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Star Ingredient: Kale Raab

This week’s Star Ingredient is Kale Raab.  I know what you’re all probably thinking…is this yet another way for Chef Diana to get Johnny Kat to eat kale?  I assure you it’s not! “Raabs”, be they kale, broccoli or cabbage are just the flowers that members of the Brassica genus (from our favorite veggie family) produce when they start to bolt (which means go to seed) after the long winter. They’re harvested before the small flower buds have yet to open and are tender and delicious.  One more sign that Spring has sprung!! 

Really?  We’re Eating Flowers Now?

Yes…yes, we are!  These particular flowers are good for you and tasty as all get out!  We can go on for days about how super-nutritious kale is and this is just one more way to enjoy it.  Savoring kale raab might even become a new way for you to celebrate Spring but just remember it’s a short-lived seasonal treat.  So bring on the raab!  BTW…the word “raab” is derived from the Italian word “rapa” which means turnip…another veggie in the Brassica genus that also can be consumed when bolting.  Don’t confuse raabs with broccolini (broccoli rabe as some call it)…that’s an entirely different veggie.

Kale raab tends to be small to medium in size and composed of stems, flower buds and leaves…all of which can be consumed.  Depending on the variety and maturity of the buds, it will be juicy, earthy, sweet, nutty, peppery and crisp.  Interesting fact…the reason kale raab is tender and sweet is because brassica plants produce sugar to act as an anti-freeze during the winter. 

How Nutritious Is Kale Raab?

It’s another one of those ACK Veggies!!  In other words, it’s an excellent source of Vitamins A, C and K!  It also contains Vitamin B6, magnesium, calcium, copper, manganese and potassium. It’s also thought that raabs as a whole can detoxify carcinogens!  How cool is that?!

Let’s Get Cooking!

Just like its season, kale raab’s storage time is short.  It’s best to use it within 2 – 3 days. The easiest way to prepare kale raab is to simply sauté it in some olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy. The thicker, lower parts of the stems may be a bit tougher than the rest; you might chop them into one-inch lengths and blanch (boil for a minute or two) first, to cook them slightly and soften them up before adding them to the blossoms and thinner stems in the sauté pan. But that’s just for starters!

Try steaming it or adding it to a stir-fry.  It’s great raw, too, as an addition to a mixed greens salad.  Or try roasting it until the stem is tender and the edges of the leaves get crispy.  One bunch is 3 – 5 servings which will give you an idea as to how much you’ll need for your meal.  Chef Diana will be teaching us this week how to use it in a pasta dish so definitely check out her Cook-a-long video for it.  You can also find the recipe in our blog.

So don’t miss out on this special harbinger of Spring!  Like I said earlier…Bring On The Raab!

-Johnny Kat

Apple & Honey Grilled Cheese

My grown-up version of a classic sammie from my childhood.  I add a little honey and apple slices to give some oomph.  Perfect for a luncheon, afternoon snack or even cut up and served as an appetizer.  Serves 2.

What you need:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4 slices of Maple Oatie Bread
  • 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar or Deglae cheese
  • 1 apple, cored & sliced
  • Honey, for drizzling
  • Salt & Pepper

Heat a large iron skillet over medium or medium-low heat and allow the pan to heat up for a couple of minutes.  Lay out your bread slices and spread one side of each piece of bread with butter.

Place 2 slices of bread, butter side down, into the pan.  Divide the cheese evenly between the 2 slices of bread.  Arrange slices of apple on top of the cheese for each bread slice and drizzle a bit of honey over both.  Add a dash of salt & pepper.  I love a cheesy grilled cheese so I would add a smidge more grated cheese over the apple slices before placing the other slices of bread, butter side up, to complete each sandwich.

Cook for about 5 minutes.  Then press each sandwich down a bit to flatten and then flip each.

Cook until the cheese is fully melted & bubbly and the bread is golden brown.  Remove from the pan.  Cut each sandwich in half and serve immediately. 

Optional, if you have fresh herbs, like thyme, feel free to add them when placing the apples on the bread slices.

Frittata Lorraine

I ran out of time to make the pastry crust for my quiche recipe and came up with a new addition to my brunch line-up! If you have the time this weekend, make a crust…it will be even more decadent!

What you need:

  • 8 eggs
  • 1 cup plain yogurt or 3/4 cup milk or heavy cream
  • 4 slices of bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 4 stalks of spring garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cheese, grated. Use whatever will melt well like cheddar, Swiss, brie
  • Oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Optional: 1 pastry crust, if you want to make a quiche instead of a frittata

Note: I prefer to use yogurt instead of heavy cream or milk in a quiche & frittata. Do what’s best for you.

Heat oven to 375° F.

In a skillet over medium-high heat, cook bacon pieces until mostly cooked but not overly crispy. Drain on a paper towel and reserve the cooking fat in the pan. Lower the heat and cook spring garlic pieces until translucent, about 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk eggs, yogurt and seasoning until smooth. Fill a baking dish (I’m using a 9 inch pie plate) with the bacon, garlic, and cheese. Pour the egg mixture over and use a fork to allow everything to be evenly distributed in the dish.

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until the center is set but still jiggles a bit. It will puff up a bit in baking, but will deflate a little as it cools. That’s normal, you haven’t done anything wrong. Serve warm or cold.

Curried Carrot & Turnip Soup

I want to elevate the carrot and turnip! These are two very humble ingredients, and I wanted to create a dish that celebrates their harmony. Use your favorite spices, but I love the warming quality of sweet curry.

What you need:

  • 2 – 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 – 2 turnips, peeled and chopped
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk of spring garlic or onion
  • Dash of curry powder
  • Dash of dried or fresh ginger
  • Oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 4 cups of broth or water
  • The juice of one lemon, or dash of vinegar
  • Optional: yogurt for creaminess

In a large pot, heat a glug of oil over medium heat. Cook onions and garlic with a dash of curry powder and ginger until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in the carrots and turnips, then cover with water or broth. Season with salt, pepper, and curry…a dash of paprika wouldn’t hurt either! Bring to the boil, then simmer for about 30 minutes until root vegetables are fork tender.

Remove from heat and use an immersion blender to make the soup smooth, or transfer to a food processor. Once smooth, add in lemon juice to taste (which will balance the sweetness a bit) and yogurt. If you don’t want to blend in the yogurt, serve a dollop of it on top of each bowl of soup!

Daikon Radish Pancakes

I feel that I’ve left the green daikon out of the loop lately. I mostly use it in salads as a crunchy topping, but they have been so big lately…I can only eat so many salads! I’m still having a love affair with Keepwell’s soy sauce this week, so please enjoy these savory pancakes with or without a dipping sauce.

What you need:

  • 1 cup daikon, grated
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup water, room temp
  • 1 – 2 spring garlic stalks, chopped
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Oil for pan frying
  • Soy Sauce & Sesame Oil for dipping

Note: This is basically a vegan latke, and the secret to crisp latkes is to squeeze out all the liquid from your starchy veggies.

Grate the daikon and toss with a dash of salt. After 10 minutes, squeeze in a kitchen towel till you get all the moisture out. (The salt will help this process.) Mix radish with the flour and water until the batter forms.

Heat a glug of oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Drop a dollop of batter into the pan to form each pancake. Cook on both sides until golden brown, about 3 – 5 minutes. The thicker the pancake the longer the cooking time.

Serve hot with a dipping sauce of soy sauce mixed with a splash of sesame oil…they are delicious on their own too!

Kale Raab & Arugula Pesto on Pasta

I make pesto out of a lot of things…and today we are using kale raab and arugula!

What you need:

  • 1 lb pasta, I’m using Rigatoni
  • 1 bunch kale raab
  • 2 cups arugula, or other greens
  • 2 stalks spring garlic, or 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 nuts, I’m using almonds
  • 1 cup sunflower or olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 cup lanchengo or parmesan cheese, grated

In a large pot, bring your pasta water to a boil. Salt the water well.

The key to a great pasta dish is timing. You want to be making a sauce while the pasta is cooking, and bring them together just at the end. Also, splashing a bit of pasta water into your sauce will help it stick to the pasta better!

Before cooking pasta, blanch the kale raab by cutting the raab into manageable pieces then putting it into the boiling pasta water for 2 minutes. Next, transfer raab to a colander and run under cold water to stop it from over cooking. You can also use an ice bath to do this, which is a bit more effective.

Once you’ve blanched the raab, keep the boiling water and cook pasta until al dente. In a food processor (I prefer this over a blender) whizz together the kale raab, arugula, spring garlic, nuts, oil, cheese and salt & pepper. Once you’re you have your mix to a paste consistency, mix in some of the pasta water (up to a cup) and more oil if needed. Taste and season accordingly. *My mother would say to add in a dollop of cream cheese to make it creamier, and you can do so if you choose.*

Once the pasta is cooked to your liking, drain and then toss with the pesto sauce! Serve warm…or cold the next day

Star Ingredient: Miso & Gochujang

Our Star Ingredient for this week will actually be appearing as Twin Stars so to speak!  We’re featuring Gochujang and White Miso from Keepwell Vinegar’s White Rose Miso collection.  Maybe you’re familiar with miso but these particular miso products will simply blow you away!

What Exactly Is Miso?

Miso is a traditional East Asian seasoning that originated in mainland China and then flowered into other places, like Japan.  It’s made by fermenting soybeans with salt and koji and sometimes rice, barley, seaweed and/or other ingredients.  The result is a thick paste used for sauces, spreads, pickling vegetables, fish or meats and of course the base of miso soup.  Typically, miso is salty but its flavor and aroma depend on various factors in the ingredients and fermentation process so descriptions can vary from salty, sweet, earthy, fruity and savory.

Miso is rich in essential minerals, proteins, dietary fiber, enzymes and a good source of various B vitamins, vitamins E & K and folic acid. As a fermented food, miso provides the gut with beneficial bacteria that help us to stay healthy, vibrant and happy; good gut health is known to be linked to our overall mental and physical wellness. 

Why Keepwell Vinegar’s Miso?

Here at LLP we LOVE Keepwell Vinegar’s vinegars (that’s soooo fun to say fast, over and over) and their White Rose Miso product line is amazing!  Now I’ve already told you about how you can make miso with many different ingredients and how these ingredients will change the flavor of it.  Keepwell Vinegar has taken traditional miso-making ways and adapted them for the not-so-typical miso-making grains that are available here in PA & MD!  The end product is highly sustainable, has a lot of the flavor profiles of miso but still keeping much of the character of the grain in the finished ferment. 

Currently in our Marketplace we have 2 products from Keepwell Vinegar’s White Rose Miso line…Gochujang and White Miso…our Twin Stars this week.

First There’s Gochujang!

Gochujang is a savory sweet and spicy fermented condiment, popular in Korean cooking.  It’s quite the process…many steps, many months with each step relying on the seasonal harvest of the time of year in which it takes place.  Here in the USA it’s hard to find a gochujang that’s not mostly corn syrup mixed with hot pepper flakes.  Keepwell Vinegars uses fermented organic soybeans and malted barley from farms in PA and rice from MD.  The malted barley breaks down the rice to unlock its natural sugar to give their gochujang its sweetness.

Gochujang is the base of many traditional sauces like ssamjang and bibimbap sauce…which I have no idea what they’re for.  What I do know is that you can get creative with it as the spicy element in your BBQ sauce or zesty mayo.  One of Chef Diana’s recipes this week is for Gochujang Glazed Tofu!

Next Up…White Miso!

The most common flavor categories of miso are white miso, red miso and mixed miso but there are sooo many different varieties.  White miso is the classic.  It’s generally a little younger, a little sweeter and a little lower on salt than more intense miso, while sill packing an umami punch.  Keepwell Vinegars uses Carolina Gold Rice from Marsh Hen Mill in MD and organic soybeans from New Covenant Farm in PA to make their white miso.

White miso is versatile and easy-to-use.  Make a quick broth for a traditional miso soup, use it as a base for sushi bar-style miso vinaigrette or get creative and use it anywhere you’d season with salt. Chef Diana has us pairing it with sweet potatoes in her Miso Glazed Sweet Potato recipe for this week.

Time To Go On A Culinary Adventure

So get adventurous this week and try one of the Twin Stars!  I always say that trying out new ingredients is like taking a culinary adventure.  You can go all around the world without having to pack or book flights…just cook and enjoy.  Oh, and let Lancaster Local Provisions be your “tour” guide!

Until next week, my friends, and the debut of another Star Ingredient of the Week!

-Johnny Kat

How To Whip Up A Vinaigrette!

It is “greens” season, so I thought I’d condense some of my favorite vinaigrettes together in one place.

Spiced Apple & Honey Vinaigrette

Whisk 1 tsp honey, 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar and a pinch of cinnamon & cumin together (this helps to dissolve the honey). Then whisk in 2 tbsp oil until combined.

Lemon & Shallot Vinaigrette

Whisk 1 shallot finely diced, the juice and zest of one lemon, and salt together. Let sit for 10 minutes (this is where the magic happens and the shallot’s sharpness is mellowed). Now, whisk in 1/4 cup oil and 1 tsp mustard.

Marmalade Vinaigrette

Whisk 2 tsp marmalade, 1 tbsp lemon juice or vinegar, and 3 tbsp oil together. Season with salt & pepper. 

Roasted Tubers with Kale & Brown Butter Vinaigrette

Brown butter noodles are a Lancaster County staple. If you haven’t had them, give them a try! This recipe has a brown butter vinaigrette which would be tasty on noodles, but you can toss your veggies in it too!

Brown Butter Vinaigrette

This needs to be served warm on warm food…when it gets cold the butter becomes solid again.

What you need:

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 1 tbsp lemon vinegar or white wine
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Brown the butter: Over medium heat, melt the butter until it foams and then begins to brown and smell nutty. Wait until it has a nice brown color and remove from heat. Let cool for 5 minutes. Whisk in the other ingredients. Store extra in the fridge and warm before using.

Roasted Tubers with Kale & Brown Butter Vinaigrette

What you need:

  • 2 handfuls of tubers. I’m using a mix of sunchokes and sweet potatoes.
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1/4 cup brown butter vinaigrette
  • Half a kale bunch
  • Optional, cheese for serving

Heat oven to 400° F.

Cut sunchokes or potatoes into 1 inch pieces and toss with oil, salt & pepper. Roast for about 25 minutes until tender.

Meanwhile warm the brown butter vinaigrette, if made ahead of time. Rip the kale into bit-sized pieces. Once tubers are done roasting, toss with kale and brown butter vinaigrette. Serve warm.

Grilled Radishes with Apples, Cheddar and Radish Tops

With the weather turning into grilling weather, I thought I’d try to grill some veggies. If you’re not yet in the outdoor grilling mood, you can always roast the radishes in the oven or in a cast iron skillet. 

What you need:

  • 1 bunch radishes with tops
  • 1 apple, thinly sliced
  • 1 spring garlic stalk or 2 garlic cloves
  • Oil
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Cheddar cheese for serving, in thin slices

If roasting in oven, heat to 450° F, or use a hot grill.

Remove the tops from the radishes. Clean both parts well, set the greens aside. Grill or roast the radishes with no oil for about 12-15 minutes until tender. Let them cool, then cut in half. Toss with the sliced apple, radish greens, spring garlic, and cheddar cheese. Add ¼ cup vinegar, a pinch of salt and pepper, and a generous glug of oil.