Monday, February 28, 2011

this post brought to you by fur

Hi all,

I realize this is not food related, but I couldn't resist. The Humane Society is putting on a contest wherein people vote for your dog, cat, parakeet, horse, turtle, ferret, whatever and it raises money at the same time. 

Below is my furry son.  Vote for him.  The picture below shows him covered in mud - his favorite state of being...outside of snuggling with me on the couch.

"Broderick Monroe Craft"

Friday, February 25, 2011

A new crispy, yet healthy, treat?

I don't know about you, but kale has always been somewhat intimidating.  Not that I thought it would be hard to prepare, but the one(?) time I've tried it, it lived up to its bitter (literally) reputation. 

Enter "The Next Food Network Star." 

Reality TV has its up and downs, but I'm a sucker for a food-related reality show. ::gasp::  I love Iron Chef, Top Chef, ...any of the Chefs.  The Next Food Network Star is a competition to become the next personality on the Food Network a la Paula Deen, Bobby Flay, etc.  Contestants are asked (and constantly reminded because they seem to forget) to demonstrate their "culinary point of view" and to develop their story. I was hooked from episode one...and now, 6 seasons later, I realize much of the finalists are like those of American Idol - oddly, in some seasons, the runners-up were actually better than the winner. 

Season One's winners were a couple guys whose point of view was that they were preparing for dinner parties...or something like that.  Their show, Party Line with the Hearty Boys, didn't last more than one season.  I found them terribly insipid.  Season Two's winner fared differently.  The winner, Guy Fieri, has become the ubiquitous, bleach blond, spikey-headed, high octane host of multiple shows.  It might be that I would like some of his recipes, but his overuse of terms like "Flavortown" annoy me to no end. He now even hosts the ridiculously stupid "Minute to Win It" game show outside of the confines of Food Network.

Season Three was forgettable.  There was some sort of controversy when it was revealed that one of the finalists had lied about his background.  (Seriously, people, are we still doing that? Do people ever get away with it??)  The eventual winner was reinstated into the finale in his place, and she won.  I remember her "culinary point of view" but not her.  Apparently she found herself to be forgettable as well, because she chose not to renew the show for another season.

Season Four I remember better.  Of the final 5 contestants, four of them have their own shows. This is where the American Idol parallel is at its best, in my opinion.  The winner, Aaron McCargo Jr. just didn't suit me.  And his show, Big Daddy's House, seems clunky.  That said, it's in its third season, so who am I to judge?  His runner-up, Adam Gertler, had one show that didn't last, but now has a show called "Kid in a Candy Show" where he investigates all things sweet.  While he was frenetic and somewhat tiring to watch given his high energy, I think he makes a better TV host than Aaron.  The other two contestants who have shows work on the Cooking Channel (a sister station to Food Network).  I guess when you create a whole other channel, you need to fill up the hours.

Season Five is where my kale comes in.  This was a pretty good season.  While I found the runner-up to be insufferable, some of the other contestants had great appeal, in my opinion.  The winner, Melissa d'Arabian, has an interesting background.  She met her husband in France, has an MBA, and lived in TX.  For me, the draw to her was clear. Her show, Ten Dollar Dinners, shows how you can cook multiple courses for a family for under $10.  And, amazingly, she can do it.  I watch her show only if I stumble upon it, and the other day she was making croque madams.  As someone who is a sucker for essentially an open-faced grilled cheese with cream sauce and fried egg, I watched further.  A side dish she was making, was kale chips. 

I've heard about kale chips and passed them up at every opportunity.  But this seemed like an easy thing to try, and if it turned out horribly, ehh...not much was lost.  Basically, the recipe calls for three ingredients: kale, olive oil, and sea salt.  Guess what?  DELICIOUS.  And really as easy as it sounds.  Set your oven at 275 and start ripping the leaf off the stalk.  Easy - pinch the stalk at the base and run your hand up to the top of the leaf.  Some of the stalk will rip off in your hand, but not to worry.  Rip the leaf up into pieces about an inch in size.  I ripped and then rinsed (organic kale - no need to do anything other than rinse).  Then, make sure the kale pieces are dry. 

Once they're dry, move the kale pieces to a baking sheet (it took two) and put a total of two tablespoons of olive oil over the dried pieces (I put a tablespoon on each baking sheet).  Roll them around and make sure every leaf gets a little oil on it.  Sprinkle with sea salt.  Not too much, though, because you can always add more after they come out of the oven.  Into the oven they go - 10 minutes then move them around and flip them as best you can.  Put them back in for another 10 minutes, or thereabouts, until they're crispy.  I put a little more sea salt after they came out.  Delish. 

Oh, and Season Six of The Next Food Network Star was pretty good.  Aarti Sequeira, the winner, has a show called "Aarti Party" where she makes sometimes overwhelming Indian food very accessible to the average American.  I haven't tried any of her recipes yet, but they always look tasty. 

So, my only question you lose any of the nutritional value by baking the kale?  If you know, please post!