From harvest to table ~ what's cooking now?

This blog shows where all those garden goodies I grow end up. I call this little eating area next to the stove my "chef's table" because at all the best restaurants it's a privilege to be invited to dine in the kitchen where the chef reigns supreme. So here I am "reigning" and you are all invited. :-D

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sunday in the kitchen with knives

There are days when I just get in the mood to "mess around in the kitchen."  Today was one of them.  Earlier in the morning (before coffee even) I'd shoveled 8" of snow off the deck.  After that, all I wanted to do was stay inside and get warm.  Soup would take care of that.  But soup was going to take some work.

I'd been accumulating some vegs that needed to be used quickly or frozen and decided to tackle that project.

I had about 8# (from a 10# bag) of nice russets that had just started to sprout.  Usually then I just make a batch of mashed potatoes and freeze them in individual servings, but lately I've been doing more soups and I like to add cubed potatoes.  So I chopped up the spuds and par-boiled them.  When drained I was going to put them in the fridge to cool, but hey!  It's only 15-20F on the breezeway.  Let's let Ma Nature help me out.  So I put the trays of spuds out in the breezeway on a little dresser ( ReStore find and future project) to cool before freezing.

I saved the sprouted ends of the spuds and added them to my chit collection (sprouted tubers).  Now I've got a dozen russets, 4 Yukon rose (from last season) and 1 sweet potato (from Thanksgiving).  How's that for 2 birds from one stone (uh, paring knife)? Like having your vegs and eating them too.
Next I grabbed a large bag of fresh kale.  Alas, this was not any kale I'd grown myself.  The kale that thrived in my garden all year succumbed to hungry deer just after the first frost. :-(  Anyway - store bought kale, while not organic, is better than no kale at all. 

I'd never frozen kale before and I tried a batch a couple of weeks ago.  Per web suggestions, I chopped the de-stemmed leaves and put them in boiling water to blanch.  Then I plunged them into ice water.  Then I drained them patted them dry with a linen towel.  I froze them, but they were so soft and soggy I vowed never to do that again.

So today I tried something else.  I washed the kale, destemmed them and chopped the leaves.  Then, I made a big pile on a dinner plate (with no additional water) and microwaved them for 90 seconds on high.

They came out hot, brilliant green and barely tender, but not soggy.  A couple of plates of those and then onto a tray and out to the breezeway to cool.  Quick and easy and tons less mess.

(Later I froze the spuds and the kale on flat trays in the deep freezer.  When solid I put them into freezer bags.)

Time for a different knife.  Yesterday I made up another batch of the no-knead ciabatta bread.  Instead of forming it into the traditional slipper loaf, this time I let it rise (and then baked it) in my 10-inch iron skillet.  The bread turned out great.

As for the knife -- I'd bought a bread knife a couple of years ago because I'd never had a one.  Within a day a friend gifted me a bread knife for my birthday.  Crazy, huh?  So I'd been using the gift knife since then.  Then last week I left the knife (along with a couple of rounds of cranberry Irish soda bread) at a friend's so dug out the knife I originally bought.

Oh my dears, I was almost moved to tears when I used this knife for the first time.  The other knife always sawed so roughly through crusts and I never had pretty slices.  This knife, well, you could use it for surgery!  It sliced through crunchy crust, right out of the oven, like it was going through warm butter.  When the loaf cooled I could carve 1/4" slices (great for thin toasts with hummus, spreads, and other crostini fun).  Just crazy.

Bottom line, all that chopping and parboiling and slicing resulted in the original goal - a steaming bowl of thick, vegetable rich, chicken soup (served over a generous slice of ciabatta) to chase away the chill. And I was sooo ready for a little sit-down. Ahh.

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  1. OK, blogger isssues again. I read and posted this morning.

    I came back to see if you answered my question about what brand of bread knife.

    The soup and bread looks wonderful.
    I made chili at noon and have three loaves of whole wheat on its first rise.

    I have a bread knife that I am satisfied with but it is a cheapie...maybe I deserve something better!

    I save sprouted potatoes too. In fact I need to buy a bag of Yukon Gold for that very reason.

  2. Glenda - your comment just appeared at 5:20 - stoopid blogger! Anyway, here's a link to the knife on Amazon (bread knife). I don't remember where I bought it but now I can't live without it. *heh*

  3. Shame you're so far away {smile}, I could enjoy myself at the chef's table :}

    1. And I would be able to visit your cheerful sewing room! :-D