Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Creamy Parmesan Pasta with Turkey and Kale

Sophisticated enough for adults, reminiscent enough of mac-n-cheese for little ones. You can substitute chicken for the turkey if you like, but I like the turkey's somewhat more assertive flavor in this combination. I used lacinato kale, which worked nicely.

1 lb cut pasta (penne is good)
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp all purpose flour
2 cups milk, warmed
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
Olive oil
5-6 cups finely chopped kale
1 1/2 cups diced cooked turkey
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a pot of water to a boil, salt it, and cook the pasta. Drain and toss with a little oil.

While you heat water and cook the pasta, melt the butter in a Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle the flour over it and whisk thoroughly to combine. Stir constantly with the whisk for 1-2 minutes, then gradually whisk in the warm milk until thoroughly combined. Ensure there are no lumps. Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce and continue to simmer until it reaches about the consistency of heavy cream. Turn off the heat and stir in the Parmesan. Add salt and pepper to taste.

While the pasta and sauce cook, heat a little olive oil in a large skillet. Add the kale and saute until just tender. Stir in the turkey and saute until heated through. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add the kale and turkey mixture to the sauce and combine well. Sauce the pasta and serve hot.

Serves 4-6.

Tortilla Pie with Roasted Garlic and Kale

This was a quick, last minute inspiration, but it worked well. Plus my six-year-old actually ate the kale along with all the rest of it. Substitute spinach for the kale if you like.

2 large tortillas (burrito size)
1 14-oz can refried beans (1 1/2 - 2 cups)
4-5 cups finely chopped lacinato kale
1 head roasted garlic, cloves peeled and coarsely chopped
4-5 oz shredded sharp cheddar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place one tortilla in the bottom of an oven-proof pan. Spread half the refried beans over it. Top with half the kale, half the garlic, and half the cheese. Add the second tortilla and repeat with the remaining ingredients. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the cheese begins to brown and the pie is hot through. Slice into eighths and serve hot.

Serves 3-4.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Chipotle Turkey Chili

We had a big bird this year, and after finally stripping all the meat off the bones, I've got several meals worth of diced and shredded turkey meat in the freezer - perfect for soup, chili, casseroles, or pizza. Tonight we had this chili, where turkey plays a starring role but in a totally different context than the typical Thanksgiving fare.

Olive oil
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cups chopped tomatoes (canned or frozen is fine)
3-4 cups diced or shredded cooked turkey
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 -1 tsp chili powder
3 bell peppers, diced (any color(s))
1-2 cups cooked black beans
1-2 cups cooked kidney beans
Salt and pepper to taste
1 or more chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, seeded and minced
Shredded cheddar or jack cheese for topping (optional)

Heat a little olive oil in a soup pot or Dutch oven. Add the garlic and onion and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and turkey, then stir in the cumin, chili powder, peppers, and beans. Simmer until the vegetables are tender, or longer if desired. Stir in minced chipotle to taste, plus salt and pepper.

Serve hot. Top with cheese at the table if desired.

Serves about 6.

Maple Walnut Parsnips and Sweet Potatoes

This is a simple and easy roasting treatment that brings out the natural sweetness and nuttiness in parsnips and sweet potatoes. Parsnips are generally best in the early spring when they've overwintered in the ground, turning their starch into sugar - but when harvested after several good freezes, they are also worth buying in the late fall.

1 1/2 lbs parsnips, peeled and cubed (cut out woody cores if needed)
1 1/2 - 2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1-2 Tbsp walnut oil
1 Tbsp maple syrup, as dark a grade as possible
Salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Toss the parsnips and sweet potatoes in a bowl with the oil and syrup, then add salt to taste. Spread out in a single layer (or nearly) on a baking sheet and roast until tender, about 30 minutes (may be longer if you like big cubes).

Serves 4-6.

Easy and Excellent Slow Cooker Braised Beef

This is the simplest recipe I have developed for braised beef, but it is astonishingly good. You can use shanks, short ribs, or a pot roast cut. To speed the morning preparation, brown the beef the night before and refrigerate. Load everything in the cooker in the morning and revel in your forethought come suppertime.

Braised beef shanks with a side of Maple Walnut Parsnips and Sweet Potatoes

3 lbs beef shanks, short ribs, or similar
Canola oil
Salt and pepper
1 head garlic, unpeeled
3/4 cup dry red wine
Beef stock
2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/4-1/2 tsp dried

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Pat the beef dry with a paper towel, then lightly oil all over.  Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper all over. Place in a baking pan, then brown in the oven for at least 10 minutes per side.  If desired, refrigerate for up to a few days before slow cooking.

Separate the head of garlic into cloves but do not peel. Place the garlic in the bottom of the slow cooker. Pay the browned beef on top of the garlic. Pour in the red wine, then add enough beef stock to cover the meet about three quarters of the way. Top with the sprigs of thyme or a sprinkling of dried thyme. Cover the cooker and cook on Low for 7-9 hours, until meet is very tender.

Serve over mashed potatoes or egg noodles, or with a side of roasted potatoes or root vegetables, with plenty of the braising liquid spooned over the meat.

Serves 4-6.