Tag Archives: easy

Meatball and Kale Soup

DSC_0693
Saturday was probably my favorite date of the year.  Not day, necessarily; there was nothing particularly eventful, and it wasn’t full of great friends, great food, or everything going exactly as planned.  (Yes, that would be a requirement of my Type-A personality “Perfect Day.”  Pathetic.)  But more a perfect date, being one of the elusive longest days of the year.  It was sunny and warm and slightly humid but not oppressive.  The farmer’s market finally exploded with leafy greens and herbs, radishes and green garlic and pea shoots.  I made progress on goals and crossed things off lists, one by one, satisfying that Type-A personality.  A friend brought over a hand-picked peony bouquet.  We dug a hole and planted a tree in our front yard and wiped the sweat from our brows, warmed from the sun, sticky and dirty but satisfied.

DSC_1360
Funny that just a few weeks before was almost exactly the opposite.  A light drizzle had been falling for four days straight, and the damp and chill had permeated.  Cooped up in the house alone, I listened to melancholy songs on repeat and devoured a lovely book, story by short story, each one highlighting the inevitable disappointments of meaningful relationships.  The weekend required a long solo hike, a strong bourbon drink, and a bowl of steaming soup.  I granted it all three.

One bright spot was finding the first bit of leafy green at the farmer’s market, tucked away in a far corner.  A small Hmong woman was selling bunches of petite kale, freshly picked, roots and all.  The morning was gusty and cold, spitting rain and angry gray, and I was one of the few straggling around.  Not many seemed to make it back to the kale corner.   I considered myself lucky and in the solitary walk back home, decided I would consult my not-so-new but new-to-me favorite vegetable book for inspiration.

DSC_1426DSC_1062DSC_1068
As soon as I saw the recipe, I recognized it from a handful of food blogs, and my mind was made up.  There were green onions, mint, and the kale from that morning’s market; pork and chicken stock in the freezer.  No fresh chiles this time of year, so dried would have to do.  One soggy hike later and I was prepping meatball soup for supper.  The recipe came almost straight from the book, with the addition of a few potatoes cubed over the pot, thrown in to appease my deep-seeded and ever-present longing for carbs in all forms.  It was filling, but not in a extra-couple-of-pounds-in-winter kind of way.  After a bowl of soup and a whisky smash, the gloomy spring weekend didn’t seem so bad after all.

DSC_1073
Nigel Slater’s Chicken Broth with Pork and Kale from Tender (aka meatball and kale soup)
Serves 4

Even though it’s summer, I’ve made this twice since, once with fresh spinach in place of the kale, thrown straight into the soup pot (skip the blanching).  I highly recommend either variation.

1 pound ground pork (I used half pork and half beef)
3 green onions
a small handful each of fresh mint and fresh parsley
2-3 green garlic, or 2 garlic cloves
2 tsp. red pepper flakes (original calls for 2-3 thai or similar chiles)
2 tablespoons oil
4 cups chicken or veggie stock
2 small-medium potatoes, scrubbed
1 bunch kale, rinsed and coarsely chopped (approximately 3-4 cups)

Place the meat in a medium bowl.  Slice or chop the onions, fresh herbs, and mince the garlic or slice the green garlic.  Throw all of it, along with the red pepper flakes or diced chiles, into the bowl with the meat. Mix well with your hands.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a saute pan.  Form the meat mixture into small balls, no more than 2 inches diameter, and place in the pan.  Brown well, in batches if needed- don’t crowd the meatballs or they’ll steam each other.  Once well browned, set aside on a plate.

Put the stock in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Cut the potatoes over the pot into bite-sized pieces (not on a cutting board- a lot of the starch is left on the board, and I like it in the soup to thicken things a bit) and carefully place in the hot stock.  Simmer for 5 minutes or so, then add in the meatballs and the drippings from the meatball plate.  Season with salt and pepper, and continue to simmer for about 10 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil.  Blanch kale leaves for 3 to 5 minutes, depending on how thick or tough they are.  (More delicate kale may only take 2 minutes, so be flexible and watch the pot.)  Depending on the size of the pot, you may want to blanch in multiple batches.  As the kale is blanched, lift from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and drop directly into the soup pot.  Once all the kale is in the soup, bring to a brief simmer, stir, salt to taste, and serve.

Leave a comment

Filed under 30 min. or less, Clean Eating, Gluten-Free, Main dishes, Soups, Spring, Summer, Vegetables, Winter

home + easy apple cake

Home.  It took awhile, but finally the place where I live feels more like home than any other “home” I’ve had.

My parents, brother, and I moved into their current house when I was about 14. We were old enough that there are no childhood memories of playing make-believe with my brother or hearing Santa on Christmas Eve in that house.  Still, until recently, I felt most “at home” snuggled up in a quilt on my parents’ living room floor, with N and my brother and mom and dad in front of the TV.

It took awhile for N and I to make our first house feel less like a storage unit. But slowly, the little things– knickknacks that find their windowsills; smells that become familiar and welcoming; my cats sleeping on my lap; and most importantly, my husband beside me– make me feel like I’m at home.

This apple cake did the same thing.

Quick Apple Cake
from Classic Home Desserts by Richard Sax

Serves 8 (or fewer!)

The reason the piece in the picture looks so wonky is because we suddenly were eating the last two pieces and I realized I hadn’t yet taken a picture!

The recipe calls for thin slices of apple, but I cut my slices slightly thicker with a shorter rectangle shape, and we loved the definite commitment to apple vs. cake.

3 medium-sized apples, peeled, cored and chopped into bite-sized (about 3 cups)
1 t. lemon juice
3/4 c. plus 3 tablespoons sugar
2 t. cinnamon
3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 t. good vanilla
1/2 t. salt
1 c. sifted all-purpose flour (sift in salt)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter a pie or cake pan. Toss the apples in the pan with the lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, and the cinnamon. Spread apples evenly in the bottom of the pan

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat; cook until lightly golden, about 7 minutes. Watch carefully and stir to avoid burning. Pour the clear, browned butter into a medium bowl, leaving any sediment or foam in the pan.

Stir the 3/4 cup sugar into the butter with a spatula or spoon (not a whisk). Gently stir in the eggs and vanilla; stir in the salt and flour until blended. Spoon the batter evenly over the apples and spread into a layer. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake until lightly golden and crusty, 35 to 45 minutes.

The recipe suggests serving with vanilla ice cream, but eating a warm slice with fresh softly-whipped cream made me go all melty on the inside.

Leave a comment

Filed under 30 min. or less, Desserts, Fall

easy cornbread porkchops (with applebutter bbq)

A couple of porkchops. Your favorite meat seasoning.  An egg. And leftover cornbread.

Okay, so I realize that some people will say, “Leftover cornbread?! What is the heck is that?!”  I know, I know. Almost a travesty not to eat it all, every morsel, regardless of however much else has been eaten when you’ve got fresh, warm cornbread right there in front of you.

If you’re slack-jawed and hog-tied at the idea of leftover cornbread, work with me here.

I came up with this spontaneously, working quickly with what I had in my fridge and cupboards, and it’s pretty good. Not fantastic, but great for an under-30-minute meal. Pair with potatoes or rice, a veggie, maybe a slice of re-fried cornbread, and you’re golden.

I did not get a picture of the applebutter sauce I whipped up in a small saucepan, but no matter- it looked like any other thick barbeque sauce.
——————————————————-

Cornbread Porkchops
Serves 2

2 large porkchops (or 3 small chops)
salt and pepper
2 T. oil (or nonstick spray)
1 cup leftover cornbread, broken into crumbs
1 heaping tablespoon meat seasoning
1 egg
splash of milk (optional)

Salt and pepper porkchops well; set aside. In a small shallow dish or bowl, combine cornbread crumbs and seasoning. In another small dish, whisk egg and milk until light and fluffy.

Heat oil in a large skillet or frying pan until crackling.  Wash or dip one pork chop in the egg mixture, sure to soak all side; dip into cornbread crumbs, again coating all side and even pressing on breadcrumbs to make an even, thick crust. Lay breaded chop in the oil; repeat with the second porkchop. Brown on each side for 3-4 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium-low and fry until cooked through. Serve with applebutter sauce or other favorite bbq sauce.

Applebutter Sauce

1/2 c. applebutter
2 T. balsamic vinegar
2 T. minced onion
1 clove minced garlic
1 T. brown sugar
1 T. worcestershire sauce
1 T. water

Whisk all ingredients together in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-low until warmed through, stirring occasionally.

Leave a comment

Filed under 30 min. or less, Condiments, etc., Main dishes