Kale Pizza with Garlic and Cheese

National Kale Day is October 7th, 2015.We are having kale for every dinner this week. Here is the most kale pizza scrumptious & nutritious pizza you may ever make. Pizza always seems a little self-indulgent but when you top it with about eight to ten cups cups of fresh kale, rinsed well then drained or dried you’ll enjoy it and it is so fast and easy everyone in the family will soon know how to make it.

Ingredients:
1 ball of fresh pizza dough 12 to 16 oz
Eight to ten cups of trimmed and chopped fresh kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 cloves fresh garlic, minced or pressed
a dash of salt and black pepper
8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese
8 oz. fresh asiago, fontina or parmesan cheese
cornmeal to sprinkle on heated stone

Turn oven to 500 degrees and place pizza stone in oven as it heats.

As you see the emphasis and goodness of this dish relies on fresh ingredients. If they are unavailable, use what you have and vow to try it again with the suggested ingredients. While the dough is rising, wash kale and remove stems. You can chop or tear it into bits as you wish. Massage the kale with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. We use a pizza stone but any large baking pan will do the job but you may need to allow more cooking time. Roll dough to fit your stone. Sprinkle stone with cornmeal, place dough on stone and lightly curl up the edges. Now quickly arrange cheeses on top of the dough. Close oven and bake 2-3 minutes . Edges of dough will begin to color and cheeses are semi-melted. Open oven, spread kale and garlic over the cheeses. Now place pizza in the oven. Change temperature setting from bake to broil for 2 minutes. The edges of your kale leaves will look slightly crisped and the rim of the crust is browned in spots, If your pizza is not browned place back in hot oven for one to two minutes with broiler turned off. Remove pizza from stone to a cutting board. Want to know more about National Kale Day just google it.

Chiffon Cake -gluten free- with Magic Manna Flour Corn

Friends with celiac disease or otherwise unable to eat any gluten products will enjoy a delicious cake now and then. IMG_2836copyFor some keeping track of all ingredients is a paramount health concern. Carol Deppe, artisan corn breeder has introduced us to her versatile and flavorful Magic Manna flour corn. Wise in the ways of cooking for celiac disease she has developed the finest and most flavorful flour corn we’ve used baking.

Manna Flour CornChiffon cake made with Magic Manna Flour Corn flour is an authentic, no fussing cake with a simple substitution of this delectible corn flour for wheat flour. Baked in an angel food tin it produces a light  cake with a delightful aroma and flavor from the Magic Manna corn flour. Bob’s Red Mill also offers Corn flour for baking. It is widely available and can be found throughout the west and through the mail.

 This Chiffon cake has a fine texture and holds together perfectly when sliced. It is particularly convenient that home grown Magic Manna has soft kernels and can be ground in a coffee grinder, blender or a home style flour mill. Carol Deppe the breeder of this artisan flour corn recommends the “Whisper Mill”. After grinding freeze any extra corn flour in a well sealed heavy duty plastic bag to preserve quality and retain the savory aromatics.
The following recipe is an adaptation of the classic Williams-Sonoma Orange Chiffon Cake.
2 1/4 cups Corn Flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tbs. baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup seed or nut oil
6 whole eggs, separated,  plus 2 egg whites
2 Tablespoons finely grated orange zest
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Directions
Position a rack in the lower third of oven and preheat to 325 F.
Separate the eggs carefully as even a speck of yolk dropped in the whites will prevent them from fully expanding.
Mix Batter
Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into bowl. Into a large bowl whisk to combine the oil, 6 egg yolks, orange zest, and water until well blended. Add flour mixture and set aside.
Beat the Egg Whites
In a bowl, using an electric mixer set on medium high speed, beat the 8 egg whites and the cream of tarter until soft peaks form. With a silicone or rubber spatula gently fold one-half the egg whites into the batter until almost blended. Second step, gently fold in the remaining egg whites with your spatula just until combined. Pour batter into an ungreased 10- inch tube or angel food cake pan. Using your spatula create a flat surface.
Bake the Cake
Bake approximately 50 to 60 minutes. Test with a toothpick inserted in the center to see it has no batter clinging to it when removed. If toothpick is dry, remove from oven and invert the cake onto a wire rack and let cool for one hour. When cooled run a thin-bladed knife around all edges of the pan including the center tube ind invert onto a serving plate. Serve as is, sprinkled with powdered sugar. Cut into wedges and serve. Leftover cake freezes well when wrapped in foil or plastic and will slice while still frozen.
Adapted from the Williams-Sonoma  Food Made Fast Series, by Lou Seibert Pappas.

Country Pate with Beer & Fennel

This fairly coarse textured pate was adapted by a friend from an old recipe containing hefty amounts of veal and bacon. Her slimmed down version is moist and delicious, we served it as an appetizer Christmas day. The plate pictured has a slice of  pate from the recipe below, slices of crunchy Pickled Elephant Garlic, a zesty pickle, pickled beets, mustard, bread, fig jam and Keane’s fresh sauerkraut. I like the fact this recipe is for two pans of pate, the second one goes with us to a gathering later this week. There’s a fine line between pate’ and meatloaf and I think compression with a heavy weight as it cools produces is key to success.

This is a long and detailed recipe and it’s best to read through before beginning. A few sips of beer will help the cook along with preparation. I strongly advise you use the meat thermometer to test that temperature in center of each loaf reaches 165 F before removing from oven.

Ingredients:

  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ cups fresh parsley leaves, minced, or run in processor
  • ½ cup shelled pistachios
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 3 pounds sweet Italian turkey sausage, removed from casings
  • 2 cups beer, not too bitter
  • 1 pound ground chicken breast
  • Eight oz. of baguette or rustic Italian bread crumbed in a processor
  • 1 rounded tablespoon Nichols Malibu seasoning or two teaspoons marjoram and a half teaspoon each of oregano and sage.
  • 4 or 5 large eggs
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 10 whole bay leaves

Preparation:

  1. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, and scallions and cook until soft and translucent, about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer the onion mixture to a large mixing bowl. Stir in the parsley, pistachios and fennel seeds.
  2. Saute the sausage in two batches in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Cook each batch for 2 or 3 minutes, crumbling the sausage into smaller pieces with the back of a  wooden spoon. Add ½ cup of beer to each batch and cook just until the sausage is no longer pink. Add each batch to the mixing bowl and stir to combine with the onions.
  3. Add the ground chicken breast to the same skillet and cook with another ½ cup beer just until the chicken turns white. Add to the mixing bowl.
  4. Add breadcrumbs, herbs, and the remaining ½ cup beer. Cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds and then add to the mixing bowl. (If you’ve overcooked your sausage and there are large clumps either let it cool a bit and break apart with your fingers or run in your processor.)
  5. Add 4 eggs to the pate mixture and beat to make a moist but not wet, meat-loaf-like mixture. Add the last egg if necessary to bind the mixture. Season with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Test for taste by cooking a small bit in the microwave or skillet.
  6. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  7. Line each pan with parchment paper covering both the sides and bottom. Let the ends of the paper hang over the edges of the pan. Place 3 bay leaves in a row down the center of each of two 9 x 3 inch loaf pans.
  8. Pack the pate mixture into each pan, pressing down firmly with your hands or a spatula. Place two bay leaves on top of each pate.  Cover the top each pate with a sized to fit piece of parchment paper.
  9. Bake the pates for 1 ½ hours or until internal temperature from a thermometer it has reached a safe temperature of 165 degrees. Remove the pate’s from the oven and weight for several hours as they cool. I recommend placing a bread pan on top of each pate and a couple bottles of wine as weights. Refrigerate for several hours.
  10. To unmold the pate remove the top piece of parchment paper run a knife around the sides of each pan and invert the pate onto a clean surface. Remove remaining parchment paper.
  11. This pate will keep up to 2 weeks foil wrapped in the refrigerator. The pate can also be frozen, tightly wrapped in a plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil, up to 2 months.
  12. Makes two 9 x 3 inch pate’s.

Greek Pumpkin Pie

This version of pumpkin pie, incorporates winter squash or pumpkin, with gently cooked onion, feta, spearmint and filo, traditional Greek foods. Well the pumpkin is a little unusual but I have frozen winter squash left from last year. There are versions that are sweet as well as savory. I plan to make it again and will add half a cup of golden raisins, and ¼ teaspoon Aleppo pepper not so traditional but I think the flavors will compliment. Aleppo pepper is offered by Nichols and is a Syrian hot sweet paprika that is coarsely ground. I use a lot of this in my cooking, it’s a gentle intensely flavored pepper not widely available in this country. The coiled design is traditional but if you are in a hurry cook it as you would Spanakopita with a few layers of filo, then filling topped with 6-8 sheets of filo.

4 cups baked or canned Pumpkin or Squash, pureed

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 ½ large onions sautéed in olive oil

¾ lb. feta cheese ,crumbled

1 ½ tbls. dried spearmint,

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 heaping tablespoons dry breadcrumbs or panko (see preparation notes)

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1lb filo defrosted and allowed to sit out of refrigerator for one hour

1 10” Spring form pan coated with olive oil

Preparation: I used Sibley Squash which is not as moist as fresh or canned pumpkin. If you are using pumpkin try to pour off any visible liquid and include breadcrumbs which will be unnecessary with many squash.

Sauté onions finely chopped (a whirl in the food processor is fine) in olive oil for about 8 minutes at medium heat. Combine pumpkin, cooked onion, cheese, spearmint, crumbs, salt & pepper and taste. Note: eggs are added last so you can safely taste this mixture and check seasoning. Last stir in eggs.

Turn oven to 350 degrees and have a rack in center

Unwrap package of filo, and cover sheets with a tea towel.

On a clear work surface take first filo sheet, place it horizontally in front of you and very lightly brush with olive oil. Sheets do not need to be evenly coated. Place a second sheet on top of first and make an even strip of filling 2” above the lower edge and filling to the left and right margins. I used a scant ½ cup for each strip. Fold filo over the filling and roll over lightly brushing each turn with olive oil until you have completely rolled your first coil. Place this along the inside edge of pan. Lay each coil next to the last end and work to center until the pan is filled. Should you have extra filling wrap separately in filo and bake. If it looks as though you’ll run short start using a little less filling as you finish. Mine did come out exactly even with these amounts.

Lightly brush top of pie with olive oil and place in preheated 350 degree oven. Cook for one hour and check. If dough is still looking pale continue cooking and check at ten minute intervals until nicely browned. Carefully remove the pan ring, first running a knife blade along edge.  Allow to cool for twenty minutes and then transfer to serving plate. Run a spatula all under pie to loosen before transferring. This recipe runs rather long because these steps will be new to most readers. If  you have access to sheep milk feta buy it,  as it produces a superior result. this pie served with a little salad is an adequate dinner and also a good side dish. This is good hot or cold. Reheat in a warm oven. A microwave does no favor to filo based dishes as they lose the delightful crisp quality and begin to steam.

Garden Greens of Many Colors

Green leafy vegetables are packed with nutrients and flavor. Grown for salads or cooking, there’s no easier faster crop for the home gardener. This spring I’ve been stir frying Kale, Swiss Chard, Bok Choy, Purple Broccoli, Raab, and Beet Greens in a little olive oil and minced garlic. I trim my pickings, chop and rinse. The skillet is hot and ready, I add oil and garlic, wait a few seconds, and then add the chopped greens with a little water still clinging, stir and toss until tender and sprinkle with a little salt. This usually takes no more than seven or eight minutes. If my chard stems are broad and beautiful I start cooking these first and then add the remaining greens.

My good friend, Al Modena, of Italian parentage,  owns an old family wholesale seed company in San Francisco. He asked me how I cook my Swiss Chard and I gave him this preparation. He enthusiastically nodded his head, saying “that’s right, but you need to add just a little anchovy instead of salt and it makes all the difference”! It’s as good as he says.

When I return from my Anchorage talks on Container & Small Space Food Gardening and Straw Bale Gardening we’ll cook up a few different greens with photos. Now is the time to start sowing seeds of all these “greens of many colors”. My family business, Nichols Garden Nursery is having a month long sale on many of these seeds. Often it is best to sow a row and come back in three weeks and plant again. It’s a little early to talk about fall planting but most of what we’re eating is from late summer and fall plantings of last year.

Easy “Mole” Sauce

A turkey cooked in Mole Sauce is a delicious option for Thanksgiving dinner. This is the recipe Nichols Garden Nursery uses with Mole/Poblano Pepper seed. It is a simple traditional mole sauce. The Mole Pepper is a typical elongated  semi-spicy Pasilla type pepper. As they mature the color changes from green to chocolate brown. Seed starters should think about getting peppers into a starting mix the month of March and keep the sown seeds warm until germinated. As soon as you see sprouts remove from bottom heat.

Moles often include chocolate and a mixture of peppers, spices, broth and are delicious with poultry or pork, serve over rice or fold into burritos. Try this recipe and don’t be afraid to add a few other peppers to smooth out the heat or jack it up to your standards. You can make large batches to freeze.pepper-holy-mole

“Easy Mole” Mole

3 Tbsp Vegetable Oil

2 cups Chopped Onions

8 Red/Brown ripe Mole Peppers,

deseeded & chopped

2 cloves garlic peeled & chopped

1/4 cup raisins, chopped

4 tsp Chili powder, hot or mild

3/4 Tsp Ground Cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon Ground cloves

2 cups Chicken or Turkey Broth

1 16 oz. can Diced Tomatoes or 2 large chopped, peeled tomatoes

1 oz. dark unsweetened chocolate

2 Tbsp. Peanut Butter

1 Corn tortilla, lightly toasted and shredded

Heat oil in a large skillet, add onion, garlic, pepers and raisins. Saute’ until onions are slightly transparent. Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer 20 minutes. Puree sauce in food processor or blender until smooth. For chicken, turkey or pork mole, add precooked meat to sauce. Serve with rice.

This sauce without added meat freezes beautifully and it’s worthwhile to have several pints stocked away. One year we made a fantastic roast turkey basted with mole, defatted and cut into joints and bathed with more mole.A fantastic holiday meal!

Barbequed Pinquito Bean Recipes

Pinquito Bean Recipes from Nichols Garden Nursery

These two recipes were sent to my parents by a Mrs. C.L. Brown of Santa Maria, CA. She thought this outstanding and unusual bean should be offered by our nursery. We have offered seeds of these flattened pick bean variety to home gardeners for more than thirty years and have always shared Mrs. Browns recipes.

Jocko’s Barbecue Pinquitos-
A renowned Santa Maria steakhouse
3 cups dry Pinquito beans
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium onions, peeled and diced
1 yellow bell pepper diced
2 green chili peppers, diced
1 pound bacon, diced & cooked
Salt and pepper to taste

Method: After beans have soaked, bring them to a boil. Cover with three times as much water and soak overnight. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook 4 hours, or until tender. When Pinquitos are done, fry together bacon, peppers, onions, garlic. Add this mix to beans, season with salt and pepper. Cook an additional ten minutes.

For my kitchen use I have modified the recipe as follows and must admit I’ve never prepared the original always coming to a halt at the entire pound of bacon. These beans have a distinctive texture and never fall apart when cooked.
revised recipe
Barbeque Pinquitos
3 cups dry Pinquito Beans
6 slices bacon, diced, cooked and drained of fat
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 medium onions, peeled and diced
2-3 green Jalapeno peppers, deseeded and chopped
1 bell pepper, diced
salt and pepper to taste
Method: rinse beans and place in pan with nine cups of water, . Soak overnight. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce hit to a simmer. Cover and cook for two hours or until beans are fork tender. Drain excess water from pinquitos, leaving one to two inches above beans. Place bacon into a large heated skillet and sauté until lightly browned. Remove bacon pieces and set aside. Drain all but one tablespoon fat from skillet and return pan to heat. Add garlic, onions and peppers to skillet and sauté, stirring steadily until onion is translucent. Add vegetables and bacon to pinquitos and simmer for an additional thirty minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Pinquitos with Sausage & Apples
San Fernando Valley Pinquitos: by Mrs. C.L. Brown of Santa Maria, CA.
1 lb. Pinquitos, rinsed and soaked overnight
½ lb. bulk sausage
2 cups peeled & sliced apples
¼ cup brown sugar
4 small sliced onions
1 ½ cups tomato juice
2 cloves garlic
½ teaspoon chili powder (or more)
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

Method: After beans have soaked, bring them to a boil. Cover, simmer 1 to 2 hours, or until tender. Drain. Prepare a combination of all remaining ingredients, being sure to mix sausage well with apples etc. Do not cook sausage first. Bring to a boil and mix wIth drained beans. Simmer for at least 2 hours. Serve with toasted garlic bread.

I prefer lightly cooking the sausage and draining any visible fat. Do this slowly to avoid excessive browning.