Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Kale and Raisin Salad

My English brother-in-law observed that NYC has exploded with kale. Not literally of course. He couldn't help but notice that since he visited a couple years ago, the mighty green leaf has been popping up in some of NYC's best restaurants. Whether it's sauteed, baked or raw- kale is all the rage.

Influenced by the New York culinary scene, I started making kale salads a year or so back. However, I just discovered the best way to make it when eating at my neighbour Allison's house in good old Westchester. Allison made a really delicious dressing of balsamic, lime, honey and oil. She also tossed in slivered almonds and sweet raisins. I didn't think I'd enjoy it given that I'm not a fan of raisins in my food but I couldn't have been more wrong!

This salad was delicious. The acidity of the dressing broke down some of the tougher fibers in the kale and plumped up the raisins. The almonds added another dimension of nuttiness. It was sweet, sour, crunchy and SLIGHTLY bitter. The perfect balance of flavours!

1 bunch of curly kale, washed thoroughly and chopped finely
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 lime, juiced
1/2 tablespoon fig infused balsamic (balsamic will do)
1/2 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons grape seed oil
salt and pepper to taste

Mix the honey, oils, vinegar, lime juice, salt and pepper. Put in a microwave safe cup and heat for 10 seconds to melt the honey. Add the raisins to the dressing. Toss with the kale and let sit an hour in the fridge before serving. Add the almonds and toss well.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Raspberry and Cracked Pepper Parfait

So we've had a bit of a heat wave! With weather reaching the 100's I'm really in no mood for comfort food. I need to feel refreshed! I've had a diet of ceviche, ice cold coconut water and guacamole the past couple of days until I made this little treat! I wanted something creamy, sweet and fresh but couldn't be bothered to run out and buy ice cream. Instead I put together this lovely little parfait comprised of Greek yogurt, summer fresh raspberries, mint, honey and for a surprising little kick- fresh ground black pepper. "Ground pepper"?!?! You ask... "Yes"! Is my answer. It adds a playful little punch to the predictable flavor palette.

1/4 cup raspberries
1/2 cup full fat Greek yogurt
4 mint leaves, ripped
a good drizzle of honey
two cracks of fresh black pepper

In your cutest bowl or martini glass assemble the parfait in the following order: Yogurt, berries, mint, honey and cracked pepper. Make in advance and refrigerate or eat straight away!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

My Very First Garden

I was in the 7th grade and cycled over to my best friend's house. His name was Carmen and he was Italian. His father, a very strong and broad man called us over for a snack. He set up a makeshift table with two crates for chairs. On the table he had a bottle of homemade wine, imported olive oil, a very rustic loaf of bread, salt, a plate and knife. "What kind of snack is this?!" I thought silently as I watched him walk over to  his garden. The sun bathed the scene and shone over tall tomato vines bearing the most beautiful red fruit. With the ease of one hand he plucked three tomatoes, washed them off with a hose and brought them to our table. I watched in awe and wonder as he roughly cut them, poured silky olive oil on them and lovingly sprinkled some salt. He ripped three pieces of bread from the one loaf, only looking up to say "mangia". We dipped bread in an oil enhanced by the sweet juices from summer ripe tomatoes, barely saying anything to each other. We were silently appreciating the simple joys brought to us by a man and his garden.

I vowed then that I would one day have my very own garden and make simplistic delicacies. I would literally reap what I sowed. And 15 years later I finally have one of my own and I absolutely love it! Every morning I run out and see what new developments took place. My string beans have sprung, some of the lettuces are mature, the zucchinis have blossoms and little baby buds and my tomato vines have shot up to the height of my thigh!

I cannot wait to post future developments and make meals sourced from my little garden:)