Thursday, January 27, 2011

Cranberries and Kale

I just signed up for another year of CSA produce from Fertile Crescent Farm, and I'm even more impatient for spring having done so.  Realistically, there are several months to go before I should even think about all of the fresh zucchini, tomatoes, greens, ad other delicious vegetables we'll be getting.  For now, I'll have to work with what's in season - kale and cranberries (not combined).  

For our New Year's Eve party, we served one cocktail in addition to beer, wine, and champagne.  The Vodka Cranberry Cooler, from Real Simple, was easy to make ahead of time.  I used 4 8-ounce bags of frozen cranberries, omitted the cream soda, and used seltzer instead of tonic to make the drink less sweet.  The recipe also yielded a surplus of prepared cranberries, which I didn't have the heart to discard after I'd strained the syrup out of them.  A few were used as a festive garnish in each drink, but I saved the rest without really knowing what I was going to do with them.

An opportunity soon presented itself in the form of a breakfast gathering at work, and I happened to find this recipe while casually perusing a new blog.  I had to battle a faulty springform cake pan throughout the process, which wanted to release all of the liquid in the topping and batter.  I caught a lot of it with foil while it was in the oven, but I had the memory in the form of a lovely burned sugar smell for several days.

I also didn't have whole milk at home, and didn't make a special trip for that or the orange bitters, or pecans, or apricot jelly.  I substituted 2% milk, Campari, walnuts, and raspberry preserves.  Mine (pictured below) is a little less impressive than the one in the photos from Vanilla Garlic, but the taste certainly did not suffer.  This cake has a pretty, sparkly appearance, once it's flipped out of the pan, and the crust has a crumbly texture that is also sturdy enough to hold the tart, crunchy topping.  It's not chocolate, but it has the advantage of being extremely versatile, and I will certainly hold on to this recipe.

Kale lasts forever.  Maybe not forever, but compared to almost every other green, it is significantly less perishable.  I had a bunch in my produce drawer from Christmas weekend that I wasn't able to get to for a few weeks.  It was still perfectly green and unwilted when I decided to make this stew.  I've made several soups with a very similar building block of ingredients, but the shallots and the wine really took the combination to a different level of flavor.  It's not fancy, but it is warming and healthy, and provides reliable leftovers.  I'm not asking for much more right now...unless you can get my CSA to come faster.


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