Monday, December 28, 2009

Wild Rice Stuffing and Kale Chips

 This year was my first hosting Christmas dinner and trying to do it gluten free in a way that everyone would still make everyone happy.  Which was exciting and nerve wracking all by itself.  The problem was I had to work for 6 hours Christmas afternoon which left me no time to actually cook much of the meal itself.  Luckily I have two very talented men on hand in my kitchen.  The fella and the chef were kind enough to do most of the cooking and did a fabulous job. 

There were a couple moments while I was stuck at my desk taking relay calls listening to other people talk about their meals and wondering what was going on in my kitchen.  It was torture to be at work, on Christmas nonetheless, while the chef and the fella handled everything back home.  I wanted to play food, not eavesdrop on other people's phone calls, darn it.  And it was driving me crazy wondering what exactly would happen to the recipes I had handed off to the men that morning.  Would I come home to alien brain frittered stuffing or a bacon wrapped smoked turkey with an octopus stuffed in it?  The anxiety was for naught, the boys did amazing.  The only food that didn't quite turn out were the things I cooked oddly enough, but that's a story for another day.

It was lovely having my family over.  I think they even enjoyed the not so traditional food and the lack of gluten.  My parents even surprised us by bringing their adorable little present opening food hound who laid under the table to whole meal totally offended that no one was dropping any food on her and that she wasn't the center of attention.  You can see how neglected and abused she is cuddled up amongst the various feet that aren't currently petting her.

The dogs weren't the only ones giving me cute sad eyes though.  I probably nearly broke the chef by forcing him to use a recipe and one that didn't call for any fun ingredients even.  He obviously isn't too torn up over the stifled creativity however as I witnessed him stuffing cannelloni beans and chicken thighs in tiny pots last night so he's recovered. 

And after having the mushroom wild rice stuffing from a recipe in Bon Appetit I can safely say it would have been improved by a little creativity or perhaps just some nuts to give it a little texture.  It was tasty stuffing and the mushroom with wild rice combination really works, it just needed a little something extra to make it pop.  The cranberry wild rice stuffing with toasted hazelnuts I made for Thanksgiving was much more exciting and will probably be what I make for stuffing related situations in the future.

One of my brief contributions to the meal was to make a couple different varieties of kale chips to snack on while waiting for the meal to finish.  My mother sent me the idea for kale chips during the summer when I was lamenting yet another CSA box full of greens. Now I wanted to make them for her to see what they were like. 

Kale chips are super easy and tasty way to use up left over kale or any other hearty green you aren't usually a fan of.  All you need is salt, pepper and the seasoning of your choice and you have a healthy simple snack.  These always disappear right away at my parties.  It isn't until afterwards I let people know they just willingly devoured leafy green veggies.  They have the same taste and texture of regular chips but are so much better for you.  I can't recommend them  enough.  Just don't get into an in depth conversation about cephalopods while making them and manage to salt the tray of kale 3 or 4 times because that's just too much salt and even your supportive mother will not eat many of the chips at that level of sodium.  Not that this has ever happened to me or course,  totally hypothetical. 

Kale Chips

1 bunch kale
oil, for drizzling
salt and pepper, to taste
1 pinch, cayenne pepper
seasoning of your choice, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Rip the kale leaves into bite sized pieces, making sure to remove all the hard stems.  Run the pieces of kale through a salad spinner until dry or wash them thoroughly and then pat dry.  Place the kale across a large cookie sheet without overcrowding it. 

Spray or drizzle kale with oil, then toss until just oiled on all sides, using an oil sprayer makes this process super easy if you have one.  Sprinkle the kale with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with a pinch of cayenne pepper and the seasoning of your choice--Montreal steak seasoning or 5 spice powder work really well—or extra cayenne is delicious if you want something really basic. 

Arrange the kale pieces evenly over the pan so that they don't over lap much, do several batches if you have to.  Place in oven for about 10 minutes then check on them.  The kale should be crispy but not brittle or blackened.  If it is still moist in places, agitate the kale and place back in the oven for about 5 minutes, watching it closely so that it doesn't burn.

Wait for kale chips to cool.  Remove from pan with spatula and serve.


Bev said...

Everything was delicious! Your father even like it. The chow hound even wants to come back. Every time we leave the house, she seems to say are we going to Emily's? This stuff was great. I may make it for myself one night. You are right, I would add pecans. How about the blue cheese ice cream?

Emily said...

Thanks! Glad you liked everything. See gluten free and sugar free isn't so bad.

If you make the stuffing I would do the cranberry version but swap then for the mushrooms because that recipe was much better.

And you and the hound can visit more often now that you know where to find us.