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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Un-Sunday Supper

Ok. So, here's the deal.  I had big plans for a lazy long braised Sunday supper last weekend. Sometime, between slicing fresh fennel bulbs and rinsing a whole organic chicken to air-dry in the refrigerator for super crisp skin, it occured to me that the Acadamy Awards were being broadcast that night. I couldn't wrap my head around the thought of braising, basting, and babysitting a complete Sunday supper while running up and down the stairs trying not to miss a single moment of the awards show. I wanted my full attention glued to the red carpet walks,  off-handed humor, gut-wrenching anticipation, acceptance speeches, and couture gowns.  "Who are you wearing?" Blah, blah, blah.  Well,  I wore tattered Old Navy drawstring cotton knock-abouts anchored by a somewhat coordinating ( not too matchy matchy)  distressed T-shirt.

That being said, we shelved the Sunday supper notion and decided to nosh on nibbles and snacks during the broadcast. On hand?  Poppy-cock, Caramel Swirl Girl Scout cookies, Godiva chocolates, pistachios, prosciutto, leftover chili,  and Pop-Tarts. Bring on the chic. Even with those treats banked, I felt the need to  prepare something for our little well intended coffee table awards night buffet.

I had a huge bag of winter market kale that needed a purpose. I'd planned to saute or braise it as a side dish for our abandoned Sunday supper. Instead, I re-purposed the kale for our Oscar night snacks.

Kale Chips. I know, right?  They're nothing new. They've been around forever. I was late to the party with it. Oh, well.  It just never dawned on me to throw a batch together until Oscar Sunday. Welcome to the party.

I trimmed the kale leaves from the tough stems, ripped the larger leaves into bite sized pieces, and set the remaining smaller leaves aside. I tossed the tender kale with olive oil, seasoned it with kosher salt, and tumbled it onto a parchment paper lined sheet pan before sliding it into the oven to bake for 10 to 15 minutes. I didn't leave the the kitchen. Lessons learned.  Because the market kale leaves were very tender,  they browned around the edges and were perfectly crisp at the 9 minute mark. I pulled them from the oven and carefully drained them on paper towels.

Earthy, light, and crisp, the kale chips crackled  with soft nutty sweetness from the caramelized browned edges. They were surpizingly delicate and delicious. I filed that tasty trick away.

Kale salad. After slicing  the remaining kale into thin ribbons, I tossed them with sliced watermelon radishes, golden raisens, lemon zest,  and toasted walnuts. I dressed the salad with a highly acidic fresh lemon vinaigrette and slid it into the refrigerator to macerate for 30 minutes.

Wow. The kale wilted from the salty lemon vinaigrette, leaving the leaves incredibly tender without any bitter undertones. While the sweet bits of plumped golden raisens tamed the raw watermelon radish sting,  the toasted walnuts provided additional earthy crunch.  It worked. Weird. It tasted like a wilted spinach salad collided with a tangy cole slaw. Fun.

Un-Sunday supper with re-purposed kale.

Who knew?

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