Friday, July 19, 2013

lemony kale caesar salad and little kitchen inspiration

In the little kitchen, originally uploaded by michele wynne.
If anyone had told me, even a year ago (when my go-all-out new kitchen philosophy was transforming the little kitchen), that I would eat, much less purchase, and be happily fileting anchovies in my kitchen, I would have told you you were ca-raaazy.  But, as my palate evolves, so does the little kitchen. Remarkable things have occurred in recent months that continue to enlighten and confound the little kitchen almost daily.
I'm currently reading "The Omnivores Dilemma" and I'm trying to wrap my brain around the whole corn thing---eeek---and pondering the last 3 months that have been the speedy blur of information, education and inspiration as I close in on my first 90 days as an employee at the amazing Bi-Rite Market. Not only am I happily over-whelmed by a dazzle of wonderful food products, I'm inspired by a great bunch of people. The first being Sam, the owner. Sam took over the family business in  1996 and transformed it into a brilliant specialty food market. I've never met anyone so passionate about food and feeding people as Sam. Sam has about 275 employees and knows and greets everyone by name. He personally handed me a birthday card last week and thanked me for my work. That was unprecedented in any place I've ever worked.
The card contained a gift card and I immediately knew what I was going to use it for...something I'd never remotely consider dropping $20 on. Ever. I bought a can of imported Italian anchovies. This didn't just come out of nowhere. A few weeks ago, I took a cooking class at 18 Reasons, Bi-Rites non-profit educational space.  It was a class on sauces. We made Bagna Cauda, an amazing sauce featuring anchovies lightly cooked with garlic and butter. The finished sauce is primarily used as a dipping sauce for vegetables, either raw or cooked. I was also informed about the goodness that anchovies bring to pasta sauces and salad dressings.
This is what I learned about anchovies: Salt packed anchovies have a more intense flavor (I found this true of capers as well) The big can in the picture contained about 20 whole anchovies. Once the can was opened I transferred everything into two airtight jars and packed in more coarse sea salt. When you're ready to use them, rinse the salt off and then place the anchovies in a bowl of warm water for about 20 minutes. This draws out more salt. Cut off the head and tail, then draw the tip of a sharp knife down the back of the anchovy just to make a shallow cut, carefully open the anchovy to reveal the skeleton and lift it out. I then scrape the silver skin off with the knife. Mince up the anchovy and it's ready to go in the sauce or dressing you're making.
I'm all about kale right now, so I made the Lemony Kale Caesar Salad from Eat Good Food which seemed like the perfect place to start with my anchovies and it happily surpassed my expectations. I made a very large bowl of it and the leftover salad was just as tasty as it was freshly made.  Coincidentally I got the latest Bon Appetit in the mail today which included a bit about the healthy veg benefits and kale is said to have more calcium than 6 ounces of milk and more fiber than 3 slices of whole wheat bread and raw kale has more vitamin C, anti-oxidants and phyto-nutrient than cooked.
So I'm off to make another kale salad.

Lemony Kale Caesar Salad
from Eat Good Food

1 medium bunch of dino kale
2 cloves garlic
kosher salt
2 anchovy fillets, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, more to taste
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup grated Parmesano Reggiano cheese, more for garnish
Freshly ground black pepper

Slice off and discard the stalks of the kale. Stack the leaves on top of each other and then slice the kale into 1/4 inch strips. If you're gonna eat this immediately, I might suggest a little massage at this point to tenderize the leaves a little. I tend to make these kale salads in advance to let the leaves self tenderize in the dressing. Set the bowl of prepared kale aside.
Coarsely chop the garlic, sprinkle with some sea salt and give the garlic a smash and smear with the side of your knife. Transfer into an airtight jam jar or a practically empty jar of Dijon. Add the anchovy, egg yolk, lemon juice, Dijon and olive oil . Seal the jar tightly and shake like crazy. Dip a leaf of kale into the dressing and taste it, adding more lemon juice or salt as desired.
Put the kale into a large bowl and drizzle about 1 1/2 tablespoons of dressing over the kale. Using your hands, gently toss until the leaves are evenly coated.  Sprinkle the cheese over the salad and toss again. Taste and add more dressing or salt as needed. Sprinkle a little cheese on top of each salad plate with a quick grind of fresh black pepper.

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