Black kale, also know as dinosaur kale, is a gorgeous member of the cabbage family. Like many dark green leafy vegetables, it’s rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, calcium, vitamin C, beta-carotene, and folate. It also contains fibre, which gives a feeling of satiety. Beyond its impressive nutrition content, I love black kale for its mild flavour and tender texture. As a bonus, it can be grown locally in BC and it’s easily found in farmers’ markets in the Lower Mainland area during the summer and fall months.
The recipe is from Mario Batali, one of my favourite celebrity chefs. Its simplicity showcases the natural flavours of the ingredients, and it’s super easy to make for a quick weeknight supper.
I carefully fried thinly sliced garlic and hot chilies to a crisp. This process infuses their flavour into the oil (which permeates the rest of the dish), and provides a texture contrast with the soft kale and ricotta cheese.
Sauteed Black Kale with Ricotta, Crispy Garlic, and Chilies
The first time I tried to make a cheese sauce from scratch, it turned out to be a clumpy mess. Based on my experiences with making Kraft Dinner, I added grated cheese to hot milk and stirred, hoping that the sauce would thicken up. Guess what happened? The cheese and the milk stayed completely separate. In fact, the grated cheese melted slightly and coagulated into little cheese clusters in the hot milk. It was a good learning experience– now I know not to add cheese to hot milk to make cheese sauce, lest I want to end up with cheese ball soup.
The proper way of making a cheese sauce (where, you know, the cheese melts into the sauce) is to first make a béchamel sauce with flour, fat, and milk, then add in grated cheese. For this recipe, I included a bit of shallot and prepared mustard to give the dish some extra bite.
Pasta with Creamy Cheese Sauce and Poached Egg
2 tsp light-coloured vinegar (apple cider, white, or rice would work)
3 tbsp fat (butter tastes better, I used oil and it turned out fine)
1 shallot, minced
1.5 tbsp all purpose white flour
2 cups milk
1 cup grated cheese of your choice, something that melts nicely is good (cheddar, mozzarella, harvarti, oka, oxana, or a blend!)
1.5 tsp prepared mustard
white pepper to taste
~200 g egg noodles
Basil leaves, for garnish
Fill a small sauce pan with 2 inches of water, heat until you see small bubbles rising occasionally to the top. Add vinegar to the water.
Crack 1 egg into a small bowl (or a ladle), bring it very close to the water’s surface, and slide it into the water. Repeat with other 2 eggs.
Cook over medium-low heat for ~2 minutes, or until egg whites are coagulated but yolk is still runny. Submerge the poached eggs in a bowl of room-temperature water while you prepare the sauce and pasta.
Microwave the milk until warm.
In a large pot, sauté the shallot in fat over medium heat until translucent. Add flour and cook for 1 minute. The mixture, called a roux, should look like wet sand. If it doesn’t, adjust the amount of oil/flour.
Add the warmed milk slowly, whisk to break up lumps of roux. You may not need all the milk, or may need more, adjust accordingly.
Cook the sauce for 10 minutes, scrape the bottom of the pot to prevent burning.
Boil a pot of salted water for the pasta.
Add cheese, cook and stir the sauce to melt cheese. Once the cheese is melted, cook noodles in the pot of boiling water until soft but not mushy, drain and add to the cheese sauce.
Mix thoroughly, portion into 3 bowls, top with poached egg and basil leaves.
It’s essentially a vegetable quiche pumped full of butternut squash, greens, and cheese. It took my friend and I around two hours to make the recipe from start to finish, so be prepared for the amount of labour and time required. In the end, both of us agreed that the work was well worth it. The sweet squash, savory cheese, and tangy onion (flavoured with vinegar) is a winning combination. The tart looks impressive, tastes delightful, and can be made using readily available local BC ingredients (squash, kale, onion, eggs,…).
Here’s the original recipe. I made a few minor adjustments with the ingredients I had on hand, but I would suggest sticking with the original. The changes I made were:
4 medium eggs instead of 3 large ones
~4 cups chopped kale instead of Swiss chard
cayenne pepper instead of red pepper flakes (I think I used less too)
red onion instead of yellow
apple cider instead of balsamic vinegar (I used less than 2 tbsp, but would use the full amount in the future)
Havarti cheese instead of Gruyere
~ 1 tsp dried thyme in the crust instead of fresh
used salted butter and omitted the salt in the crust (bad baking technique, I know, but salted butter is so much cheaper!)
pressed the dough into the pan instead of rolling it out (looks messier, but easier)
Chocolate and coffee is a classic combination, and the flavours of both are outstanding in this cookie. I think this would make a great pairing with any coffee-based beverage, or even a glass of milk.
To prevent a dry and bitter tasting cookie, check on them around 7 minutes, or even earlier if you’ve rolled them out thinner. I decided to dip the cookies in some melted chocolate flavoured with more espresso powder to garnish. An espresso icing, like the one from the source of this recipe, looks great too. Or you could sandwich an espresso buttercream filling between two of these cookies for a twist on an Oreo.
To make rolling out the cookie dough easier, I place it between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. This way, I can see the dough as it’s being rolled out, and it doesn’t stick to the rolling pin or the counter.
Cream together 1/2 cup room temperature butter and sugar until fluffy, add egg and vanilla, beat well.
Sift cocoa, espresso, flour, salt, and baking powder over butter mixture, stir to combine then form into a disk-shaped dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 °F, line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper
Roll out dough to 3-4 mm thick, cut into desired shapes using a cookie cutter. Gather and re-roll scraps, chill dough as necessary to make it easier to work with.
Bake for 7-10 minutes, allow to cool completely before decorating.
To dip the cookies: in a bowl, microwave the butter and chocolate chips together to melt (do this in 30 second intervals and stir every 30 seconds to prevent burning). Stir in the espresso powder. Dip 1/2 of the cookie into the chocolate, scrape the bottom of the cookie against the edge of the bowl to remove any excess, and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet to allow the coating to harden.
End of August, the last few days of summer cling onto shorts, ice cream cones, and the outdoor swimming pool. Amidst the goodbye to warm weather and sunny days in Vancouver, we’re lucky enough to say hello to the season’s bounty: farm-fresh vegetables and fruits from local growers.
I’ve made a few variations of this salad already, using yellow bell peppers, chickpeas, eggs, figs, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, bulgur, dried tofu, and yellow wax beans in various combinations with one another. The dressing was kept simple: olive oil, vinegar, salt, black pepper. Once I used soy sauce, canola oil (sesame, chili, or Sichuan peppercorn oil would be perfect here as well), white pepper, and rice wine vinegar for an Asian-inspired taste.
The trick to making this salad quickly is to pre-cook as many of the ingredients as you can ahead of time. For example, I soaked and boiled about 1 cup of dry chickpeas, cooked 3 eggs, and reconstituted 1 cup of dried bulgur all at once when I made this salad the first time a few days ago. Today, I simply pulled the chickpeas, egg, and bulgur out of the fridge, and they were ready to use. This salad came together in no time at all.
Late Summer’s Salad
1 roma tomato, seeds removed, diced
1 mini cucumber, diced
1/2 cup bulgur, cooked
1/3 cup chickpeas, cooked
3 figs, 3/8 inch cubes
1 egg, boiled to your liking, cut into 8 wedges
1-1.5 tbsp acid (balsamic vinegar, or rice, red or white wine vinegar, or lemon juice)
1-1.5 tbsp olive oil
Pinch of salt and black pepper
Put all ingredients except the egg into a medium-sized bowl, mix well to combine.
When ready to serve, gently lay the egg pieces on top of the salad.
This dish is deeply connected with the land: 1) most of the ingredients used are grown locally on the unceded, traditional, and ancestral land belonging to the Coast Salish peoples; 2) most of the ingredients are in season right now; 3) most of the ingredients are buried in the soil until they’re ready to be dug up, which makes this the most grounded dish I’ve made in a while.
When I bought the beets, potatoes, and radishes, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them. But I couldn’t say “no” to the sweet and tender beets, the thin-skinned potatoes, and the bright red radishes with luscious tops. “I’ll figure out a delicious way to eat them somehow!” I vowed. I considered how to best show off the unique flavours and textures of each of these vegetables, and I think this was a pretty decent first attempt. The Middle-Eastern inspired dressing was the perfect complement to these humble and often overlooked vegetables. The richness of the sesame oil takes the edge off of the slight astringency of the pomegranate molasses, and we already know how well cumin and coriander go together (think: guacamole, Indian curries). In the future, I would try to boil the potatoes instead of roasting them to give them a bit of a contrast with the roasted beets.
This recipe comes from the cookbook La Dolce Vita by David Rocco. His recipe was entitled “Day at the Beach Tomatoes”, I think he called them that because they’re simple enough to prepare at the beach! But good luck eating these babies down at the beach, a fork and a knife are strongly recommended.
Tuna Stuffed Tomatoes
This is truly a very simple recipe where the flavours of the ingredients combine perfectly. Creaminess from the mayo, freshness from parsley, and tangyness from brined capers elevate ordinary canned tuna to extraordinary deliciousness. If you are missing an ingredient (especially the capers or parsley), I would strongly recommend that you go to the grocery store and get it for this dish!
Mix together tuna, mayonnaise, chopped parsley, capers, and black pepper
Taste and add salt only if necessary, capers are very salty
Carefully cut off a thin slice from the top and bottom of the tomato and remove the inner pulp
Carefully spoon the tuna filling into the tomato and serve
Tuna Stuffed Tomatoes
80 g (~3 oz.) canned tuna (chunks or flakes)
2 tsp (10 mL) finely chopped parsley
2 tsp (10 mL) roughly chopped capers
1/4 tsp (1 mL) ground black pepper
2 tsp (10 mL) mayonnaise
1 medium sized tomato
Mix together tuna, parsley, capers, black pepper, and mayonnaise until well combined. Taste to check for seasonings. Add salt if necessary.
Cut off the top and a little bit of the bottom of the tomato, then carefully run the edge of a paring knife around the inside of the tomato and scoop out the inner pulp.