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Monday, September 27, 2010

Dinosaur Kale Chips


You never thought you could eat an entire bunch of kale in one sitting. Until now.

Kale chips are light, crispy, and melt-in-your-mouth good. They have a nutty and slightly sweet flavor, with none of the bitterness found in the fresh leaves.

I used dinosaur kale -- also known as black Tuscan kale and lacinato kale -- but curly varieties will work well too. This recipe is simple, using only olive oil and sea salt, but for extra flavor you can stir some grated garlic into the olive oil before you toss it with the kale or sprinkle on some ground spices like cayenne, curry powder, or cumin before you bake them.

1 bunch dinosaur kale
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, first cold pressing
Sea salt to taste

Preheat oven to 250F.

Wash and dry the kale leaves. Remove the stems and chop into chip-size pieces.

Transfer to a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Toss with clean hands to coat every leaf, then arrange them in a single layer on baking sheets or shallow baking pans, working in batches if necessary.

Sprinkle with sea salt and bake for 25 minutes or until light and crispy, stirring halfway through.

Eat the warm chips immediately or allow them to cool first. If any are leftover, store them in an airtight container.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Eggplant Walnut Paté


This vegetarian paté looks like the real thing. The color and texture are similar to patés made with meat, but the flavor is a complete surprise. Creamy, nutty and well-seasoned, it will please omnivores and vegans alike.

Once you roast the eggplant, this dish can be whipped up in a snap. It makes a fantastic starter and can be made in advance. Serve it with whole grain crispbread (I like Kavli 5 Grain) and fresh veggies like radishes, carrot and celery sticks, cucumber and zucchini rounds, and strips of bell pepper.

Leave the peel of the eggplant intact, as most of the antioxidants reside there. One antioxidant in particular, nasunin, is being studied for its anti-cancer properties. Researchers in Japan found that nasunin in eggplant peel blocks angiogenesis, the growth of new blood vessels necessary for cancer cells to proliferate and metastasize.

Eggplant is a also good source of B vitamins, potassium, magnesium, and trace minerals like copper and manganese. And it's full of fiber, which is essential for digestive and cardiovascular health.

Raw walnuts are an excellent source of essential omega-3 fatty acids, which play important roles in neurological and heart health. Walnuts also contain protein, fiber, vitamin E, minerals and plant sterols (good for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels).

Serve this spread on toasted slices of whole wheat baguette. If you're avoiding grains and flours, serve it with cucumber slices instead.

1 medium eggplant
Heaping 1/2 cup raw walnuts
2 cloves garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Pinch sea salt
1 lemon

Preheat oven to 450F. Place eggplant on a baking sheet and roast until soft, about 40 minutes. Cool completely.

Remove the stem from the eggplant and roughly chop it. Add it to a food processor along with the walnuts, garlic, ginger, olive oil and sea salt. Squeeze 1 tbsp fresh juice from the lemon and add it to the food processor as well. Pureé until smooth and taste for seasoning. If desired, add more sea salt or lemon juice.

Serve immediately or transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge until ready to eat.


Matsubara K et al. Antiangiogenic activity of nasunin, an antioxidant anthocyanin, in eggplant peels. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry. 2005 Aug 10;53(16):6272-5.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Peach Rum Barbeque Sauce

Stock up on fresh peaches before the season ends.
(I bought 6 pounds at the farmer's market last week.) Eat some fresh and with the rest, whip up some sauces you can store for mid-winter special occasions.

This barbeque sauce may not be the typical brown-red color, but it has all the essential flavors: sweet and sour, spicy and smokey. I served it with grilled chicken, but it would also work well with wild salmon, duck, pork or baked tofu triangles.

I used a dark rum from Martinique with a rich and floral flavor, but if you don't have rum, you can substitute bourbon or even water. For a mild barbeque sauce, omit the chili pepper or remove the seeds and membranes before you chop it.

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, first cold pressing
3/4 cups diced red onion., about 1 small
1 red chili pepper, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic
2.5 cups fresh diced peaches, about 2 large peaches
1 large date, pitted and roughly chopped
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup dark rum
Sea salt to taste
Ground peppercorn to taste

Warm the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onion until soft and starting to brown. Reduce the heat to low and add the garlic and as much chili pepper as you like. Stir and cook for one minute more, until the garlic becomes aromatic. Do not burn the garlic.

Add the peaches, date, mustard seeds, cumin, vinegar, rum, sea salt and peppercorn. Stir until well combined. Continue cooking over low heat until the peaches are soft and most of the liquid has reduced. Remove from the heat and cool.

Transfer the cooled peach mixture to a food processor and purée until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve immediately, gently re-heating if desired, or store in an air-tight container for future use.

Yield: 2 cups

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Green Cayenne Hot Sauce

Cayenne peppers are long, slender and slightly twisted. Medium in size and medium in heat, these chili peppers are spicer than jalapeños but not as hot as habaneros.

The Scoville heat index, named after pharmacist William Scoville, measures the capsaicinoids in chili peppers:

Habanero:  200,000-300,000
Tabasco:  30,000 - 50,000
Cayenne:  35,000
Chipotle:  10,000
Serrano:  7,000 - 25,000
Jalapeño:  3,500 - 4,500
Poblano:  2,500 - 3,000
Pasilla:  2,500
Anaheim:  1,000 - 1,400
Ancho:  1,000
Pimento:  0
Bell:  0

The capsaicin found in chili peppers has therapeutic effects. It is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent with anti-bacterial and anti-parasitic actions. Capsaicin is used to treat pain, lower blood sugar in diabetics, improve blood lipid profiles, heal ulcers, minimize nasal allergies, and reduce the risk of blood clots. It is currently being studied for its anti-cancer properties as well.

This home-made hot sauce has just 3 ingredients. The chili peppers are the star of the show and the sea salt and vinegar act as natural preservatives. I chose plain white vinegar because I didn't want it to compete with the fresh green chili flavor. If you prefer red chilis, or another variety of pepper, use those instead.

To extend the shelf life of fresh hot sauce, store it in a sterilized glass container in the fridge. Or use an ice cube tray to freeze small portions for future use.


When working with fresh chili peppers, take care to not touch sensitive areas like eyes, nose, cuts or scrapes. Wash your hands thoroughly afterward or wear gloves.

To sterilize a glass container to hold your hot sauce:

Place a glass bottle with heat-proof lid and a stainless steel funnel in a pan of water. Slowly bring the water to a gentle boil, then turn off the heat and allow everything to sit for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the glass bottle from the water bath and set aside to dry. Place the funnel on top of the bottle and allow that to air dry as well.

To make the hot sauce:
10 green cayenne chili peppers, roughly chopped, about 2 heaping cups
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1/4 to 1/2 tsp sea salt

Puree all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Transfer sauce to storage container(s). Shake well before each use.

This recipe will yield about 1.5 cups of thick hot sauce. If desired, thin out with boiled water or additional vinegar. Be aware that adding water may shorten the shelf life.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hemp Nut Pesto


Making pesto is an end-of-summer ritual in my kitchen. I freeze enough to get me through the winter and enjoy the rest fresh.

There are so many ways to eat pesto:
  • Slather it on fresh tomato slices
  • Serve it with grilled chicken, fish or tofu triangles
  • Use it to dress steamed vegetables
  • Whisk in some vinegar to make a pesto vinaigrette
  • Add a spoonful to the cooking water for whole grains like brown rice and quinoa
  • Use it as a dip for fresh radishes, bell pepper strips, carrot or celery sticks, cucumber and zucchini rounds
  • Stir a spoonful into scrambled eggs
  • Add a dollop to garnish vegetable soups

Hemp nuts are the star of this twist on pesto. They don’t just lend a rich and nutty goodness, they add healthy omega-3 fatty acids, protein and fiber.

Raw hemp nuts are worth tracking down (I get mine at the Galaxy Global Eatery near Union Square in Manhattan) but if you don’t have them, substitute another raw nut or seed, like walnuts or pumpkin seeds, and grind them in the food processor before adding the other ingredients.

1 cup raw hemp nuts
4 garlic cloves
1 big bunch basil, about 6 packed cups
1 cup shredded aged Parmesan cheese
1 cup extra virgin olive oil, first cold pressing
½ tsp sea salt

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and puree to a fine consistency, adding more olive oil if necessary. Taste and adjust the seasoning if desired.

Store in airtight containers in the fridge or freezer.