Archive | January, 2015

Kale Glorious Kale

22 Jan

kale 1

A few years back, before kale became all the craze in LA and the world’s new super food, Rigo showed up one night holding two voluminous dark green leafy bouquets and thrust them at me with great vigor.  “What’s that?”, I asked him with genuine ignorance.  “It’s kale!”, he told me excitedly. “Do something with it.”

Do something with it?, I thought to myself. What the heck was I going to do with it?  I had no idea how to manage this new, nutrient dense, slightly bitter, and very intimidating vegetable.  So I had to rely on my Italian roots and my love of Mediterranean ingredients.  I immersed myself in the kitchen and emerged a few hours later with the tastiest kale salad that my taste buds have ever experienced.  It was as if they were screaming at me between every bite, “Give us more of the delicious and nutritious!”.   It was so tasty, in fact, that Rigo decided to enter this salad in a food contest at work.  The theme on that occasion was “green foods”…or maybe it was “cold dishes”…or it could have actually been “healthy dishes”….hmmm….anyway that’s irrelevant.  The important part is, this salad won first place, and it has gone on to have a successful career in the food world as it has been a hit at every party, dinner, potluck, and random celebration where it has made an appearance.

It is my pleasure to share this recipe for our award-winning kale salad:

Kale (1 bunch or one bag)
Sun dried tomatoes in oil — julienne sliced from trader joes (about 1/2 jar with the oil for one salad)
Pine nuts (toasted in the toaster oven) – I use about 1/4 cup for one salad
Crumbled feta cheese — about 1/4 cup or 4 oz
1. Remove the stems, wash, dry, and chop the kale.
2. Add the sun dried tomatoes and pine nuts.
2. Season with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
3. Add a little salt.
4. Add the feta cheese last and toss well.
You can store this salad in the fridge overnight because the kale is very sturdy and gets softer but will not wilt. Sometimes I make it the night before and then eat it for lunch the next day.
Note: When I make the dressing, I use a one part oil to one part balsamic ratio because the tomatoes already add some oil to the salad. But I also like to be heavy on the vinegar. You can adjust the ratios according to your taste.  Be sure to use a good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Also, feel free to add extra of any of the ingredients.
2nd Note: Rigo likes to “massage” the kale first by adding some lemon juice to the leaves and rubbing the leaves together between his fingers or hands. This will make the kale nice and soft from the get-go. If you opt for the lemon juice massage I recommend adding a higher ratio of oil in the dressing.

Buon appetito amici!

Coffee is my religion

22 Jan

A weekday evening at approximately 7pm:

Rigo – “Baby, I bought us some home roasted coffee from the farmer’s market!”

Me – “Home roasted?…. really?”


Oh LA.  The land of small farming, backyard beekeeping, and yes, now we have home roasted coffee.  Behold Papua New Guinea organic home roast by Alana’s coffee roasting co. — located in the owner’s house, sold at farmer’s markets, and available with a bonus home delivery option.  This particular bag was less than $20 per pound, though he also offers a roast that is $70 per pound.  Naturally it was already sold out that day.  I opened the bag to smell the beans and was enveloped in the most perfect air of roasted sweet coffee goodness.  The scent was so lovely that I popped a bean in my mouth and crunched down on it with pure satisfaction.  The flavor preview was incredible.  Like an ecstatic dog waiting to bust out the front door after he hears the word “walk”, I could not wait to brew up this coffee.

The next morning I leaped out of bed, ran downstairs, whipped out my french press, threw a pot of water on the stove, and started grinding.  Approximately 6 minutes later I took my first sip…I thought I heard a chorus of angels descending upon me. That’s when I knew – this coffee is damn amazing.  I could smell and taste the earth, the sun, and the love that all combined to make this incredible caffeinated creation.  I was in love. Not just in love – I was infatuated, I was obsessed, and I was ready to run to Vegas and get married with this coffee.

Coffee is one of my greatest and most treasured pleasures in life.  How lucky I am to live in a city that feels the same way.