August 2011

Kale Chips

August 25, 2011 · 1 comment

in food,recipe

Kale seemed to be this summer’s hot leafy produce.  Though in the U.S., kale is traditionally used in southern cooking in a braised/stewed form, I have been really enjoying kale in the baked form—kale chips.

Kale chips are super easy to make and you can add your own flavors and twists to it (I personally enjoy mine with a splash of balsamic vinegar and red pepper flakes).

You start out with some chopped kale.  I’m pretty lazy and like the already chopped kale in those ready-to-eat bags.  Coat the kale with some olive oil and toss.

 

At this point, you can flavor the kale however you want.  But be sure to season on the lighter side because kale shrinks a lot once it’s been baked down, so a tiny bit of seasoning goes a long way.  Super salty kale will not taste good … I made that mistake during my first attempt in making kale chips.

To season, I like to sprinkle a little bit of salt and paprika (did I mention a little goes a looong way!).

In lieu of salt, I also like to pour in a splash of balsamic vinegar and a dash of red pepper flakes.

Place seasoned kale on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes.  Make sure to keep an eye out on the kale and take it out when you notice some browning on the edges.   You don’t want to burn the kale because burnt kale taste pretty bitter, and we don’t want that.

Once it’s done, kale chips will be a delicious salty crispy snack.  Like the much less healthy potato chips, it will be very difficult to have just one kale chip.  But, these are so healthy and good for you that you can have a huge bowl of them without any tinge of guilt.  :)

 

Kale Chips

Prep Time:  5  minutes
Total Time:  20 minutes
Ingredients:
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Pinch kosher salt (or 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar)
  • Pinch paprika (or pinch of red pepper flakes)

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2.  Discard kale stems and wash thoroughly
3.  Dry kale in a salad spinner or with paper towels
4.  Chop or tear kale into 1.5 inch pieces
5.  In a large bowl, mix dry kale with olive oil and sprinkle a pinch or two of salt or a splash of balsamic vinegar and mix
6.  Spread kale out on a baking sheet
7.  Cook for 10-15 minutes or until very lightly browned

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One of my dearest college friends will be getting married in less than a month and we recently celebrated her “last fling before the ring” bachelorette weekend in Sonoma/Napa Valley, CA.  The weekend was packed full with fun activities (thanks to our amazing event planner, the maid of honor)!

During our first night at the beautiful villa we stayed in, the maid of honor made a delicious dinner comprised of the bride-to-be’s favorite foods (nachos and mac ‘n cheese, yum!).  I made the bride-to-be’s favorite dessert—cherry pie—with a twist:  cherry pie in serving size mason jars. :)

There’s something to be said about pies made in individually-portioned mason jars.  They’re so adorable and make the homemade pie that much more special.  If you don’t like cherry pie, you can use any other pie filling for this recipe.  In fact, this would be a great way to make individual size chicken pot pies (I’ll probably make those this winter.  Stay tuned.)!

Here’s how we make cherry pie in a jar:

You start with the pie crust.  I prefer to make my own because it always taste better.  But if you’re short on time or don’t want to deal with the hassle of making pie crust, feel free to buy the pie crust.  I’ve included my favorite pie crust recipe below in case you’re up to it.  ;)

Place your pie crust on a lightly floured surface and roll it out evenly.

Using the opening of the mason jar to cut out the pie crust bottoms and pie toppers (the top crust covering the filling).

Place a crust bottom in each jar.

Use the remaining pie crust dough to line the sides of the jars.  The dough is easy to mold, so there’s no need to cut out a rectangle that goes around the side exactly.  Just press the dough pieces together until it form around the side.

Now for the fresh cherry filling!  The best cherry pies are made with fresh cherry filling.   If you’ve  had cherry pie and didn’t like it, it’s very likely that the pie was not made from fresh cherries.  Instead, it was probably cherries from a can.  Gross.  You’d be amazing how big of a difference fresh cherries make!   Trust me on this one.

So, lesson of the day, use fresh cherries.  You’ll thank me later for that.  :)

Now, using fresh cherries for the pie takes a little bit more effect than opening a can of cherries in syrup (did I mention, gross!).

First, you’ll need to pit them.  The easiest, although messy, way of doing this is to use the side of a chef’s knife and press down on the cherries.  You should do this 1-2 cherries at a time.  You might want to also wear an apron to avoid getting cherry juice on you (they’re a tough stain to get out!).  Once they’ve been pressed down on, the stem and pit comes out easily.

In a bowl, mix in the pitted cherries with some sugar, cornstarch, almond extract, vanilla extract, water, and salt.  Scoop about 1/2 cup of this cherries mixture in each jar.

If you want to, using a small knife (paring knife will do), cut a design out of the pie topper before placing it on top of cherry filling.  If you don’t want a design, make sure to at least create some slits on the pie topper to allow the steam to vent while baking.

There were 10 of us, which was  perfect:

You can also use a fork to seal and chrimp the edges of the pie.  I didn’t do that this time around.

To add a touch of cinnamon flavor, brush on a mixture of brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon on top of each pie before placing it in the oven.

You can either bake the pies right away or you can put the lid on the mason jars and store them in the freezer to eat later.  This is perfect if you have a craving for pie but don’t have several people to share a whole pie with (or, you can’t eat a whole pie alone.).

When you’re ready to bake the pies, place the jars on a baking sheet and place them in a cold oven.  Even though mason jars are pretreated to withstand heat, letting the jars heat up slowly will ensure that the glass doesn’t break during baking.   and set inside a cold oven.   Turn on the oven to 375ºF and bake the pies until the pie tops are golden brown and the filling is bubbling.

They were really delicious (and really fun to make)!  I think a few tongues were burned that night (including my own) because it was nearly impossible to wait for them to cool down before wanting to dig into them.  Oh, the price one pays for lacking self-control.  :)

Here was my jar 10 minutes later.  My only regret (and grip from the girls) was that I only made 10, one for each girl.

Fresh Cherry Pie in a Mason Jar

Print this recipe!

Makes 10 servings

Prep Time:  1 hour
Total Time:  2 hours

Ingredients

10 1/2-pint wide mouth canning jars

Pie Crust

  • 15 tablespoons (~2 sticks) unsalted butter, very cold
  • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening, very cold
  • 1/2 cup ice water

Cherry Pie Filing

  • 5 cups fresh sweet cherries, pitted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/4 tablespoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon water

Pie Topping

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions

Pie Crust

  1. Dice the butter and return it to the refrigerator to keep it cold.
  2. Place the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix.  Try not to over-pulse, as it can make your pie crust less flaky.
  3. Add the cold butter and shortening.  The colder they are, the flakier your crust will turn out.  Pulse 8 – 12 times, until the butter is the size of peas.
  4. While the machine is running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball.
  5. Dump out on a floured board and roll into a ball.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  (Use this time towards making the filing).
  6. Remove chilled dough from the refrigerator and cut the dough in half.  For each piece of dough, rolling from the center to the edge, and turning and flouring the dough to make it doesn’t stick to the board.  Use the opening of the jar to cut out 10 pieces of the dough to make the pie topper.   Do the same with the other piece of dough and cut out 10 pieces of the dough with the opening of the jar lid to make the pie bottoms.
  7. Place the pie bottoms inside each jar.
  8. Use the remaining dough to line the jar sides, pressing the dough all the way to the top of the jar.  Do not grease the jar.
  9. Keep the pie-crusted jars and pie toppers in the refrigerator while you finish preparing the filing.

Cherry Filing

  1. Pit the cherries by using the flat side of a large knife to gently mash the cherry one by one on a cutting board.  This gets messy, so an apron is recommended.  Remove all the stems and pits from the mashed and loosened cherries.
  2. In a bowl, mix the pitted cherries with the sugar, cornstarch,  almond extract, vanilla extract, salt, and water.  Mix well.

Pie in a Jar

  1. Fill each jar with 1/2 cup filling.
  2. Cut a vent or shape into each pie topper.
  3. Cover each pie jar with a pie topper.  Use fingers or fork to seal and chrimp the dough together around the edge of the pie.
  4. In a bowl, mix together brown sugar,  cinnamon, and melted butter.  Evenly brush the top of each pie with the mixture.
  5. Seal each jar with its metal top and place them all in the freezer until you’re ready to bake them.
  6. To bake the pies, remove the lids from the jars and place them on a baking sheet.  Place the baking sheet in a cold oven.  Do not preheat.  Once the pies are inside the oven, turn on the oven to 375 F.  This will allow the jars to heat up slowly.
  7. Bake the pies until the pie tops are golden brown and the filling is bubbling.  This is about 50-60 minutes if the pies are frozen; 45 minutes if they are fresh.

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