Ravenous Fig

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Sweet Potato, Kale, and Sausage Soup

Local Kale, Sweet Potato, and Sausage Soup

This month, Vance and I threw together our first family cookbook. It's scheduled to arrive this Tuesday from Blurb, and I am probably disproportionately excited about it. When the Fed Ex guy rings the doorbell I imagine myself running full sprint through the office, knocking over whoever might be in the way, to get to the door first. Imagine what I'll do when I actually write a "real" cookbook!

I've already started thinking about next year's edition. I want each of the recipes to be an original, which is a huge undertaking for me. I'm very comfortable following someone else's instructions, knowing it was good enough when they made it to publish in a book or magazine; it's another thing entirely for me to conjure a recipe on my own.

I'm also planning to make it more seasonal and locally oriented, featuring whatever happens to be growing around us at the time. With all that in mind, I present to you the first recipe for the 2011 Kite Cafe cookbook.

Local kale and squash soup, in preparation for whatever sinful foods we'll eat at the @IZEA Xmas party tonight!

I shall call this "the one that made me feel better about that lobster mac 'n cheese." Or, "the one that takes more calories to prepare than it does to burn off" (okay, maybe that's a bit of a stretch). Or how about, "the one that contained kale and didn't set off my gag reflex." I think I've really got something with that last one.

Sweet Potato, Kale, and Sausage Soup

Serves 4-6 This recipe features locally grown kale, sweet potatoes, and tomato. If tomatoes aren't growing near you this type of year, you can skip them. They were just sitting on the counter, begging to be thrown into the soup last minute.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into small cubes
  • 1 bunch dinosaur kale
  • 1 tomato, cut into large dice
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups chicken stock (vegetable stock would also work)
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ lb. your favorite bulk sausage (vegan if you like)
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Whole nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Shaved parmesan cheese (optional)
  • Crispy onions (optional)

Preparation

Wash the kale. I like to do this in a water bath with a few splashes of white vinegar in a clean kitchen sink. It brightens the leaves and firms them up (especially if they've been in the fridge for a day or two). Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute, stirring occasionally for seven minutes. Add the garlic and sweet potato; stir to combine. Sprinkle generously with cracked pepper. Reduce heat to medium. While the vegetables are cooking away, de-stem your kale. Stack up all of the kale leaves and cut into thin ribbons, about 1/3 inch wide. Add all of the kale to the pot; stir to combine. Add the wine and wait about 30 seconds, until the sizzling subsides. Stir in the water and stock.

The best (vegan) sandwich I ever ate

[caption id="attachment_524" align="aligncenter" width="546" caption="Can you imagine a more delicious vegan sandwich? No, no you can't."][/caption]

Some days, getting food from a co-op feels a bit like a curse. Like when we got that bitter melon that (thankfully) started rotting before we had a chance to use it. (Shucks.) This week, though, the local farms put out some incredible high-quality veg that I couldn't wait to eat.

Today's lunch: phenomenal. Using the local avocado, grape tomatoes, lettuce, and bread we got from Homegrown, I threw together a vegan sandwich reminiscent of Heidi Swanson's "TLT Sandwich" recipe.

[caption id="attachment_521" align="aligncenter" width="546" caption="Slightly dried tomatoes are extra sweet; I could eat a bowl of these by themselves."][/caption]

Her blog really says it best:

At this point in time, no other sandwich I make is more requested. Instead of a classic BLT sandwich, I make a TLT - tempeh, lettuce, and tomato. Not an original concept, but my secret is this...every component needs to be over-the-top flavorful.

And that's exactly what this was. Hard to eat? Yes. There were pieces of tempeh flying across the table (thankfully all of it landed on the table, rather than on the floor, so we just picked it up and shoved it back into the sandwich for another bite). For this reason, do not use bread with a tough, chewy crust that you have to gnaw with your teeth! That is, unless you enjoy food flying at the lunch table. Then, it's a blast. Oh, and did I mention it was totally worth it?

It was.

Tempeh Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich

The original recipe differs quite a bit from this; I've shortened the prep time from about 2 hours down to 45 minutes and (accidentally) eliminated the chipotle in adobo. Definitely check out the original on 101 Cookbooks if you've got time to spare!

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar (or maple syrup)
  • 8 ounces of tempeh, cut into 1/3-inch thick strips
  • 1 small basket of grape or cherry tomatoes (2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (or maple syrup)
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • ½ small head of butter lettuce, cored, then cut into ¼-inch ribbons
  • 1-2 large avocados, mashed with a pinch of salt just before assembling
  • 4 or 8 extra-thin slices of hearty whole grain bread, well toasted

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Whisk together the 3 tablespoons of olive oil, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and brown sugar. Pour 1/3 of the marinade into an 8x8 baking dish (or something comparable) - you want a dish that is just big enough to hold the tempeh in a single layer - this way it will be fully enveloped by the marinade. Pour the remaining marinade over the top of the tempeh, cover and set aside until ready

Cherry Tomato, Caper, and Balsamic Sauce

[caption id="attachment_387" align="aligncenter" width="540" caption="Finished Cherry Tomato, Caper and Balsamic sauce on pasta"]Cherry Tomato, Caper and Balsamic sauce on pasta[/caption]

Not too long ago, I consumed copious amounts of frozen pizzas, pre-made salsas, boxed pastas with powdered sauce mixes, and various questionable meats marinated with reconstituted powdered "flavor packets" as part of my regular diet. I didn't have a need to keep a stock of whole foods — by which I mean foods that are unprocessed and unrefined (or minimally processed and refined), not the national grocery chain.

Once I discovered how easy it is to prepare simple, affordable meals from scratch rather than whipping out a meal-in-a-box, -bag, or -can every night, I started keeping a few things on-hand at all times. Eventually the "few things" became much more than that. Our pantry looks something like Alton Brown's pantry in the Good Eats kitchen. You don't need to go that far, but it is much less intimidating to prepare from-scratch meals when you already have a supply of most of the ingredients on the list.

[caption id="attachment_388" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Our pantry is stocked with most of the items on Jamie Oliver's list, as well as a "few" extra items we've picked up along the way."]Part of our pantry[/caption]

Jamie Oliver put together a wonderful, relatively exhaustive list of "Essential Cupboard Ingredients" in Jamie's Food Revolution. (If you're new to cooking at home and you want to buy one cookbook, that's it). From all-purpose flour to smoked paprika we've got nearly all of it. I'd add a few fresher items to the list as well, like lemons, butter, garlic, capers, a block of parmesan, and any seasonal fruit you like. They don't all meet the criteria of "sitting happily in your cupboard or freezer for months," but we go through them fast enough to always re-stock when we run out. Oh, and you can add bars of chocolate to that list… :)

[caption id="attachment_389" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Garlic prepped for this sauce."]Garlic[/caption]

Last night I whipped up a big-flavor sauce in the time it took me to boil water and cook linguine, using a few pantry staples and some of the last of the season's cherry tomatoes. I threw in some gorgeous, striped green heirloom tomatoes to add a dimension of color, but you could use a simple pint of red cherries if that's all your supermarket has on hand.

This sauce ends up looking and tasting quite impressive, but cooks up in less time than it takes to heat the oven and bake your average frozen pizza. No more excuses!

[caption id="attachment_391" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="The finished sauce, ready to serve."]Finished Sauce[/caption]

Cherry tomato, Caper, and Balsamic Sauce

We served this over some lovely garden (tri-color) linguine, but it would also be excellent spooned over another pasta, fish, or meat. This recipe is from Jamie's Food Revolution.

Ingredients

  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 pint cherry or

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