Thursday, March 18, 2010

Kale Chips

Yesterday was Saint-Patrick's Day... and for my non-US readers, it means that people honored their existing (or non existing) Irish roots with more or less commitment: from a parade in New York City, to pub-crawling (a favorite in our area, or so it seems) or just wearing a big green outfit... Some food-bloggers baked Irish soda bread (I have yet to try it out); others decided to "green-up" their meal with more vegetables. Anyway, it's not because of Saint-Patrick's day that I am offering a plain green-leaf vegetable recipe today. Tomorrow is Friday and on Friday evening, we generally prendre l'apéritif at home. No, I am not serving a cocktail with alcohol to my children. L'apéritif, in France (aka as l'apéro in slang) is the pre-lunch/dinner time when you wait for your guests to arrive or your meal to be ready. It's a tradition and most French people would offer one to you. Especially if it's Summer. Somehow, Summer (read = vacation) and apéritif go very well together! It's a welcoming social moment where people have a drink (beer, cocktail, sweet wines, Champagne, generally not wine though) and munch on a variety of things. Peanuts and saucisson would be your cheapest not-so-healthy mais neanmoins tres bonnes options. Gougères, a more elaborated (yet simple to make. I INSIST); cherry tomatoes or French breakfast radishes (could anyone tell me why they are called breakfast radishes????) with yogurt dip, a must-have to please everybody.
I have to say that I love our Friday apéritifs. It's the end of the week. I am not in a rush to put the children to bed. I can have a drink and fully enjoy it. My kids love them too and they get very excited when we are going to have it. They want to have it outside on our tiny balcony (weather permitting) or in the salon (as opposed to dans la cuisine). They set up the coasters. They pull out their small chairs and wait for their drink (water with sirop or a little bit of Diet coke)! They know they are not allowed to start drinking/eating until we are all together and  have a toast! To life!

They love l'apéritif so much that we actually have to pace them down. Otherwise, they'll eat too much and would not be hungry for dinner. Obviously, knowing that we'll prendre l'apéritif on Friday evening before dinner, I don't plan a heavy meal that evening.
In order to serve something different from olives, chips and Guacamole at l'apéritif, I have been making new dips, new gougères recipes (because they are so easy)...and more recently I started baking kale chips.
I had never had kale (chou palmier in French) before coming to the US. And the first time I purchased some, I did not really know what to do with it. Steam? Boil? Cook it in a gratin like Swiss chard? I must have made it au gratin and did not like it much. Never bought kale again until I read about kale chips. And that, my friends, was a discovery of American new cuisine (or old; I don't know when people started baking kale chips!). They very easy to make. They are very good. They are relatively healthy... and more importantly, my children love them! Yes, your hands will be greasy; yes you might end up having bites in between your teeth (don't say I did not warn you!)... but it's different. And good.  So, if you have not made kale chips before, try them out! And not just on Saint-Patrick's Day! Bon Appétit!
- a bunch of fresh kale
- olive oil
- salt
- garlic, chili pepper, paprika, cumin: your choice.

  • Pre-heat oven to 350F (175C)
  • Take the stem and large pieces away. Shred the remaining leaves into pieces.
  • Wash the kale leaves and spin them dry in a salad spinner. Pad them dry with kitchen paper towel. They have to be really dry!
  • Dress a baking dish with aluminum foil
  • Put the kale pieces on the aluminum foil
  • Pour 1 TB (15ml) of olive oil and toss with your hands. You want to make sure there is olive oil on every piece of kale. Use more olive oil if need be but don't soak them!
  • Bake in the oven for 12 minutes. Depending on your oven, they'll be done by then. You don't want them to turn brown. 
  • Sprinkle with salt and your choice of garlic/chili pepper, paprika, etc

My personal comments:
  • I have started to make some as a side-dish or an appetizer when I want my children to eat more vegetables.
  • They don't keep well once cooked. I generally bake half-a-bunch first, keep the other half in the fridge and then bake some more during the week.

1 comment:

  1. I cannot wait to try these. I only hope my kids will love them like yours do. And thank you for the idea of having an aperitif Friday night. I've been thinking of new traditions to start and this sounds like a perfect idea.