nix the apricots and the carrots, but use avocados and marcona almonds. I had some scallions, so those went in too. Plus that wonderful mint.

You should make this salad.

Here’s the recipe:

 

Kale and Farro Salad with Avocado and Marcona Almonds

1 cup farro (or use wheatberries or spelt)

2 cups water

3 cups chopped fresh kale

1 avocado

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

2 tablespoons olive oil

juice of one large lemon (about 3-4 tablespoons juice)

1/3 cup chopped marcona almonds

Place the farro and water in a saucepan and bring the liquid to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat, cover the pan and cook for about 25-30 minutes or until the farro is tender but still chewy. Drain any water that has not been absorbed. Place the cooked farro in a large bowl and let cool. Add the kale and toss the ingredients. Cut the avocado into small chunks and add to the salad. Add the mint. Pour the olive oil over the ingredients and toss to distribute them evenly. Pour in the lemon juice and toss. Add the almonds, toss once more and serve.

Makes 6 servings

 

 

Oatmeal Pancakes

Breakfast. They say it is the most important meal.   It can also be the most stressful. Especially when you have kids and you want to be sure they’re starting the day right.  Yes, school is almost over now so you may not have the same morning rush with the usual arguments about what they’re going to eat while trying to get them out the door on time, properly filled.  But there may be camp. Or gymnastics or art class. Or a doctor appointment. Or a train to catch. Life goes on, whether or not school’s in session.  And school will start again in a few months anyway (the summer always seems to fly by doesn’t it?).  So, how to have a healthy, peaceful, tasty breakfast?  There are all sorts of ways to handle it. When I was a kid my Dad would make cooked cereal and add sugar, cinnamon, chocolate chips, butter and cream.  It did the trick of course. But I can’t recommend that in good conscience.  Here’s what I am recommending: a new app called  LaLa Breakfast .  First, to confess, LaLa Breakfast is the creation of my daughter Gillian.  Her first app,  LaLa Lunchbox  — a best-seller — which helps parents and kids choose healthy lunches, got rave reviews and requests for her to do the same thing for breakfast.  So she came up with LaLa Breakfast, which takes the stress out of the breakfast routine.   Like all parents, Gillian doesn’t want to spend needless time cooking breakfast nor does she want to meet unreasonable demands. She controls the items that are available for the meal. And she and her children make the breakfast decisions in advance.   You can do the same with LaLa Breakfast. Your children choose what they want to eat before the morning. That way they don’t get cranky about what you picked — a waffle, say — when what they really wanted was oatmeal.  Gillian recommends that, whatever the choices, prepare as much as you can in advance. Like pouring cereal into a bowl and setting it out on the table (covered). Or washing and cutting up fruit. It’s easy to get that stuff out of the way when you know in advance what the meal is going to be.  In addition to having breakfast “ordered” and partially prepped, with LaLa Breakfast your children learn not only to pick healthy breakfast but also to understand what it means to make decisions and stick by them.  The app is really cute, with attractive looking “monsters” to help guide children in their choices. There are four categories they can select from: Eggs, Produce, Grains and Protein. After you make your choices, the app creates a shopping list of items you need. And for those who have both LaLa Breakfast and LaLa Lunchbox, the two grocery lists can be seamlessly synced into one and accessible via multiple devices.   One of the things I learned as a parent making breakfast was that sometimes children like the same item over and over, even in the same week. So I recommend making some items in bulk and keeping them for a few days. For example, if you make oatmeal, make more than one portion and use the leftovers to make oatmeal pancakes (the batter will last for about 3 days, refrigerated).      Oatmeal Pancakes      3 tablespoons butter  1 cup leftover oatmeal  2 large eggs  1 cup milk  2 tablespoons maple syrup  1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract  1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour  1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder  1/2 teaspoon salt  butter to cook the pancakes  Melt the butter and set it aside to cool. Place the oatmeal in a bowl. Add the eggs, milk, maple syrup, vanilla extract and melted butter and mix the ingredients to blend them thoroughly. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix them in to make a relatively smooth batter. Melt a small amount of butter in a saute pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, drop about 1/4 cup of the batter onto the pan for each pancake. Leave space between each pancake. Cook the pancake for 1-2 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom. Turn the pancakes over and cook on the second side for 1-2 minutes or until browned. Serve plain or with syrup.  Makes about 18-20 pancakes.      

Breakfast. They say it is the most important meal. 

It can also be the most stressful. Especially when you have kids and you want to be sure they’re starting the day right.

Yes, school is almost over now so you may not have the same morning rush with the usual arguments about what they’re going to eat while trying to get them out the door on time, properly filled.

But there may be camp. Or gymnastics or art class. Or a doctor appointment. Or a train to catch. Life goes on, whether or not school’s in session.

And school will start again in a few months anyway (the summer always seems to fly by doesn’t it?).

So, how to have a healthy, peaceful, tasty breakfast?

There are all sorts of ways to handle it. When I was a kid my Dad would make cooked cereal and add sugar, cinnamon, chocolate chips, butter and cream.

It did the trick of course. But I can’t recommend that in good conscience.

Here’s what I am recommending: a new app called LaLa Breakfast.

First, to confess, LaLa Breakfast is the creation of my daughter Gillian.

Her first app, LaLa Lunchbox — a best-seller — which helps parents and kids choose healthy lunches, got rave reviews and requests for her to do the same thing for breakfast.

So she came up with LaLa Breakfast, which takes the stress out of the breakfast routine. 

Like all parents, Gillian doesn’t want to spend needless time cooking breakfast nor does she want to meet unreasonable demands. She controls the items that are available for the meal. And she and her children make the breakfast decisions in advance. 

You can do the same with LaLa Breakfast. Your children choose what they want to eat before the morning. That way they don’t get cranky about what you picked — a waffle, say — when what they really wanted was oatmeal.

Gillian recommends that, whatever the choices, prepare as much as you can in advance. Like pouring cereal into a bowl and setting it out on the table (covered). Or washing and cutting up fruit. It’s easy to get that stuff out of the way when you know in advance what the meal is going to be.

In addition to having breakfast “ordered” and partially prepped, with LaLa Breakfast your children learn not only to pick healthy breakfast but also to understand what it means to make decisions and stick by them.

The app is really cute, with attractive looking “monsters” to help guide children in their choices. There are four categories they can select from: Eggs, Produce, Grains and Protein. After you make your choices, the app creates a shopping list of items you need. And for those who have both LaLa Breakfast and LaLa Lunchbox, the two grocery lists can be seamlessly synced into one and accessible via multiple devices. 

One of the things I learned as a parent making breakfast was that sometimes children like the same item over and over, even in the same week. So I recommend making some items in bulk and keeping them for a few days. For example, if you make oatmeal, make more than one portion and use the leftovers to make oatmeal pancakes (the batter will last for about 3 days, refrigerated).

 

Oatmeal Pancakes

 

3 tablespoons butter

1 cup leftover oatmeal

2 large eggs

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

butter to cook the pancakes

Melt the butter and set it aside to cool. Place the oatmeal in a bowl. Add the eggs, milk, maple syrup, vanilla extract and melted butter and mix the ingredients to blend them thoroughly. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix them in to make a relatively smooth batter. Melt a small amount of butter in a saute pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, drop about 1/4 cup of the batter onto the pan for each pancake. Leave space between each pancake. Cook the pancake for 1-2 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom. Turn the pancakes over and cook on the second side for 1-2 minutes or until browned. Serve plain or with syrup.

Makes about 18-20 pancakes.

 

 

Kale and Potato Gratin

With Thanksgiving approaching I wanted to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who voted for me in the MobileSkillet App contest. This is the company that held a recipe/foodphoto contest and the winner will get an App created for the idea. 
 I was a semi-finalist and then became a finalist with 9 other possible winners!! 
 Last step: I had to submit four essays. Handed them in this morning, hours before the deadline. Sound familiar to anyone? 
 Please root for me! They let us know in December 
 And thanks again. 
 Here’s the finalist recipe and photo: 
 
  Kale and Potato Gratin  
 6 servings   
  INGREDIENTS  
  4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes  
    1 large bunch kale   
    4 tablespoons butter   
    2 tablespoons all-purpose flour  
    1-¾ cups low-fat milk  
    Salt  
    Black pepper  
    ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg  
    4 ounces Swiss cheese  
    2 slices homestyle white bread  
    1½ ounces Parmesan cheese  
  DIRECTIONS  
 1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. 
 2. Butter an 8 X 8-inch baking dish or cake pan. 
 3. Peel the potatoes and cut them into quarters. Place them in a saucepan and cover them with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for 12-15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Let the potatoes cool and cut them into slices. 
 4. Place half the potato slices on the bottom of the baking dish. 
 5. While the potatoes are cooking, wash the kale and remove the thick stems from the bottom. Chop the leaves and thin stems coarsely. 
 6. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Immerse the kale and cook for 7-8 minutes or until soft. Drain and squeeze out as much water as possible. Chop the kale into smaller pieces and set it aside. 
 7. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, add the flour and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for about one minute. Gradually add the milk and stir until the sauce is smooth and thick, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt, freshly ground black pepper and the nutmeg. 
 8. Grate the Swiss cheese and add it to the pan. Stir to blend it in. 
 9. Stir in the kale. Spoon half the mixture over the potatoes in the baking dish. Repeat with remaining potatoes and kale mixture. 
 10. Grate the bread to make fresh breadcrumbs. Place them in a bowl. 
 11. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and mix it into the breadcrumbs. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the kale. 
 12. Grate the Parmesan cheese and sprinkle it over the bread crumbs. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until hot and bubbly. 
 
 Happy Thanksgiving everyone

With Thanksgiving approaching I wanted to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who voted for me in the MobileSkillet App contest. This is the company that held a recipe/foodphoto contest and the winner will get an App created for the idea.

I was a semi-finalist and then became a finalist with 9 other possible winners!!

Last step: I had to submit four essays. Handed them in this morning, hours before the deadline. Sound familiar to anyone?

Please root for me! They let us know in December

And thanks again.

Here’s the finalist recipe and photo:

Kale and Potato Gratin

6 servings
 

INGREDIENTS

4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes

1 large bunch kale 

4 tablespoons butter 

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1-¾ cups low-fat milk

Salt

Black pepper

⅛ teaspoon nutmeg

4 ounces Swiss cheese

2 slices homestyle white bread

1½ ounces Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat the oven to 400° F.

2. Butter an 8 X 8-inch baking dish or cake pan.

3. Peel the potatoes and cut them into quarters. Place them in a saucepan and cover them with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for 12-15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Let the potatoes cool and cut them into slices.

4. Place half the potato slices on the bottom of the baking dish.

5. While the potatoes are cooking, wash the kale and remove the thick stems from the bottom. Chop the leaves and thin stems coarsely.

6. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Immerse the kale and cook for 7-8 minutes or until soft. Drain and squeeze out as much water as possible. Chop the kale into smaller pieces and set it aside.

7. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, add the flour and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for about one minute. Gradually add the milk and stir until the sauce is smooth and thick, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt, freshly ground black pepper and the nutmeg.

8. Grate the Swiss cheese and add it to the pan. Stir to blend it in.

9. Stir in the kale. Spoon half the mixture over the potatoes in the baking dish. Repeat with remaining potatoes and kale mixture.

10. Grate the bread to make fresh breadcrumbs. Place them in a bowl.

11. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and mix it into the breadcrumbs. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the kale.

12. Grate the Parmesan cheese and sprinkle it over the bread crumbs. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone

Corn Muffins with Coconut Oil and Maple

Love that coconut oil! This time I used it in an old recipe for corn muffins, which are among my favorite breakfast breads.  
 Corn muffin recipes are like roasted chicken or potato salad. You can make dozens of changes and it’s still what it is. So, for example, I’ve added crushed cashews, crumbled cheese, chopped herbs, chopped chili peppers, raisins, sun-dried tomatoes, bits of chorizo. Not all at the same time of course. 
 But this time I wanted to see if coconut oil would be good, because of its  health benefits . I discovered that it leaves a lovely, sweet tropical flavor even when it’s baked into food.  
 I loved the result. Tender, luscious corn muffins. Breakfast today was dee-lish. 
 Corn Muffins with Coconut Oil and Maple 
 3 tablespoons coconut oil 
 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 
 1 cup cornmeal 
 1 cup all-purpose flour 
 1 tablespoon baking powder 
 3/4 teaspoon salt 
 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup 
 1 large egg 
 2/3 cup milk 
 Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease 8 muffin tins. Melt the coconut oil, mix with the vegetable oil and set it aside to cool. In a bowl, mix the cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl mix the maple syrup, egg, milk and cooled oils, beating until well blended. Pour the liquid into the cornmeal mixture and stir to blend the ingredients. Spoon equal amounts into the muffin tins. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 8

Love that coconut oil! This time I used it in an old recipe for corn muffins, which are among my favorite breakfast breads. 

Corn muffin recipes are like roasted chicken or potato salad. You can make dozens of changes and it’s still what it is. So, for example, I’ve added crushed cashews, crumbled cheese, chopped herbs, chopped chili peppers, raisins, sun-dried tomatoes, bits of chorizo. Not all at the same time of course.

But this time I wanted to see if coconut oil would be good, because of its health benefits. I discovered that it leaves a lovely, sweet tropical flavor even when it’s baked into food. 

I loved the result. Tender, luscious corn muffins. Breakfast today was dee-lish.

Corn Muffins with Coconut Oil and Maple

3 tablespoons coconut oil

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 cup cornmeal

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 large egg

2/3 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease 8 muffin tins. Melt the coconut oil, mix with the vegetable oil and set it aside to cool. In a bowl, mix the cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl mix the maple syrup, egg, milk and cooled oils, beating until well blended. Pour the liquid into the cornmeal mixture and stir to blend the ingredients. Spoon equal amounts into the muffin tins. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 8

Kale and Potato Gratin

2012 is the year of kale. I am sure of it.

You know how, near the beginning of every new year food writers and organizations speculate on the coming trends? So the James Beard Foundation said this year it could be Thai food (didn’t we already do that?), doughnuts (ditto) and Caneles.

Huh? (Caneles are a kind of molded cake made out of crepe batter).

Huffington Post suggested Alfajores.

Huh? (two sweet biscuits with mousse or jam in the middle; sounds like a combo of Oreos and Macarons).

Well now the year is nearly half over and maybe I haven’t been looking too hard but I haven’t seen more Thai food. My local Dunkin’ Donuts still has the same old stuff and the bakeries don’t offer more than the usual jelly filled kind.

And I haven’t yet found a place that sells either Caneles or Alfajores. Though maybe I could get some Alfajores if I visit my brother in Buenos Aires.

So I’ll stick with kale as the big winner for 2012. Kale is healthy, delicious and a terrific way to add vegetable variety to your meals. 

You know it’s a trend when you hear that older people who have spent an entire lifetime not eating kale are eating it now. And younger people who are into healthy eating are eating more of it.

And especially, because of my husband, who is eating kale portions for two recently. He has said he hates kale but when I make it in a gratin he asks for seconds, as I mentioned the other day.  He gobbled up this one too. 

Kale Gratin! Who knew!


Kale and Potato Gratin

4 small Yukon Gold potatoes

1 large bunch kale (14-16 ounces)

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1-3/4 cups whole or lowfat milk

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 cup finely grated Swiss cheese

1/2 cup packed fresh bread crumbs

2 tablespoons melted butter

2-3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a baking dish. Peel the potatoes and boil them in lightly salted water for about 15 minutes or until tender. Let cool and slice. Place half the slices on the bottom of the baking dish. While the potatoes are cooking, wash the kale and remove the thick stems from the bottom. Chop the kale coarsely. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Immerse the kale and cook for 7-8 minutes or until soft. Drain and squeeze out as much water as possible. Set the kale aside. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, add the flour and cook for about one minute. Gradually add the milk and stir until the sauce is smooth and thick, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg and stir to blend the ingredients. Add the Swiss cheese and mix it in. Stir in the kale. Spoon half the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Repeat with remaining potatoes and kale mixture. Mix the bread crumbs and melted butter and sprinkle over the kale. Top with the Parmesan cheese. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Makes 6 servings

 

Spiced Iced Coffee

Coffee improves your memory. At least according to this  article . 
 It’s the caffeine, actually. 
 Maybe that’s why I used to get 100s on my spelling tests when I was in grade school? Because my Aunt, who lived with us for a while and didn’t know better, gave me (and my brother) coffee to drink for breakfast and off we went. 
 I always did well on spelling tests and now I’m thinking it was the coffee. 
 I will confess here that I am addicted to coffee. I need some hot in the morning and at various times during the day. Like before noon and around 3 in the afternoon. I used to have some after dinner but gave it up. 
 Somewhere around this time of year I switch to iced coffee after that first mugful in the morning. But I am very particular about this. Good iced coffee starts out with COLD, STRONG coffee. I hate those places where they make it from hot coffee because then the coffee melts all the ice and the drink is too diluted and doesn’t taste like anything except maybe something is wrong with the water. 
 I brew a batch of strong coffee, let it cool and keep it in the fridge for when I need a coffee boost. Most of the time I drink it plain, mixed with a little milk. But the other day I prepared some spiced iced coffee and it was quite good too. You can drink it plain also, or with milk or cream. 
 It becomes dessert if you add a blob of ice cream. And a really lovely grownup beverage if you mix in some rum or brandy. 
 Spiced Iced Coffee 
 4 cups strong coffee 
 3 tablespoons brown sugar 
 1 broken 4-inch cinnamon stick 
 8 whole cloves 
 8 whole dried allspice berries 
 ice cubes 
 1/3 cup rum or brandy 
 milk or cream or ice cream if desired 
 Brew the coffee and place it in a bowl. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon stick, cloves and allspice berries. Let the coffee cool in the refrigerator. Strain the coffee into tall glasses filled with ice cubes. Stir in the rum or brandy, if desired. Add milk or cream to taste, if desired, or add a blob of ice cream. Makes 4 servings

Coffee improves your memory. At least according to this article.

It’s the caffeine, actually.

Maybe that’s why I used to get 100s on my spelling tests when I was in grade school? Because my Aunt, who lived with us for a while and didn’t know better, gave me (and my brother) coffee to drink for breakfast and off we went.

I always did well on spelling tests and now I’m thinking it was the coffee.

I will confess here that I am addicted to coffee. I need some hot in the morning and at various times during the day. Like before noon and around 3 in the afternoon. I used to have some after dinner but gave it up.

Somewhere around this time of year I switch to iced coffee after that first mugful in the morning. But I am very particular about this. Good iced coffee starts out with COLD, STRONG coffee. I hate those places where they make it from hot coffee because then the coffee melts all the ice and the drink is too diluted and doesn’t taste like anything except maybe something is wrong with the water.

I brew a batch of strong coffee, let it cool and keep it in the fridge for when I need a coffee boost. Most of the time I drink it plain, mixed with a little milk. But the other day I prepared some spiced iced coffee and it was quite good too. You can drink it plain also, or with milk or cream.

It becomes dessert if you add a blob of ice cream. And a really lovely grownup beverage if you mix in some rum or brandy.

Spiced Iced Coffee

4 cups strong coffee

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 broken 4-inch cinnamon stick

8 whole cloves

8 whole dried allspice berries

ice cubes

1/3 cup rum or brandy

milk or cream or ice cream if desired

Brew the coffee and place it in a bowl. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon stick, cloves and allspice berries. Let the coffee cool in the refrigerator. Strain the coffee into tall glasses filled with ice cubes. Stir in the rum or brandy, if desired. Add milk or cream to taste, if desired, or add a blob of ice cream. Makes 4 servings

Wheatberry Salad with Tomatoes and Olives

Can you grill dairy foods?  That’s a dilemma (sort of) this weekend as we celebrate two holidays at once! For Jews, it’s Shavuot. For all Americans, it’s Memorial Day, the unofficial start of the grilling season.  As far as the food stuff goes, Shavuot is the “dairy” holiday. When we eat all things cheese (as well as other dairy products), especially cheesecake.   But, except for a few items, like grilled halloumi cheese, which is quite delicious (cut the cheese into strips, coat them with olive oil, stick them on a skewer and grill them until they’re crispy on the outside), we don’t grill most dairy products.  However, we can grill fish and eat them with other dairy products.  Or grill meat and eat some wonderful side dishes (and save the cheesecake for another time during the holiday).  This wheatberry salad fits perfectly into both holiday meals. It is a substantial side dish, you can make it ahead and it can be either dairy or non-dairy (leave the cheese out, substitute nothing or some other vegetable of tofu). You can make this into a meat-based salad too — add some cut up grilled chicken or beef, etc.  Matter of fact, this is a good, healthy salad choice for the entire summer.  My kids love when I make this kind of salad. This is the young generation’s way to eat now. Less meat, more whole grains and veggies. You can use this salad as part of a vegetarian meal.  Also, just as you can leave out the cheese, you can make this dish with a different grain (like barley or quinoa). Use different herbs. Play around with the recipe and invent on your own. Cook the grain according to the directions on the package. The rest, as the great sage Hillel said, “is commentary.”   Wheatberry Salad with Tomatoes and Olives   1 cup wheatberries  3 cups water  1 15-ounce can (drained) black beans  1 large avocado, cut into chunks  1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper  1 cup halved grape tomatoes  1/2 cup chopped red onion  1 cup chopped cheese or meat (optional)  1 fresh serrano pepper, deseeded and finely chopped  2 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves  1/3 cup olive oil  3 tablespoons red wine vingar  1 teaspoon Dijon mustard  1/2 teaspoon ground cumin  salt and freshly ground pepper to taste  Place the wheatberries in a large saucepan and add the water. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat, cover the pan and simmer for about 50-60 minutes or until the wheat is tender. Drain any remaining liquid and place the wheatberries in a bowl to cool. Add the black beans, avocado, bell pepper, tomatoes, red onion, cheese or meat if used, serrano pepper and oregano and toss to distribute ingredients evenly. In a small bowl whisk the olive oil, wine vinegar, mustard and cumin. Pour over the salad and toss the ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let the salad stand at least 30 minutes before serving.  Makes 6-8 servings

Can you grill dairy foods?

That’s a dilemma (sort of) this weekend as we celebrate two holidays at once! For Jews, it’s Shavuot. For all Americans, it’s Memorial Day, the unofficial start of the grilling season.

As far as the food stuff goes, Shavuot is the “dairy” holiday. When we eat all things cheese (as well as other dairy products), especially cheesecake. 

But, except for a few items, like grilled halloumi cheese, which is quite delicious (cut the cheese into strips, coat them with olive oil, stick them on a skewer and grill them until they’re crispy on the outside), we don’t grill most dairy products.

However, we can grill fish and eat them with other dairy products.

Or grill meat and eat some wonderful side dishes (and save the cheesecake for another time during the holiday).

This wheatberry salad fits perfectly into both holiday meals. It is a substantial side dish, you can make it ahead and it can be either dairy or non-dairy (leave the cheese out, substitute nothing or some other vegetable of tofu). You can make this into a meat-based salad too — add some cut up grilled chicken or beef, etc.

Matter of fact, this is a good, healthy salad choice for the entire summer.

My kids love when I make this kind of salad. This is the young generation’s way to eat now. Less meat, more whole grains and veggies. You can use this salad as part of a vegetarian meal.

Also, just as you can leave out the cheese, you can make this dish with a different grain (like barley or quinoa). Use different herbs. Play around with the recipe and invent on your own. Cook the grain according to the directions on the package. The rest, as the great sage Hillel said, “is commentary.”

Wheatberry Salad with Tomatoes and Olives

1 cup wheatberries

3 cups water

1 15-ounce can (drained) black beans

1 large avocado, cut into chunks

1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper

1 cup halved grape tomatoes

1/2 cup chopped red onion

1 cup chopped cheese or meat (optional)

1 fresh serrano pepper, deseeded and finely chopped

2 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves

1/3 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons red wine vingar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Place the wheatberries in a large saucepan and add the water. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat, cover the pan and simmer for about 50-60 minutes or until the wheat is tender. Drain any remaining liquid and place the wheatberries in a bowl to cool. Add the black beans, avocado, bell pepper, tomatoes, red onion, cheese or meat if used, serrano pepper and oregano and toss to distribute ingredients evenly. In a small bowl whisk the olive oil, wine vinegar, mustard and cumin. Pour over the salad and toss the ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let the salad stand at least 30 minutes before serving.

Makes 6-8 servings

Kale Gratin

Kale is king these days. I’ve been reading all about things such as crispy fried kale and kale chips and braised kale and of course, kale soup. 
 All delicious. And it’s healthy too. Calcium. Vitamins A, C and K (sounds like New York subway lines). Also one of those cabbage descendants that may have anti-cancer effects. 
 I never heard of kale, growing up. The only cabbage we ate was in Aunt Goldie’s special soup and also the sauerkraut we put on top of our hot dogs. 
 But now, as I said, kale is king. Like other cabbage cousins, it can be acrid so you have to treat it right. If you overcook it, it can smell up the entire kitchen. But if you undercook it it doesn’t taste right. 
 I buy kale a lot because I like to experiment with recipes, especially with ingredients that weren’t familiar from my childhood. 
 But Ed has always hated my kale concoctions. 
 Until this one: Kale Gratin. It looked so appealing to him he actually asked for a piece (I was saving it to be rewarmed for another meal). And then he asked for seconds! 
 A miracle. 
 We finished the rest the next day (10 minutes in a preheated 400 degree oven). 
 Enjoy this, kale lovers! 
 Enjoy this, everyone celebrating Shavuot. It’s the cheese dish I will be serving instead of my usual Spinach Pie this year. 
 Kale Gratin 
 1 large bunch kale 
 2 large eggs 
 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard 
 1 cup half and half cream 
 1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese 
 salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 
 2-3 tablespoons plain, fresh or dry bread crumbs 
 1 tablespoon butter 

 Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut off and discard the hard stems from the kale. Discard discolored leaves. Wash the leaves carefully and cut them into 3-4 pieces. Place the leaves in a large saucepan, add about 1 cup water and cover the pan. Cook on medium-high heat for 6-8 minutes or until the leaves are soft and wilted. Press the water out of the leaves. Chop the leaves into small pieces and place in a lightly greased baking dish. In a bowl, beat the eggs and mustard until combined. Stir in the cream and blend ingredients thoroughly. Stir in the Swiss cheese and some salt and pepper to taste. Pour the mixture over the kale and stir to distribute the kale evenly in the dish. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top. Cut the butter into small pieces and use them to dot the surface of the gratin. Bake for about 40 minutes or until the top is crispy and golden brown. Makes 4-6 servings

Kale is king these days. I’ve been reading all about things such as crispy fried kale and kale chips and braised kale and of course, kale soup.

All delicious. And it’s healthy too. Calcium. Vitamins A, C and K (sounds like New York subway lines). Also one of those cabbage descendants that may have anti-cancer effects.

I never heard of kale, growing up. The only cabbage we ate was in Aunt Goldie’s special soup and also the sauerkraut we put on top of our hot dogs.

But now, as I said, kale is king. Like other cabbage cousins, it can be acrid so you have to treat it right. If you overcook it, it can smell up the entire kitchen. But if you undercook it it doesn’t taste right.

I buy kale a lot because I like to experiment with recipes, especially with ingredients that weren’t familiar from my childhood.

But Ed has always hated my kale concoctions.

Until this one: Kale Gratin. It looked so appealing to him he actually asked for a piece (I was saving it to be rewarmed for another meal). And then he asked for seconds!

A miracle.

We finished the rest the next day (10 minutes in a preheated 400 degree oven).

Enjoy this, kale lovers!

Enjoy this, everyone celebrating Shavuot. It’s the cheese dish I will be serving instead of my usual Spinach Pie this year.

Kale Gratin

1 large bunch kale

2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 cup half and half cream

1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2-3 tablespoons plain, fresh or dry bread crumbs

1 tablespoon butter

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut off and discard the hard stems from the kale. Discard discolored leaves. Wash the leaves carefully and cut them into 3-4 pieces. Place the leaves in a large saucepan, add about 1 cup water and cover the pan. Cook on medium-high heat for 6-8 minutes or until the leaves are soft and wilted. Press the water out of the leaves. Chop the leaves into small pieces and place in a lightly greased baking dish. In a bowl, beat the eggs and mustard until combined. Stir in the cream and blend ingredients thoroughly. Stir in the Swiss cheese and some salt and pepper to taste. Pour the mixture over the kale and stir to distribute the kale evenly in the dish. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top. Cut the butter into small pieces and use them to dot the surface of the gratin. Bake for about 40 minutes or until the top is crispy and golden brown. Makes 4-6 servings