Kil’t Kale

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I don’t want to suggest that the only way to eat kale is when it’s smothered in bacon grease and bourbon. But I think it probably is the best way.

This is a recipe originally available from Garden and Gun (online here), passed on to me by a coworker who, like me, was sick of kale salad after kale salad. Again, not that there is really anything wrong with kale salad, but every once in a while, you want something a little more tender, more meaty, something easier to convince your loved ones to eat.

The foundation of the dish is something called “bacon jam,” a concoction of bourbon, bacon, bacon grease, vinegar, and a little bit of sugar. Once you’ve got that mixture, you toss in your chopped kale and wait for it to wilt. It practically melts into the bacon jam, leaving you with an amazing sweet/sour/bitter combination. Remember how I said that all flavor is a combination of fat, salt and acid? This is a perfect example of a good balance among the three. Continue reading

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Resolutions and Chicken Curry

cheap easy chicken curry vegan paleo options gluten-freeDid you make New Year’s resolutions? I almost never do. It seems to me if that if you want to change something in your life, you should just do it — go for it — change it, not try to force yourself to do that at an arbitrary time like the beginning of the year.

There is something symbolic and oddly satisfying about starting the new year with the best of intentions, though, with the optimism inherent in deciding that this year is going to be different. This year, I’ll make it to the gym three times a week. This year, I’ll keep up with blog posts. This year, I’ll finally read the financial magazines my husband constantly leaves around the house. This year, I’ll work harder to bring my lunch, not buy it.

Bringing my lunch is always a goal I’m working to achieve. Though I do get a break in the middle of the day for lunch, it’s also my chance to run errands, get a few extra hours in, or practice yoga. And with the price of a Cobb salad at my favorite lunch place reaching $10, it’s cheaper to bring lunch, too.

Curry is perfect for the purpose. It does have a smell, but it’s the kind that will have your officemates jealously wondering what you brought. It’s not too spicy, so you won’t spend the rest of the day smelling like it, and best of all — it has vegan and Paleo options to help you meet your other resolutions.

I borrowed most of this recipe from this one at Food52. The chickpeas were a last-second inspiration, but I love how they help stretch just a few chicken thighs into a meal that can feed you for at least three lunches. If you’re vegan, swap out the chicken for chickpeas and add the extra curry directly to the sauce. If you’re Paleo, swap out the chickpeas for extra chicken and maybe bump up the curry a little.

Whatever way you do it, it’s a delicious way to start the year off right.

Easy Chicken Curry
 
Author: Kate Wutz
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Total time: 30 mins
Serves: 4
A warm and comforting chicken curry with vegan and Paleo options that will help you stick to your New Year’s resolution of bringing lunch to work. Or, you know, just being an awesome cook.
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 2 1/2 tsp curry powder, separated
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (omit if desired)
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bize-sized pieces
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk (make sure it’s thoroughly blended! Shake it up.)
  • White or cauliflower rice, if desired, for serving
Instructions
  1. Heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook for 6-8 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then add 1 tsp curry powder, remaining spices, and tomato paste. Stir to combine.
  2. Toss chicken pieces in a plastic bag with the remaining 1 1/2 tsp curry powder and salt and pepper to taste. Add to pan and cook until they start to brown, about eight minutes. Add chickpeas about three minutes in.
  3. Once chicken in brown, pour in coconut milk and stir to combine. Simmer over medium-low heat for about ten minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Serve with white or cauliflower rice, naan, or whatever your heart desires.
 
Notes
To make vegan, simply replace the chicken with another 15-ounce can of chickpeas. Add the extra 1 1/2 tsp curry to the onions with the rest of the spices.[br]To make Paleo, replace chickpeas with three more chicken thighs and continue as directed.

 

 

Chicken Quinoa Soup

chicken quinoa soup with lemon and dill gluten freeWelcome to Comfort Food Week! This week, I have three recipes designed to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, even though it might be cold and sad and disgusting outside. 

Guess what, you guys? It’s cold and flu season. That means that we always have a can of chicken noodle soup in the pantry, ready and waiting for the moment someone in our house gets the sniffles.

I should say that most years we have that can of soup in the pantry. This year, I have plenty of this soup in the freezer, because it’s gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free and additive-free — unlike that can of condensed soup we usually buy. It takes a little bit of time, but not nearly as much time as you think, especially if you skip making bone broth, like I did, and buy good chicken stock at the store.

However, the bone broth does give this an extra boost of nutrition. With all of that good stuff in the broth plus the protein of the quinoa and chicken and the amazing flavor of the lemon and dill, you’ll be feeling better in no time. And if you aren’t, that’s okay too, as this recipe makes a ton. You’ll be well on your way to recovery by the time you get through this batch.

Chicken Soup with Quinoa
 
Author: Kate Wutz
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 40 mins
Total time: 55 mins
Serves: 8-10 servings
A perfect sick-day soup. Keep this in the freezer for when the flu strikes.
Ingredients
  • 1 chicken breast
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 8 cups broth (homemade or carefully selected store-bought)
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh dill
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roast chicken breast on a foil-lined pan for about 30 minutes. (You can also pan-fry, but I preferred to roast).
  2. Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery and carrots and sautee for about 10 minutes, or until the onions and celery are soft.
  3. Add broth (I strained mine directly from the slowcooker into the pot). Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer until the chicken breast is done roasting.
  4. Shred cooked chicken breast with two forks and add chicken, quinoa, lemon juice and dill. Simmer until the soup is completely heated through. Serve immediately, refrigerate for up to three days or freeze, if desired.
 
Notes
For this recipe, I used bone broth that had been made in a slow cooker with a chicken carcass, about three center-cut marrow bones, a carrot, celery and several peeled cloves of garlic. No ginger, no fish sauce, no vinegar.

 

Garlic Butter Mushrooms with Creamy Polenta

gluten free mushroom polenta 2

Sometimes, I can’t just sit down and write a recipe as I’m cooking. The process of writing a draft recipe, then following it and making notes and changes along the way is fine for the weekends, but when I’m hungry and dinner needs to be on the table, it’ s better to make now, write down what happened later.

And so it was with this mushroom dish. It’s mostly inspired by a wonderful meal I had at Redfish Lake Lodge near Stanley, Idaho — fresh, homemade pasta all tangled up with herbs and mushrooms and amazingness, served with a great red wine. But of course, as this is a gluten-free blog, I needed to pair those mushrooms with something a little easier on the tummy. 

I’d made this creamy Italian-style polenta last week to serve under a lamb ragu, hoping it would taste like a lamb bolognese I’d had at our local sheep festival. The sauce was fine, but not a hit. The polenta, on the other hand? Killer. Smooth, rich and creamy in a way that only cooks who are not afraid of butter can accomplish. 

Overall, though, this dish is not as guilt-inducing as it tastes. There’s butter and cheese, but a reasonable amount, and the difference they make to this dish is well worth it. Otherwise, the flavor comes from fresh herbs, lots of garlic, white wine and a touch of balsamic vinegar. And it only happened because I put down my pen and started adding a little of this, a little of that, until it was perfect. I encourage you to do the same.

(Note: If you desperately need this to be vegan, use olive oil instead of butter and skip the cheese. It won’t be the same, but it will be vegan.)

Garlic Butter Mushrooms with Creamy Polenta
 
Author: Kate Wutz
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 40 mins
Total time: 55 mins
Serves: 4 servings
Oh man. If mushrooms could talk, they’d tell you they want to be slowly cooked in wine and herbs and garlic, then spooned over this polenta. Amazing. Gluten-free and meatless, vegan option.
Ingredients
  • I cup polenta (or medium-grind grits)
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 cups chicken broth, divided
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced, divided
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 4 Tbsp butter, divided
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • I cup white wine
  • 3/4 pound shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 pound cremini mushrooms (the brown kind), thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp minced fresh thyme
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
Instructions
  1. Bring water to a simmer over medium heat. Add polenta in a steady stream and whisk. Cook, stirring, until thickened and bubbling. Lower heat to low. Add broth, 2 Tbsp butter and 2 cloves of garlic. Stir, cover, and allow to simmer while the mushrooms are cooking.
  2. Meanwhile, melt remaining butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring, until soft — about six minutes. Add remaining garlic and stir, then add wine and allow to simmer until wine has mostly reduced.
  3. Add mushrooms, herbs and broth. Cook until mushrooms are soft and have given up juices, and sauce is mostly reduced. Add balsamic vinegar and stir. Cook for about 3 more minutes, or until the super-sharp vinegar bite has mellowed.
  4. Stir Parmesan cheese into the polenta until melted. Spoon onto plates. Ladle mushrooms over; garnish with extra thyme and Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.
 

 

Pumpkin Sage Risotto


pumpkin sage risotto vegetarian gluten-free 2

Risotto has this undeserved reputation for being finicky, and I’m not sure where it comes from. People seem to have this idea that risotto needs to be stirred constantly, that it takes forever to make, that it’s essentially impossible to create outside of a restaurant kitchen. 

Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, it takes some attention, but no more so than any number of dishes I can name — macaroni and cheese, for example, or curry. Saute the onions, toast the rice in the pan, then just add broth and stir just enough to keep the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add some cheese and the accoutrements of your choice, and you’re pretty much good to go. 

pumpkin sage risotto vegetarian gluten-free 1

In this case, to finish off our two weeks (two weeks!) of pumpkin recipes, I used what was left of my little sugar pie pumpkin to make a fall-inspired risotto. The pumpkin adds a little creaminess and allows you to cut down on the cheese, while the sage and thyme make sure you know it’s fall. It’s also a great vegetarian entree or side dish, for those of you looking for your next Meatless Monday. 

The trickiest part is recognizing when the rice is done, and when it’s overdone. During the last 10 minutes or so of cooking, you’ll want to (carefully) taste the risotto. When the rice is fully cooked through but not yet mushy, it’s done — the risotto will be creamy but won’t be like overcooked oatmeal. There’s a fine line, but I have confidence you can handle it. 

Pumpkin Sage Risotto
 
Author: Kate Wutz
Gluten-free, vegetarian and perfectly fall-appropriate pumpkin sage risotto.
Ingredients
  • 3 cups fresh pumpkin, peeled and chopped
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4-6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp fresh sage
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss pumpkin with 1 Tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper to taste, then spread on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast for 30-40 minutes, or until very tender. Remove from oven. Take about 2/3 of the pumpkin and quickly puree or mash with a food processor or a fork; set aside both puree and chunks.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and sautee until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add rice and cook, stirring, until the rice makes a distinct “clicking” sound against the pan. Add white wine and stir, then lower heat to medium-low and let simmer until the wine is almost all absorbed.
  4. Add broth one half-cup at a time, stirring after each addition and every few moments or so. I was able to take the dog out quickly during one interval, if that tells you anything. Your rice is almost done when the grains have a tiny bit of bite to them, but don’t crunch. You’ll use at least 4 cups of broth, and it should take no less than half an hour.
  5. When rice is almost done, stir in your pumpkin puree, pumpkin chunks, Parmesan cheese, sage, and thyme. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed. Allow to cook for a few minutes more, or until rice is done and pumpkin is heated through.
  6. Serve immediately. If you have leftovers, they can be reheated with additional broth to restore texture.
 

 

Beef Stew with Mushrooms

gluten-free paleo beef stew mushrooms 1

There’s not much to say about this recipe except that it’s basically an excuse to buy an entire pound of shiitake mushrooms and eat them all in one delicious meal.

I mean, sure, there’s a rich tomato-based sauce. There’s a complex blend of flavors. There’s a long, slow simmering time that imitates braising, but with stew meat, cutting the time by two-thirds. And, best of all, you can serve it over everything from mashed parsnips to crusty sourdough bread or even thick homemade noodles (though the stew itself is gluten-free).

But really, all I can say is that you should make this. Make it this weekend, when you won’t be rushed and tempted to skimp on the simmering time and you can enjoy the delicious smells wafting all through your home.

gluten-free paleo beef stew mushrooms 2

Hint: close your closet/bedroom door unless you want to go to work on Monday smelling like beef—though your coworkers might oddly gravitate to you if you forget.

Beef Stew with Mushrooms
 
Author: Kate Wutz
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds of chuck stew meat (I always use Teton Waters)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 2 ½ cups red wine
  • 2 ½ cups beef or bone broth
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 250. Heat olive oil in a heavy oven-proof pan over medium-high heat. Brown meat on all sides, then remove meat from the pan with a slotted spoon. Lower heat to medium and sautee the onions until translucent and soft, about six minutes.
  2. Add tomato paste and wine to the pan, then broth, garlic, and beef. Stir to combine. Remove from stove, and place in oven. Allow to simmer away in there for about an hour and forty minutes.
  3. Remove pan from oven and place back on the stove. Remove beef again with a slotted spoon. Turn heat to medium high and bring sauce to a boil. Allow to reduce slightly, then add mushrooms and fresh thyme. Simmer another 15 minutes.
  4. Return beef to pan, then serve over whatever starch you like. This can be made a day ahead and just reheated.
 

 

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

brussels sprouts with bacon paleo gluten-free
Sometimes, you just want a meal with an off-the-charts comfort factor. Whether your energy is low, you’ve had a bad day or you just feel kind of blah, we’ve all has those moments where we want something easy, we want something delicious, and we want that thing right now

Enter — these sprouts. Believe me when I tell you, this dish makes me happier than almost anything in the entire world. It’s gluten-free and paleo, but also so easy, so simple, and totally a complete meal. The only hard part is that it uses two frying pans, not one — generally one more than I would like to clean at the end of a long day.

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