Wednesday, January 18, 2012

dark days of winter, meal 5: gettin' experimental

i seem to be skipping a week here and there. again, my meal# isn't matching up to the actual week the dark days of winter challenge is on, but i swear i am doing the best i can! :)

this week, the meat was super basic, but i got a little experimental with the veggies. i had some turnips left from my fall CSA (those things last forever!), and a couple of big bunches of kale. the hippie is always talking about trying some green smoothies, so i get extra greens for him. however, it takes us a while to start following through on intentions like that, so i sometimes end up with the extra greens lying in the fridge begging for mercy! suffice it to say, we've had a lot of turnips and kale this year. time to try something new with them!

on the menu

  • grilled smoked pork loin chips
  • creamed turnips with bleu cheese
  • kale chips with french grey sea salt

dark days meal 5, plated

local ingredients
* purchased at western wake farmers market

non-local ingredients
  • salt
  • white pepper
  • cream(organic, but not local)
  • olive oil
  • garlic
  • cloves
  • french grey sea salt
easy: this week's meal was thrown together pretty quickly from things i already had in the house--no real planning till i was ready to start to cook. i LOVE when that happens.

challenging: i was a little disappointed that i failed to buy local cream and butter for this week. i've been trying to favor those, but a) i can't get them at the farmers market, and b) not all grocery stores have them either. if i don't make it to the places that do, which are a little out of my way, then i can't get local. i always get organic, but it would sure be nice if local were as easy to find.


grilled smoked pork chops
recipe is a strong word for this--we don't do a thing to fickle creek's smoked pork chops other than heat them on the grill. i unwrap them and hand them to the hippie, and he grills them about 3 minutes per side on high heat. let them rest a few minutes, and eat them up!

creamed turnips with bleu cheese
~2 lbs salad turnips (these are small white turnips with a milder flavor than the big purple kind)
2 whole cloves
2 cloves of garlic
~1 tsp fresh thyme
1 oz good quality bleu cheese
1/4 tsp white pepper
heavy cream to texture
salt to taste

directions: peel and chop turnips to about 3/4-inch cubes. place in saucepan with both whole cloves and garlic cloves, cover with water, and bring to a boil. reduce heat slightly and continue to boil just until turnips are tender, about 15 minutes. drain well and remove cloves (leave garlic in!). mash turnips slightly with a potato masher and drain again. i discovered that turnips contain a LOT of liquid--drain them a lot so they don't become soupy. add thyme, bleu cheese, white pepper, salt, and a tiny bit of cream, and whip. add cream in increments and by tiny amounts--you don't need much.

kale chips
(recipe from use real butter, one of my absolute favorite food blogs)
a bunch of kale
olive oil
sea salt

preheat oven to 350. wash and dry kale thoroughly. remove the hard center stems, and roughly tear or chop it into manageable sized pieces. toss with a small amount of olive oil. line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and lay the kale out in a single layer. sprinkle with sea salt. bake for about 12-15 minutes until crispy.

family ruling
this whole meal was YUM city, ESPECIALLY the kale chips! those were just fantastic. i've wanted to try them for a long time after having so many friends rave to me about how good they are. i was skeptical, but delighted in the end. i can't recommend it enough. (note: our 3-year-old was NOT as impressed. he was game and tried them, but HATED them--so much that i gave him a cookie to make up for the level of horror he experienced. it's rare for us to have such a mega-fail with him, but there you go--this was right up next to cauliflower on his PLEASE-MAMA-NOT-THAT list, which is saying something. his statement? "mama, i don't really like kale chips." lol)

now. the turnips. turns out they have about 12x the amount of liquid in them as potatoes. so, while the creamed turnips TASTED awesome, they were far more soupy than i intended. i should have done a better job of draining them before i added the cream, so i adjusted the directions accordingly. that said--this was a delicious amalgam about about 15 different recipes i read. i will definitely do this again--i will just know next time to drain better and use less cream.

further thoughts
i forget how much i like playing in the kitchen. this, and the one-pot meal i made for next week's challenge are the first couple of truly creative things i've done in the kitchen in a while. i miss it! for some reason in winter, i seem to stick more to the tried and true than i do in the summer. i think this has something to do with the variety of available produce for sure, but i have also realized that i tend to feel pressed for time when it gets dark so early, too. i need to shake that feeling off and continue to get creative on the winter veggies.


Jes said...

Turnip mash with bleu cheese sounds absolutely spot-on--I love it! Beautiful dinner & your experimentation looks delish!

Sincerely, Emily said...

Fantastic meal Jackie! I am glad you had fun with it. Sorry to hear the kale chips made to the other list for he 3 yo. I'll have his share next time. Emily

Susan (Backyard Grocery) said...

My turnips are just coming in at the garden. This looks great...I bet the blue cheese is a nice balance to the tanginess of turnips. I'll have to try it.