Kale Chips

This week I opted for a small veg box (less roots.) I was very keen to get hold of some Kale, to try out “Kale Chips” and it is in most boxes this week. I have read up on Kale Chips, a super-foods, health phenomenon from a few years back, and I was a bit dubious about the whole thing.

First of all they were hailed as a healthy alternative to chips – well, sorry, who are they trying to kid? They are not chips, they are cabbage leaves. Second of all, don’t tell me they are super healthy. They are strangely quite delicious, but what makes them so, along with the crunchiness is the oil and salt! I have eaten many a crispy seaweed from the Chinese takeaway (no more than deep fried cabbage with salt and sugar) but I never once thought of it as a healthy option. Having said that, you are still getting some of the nutritional benefits of one of the healthiest foods on the planet so it can’t be all bad!

Kale is low in calorie, high in fibre and has zero fat. Kale is high in iron. Per calorie, kale has more iron than beef. Iron is essential for good health, such as the formation of haemoglobin and enzymes, transporting oxygen to various parts of the body, cell growth, proper liver function and more. Kale is high in Vitamin K. Eating a diet high in Vitamin K can help protect against various cancers. It is also necessary for a wide variety of bodily functions including normal bone health and blood clotting. Also increased levels of vitamin K can help people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Kale is filled with powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants, such as carotenoids and flavonoids help protect against various cancers. Kale is a great anti-inflammatory food. One cup of kale is filled with 10% of the RDA of omega-3 fatty acids, which help, fight against arthritis, asthma and autoimmune disorders. Kale is great for cardiovascular support. Eating more kale can help lower cholesterol levels. Kale is high in Vitamin A. Vitamin A is great for your vision, your skin as well as helping to prevent lung and oral cavity cancers. Kale is high in Vitamin C. This is very helpful for your immune system, your metabolism and your hydration. Kale is high in calcium. Per calorie, kale has more calcium than milk, which aids in preventing bone loss, preventing osteoporosis and maintaining a healthy metabolism. Vitamin C is also helpful to maintain cartilage and joint flexibility.

Enough? So the final verdict is that apart from making my whole house smell of cabbage, they were surprisingly enjoyable  and more nutritious than a chip!

Kale Chips

Kale Chips
1 bunch kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon seasoned salt

Preheat an oven to 160 degrees C.  Line a baking tray with parchment paper.Strip the leaves from the stalks of the Kale. If large, tear into pieces. Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner. It is very important that the leaves are dry. Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and lightly massage the oil into the leaves. Lay out on the tray with plenty of room. The leaves must not overlap.
Bake until golden brown all over,  not burnt, 10 to 15 minutes. As with most things in the oven, you will find that the back and front of the tray cook quicker than the middle. Rearrange half way through to ensure even cooking. Eat straight away.


Savoy Cabbage with Parmesan, Balsamic and Prosciutto

Finally for this week, the simplest recipe of all. I never thought of eating Savoy cabbage raw but the combination of flavours in this recipe are really sublime. This recipe is one that we used to serve at The River Café and famously comes from Modena, the home of Balsamic vinegar and also fabulous Parmesan from Emilia-Romagn.

It is one of those recipes which somehow tastes so much greater than its sum of parts. Having said that the ingredients must be super good. Obviously, first of all a lovely, fresh savoy cabbage and then tip top quality Parmesan Reggiano, really good, aged balsamic and a really tasty, peppery, Italian olive oil. Finally of course the prosciutto should be top quality too. I recommend some from San Daniele, just a little further north-east from Modena which produces some of the best prosciutto in the world.

Savoy cabbage in Bowl

Savoy Cabbage with Parmesan, Balsamic and Prosciutto
Also good with other cabbages or even fennel.
Serves 4
½ a savoy cabbage, sliced very finely
2 tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp good Italian Extra Virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
A chunk of parmesan Reggiano slivers
Thinly sliced prosciutto or other ham, to serve

Mix the olive oil and balsamic vinegar together and season well. Add the shredded and mix well. Shave or crumble in the parmesan. Serve with the prosciutto.

Savoy cabbage

Sweetcorn Chowder with Red Spring Onions & Smoked Paprika

When I was a kid, sweetcorn was my absolute favourite, I loved in on the cob, I loved it straight out of a tin and crab and sweetcorn soup was always my first choice at a Chinese restaurant.

Then, many years later I went and worked in San Francisco for a few months at a restaurant called Chez Panisse. My favourite place to hang out during my rare time off was Fisherman’s Wharf, with its fantastic array of restaurants and shacks selling Clam Chowder served up in a hollowed out baby loaf of San Franciscan sour dough bread. Yum!

My version here uses sweetcorn instead and I have added a touch of smokiness with just a hint of smoked paprika but it is super delicious with a little smoked bacon or smoked haddock as well.

It really is one of the ultimate comfort dishes, more a meal than just a starter and in keeping with my quick and easy theme this week – super simple! I would love to bake a loaf of sourdough to serve it in, but that is not so quick and easy!


Sweet corn Chowder

Sweetcorn Chowder with Red Spring Onions & Smoked Paprika
Serves 2
2 stalk celery
1 medium onion
Olive oil
Fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried oregano
500 ml semi-skimmed milk
250g waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into little cubes
3 spring onions
2 heads of sweetcorn, removed from the cob
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chop your celery and onion. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Add the celery, onion, and herbs and fry until the vegetables start to brown. Add the sweetcorn and season with salt and pepper and continue to cook for a few minutes more. Pour in the milk, add the potato and bring to a boil, stirring the whole time so the soup doesn’t stick to the pot. Cook until the potatoes are tender, but not mushy – this will take around 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, trim the ends off the spring onions and slice them thinly. When the potatoes are tender, check the seasoning and sprinkle with spring onions and smoked paprika and then serve.

Red Spring Onions

Beetroot and Horseradish Gratin

This week I got a small veg box with roots especially because I knew it contained beetroot and I had a particular recipe in mind. I adapted this original recipe for Beetroot Gratin which I got from my very well used copy of the Riverford Farm Cook Book, by adding horseradish to it when I was cooking it to serve with a piece of roast beef for Sunday lunch. It is a fantastic combination and really a truly delicious dish. It is always a favourite at my Riverford Lunches or the SuperClubs and in fact at the last SuperClub in Putney’s St Marys that I served it, at a man came up to me afterwards and said “I don’t like beetroot and I do not like horseradish but I love that!”
What I also adore about this dish is the colour that results from the combination of deep purple beetroot and cream creating a splendid, shocking pink. So I was a little dismayed when my beetroot this week turned out to be yellow! Luckily I had a few of the usual variety left in my fridge from last week so I did a mix, purely so I could get some of that pink. And with the mixture of all the colours, I was even more pleased with the results than ever.

Beetroot gratin in a bowl

I do love all the different coloured beetroot that are around now a days but they do tend to be a little drier than the purple variety, so I have added a little extra cream in this recipe. If you are only using purple, then you could possibly cut back a little. Finally, if you can’t get hold of fresh horseradish you can use a very good quality jar of horseradish sauce. I recommend Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference made with fresh cream. You basically want to look for one with a high content of horseradish (at least 28%) and not too much else. Remove one tablespoon of cream for every tablespoon of sauce you add.

Beetroot gratin in a dish

Beetroot and Horseradish Gratin
1kg beetroot, peeled
300ml double cream
1 stick fresh horseradish, peeled and grated (watch your eyes)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat an oven to 160°C/Gas Mark 3.
Thinly slice the beetroot either by hand, with the slicing attachment of a food processor or with a mandolin; it should be about 2–3mm thick.  Mix a couple of tablespoons of horseradish with the cream in a small pan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for about 10 minutes. Mix well and season with salt and pepper. Taste. It should be really quite potent. It has to flavour all the beetroot so add more horseradish if necessary. Put the sliced beetroot in a bowl and mix thoroughly so the beetroot is coated with cream. Arrange in a 30cm gratin dish, cover with foil and bake in the oven for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for a further 10 minutes or until the beetroot is tender.

Graated Horseradish