kale

thai coconut curry soup with chicken and kale

I know. I know.
I’m sorry.

thai coconut curry soup with chicken and kale | Brooklyn Homemaker

I can’t even believe it’s been so long since my last post. Like really, where on earth did the time go? How is it even possible that multiple months have actually passed since I was here last?
My poor neglected little blog.

thai coconut curry soup with chicken and kale | Brooklyn Homemaker

Before I posted the Jamhattan recipe in FEBRUARY (!!!), I was on a lil’ break from blogging because I was tricked into doing the Whole30 by my beloved husband Russell. Even though we tried some recipes that we really enjoyed, I was just too miserable and grumpy to write about food. Before that it was the holidays. Before that, the election. Before that I was working on building out and decorating Maxwell’s. Through all of that I was still posting the occasional recipe, but I wanted to post more often and I was absolutely certain that once all the big projects and excuses were out of the way, I’d be good to go and the blog posts would start flowing again.

Once we made it through the Whole30 I got to work sampling cocktail recipes, and had grand ideas of getting back into the swing of things after a crazy, hectic 2016. I even had (and still have) a long list of post ideas that I hope, at least in theory, will be coming soon to a blog near you. Of course, as you know, things don’t always work out quite the way you have in mind. While I was hard at work editing the Jamhattan post, just a day or two before I hit publish, I was approached by some very good friends to see if I’d be interested in contributing to a project they were working on.

thai coconut curry soup with chicken and kale | Brooklyn Homemaker

As I mentioned earlier this year, I’ve been feeling anxious and overwhelmed by the current political climate here in the US, and I’ve been driving myself mad wondering what I, as a humble food blogger, could do about it. I’m no politician, no policy expert, no journalist, so what can I do? I went to DC for the Women’s March, I’ve gone to rallies in Manhattan, I’ve donated to the ACLU, Black Lives Matter, Planned Parenthood; but I couldn’t shake the feeling that there should be something more I could contribute, something uniquely mine.

That’s when my friends, feeling inspired by their youth in the 90s, decided to publish a zine combining the stories, works, and talents of their circle of friends. The project has since grown to a scale I never imagined it could or would, and they’ve compiled the work of poets, film makers, artists, musicians, actors, writers, and activists from all walks of life, all wanting to share their truths, effect positive change, and further the cause of the new American resistance movement. What was originally conceived as a 90s style homemade zine, has grown into a beautiful, powerful, and professionally-printed magazine called “Esta Tierra“, Spanish for “This Land”.
And the best part? All the profits will be divided and donated to IRC, ACLU, The Audre Lorde Project, Planned Parenthood and Honor The Earth! I could not be more honored to be involved in this project.

thai coconut curry soup with chicken and kale | Brooklyn Homemaker

Meanwhile, with Brooklyn Homemaker still on my mind, I made and photographed a soup recipe that I first tried when I was doing the Whole30 with Russell. It was so tasty that I knew I wanted to share it with y’all, and I knew that Russell and I would love eating it even after we (finally) finished with our stupid diet. I uploaded the photos to my computer, started a draft for the post, and had high hopes that I’d have the recipe up on the blog in a week or two. That was in February.

thai coconut curry soup with chicken and kale | Brooklyn Homemaker

I was so excited about my involvement with Esta Tierra that I started brainstorming my contribution before I ever got around to editing my photos or taking my post from an outline to a draft. I dove into the project head first, and before I knew it, it was all I could think about. After a false start on a cocktail recipe that I abandoned because I was unhappy with the results, I decided to share a recipe and a story that was deeply meaningful and personal to me. I revisited my great-grandmother’s apfelkucken recipe, making it even closer to the way she made it when I was growing up, and, with current attitudes toward and challenges surrounding immigration in mind, decided to tell the immigration stories of my great-grandmother and my grandfather on my dad’s side. Without giving away too much, they both immigrated to the United States from Germany, both coming through Ellis Island and settling in Upstate New York, at a time in American history when German immigrants were often met with suspicion, fear, and hatred because of World Wars I and II.
I hope you’ll consider making a contribution to Esta Tierra, and once the magazine launches I’ll let you know on social media how you can buy a copy of your own so you can read my work and see the amazing work of all the other talented artists and activists involved.

Now that I’ve finally submitted my contribution and the magazine has gone from accepting submissions to fundraising for publication, I can finally get back to blogging. Who am I kidding though, chances are just as good that you’ll see a new post here next week as they are that I’ll get distracted by some shiny new project and won’t be back for another 3 months. Lately I’ve been doing some work in our back yard and finding that pretty distracting, so who knows?

thai coconut curry soup with chicken and kale | Brooklyn Homemaker

Either way, this soups is seriously delicious, and even though soup season is basically over, I promise that you don’t have to be on some silly fad diet to enjoy it. It’s packed with the warm, tropical flavors of ginger, lime, coconut, and Thai curry; all of which pair beautifully with chicken breast, sweet potato, and Lacinato kale. This soup is so flavorful and delicious that you’ll totally forget that it’s good for you too! Go ahead and make a pot of it today before it gets too hot, or save the recipe to make on some chilly, rainy day to come.

thai coconut curry soup with chicken and kale | Brooklyn Homemaker

Thai Coconut Curry Soup with Chicken and Kale

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 to 4 carrots, sliced into coins/disks
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
3 to 4 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
6 cups chicken stock
1 bunch Lacinato Kale, ribs removed and leaves roughly chopped
1 13.5 oz can coconut milk
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
juice of 1 to 2 limes

Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a large heavy stockpot or dutch oven. Cook the chicken breasts, flipping at least once, until cooked through. Set aside to rest.
Add remaining tablespoon of coconut oil to the pot, along with chopped onions and carrots. Brown for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently and scraping up any browned juices from the chicken breasts with your spoon as you stir. Add garlic, ginger, and curry paste and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add sweet potato and chicken stock, cover with a lid and bring to a boil.
While the soup is coming to a boil, cube the cooked chicken and add to the pot.
Once the soup comes to a full boil, reduce the heat and let it simmer for 20 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are cooked through and tender.
Add the coconut milk, chopped cilantro, and juice of 1 lime. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. If desired, add the juice of another lime and garnish with more cilantro.

 

 

braised chicken with kale and white beans

It’s the most wonderful time…. of the year!

braised chicken with kale and white beans | Brooklyn Homemaker

No not Christmas time silly! I work in retail.

It’s Fall!

Less than a week ago I was wearing shorts to work, and then overnight temperatures dipped and suddenly Autumn weather was upon us. This is and always has been my favorite season, and while a lot of people are lamenting the end of summer, I’m over the moon that Fall is finally here.

Maybe it’s because I grew up upstate in a region dripping in corn fields, pumpkin patches, and apple orchards. Maybe it’s the mild temperatures and the fact that I can finally turn off the damned air conditioner and open the windows. Maybe it’s the warm colors and fall foliage, or maybe it’s the smell of the air. Maybe it’s the outdoor activities like hay rides, apple picking, and last chance hiking. Maybe it’s those quintessential Fall foods like apple cider doughnuts, pumpkin pie, and roasted turkey. Maybe it’s the fact that I can finally put something other than shorts on without breaking into a sweat. Or maybe it’s the fact that I can turn the oven back on and start making rich, hearty, slow cooked meals…

Even one of my coworkers, who’s admittedly more of a Summer person, just confessed that she’s really enjoying spending time in the kitchen without the boob sweat.

braised chicken with kale and white beans | Brooklyn Homemaker

The minute the weather dips below 73 degrees I’m ready for soups and stews and braises. Over the weekend it was cold and rainy here in Brooklyn and I was craving soup something fierce. On my lunch break I sat pondering the possibilities and planning my grocery list. My first thought was a white bean and kale soup with sausage and tomatoes, but the colder and rainier it got, the more my cravings started to lean toward some type of braised chicken. Rather than choosing one over the other, I decided to combine the two in to one perfect Fall meal.

braised chicken with kale and white beans | Brooklyn Homemaker

I bought a whole air-chilled chicken and cut it into pieces myself. I think for this recipe it works best to cut your chicken into 10 pieces, including wings, drumsticks, thighs, and quartered breasts.

You can definitely substitute all breasts or all thighs, or a mix of both, but I enjoy the mix of textures and flavors you get from using a whole chicken. I also like the fact that it’s generally cheaper to buy a whole chicken and butcher it yourself than it is to buy an equal amount of pre-butchered pieces and parts. You’ll need to cut store-bought breasts pieces in half anyway, so why not just go for the whole shebang?

I promise that it’s not as scary as you think. You just need a sharp knife, some self-confidence, and a little bit of patience with yourself. If you have no idea what you’re doing and want a reference, just ask Martha.
The best part is that the more you do it the better, and faster, you’ll get at it. The first time I ever tried was the night I proposed to Russell. I wanted to make fried chicken from scratch, and while the chicken turned out kind of greasy, the night turned out wonderful!
That first try taught me that it didn’t need to feel so intimidating, and since then I’ve learned to really enjoy the process. I think it can be just a little too easy to forget where your dinner comes from when you buy it wrapped in cellophane and styrofoam, and getting your hands dirty and doing some of the work yourself gives you a greater respect and understanding for exactly what it is that you’re eating.

braised chicken with kale and white beans | Brooklyn Homemaker

When I was in high school we actually raised chickens in our garage, so maybe that experience also gave me a greater appreciation for knowing where my food comes from. We’d moved from the center of town to a larger house on some land out in the country, and sort of out of nowhere I decided I wanted some chickens. My grandfather had a handful of older laying hens and a couple roosters on his farm that he was getting a little sick of caring for, and I really just wanted them for the experience so their advanced age didn’t bother me. They didn’t produce a ton of eggs, but it was usually enough that we didn’t have to buy them and never really had a surplus either.

There was a large storage room in the garage so we sectioned off part of that with chicken wire, laid down some straw, took some of Grandpa’s equipment off his hands, and we were in business. The one thing I wasn’t really expecting is how mean and sort of territorial chickens can be, especially when there are roosters involved. I also learned never to go into their cage in sandals. It turns out that exposed toes are fare game in the eyes of a chicken…
I understand that the situation probably would have been a bit different without the roosters, but to this day I’m a little bit uncomfortable around birds.

Despite all that I still fantasize about having chickens again some day. Especially with all the baking I do I’d love to have a good source for delicious fresh eggs! Russell and I constantly dream about the day we can buy a cute old farmhouse in the Hudson Valley and build a chicken coop and maybe a pen for some pygmy goats. We even have names in mind already! The plan is to name them after the female characters from Dallas starting with Pam, Sue Ellen, Lucy, & Miss Ellie, and depending on how many we get, maybe branching out into the satellite characters like Donna, Valene, or Kristen. We probably won’t get any roosters, but it might be fun to have a cranky old J.R. chasing the poor hens around. I’d just be afraid somebody might shoot him!

braised chicken with kale and white beans | Brooklyn Homemaker

We never ate any of our old hens back then, and if Russell and I do end up getting any in the future they’d probably just be for egg laying too. When it comes to buying chicken to eat though, I’m actually pretty picky.

I know it’s not my job as a food photographer or recipe developer to tell you to eat organic, or local, or free-range, or hormone free, or whatever the buzz word du jour is. If you’re reading this you’re (probably) an adult and (probably) can make those decisions without my help. I will however remind you that spending a few extra dollars on your food doesn’t just mean you’re voting with your wallet for a healthier environment, better local economy, and more sustainable food system; it also means your food will probably taste better and be more nutritious! In my experience the biggest indicator for higher quality, better tasting chicken is the label “air chilled”. I won’t get into the gory details of how chickens are processed, but I will say that since air chilled chickens aren’t processed in water baths they usually have a meatier, chicken-ier flavor and crispier, less flabby skin. They also have a higher meat to weight ratio and better texture since they’re not absorbing any water during processing.

Since it is a slower, more labor intensive process, air chilled chicken does cost more at the grocery store. Based on flavor and texture alone though, I really do believe it’s worth the extra couple bucks.

braised chicken with kale and white beans | Brooklyn Homemaker

Knowing what I now know, it’d be pretty hard for me to go back to conventionally processed chicken. I know I promised not to get into the details, but the conventional way is pretty gross, and the air chilled method is much less so. If you’re interested in learning more, there’s a ton of information out there on the world wide web, but I learned from reading Johnathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals. If you care about food politics and the sustainability and environmental impact of our food system I think it’s a really interesting and informative read.

braised chicken with kale and white beans | Brooklyn Homemaker

Whatever type of chicken you find in your basket while you wander the grocery aisles, this recipe is sure to please.

Browning the meat on the stovetop and then braising it in the oven gives it a rich and roasty flavor and a mouthwateringly tender texture. The touch of acidity and subtle sweetness from the white wine and tomatoes balances perfectly with the richness of the chicken and sausage and slight bitterness of the kale. The fresh pungent garlic and woodsy thyme add layers of earthy flavor, and the beans add a nice tender texture and just enough starch to make this a hearty filling meal all on it’s own.

Is your mouth watering yet?

braised chicken with kale and white beans | Brooklyn Homemaker

Braised Chicken with Kale and White Beans

one 4 to 5 lb chicken, cut into 10 pieces (you can substitute an equal amount of skin-on, bone-in breasts and/or thighs)
Coarse Kosher salt and ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 lb sweet Italian sausage (about 3 sausages)
1 medium to large onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
6 to 7 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups low sodium chicken stock
one 15 oz can diced tomatoes (drained)
two 15 oz cans white beans (I used Cannellini)
1 lb Lacinato kale (about 2 bunches) *see note

Preheat oven to 375.

Generously season your chicken pieces with salt and pepper. If using store-bought breasts you’ll want to cut them each in half with a very sharp knife.

Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven or braising pan over high heat. Working in batches, brown chicken pieces on all sides (about 4 to 5 minutes per side), and transfer to a plate to rest. Drain off all but about 1 tablespoon of any grease from the chicken, and brown the sausage and onions over medium high heat. Try to break up and crumble the sausage as it browns. Cook about 5 minutes, or until sausage is mostly cooked through and onions are starting to soften and get some color. Toss in garlic and cook one minute more. Add thyme and white wine, and simmer until wine has reduced by about half, about 5 or 10 minutes. Add chicken stock and drained tomatoes and bring just back to a simmer. Arrange chicken, skin side up, in a single layer and transfer to the oven to braise, uncovered, for 35-40 minutes.

While chicken is in the oven; remove the ribs, roughly chop, and thoroughly wash the kale. Dry well with a kitchen towel or salad spinner.

Once cooked through and tender, transfer chicken pieces to a plate and tent with foil. Turn the oven off and transfer the chicken back to the oven with the door slightly open to keep warm. Move the pan back to the stove and reduce the braising liquid over high heat for about 10 minutes. Add kale and beans, toss, and cook until all the kale is completely wilted, about 5 minutes more. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary. Add the chicken back to the pan and serve.

Serve the chicken in shallow bowl over a bed of beans and kale. Spoon some of the liquid over the top just before serving.

*note:
You can use other types of kale if you can’t find Lacinato, but I think it has the best flavor and texture for this dish, and holds up to best to braising and reheating.

kale cobb salad

So this is kind of a weird and personal post and it feels strange to be writing this, but lately I’ve been feeling kind of…

Off.

kale cobb salad with balsamic vinaigrette | Brooklyn Homemaker

My energy levels have been in the toilet and I’ve just felt run down and kind of crumby most of the time. Even blogging, which has always felt like an escape from the stresses and monotony of my life, has begun to feel like a chore.

kale cobb salad with balsamic vinaigrette | Brooklyn Homemaker

After months of denial, I’ve finally had to admit to myself that my weight is probably a major factor in how cruddy I’ve been feeling lately.

I’ve always been a little on the thick side, and haven’t been “beach ready” since I was probably 7 years old. Over the past few years though, I’ve packed on a little extra padding and recently it’s felt…

Uncomfortable.

kale cobb salad with balsamic vinaigrette | Brooklyn Homemaker

When Russell and I first met we were both much slimmer than we are now, though again, far from svelte. When we first started dating I used every trick in the book to woo him, and as you can probably imagine, most of the tricks in my book are food related. Once we moved in with each other and realized we were together for good, we just got comfortable and didn’t really notice as we gained a pound here and another there.

Shortly after we married I started this blog. Especially in the beginning, a lot of the dishes I was making were old family recipes that are near and dear to my heart, but also tend to be pretty heavy. These are dishes that are fine for special occasions, but I was making (and consuming) them much more often than I probably should have been.

As much as I love to cook, my true love has always been baking, so in addition to the heavy family recipes I also started baking even more than I used to. For whatever reason, I also really enjoy photographing the sweets and treats more than the savory dishes, so that was just one more contributing factor in the sudden explosion of cakes and pies and cookies pumping out of my oven. And then, of course, there are the bundts…

kale cobb salad with balsamic vinaigrette | Brooklyn Homemaker

I mean, not everything I post here is rich, heavy, and unhealthy. I actually think I have done a decent job of coming up with some pretty fun and creative (and delicious) healthy recipes every once in a while, but those recipes tend to be few and far between. That’s also not to say that I’m only eating the food that I post here on the (web) pages of Brooklyn Homemaker. Day to day, I think Russell and I do a pretty good job of trying to eat healthy “whole” foods and plenty of vegetables, but the less exciting recipes in my repertoire (or his) don’t ever show up here.

We really just need to focus on portion control, moderation, and keeping active. I don’t think it’s realistic to think I’ll ever look like an Olympic swimmer or track and field star, but I’m no spring chicken and I definitely need to start considering my health if I want to stick around for a good long time.

For the past week (I know, a whole week, woopty-freaking-doo) I’ve been eating healthy, avoiding carbs where I can, and trying to break myself of the habit of looking for something sweet after dinner every night. Fighting the sugar addiction has been especially hard for me but I’ve been strong so far. I’ve also been walking home from work every day (about a two and a half miles) and I’m in the process of looking for a gym that doesn’t cost a million dollars and isn’t totally disgusting.

kale cobb salad with balsamic vinaigrette | Brooklyn Homemaker

Aaaaanyway…

I’m not writing all this to say that I’m going to stop blogging, or to say that I’m suddenly turning Brooklyn Homemaker into a health food and fitness blog, espousing the health benefits of an all-bean-sprout diet. I’m just writing this to let you know that I’m going to try, just try, to focus a bit more on healthy dishes and a bit less on baking and sweets and the heavy hearty food I was brought up eating.

Honestly, I’m probably writing this more for myself than for you. I think I might be writing this as a way to hold myself accountable for my health. If I write it here, for all the world to see and read, I have to stick with it or I’ll look like a real dummy. A real overweight dummy.

Please don’t be too harsh if I end up failing…
Pretty please?

I’m not really sure how I’m going to go about all this going forward either. I’d really like to tell myself (and you) that I’m going to post super flavorful & creative healthy dishes all the time, and the baked goods and heavy dishes will be the ones to show up only every once in a while. Realistically though, I know I just love to bake, so maybe my “cheat day” recipes will end up showing up here just as often as my “don’t be such a fatty” recipes. I really don’t want to call this a “diet” (ugh). I just want to do what I can to teach myself how to cook, and eat, and blog, a little differently; in a way that will make me feel better and that I can stick to for years to come.
I guess only time will tell. Wish me luck!

kale cobb salad with balsamic vinaigrette | Brooklyn Homemaker

Okay, so let’s finally talk about this salad. I know that a cobb salad is not really the healthiest salad in the world. I promise that I know that adding bacon and blue cheese and eggs to a salad makes it less healthy than if I were to just munch on a bowl of lettuce with lemon juice.

BUT!!!
I’ve made some changes to the classic cobb recipe to try to healthy it up a little bit.

First of all, kale is like the king of all health foods right? It’s packed with vitamins and minerals and fiber and good stuff, and packs a lot more healthy punch than romaine does for sure.
Second, even though I kept the bacon and blue cheese (because it wouldn’t be a cobb without them) I did reduce the proportions of the bad ingredients vs the good ingredients. If you wanted to, you could leave them out, but I do think that they’re worth keeping around for flavor and contrast and to make the salad feel like a truly satisfying meal.
Third, while I did keep the crumbled blue cheese, I opted for an easy homemade balsamic vinaigrette rather than blue cheese dressing to gussy up my fancy pants dark green kale leaves.
Aaand, fourth and finally, I added some sunflower seeds for texture and crunch, and because I love sunflower seeds in a salad okay?

While this version of a cobb is healthier than one you might find in a restaurant, it doesn’t taste at all like “health food” and that’s definitely what I was going for! Here’s to our health!

kale cobb salad with balsamic vinaigrette | Brooklyn Homemaker

Kale Cobb Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
Salt & Pepper to taste

Salad:
1 skinless boneless chicken breast
2 to 3 strips thick cut bacon
1/2 avocado, cut into bite sized cubes
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
1/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola or other blue cheese
2 boiled eggs, roughly chopped
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
3 to 4 cups chopped kale leaves

Combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl or a small jar with a watertight lid. Whisk or shake dressing together until well combined and emulsified. Refrigerate until salad is ready to toss.

Season chicken breast with salt and pepper and sear or grill until cooked through. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing thin or cubing.
Cook bacon over medium to medium high heat until fat is rendered and bacon is brown and crisp. Immediately remove to a paper towel to absorb some of the fat. Once cool, crumble bacon.

Assemble all salad ingredients, including the chicken and bacon, in a large bowl. Pour dressing over the top of salad and toss together using large tongs or salad servers.