garlic

creamed kale gratin

Thanksgiving is officially less than a week away, and I can barely handle the excitement.

creamed kale gratin | Brooklyn Homemaker

We’ve already done Fakesgiving, but now the real deal is coming up and the anticipation is killing me. Russell and I have been finalizing out our guest list, figuring out who’s bringing what, buying and stashing our wine (lots and lots of wine), cleaning the apartment, writing grocery lists, and planning our menu. While there’s definitely going to be some overlap from our Fakesgiving dinner, this time around we’re doing a potluck and not every dish will make it back onto the menu.

creamed kale gratin | Brooklyn Homemaker

There’s absolutely no doubt in our minds though, that this little creamed kale gratin will be making a comeback.

This shit is the jam. The bomb dot com. The cat’s pajamas. The bee’s knees. All that and a bag of (kale) chips.
(It’s really good)

creamed kale gratin | Brooklyn Homemaker

When I was developing the recipe a few months ago I brought it to a work party and it disappeared faster than anything else on the table. People were still talking about it and asking for the recipe days after the party.

Out of every dish on our fakesgiving table, I actually think this was probably my favorite. It was definitely a favorite among our guests, and while it was the one dish I was most looking forward to when I raided the leftovers the next day, there wasn’t anything left to raid.

creamed kale gratin | Brooklyn Homemaker

Okay. So, right about now you’re probably rolling your eyes and asking yourself, “Your favorite dish from the whole meal was kale? Really? Kale?”

I know. I know.
How insufferably hip and impossibly Brooklyn of me.

But it’s true.

creamed kale gratin | Brooklyn Homemaker

When I was doing my initial recipe testing and menu planning a while back, I knew I wanted something deeply green and healthy-ish on the menu. Thanksgiving dishes tend to be rather rich and heavy, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I think they scream for something green to be served alongside them. Thanksgiving buffets also tend to be a bit heavy on the yellow and orange and brown, so again, having something green on your plate is probably a good thing.

Most people would likely opt for a green bean casserole, but for whatever reason, I don’t really enjoy making green bean casserole. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly love eating it, but when it comes to Thanksgiving I’d rather call it a potluck and keep my fingers crossed that someone else will bring the casserole along. Of course, when it comes to posting recipes on a food blog, a potluck doesn’t really tend to work.

So, I had some thinking to do. My head initially went to creamed spinach, but there’s something about the texture of creamed spinach that I thought could be improved upon. Spinach becomes so soft when cooked that it sort of becomes one mushy texture with the cream. My plan then, was to come up with another green that could offer a bit more texture while pairing well with a rich creamy sauce.

creamed kale gratin | Brooklyn Homemaker

Kale would be the natural next choice, but to be quite honest, I’ve never really enjoyed cooking with kale. Until recently, I’ve only had experience using the ubiquitous curly kale, which I’ve had much better luck with eating raw rather than cooked. I find that it tends to overcook easily and goes from vibrant green to muddy brown and mushy in a heartbeat. For that reason I (used to) avoid cooking with it.

I thought about going with swiss chard instead, but when I was digging around for inspiration I found a recipe that called for Lacinato kale and decided to give it a go. If you’re not familiar, Lacinato kale also goes by dinosaur kale or black kale and is much stiffer, smoother, and darker than curly kale. It can be a bit more expensive (depending on the store and the time of year) and can sometimes be a bit harder to find. When cooked though, it retains it’s texture much better than curly kale, stands up very well to braising, and is much more forgiving of overcooking. The very first time I cooked with it it was as if all the pieces suddenly fell into place and I finally understood why people like kale so much. Since then I find myself cooking with it all the time! Who knew?

creamed kale gratin | Brooklyn Homemaker

So yes, thanks to my new favorite variety of kale, this dish was indeed my favorite thing on our fakesgiving table.

The sauce is made with roux-thickened-milk rather than heavy cream, so while it is wonderfully rich and creamy, it manages not to feel too heavy. A bit of parmesan cheese adds a rich salty nuttiness, but there’s also loads of flavor thanks to some onions and plenty of garlic, a nice hint of spice from some pepper flakes, and a touch of brightness thanks to a bit of fresh lemon zest. The kale retains a nice, slightly al dente texture and pleasant green bitterness that compliments the creamy sauce perfectly, and the whole shebang is topped with a bit of crisp panko bread crumbs and parmesan that add a lovely bit of crunch.

creamed kale gratin | Brooklyn Homemaker

Creamed Kale Gratin

Adapted from thekitchn

2 to 3 pounds of Lacinato kale (or 3 one-pound bags of chopped curly kale)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
1 small white onion, finely chopped
4 to 6 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
1/2 to 3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
zest of two lemons

topping:
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese

If using whole kale leaves, remove the stalks and ribs and discard. Roughly chop and wash the leaves.

Set a large bowl of ice cold water in one half of the sink, and a large strainer or colander in the other. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add the chopped kale to the pot, stir, and simmer for 1 minute. Immediately drain and transfer to the bowl of ice water. Swirl and stir the kale around in the cold water, then drain again and wrap in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze dry. You may need to do this in batches.

Preheat the oven to 400.

Melt the butter in a deep skillet, sauté pan, or 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add red pepper flakes, nutmeg, salt and pepper, and sprinkle the flour over the onion mixture. Stir and cook for about 3 minutes. Turn the heat down if necessary; do not let the flour brown.

Whisk in the milk, a little bit at a time, until completely combined. Cook the mixture, stirring slowly and continuously, until the sauce comes to a boil and thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Use your fingers to break up any clumps of drained kale and sprinkle into the milk mixture. Stir in the cheese and lemon zest until everything is well combined. Transfer to a baking dish and top with panko and additional 1/2 cup of grated parmesan.

Bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until cheese begins to brown and the sauce is bubbly.

Recipe Notes:
You can make this 1 to 2 days ahead of serving. Cook the creamed kale on the stovetop, transfer to the baking dish, and allow to cool slightly. Do not add the panko and parmesan topping. Press plastic wrap or parchment paper directly onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate.
When ready to proceed, remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle the topping over the top. Let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before baking at 400. Since the kale will be cool it may take a few more minutes to bubble.

Advertisements

garlicy lemony creamy classic hummus

When I was a teenager hummus was a unknown and totally exotic foreign food.

garlicy lemony creamy classic hummus | Brooklyn Homemaker

Those years were recent enough that I probably should have know what hummus was, but I grew up far enough upstate as to be rather isolated from the food trends and cultural open-mindedness of the big city.

garlicy lemony creamy classic hummus | Brooklyn Homemaker

In the 90s in Auburn, NY, the closest most people ever got to experiencing foods from other cultures was Chinese take out or one of the many MANY old school Italian restaurants.

Or maybe Taco Bell.

garlicy lemony creamy classic hummus | Brooklyn Homemaker

When I entered high school I met a whole new group of friends; among them were the punks, hippies, goths, skate boarders, hacky sackers, vegetarians, and vegans of the alterna-teen umbrella. Falling in with a different crowd meant hearing new music, having new adventures, and experiencing new foods.

Sushi! Indian! Falafel! So new! So Exciting!

garlicy lemony creamy classic hummus | Brooklyn Homemaker

One of my favorite discoveries was hummus.

Growing up with staunchly American cuisine and lots of convenience foods, Hummus was completely foreign and exotic to me. It was simply bursting with unfamiliar spices and bold flavors that I’d never encountered before my teen years. Even the texture was new to me, and I couldn’t get enough of the stuff.

I still remember the first time I tried to get my mom to buy some for me in the grocery store and she had no idea what the heck it was or why in the world I’d want to eat it.

garlicy lemony creamy classic hummus | Brooklyn Homemaker

One of my favorite things about hummus even today is how versatile it can be. It makes a great dip at parties, a delicious spread on a sandwich, and even works as a side dish or major part of a meal. One of our favorite things to do when we make our own hummus is to thinly slice, marinate, and broil some chicken breast and serve it alongside some sliced cucumbers, grilled pita wedges, and giant bowl of hummus for dipping.

garlicy lemony creamy classic hummus | Brooklyn Homemaker

There are many different ways to make hummus and just as many flavors you can blend into it. Personally, I prefer a classic approach with lemon, garlic, and cumin. I also like to take the extra step of soaking and boiling dried chickpeas rather than using canned. I think dried chickpeas have a slightly cleaner flavor and make it much easier to control the amount salt you add.

This recipe can be made thick and chunky, or creamy and smooth, depending on how long you process everything. I myself like to let the food processor whir and whir until the hummus is unbelievably smooth and silky. While it’s really traditional to serve hummus with a drizzle of olive oil, I like to add some extra in while it’s pureed for even more velvety creaminess.

While the flavors in this recipe are very traditional, I like to turn up the volume and add a little bit extra lemon and garlic to make sure they really shine through. If you’re not as big a fan of raw garlic, feel free to skip one or two of the cloves.

garlicy lemony creamy classic hummus | Brooklyn Homemaker

Classic Creamy Hummus

  • Servings: makes about 3 or 4 cups
  • Print
1 cup dried chickpeas
1 tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup tahini
juice of 2 to 3 lemons
3 to 4 cloves of garlic (less if preferred)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for serving

Wash the chickpeas three or four times, or until they don’t cloud the water when submerged. Check for stones and other non-chickpea debris.

Soak the chickpeas in clean water with 1 tablespoon of baking soda for at least 8 hours or overnight. Wash and drain them, and soak again in new clean water for a two or three more hours. The grains should be almost double their original size.

Wash and drain the chickpeas once more and put them in a large pot. Cover with water and add remaining baking soda and NO salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a gentle simmer, and cook until the grains are tender enough to be easily smooshed between two fingers. It should take about an hour to an hour and a half. As they cook some foam may form on the water and skins may rise to the top. Try your best to skim off as much of the foam and as many of the skins as possible. The fewer skins you have the creamier and smoother your hummus will be. Once finished, drain them and reserve some of the cooking liquid.

Let the chickpeas cool for a bit before adding to a food processor. Pulse them a few times before adding the remaining ingredients and processing until you get the desired texture. I like mine super smooth and creamy so I just let it go for a bit, but if you like yours chunkier just pulse it until it comes together in a thick chunky paste. If the Humus is too thick, add some of the cooking water or some more lemon juice or olive oil. Try to get it a bit thinner than the consistency you desire, as it will thicken a bit once it’s refrigerated. Check for seasoning, and if you’re happy with the levels of salt, cumin, garlic, and lemon, you’re done!

Serve with a drizzle of good olive oil and some chopped parsley if desired.

This recipe recipe doubles very easily, but you do not need to double the amount of baking soda used for either soaking or cooking.

grilled lemon herb chicken thighs

So, in case you haven’t already noticed, it’s starting to warm up outside and things are starting to turn green. I’m so into it.

grilled lemon herb chicken thighs | Brooklyn Homemaker

On Sunday we decided it was warm enough to have our first cookout of the year. It wasn’t really, but we were drinking so no one seemed to notice. We gathered some friends, fed them some cocktails, and cooked up a bunch of food over an open flame. We also tried to overlook the fact that I was standing over the grill with a camera while everyone else was enjoying the outdoors for the first time since 2013. In case you were wondering, photographing a grill while smoke pours out can be an awkward task, especially when the wind can’t decide which direction it wants to blow.

grilled lemon herb chicken thighs | Brooklyn Homemaker

I thought the perfect thing for a warm(ish) spring day would be some lemony grilled chicken thighs with plenty of fresh green herbs. I know, chicken thighs again. I’ve already said this, but beyond being affordable, chicken thighs are also really juicy, tender, and flavorful. They also happen to lend themselves perfectly to grilling. I love white meat too, but I sometimes find that breast meat can dry out on the grill if you’re not a really experience griller. Chicken thighs are much more forgiving if you forget them while you’re sipping your drink and accidentally leave them on just a bit too long, or if you’re afraid of undercooking and intentionally leave them on just a bit too long. Either way, they’re going to come out moist and delicious and all your friends will tell you how skilled you are at cooking with fire.

To go along with our chicken, I also grilled some marinated veggie kabobs. A nice mix of grape tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms was just what the doctor ordered. I LOVE the way grape tomatoes get all hot and juicy and just barely hold their shape when you grill them. You can definitely play with other veggies too, but it’s important to keep in mind that they’ll all cook for the same amount of time. Simply cut up your veggies into bite sized chunks (l left my mushrooms and tomatoes whole), marinate for an hour or two, arrange on skewers, and cover until you’re ready to grill. If you’re using wooden skewers you should soak them in water while your veggies marinate so they don’t burn on the grill. As for marinades, I think vinaigrettes work really well for grilled vegetables, but you can really use whatever you like. In this case, I just made a little extra lemon herb marinade and used that.

grilled lemon herb chicken thighs | Brooklyn Homemaker

When it comes to cooking outdoors, I’m a firm believer that charcoal grills give your food MUCH more flavor. Gas grills cook your food, and you’ll be standing outside while it happens, but you’re really not going to get any of that smokey “grilled” flavor. If you have a gas grill at home and want to try to get that smokiness, I’d suggest trying some hardwood smoking chips. Smoking chips usually come in a few different flavors like hickory or applewood, and can be found online or at many grocery or hardware stores. Before using them you need to soak the chips in water so they don’t just burn up. To contain the ash and prevent them from burning too quickly, you can make a pouch for your chips out of aluminum foil, or get one of these handy smoke boxes.

grilled lemon herb chicken thighs | Brooklyn Homemaker

This chicken is seriously phenomenal. So good in fact, that one of our friends who usually doesn’t eat meat went back in for seconds. The skin gets all crispy and golden brown, while the meat stays moist and full of flavor. The marinade completely permeates the meat without being overpowering. It’s savory, aromatic, and earthy thanks to two fresh herbs and a healthy dose of garlic, and the olive oil and lemon juice make it tangy, sweet and bright. These fresh clean flavors are an ideal pairing with the smokiness that comes from cooking with charcoal or hardwood chips. You might not see another grilling recipe for the rest of year, because I’m just going to make this over and over and over. Just kidding! I promise!

grilled lemon herb chicken thighs | Brooklyn Homemaker

Grilled Lemon Herb Chicken Thighs

  • Servings: 5-10ish *see cook's note
  • Print

8-10 chicken thighs
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
zest of 3 lemons
4-5 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon rosemary (finely chopped)
2 teaspoons thyme (finely chopped)
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse Kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper

Wash and dry chicken thighs and place in a shallow dish. Combine all remaining ingredients, mix well, and pour over the chicken thighs. Turn the pieces over and over until they’re all well coated in marinade. Press the chicken down into the dish so it’s as submerged as possible. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4-8 hours, turning the chicken a few times so it’s all well coated.

Once marinated, prepare your grill. A gas grill should be on low heat, or a charcoal grill should be prepared so one side has fewer coals than the other. Place the chicken on the cooler side of the grill, skin side up, and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until the underside is golden brown. Resist the urge to pour the marinade over the chicken. Turn each piece over once, cooking for another 10 to 12 minutes, or until the skin is golden brown and the chicken is cooked through. Remove from the grill and let rest, covered with foil, for 5 minutes before serving.

*cook’s note:
You can definitely increase (or decrease) this recipe to accommodate the number of guests you’re cooking for. I’d recommend one to two pieces per person, depending on the size of your thighs, what else you’re serving, and how hungry you think your guests might be.

garlic press giveaway

UPDATE: CONTEST CLOSED!

Today I have something big for everyone! I’m announcing the first ever Brooklyn Homemaker giveaway!

garlic press giveaway | Brooklyn Homemaker

In my last post, I reviewed several garlic presses, detailed some of the different features available on some of them, and discussed which ones I liked the best. The Harold Import Company, makers of the garlic press and slicer that I reviewed, has generously agreed to donate one for a loyal reader and fan of Brooklyn Homemaker!

garlic herb compound butter | Brooklyn Homemaker

This one ended up being one of my favorites. Though unpeeled garlic requires a bit of extra force, it can handle both peeled and unpeeled cloves. It’s better at getting more garlic through the press than some of the other ones I tested, but it did still leave a small bit behind. One of the reasons I like it so much is that it also doubles as a garlic slicer, giving you nice thin evenly sliced garlic. To use the slicer function the clove needs to be peeled, but it’s very efficient and leaves no garlic behind at all.

garlic herb compound butter | Brooklyn Homemaker

Another really great feature is that this tool has a press that actually swivels out of the hopper to make it more accessible for easy cleaning. This is a common feature in many high end garlic presses, so it’s nice to see it in such an affordable tool. It also comes with a handy cleaning tool that attaches to the inside of the arm, and slides out when needed.

In case you forgot, there was even a handy video, produced by my amazing friends from Crown Street Productions! Check it out!

This tool is versatile, easy to use, and easy to clean; and at only $20, it’s a great value too!  Now, thanks to the generosity of the Harold Import Company, this tool could be yours for FREE!!! Entries will be accepted until 6pm on Tuesday March 18th. To enter, please follow the contest rules detailed at the bottom of the post.

garlic herb compound butter | Brooklyn Homemaker

After I was finished pressing all that garlic, I had to find a use for it. I thought a perfect way to let the garlic shine while putting it to practical use was to make a garlic and herb compound butter. Compound butter is basically any mix of butter with supplementary ingredients like herbs, spices, garlic, etc.; that’s then formed and refrigerated to be sliced for later use. It’s great to top a steak, mix into (or use as) a sauce, or toss into pasta. This super garlicy butter would also be perfect to make garlic bread, or as a sauce for a white pizza.

garlic herb compound butter | Brooklyn Homemaker

Quick and Easy Garlic and Herb Butter

1 stick, 8 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
1 tablespoon minced (pressed) garlic
2 teaspoons finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme (or other herbs as desired)
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper

With a fork, mash all the ingredients together until very well combined. Butter will need to be at room temperature or softer, but not melted. Transfer the mixture to a piece of plastic wrap, wrap up and shape into a round tube. Twist the ends of the wrap closed and refrigerate the butter until hard. It will keep in the refrigerator for weeks and can be sliced off as needed. Yum!

garlic & herb compound butter | Brooklyn Homemaker

Contest rules:

Entries will be accepted up until Tuesday March 18th, at 6PM EST.

To enter, please follow these links and “like” both Brooklyn Homemaker and Harold Import Company on facebook. Then come back and leave the comment “Gimme Garlic!” on this post, and tell me why you’d love to have a new garlic press.

Only one comment per entrant, please.  The winning garlic press can only be shipped within the contiguous United States, so entrants must live or have a mailing address within the lower 48. Winner will be chosen from the comments by selecting a number (using a random number generator) from the total number of comments when the contest comes to a close. Winner will be contacted via email for shipping information.