kale sausage soup

soup

This Portuguese-style soup has been one of our go-to dinners for years, and was one of the first soups I ever made that really worked. The original recipe was from the dearly departed magazine Kitchen Gardener, and while I occasionally muck around with different ingredients (white beans are particularly good), I always come back to the basic formula: kale, sausage, tomatoes, and garlic. And it’s not just delicious – it’s stuffed full of vitamins, and low-carb to boot. Whenever I make it we wonder why we don’t have it more often.

kale

sausages

pot o' soup

Kale-Sausage Soup (an approximate recipe)

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1 large bunch curly kale, cleaned, stemmed and roughly torn or chopped
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 lb hot Italian sausages (if your sausages aren’t spicy, I’d suggest adding red pepper flakes to the carrots and garlic)
  • salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot and saute the carrots and garlic until sizzling and beginning to turn golden. Add the kale and a good pinch of salt and stir well until it wilts. Add the stock and tomatoes, bring it to simmer, cover and cook about 20 minutes on low heat, or until the kale is limp but still green.

In the meantime, cook the sausages in a covered pan with a little water, then fry them in their own fat until they brown nicely. Slice them into rounds.

When the kale is tender, slip the sausage into the pot, stir it up, and taste the broth for salt. Grind in plenty of fresh black pepper and turn off the heat.

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Brigid

supper

As I mentioned over on my Facebook page, I’ve been feeling a bit uninspired lately. This is mainly due to the fact that we’re trying to lose a bit of weight – eating lots of vegetables, avoiding starch and alcohol, and getting more serious about running (we’re looking at another 5K in April, then our first 8K in May). We’re eating simple preparations of food for the most part: roasted vegetables, sauteed greens, lean protein, fizzy water and tea. Not much to talk about, really.

asparagusroasted asparagus

But yesterday was Brigid, also known as Imbolc, and we always have a little private celebration to observe the return of the light and what tends to feel much more like the start of a new year than “normal” New Year. I wanted a dinner that was light, non-starchy, but a little fancy and evocative of spring, and I found one in Nigella Lawson’s new book (I love Nigella, reading her is like eating potato chips for me). It’s a very simple supper for two consisting of pan-seared sea scallops and a puree of peas flavored with creme fraiche and Thai green curry paste (a take-off of British mushy peas, I assume). I added a side of roasted asparagus, which was perfect with the other flavors, and opened a bottle of rich, buttery California chardonnay.

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nary a duck

dinner

It was hard to know what to eat after getting home from Duckfest. We’d eaten so much good food, I found myself wanting meals relatively light on carbs but not too depressingly healthy. I didn’t want to give us whiplash, after all.

This was a dinner that really hit the spot. Jon made up his favorite recipe for kofte kebabs with a mix of beef and lamb, but turned it into meatloaf instead of individual burgers or kebabs. I roasted a panful of cauliflower florets tossed with olive oil, cumin seed and mustard seed, and stirred up some yogurt with fresh garlic, dried mint, salt and pepper.

It was the perfect combination of comforting, spicy and virtuous.

trying to be good

Oh dear, it’s May already.

The reason that I’m distressed by that is because I had hoped to lose a few pounds by the end of this month – to be precise, by Memorial Day. We’re going to a wedding and I need to either buy a new dress (not so easy to find, when you’re as short as me) or fit into one of the dresses I already own. Unfortunately I haven’t been making a lot of progress in that direction (If you’ve been reading this blog regularly you may not be surprised by this – hello, bacon pizza?)

Therefore, bear with me as I try to be seriously good for the next couple of weeks. For me, that means as little alcohol as possible, no starch or sugar, and getting out running a few extra times. Sigh…I do love starch. And wine.

So wish me luck! Hopefully I’ll still have some good eating to report – we’re wracking our brains for good nonstarchy vegetable dishes. And if this doesn’t work out…any short women out there have a recommendation for where to buy nice dresses this season in, say, a size 4 petite?

cottage cheese pancakes

cottage cheese pancakes

I’m not normally a huge pancake eater. They fill me up too fast and give me a sugar rush, and they take my focus away from important things like eggs and bacon. Jon likes pancakes – he can eat the always-amazing banana coconut cakes at the breakfast place down the hill, and live to tell the tale. I still feel a little faint when I remember the pancake plate at the Hawaiian Style Cafe in Waimea – twice the size of the head of the person eating it! I can’t compete with that kind of pancake devotion. But there is a pancake that I will eat at any time: the cottage cheese (or ricotta) pancake.

cottage cheese pancakes

Like many cheesy items in our family’s repertoire, this comes from the original Vegetarian Epicure, published in 1972. It has many virtues: the recipe is simple to expand or reduce (we usually make a 1/3 or 1/2 recipe for the two of us), it’s very high protein and low-carb, unless you smother it in jam or syrup, and if you use cottage cheese, the curds melt and form little gooey pockets that are truly delightful. Continue reading

Meatballs with arrabbiata sauce

chopping garlic
One of our tried-and-true, easy to make, yummy weeknight dinners. Both the meatballs and the sauce are inspired by recipes out of Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, and are basically just vehicles for garlic. And an excuse to drink red wine.

J almost always makes the meatballs in this house – here’s how he did these. He started with two pounds of ground beef, almost the last of our local half-a-cow that we bought last year. The beef was mixed with 1/2 cup each of bread crumbs and milk, two eggs, salt and pepper, and a head (yes, a head!) of chopped garlic. The original Bittman recipe called for onion, but the first time J made it we were out. He substituted garlic (which we grow ourselves), and we liked it so much it stuck. The meatballs get baked for about 20 minutes in a 375° oven. We generally use parchment paper, it helps tremendously for cleanup. Continue reading